Kasparov visits Italy and revisits St. Petersburg

5/18/2004 – The super-tournament in St. Petersburg 1914 saw the 45-year-old world champion Emanuel Lasker inflict a terrible blow on a young contender for his title, Akiba Rubinstein. Garry Kasparov, who dealt with this game in his highly successful book "My Great Predecessors", revisits the historic encounter with fresh analysis.

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Garry Kasparov's Great Predecessors: Follow-up #4

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. Kasparov himself encourages discussion, and has written a series of articles, taking the suggestion of readers into account. Below is a new installment by the author, but first we have a couple of pictures from Italy...

What's all the commotion about, in the Via della grada 9, Bologna, Italy? In the left-hand corner you see the perpetrator: popular author Garry Kasparov at a book signing session for I miei grandi predecessori, the Italian translation of his book.

Kasparov with the team of Le due Torri, one of Italy's largest chess distributors, who had arranged the book signing. On the wall behind Kasparov is a black-and-white picture of James Dean playing chess.

The Torris had the foresight to stock enough Kasparov books. At the end of the six-hour (!) session the staff counted 550 copies autographed and sold – a record after Barnes & Noble in New York (second with 400 copies), the London Chess Center and Dresden.

After 1000 autographs (Kasparov also signed mail-order copies) and about 600 handshakes the exhausted star gets a champagne toast from publisher Valerio Luciani, the owners of Le Due Torri Claudio Pantaleoni and Claudio Selleri. The latter called Kasparov "a prodigy of human energy!"

Follow-up #3 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. The author presents and evaluates analysis that has been submitted to him after the publication of his book. It also contains discoveries that were made too late to be included in the relevant volumes. 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.

The most significant event of the year 1914 was the super-tournament St Petersburg, with the participation of the 45-year-old world champion Lasker and both the young contenders for this title – Rubenstein and Capablanca.

The St Petersburg 1914 tournament participants

Some valuable comments by Igor Zaitsev induced me to return to the Lasker-Rubinstein game (St Petersburg 1914), where the world champion inflicted a terrible blow on his dangerous opponent, outplaying him literally on level ground… in a rook endgame – the stage where, according to general opinion, Akiba had no equals!

Lasker vs Rubinstein in St Petersburg five years before today's game

Lasker,E – Rubinstein,A [Vol. I, Game 66, pp.205-209]
St Petersburg preliminary St Petersburg, 1914

Position after 52.Ra1-f1

52...Kd6. I considered this to be the decisive mistake and I recommended 52...Ke6! 53 g4 Bc7! 54 f5+! gxf5 55 Bh6! (55 gxh5? f4) 55...Rf7 56 g5 Rh7 (56...f4? 57 g6 Rf6 58 Re1+ Kf5 59 g7 Rg6 60 Re8 and wins) 57 Rg1 Rh8 58 g6 Rg8 59 g7 Bd6 60 Rg6+ Ke7 61 Ke3 c5 62 Bg5+ Kd7 63 Bf6 Ke8 64 dxc5 Kf7 65 Rh6 Bxc5+ 66 Kf4 d4 67 Rxh5 Kxf6 68 Rxf5+ Kxg7 69 Rxc5 Rd8 70 Rxb5 d3 71 Rg5+ Kf6 72 Rg1 Rh8 with a draw.

Analysis diagram 1: position after 64...Ke8-f7

Igor Zaitsev writes: "Instead of 65 Rh6 White wins by sacrificing the exchange – 65 cxd6! Kxg6 66 Bd4 Kf7 67 Kf4 Ke6 (after 67...Rd8 68 Ke5 Kxg7 the simplest is 69 Bb6) 68 Kg5 Rd8 (68...h4 69 Kg6; 68...f4 69 Kxf4) 69 Kg6 f4 70 Bb6 Ra8 71 Bc5!. But 52...Ke6! would indeed have maintained the balance, except that after 53 g4 Black should include the exchange 53...hxg4! 54 hxg4 and only now play 54…Bc7, for example: 55 Re1 Rf7 56 Re2 Bd6."


Position after 53...g3-g4

53...hxg4? "But here, by contrast, this impulsive move leads to defeat", thinks Zaitsev. "In the event of a pawn endgame Black is obliged to retain the h-pawn. The immediate 53…c5! was essential. The variation 54 dxc5+ Bxc5 55 Bxc5 Kxc5 56 f5 gxf5 57 Rxf5?! Rxf5 58 gxf5 Kd6 59 Kd4 b4! 60 h4 b3 61 f6 Ke6 62 f7 Kxf7 63 Kxd5 Kf6 with a draw indicates the correctness of this idea. More hopes of success are promised by 57 gxf5.

Analysis diagram 2: position after 57.g4-f5

If now 57...Rf6, then nothing is achieved by 58 Rf4 Kd6 59 Kd4 b4 60 h4 Rf7 61 f6 Ke6 with a draw. Let us try drastic measures – 58 b4!? Kd6! (but not 58...Kxb4? 59 Kd4 Ka3 60 Kxd5 b4 61 Ke5 Rf8 62 f6 b3 63 f7 b2 64 Kf6 Ka2 65 Kg7 and wins) 59 Kd4

Analysis diagram 3: position after 59.Kd3-d4

Now in the event of 59...h4?! 60 Rf4! Rf7 61 f6! (61 Rxh4?! Rxf5 62 Rh6+ Kc7 63 Kc5 d4+! 64 Kxd4 Rf4+ 65 Kc3 Rf3+ with a draw) 61...Ke6 (61...Rc7? 62 Rf5!) 62 Rxh4 Rxf6 63 Kc5 White retains the advantage. But more solid is 59... Rf7 60 Rf2 Rf6 61 Rf4 Rf7 62 f6 Ke6 63 Rh4 Rc7, or 60 h4 Rf6 61 Rf4 Rf7 62 f6 Ke6 63 Kc5 Rxf6, in each case with a draw.

After 57...Rf6 (see analysis diagram 2 above) the outflanking manoeuvre 58 Ke3! may prove more unpleasant. But Black can avoid this by playing 57...Kd6! 58 Kd4 b4, transposing into a drawn position that has already been examined.

So that the decisive mistake was not 52…Kd6 (although, of course, 52…Ke6 was simpler), but 53…hxg4?"

Akiba Rubinstein (2nd from left) at the 1914 St. Petersburg tournament.
On the right the future world champion José Raul Capablanca

The game ended 54.hxg4 c5 55.dxc5+ Bxc5 56.Bxc5+ Kxc5 57.f5 gxf5 58.gxf5 Rf6 59.Rf4 b4 60.b3 Rf7 61.f6 Kd6 62.Kd4 Ke6 63.Rf2 Kd6 64.Ra2 Rc7 65.Ra6+ Kd7 66.Rb6 1-0.


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.

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