Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Mortally Flawed

The last time* I reviewed a book by Fred Waitzkin, I won an Honorable Mention from the Chess Journalists of America for my article, and Fred's book was made into a movie. This time the book in question is Mortal Games: The Turbulent Genius of Garry Kasparov. It begins with Garry in training for his 1990 title defense against Anatoly Karpov and concludes with his second place finish behind Ivanchuk at Linares in 1991, ending a ten-year streak of first place finishes for Kasparov.

The Garry Kasparov portrayed in this book bears little resemblance to his public persona of overconfidence that some people say borders on arrogance. Instead, he is a troubled man riddled by self-doubt. And unlike Bobby Fischer, with whom he is often compared, Kasparov is so preoccupied with matters unrelated to chess that he seems to have little time to study the game seriously.

As readers of Atlantic Chess News already know, I covered the New York half of the 1990 world championship match between the two K's. So it was with special interest that I read Fred's behind-the-scenes account of the match. The way Fred tells it, there was no pre-arranged fixing of games, as both Fischer and Spassky have insinuated. Instead, Garry's horrible blunder in game seven was the result of his lack of preparedness. This mistake so traumatized Kasparov that it wasn't until weeks later in Lyon that he regained his form.

Anatoly Karpov takes a pounding in this book, even though Fred tries to maintain a certain level of journalistic balance by describing a dinner with Anatoly at which Karpov comes across as a likeable human being. Then Fred immediately spoils the effect by relating some negative observations regarding Karpov made by ex-Soviet grandmasters now living in America. It is no secret that many of the writers and photographers at the match rooted for Karpov, not necessarily as Fred would have it because of politics but in large part because we encountered the same likeable human being that Fred met over dinner. No movie director would ever typecast Karpov as a "creature of darkness", which is how Kasparov describes him.

Although Fred tries to cast Kasparov in a sympathetic light by describing his harrowing last days in Baku before fleeing for his life, the reader is intellectually aware of Garry's suffering but can not relate to him on an emotional level, just as Garry is incapable of enjoying cartoons and Disneyland except on an analytical basis. Ironically, one feels more sympathy for the father of Newsday reporter Manny Topol in his flight from his native land than for Kasparov. Maybe the simple explanation for this is that it is easier to identify with a man who flees on foot and by bicycle than with one who does so by chartering an airplane.

What I am trying to say is that it is hard to believe in the Garry Kasparov that Fred portrays in this book. This is intended less as a criticism of Fred, who writes well throughout, than of his subject matter. It reminds me of how in Searching for Bobby Fischer the best part was the Bimini chapter, perhaps because for a few pages Fred left behind the dreariness of Washington Square Park and the dog-eat-dog competitiveness of the National Scholastics. So too, in Mortal Games, the true-to-life story of Manny Topol's father is far more moving an account than any seemingly contrived story regarding Kasparov.

*{This book review originally appeared in Atlantic Chess News in 1994}

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Grandmaster Draws

These two games, both ending in draws, were near-victories by me against grandmasters in the Sicilian Defense.

Game #1: NM Jim West - GM Roman Dzindzichasvili, New Jersey Open 1992

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Bd3 Nf6 6.O-O d6 7.c4 g6 8.Nc3 Bg7 9.Be3 O-O 10.Rc1 b6


Better tries are 11.b4 Bb7 12.f4 e5 13.fxe5 dxe5 14.Nc2 Ng4 15.Qxg4 Qxd3 16.Nd5, Spassky-Najdorf, Buenos Aires 1979 and 11.f3 Bb7 12.Qd2 Qc7 13.Rfd1 Nbd7 14.Qf2 Rac8 15.Bf1, Musil-Karpov, Portoroz 1975.

11...Bb7 12.Rfd1 Nbd7 13.f3 Rc8 14.b3 Re8 15.Qf2 d5 16.exd5 exd5 17.Nxd5 Bxd5 18.cxd5 Nxd5 19.Bxa6 Rxc1 20.Bxc1 Nc3 21.Rd2 Bh6 22.Rc2 Nd1 23.Qg3 Nb8 24.Nc6 Nxc6 25.Bxh6 b5 26.Rd2 Qb6+ 27.Kf1 Nc3 28.Qh4 Qxa6 29.Qf6 b4+ 30.Kf2 Qb6+ 31.Kg3 Qc7+ 32.Rd6 Qxd6+ 33.Qxd6 Nd4 34.Qxb4 Nf5+ 35.Kh3 Ne2


Bad for White is 36.Bd2? Ng1+ 37.Kg4 f6 with the threat of 38...h5+ 39.Kf4 Ne2#.

36...Ng1+ 37.Kg4 Rd8 38.Qb6 Nxh6+ 39.Kg5 Rd5+ 40.Kf6 Rf5+ 41.Ke7 Re5+ 42.Kd7 Re1 43.a4 Nf5 44.a5 Ne2 45.a6 Ned4 46.a7 Re7+ 47.Kc8 Re8+ 48.Kb7 Nb5


White misses a win by 49.Ka6 Nfd6 50.Qb8!.

49...Nd6+ 50.Kc6 Nxb5 51.Kxb5 f5 52.b4 Kf7 53.Kc6 Re6+ 54.Kb7 Re7+ 55.Ka6 Re6+ 56.Kb7 Re7+ 57.Ka6 Re6+ 58.Ka5? (58.Kb7=) Re1 59.b5


Now it is Black's turn to overlook a winning opportunity by 59...Ra1+ 60.Kb6 Ke6 61.h4 Kd5 62.Kb7 Kc5 63.b6 Kb5 64.Kc7 Ra6 65.b7 Rxa7 66.Kc8 Rxb7 67.Kxb7 Kc5 68.Kc7 Kd4 69.Kd6 Ke3 70.Ke5 Kf2 71.h5 Kxg2 72.h6 Kxf3 73.Kf6 g5! 74.Kxg5 f4 75.Kf6 Kg4 76.Kg7 f3 77.Kxh7 f2 78.Kg8 f1=Q 79.h7 Qc4+ 80.Kg7 Qc7+ 81.Kg8 Kg5 82.h8=Q Kg6!.

60.b6 Kd6 61.b7?!

White throws away another win by 61.Kb5 Rb1+ 62.Kc4!.

