Bisik-Bisik with Garry Kasparov – Part 2

by ChessBase
1/25/2010 – At the end of last year Garry Kasparov sat down for an indepth interview with our Malaysian correspondent Edwin Lam Choong Wai. In part one he spoke about his early years and his collaboration with Magnus Carlsen. In the current session he talks about the first Karpov-Kasparov match, the anniversary exhibition in 2009, and his strength in simultaneous play. With a very nice example.

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Bisik-Bisik with Garry Kasparov – Part 2

By Edwin Lam Choong Wai

Garry Kasparov made his first trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, back in mid November 2009, in order to speak at the Youth Engagement Summit (YES) 2009. I had the opportunity to catch up with the best player in chess history, ever, over a “Bisik-Bisik” session for ChessBase at the Putrajaya Convention Center. Our candid 40-minute chat covered a variety of topics. In the first part of the Bisik-Bisik session, Garry talked about his recent speaking engagements across Asia, his fascination with Malaysia, growing up years and most importantly, his collaboration with Magnus Carlsen.

In this part 2 Garry took a walk down memory lane to talk about the preparations made for his very first match against Karpov and the recent K-K anniversary exhibition match.

Edwin Lam: You are well-known for your intense, thorough and deep pre-match and competition preparations – especially in your matches against Karpov. As 2009 is the 25th anniversary of the first K-K match can you perhaps use the 1984 match against Karpov to illustrate the depth and breadth of your preparation on the eve of that match?

Garry Kasparov: Playing a title match against the world champion himself was fundamentally different to any other Candidates Match before that. I knew then that I would be up against the world champion, a fighter who is most experienced in play at the highest level with a totally different resistance threshold. The 1984 match was one that without a maximum set number of games – the winner was supposed to be the first person to score six wins. Since Karpov had lost quite rarely back then, in order to win this match, I knew that I had to regularly make moves of the highest quality, and this demanded far more serious preparation. I had a five-month time before the match to rest and to prepare for the unknown test. I had a group of four chess trainers, Nikitin, Shakarov, Vladimirov and Timoschenko throughout my preparation. Dorfman came to assist me at the start of the main match, while Adorjan participated in the final pre-match training session. This was a very small team compared to the resources that Karpov had, but still, what mattered was that we had a plan to prepare for the match.

Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov at the 1984 match

Initially, my trainers and I looked at Karpov’s games and drew up a competitive and creative portrait of him, picking out the strong and weak aspects of his play. After that, we compiled a list of chess openings that were most likely to occur in the match, with a preference to variations leading to complicated and at times intricate positions. From here onwards, we began concrete chess opening preparations. This is a most important part of the preparation for any important chess match, and our work here included studying a number of variations for both the black and white sides of the same chess opening. All these work, which were the result of hours and hours of prolonged brainstorming together with my highly-qualified trainers throughout a five-month period, helped me greatly in the critical situation, which arose soon after the start of the match.

The 1984 match was abandoned after 48 games

But, the biggest achievements in this pre-match preparation were above all, my ability to start the match with Karpov with a creative approach to solving a broad grasp of chess opening problems as well as a readiness on my part to engage in a battle with Karpov in any chess openings’ dispute in the most varied situations.

Against Karpov in the 1984 match, you came up a little short in the dynamism vs. long-term advantages’ struggle. You learnt well and about a year and a half later in the 1985 match, you were a changed man. What specific plans did you put in place prior to the 1985 match?

One of the key challenges the Kasparov team had prior to the second match was time. We realized that time was short and we began preparations began virtually the day after Campomanes’ announcement of the match. We drew up a six-month schedule that included both relaxation and independent work, besides three twenty-day sessions with my trainers and helpers. As part of my preparation I also played two training matches with GMs Hubner and Andersson in May 1985. And, thereafter began my first of the three twenty-day sessions with my trainers. Here, we continued our work on chess openings, besides working to improve my positional technique. We also included as part of the session some form of physical training, whereby we went running barefoot along the beach besides swimming in the sea, cycling and football.

Kasparov vs Karpov 1985 in the Tchaikowsky Theatre in Moscow

The summer months went by very quickly and in September 1985 the match with Karpov commenced. Here, I felt far more confident than say, one year back. I had become stronger and had more stamina and my style of play was more balanced and universal. My store of opening ideas had been thoroughly replenished and I am now ready for a renewed battle with the mighty Karpov!

In 1972 Fischer was known to be always carrying a red-colored book containing Spassky’s games wherever he went. This represented the most extreme of chess preparations. Can you please share with us on what you think is the ideal preparation plan of a modern-day chess professional prior to competition?

