Battle of the Legends (2/2)

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.

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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.

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Whannum3 Whannum3 4/30/2015 08:34
RE: "Kramnik's ducking a rematch also surely factored in." - This is simply not true.
Kasparov had multiple chances at a rematch, but refused on various conditions. They had a candidates tournament in Dortmund 2002 (which Leko won) but Kasparov didn't play!
His excuse? "I shouldn't have to earn a rematch. I was World Champion and I deserve a rematch." Think about it, why would Kramnik "duck" a multi-million dollar match? He was obviously not afraid of Kasparov because at that time HE HAD A PLUS SCORE against him in classical chess and had just crushed him in a match. Kramnik was not afraid of Garry (or making millions) so it's ridiculous to say he "ducked" a rematch.
footloose4 footloose4 4/30/2015 07:07
It's a little misleading. Here's the reality: Kasparov exhibits some rust as he narrowly misses 10-0 sweep of Short ;)
DELTAMAX2020 DELTAMAX2020 4/29/2015 03:50
Nigel ,this is the defeat you get when you don't study chessbase DVDs.
dunican dunican 4/28/2015 12:15
The solution to the puzzle in the second picture seems to be Be8. What do I win?
ashperov ashperov 4/28/2015 10:24
Uhm... Why not play in the world Blitz championship? its competitive. Fun. And not as intensive as the classical forms. That way Garry can compete, without the hectic commitments required? Someone who knows him, bump him up to play in the world Blitz champs? Even if he ends mid field. so what? Fantastic for a retired guy-
However I suspect he only would want to play if its to win and nothing else. And they join it with Rapids I think? but for him surely they can make an exception
Nostalgiac1972 Nostalgiac1972 4/28/2015 10:01
At the age of 52 and being officially inactive for the best part of 10 years Kasparov continues to be absolutely crushing as we saw. As a rare phenomenon, it now seems even far more possible that he can pose serious challenges to and even bring down any top guy, provided he recognizes the fact that everything will be on his side once he decides to issue a challenge -no matter to whom- and takes some time to get really focused on nothing but chess. His versatility of chess understanding has proven to transcend generations, and I don't see what will be there that he may not be able to dismantle and make his second nature- just like Fischer. Wish to see you back there Garry!
BeachBum2 BeachBum2 4/28/2015 09:53
Get Ivanchuk, Rapport, Kasparov... whoever else plays in "less orthodox" style. 25 min with some increment. Would be fun!
DeepGreen DeepGreen 4/28/2015 06:55
People, remember that this is blitz. Kasparov is the greatest chess player in history, and plays remarkably well despite his age, but we shouldn't get too overexcited by the fact that he crushed Short (~2660 FIDE blitz rating). As Kasparov himself said, he wouldn't stand much of a chance against the very best at longer time controls.
DeepGreen DeepGreen 4/28/2015 06:46
Garry Kasparov, when asked about a possible match between him and Carlsen (after Kasparov won his "show-match" vs. Nigel Short the other day):

<You only want to see a massacre!>

Kasparov said he could put up a fight against Carlsen in blitz, but not at slower time controls (rapid, classical):

<I would probably lose, but I could put up a fight in blitz>

He also added:

<If I'd played against the 10 best players, I'd definitely not have been last! I don't think I could've beaten Magnus, Caruana and Aronian, but I wouldn't have been last>
DBRussell DBRussell 4/28/2015 02:31
The greatest chess player ever!

But Magnus has a great shot at overcoming his achievments.

ChrisB ChrisB 4/28/2015 01:32
It's a great exhibition. Interesting how Kasparov still has the psychological advantage over Nigel, even after all of these years.

We are on the precipice of the richest boxing match of all time. Whether it is a great fight or not is irrelevant. The 2 best of finally facing each other.

How much sponsorship and prize money would a 12 game classical match between Kasparov and Carlsen bring? Title or no title. Who cares????? Whether it is a great match or not is irrelevant. It would just be the largest spectacle chess has seen since Fischer/Spassky 72 and Karpov/Kasparov in the 80's.