61...Kc5 62.Ka4 Kc4 63.Ka3 Kc3 64.Ka2 Re2+ 65.Ka3 Re1, draw.

Game #2: NM Jim West - GM Michael Rohde, Marshall Chess Club 1995, Game/30

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bf4 e5 8.Bg5 a6 9.Bxf6 gxf6 10.Na3 f5


The move 11.Qh5 led to perpetual check in Fischer-Seidler, Buenos Aires 1971 following 11...d5 12.O-O-O Bxa3 13.bxa3 fxe4 14.Rxd5 Qe7 15.Nxe4 Qxa3+ 16.Kd1 Be6 17.Nd6+ Ke7 18.Qg5+ Kf8 19.Qh6+ Ke7 20.Qg5+ Kf8 21.Qh6+ Ke7 22.Qg5+, draw.


This is an improvement upon 11...Bg7 12.Qh5 O-O 13.exf5 Nd4 14.Bd3 f6 15.Be4 Rb8 16.Nd5 Qa5+ 17.c3 Rf7 18.g4 Bd7 19.O-O Ne2+ 20.Kh1 Bc6 21.Rad1 Nf4 22.Nxf4 Bxe4+ 23.f3 Bc6 24.Ne6 d5 25.g5 Be8 26.g6, 1-0, Fischer-Soltis, Manhattan Chess Club Blitz Tournament 1971.

12.Qh5 b5 13.Bd5 Nd4 14.Ne2 Nxe2 15.Qxe2 Bg7 16.O-O O-O 17.c4 fxe4 18.cxb5 Kh8 19.Qxe4 f5 20.Qe3 Re7 21.b6 e4 22.Qb3 Bb7 23.Rad1 f4 24.Nc4 f3 25.g3 Qc8 26.Bxb7 Qh3 27.Ne3 Re6

28.Bc8 Rxc8 29.b7 Rb8 30.Rc1 Bd4?

Both players were in time trouble by this point which explains why Black misses 30...Rh6! 31.Rc8+ Bf8 32.Qc3+ Kg8 33.Qc4+ when White must take the perpetual check.

31.Rc8+ Kg7 32.Rxb8 Bxe3 33.Rg8+ Kf7 34.Rf8+ Kg7


With more time on the clock, I might have found the winning line 35.Qc3+ Kg6 36.Rxf3! exf3 37.Qc2+ Kh6 38.fxe3 Re8 39.Rxf3.

35...Kf7 36.Rf8+ Kg7, draw.

{This article originally appeared in the Winter 2002 issue of Empire Chess}

Monday, January 29, 2007

West - Taimanov

Usually when I travel to New York City to play chess, my destination is the Marshall Chess Club where I am a member. However, I made an infrequent visit to the Manhattan Chess Club and was rewarded with a tournament game against grandmaster Mark Taimanov who was also in town.* Not surprisingly, he played the variation that bears his name.

NM Jim West - GM Mark Taimanov

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nb5 d6 6.Bf4

This was Fischer's favorite weapon against the Taimanov variation, and he used it to beat Taimanov in their 1971 candidates match. But it was played as early as 1858 by Paul Morphy against Adolf Anderssen. That game concluded brilliantly: 6...e5 7.Be3 f5 8.N1c3 f4 9.Nd5 fxe3 10.Nbc7+ Kf7 11.Qf3+ Nf6 12.Bc4 Nd4 13.Nxf6+ d5 14.Bxd5+ Kg6 15.Qh5+ Kxf6 16.fxe3 Nxc2+ 17.Ke2, Black resigns.

6...e5 7.Be3 a6

Against Fischer in one game, Taimanov played 7...Nf6 8.Bg5 Be6 9.N1c3 and only then played 9...a6, but Taimanov probably judged over the board that I was prepared for this main line. Therefore, he chose a lesser known continuation. Already I was in unfamiliar territory.


Actually, the awkward-looking 8.N5a3 may be better. The game Fischer-Reshevsky, Buenos Aires 1960 proceeded with 8...b5 9.c4 b4 10.Nc2 Nf6 11.Be2 Be7 12.O-O O-O 13.Nd2 Rb8 14.Re1 Be6 15.f3 Nd7 with an eventual draw.

8...Nf6 9.Bg5

Now this move is not strong, since the threatened capture at f6 will not cause doubled f-pawns for Black. It would have been correct to play 9.Na3, as in Fischer-Pachman from the same Buenos Aires event which continued with 9...b5 10.Nd5 Nxd5 11.exd5 Ne7 12.c4 Nf5 13.Bd2 Be7 14.cxb5 Bf6 15.Be2 e4 16.b6 O-O 17.Nc4 Bd4 18.O-O Bxb6 19.Nxb6 Qxb6 20.Bc3 Bb7 21.Bc4 Rac8 22.b3 Ne3 23.Bd4 Nxd1 24.Bxb6 Nc3, draw.

9...Be7 10.Nd2 Bg4

During the post-mortem analysis, Taimanov (who speaks little English) clenched his fist to emphasize the strength of this move. It is better than the immediate 10...Be6 because 11.f3 will leave White vulnerable to ...Qb6+ and ...Qxb2 after castling.

11.f3 Be6 12.Bc4 O-O 13.Bxf6 Bxf6 14.Nd5 Bg5 15.O-O Rc8

"Black better" was how Taimanov evaluated this position after the game, and I wasn't about to contest his opinion. After all, nine of the ten chapters in ECO on this line were written by him. So he should know!


Now White must lose a valuable tempo. (See the comments after Black's 10th move.)

16...b5 17.Bb3 Na5 18.c3 g6

Now I decided to mix things up tactically, hoping to confuse the issue. My strategy nearly worked.

19.f4 Bxd5 20.fxg4 Nxb3 21.axb3 Bb7!

The bishop is ideally placed to harass the white king while protecting the a-pawn.

22.Rf6 d5 23.Nf3 Re8 24.exd5 e4 25.Ng1 Re5

Later Taimanov suggested 26...Qxd5 27.Qxd5 Bxd5 28.Raxa6 Bxb3 with clear advantage for Black.

26.Qg4 Rxd5?! 27.Qxe4!

He overlooked this capture. Now I began to have real hopes of swindling a draw. The trick is that 27...Rxg5? 28.Qxb7 Qxf6 leaves the rook on c8 hanging.

