Battle of the Legends (2/2)

by ChessBase
4/27/2015 – "Gold does not rust". What an applicable scientific fact! Garry Kasparov absolutely annihilated the 60th best active chess player on the planet with a score of 5-0, bringing the total to 8.5-1.5 A humiliation for Nigel Short and an absolute spectacle and bloodbath for the onlookers. We bring you a full report, and of course the highlights of the decisive moments.

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


Day Two

By Brian Jerauld

The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis was bustling!
Outside, IM Malcolm Pein plays against the locals.

Young players come into the Chess Club all the time. Young Martin here tries to solve a puzzle.

The amazing studio where I had the pleasure of providing live commentary with GM Maurice Ashley

And just like that, Garry Kasparov has left the building. Though his appearance was brief, returning to the board for only two days and 10 games in his Battle of the Legends match against Nigel Short, while he was here Kasparov made certain to leave nothing on the table.

No missed opportunities. Not many of Short’s pieces. And certainly, no doubt.

Convincing enough on Saturday, emerging from the first day with a two-point lead, Kasparov reminded the world who he is on Sunday at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. Though retired for a decade, the greatest chess player in history completely dismantled Short -- still active, as the world’s No. 60 player -- with a stunning 5-0 sweep of the afternoon. The brutal end of the lopsided 8.5-1.5 match, which featured him flagging for a loss on day one to raise concerns about rust collecting on the 13th World Champion of Chess, instead reminded everyone: Gold does not rust.

Is this the face of a rusty, retired, old man?

“I feel great, and I have to confess: I’m also surprised,” Kasparov said of his toppling victory. “I felt like it was time to play as I had played 20 or 30 years ago: Just have fun -- and attack, attack. So I did it in every game, and it worked.”

Indeed, at 52 years old on Sunday, Kasparov looked like the player of yesteryear, showcasing five games worth of devastating attacks that left the bout looking less like a mismatch, and more like he was simply running up the score. Ironically Sunday’s first game -- the day’s only to feature a longer Rapid time control -- was the only game to reach a fantastic race in time pressure, while the remaining four Blitz games featured lopsided crushes, each of them worse than the last.

Garry with his long time friend Michael Khodarkovsky

A brief postmortem

“I think I had chances in that first game -- and then things started to go from bad to worse,” Short said. “By the last game, I didn’t see anything at all. I didn’t see a single move.”

Sunday’s opening Rapid game was a nostalgic chess fan’s delight, as Kasparov with the black pieces defended in his trademark Najdorf Sicilian. His lash out with 13...h4...h5 helped to tear open white’s kingside protection, while his exchange sacrifice at 16...Rxc3 collapsed the center and ravaged white’s pawn structure.

Through a middlegame with variations plentiful and wild, Short held the material advantage extremely well, using the recapture at 21. cxd5 to repair his structure and temporarily hold black’s compensation attack at bay. The move left Kasparov stalled, head shaking in frustration as his clock fell below six minutes, and finally deciding on the innocuous 22...a5. Short responded with a quick 23. Rc1, further solidifying his position.

But Short gave up a nearly five minute clock advantage before deciding on 24. Qb3, and his 26. f4! triggered the blitz fireworks in a fantastically complex endgame.

