Karpov vs Sadvakasov in Astana

11/21/2004 – Two weeks ago there was an interesting match between young Kazakh Darmen Sadvakasov and ex world champion Anatoly Karpov. We did not cover it since the organisers bizarrely withheld the first 20 moves of each game. Now Darmen has sent us a report and pictures, with some minor technical problems to solve in his well-annotated games.

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Karpov vs Sadvakasov in Astana

Report by Darmen Sadvakasov

The match Karpov-Sadvakasov was organized and sponsored by Akimat (Major) of Astana. Another general sponsor of the event was Kazakhstan railroad company “Kazakhstan Temir Joly”. It was held from November 4 to 10, 2004.

The venue of the event was the Okan Intercontinental Astana Hotel. It is a very comfortable five-star hotel. We lived, ate and played there and it was very pleasant for us.

The match was opened by Major of Astana, Umirzak Shukeev. He presented us with national costumes, called “chapans”, and some beautiful souvenirs.


Darmen and Anatoly in the Kazakh national costume


At the opening ceremony


Karpov gets an oil painting of a beautiful Kazakh landscape

We played eight games: four classic (7 hours) and four rapid (25 min. for each side). After the classic games we had a day off. On the rest day we had an excursion to the most beautiful buildings and places of Astana, like the Byterek tower.


The Byterek tower, symbol of Astana


Karpov in Byterek

Also Karpov visited Eurasian National University (ENU) where the chess club of the ENU is situated. He met with fans of chess, children, and I think these meetings were very useful for developing chess in Kazakhstan.


With my friend and second Karen Asrian (left) in Byterek

The chief arbiter of the match was Igor Bolotinsky from St. Petersburg, whose good judgement I admire. Karpov's second was Michael Podgaets, with his assistance Karpov has played and won many matches and tournaments. My second was my friend Karen Asrian. I appreciate his assistance and fact that he found time and energy to come and help me just after the Olympiad.


At the start of a game

I have to say something about Internet online coverage of the games. Before the match Karpov asked the director of the organization to only show our games after move 21. I think that this decision did not make for good promotion for the match. But you know our hospitality. We couldn’t refuse the request of our dear guest Anatoly Karpov. Probably this request was somehow connected with the Russian Championship Super Final, in which Karpov was going to play. He did not want to give away any material for the preparation of his opponents.


The legendary Karpov with members of the Eurasian National University chess club

Almost all games were very interested. Many chess fans came every day to the hotel to watch the match on the demonstration board.


Karpov signing books for chess fans at the chess club

I had some advantage in the openings and the final score 4.5:3.5 confirms this. Karpov was not in a very good form. He had not played for many months before the match. But with the white pieces he pressured me in some games.

What about my play? After the Olympiad, where I played 11 games, I was a bit tired. Nevertheless I was lucky enough to win this match. And I think the experience will be very useful and important for me.

Prepared especially for chessbase.com,
Darmen Sadvakasov

Annotated games

As we mentioned there was world-wide consternation at the fact that the official web site carried the games starting from move 21. In his report above Darmen explains why: with his participation in the Russian Super Final Anatoly Karpov did not want people to know his current opening preferences (of course in the end Karpov withdrew from the Super Final). We asked Darmen to send us some games, which he did, with extensive annotations. However there were some problems. The games came in HTML (the file was called ìàò.htm), with the annotations in Russian. To make matters worse we did not have the font Darmen used, so that his text looked something like this:

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Ne5 d6 4. Nf3 Ne4 5. d4 d5 6. Bd3 Nc6 7. O-O Be7 8. c4 Nb4 9. Re1!? Áåëûå îòäàþò âàæíîãî ñëîíà, íî âûèãðûâàþò â ðàçâèòèè. Îñíîâíîå ïðîäîëæåíèå 9. Ñå2 9... Nd3 Èíà÷å ñëîí óéäåò íå íà å2, à íà f1, ÷òî èìååò áîëüøóþ ðàçíèöó â ïîëüçó áåëûõ ïî ñðàâíåíèþ ñ îñíîâíûìè âàðèàíòàìè. 10. Qd3 c6

So it is Sunday morning, your Russian contacts in the US and Canada are still asleep, and you want to publish the article. What do you do? Use a machine translation on the Internet, of course. We chose the most popular, AltaVista Babel Fish, which did not bother about the missing font. This is what it produced:

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Ne5 d6 4. Nf3 Ne4 5. d4 d5 6. Bd3 Nc6 7. O- about Be7 8. C4 Nb4 9. Re1!? White return important elephant, but they win in the development. Basic continuation 9. Se2 9... Nd3 otherwise elephant will leave not on ye2, but on f1, which has the large difference in favor of white in comparison with the basic versions. 10. Qd3 c6

Not the English of Milton and Shakespeare, not even of Nunn or Short, but fascinatingly comprehensible, once you get the hang of it. The elephant is of course the Slon or bishop and "0-about" is castling. Here are a few translations we used:

Without giving to pass to elephant to diagonal b1-h7
Preventing Black from gaining control of the bishop diagonal b1-h7

The boat in combination with the elephant is much stronger than the boat and horse.
The rook and bishop are much stronger than the rook and knight.