27...Rc7 28.Qf4 Rd2 29.Nf3 Rxb2 30.Rd6 Rd7 31.Rxd7 Qxd7 32.Re1!

I saw visions of 32...Rxb3 33.Qb8+ Bc8 34.Nd2 Rxc3 35.Ne4 Rc6 36.Nf6+ Rxf6 37.gxf6 with 38.Rc1 staring Black in the face. But my opponent's next move put an abrupt stop to this fantasy variation.


Afterwards, Taimanov praised this move highly. Now the truth of the position is evident. Although material is even, the black rook controls the vital seventh rank and the black bishop rakes the long diagonal. Meanwhile, White's rook and knight can assume only defensive positions.

33.b4 Rc2 34.Qe3

This makes things easy for Black. 34.Qe5 would be a tougher nut to crack. In the post-mortem, Taimanov said he would have met this move with 34...Qd5 35.Qxd5 Bxd5 36.Re3 Rc1+ 37.Ng1 Rf1 (threatening 38...Rf5) 38.h3 Rf5 39.Rg3 Kf8 40.Nf3 Bxf3! 41.gxf3 Rf4 and 42...Rc4 wins. But in this line, 38.Re5 was a better try.

34...Bxf3! 35.Qxf3

Worse is 35.gxf3 Qc7!

35...Qxg5 36.Rf1 Kh8! 37.g3 Qe7

Now rather than postponing the inevitable in a lost rook endgame with 38.Qxf7 Qxf7 39.Rxf7 Rxc3, I elected to keep the queens on the board.

38.Qc6 Kg7 39.Qd5 f6 40.Qc6 h5 41.Rd1 Kh6 42.Qf3 Qe5 43.Rf1 f5 44.Qc6 Qe2, 0-1.

And I thought Taimanov had retired from chess!

*{This article originally appeared in Atlantic Chess News in 1991}

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Najdorf Sicilian 6.Be3

This game was played on 8/16/03 at the Marshall Chess Club with a time limit of game/60.

Dmytro Kedyk (USCF 2418) - Jim West (USCF 2201)

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3

This variation was first popularized by grandmaster Robert Byrne.

6...e5 7.Nb3 Be7 8.f3 Be6 9.Qd2 O-O 10.O-O-O Nbd7 11.g4 b5 12.g5 Nh5

The black knight looks out of play on h5, but it slows down White's kingside pawn storm and is prepared to occupy f4 at the right moment.


Instead, the game Byrne-Fischer from the 1971 Manhattan Blitz Tournament saw the sharp continuation 13.Nd5 Bxd5 14.exd5 Rc8 15.Bh3 Rc7 16.Na5 Nb8 17.Bg4 Nf4 18.h4 f5 19.gxf6 Bxf6 20.Bb6 Rxc2+ 21.Qxc2 Qxb6 22.Nc6 Rf7 23.Nxb8 Qxb8 24.Kb1 Rc7 25.Qb3 Ne2 26.Qe3 Nf4 27.Rc1 h5 28.Be6+ Kh7 29.Qe4+ g6 30.Rhg1 Kh6 31.Rc6 Rxc6 32.dxc6 Qb6 33.Rc1 Nxe6 34.Qd5 Nc7 35.Qxd6 Bg7 36.Qe7 Kh7 37.a3 a5 38.Rd1 Qxc6 39.Rd7 Ne6 40.Rd6 Qxf3 41.Qxe6 Qf5+ 42.Ka2 e4 43.Qe7 Kh6 44.Rd7 Qf6 45.Qxf6 Bxf6 46.Rd5 e3 47.Rd3 e2 48.Re3 Bxh4 49.Rxe2 Bg3 50.Kb3 h4 51.a4 bxa4+ 52.Kxa4 h3, White resigns.


Perhaps I should have followed the game Lukin-Khasanov, USSR 1983 which continued 13...Nb6 14.Kb1 Rb8 15.Nd5 Bxd5 16.exd5 Qc7 17.Rg4 "with a double-edged position", according to Nunn. In this way, I would have overprotected d5 and forced my opponent to recapture on that square with a pawn.

14.Kb1 Nb6 15.Qf2 Nc4 16.Bxc4 Rxc4 17.Nd5 Bxd5 18.Rxd5

Now White has advantageously captured on d5 with a piece.

18...f5 19.Nd2

White wants more than the position that would arise after 19.gxf6 Nxf6 20.Qg3 Rf7 21.Rdd1 a5 when Black has attacking chances of his own.

19...Rc6 20.exf5 Rxf5 21.Ne4 Nf4 22.Bxf4 Rxf4 23.Rgd1 Qf8

Black has light-square weaknesses which White has exploited successfully by posting his pieces on the central d5 and e4 squares. On the other hand, White's weak f3 pawn is an inviting target.


White might have considered swapping weak pawns by 24.Qd2 Qf7 25.Nxd6 Qe6 26.Ne4 Rxf3 but the black bishop becomes active in this line.

24...Rxf3 25.Nf6+ Rxf6 26.gxf6 Qxf6

I was happy to give up the exchange, getting two pawns in return as well as ridding myself of the white knight.

27.R5d2 Rc4 28.Qd3 Qe6 29.Re2 h6 30.b3 Rf4 31.Qe3 Qc8 32.Rf2 Rxf2 33.Qxf2 Qc3


At this critical juncture, White begins to play inaccurately. The right way to proceed is to force Black to find moves by 34.Qa7 Kf8 35.Qxa6 Qf3 36.Rg1 Qf2 37.Qa8+ Kf7 38.Qd5+ Kf8 39.Rg3 Qe1+ 40.Kb2 b4 41.Rf3+ Bf6 42.Qd6+ Kg8 43.Qe6+ Kh8 44.Qh3 Kh7 45.Qf5+ Kh8 46.Qc8+ Kh7 47.Qc4 e4+ 48.Rxf6 gxf6 49.Qf7+ Kh8 50.Qxf6+ Kh7 with an extra pawn and at least a draw in hand by perpetual check.

34...Qc6 35.Qf5 Qh1+ 36.Kb2 e4 37.Qd5+ Kh8 38.Rd1 Qf3


This move loses, but after 39.Re1 Bf6+ 40.Kc1 Be5 41.Qa8+ Kh7 42.Qxe4+ Qxe4 43.Rxe4 Bxh2 Black obtains a favorable endgame similar to Byrne-Fischer above.

