Learning technique with Anatoly Karpov

4/26/2007 – Most fans prefer the games of his successor Garry Kasparov, but Anatoly Karpov's positional mastery is something the student of chess should not ignore. In his Thursday night lecture our Playchess trainer Dennis Monokroussos shows us how Karpov disposes of Yasser Seirawan in a 1989 "dead-drawn" game, highlighting techniques you can directly apply to your own games.

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Dennis Monokroussos writes:

Yasser Seirawan was one of the world’s best players in the 1980s, an elite master of positional chess with a fantastic resume. He won the World Junior Championship in 1979, has four US Championship titles, made the Candidates in 1985, and has to his credit victories over world champions Smyslov, Tal (+4 -0 =1!), Spassky, Karpov and Kasparov. He’s a successful author and the prime mover behind the Prague Agreement that eventually led to the Kramnik-Topalov match in 2006.

Hugely impressive, but then there’s Anatoly Karpov, world champion for ten years (16, if you count the years of the FIDE/Kasparov & Kramnik split) and the world’s #1 or #2 player for an incredible 20 years. Like Seirawan, Karpov is known for his prowess as a positional player, but of a very aggressive sort. You might think that games between the two would have a drawish tinge, but just the opposite: most of their games have been decisive (even excluding rapid and blitz).

And so it is in this week’s game, played in the 1989 World Cup tournament in Skelleftea, Sweden. The game started in unprepossessing fashion, heading for an endgame almost as soon as it began. For some players, this would be the prelude to a quick “grandmaster” draw, but Karpov found ways to keep the action going, to prevent Black from achieving complete, draw-guaranteeing equality. It’s a beautiful game, and instructive, too. There are specific things Karpov does in the game that we can more or less directly apply to our own games, and I will highlight these techniques as they show up. Many of us, as fans, prefer Kasparov’s games; from the student perspective, however, Karpov’s games may be second to none.

So how can we pass on this week’s show? On the eminently reasonable assumption that we can’t, I look forward to seeing all of you this Thursday at 9 pm ET.

Dennis Monokroussos' Radio ChessBase lectures begin on Thursdays at 9 p.m. EDT, which translates to 01:00h GMT, 02:00 Paris/Berlin, 12:00h Sydney (on Friday). Other time zones can be found at the bottom of this page. You can use Fritz or any Fritz-compatible program (Shredder, Junior, Tiger, Hiarcs) to follow the lectures, or download a free trial client.

You can find the exact times for different locations in the world at World Time and Date. Exact times for most larger cities are here. And you can watch older lectures by Dennis Monokroussos offline in the Chess Media System room of Playchess:

Enter the above archive room and click on "Games" to see the lectures. The lectures, which can go for an hour or more, will cost you between one and two ducats. That is the equivalent of 10-20 Euro cents (14-28 US cents).


Dennis Monokroussos is 40, lives in South Bend, IN, and is an adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame.

He is fairly inactive as a player right now, spending most of his non-philosophy time being a husband and teaching chess. At one time he was one of the strongest juniors in the U.S., but quit for about eight years starting in his early 20s. His highest rating was 2434 USCF, but he has now fallen to the low-mid 2300s – "too much blitz, too little tournament chess", he says.

Dennis has been working as a chess teacher for seven years now, giving lessons to adults and kids both in person and on the internet, worked for a number of years for New York’s Chess In The Schools program, where he was one of the coaches of the 1997-8 US K-8 championship team from the Bronx, and was very active in working with many of CITS’s most talented juniors.

When Dennis Monokroussos presents a game, there are usually two main areas of focus: the opening-to-middlegame transition and the key moments of the middlegame (or endgame, when applicable). With respect to the latter, he attempts to present some serious analysis culled from his best sources (both text and database), which he has checked with his own efforts and then double-checked with his chess software.


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