GM Karsten Müller presents readers' feedback on Kasparov's book
Analysis Focus #5:
Garry Kasparov's Great Predecessors
By GM Karsten Müller and Frederic Friedel
When Garry Kasparov's Lebenswerk, the monumental "My
Great Predecessors", appeared it was greeted with unprecedented popular
interest. The first edition easily surpassed the sales expectations of the
publishers, who in some countries (the book has so far been translated into
ten languages) had to quickly do new print runs to keep up with demand. Booksellers
who had been cautious about stocking too many of these relatively high-priced
volumes were soon sold out and scampering around for new stock. We witnessed
this at the tournament in Wijk aan Zee. The book stand there had brought along
35 copies of the brand new Volume 2, with the owner feeling apprehensive about
the prospects of selling that many during a tournament with just a few hundred
visitors. But within three days all the copies were gone and the book-seller
was desperately phoning around for more copies to be sent to Wijk.
My Great Predecessors is not only selling vigorously, it is also
being read more thoroughly and scrutinised more carefully than any other chess
book in recent times. And it is not just the critics or professional chess
analysts who are doing this. Amateurs all over the world are also going through
the huge amount of analysis contained in each volume with a fine comb, correcting
stray errors or adding interesting lines. This is happening at the explicit
behest of the author, who has invited them to join in and submit the fruits
of their research. As Garry Kasparov explained: "Just a decade ago hardly
anyone who was not a Grandmaster or professional chess writer would have dared
to comment on analysis presented by the strongest player in the world. They
would just read the text reverentially, maybe sometimes feeling uncomfortable
about something, but not daring to voice an opinion. Today the situation has
changed dramatically. Even an average player, who loves chess, can join the
discussion at the very highest level. This is because everyone now has access
to computer programs which very sharp analytical assistance. I want thousands
of people all over the world to go through each line of my book and send me
any discovery they make." In fact Kasparov will be providing personal
prizes to the best submissions by non-professional analysts.
Sorokhtin takes on Kasparov
One candidate for a prize is Sergey Sorokhtin of St. Petersburg, Russia. The
34-year-old manager of a construction company is an untitled player who takes
part in blitz tournaments, occasionally beating a GM or IM in the process.
He also photographs chess events, and has some of his photos published in chess
Sorokhtin regularly visits the chess
school of Alexander Khalifman, who is interested in helps with the historical
analysis that Sergey brings along. Of course they make extensive use of the
computer. Sergey writes: "Certainly my main helper is Fritz. But analysis
with the computer not quite simple. It is necessary to understand the critical
positions in a game and have a feeling for the most promising lines, even if
Fritz is mistaken about them. But with careful work it is possible to come
up with interesting ideas. Some years ago I saw some commentary by Garry Kasparov
on Pillsbury-Lasker 1896 in ChessBase Magazine and sent in some of my analysis.
To my surprise I got a letter from Kasparov himself, who praised my discoveries
and encouraged me to keep sending material. This was the main stimulus for
my further study of historical games. And of course it was a great honour that
in the second volume of Great Predecessors Garry included some of
my analysis. Now I am eagerly waiting to get to work on Volume 3, when it comes
A few weeks ago we received a ChessBase file from Sergey containing analysis
of critical positions he found in volume one of My Great Predecessors (and
a couple from Vol. 2). Here we bring you a selection, which you can also view
also find a link to the full Sorokhtin file with all the analysis.