39...Qf6+ 40.Rd4 Qxd4+! 41.Qxd4 Bf6 42.Kc3 d5 43.a3 Bxd4+

An easier win was to be had after 43...e3 44.Qxf6 gxf6 45.Kd3 d4.

44.Kxd4 g5 45.c4 dxc4 46.bxc4 bxc4 47.Kxc4 Kg7 48.Kd4 Kf6 49.Kxe4 a5 50.a4 h5 51.Kf3 Ke5 52.Ke3 g4

Even though I have not played as accurately as I should, this ending is still a win for me by one tempo.

53.Kf2 Kd4 54.Kg3 Kc4 55.Kh4 Kb4 56.Kxh5 Kxa4 57.Kxg4 Kb3 58.h4 a4 59.h5 a3 60.Kg5 a2 61.Kg6 a1=Q 62.Kh7 Qf6 63.h6 Qg5, White resigns.

{This article originally appeared in the Winter 2004 issue of Atlantic Chess News}

Friday, January 26, 2007

Shapiro - Benjamin

Two Knights Defense (by transposition)

NM Michael Shapiro [Insufficient Losing Chances] - GM Joel Benjamin [U.S. Amateur Training Team], U.S.A.T.E. 2004

This game took place in round three of the tournament.

1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.Bc4 Nf6 5.O-O Nxe4 6.Re1 d5 7.Bxd5 Qxd5 8.Nc3 Qh5 9.Nxe4 Be6


Another plan is 10.Neg5 Bb4?! (Black should castle queenside immediately which is disallowed after Shapiro's 10th move) 11.Rxe6+! fxe6 12.Nxe6 Qf7 13.Nfg5 Qe7 14.Qe2 Bd6 15.Nxg7+ Kd7 16.Qg4+ Kd8 17.Nf7+!? Qxf7 18.Bg5+ Be7 (Sergeant is mistaken in labeling White's 17th move "an unsound sacrifice" thinking incorrectly that after 18...Ne7 "Black escapes easily", but White still wins with 19.Ne6+ Ke8 20.Re1 Rg8 21.Qxd4 Qg6 22.Nxc7+ Kf7 23.Qc4+ Kf8 24.Bxe7+ Bxe7 25.Qf4+ Bf6 26.Qb4+! Kf7 27.Qb3+ Kg7 28.Nxa8 Kh8 29.Qxb7) 19.Ne6+ Kc8 20.Nc5+ Kb8 21.Nd7+ Kc8 22.Nb6+ Kb8 23.Qc8+ Rxc8 24.Nd7#, Morphy-Amateur, Paris 1859.


The book continuation is 10...Bd6 11.Bf6 O-O 12.Nxd6 cxd6 13.Bxd4 Bg4 14.Re3 Rae8 with an equal position (ECO).

11.Bf6 Qg6

This is an improvement on 11...Qa5 12.Nxd4! gxf6 13.Nxf6+ Ke7 14.b4! Nxb4 15.Nxe6! Kxf6 16.Qd4+ wins, Rossolimo-Prins, Bilbao 1951.

12.Nh4 Qg4 13.Nf3 Qg6 14.Nh4 Qg4 15.Nf3 Be7

Objectively speaking, Black should take the draw by repetition. Naturally, he is reluctant to split the point with his lower-rated opponent.

16.Bxe7 Kxe7 17.Nxd4 Qxd1 18.Nxc6+ bxc6 19.Raxd1 Rhd8 20.b3 Rd5 21.c4 Ra5


White has the better endgame because of the c5 square which should be exploited by 22.a4 Rb8 23.Re3 Re5 24.f4 Bg4 25.Rd4 Re6 26.Kf2 Bf5 27.Nc5 Rxe3 28.Kxe3 a5 29.Kf3 h5 30.Kg3 g6 31.Kh4 when Black is tied up. The way the game develops, White's knight never makes it to c5.

22...g5 23.f3 Rd8 24.Rxd8 Kxd8 25.Re2 Ke7 26.Kf2 Re5 27.Ke3 Bf5 28.Kd4 f6 29.b4 c5+ 30.bxc5 Bxe4 31.fxe4 Re6 32.a4 Kd7 33.g4 Ra6 34.Ra2 Ra5 35.Kd5 Ra6 36.a5 Re6 37.Rf2 Re5+ 38.Kd4 Re6 39.Rf3 Ra6 40.Kd5 Ke7 41.Rh3 c6+ 42.Kd4 Rxa5 43.Rxh6 Ra1


White should keep the game alive by 44.Rh7+ Ke6 45.Rc7 Rd1+ 46.Kc3 Rc1+ 47.Kd3 Rd1+ 48.Kc2 Rd4 49.Rxc6+ with good winning chances. Now Black escapes with a draw.

44...Rd1+ 45.Kc3 Rc1+ 46.Kd3 a5 47.Ra8 Rd1+ 48.Kc3 Rc1+ 49.Kd3 Rd1+ 50.Kc3 Rc1+, draw.

{This article originally appeared in the Spring 2004 issue of Atlantic Chess News}

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Pirc Defense 6...Na6

This game features a couple of piece sacrifices by White in a mating attack. Black successfully defends his king but winds up a pawn down in a lost endgame.

Jim West (USCF 2206) - Dragan Milovanovic (USCF 2277)
Hamilton, N.J. 5/31/2003

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.f4 Bg7 5.Nf3

For 5...c5, see my article in the Winter 2003 issue of Empire Chess.

6.Bd3 Na6

In the 1980's, I asked international master Mike Valvo why Bobby Fischer had attributed this move to him. As I recall, Valvo explained that he had used 6...Na6 in several blitz games against Fischer.

7.e5 dxe5 8.fxe5 Nd5 9.Nxd5 Qxd5

So far, this is Bisguier-Benko, match 1964, evaluated as "about equal" by Fischer in My 60 Memorable Games. Now ECO recommends 10.c3!?. The game continued 10.c4 Qd8 11.O-O Bg4 12.Be4 c6 with an unclear position, according to ECO.