The emergent position white will intend to change chernopol'nykh elephants, after leaving to themselves horse against the belopol'nogo elephant of blacks.
In the emergent position White intends to exchange the dark-squared bishops, leaving a knight for the light-squared black bishop ["cherno" occurs in the song about black eyes, "belo" is as in "White Russia" – elementary, our dear Watson!].

It took a few hours, but in the end we had reconstructed everything in a satisfactory manner. We must, however, caution you that errors cannot be ruled out. If you are technically inclined you can check out our version against Darmens original notes.

Sadvakasov,Darmen - Karpov,Anatoly [C42]
Astana, 05.11.2004 [Comments by Darmen Sadvakasov]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.d4 d5 6.Bd3 Nc6 7.0-0 Be7 8.c4 Nb4 9.Re1!? White returns the important bishop, but gains in terms of development. The normal continuation is 9.Be2. 9...Nxd3. Otherwise the bishop will move to f1, which is a much better square than in the basic line with Be2. 10.Qxd3 c6. There are other continuations, such as 10...Bf5; or 10...Nf6.

11.cxd5 cxd5 12.Qb5+. The basic idea is that the black queen is forced to d7, where it is not very effective. 12...Qd7 13.Qb3 0-0 14.Nc3 Nxc3 15.bxc3 Bf6. In the emergent position White intends to exchange the dark-squared bishops, leaving a knight for the light-squared black bishop. For this reason in the games Topalov-Kramnik and Topalov-Adams Black avoided the exchange via 15... Rd8.

16.Bg5 Bxg5 17.Nxg5. In this position we cannot speak about a great advantage for White, just a slight initiative. But in the Petroff this is enough! 17...h6 18.Nf3 Qd6 19.Ne5. 19.Re3 is also interesting, but I wanted to force ...b6. 19...b6 20.Re3 Bf5. Another possibility was 20...Be6. 21.Rae1 Rac8

The white forces are mobilised. It is now necessary to create activity. Transferring the queen to the kingside gives me nothing; therefore after some thought I decided to throw the kingside pawns into the fray.

22.g4! Bh7 .Interesting is also 22...Be4 with the intention of blocking the f3 square for the knight after 23.f3 Bh7;
and in case of 22...Be6 White would continue pushing his pawns: 23.f4!

23.Nf3! This looks like a psychological victory for Black. But in the current position White seizes the e-file and transfers the knight to a more active position. It stood beautifully on e5, but it did not apply pressure to the black position from there.

23...Rc7 24.h3 A good prophylactic move. There is no hurry, and Black has to find complex plans. Anatoly Yevgenyevich used up a lot of time for this and that, in the end, was his undoing. In case of 24.Re5 Qg6!? 25.h3 Qc2 26.Qxd5 (26.Qb4? Be4!) 26...Qxc3 and if 27.Re8 then 27...Rc8 although I must admit Black has other options.

24...Be4 25.Nd2 Bg6 26.Re5 Rd8 27.Nf1 threatening to go to e3. 27...f6 28.Re6 Qd7. 28...Qf4!? 29.Ng3 (29.Ne3 is impossible because of 29...Qf3!)

29.Ng3 Rdc8 30.R6e3 Kh8. 30...Qd6 deserves attention. 31.Qa3 Kh7. Karpov is beginning to get into time trouble, and he tries to play prophylactic moves. White, as before, has a slight initiative, but nothing special.

32.Kg2. My second Arsian did not like this move, but my idea was initiate an assault on the black king with f3 and h4. After 32.Kg2 a rook can be brought into the attack on h1. 32...Qc6. Better was the immediate 32...Qb5 with the idea of Bd3, but the estimation of this is unclear. 33.h4 Qb5 34.Re7! a5. 34...Rxc3 is dubious because after 35.Qxa7 Rg8 White has the attack. 35.Qd6 Qc6. Here Black had 20 seconds for four moves, which is always very dangerous. Even in a won position you can achieve any of three results. 36.Qf4 Qb7?? With a little more time Karpov would have easily found 36...Rxe7 37.Rxe7 Re8 38.Rc7 Qe6 and the position is almost equal. 37.Qxf6+- Rg8 38.g5! h5.

This made it possible to finish the game with a queen sacrifice. 39.Qxg6+! and mate follows after Black retakes. Karpov resigned. 1-0.

Karpov,Anatoly - Sadvakasov,Darmen [E15]
Astana, 11.2004 [Comments by Darmen Sadvakasov]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Ba6 5.b3 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Be7 7.Bg2 c6 8.Bc3 d5 9.Ne5 Nfd7 10.Nxd7 Nxd7 11.Nd2 0-0 12.0-0 Nf6 13.e4 b5 14.exd5. A rare move, but encountered in the game Kramnik-Leko this year in Dortmund, in Bologan-Macheya in Izmir. The move does not strive for the advantage, but it gives White a positional edge. 14...exd5. The question of 14...cxd5 remains open. I assume that White can sacrifice the exchange with 15.c5 b4 16.Bxb4.