Pillsbury – Lasker [Game 41, p. 132ff]
St Petersburg (4), 29.07.1896
Position after 27...Kg8-h7
Here Pillsbury played 28.Kxa3?? Kasparov
writes: "For some reason no one has pointed out the saving 28.Qf5+! 28...Kh8
29.Kb1! Rxa2! (29...Bxd4 30.Qf8+ Kh7 31.Qxa3) 30.Rxa2 Qb3+ 31.Kc1 Bg5+ (31...Qxa2
32.Qc8+ Kh7 33.Qc2+) 32.Rad2 Qc3+ 33.Qc2 Qa1+ 34.Qb1 Qc3+ with a perpetual
However Sorokhtin gives a winning line for Black: 28.Qf5+
Kg8 29.Kb1 (29.Qe6+ Kh8 30.Qe8+ Kh7 31.Kb1 Bxd4 32.Qe2 Qb4+ 33.Rb2 Bxb2 34.Qxb2
Qe4+ 35.Ka1 Ra6–+) 29...Bxd4 30.Re1 Qb4+ 31.Kc1 Qc3+ 32.Qc2 Qa1+ 33.Qb1
Rc3+ 34.Rc2 Be3+ 35.Rxe3 Qxb1+ 36.Kxb1 Rxe3 37.Rd2 Re5–+.
Karsten Müller: Sorokhtin's analysis shows that 27...Kg8-h7 does
indeed win and so deserves an exclamation mark.
Mieses,J – Alekhine,A [Game 111, p.
Scheveningen Scheveningen (3), 29.07.1913
Position after 30...Ra8-c8
Here Mieses played 31.g5, to which Alekhine
writes: "Against the threat 31...Rcc2. White's only defence was 31.Rg2
Rb1+ 32.Kd2 Rb3 33.Kd1 (33.Ke1 Rc1+! 34.Kf2 (34.Bxc1 d2+) 34...Bxh4+ and wins)
33...Bc3! 34.Bc1 Bb4! and White is helpless against the threats 35...d2 and
But Sorokhtin found 31.Qe4! Rb1+ (31...Rcc2?! 32.Qxd3 Rc8
33.Re1 Rd8 34.Qxd8+ Bxd8 35.Bc1 Rg2 36.Re8++-) 32.Kd2 Rb2+ 33.Kd1 with a draw.
Karsten Müller: 31.Qe4! does indeed draw.
Capablanca,J – Bogoljubow,E [Game 102,
Moscow Moscow, 1925
Position after 15...Kg6-h6
Here Capablanca played 16.g4? Kasparov writes: "An alarm
bell: unable to withstand the tension, Capablanca commits an oversight. And
yet happiness was so possible, so close – 16.Qf7! with the threat of
Rh5+ and mate. " He quotes Panov, who he feels was actually right in regarding
this line better than the game continuation 16.g4?. The critical variation
is 16.Qf7 Qxe3+ 17.Kh1 g6 18.Rxf6 Nxf6 19.Qxf6 Re8 20.Ncd5 Qf2 21.h4. "with
a winning attack" (Panov).
Analysis diagram after 21...Bc8-d7
Garry Kasparov disagrees with Panov and
writes: "After 21...Bd7 nothing of the sort is apparent".
But Sergey Sorokhtin concludes that Panov was right: 22...Rac8
23.Rxc8 Bxc8 24.Kh2 Bd7 25.e5+–.
Karsten Müller: Panov was right as White's attack and his passed
e-pawn give him a winning position.
Treybal,K – Alekhine,A [Game 117, p.
Bad Pistyan Bad Pistyan (8), 1922
Position after 39...Kg8xPf7
Treybal played 40.Qb3+? and resigned after 40...Kg6!
Kasparov writes: "By 40.g6+!! Treybal could have regained the
rook, since in the event of 40...hxg6 (40...Kg8? 41.gxh7+) White forces a draw
by perpetual check: 41.Qb3+ Kf6...42.Qf3+ Ke7 43.Qa3+ Ke8 44.Qa4+! Kd8 45.Qa8+
But in the above line Sergey Sorokhtin spotted 45...Qc8!
and Black can escape easily from the checks and wins. Leroy Yves
of Tervuren, Belgium, agrees: Black can improve with 45...Qc8 winning; 44 Qa8
is a better try but I am not sure white can achieve a draw there too.