10.Qe2 c6 11.c3 Nc7 12.O-O Bg4 13.h3 Bxf3 14.Rxf3 Rad8 15.Bg5 Qd7 16.Raf1 b5 17.Qd2 Ne6 18.Bh6 c5 19.Bxg7 Kxg7 20.Qf2 cxd4 21.Rxf7+ Kg8

22.Qh4! Rxf7 23.Rxf7 Ng5

Better is 23...Kxf7 24.Qxh7+ Ng7 25.Bxg6+ Ke6 26.Qxg7 dxc3 27.Bf7+ Kf5 28.bxc3 with an equal position, although Black must play carefully because his king is exposed and White's passed kingside pawns could prove to be dangerous.


Originally I had planned 24.Rxh7 Nxh7 25.Bxg6 Nf8 26.Qg5 Nxg6 27.Qxg6+ but suddenly realized that White has nothing more than perpetual check after 27...Kh8 (27...Kf8?? 28.e6 Qe8 29.Qh7 wins) 28.Qh6+ Kg8 29.Qg6+.


On 24...Qxb5 25.Qxg5, White has a winning endgame after 25...Re8 (25...Kxf7?? 26.e6+ wins) 26.Rxe7 Rxe7 27.Qxe7 dxc3 28.Qd8+ Kf7 29.Qc7+ Ke6 30.Qxc3.

25.Rf4 Qxe5 26.Bc4+ Kg7 27.cxd4 Qe3+ 28.Kh2 Rf8

29.Rxf8 Kxf8 30.Qh6+ Ke8 31.Bb5+ Kd8 32.Qf8+ Kc7 33.a4 h5 34.h4 Nh7 35.Qf3 Qe6 36.Qc3+ Kb7 37.Qf3+ Kb6 38.Qf4 Kb7 39.Qe5 Qf7 40.Qe4+ Kb8 41.Ba6 e6 42.Qe5+ Qc7 43.Kh3 Qxe5 44.dxe5 Nf8 45.Bb5 a5

Not only is Black down a pawn, but the white bishop is far superior to his knight.

46.Kg3 Kc7 47.Kf4 Kd8 48.Kg5 Ke7 49.Kh6 Kf7 50.g3 Kg8 51.Be8 Kh8

White now wins more material.

52.Bxg6 Nd7 53.Bxh5 Nxe5 54.Be2 Kg8 55.Kg5, Black resigns.

{This article originally appeared in the Summer 2003 issue of Empire Chess}

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Mighty Morphin' Morphy

A welcome addition* to the literature on Paul Morphy, the most gifted chessplayer of all time, is Paul Morphy and the Evolution of Chess Theory (Caissa Editions, 1993, 341 pages) by Macon Shibut, an advanced life master from Virginia.

The book is divided into three parts. In the first section, Shibut analyzes important games from Morphy's career, often giving fresh insights into positions that had been analyzed exhaustively by Steinitz, Lowenthal, and Maroczy. The second section consists of the scores of every recorded game played by Morphy. In the third and final section, essays by Steinitz and Alekhine on Morphy and his playing style are reproduced.

What I liked best about the book is the way in which Shibut debunks many of the myths about Morphy. As a former literature major, I have to say that Morphy reminds me of Edgar Allan Poe to the extent that the myths about both men have taken on such a life of their own that people today have a distorted view of what the men were really like. The myth of Morphy as being a mere creator of chess brilliancies is laid to rest here. In point of fact, according to Reti, Morphy was "the first positional player", as strange as that may sound to us today. I was somewhat amused by Shibut's taking Reti to task for his annotations of a game between Anderssen and Morphy. When Anderssen plays h3, Reti criticizes it as a non-developing move. But when Morphy plays ...h6 two moves later, Reti praises it as a developing move! It seems as if Reti (and others throughout the years) had a pre-conceived notion of Morphy as a rapid-development player and nothing, not even the facts, was going to interfere with this notion.

The villain, so to speak, of the book is Steinitz, concerning whom Alekhine wrote: "Steinitz was, undoubtably, a very great figure, to such an extent that he gave much to the theoretical side of our royal game in the prime of his life,...but it is impossible, to be sure, to agree with his views of Morphy, whom he definitively tried to take down from his pedestal." Indeed, Morphy was hardly in his grave when, in 1885, Steinitz penned a lengthy essay on Morphy in which, as Shibut describes it, "Steinitz...proceeds with his best Mark Anthony routine, chopping away at Morphy's reputation and all the while claiming to praise him." From a personal standpoint, I was intrigued to learn that it was here that Steinitz attacked the Philidor Counter Gambit 3...f5 "which has justly become obsolete as it has been proved analytically unsound." As I well know, the irony is that it is difficult nowadays to find a line of analysis by Steinitz on the Philidor Counter Gambit that has not itself been refuted by some chess analyst over the years. It is interesting that Steinitz prefaced his criticisms of this opening by saying: "In two of his most brilliant games, viz., against Barnes and Bird he adopts as second player a risky form of the Philidor Defense." Shades of Garry Kasparov criticizing Fischer's play in games 1 and 11 of the Spassky rematch, acknowledged by many as Fischer's best efforts at Sveti Stefan!

But the part of Steinitz's essay that left a bad taste in my mouth was the final paragraph in which he implies that Morphy, far from defeating his opponents with ease, used so much mental energy that it led to his ultimate breakdown. In Shibut's words, "Morphy's only direct counterblow" to Steinitz came in 1883 when Steinitz briefly visited Morphy in New Orleans. Morphy refused to discuss chess with Steinitz, saying to a friend: "His gambit is not good." Whether Morphy was referring to Steinitz's gambit in trying to arrange a chess match, or to the infamous Steinitz variation of the King's Gambit, is not entirely clear. It is probable that Morphy, who often had a witty way with words, intended both meanings.

*{This book review originally appeared in Atlantic Chess News in 1993}

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Immortal Zwischenzug Game

FIDE Master Asa Hoffmann has authored a new book* titled Chess Gladiator (International Chess Enterprises, 1996) which is a collection of his best games throughout a long career. I am honored to have one of my games, albeit a loss, included in this book. The list of Asa's opponents is impressive, featuring the likes of Bobby Fischer, Gata Kamsky, Roman Dzindzichasvili, Arthur Bisguier, Pal Benko, Lev Alburt, Joel Benjamin, Michael Wilder, Edmar Mednis, Miguel Quinteros, Michael Rohde, Ron Henley, Dmitry Gurevich, Max Dlugy, Arnold Denker, Jay Bonin, Mike Valvo, Kamran Shirazi, Walter Shipman, Orest Popovych, and Shelby Lyman, to name a few.

