Kasparov's Greatest Chess Games

7/11/2005 – He may have retired from chess, but his name is still permanently in the news. Not a bad thing for Gambit Publications, the producers of some of the finest chess books that are available in the world today. Gambit has released grandmaster Igor Stohl's latest work: "Garry Kasparov’s Greatest Chess Games: Volume 1". We bring you a sampler.

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Garry Kasparov’s Greatest Chess Games: Volume 1

By Igor Stohl (Gambit Publications, UK £22.20 / US $35.00)

The name of Garry Kasparov has been much in the news recently, not only because of his announced retirement from chess, but also because of the turbulent start to his political career, which has involved being hit over the head with a chessboard and being manhandled by policemen. The timing of this book is therefore excellent, although it must have been coincidental because the book was obviously a long time in the making.

Kasparov himself has not written about his own games for a long time, concentrating instead on his "Predecessors" series, so there is a definite gap in the market, which has been very competently filled by Igor Stohl. Stohl is the author of Instructive Modern Chess Masterpieces (Gambit, 2001), which won the United States Chess Federation Cramer award for best book. In that book, Stohl established a reputation as a accurate and diligent analyst, but his style is slightly different in the Kasparov book.

When analysing Kasparov’s games, which tend to be very complicated and tactical, it is easy to get bogged down in too much concrete analysis, which may obscure the wider view of the game. Stohl strikes a happy medium between giving general comments which describe the overall flow of the game and going into details where it is necessary to do so.

The book starts with a short (eight-page) biographical section, and the remainder of its chunky 320 pages is devoted to 74 of Kasparov’s best games. Some of the 74 games are familiar masterpieces, but even in these cases the excellent notes provide new insights into the games. Other games are less well-known and are likely to be new to most readers.

The book is very well produced. It’s a sturdy hardback which, for the most part, lies flat for easy reading; the layout is clear and easy to read. It’s an entertaining book and provides excellent coverage of the games of a player who is arguably the greatest of all time. Kasparov’s career up to 1993 is covered in this first volume; let’s hope we don’t have too long to wait for the second volume, which deals with the remaining years.

Here is one of the games from the book. We reproduce it with the kind permission of the publishers. The notation and style and formatting is close to what you will find in the book. You can replay the game in a separate window in order to better follow the game and analysis.

Game 15: Garry Kasparov – Ulf Andersson
Tilburg 1981, Queen’s Indian Defence [E12]

1 d4 Nf6
2 c4 e6
3 Nf3 b6
4 a3 Bb7
5 Nc3 Ne4
Especially in the opening, latent control of central squares is usually preferable to their direct occupation. Therefore a more effective way of preventing d5 and e4 is 5...d5, as in Games 10, 20, 24 and 26.

6 Nxe4 Bxe4
7 Nd2

The most ambitious continuation: White strives for a broad pawn-centre. 7 e3 or 7 Bf4 promises only a small edge at best.

7 ... Bg6?!
At the time of our game this was a novelty, but not a very successful one. Although time and again people return to Andersson’s move, voluntarily leaving the long diagonal doesn’t make a good impression. 7...Bb7 is more natural. Now after 8 e4 Qf6 (the passive 8...d6 9 Bd3 gives White a space advantage and a pleasant edge) 9 d5 Bc5 10 Nf3 Qg6 White’s best is the enterprising 11 b4!? Qxe4+ 12 Be2 Be7 13 0-0 with a promising initiative for the sacrificed material. In the game he achieves this for free.

8 g3!
Although later White was also successful with 8 e4 Nc6 9 d5 Nd4 10 Bd3, allowing Black’s knight to occupy the protected central outpost on d4 seems to be an unnecessary concession. Kasparov’s move is more solid and logical: White immediately wants to control the freshly deserted h1-a8 diagonal with his own bishop.

8 ... Nc6
Played in a similar extravagant spirit as the previous move; placing a knight in front of the c-pawn is somewhat unusual in closed games. However, after 8...c5 9 d5, followed by e4, Black’s g6-bishop remains passive and White is clearly better. Recent attempts to rehabilitate the line were connected with 8...Be7, but the energetic 9 Bg2 d5 10 e4! favours White. Now 10...Nc6? doesn’t work since after 11 cxd5 the d4-pawn is taboo, while 10...c6 11 exd5 cxd5 12 cxd5 exd5 13 Qa4+ shows how vulnerable Black’s queenside is due to the absence of the g6-bishop from its usual place. Black is practically forced to give up a pawn for insufficient compensation after 13...Qd7 14 Qxd7+ Nxd7 15 Bxd5. Finally, taking on c4 or e4 gives White more space and central control.

9 e3 a6?!
9...e5 10 d5 Nb8 11 h4! h5 12 e4 a5 13 b3 Na6 14 Bh3 Nc5 15 Qc2 Be7 16 Bb2 d6 17 0-0 Bf6 18 Rab1 Nd7 19 b4 gave White a clear advantage in Psakhis-Gurgenidze, USSR Ch (Riga) 1985. The idea behind Black’s move is to prepare ...d5 without having to fear a pin on the a4-e8 diagonal (9...d5? loses on the spot: 10 Qa4 Qd7 11 cxd5 Qxd5 12 Rg1). However, it is too passive. 9...a5 10 b3 Be7 is somewhat better, although even here 11 Bb2 or 11 h4!? is good for White.