You can’t prepare without the computer. You must be constantly updated with all the improvements in the modern-day game of chess. Now that I am working with Magnus, Alexander Shakarov and I will always go to TWIC and we will look at the regular issues, just to see the games – all the relevant ones. You have to follow, you have to update your database and you have to be aware about the improvements. And, those are just general tournaments. As for, big tournaments like Moscow, I am always following them. You can’t be behind. It’s not like 20 years ago, when you knew you could benefit from a game that was played somewhere where nobody else saw it. Today, in a week, or in 24 hours, or live, people can see all these games. So that’s why you have to be very creative, because everybody have access to the same information. Your creativity is more important, because you have to process these games and invent something new.

Kasparov and Carlsen working on notebook computers and with a chessboard

Fast forward to 2009. What are your thoughts on the recent K-K match?

The K-K match in Valencia was a great story. But, it is such a pity that the K-K match was again the biggest story in the world of chess. It showed that the chess world has made no real progress because, if the nostalgic K-K match in 2009 had bigger coverage than Anand-Kramnik’s world championship match in Bonn, then this is bad news for all in the world of chess. I mean, you can’t imagine that the match Borg-McEnroe today can have bigger coverage than say, Federer-Nadal? There is something wrong and I think the world of chess has stagnated. I played the match against Karpov to drive some awareness about the game and to re-construct the good old days when chess was really popular and made it to the front page of almost every major newspaper in the world. I liked the experience, although the match was not really of any significance.

The 2009 Kasparov-Karpov match in the Centro Cultural Bancaja in Valencia

Something we have sorely missed: Kasparov in serious OTB play

12th World Champion Anatoly Karpov once again faced his historical nemesis

I think Karpov was a little out of shape. Well, not that I am in my best shape right now. I mean, Kramnik called both of us “rusty” after the simultaneous in Zurich. He is right, and I am not going to argue with his assessment there, as Karpov played for seven-and-a-half hours and I played for six hours and 15 minutes. But, one thing Kramnik forgot to mention is that I had the strongest simultaneous – the highest average amongst the players, higher than Kramnik, Anand or Topalov. I also didn’t lose a single game, and I conceded only four draws. These are little things that he should mention. But, again, I am not trying to pretend that I am as good as 20 years’ ago. That said, I didn’t lose in the simultaneous.

Kasparov and Karpov with the reigning World Champion Viswanathan Anand in Zurich

For me, playing in simultaneous displays is kind of a compensation for not playing chess. So, when I do play in simultaneous, I take it seriously, and if I have strong players as opponents, I want to beat them. For instance, in that display in Zurich that I made four draws, I beat the top three, and all of them were 2300+ players. I beat all of the top three and I played some decent games. Kramnik cited one of these games, saying it was a good position. He is right, probably that I am rusty compared to my best years. But, still, I am capable of finding good moves.

© Edwin Lam Choong Wai 2009

A game from the Zürich Simul by Garry Kasparov

Kasparov in the simultneous exhibition in Zurich in August 2009

Working hard at every board [simul pictures by Christian Bossert]

After the simultaneous exhibition mention above – it took place in Zürich in late August 2009 – the ChessBase team asked Garry Kasparov to show us one of the games. He complied willingly, selecting one against a player with a 2000+ rating. With the game still fresh in his mind Kasparov analysed with Matthias Deutschmann, a player in the German Bundesliga, who took notes during the session. Deutschmann is a well-known humorist and cabaret artist, who has supplied the German voice to our chess program Fritz.

Kasparov - N.N. (Board 8) (2000) [A31]
Zurich 200 Year Jubilee simul, 22.08.2009 [Deutschmann,Matthias]
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.Nf3 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e5 5.Nb5 d5 6.cxd5 Bb4+. Kasparov himself has played Bc5 in this position. 7.N1c3 0-0 8.a3

8...Bc5 9.Na4! Bb6 10.Nxb6 Qxb6

11.Nc3. Fritz prefers the line 11.e4 Nxe4 12.Be3 Qd8 13.Qc2 Bf5 14.Bd3 Qd7 15.Rc1 Na6 16.Nxa7 Qxd5 17.Ke2 Rfd8 18.Rhd1 Nxf2 19.Bxf2 e4 20.Bb5 Bg4+ 21.Ke1 Bxd1 22.Rxd1, but Kasparov's knight retreat is simple and good! 11...Bf5 12.e3 Na6 13.f3 e4 14.g4 Bg6 15.f4 h5 16.f5 Bh7 17.g5 Ng4 18.Qd4