To the best of my recollection, Asa has played the Trompovsky Attack 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 against me on three occasions. I won the first encounter in 1982 at the Bar Point in New York City by making a speculative piece sacrifice in an inferior position and was fortunate that Black led a charmed life in so many of the ensuing variations.

Asa got his revenge at the 1986 U.S. Open, held in Somerset, with a quick 19-move crush in which I defended poorly.

The third contest, played in May 1988 at the Manhattan Chess Club, is the one that Asa included in his book. Although he does not refer to it as such in print, fellow players at the Manhattan tell me that he has described it as "the immortal Zwischenzug game" because there are three critical junctures when a white knight gains valuable time by an in-between attack against the black queen. Here is the game, with annotations by Asa Hoffmann [AH] and myself [JW].

FM Asa Hoffmann - NM Jim West, Manhattan Chess Club 1988

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 c5

I have always answered the Trompovsky Attack (or the Ruth Attack, as The New York Times chess columnist Robert Byrne calls it, in honor of the Philadelphia master Bill Ruth, who championed it in the 1920's) with 2...c5, influenced by the game Letelier-Fischer, Mar del Plata 1960 which continued: 3.c3?! (better are 3.Bxf6 and 3.d5) Qb6 4.Qb3 cxd4 5.Qxb6 axb6 6.Bxf6 gxf6 7.cxd4 Nc6 8.Nf3 Nb4 9.Kd2 Rxa2 10.Rxa2 Nxa2 with a pawn-up advantage which enabled Fischer to win in 36 moves.

Also possible is 2...Ne4 3.Bf4 (3.h4 d5 4.Nd2 Bf5 5.Nxe4 Bxe4 6.f3 h6 7.fxe4 hxg5 8.Qd3 e6 9.Qb5+ Nc6 10.Qxb7 Nb4! with advantage to Black and 0-1 in 44 moves, Hodgson-Salov, Netherlands 1993) d5 (3...c5 4.f3 Qa5+ 5.c3 Nf6 6.d5 e6 7.e4 exd5 8.exd5 d6 9.Ne2!? Nbd7 10.Nd2 Nb6 11.b4! cxb4 12.c4 with compensation and 1-0 in 60 moves, Gulko-Browne, U.S.Championship 1992) 4.f3 Nf6 5.e4!? [JW], and now:

(a) 5...dxe 6.Nc3 exf3 7.Nxf3 e6 (7...g6 8.Bc4 Bg7 9.Qe2 O-O 10.O-O-O c6 11.d5!, Hodgson-Panchenko, Bern 1994) 8.Bc4 c6 9.Qe2 with compensation, Jansa-Sosonko, Amsterdam 1975 [JW].

(b) 5...e6 6.e5 Nfd7 7.Be3 c5 8.c3 Nc6 9.f4 cxd4 10.cxd4 Nb6 (10...Qa5+ 11.Kf2 Nb6 12.b3 Bd7 13.Nf3 Rc8 14.a3 Na8 15.Ra2 Ne7 16.Bd2 Qb6 17.Nc3 Nf5 18.b4!, Benjamin-Malishauskas, Moscow 1994) 11.Nd2 a5 12.a3 a4 13.Bd3 Bd7 14.Ne2 Na5 15.O-O g6 16.g4 Bc6 17.Ng3 Nbc4 18.Nxc4 Nxc4 19.Qe2 b5 20.f5 with advantage, Benjamin-Popovic, Moscow 1994 [JW].

A rare continuation occurred in the game Levitina-Khan, U.S. Women's Championship 1993: 2...d6 3.Nc3 (3.Bxf6!?) Nbd7 4.e4 e5 5.f4 h6 6.Bxf6 Qxf6 7.Qd2 c6 8.Nge2 Nb6 9.O-O-O Bg4 10.g3 exd4 11.Qxd4 Qxd4 12.Rxd4 O-O-O with the better endgame for Black (0-1, 40) [JW].


Instead 3.d5 Qb6 4.Nc3 Qxb2 5.Bd2 Qb6 6.e4 leads to a strong attack [AH], but Asa may have remembered our 1982 game which proceeded: 6...d6 7.f4 e6 8.Nf3 Be7 9.Rb1 Qd8 10.Bb5+ Bd7 11.dxe6 fxe6 12.Ng5 O-O 13.Bc4 Qc8 14.f5 Nxe4!? 15.fxe6 Bc6 16.Ngxe4 b5!? [JW] with unclear play (0-1, 27). After 3.d5, Black can also try 3...Ne4!, followed by 4...Qb6, with chances for both sides [AH].

3...gxf6 4.d5 Qb6 5.Qc1 f5

Many books recommend 5...Bh6, but Asa labels this move "naive" because after 6.e3 the dark-squared bishop usually loses a tempo by withdrawing to g7.


One month earlier, at the Toms River quads in April 1988, future N.J. state champion David Levin played 6.e3 against me, but after 6...Bg7 7.c3 e6 8.dxe6 fxe6 9.Nd2 d5 10.Bd3 Nc6 11.Ne2 Bd7 12.O-O O-O-O 13.Rb1 Ne5 14.Bc2 Bb5 15.Re1 Nd3 16.Bxd3 Bxd3 17.Ra1 Bxe2 18.Rxe2 Kb8 19.Qc2 Rhf8 20.Rae1 e5 Black had the advantage, although the game was eventually drawn [JW].

6...Bg7 7.c3 e6

Alternatives are:

(a) 7...O-O 8.Nd2 d6 9.Bg2 Bd7 10.Nh3!?, Krishko-Privarg, 1980 [AH].

(b) 7...h5 8.h4 Qf6 9.Nh3 e5 10.dxe6 fxe6 11.Bg2 Nc6 12.Na3 d5 13.Nf4, Mikadze-Ghinda, 1976 [AH].


Better is 8.Nh3! h5 9.Nd2 d6 10.Nc4 Qd8 11.Qd2 e5 12.f4 b5 13.Ne3 h4 14.Bg2, Ermenkov-Kouatley, 1984 [AH].