Fun to just think about.
Joseph Goldstein Joseph Goldstein 4/27/2015 06:11
Folks, it is blitz games.
Funny to watch but nothing to take seriously. But he could very well participate in blitz WC and make an OK result. No one would be surprisd after this white wash.
jebib jebib 4/27/2015 04:10
I'm absolutely OK if he "comes back" for the money. I can't imagine that it will enhance his reputation in the chess world. In my opinion he would turn into a Korchnoi type personality.
Paduait Paduait 4/27/2015 03:25
in chess games there is no humiliation, only the pleasure to paly!
KrushonIrina KrushonIrina 4/27/2015 02:54
What a treat.

Chess without Kasparov is like boxing without Ali.
ismeto ismeto 4/27/2015 02:34
Nigel Mort !
KevinC KevinC 4/27/2015 02:32
@LetsReason, overall, a good analysis, but there are also a couple more important factors: Kasparov was still winning tournaments, but yes, he lost to Kramnik in 2000, but he had already started to divide his time more significantly between chess and politics, which was probably a bigger motive for his retirement. Kramnik's ducking a rematch also surely factored in.

Garry retired as clear number one in the world, so I don't think that it was just some dry games here or there.

LetsReason LetsReason 4/27/2015 01:57
I wonder if people recall what nudged Kasparov out of the WCC's chair and then into retirement? I remember Kramnik's dry, boring positional play frustrating Kasparov into mistakes. I remember he still smashed the top players in tactical brawls (i.e. was it against Topalov to finish?). The problem with excited fans (and I am one) dreaming of a Kasparov return is that many of the top players today are neck deep in exactly the kind of play that pushed Kasparov out. I'm just not so easily convinced the Garry would fair as well as we'd hope against the play at the top right now.

With all of that said, players are often the creation of the time they play in. I believe Kramnik ushered in this age with the aforementioned games. I think what made/makes Garry the greatest ever is that his strength spans "the ages".

Good to see him playing.
cptmajormajor cptmajormajor 4/27/2015 01:35
Kaspy the legend showing why he has the most impressive chess CV ever.
In persepective, it was versus out of form friend and long time victim of his. Gary will never come back to classical in my opinion but I could see some sort of exhibition pay per view versus Magnus happening . I would pay for it :) Perhaps would be bigger shock than Sugar Ray beating Marvin Hagler if Kaspy could topple the Norweign WunderBar
KevinC KevinC 4/27/2015 01:12
omid wrote: "It's not just about the score, the way he played those games was simply stunning."

Beautifully said.

@DeOudHagenaar As my favorite player of all time, and much as I love Kasparov's play, you really can't compare a couple of rapid games and 8 blitz games to what the guys you listed do in classical chess. Do I think that Kasparov would still be a top 5 with some practice: No doubt. I do believe that if he got back in form, he would probably be back at number one, or possibly number two, but it would still take some time.
DeOudHagenaar DeOudHagenaar 4/27/2015 12:19
He is over 50 y.o. now; playing not less impressive than Carlsen, Caruana, So and Giri.
bronkenstein bronkenstein 4/27/2015 12:08
As people already noted, not that he won, he did it in great style.

And now, as someone on Chessbomb said yesterday (with a sad smile and a sigh, I can imagine) "...It`s time to return to our Carlsens and Caruanas" =)

On a serious note, I hope that - after feeling the taste of blood again - Garry will want to play some more rapid and blitz soon enough.
Cajunmaster Cajunmaster 4/27/2015 10:42
Makes you wonder, is it Ms. Short, now?
karavamudan karavamudan 4/27/2015 10:28
If KASPAROV thinks he is so good then he should return to what he is good at - chess.

Defeating Short by such a huge margin is graceless
thlai80 thlai80 4/27/2015 09:55
Kasparov game intensity is so much more powerful and very much different from other players. We are missing such player to brawl with Magnus Carlsen.
Alexandro55 Alexandro55 4/27/2015 09:50
I wish that Kasparov plays chess again , I think Kasparov has an amazing influence on the game !
Tom Zap Tom Zap 4/27/2015 09:01
Funny.... I would have sworn I could hear thousands of women cheering.
omid omid 4/27/2015 08:25
It's not just about the score, the way he played those games was simply stunning.
Steven E DuCharm Steven E DuCharm 4/27/2015 08:13
Somewhere Tony Miles is all smiles
tom_70 tom_70 4/27/2015 08:11
So he crushed one old rival, how bout challenging another one? Perhaps Anand?
cheat3 cheat3 4/27/2015 07:51
Beast from Baku Blasts Best of British

Seriously though: “Gold doesn’t rust” – absolutely love it.