Karsten Müller: Sergey and Yves are right.
Anderssen,A – Steinitz,W [Game 13, p.
London m1 London (13), 08.08.1866
Position after 26...h6-h5
Anderssen played 27.Ng1?, to which Kasparov
writes: "Probably the decisive error. After 27.Nb5! nothing terrible for
White is apparent: 27...Ra6 28.Nc7 Ra7 29.Ne6 etc."
Sorokhtin disagrees and gives 27.Nb5 Rb7! as winning for
Black. 28.Qxa4 Rxb5! (28...g4!? is Khalifman's advice: 29.Ng1
f3 30.hxg4 fxg2+ 31.Kxg2 Qh4–+) 29.Rxb5 g4 30.Ng1 (30.Ne1 gxh3 31.gxh3
f3 32.Nxf3 Bxb5 33.Qxb5 Rxf3–+; 30.hxg4 hxg4 31.Ng1 Qh4 32.Qb3 Bxb5 33.Qxb5
f3 34.gxf3 Ng5 35.Bxg5 Qxg5 36.Qb1 gxf3 37.Nxf3 Rxf3-+) 30...f3 31.hxg4 (31.g3
gxh3 32.Nxh3 Bxh3+-+ 33.Ke1 Bd7-+) 31...fxg2+ 32.Kxg2 Qh4 33.f3 hxg4 34.d4
Karsten Müller: The St.Petersburg Chess School has done a good
Rubinstein,A – Capablanca,J [Game 64,
San Sebastian San Sebastian (13), 1911
Position after 15.Nc3xPd5
Here Capablanca played 15...Qh6, to which Kasparov
writes: "Not 15...exd5? 16.Qxd5+ Kh8 17.Bxc8 or 15...Bxf2+? 16.Kg2 Qf7
But Sorokhtin shows that Capablanca could have saved the
game with 15...Bxf2+! to be holding a draw after 16.Kg2 Qe5! (instead of Kasparov's
16...Qf7): 16.Kg2 Qe5! 17.Rxf2 Rxf2+ 18.Kxf2 Rd8 19.Ne7+ Kh8 20.Qb3 Nxe7 21.Qxe6
Qd4+ 22.Kg2 Nd5 23.Kh1 Ne3 24.Rd1 Qd2 25.Qe7 Rb8 26.Bg2 Qxe2 draw.
Karsten Müller: I could not find a way for White to get an advantage
Michael Byrne, Secane, PA USA
Just a note that I have really enjoy both volumes so far, but it will take
me years to get through them! The book is really like having two books in one.
On one hand you just read through the book - a very interesting read in its
own right - or you take just one position from the book and spend two or three
hours analyzing the annotations and checking them out on a computer. There
are three or four diagrams on very page turn and with over 400 pages, it will
take me a while to get through just one book. I'm eagerly waiting for the other
volumes - I know there is concrete plan for a Volume 3, but my understanding
now is that he may go to Volume 4 or 5 - is that true? I hope it is. PS I saw
Garry play Deep Blue in Philadelphia in Game 6 of the first match against Deep
Blue on 1996, it was a lot of fun being there.
Karsten Müller: I think it is true: there will be 5 volumes.
Jeffrey Minarik, Chicago, Illinois USA
Although the concept is a good one, the first book was a bit of a disappointment
to me. First of all, all the games examined have been published many times
and if you are an avid chess reader, you will have come across them multiple
times. The commentary to the games and about the players themselves have been
"lifted" from other sources; without footnotes either. I was very
disappointed to have acquired very little "new" insights about the
players or their styles or how they changed the game of chess. I hope the second
book is more insightful for me.
If you have doubts about this or another analysis
in Kasparov's work, please write. Garry welcomes all suggestions!
Your remarks and analysis will be scanned by GM Karsten Müller, who
will pass the most interesting contributions on to Garry Kasparov
for evaluation. We will publish our conclusions on these pages.