15.Re1 Rb8 16.c5 Bc8. I attempted to devise something new during the game, so as to deviate from the game Kramnik-Leko, but in rapid chess there is very little time for such consideration. Especially since in this game black did not have any special problems. 17.h3. A preventative measure, but after the game Karpov said that the structure on the kingside was somehow weakened by this move. Kramnik played 17.Nf3 Ne4 18.Ne5 (after 18.Bb2 the following line is interesting 18...Bg4 19.h3 Bxf3 20.Bxf3 f5 18...Nxc3 19.Qd3 Qc7 20.Qxc3 Re8;
17.b4!?

17...Qc7 18.b4 Re8 19.a4 a6 20.axb5 axb5 21.Bb2 h6 22.Qf3. Preventing Black from gaining control of the bishop diagonal b1-h7. 22...Be6 23.Kh2 Ra8. The fight for manoeuverability continues, and Black's chances are not worse. Moreover I played faster than my opponent and had more time on my clock. 24.Ra3

A key moment. Is it dangerous to give up the a-file? After some thought I decided that the counterplay on the e-file was better than on the queenside. 24...Rxa3! 25.Qxa3 Qc8 26.Ra1 Bf5 27.Re1 Be6. In a rapid game it is essential to have enough time on your clock, and on several occasions we repeated positions. 28.Ra1 Bf5 29.Re1 Kf8 30.Bc1. The position is equal, but the White play is somewhat more difficult.

30...Qa8 31.Re3 Qc8 32.Qa7 g5!? A sharp move, but it was somehow necessary to try and capitalise on my time advantage. 33.Re5 Be6 34.Re3. It was better to transfer the queen to the kingside with 34.Qa3. 34...Kg7 35.Nb3.

35...g4! The light squares are more important than the dark ones! 36.h4. The computer proposes 36.f3 but after 36...h5 black has an advantage. 36...Ne4 37.Re2 Bf6. Finally, the black pieces start to move forward from the 7th and 8th ranks.

38.Bf4 Qa8 39.Qxa8 Rxa8 40.Na5 Ra6. White has weak pawns on d4 and f2. Karpov can defend the pawns, but already his position is unpleasant. 41.f3?! Better was 41.Bxe4, but after 41...dxe4 42.Rxe4 Bd5 43.Re8 Bxd4 44.Be5+ Bxe5 45.Rxe5 Ra7 the rook and bishop are much stronger than the rook and knight. 41...gxf3 42.Bxf3 Bxd4 43.Bxe4 dxe4 44.Rxe4 Bxc5 45.Be5+?! An alternative was 45.bxc5 Rxa5 46.g4. 45...Kg6 46.bxc5 Rxa5 47.g4 h5! 48.g5 Kf5 49.Re3 b4. Black has a technically won position, but in rapid chess anything is possible... 50.Bd4 b3 51.Kg3 Ra4 52.Rf3+ Ke4 53.Bg7 Kd5 54.Rf4 Ra2 55.Rf2 Rc2. White had very little time on his clock, and I went for the exchange of rooks. The black forces win after the exchange, but it was simpler not to swap rooks: 55...Ra8; or 55...Ra6. 56.Rxc2 bxc2 57.Bb2.

It is very difficult to annotate the following moves with words. The evaluation of the position changed every 2 or 3 seconds, almost with each move. White had ten seconds left on the clock, Black approximately a minute. It is necessary to remember that Anatoly Yevgenyevich's hands were moving the pieces with lightning speed. 57...Ke4?? Taking the white c-pawn and then proceeding with the king to b1, while advancing the second c-pawn, easily wins the game. 57...Kxc5 58.Kf4 Kc4 59.Ke3 Kb3 60.Bc1 Ka2 61.Kd2 Kb1 62.Ba3 c5!–+.

58.Bc1 Bf5? 58...Kd4 59.Kf3 Kxc5 60.Ke2 Kc4 61.Bf4 Kb3 62.Bc1 Ka2–+. 59.Kf2 Bg4 60.Be3 Kd3 61.Bc1 Kd4 62.Be3+ Kc4 63.Bc1?? (63.Ke1=) 63...Kxc5 64.Ke3 Kc4 65.Kd2 Bf5?? (65...Kb3–+) 66.Bb2 Kd5 67.Ke3 is simpler than 67.Kc1 with further protection of the h4 pawn by moving the bishop to e1. 67...Bg6 68.Bf6?? (68.Kd2=) 68...c1Q+ and unexpectedly the pawn has promoted. On the clock White has three seconds left, Black 36. White resigned. 0-1.

Click here to replay and download the games
Note that you can click on the analysis to follow the moves

Frederic Friedel


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