Pure magic in New York City

12/20/2002 – Chess in glorious 3D, Karpov vs Kasparov like in the good ol' days, and magician David Blaine pulling tricks off the chessboard. It was an exciting night with incredibly tense games. John Fernandez and Roland Schmaltz describe the action in the ABC Studios in New York's famous Times Square in this illustrated report.

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X3D World Chess Match 2002
Kasparov vs. Karpov, Day 1

By John Fernandez and GM Roland Schmaltz

What more can a chess fan ask for during this Holiday Season? Yet another continuation of the titanic struggle between 12th World Champion Anatoly Karpov and 13th World Champion Garry Kasparov? Done! These two sat on the world chess throne for a combined twenty-five years until Kramnik beat Garry in London two years ago. After 173 games, one would think that these two wouldn't have any more left after throwing the kitchen sink at each other, but they still do. X3D, a brand new graphics company specializing in Three Dimensional software for home computers and gaming, decided to get these two to slug it out in four more games. Throw in the fantastic venue of the ABC Studios right in the middle of New York's famous Times Square, and you have yourself a four game rapid match fit to be K-K Six!

Famous magician David Blaine was on hand for the opening ceremony. Known for such breathtaking feats as balancing on a 100 foot (30.5 meter) high pillar for 35 hours, or standing in a block of ice for three days without any rest, his task today was much simpler. All he had to do was handle the drawing of lots.

David Blaine showing off some coin tricks for the crowd.

Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov are all smiles before the games, watching magician David Blaine (only his hand visible), do some fantastic tricks with the pawns!

After that, Kasparov and Karpov got to sample some of the special effects for the match which will be shown in 3-D on the X3D website. All that is required are the special glasses and the software. Kasparov and Karpov were visibly impressed with the demonstration.

Garry Kasparov in 3D glasses, perhaps auditioning for Men In Black 3? But… hmmm… who should be his sidekick???

Anatoly Karpov would do!! Spy Michael Khodarkowski on the left and GM Max Dlugy on the right.

Oh yeah, there was chess, too!! Specifically, the first two games of the four game match, being played at 25 minutes with 10 seconds Bronstein bonus per move. These would represent episodes 174 and 175 in the K-K Battle.

Even though these matches are no longer for the World Championship, Garry Kasparov takes these games quite seriously.

Anatoly Karpov once again dueling with his eternal rival.

Where were these two guys playing - Mir!?!? No no, just another giant electronic billboard in New York's Times Square showing the planet Earth.

In game 1 Kasparov stunned Karpov with the move 8...Bg4!?, which had only been played once before in Dreev-Sutovsky, Julian Borowski, 2000. Karpov used up a lot of time before following Dreev and playing 9.f3. Kasparov innovated with 10...c6, over Sutovsky's 10...e6, that game having been drawn six moves later.

It's still an amazing sight to see these two fighting at the chessboard after all these years.

Kasparov's 14...Nc6!? Was quite interesting, offering a pawn sacrifice for the initiative in Kasparov's usual dynamic style. More Karpov-like might have been the plan 14. … Qd7 followed by Nc6. After the seemingly forced sequence which follows, after 21...Rfc8, despite White having two pawns for the exchange, he is lacking a good plan. As Karpov's time pressure increased, Kasparov decided to make some threatening moves towards the Black king with 30...g5 and 31...h5. The open g-file was a constant worry for Karpov as his clock kept ticking down. Perhaps 38.Na4 was not best by Karpov, and he should instead look for some other solution such as 38.e5!, in order to prevent Black from playing the plan that worked out well in the game, e6-e5 followed by Qd7-g4 to get after the vulnerable White king. 40.Nb6 is suggested by Fritzy, of course, with the typical impossible for a human to see idea of 40...Qg4 41.Nxc8 Qxf4+ 42.g3! (42.Kh1? Qc1+ followed by Qxc8), after which miraculously, the White king is safe and secure, and the passed d pawn should bring the point home. Sadly, such tactics are easy to overlook in time pressure, especially in rapid chess, and Karpov was saddled with a much worse position after 40.Bd2?! After Kasparov forced the exchange of queens, the superior mobility of the Black rook was just way too much for Karpov's knight and bishop to cope with. Kasparov now led the four game match 1 to 0, and still had to play his two games with White. Things were looking quite grim for Anatoly.

The exciting games kept these spectators very enthralled. These spectators also kept everyone else enthralled.

In Game 2 Kasparov once again decided to challenge Karpov in the main line of the Petroff Defense, Karpov's recent favorite drawing weapon with Black while his Caro-Kann gets some repairs in the shop.

Garry cooking up some new ideas in the Petroff under the watchful eye of the Oscar-like X3D trophy.

Kasparov's 18.Rc1!? Was a novelty, attempting to improve over 18.Ra2 from his game with Michael Adams from this year's Linares edition, and Anand-Adams from the same event a few rounds later, and also repeated in Svidler-Gelfand, Russia vs. The World 2002. Instead of following those games with a plan of h3 and g4, attempting to take advantage of the queen's precarious position in the center of the board, Kasparov opted for a simpler approach of attacking White's queenside. After 24...gxf6, Black was saddled with a very horrible pawn structure, as all his pawns are isolated! The game continues in typical fashion, Kasparov exploiting the weaknesses on the queenside, eventually picking off the pawns for nothing in Karpov's worsening time pressure. Kasparov missed some easier wins, for example 36.g4! Simply attacking Karpov's knight on f5. The problem with the only safe retreat 36...Nh6 is that White has the very strong 37.Qe7! Attacking the rook on d8 as well as the pawn on f6. Kasparov jettisoned the a pawn to restore coordination to his pieces, and it seemed that the match would safely end up 2 to 0 after the first day until Karpov's bolt from the blue 42...Be4!!?? To be fair, Be4 is clearly the strongest move in the position, but with only a handful of seconds left on his clock, Kasparov was not able to find the right move to defend against the magically appearing (Mister Blaine!?) threats against the white king. A few reasonable plans were available to Kasparov to keep the advantage. First of all, after 43.Bxe4 Qf1 seems to lead to a forced mate, but IM Pascal Charbonneau pointed out the way after the game: 44.Nf5+ Nxf5 45.h4! After which there is no mate. GM Joel Benjamin felt that after 43.Ra2, White would probably still hold some advantage, and even offered up 43.Qa2 as a possible improvement on that good idea. Kasparov, visibly rattled, opted for one of the weaker continuations, sacrificing his queen. It seemed like Kasparov had a good chance to build some kind of fortress, owing to Black's poor pawn structure, and the well placed pieces on e4 and f5 until Kasparov produced one last awful blunder 47.Bf3?? After which 47...Qa3! Neatly concluded matters.

A furious Kasparov stormed out after the conclusion of the 175th game between the two legends.

A great comeback by Karpov, who hadn't won a game against Kasparov since December 29th, 1990, almost twelve years ago!

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