Garry Kasparov's Great Predecessors: Follow-up #2

12/4/2003 – Garry Kasparov's book My Great Predecessors continues to be scrutinized by analysts all over the world. A focus point is our special web site on the book, where the author discusses a famous game between Chigorin and Steinitz. Reader feedback is welcome in this second installment by Garry Kasparov...

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Follow-up #2 to
My Great Predecessors

By Garry Kasparov

This article by Garry Kasparov is part of a whole series that will appear on this web site. In these articles the author presents and evaluates analysis that has been submitted to him after the publication of volume one of his book. It also contains discoveries that were made too late to be included in the book. Remember that this is an ongoing process. With the participation of Kasparov, our analysts (human and silicon), and of course you, the reader, we will dig deeply into every game in the book.

As was anticipated, the first volume of My Great Predecessors provoked a great number of diverse comments in the press. Some analytical mistakes were also discovered. ‘Which is not surprising with such a wide-ranging coverage of history. But this is nothing terrible!’, writes grandmaster Igor Zaitsev in the chess magazine 64 (2003 No.6). ‘For me analytical sterility has always been virtually a synonym of inertia. Mistakes are both inevitable, and excusable – much more important is a lively reaction by the readers, a desire to discuss, and a spark of general analytical interest, in this case in the classics. I would give credit to the author for this and would number it among the obvious virtues of the new book’.

I make no secret of the fact that it is pleasant when defects unexpectedly turn into virtues. Nevertheless I consider it necessary to acquaint the reader with the most interesting and important corrections, made during the several months that have passed since the publication of Volume 1.

In the first follow-up article we looked at one of Anderssen’s famous games. Today we occupy ourselves with a find by the Moscow candidate master Vasily Lebedev in another historic game.

An historic picture of Chigorin, Lasker, Pillsbury and Steinitz in St. Petersburg 1895-96

M. Chigorin - W. Steinitz [Game 26, p. 87]
World Championship Match, Havana 1892, 23rd game
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e5 Nh5 5.Be2 g6 6.d4 Bg7 7.0-0 d6 8.Nc3 0-0 9.Ne1? dxe5 10.Bxh5 gxh5 11.dxe5 Qxd1 12.Nxd1 Nc6 13.Bxf4 Bf5 14.Ne3 Be4 15.Nf3 Rfe8 16.Ng5 Bg6 17.Nd5 Bxe5 18.Nxc7 Bxc7 19.Bxc7 Rac8 20.Bg3 Nd4 21.c3 Ne2+ 22.Kf2 h4? 23.Bd6 Nd4? 24.cxd4 Rc2+ 25.Kg1 Ree2 26.Rae1! Rxg2+ 27.Kh1 Kg7.

28.Re8!? On page 28 of My Great Predecessors Vol. 1 I pointed out that Steinitz’s variation 28 Be5+ Kf8 29 d5 Rxg5 30 d6 Bf5 31 Bf6 ‘winning’ (Steinitz) is inaccurate in view of 31...Rgg2 32 Rxf5 Rxh2+ 33 Kg1 Rcg2+ 34 Kf1 h3 or even 31...Bd7! 32 Bxg5 Bc6+ 33 Rf3 Bxf3+ 34 Kg1 Bc6 35 Bh6+ Kg8 36 Re5 Rg2+ 37 Kf1 Rg6 with a guaranteed draw.

But the point is that after 30 d6?? (here White should give perpetual check: 30 Bd6+ Kg7 31 Be5+) a thunderous blow on the theme of diversion proves decisive

30...Rc1!!, and now for example: 31 Bg3?! (31 Rxc1? Be4+ and mate) 31…Be4+! 32 Rxe4 (32 Kg1 Rxe1 33 Rxe1 Bc6 and wins) 32...Rxf1+ 33 Kg2 hxg3 34 Kxf1 gxh2 35 Rh4 Rg1+, or 31 h3 Be4+ 32 Rxe4 Rxf1+ 33 Kh2 Rf2+ 34 Kh1 Rgf5 35 Bd4 Rd2 36 Kg1 Rd5 and wins (Lebedev).

Caricature of the match Chigorin-Steinitz 1892

It stands to reason that there is no point in White giving up his knight with 29 d5? – correct is 29 Nf3!? or, as recommended by Lebedev, 29 Rg1!? with the aim of exchanging one of the rooks, and if Black avoids this, he is in trouble: 29...Rgd2 30 d5! Rxd5 31 Nxh7+! or 29…Rgf2 30 Nxh7+! Kg8 31 Nf6+ Kf8 32 d5 ‘and the white pawn advances to the queening square, while Black’s king and bishop have no move’.

It follows that 28 Be5+! would have retained every chance of winning and was at least as good as 28 Re8, after which, I should remind you, the famous ‘blunder of the century’ occurred: 28...f5 29 Ne6+?! (29 Re7+!) 29...Kf6 30 Re7 Rge2! 31 d5 Rcd2 32 Bb4?? (32 Rxb7!) 32...Rxh2+ 0-1 (in view of 33 Kg1 Rdg2 mate).


If you have any comments on Kasparov's analysis please send them to us. 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.

I miei grandi predecessori

Maybe you have been wondering: where did they get these wonderful historical pictures? Well, here's a little secret: even if you don't speak a word of the language, the newly released Italian version of Kasparov's book is a minor treasure-trove of pictures. We counted over 100 black-and-white plates in volume one. Steinitz is in at least 14 of these, Chigorin in seven.

Okay, how difficult can Italian be?

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