Analysing with Garry Kasparov

by Frederic Friedel
4/10/2020 – When it was first published, back in 2003, Garry Kasparov's book "My Great Predecessors" caused quite a stir in the chess world. It contained so much analysis that was a pleasure to study and devour. Kasparov himself invited us to join him in his search for ultimate chess truth on our news pages. Will you join the search?

Master Class Vol.7: Garry Kasparov Master Class Vol.7: Garry Kasparov

On this DVD a team of experts gets to the bottom of Kasparov's play. In over 8 hours of video running time the authors Rogozenko, Marin, Reeh and Müller cast light on four important aspects of Kasparov's play: opening, strategy, tactics and endgame.

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The release of Part One of Garry Kasparov's "My Great Predecessors" series caused major ripples throughout the chess world. It seems no player, writer, or fan was without an opinion. Every sentence, every variation was scrutinized – and all with encouragement from a surprising source: the author himself. Kasparov spoke of his Predecessor series as almost a challenge to the chess world to find improvements and turn the books into a definitive museum of classical chess. He encouraged readers of his book to take up the analysis with him. "One of the tasks of this book is to inspire creative discussion. Because undoubtedly there will be many questions asked while reading the book. Today we have the luxury of all amateurs being able to understand the complexity of the game, by analysing with the computer. It is no longer a secret that belongs to top players and some experts. Everyone can search for chess truth and ask questions.

German Grandmaster Karsten Müller started things off. He performed and compiled an incredible amount of analysis on the famous game Bird-Morphy, London, 1858, and here includes Garry Kasparov's new contributions. Dr. Karsten Müller was born November 23, 1970 in Hamburg, Germany. He earned the grandmaster title in 1998, and a PhD in mathematics at the University of Hamburg four yeas later. He has been a regular contributor to ChessBase Magazine since 1997.
 


Karsten Mülller at a Kasparov Predessor book signing in Dresden in 2004

The Riddle of Bird vs Morphy

My Great Predessors Part 1 contains so much analysis of the battles for the highest crown of chess that it is a real pleasure to study and devour. With so many old well investigated positions and deep problems it is no wonder that there are still questions open, one of them is the following old riddle:

Bird,H - Morphy,P [C41]
London casual Bird London, 1858
[Mueller,Karsten]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 f5 4.Nc3 fxe4 5.Nxe4 d5 6.Ng3 e4 7.Ne5 Nf6 8.Bg5 Bd6 9.Nh5 0-0 10.Qd2 Qe8 11.g4 Nxg4 12.Nxg4 Qxh5 13.Ne5 Nc6 14.Be2 Qh3 15.Nxc6 bxc6 16.Be3 Rb8 17.0-0-0.

 

In this position the American chess genius played 17...Rxf2! 18.Bxf2 Qa3!! An amazing move from one edge of the board to another 19.c3! Qxa2 20.b4 Qa1+ 21.Kc2 Qa4+

22.Kb2? A bad mistake, Bird cracks under the pressure. The game ended 22...Bxb4! 23.cxb4 Rxb4+ 24.Qxb4 Qxb4+ 25.Kc2 e3 26.Bxe3 Bf5+ 27.Rd3 Qc4+ 28.Kd2 Qa2+ 29.Kd1 Qb1+ 0-1.

The critical defence in the above position is 22.Kc1! Many sources claim that it is sufficient for a draw, while some believe in Morphy's attack.

  • Euwe and Nunn write in The Development of Chess Style (p. 38, Batsford 1997): "22.Kc1! Qa1+ leads to perpetual check. This is the best line, but it means that with his pretty combination Black has thrown away the win."

  • Neistadt in Uncrowned Champions: "After 22.Kc1 Morphy would have had nothing better than satisfying himself with perpetual check."

  • Fred Reinfeld and Andrew Soltis in their book Morphy Chess Masterpieces (First Collier Books Edition 1974, in descriptive notation, which has been converted to algebraic): "Legend has it that when an onlooker found that 22 Kc1! draws, no one would speak to him for a week. The point of 22 Kc1! is that 22...Bxb4? 23 cxb4 Rxb4 is not check so that White might escape with 24 Qg5! Qa3+ 25 Kd2 Rb2+ 26 Ke1 Rxe2+ 27 Kxe2 Qf3+ 28 Ke1 Qxh1+ 29 Qg1! and wins. So Black would have to take a perpetual check with 22...Qa1+."

  • Anatoly Karpov has produced a deep investigation of the fascinating endgame after 22...a5 23.Qc2 Qa3+ 24.Qb2 axb4 25.Qxa3 bxa3 and revealed many hidden White resources. His main line runs 26.Be3 a2 27.Kc2 Ba3 28.Ra1 Rb2+ 29.Kd1 Bd7 30.Rf1 c5 31.dxc5 Ba4+ 32.Ke1 Bb3 33.Bd4! Rb1+ 34.Kd2 Rxa1 35.Rxa1 Bb2 36.Rg1 g6 37.h4 a1Q 38.Rxa1 Bxa1 39.Kc1 Ba2 and he concludes "Both sides are guaranteed a draw, Black is two pawns up, but his bishops are in seclusion." This is to be found in his work Miniatures from the World Champions (Collier Books 1985). The Soviet masters Gik and Rozenberg contributed to the analysis.