18...Rfe8. 18...Nc5 19.Be2 (19.h3 Qd6 20.hxg4 Qg3+ 21.Kd1 Qf3+ 22.Kc2 Qxh1 23.Bd2 Rac8) 19.Bb5 Ne5 20.0-0 [20.Qxb6 axb6+–] 20...Nf3+ 21.Rxf3 Qxd4 22.exd4 exf3 23.Bxe8 Rxe8 24.Bf4. An alternative considered by Kasaprov was 24.f6 gxf6 25.gxf6 Re1+ 26.Kf2 Rh1 27.Kxf3 Rf1+ 28.Kg3 Rxf6 29.Bf4+–. 24...Bxf5 25.Kf2 b5

26.Be5? A self-critical Kasparov gave this move a question mark. Better was 26.b4 "Cutting off the knight!" (Kasparov); 26.Nxb5 Re2+ 27.Kxf3 Bg4+ 28.Kg3 Rxb2 29.Nxa7 Rb3+ 30.Kg2 Bf3+ 31.Kg1 Bxd5 32.Nc8. In this variation Black would still have some play. 26...b4. 26...Bg4 27.Kg3 f6 28.gxf6 gxf6 29.Bxf6 Rf8 30.Be7 Rf7 31.Bc5+–. 27.Nb5?! "Not the best continuation." What is wrong about simply taking the pawn on b4? 27.axb4 Nxb4 28.Kxf3 a6 29.Ra4 Nd3 30.Rxa6 Nxb2 31.Ne4 Bg6 32.d6+–. 27...Rc8?! 27...Bg4! 28.Nd6 Rb8 29.axb4 Rxb4 30.Ra2 (30.Rxa6? Rxb2+ 31.Kg3 Rg2+ 32.Kf4 f2–+) 30...Nb8 31.h3 Bxh3 32.Rxa7 Rxb2+ 33.Kxf3 Bg2+ 34.Ke3 Bxd5 35.g6 Rb3+ 36.Kd2 fxg6 37.Rxg7+ Kf8=.

28.Kxf3 Rc2 29.Bd6 Rxb2 30.axb4 Nxb4 31.Bxb4 Rxb4 32.Nd6 Bg4+ 33.Ke4 Rb2 34.Rxa7 Re2+ 35.Kd3 Rxh2

36.g6!! Very elegant and study-like! For a game in a simultaneous exhibition this is quite sensational It is interesting to see how long the best chess engines in the world take to find this line. 36...fxg6 37.Ra8+ Kh7 38.Nf7 g5 39.Rh8+ Kg6 40.Ne5+ Kf5 [40...Kf6 41.Nxg4++–] 41.Rf8# 1-0. [Click to replay]

ChessBase articles on the Karpov-Kasparov match in Valencia

Karpov-Kasparov: Grudge Match in Valencia
30.08.2009 – They played each other in five big World Championship matches, most famously in 1984, when their first encounter was abandoned after 48 games without a final decision. Now to mark the 25th anniversary Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov will play a 12-game match – four rapid and eight blitz games – from 21 to 24 September, 2009, in Valencia, Spain. Details and statistics.

Karpov-Kasparov: Match start in Valencia today
22.09.2009 – Exactly 25 years after their first encounter – the World Championship match in Moscow – the perennial opponents Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov are playing a twelve-game rapid and blitz match in the Spanish city of Valencia. The rounds start on Tuesday at 19:00h CEST (21:00h Moscow, 1 p.m. NY), with two days of rapid games and one for blitz. Watch it on Playchess.

Valencia: Kasparov starts with 2-0 crunch
23.09.2009 – Twenty-five years and still going strong: Garry Kasparov started his commemorative match against eternal rival Anatoly Karpov with two quick wins. The first game was over in 24 moves, when Karpov overstepped his time; and the second ended in 28 moves after a flashy kingside attack by Kasparov. The international press is reporting extensively, and we have some interesting video documents.

Valencia: Karpov wins game three, Kasparov wins the match 3-1
24.09.2009 – Day two of the commemorative rapid chess match saw Anatoly Karpov win a fine game against the man who dethroned him as World Champion 25 years ago. In the final game Garry Kasparov only needed a draw, but put on the pressure until Karpov crumbled and lost – again – on time. The final score of 3.0-1.0 is exactly what the ratings predicted. Illustrated report with videos.

Valencia: Kasparov's blitz win, final score 9.0-3.0
25.09.2009 – Everyone expected an easy win by Kasparov, but their eight-game blitz encounter started with a shock loss. Karpov drew first blood, Kasparov took a "deep breath" 17-move draw to clear his head, and then went on to score five wins in a row. The final game was a draw, leaving Kasparov winning the blitz with 6.0-2.0 and the match with 9.0-3.0 – exactly as their ratings predicted. Illustrated report.