[Event "Legends Rapid Match 2015"] [Site "Saint Louis USA"] [Date "2015.04.26"] [Round "2"] [White "Short, Nigel D"] [Black "Kasparov, Garry"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B91"] [WhiteElo "2664"] [BlackElo "2812"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "105"] [EventDate "2015.04.25"] [SourceDate "2015.02.07"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 {What a treat! The former World Champion playing the defense he was so famously feared for: the Najdorf Sicilian.} 6. g3 {Not the most aggressive approach, maybe Short was taking a page out of Adams' book, as he had beaten Giri only a couple of days ago with this move.} e5 7. Nb3 Nbd7 8. a4 b6 9. Bg2 Bb7 10. O-O Be7 11. Re1 Rc8 12. Nd2 {Short goes for a maneuver that is not uncommon in this position. The knight is rerouting to f1, e3 and finally it will land on the d5 square. There isn't much Black can do about this, except to wait for the knight to occupy e4. Then, as we will see, Kasparov can think of sacrificing the exchange} h5 $5 {Making the king a little uncomfortable on the kingside. Short doesn't have to react to the move, and he doesn't, but perhaps simply 13.h4 was more prudent. } 13. Nf1 h4 14. Ne3 g6 (14... hxg3 15. hxg3 Rxc3 16. bxc3 Nxe4 17. Nd5 Bxd5 18. Qxd5 {doesn't look like compensation at all. The knight cannot even take on c3 in this position and Black has given up the important light squares.}) 15. Re2 $6 {This move is simply inviting Black to sacrifice the exchange, and I cannot believe that this sacrifice is not extremely powerful.} (15. Ned5 Nxd5 16. Nxd5 Bxd5 17. Qxd5 (17. exd5 $5) 17... Rxc2 18. Qd3 Qc8 19. Be3 {gives White some compensation for the pawn, and at least retained active changes with the rook coming into c1.}) 15... hxg3 16. hxg3 Rxc3 17. bxc3 Nxe4 18. Bb2 (18. Nd5 Bxd5 19. Qxd5 Nxc3 {is unplayable.}) 18... Ndf6 (18... Qc8 {was a bit more flexible, but allows White to countersacrifice...} 19. Nd5 $1 f5 20. Rxe4 $1 {With a very unclear situation.}) 19. c4 Qc8 $6 (19... Qa8 $5 {with possibilities of Ng5 in the future. However Kasparov felt his queen was better placed on c8.}) 20. Nd5 $1 Nxd5 21. cxd5 Ng5 $6 (21... Nc3 22. Bxc3 Qxc3 {still gives Black some compensation.}) 22. c4 $1 {Short fighting back! The compensation in this position doesn't seem clear. It's true that White has some issues with his rooks and some weak pawns, but his king is not too badly posted and if he can make Kasparov go in the defensive his extra material will tell.} a5 $1 {A nice move. The point is that under some tactical scenarios Ba6xc4 is actually possible, despite the pin down the c-file.} 23. Rc1 Ba6 24. Qb3 (24. Qd3 $1 Qg4 25. f4 $1 {is a way, way stronger version of the game, as the rook on e2 is defended and White saved a tempo.}) 24... Qg4 25. Rcc2 Bc8 $1 {The bishop goes back to a strong post on f5.} 26. f4 Nh3+ 27. Kf1 f6 28. Qf3 Qf5 {Of course, Kasparov is in no mood to exchange queens!} 29. Re4 $6 {A very poor placement for this rook. It defends f4, but there were better ways of doing so.} (29. Bc1 $1 $14) 29... Kf7 30. Rce2 Qg4 31. fxe5 $6 {Probably the worst way to go into the endgame.} (31. Bc1 $14) 31... Qxf3+ 32. Bxf3 dxe5 33. Rh4 $2 {But this is the real mistake.} (33. Rh2 Bf5 34. Kg2 Rh7 (34... Kg7 35. Re3 $14) 35. Re2 { and only White can be better. Black is nowhere near as active as he was in the game.}) 33... Rxh4 34. gxh4 Nf4 {now Black is coordinating too well. It's important to also notice that both sides were playing with seconds.} 35. Rd2 Bc5 36. d6 Bh3+ 37. Ke1 Bb4 38. Kd1 Bd7 $1 {Such precision with the clock ticking down! The rook is not important; not yet. If White decides to save the exchange he loses two pawns.} 39. Rh2 Bxa4+ 40. Kc1 Bxd6 41. Kb1 f5 42. Bc1 e4 $2 43. Bh1 $2 (43. Bxe4 fxe4 44. Bxf4 {would have completely changed things! Black suddenly loses a very important pawn and Short holds the game!}) 43... Nd3 44. Re2 Bd1 45. Rd2 Bb3 46. Rxd3 exd3 47. Bd5+ Kf6 48. Kb2 a4 {The pawn difference is too big.} 49. Kc3 b5 50. Kxd3 Bxc4+ 51. Bxc4 bxc4+ 52. Kxc4 f4 53. Kd4 0-1

After collapsing in the rapid Rapid endgame, Short was rolled over in each of the four Blitz games.