  • Garry Kasparov calls the previous try unclear and prefers 22.Kc1 Bf5! 23.Be1! Qa1+ 24.Kc2 e3+ 25.Kb3 exd2 26.Rxa1 Re8 27.Ba6 dxe1Q 28.Raxe1 Rxe1 29.Rxe1 Bxh2 30.Bb7 Be4 31.Bxc6 Kf7, which leaves Black with a small advantage.

So was Morphy's original rook sacrifice 17...Rxf2! sound? Kasparov writes: "I raise my hat to the great chess artist, but the crude 17...Bg4! was correct, or even, according to Euwe, the slow 17...Bf5 and ...Bg6". (see p. 38 of My Great Predecessors I). In my at Chess Cafe Endgame Corner column No. 23, November 2002 I came to the conclusion that Morphy's brilliant sacrifice was correct. At least I did not, at the time, manage to find a drawing line for White.

So what is the correct assessment of Morphy's rook sacrifice? Did he have a forced win after 17...Rxf2!, or was it necessary for him to play Kasparov's mundane 17...Bg4 or Euwe's quite 17...Bf5 to win the game against perfect defence. Send us your opinion and analysis on this historical position. The contact form is given at the bottom of this page.

What do you think? Using our JavaScript replay board you can check all the analysis given above, using a powerful chess engine to support your efforts.

[Event "London casual Bird"] [Site "London"] [Date "1858.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Bird, Henry Edward"] [Black "Morphy, Paul"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C41"] [Annotator "Mueller,Karsten"] [PlyCount "58"] [EventDate "1858.07.??"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 f5 4. Nc3 fxe4 5. Nxe4 d5 6. Ng3 e4 7. Ne5 Nf6 8. Bg5 Bd6 9. Nh5 O-O 10. Qd2 Qe8 11. g4 Nxg4 12. Nxg4 Qxh5 13. Ne5 Nc6 14. Be2 Qh3 15. Nxc6 bxc6 16. Be3 Rb8 17. O-O-O {This is the position we want to examine.} Rxf2 $1 {We should be grateful to Paul Charles Morphy that he didn't try to convert his extra pawn smoothly now, but tried to win by spectacular means. 'The rook sacrifice with which Morphy decided his match game with Bird made the rounds of the chess press.' (Neistadt in Uncrowned Champions)} 18. Bxf2 Qa3 $3 {# an amazing move from one edge of the board to another} 19. c3 $1 { the only serious try.} (19. Qg5 $2 Rxb2 20. Qd8+ Kf7 21. Bh5+ g6 22. Bxg6+ hxg6 $19) (19. bxa3 $4 Bxa3#) 19... Qxa2 20. b4 Qa1+ 21. Kc2 Qa4+ 22. Kb2 $2 { Bird cracks under the pressure.} (22. Kc1 $1 {is the critical try. Many sources claim that it is sufficient for a draw. Neistadt in Uncrowned Champions writes: "After this Morphy would have had nothing better than satisfying himself with perpetual check.". Euwe and Nunn in 'The Development of Chess Style' (p.38, Batsford 1997) say} Qa1+ {leads to perpetual check. "This is the best line, but it means that with his pretty combination Black has thrown away the win."} ({Fred Reinfeld and Andrew Soltis in their book Morphy Chess Masterpieces write: "Legend has it that when an onlooker found that 22 Kc1! draws, no one would speak to him for a week. The point of 22 Kc1! is that} 22... Bxb4 $2 23. cxb4 Rxb4 {is not check so that White might escape with} 24. Qg5 $1 Qa3+ 25. Kd2 Rb2+ 26. Ke1 Rxe2+ 27. Kxe2 Qf3+ 28. Ke1 Qxh1+ 29. Qg1 Qf3 30. Qg3 {and win. So Black would have to take a perpetual check with 22...Qa1+.}) ({Kasparov prefers} 22... Bf5 $6 23. Be1 Qa1+ 24. Kc2 e3+ 25. Kb3 exd2 26. Rxa1 Re8 27. Ba6 dxe1=Q 28. Raxe1 Rxe1 29. Rxe1 Bxh2 30. Bb7 Be4 31. Bxc6 Kf7 {which leaves Black with a small advantage.}) ({Anatoly Karpov in his book Miniatures from the World Champions (Collier Books 1985) gives} 22... a5 $1 {seems to win in the long run.} 23. Qc2 Qa3+ 24. Qb2 axb4 25. Qxa3 bxa3 { and White has many hidden resources. The main line runs} 26. Be3 a2 27. Kc2 Ba3 28. Ra1 Rb2+ 29. Kd1 Bd7 30. Rf1 c5 31. dxc5 Ba4+ 32. Ke1 Bb3 33. Bd4 Rb1+ 34. Kd2 Rxa1 35. Rxa1 Bb2 36. Rg1 g6 37. h4 a1=Q 38. Rxa1 Bxa1 39. Kc1 Ba2 { and Karpov concludes "Both sides are guaranteed a draw, Black is two pawns up, but his bishops are in seclusion."})) 22... Bxb4 $1 23. cxb4 Rxb4+ 24. Qxb4 Qxb4+ 25. Kc2 e3 26. Bxe3 Bf5+ 27. Rd3 Qc4+ 28. Kd2 Qa2+ 29. Kd1 Qb1+ 0-1