Video interview with Garry Kasparov on Valencia
28.09.2009 – Garry Kasparov won the commemorative match against Anatoly Karpov convincingly by 9.0-3.0. After it was over GM Robert Fontaine, roving reporter for the French magazine Europe Echecs, sat down with the winner to discuss the games, the match, and Kasparov's work with the young chess star Magnus Carlsen. The interview is presented in two sections. Here for your enjoyment is part one.

Kasparov: 'Something is dead wrong in chess'
30.09.2009 – The recent match between Kasparov and Karpov in Valencia, Spain, was a tremendous success. That is tragic, says Garry Kasparov – when two old guys, one retired, the other no longer a real force in the game, still are the greatest show in the world of chess. In his interview with GM Robert Fontaine for the French magazine Europe Echecs Kasparov vents his feelings on this and other subjects. Part two.

Previous Bisik-Bisik articles by Edwin Lam

Bisik-Bisik with Garry Kasparov – Part 1
19.01.2010 – Last year Garry Kasparov visited Asia – for the first time since the Philippines Olympiad in 1992. He was in India and in Malaysia, where our reporter Edwin Lam did a Q&A with him. Kasparov spoke engagingly and candidly about Asia, his early career as a chess player, his protégé Magnus Carlsen and his Chess Foundation in America. Not a line of blah in this interview. Must read.

Viktor Bologan and the Chebanenko Slav
18.02.2009 – Recently we found a book entitled The Chebanenko Slav according to Bologan. The author is Moldavia GM Viktor Bologan, who looks back on a two decade long career, which includes a 2003 Dortmund triumph ahead of Anand and Kramnik. That came, incidentally, after a ten-day training session with Garry Kasparov. Read all about it in this Bisik-Bisik session with Edwin Lam.

Bisik-Bisik with GM Nigel Short
03.10.2008 – Mention GM Nigel Short and we think grandmaster, world championship challenger, coach, author and journalist. Some of us will also associate him with the French Defence, an opening that he used to play regularly many years ago. But away from the chess board, this man is also very well known for his witty reports and articles on chess. Edwin Lam interviews the chess writer.

Bisik-Bisik with GM Alexander Khalifman
20.08.2008 Bisik-Bisik is a word from the Malay Archipelago, and means whispering from one person to another. In a series Edwin Lam seeks to “whisper” to our readers out there the previously unknown other side of his interview partners. Today he talks with GM Alexander Khalifman, who in 1999 became the FIDE world champion in Las Vegas. Today "El Khalif" runs a training web site and publishes books. Bisik-bisik.

Ni hao, GM Zhang Zhong and WGM Li Ruofan
10.01.2008 – Ni hao, pronounced second tone-third tone, is Chinese for Hello or Hi ("Ni hao ma?" means "how are you" and "Wo hun hao" means "I'm doing great"). After this short lesson in Chinese first encounters we bring you a portrait of the Chinese dream couple: GM Zhang Zhong, Elo 2634, and his wife WGM Li Ruofan, rated 2417. Bisik-Bisik (Malay for "whisperings") by Edwin Lam.

Bisik-Bisik with Viktor Moskalenko
15.12.2007 Bisik-Bisik is a word from the Malay Archipelago, and means the act of “whispering” from one person to another. Starting with this inaugural article Edwin Lam will seek to “whisper” to all our readers out there the previously unknown other side of his interview partners. He kicks off with a conversation between Edwin and Ukrainian Viktor Moskalenko, grandmaster, teacher and chess author.

About the author

Caption: Jumpa di Kuala Lumpur! (which is Malay language for ‘see you in Kuala Lumpur’)

Working full-time as a Public Relations Manager of Procter & Gamble Asia Pte Ltd based in Singapore, Edwin Lam is highly passionate about the game of chess. Having grown up with an artistic feel of life, he somehow went about doing a degree in Commerce at Monash University’s main Clayton campus in Melbourne. Being the only child in the family, he had to follow his heart, not his head, and chose to return home to Malaysia, upon graduation. Knowing something was amiss in life, he started fiddling with the advertising industry, when he started working. Here, he deepened his love for writing – be it copy-writing, copy strategy development, article writing or even translation work.

As a lifestyle writer, his work has been published in Plan B and J-Trend based here in Kuala Lumpur. As a chess columnist, he has written for a host of international publications. Beginning with a regular column in the now defunct Philippine-based Chess Asia, he has branched out and contributed to the Melbourne-based Chess Kids as well as Australian Chess, which is under the editorship of FM Brian Jones. Since the beginning of 2007, he has also been contributing chess articles and chess book reviews to the Arvind Aaron-led Chess Mate magazine (India) as well as Black & White (India). One of his most well known articles is the nice profile he wrote about GM Yasser Seirawan that appeared in the US-based He also contributes regularly to the world’s top chess news site,

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


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