“Unfortunately, chess is a sport, and you need energy -- and that’s what was completely lacking in my own game,” said Short, who won the Thailand Open last week but reported a suffering from jet lag in Saint Louis. “Actually, I felt my energy going down throughout this match. I just didn’t arrive in good physical condition.”

In Sunday’s second Blitz game, Short steered clear of more Kasparov Najdorf hijinx, the game turning into a Classic Sicilian. By 13...Qa5, Kasparov was on the attack again, shocking Short with a quickly played 15...e4 that sent white’s army into disarray.

[Event "Legends Blitz Match 2015"] [Site "Saint Louis USA"] [Date "2015.04.26"] [Round "6"] [White "Short, Nigel D"] [Black "Kasparov, Garry"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B63"] [WhiteElo "2664"] [BlackElo "2812"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "58"] [EventDate "2015.04.25"] [SourceDate "2015.02.07"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. Nge2 Nf6 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 d6 6. Bg5 e6 7. Qd2 Be7 8. O-O-O O-O 9. h4 a6 10. Kb1 h6 11. f4 Bd7 12. Bxf6 Bxf6 13. Nf3 Qa5 $1 {The start a combination that in Blitz must be almost impossible to calculate, but the feeling was certainly there, that killer intuition!} 14. e5 $2 dxe5 15. Qxd7 e4 $1 16. Ne5 (16. Nxe4 Rad8 $19) (16. Nd2 Bxc3 17. Nc4 (17. Nb3 Qb6 18. bxc3 Rad8 $19) 17... Qb4 {with a winning position.}) 16... Bxe5 $1 (16... Rad8 17. Qxb7 Bxe5 18. Rxd8 Nxd8 19. Qxe4 {is not as clear.}) 17. fxe5 Rad8 (17... Rfd8 $4 18. Qxb7 Rxd1+ 19. Nxd1 Qe1 20. Qxa8+ {It's important to use the correct rook.}) 18. Qxb7 Rxd1+ 19. Nxd1 Qe1 {Suddenly White has real problems with his undeveloped pieces and the pin down the first rank.} 20. Be2 $1 Qxh1 21. Qxc6 Rd8 {This is the key to the entire combination. There is no good way to defend the knight on d1.} 22. b4 $2 (22. a4 Rxd1+ 23. Bxd1 Qxd1+ 24. Ka2 Qd4 $1 {Was a little better than the game, but still winning for Black.} (24... Qd5+ $4 25. Qxd5 exd5 26. Kb3 $18 {catches the pawn.})) (22. Kc1 $2 Qe1 {and you can't stop Qd2+ and Qxe2.}) 22... Qe1 23. Qxa6 (23. Qxe4 Rxd1+ $19) 23... Qxb4+ 24. Kc1 Qd2+ 25. Kb2 Rb8+ {Now White is simply getting mated.} 26. Bb5 Qb4+ 27. Kc1 Rxb5 28. Nc3 Rxe5 29. Qc6 e3 0-1

Short was all-but looking for the exit by the match’s tenth and final game, body language indicating that he had seen better days. He desperately tried to slow the afternoon onslaught down into a positional battle, but Kasparov continued to pour it on. Black’s castling on the 14th move allowed white the central break with 15. e4, but Kasparov’s response of 15...c5 turned the game on a sharper blade and rocked Short back in his seat.

Under kingside duress already, Short sent his queen away hunting pawns with 24. Qxd5+, while Kasparov’s queen slipped in through the back door. The legend brought the match to a close with a menacing attack, ending the vicious afternoon with a fitting finish: Checkmate on the board.