10 b4!
Kasparov is his usual energetic self. 10 b3 d5 11 Bb2 Be7 12 Rc1 Qd7 also leaves White better, but the text-move is more ambitious.

10 ... b5
White’s 10th move not only increased his space advantage, but had additional and more concrete intentions. If Black plays as in the above note 10...d5 11 Bb2 Be7 12 Rc1 Qd7, then after 13 Bg2 the threat of Qb3 forces further positional concessions.

11 cxb5
11 Bb2 is also strong. The threats of cxb5 and d5 more or less force 11...bxc4 12 Bxc4 d5 13 Be2 with a permanent positional advantage for White.

11 ... axb5
12 Bb2
Weak is 12 Bxb5? Nxb4.

12 ... Na7
Now if Black manages to play ...d5 and finish the development of his kingside, he will be quite OK. White’s advantage is dynamic, and not permanent, so he must act fast.

13 h4! h6?
It was not easy to foresee at this moment, but this seemingly solid move is a serious and probably decisive mistake. Black should have ventured 13...h5!?. Although the pawn is exposed on the light square, the position after 14 Be2 d5 remains closed and it’s difficult to exploit this. Therefore Kasparov probably would have continued as in the game: 14 d5! exd5 15 Bg2 c6 16 0-0 f6 17 Re1 (17 e4 dxe4 18 Nxe4 d5 is less convincing) 17...Be7. Now the important g4-square is inaccessible for White’s queen and although he retains pressure and the initiative with 18 e4 dxe4 19 Nxe4 0-0 20 Nc5!, Black can still fight. In the game it will be far worse.

14 d5!
Maybe Andersson reckoned only with 14 e4?! d5!. The pawn sacrifice opens the long diagonal and Black won’t get any respite until the end of the game.

14 ... exd5
15 Bg2 c6
16 0-0

Suddenly White not only has a large lead in development, but also intends to open the position with e4.

16 ... f6
Black at least wants to develop his f8-bishop. The only way to prevent the aforementioned central thrust was 16...f5, but this creates dark-square holes all over Black’s position. After 17 Nf3 Qe7 (17...d6 18 Nd4 Qd7 19 a4! is similar) 18 Ne5 Qe6 19 a4! White breaks through on the queenside while his opponent’s kingside is still fast asleep.

17 Re1!?
Kasparov is patient. After 17 e4 dxe4 18 Bxe4, 18...Bf7 avoids the exchange of the important light-squared bishop. Although White’s attack is still very dangerous after 19 Re1 Be7 20 Qg4 0-0 21 Qf5 g6 22 Qf4, at least Black has managed to castle.

17 ... Be7
Now 17...Bf7 18 e4 dxe4? 19 Nxe4 loses immediately for Black, but in view of what happened in the game, 17...Kf7!? is somewhat more resilient.

18 Qg4
By this point Andersson must definitely have been regretting 13...h6?. The following series of moves is forced.

18 ... Kf7
19 h5 Bh7
20 e4 dxe4
21 Bxe4 Bxe4
22 Nxe4 Nc8
Black would like to castle by hand, but after both 22...Rf8 23 Rad1 d5 24 Nxf6! and 22...Re8 23 Qg6+ Kf8 24 g4!, followed by Ng3-f5 or g5, he loses on the spot. Also 22...d5 23 Nc5! Bxc5 24 Qe6+ Kf8 25 bxc5 is hopeless: Black can’t untangle his forces and White can calmly transfer the a1-rook over to the kingside.

23 Rad1 Ra7
23...d5 24 Nc5 (24 Nxf6 is probably also good, but more complex) is similar to the above note.

24 Nxf6!!
White’s army is fully mobilized and well coordinated, while Black’s rooks are still unconnected, he has glaring light-square weaknesses and his king is vulnerable. In such a situation a tactical solution is the logical outcome.

24 ... gxf6
The pretty point of White’s idea is 24...Bxf6 25 Qg6+ Kf8 26 Bxf6 gxf6 27 Re6!, winning.

25 Qg6+ Kf8
26 Bc1!
Kasparov plays for mate, but even the endgame after 26 Rxe7 Qxe7 27 Bxf6 Qh7 28 Bxh8 Qxg6 (28...Qxh8 loses to 29 Re1 Ne7 30 Qd6) 29 hxg6 is hopeless for Black; e.g., 29...Ne7 30 Bd4 and Bc5.

26 ... d5
26...Qe8 27 Bxh6+ Rxh6 28 Qxh6+ Kf7 (28...Kg8 also loses: 29 Re4 f5 30 Qg5+!) doesn’t help. After 29 Qh7+ Kf8 30 h6 Qf7 31 Qf5 Nd6 32 Qf4 Ne8 the double attack 33 Qe3! hits both rook and bishop and wins.

27 Rd4!
This wins by force. 27 Bxh6+?! Rxh6 28 Qxh6+ Kg8! is unconvincing.

27 ... Nd6
28 Rg4 Nf7

29 Bxh6+! Ke8
29...Nxh6 loses both the rook and the knight: 30 Qg7+.

30 Bg7 1-0
After 30...Rg8 (30...f5 31 Rf4 doesn’t help) 31 h6 the passed pawn promotes.


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