Throwback Thursday: Kasparov and Anand atop the World Trade Center

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
6/18/2021 – A 20-game match between Garry Kasparov and Viswanathan Anand was organized in 1995 by the Professional Chess Association. The match was played on the 107th floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center in New York. After eight draws, Anand took the lead in game 9, but a string of five subpar performances in which the Indian scored a mere half point left him in an unenviable position. Four draws in the following games gave Kasparov a 10½-7½ victory. | Photo: Owen Williams, The Kasparov Agency

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A three-year cycle

The 1995 PCA World Chess Championship was organized amid a major chasm in the chess world, as Garry Kasparov had created an organization to counter what he considered to be a tainted, corrupt-ridden FIDE. The Russian created the Professional Chess Association, which organized its first World Championship in 1993, when Kasparov beat Nigel Short 12½-7½ to become the PCA world chess champion.

In the next cycle, which ran from 1993 until 1995, a qualifying tournament and a series of Candidates matches decided who would be the new challenger to the title. 

A total of 54 players participated in the 1993 Groningen Qualifying Tournament, an 11-round Swiss tournament that had Viswanathan Anand, Vladimir Kramnik and Alexei Shirov as the top seeds. The top seven players in the final standings would join Short in the Candidates matches that kicked off in June 1994. Michael Adams and Anand were the top scorers in Groningen, with 7½ points.  


Final standings - Groningen 1993 (top 10)

  Name Rating Points
1  Michael Adams (England) 2635
2  Viswanathan Anand (India) 2725
3  Gata Kamsky (United States) 2645 7
4  Vladimir Kramnik (Russia) 2710 7
5  Sergei Tiviakov (Russia) 2635 7
6  Boris Gulko (United States) 2635 7
7  Oleg Romanishin (Ukraine) 2615 7
8  Alexei Shirov (Latvia) 2685
9  Sergey Dolmatov (Russia) 2630
10  Eric Lobron (Germany) 2575

See full standings at Mark Weeks’ webpage


In the Candidates, the quarterfinal matches were best of 8 games; the semifinals best of 10 games; and the final best of 12 games. Two players stood out from the get go: Gata Kamsky (20 years old at the time) and Anand (24).

Viswanathan AnandKamsky reached the final after convincingly knocking out Kramnik and Short by 4½-1½ and 5½-1½ scores respectively. A similarly impressive performance gave Anand his place in the final, with 5-2 and 5½-1½ victories over Oleg Romanishin and Adams. In a report of the final for the New York Times, Robert Byrne wrote:

Kamsky generally tried to keep Anand away from the wide-open tactical melees that the brilliant Indian firebrand revels in. But wise though that strategy was, it failed when Anand showed just how much at home he could be in positional games. Game 9 is a nice example.

Anand obtained a 6½-4½ victory in the match held in Las Palmas, Canary Islands.

All games - Anand vs. Kamsky 1994

 

Select an entry from the list to switch between games

Kasparov vs. Anand - New York 1995

Sponsored by Intel, the PCA World Championship match attracted plenty of media attention, as the contest was organized to take place on the Observation Deck located on the 107th floor of the World Trade Center in New York City. The first game was played on September 11, while the match was decided on October 10 when a 12-move draw secured Kasparov overall victory.

The prize fund amounted to 1.5 million dollars, with two thirds of the purse reserved for the winner. A classical time control of 40 moves in 2 hours, then 20 moves in 1 hour, followed by 30 minutes to complete the game was in place. Recently deceased Carol Jarecki served as match arbiter.

It all started with eight consecutive draws, which was at that point a record for straight draws at the start of a World Championship match. The first one to score a full point was the challenger.

 

From a superior position, Anand decided to strike in the centre with the remarkable 27.Rd5 exchange sacrifice. Modern engines do not consider this to be the best move in the position, but it certainly poses practical difficulties to the Russian after 27...Nxd5 28.exd5. Anand went on to score a 35-move victory.

In the games following his defeat, Kasparov not only bounced back but obtained a substantial advantage in the match by scoring 4½/5 in games 10-14. Crucial was Kasparov’s win in game 11, when he surprised his well-prepared opponent by playing a Dragon Sicilian with the black pieces — instead of his usual Najdorf, which in the match had transposed to a Scheveningen prior to this encounter.

Kasparov finished the game in style:

 

Anand resigned after 31...Rxc2. Although both black rooks are under attack, White cannot capture both at the same time. Kasparov proved once again how powerful his opening preparation actually was — for this match, he had prepared in Croatia with Yuri Dokhoian, Evgeny Pigusov, and Vladimir Kramnik.

Garry KasparovA draw in game 12 was followed by another black win for Kasparov from a Dragon Sicilian. Anand’s best chance to mount a comeback was seen in game 14, when he got a good position with the black pieces after surprising his opponent with the Scandinavian Defence. The Indian, however, not only failed to make the most of his chances but ended up losing the game.

Kasparov had a 3-point lead with six games to go. Quick draws in games 15 and 16 were followed by a 63-move encounter that also finished peacefully. In a dire situation, Anand agreed to split the point after a mere 12 moves in game 18, which meant Kasparov had kept his title as world champion.

Leigh Walker and Brian Karen wrote a special report for ICC, and thus described the 25-year-old Anand:

The Challenger presented himself with great dignity and is an excellent representative of chess sportsmanship. Not only is he obviously a great player, but is also modest and a real gentleman almost universally liked, even by his opponents. On those occasions when someone from the press asks a discourteous or even hostile question, he is unruffled and responds quite easily and well. At the end of his remarks during the ceremony, he showed his sense of humor: ‘I hope you all had a lot of fun watching the event, especially today's nail-biting finish!’

All games - Kasparov vs. Anand 1995

 

Select an entry from the list to switch between games

Kasparov and Anand will feature in the upcoming Croatian leg of the Grand Chess Tour series, with Anand set to participate in both the rapid and blitz sections while the 58-year-old Kasparov will only play in the blitz section of the event.

Links

 


Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.

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