[Event "Legends Blitz Match 2015"] [Site "Saint Louis USA"] [Date "2015.04.26"] [Round "8"] [White "Short, Nigel D"] [Black "Kasparov, Garry"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A48"] [WhiteElo "2664"] [BlackElo "2812"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "76"] [EventDate "2015.04.25"] [SourceDate "2015.02.07"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. Bg5 Bg7 4. Nbd2 h6 5. Bh4 d6 6. c3 g5 7. Bg3 Nh5 8. e3 Nd7 9. Bd3 e6 10. O-O Qe7 11. a4 f5 12. Ne1 Ndf6 13. f4 Nxg3 14. hxg3 O-O 15. e4 c5 $5 16. dxc5 (16. Qe2 {leaves the position very unclear.}) 16... d5 $1 { Excellent! Black gives himself an isolated pawn, but his pieces gain tremendous activity.} 17. exf5 Qxc5+ 18. Kh1 exf5 19. Nb3 Qe3 $1 {The start of a beautiful maneuver.} 20. Qf3 Qe8 $1 {Kasparov at his best! The knight will land from c5 all the way on h2!} 21. Nc2 $2 (21. Kg1 Ng4 22. Qe2 Qh5 23. Nf3 { stopping the queen from coming to h2 was the only way to survive. This is still anyone's game.}) 21... Ng4 22. Kg1 Qh5 23. Rfe1 Bd7 $1 {Simply developing. Here the rook can come to e8, cutting off the king's escape.} ( 23... Qh2+ {attacks the king, but doesn't mate it.} 24. Kf1 Qh1+ $2 25. Ke2 Qh5 26. Qxd5+ $13) 24. Qxd5+ {Going for it, but Black's attack is too strong.} Kh8 25. Qxd7 Qh2+ 26. Kf1 Rad8 (26... Qxg3 {was also devastating.}) 27. Qxb7 Qxg3 28. Re2 Rxd3 (28... Qxf4+ $19) 29. Nc5 Qxf4+ 30. Ke1 {White isn't even up material. The rest of the game requires no comments!} Qg3+ 31. Kf1 Qh4 32. g3 Rxg3 33. Ne6 Rg8 34. Nxg7 Nh2+ 35. Ke1 Nf3+ 36. Kf2 Rh3+ 37. Ke3 Qf4+ 38. Kd3 Ne5# {A fitting finish, with mate on the board.} 0-1

In fact, it was Kasparov who was shaking his head in disbelief as his clock fell below six minutes

“He’s the greatest player in chess history, in my opinion,” Short said.

After flagging for a loss on day one, leaving some to question if rust had taken over the retired 13th World Champion of Chess, Kasparov returned on Sunday and reminded everyone about a little thing called science: Gold does not rust.

In only his fourth serious match since retiring in 2005, Kasparov completely dismantled Short - the world’s 60th best active Grandmaster

Nigel Short was as true gentleman and graceful in defeat

"Fine, I'll accept your resignation..."

An autograph session to finish the day

Photos by Austin Fuller

Replay the Massacre

Select from the dropdown menu to replay the games

Format: two rapid and eight blitz games. Time Control: Rapid - 25 minutes, plus a 10-second delay per move; Blitz - 5 minutes, with a 3-second delay. For example, if the delay is five seconds, the clock waits for five seconds before counting down. Schedule:

Date Time Event
April 24 2:45 PM Opening Ceremony & Chess Tour 2015 Press Conference
  4:00 PM Simultaneous Exhibition by Garry & Nigel
April 25 2:00 PM Rapid Round 1, Blitz Rounds 1-4
April 26 2:00 PM Rapid Round 2, Blitz Rounds 5-8
  5:00 PM Autograph Session with Garry & Nigel

All times are local to Saint Louis, MO, USA (CDT). The rapid games start at 2:00 p.m. = 21:00h CEST – here is the time in your location.  Both match days for Battle of the Legends will be streamed live on U.S. Chess Champs, featuring world-class commentary from International Grandmasters Maurice Ashley and Alejandro Ramirez, as well as post-game interviews and analysis with Kasparov and Short.


The games will be broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

Reports about chess: tournaments, championships, portraits, interviews, World Championships, product launches and more.


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register