8...Qd6?! 9.Qd2 O-O 10.Na3 Qa6 11.e3 e5

12.d6! f4 13.Rd1 Nc6 14.Ne2 b5! 15.O-O fxe3 16.Qxe3 b4 17.Nb1 Bb7 18.Nd2

On 18.Bd5, guarding the a2 pawn, Black can answer 18...Nd4! [AH].

18...Qxa2 19.Ne4 Ba6


This is Zwischenzug number one. On the immediate 20.Nxc5, Black counters with 20...Bxe2 21.Qxe2 bxc3 22.Nxd7 Nd4 [AH].

20...Qa5 21.Rfe1 bxc3 22.bxc3 f5!


And this is the second Zwischenzug. Of course, White must avoid 23.Nxc5? f4! [AH].

23...Qd8 24.Nexc5 Bc4 25.Nd2 Bf7 26.Qf3 Be8 27.Qe2 e4?!

More prudent is 27...Bf7 [AH], but after moving my light-squared bishop five times I was reluctant to move it again.

28.g4! Qb6 29.Na6 Ne5 30.Nc7 Rc8 31.gxf5 Nd3 32.Nxe4 Nxe1


The final Zwischenzug!

33...Qb3 34.Rxe1

Less convincing is 34.Ne7+ Kh8 35.Nxc8 Nxg2 36.Kxg2 Rxf5 [AH].

34...Kh8 35.Ne7 Rb8 36.Qe3! a5 37.f6 Rxf6!

White wins after 37...Bxf6 38.Nxf6 Rxf6 39.Qe5 Qf7 40.Nd5 Kg7 41.Re3 [AH].

38.Nxf6 Bxf6 39.Nd5 Bg7 40.Be4!

But not 40.Qxe8+? Rxe8 41.Rxe8+ Bf8 42.Rxf8+ Kg7 43.Rf5 Qd1+ 44.Bf1 Qg4+ [AH].


No better is 40...Bf7 41.Qh3 Bg8 (41...h6 42.Qf5) 42.Ne7 Bxc3 43.Rb1 Bb2 44.Qxb3 Rxb3 45.Nxg8 Kxg8 46.Bd5+ [AH].

41.Rb1 Qxb1+ 42.Bxb1 Rxb1+ 43.Kg2 h6 44.Ne7 Bf7 45.Qf3 Ba2 46.Qa8+ Kh7

47.c4! h5

Obviously, 47...Bxc4 loses at once to 48.Qe4+ Kh8 when White can choose between 49.Qxb1 and 49.Qxc4 [JW].

48.Qg8+ Kh6 49.Qf7 Kh7 50.Nf5, Black resigns .

*{This article originally appeared in the January-February 1997 issue of Atlantic Chess News}

Monday, January 22, 2007

Kasparov, Karpov Clash in NYC

Every so often in one's life, an event will happen that makes time stand still. The first half of the 1990 world championship match in New York City was such an occurrence. For one month, the world turned upside-down as chess reigned supreme.

The Hudson Theater, where the games were played, reminded me of my hometown moviehouse. Only instead of a motion picture on a giant screen, there was a projection of a chessboard and pieces on a much smaller screen, suspended from the ceiling. Beneath it was a stage on which there was a slightly upraised wooden platform that supported a table and two chairs. Upon the table were the board, pieces, clock, and scoresheets.

Next door at the Macklowe Hotel, grandmasters lectured in three conference rooms on the fifth floor and in the press area on the eighth floor. Grandmasters Seirawan, Christiansen, Wolff, Rohde, Benjamin, Fedorowicz, Dzindzichasvili, and Bisguier were there as analysts. On the elevators and in the halls, grandmasters abounded by the dozen: Spassky, Tal, Korchnoi, Geller, Najdorf, Portisch, Henley, Byrne, Benko, Reshevsky, DeFirmian, Dlugy, and others too numerous to mention.

For me, the match broke down into three distinct phases. During the first five games or so, I frequented the press room. This was the place to go for serious analysis. I heard Yasser Seirawan, Larry Christiansen, and Patrick Wolff take turns at giving in-depth explanations of strategy and tactics.

For roughly the next four games, I haunted the lecture rooms on the fifth floor. Here Dzindzichasvili was an added attraction. Roman's Regulars were a loyal bunch, filling Dzindzi's room to capacity, night after night. Dzindzi combined hard analysis with stand-up comedy, and was always entertaining.

Finally, the last three games were the best of all. These I observed from the press balcony in the theater itself, enjoying headphone analysis from Wolff, Benjamin, and Rohde, as well as color commentary by Bruce Pandolfini. Watching Kasparov and Karpov play chess was the ultimate spectator's dream. Not only could I see the players "live" on stage, but a pair of closed-circuit TV monitors showed close-ups of their faces as well.

Anatoly Karpov had a familiar routine. When it was his move, he sat with eyes lowered to the board and muttered to himself. All the while, Anatoly's head moved up and down slowly. Next his usually expressionless face would light up for a moment, and then he would give a final emphatic shake of his head. Sitting in the audience, I knew that I had just seen him analyze a complicated subvariation and arrive at a conclusion, whether favorable or not. Lastly, Karpov's eyelids always flicked upward. For a split second, his eyes would focus squarely on Kasparov, almost as if his gaze could penetrate Garry's skull. And I sensed that Karpov was trying to catch a glimpse of what his opponent might be thinking.

Garry Kasparov, for his part, sat there with palms cupped over his nose while he seemingly breathed in his own exhalations, like a man trying to keep himself from hyperventilating. Whenever Karpov gave him that from-down-under glare, Kasparov invariably raised his line of vision to a point above Karpov's head, trying to avoid making eye contact and perhaps giving away his thoughts. At times Garry would stare at the wall or the ceiling, as though seeking inspiration there. If not for the streaks of gray in his hair, he resembled a college student taking a difficult exam, straining to remember his homework.

When the twelfth game concluded suddenly with a handshake, I didn't want it to end yet. Driving home that night, I felt the sadness of personal loss. Probably never again would I have the chance to attend a world championship match. I wanted nothing more than to return to New York for game thirteen.


