Analysing with Garry Kasparov

10/9/2003 – Garry Kasparov's book "My Great Predecessors" is causing quite a stir in the chess world. It contains so much analysis that it is a pleasure to study and devour. With so many deep problems it is no wonder that there are still open questions. Kasparov himself has invited us to join him in his search for ultimate chess truth.

ChessBase 14 Download ChessBase 14 Download

Everyone uses ChessBase, from the World Champion to the amateur next door. Start your personal success story with ChessBase 14 and enjoy your chess even more!

Along with the ChessBase 14 program you can access the Live Database of 8 million games, and receive three months of free ChesssBase Account Premium membership and all of our online apps! Have a look today!


Analysis Focus #1: Garry Kasparov's Great Predecessors

Analysis Focus #1

GM Karsten Müller on Bird–Morphy, London, 1858 (p. 37)

The release of Part One of Garry Kasparov's "My Great Predecessors" series has caused major ripples throughout the chess world. It seems no player, writer, or fan is without an opinion. Every sentence, every variation is being scrutinized – and all with encouragement from a surprising source: the author.

Since the books initial release in Russian, Kasparov has spoken of this series as almost a challenge to the chess world to find improvements and turn the books into a definitive museum of classical chess. One thing that has been overlooked, is that Kasparov has experience with the power of global mass-mind analysis.

In his amazing "Kasparov against The World" on the Internet in 1999, Kasparov played the most heavily analyzed game of all time. Literally thousands of lines were produced after each move, by thousands of players and their computers around the world, month after month. The result was an opponent that came very close to holding a draw in what has been called by many authors one of the greatest games of all time.

There is always more analysis to be done; it never ends and no evaluation is final. But with many eyeballs looking, you can come much closer to seeing the truth. This article is the first part of what will be an ongoing series of analysis related to contents of Garry Kasparov's "Predecessors" books. With the participation of publisher Everyman, Garry Kasparov himself, our analysts (human and silicon), and of course you, the reader, we will dig deeply into every game.

Garry Kasparov is encouraging the 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.

Click on the picture to view the video clip

The above video clip is part of a 90-minute chat session Garry Kasparov gave from New York on the server server in July this year. You will need a Microsoft Media Player 9 to replay it.

German Grandmaster Karsten Müller starts things off. He has 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, a PhD in mathematics in 2002 at the University of Hamburg. With IM Frank Lamprecht he is the co-author of "Secrets of Pawn Endings" (Everyman 2000) and "Fundamental Chess Endings" (GAMBIT 2001), and with FM Claus Dieter Meyer of "Magic of Chess Tactics" (Russell Enterprises 2003). His column "Endgame Corner" has appeared at since January 2001 and he has been a regular contributor to ChessBase Magazine since 1997.

The Riddle of Bird vs Morphy

Garry Kasparov's excellent new work on his great predessors 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

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 (available as a PDF file) 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.


Discussion and Feedback Join the public discussion or submit your feedback to the editors


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register