You probably know that in our replay boards there are a large number of functions you can use to really appreciate the games. Recently we published a comprehensive tutorial on how to get the most out of the live broadcast game viewer. Learn about all the powerful features and buttons that make the ChessBase's replay one of the best watching experiences around.

One big advantage is that you can start an engine (fan icon) that will help you to analyse. You can get multiple lines of analysis by clicking the + button to the right of the engine analysis window. The "!" key, incidentally, shows you the threat in any position, which is incredibly useful in the case of unclear moves. Note that your analysis, where you can delete, move or promote lines, is stored in the notation as new variations. In the end you will find the game with your analysis in the cloud. So nothing is ever lost.

ChessBase DVDs by Karsten Müller



Editor-in-Chief emeritus of the ChessBase News page. Studied Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of Hamburg and Oxford, graduating with a thesis on speech act theory and moral language. He started a university career but switched to science journalism, producing documentaries for German TV. In 1986 he co-founded ChessBase.

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Karsten Müller Karsten Müller 4/14/2020 09:55
This of course is speculation. Maybe Morphy would have continued with 22...Bf5!?, which would still have given him excellent practical winning chances over the board. But computer defence should hold the resulting position, with Black's queen and pawns fighting against White's rooks and bishop. For humans it would be easier to play with the queen as the coordination of so many pieces is not easy at all.
catalanFischer catalanFischer 4/13/2020 12:00
The question is till where Morphy calculated before playing 17....Rxf2? If 22. Kc1 sure he wouldn't go for Nunns perpetual and Karpov 22....a5 looks too slow since a Q swap is coming with Qc2. What he had in mind to meet Rc1? We will never know
Karsten Müller Karsten Müller 4/12/2020 01:30
Many thanks! I was working from my archive of ChessBase files and had probably forgotten to renumber there to 139.
chessbibliophile chessbibliophile 4/12/2020 07:13
I checked my own collection of Endgame Corner columns. The revised analysis is in No. 139.
Karsten Müller Karsten Müller 4/11/2020 01:34
The question, if Morphy's amazing combination starting with 17...Rxf2 wins or not, still fascinates me. But nowadays I think that computer defence will hold (my last publication was Endgame Corner 138). At least my "winning proof" from Endgame Corner 23 and 25 is clearly not correct. I have 4 remarks:
1) In the Karpov line there is also Mark Allen's suggestion 25.Kb1!! (instead of 25.Qxa3?!, which also is not completely clear, see Endgame Corner 128), which probably defends.
2) I agree with the previous remark
"In Karpov's line, after 22...a5 23.Qc2 Qa3+ 24.Qb2 axb4 25.Qxa3 bxa3 26.Be3, 26...Rb3 seems to give black a big advantage. 26. Bg3 fares better but black is still ahead." This is also given in Endgame Corner 128.
3) Endgame Corner 138 mostly deals with Valeri Beim's winning proof after 22...Bf5. I still think nowadays that White can defend, but the resulting positions with two rooks, bishop and pawn vs queen and five pawns are amazingly deep.
4) But who knows. I can of course not give a clear drawing proof. So maybe a reader can change this picture of Black has the initiative, but with very precise defence White can draw. If that is correct than this positon might be one of the two drawn positions, where the most false winning proofs have been published over the years. The other one is the famous 9th game of the 1st World Championship match Karpov vs Kasprov. In the knight vs bishop endgame, which is a 8 men tablebase draw after 66...Bh1!! (Instead of the losing game continuation 66...Bb7?). Here also many false winning proofs have been published. I of course also contributed one in Endgame Corner 43. Chess is really a very deep game!
Boomie Boomie 4/11/2020 03:25
In Karpov's line, after 22...a5 23.Qc2 Qa3+ 24.Qb2 axb4 25.Qxa3 bxa3 26.Be3, 26...Rb3 seems to give black a big advantage. 26. Bg3 fares better but black is still ahead.
sjh sjh 4/8/2020 03:47
It was real pity that GK has stopped doing Chessbase DVDs and didn't continue his series of his games. His QGD DVD was really excellent (as were all his others of course)
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