This game left many questions unanswered. Why did Karpov find fault with his chair, after play was already in progress? Did Anatoly miss a win on his 22nd move, as Deep Thought later claimed? And before the game started, the parking attendant in the garage across the street wanted to know: "If it's the world championship, how come Bobby Fischer isn't playing?"

Karpov almost always plays 5.Nf3 against the King's Indian Defense; so his choice of 5.f3 was quite a surprise. Chuck Adelman spotted Ron Henley, one of Karpov's seconds, in the pressroom and immediately asked him, "C'mon, Ron, tell me the truth, 5.f3 was your idea, wasn't it?" Henley replied, "No, I believe it was Samisch's."

Karpov - Kasparov

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3 O-O 6.Be3 c6 7.Bd3 a6 8.Nge2 b5 9.O-O Nbd7 10.Rc1 e5 11.a3 exd4 12.Nxd4 Bb7 13.cxb5 cxb5 14.Re1 Ne5 15.Bf1 Re8 16.Bf2 d5 17.exd5 Nxd5 18.Nxd5 Qxd5 19.a4 Bh6 20.Ra1 Nc4 21.axb5 axb5 22.Rxa8 Rxa8 23.Qb3 Bc6 24.Bd3 Nd6 25.Qxd5 Bxd5 26.Nxb5 Nxb5 27.Bxb5 Bg7 28.b4 Bc3 29.Rd1 Bb3 30.Rb1 Ba2, draw.


From 25.Bh6 on, this game resembled one of those countless Morphy vs. Amateur contests, especially in the subvariations that were never played. That Kasparov could have engineered such a coup against a defensive player of Karpov's ability was all the more remarkable. When Karpov played 24...Ng8, retreating his third minor piece to its original square, Christiansen brought down the house in the press room by commenting, "I think Karpov is setting up the pieces for the next game."

Kasparov - Karpov

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 O-O 9.h3 Bb7 10.d4 Re8 11.Nbd2 Bf8 12.a4 h6 13.Bc2 exd4 14.cxd4 Nb4 15.Bb1 bxa4 16.Rxa4 a5 17.Ra3 Ra6 18.Nh2 g6 19.f3 Qd7 20.Nc4 Qb5 21.Rc3 Bc8 22.Be3 Kh7 23.Qc1 c6 24.Ng4 Ng8 25.Bxh6 Bxh6 26.Nxh6 Nxh6 27.Nxd6 Qb6 28.Nxe8 Qxd4+ 29.Kh1 Qd8 30.Rd1 Qxe8 31.Qg5 Ra7 32.Rd8 Qe6 33.f4 Ba6 34.f5 Qe7 35.Qd2 Qe5 36.Qf2 Qe7 37.Qd4 Ng8 38.e5 Nd5 39.fxg6+ fxg6 40.Rxc6 Qxd8 41.Qxa7+ Nde7 42.Rxa6 Qd1+ 43.Qg1 Qd2 44.Qf1, Black resigns.


Having played the King's Indian Defense for years, I know how difficult it can be psychologically. The second player often has to cede White not only an advantage in space but also the initiative, in the hope that his opponent will overextend himself and Black can swing over to a decisive counterattack. So when Kasparov sacrificed first an exchange and then his queen for two minor pieces - in each case garnering an extra pawn - he seemed almost to be rewriting the book on this opening.

It was a stunning reversal of roles, with the black pieces in command throughout. Garry's play here reminded me of an expression once used by a reporter to describe a Fischer brilliancy: "arrogance on the chessboard."

Karpov - Kasparov

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 O-O 6.Be2 e5 7.Be3 Qe7 8.dxe5 dxe5 9.Nd5 Qd8 10.Bc5 Nxe4 11.Be7 Qd7 12.Bxf8 Kxf8 13.Qc2 Nc5 14.Rd1 Nc6 15.O-O Ne6 16.Nb6 axb6 17.Rxd7 Bxd7 18.Qd2 Be8 19.b3 e4 20.Ne1 f5 21.Bd1 Ne5 22.Nc2 Rxa2 23.Qd5 Ke7 24.Nb4 c6 25.Qxe6+ Kxe6 26.Nxa2 Nf7 27.Be2 Nd6 28.Nb4 Bc3 29.Nc2 f4 30.Rd1 h5 31.f3 e3 32.g3 g5 33.Bd3 h4 34.Kf1 c5 35.Ke2 b5 36.cxb5 Nxb5 37.Bc4+ Ke7 38.Rd5 Bf6 39.Rxc5 Nc3+ 40.Kf1 Bg6 41.Ne1 Kd6 42.Ra5 fxg3 43.hxg3 hxg3 44.Ng2 b5 45.Ra6+ Ke7 46.Ra7+ Ke8 47.Ra8+ Bd8 48.Nxe3 bxc4 49.Nxc4 g4 50.Kg2 Ne2 51.Ne5 gxf3+ 52.Kxf3 g2 53.Rxd8+, draw.


"Blue smoke and mirrors" is how one strong player on the eighth floor characterized Kasparov's play in this tactical melee. Byrne expressed pretty much the same opinion when he told Seirawan, who was analyzing for the press, that White had "gone out of control" with 23.Re6?!. According to DeFirmian, Garry's 20.Nf6+ and 21.Bd2 followed a line suggested by IM Alexander Ivanov. What everyone except Karpov overlooked was that 22...Bf7, rather than Ivanov's 22...Bxf3, casts a cloud upon the entire variation.

Kasparov struggled valiantly by sacrificing the exchange as well as his queenside pawns, but in the end it was the clock that saved him. With his flag hanging, Karpov erred with 39...Qf7, allowing perpetual check. After the game, Najdorf and Spassky demonstrated in the press area - amidst a crush of players and journalists - that Karpov missed 39...d4 winning!

Kasparov - Karpov

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 O-O 9.h3 Bb7 10.d4 Re8 11.Nbd2 Bf8 12.a4 h6 13.Bc2 exd4 14.cxd4 Nb4 15.Bb1 c5 16.d5 Nd7 17.Ra3 f5 18.exf5 Nf6 19.Ne4 Bxd5 20.Nxf6+ Qxf6 21.Bd2 Qxb2 22.Bxb4 Bf7 23.Re6 Qxb4 24.Rb3 Qxa4 25.Bc2 Rad8 26.Rbe3 Qb4 27.g3 a5 28.Nh4 d5 29.Qe2 Qc4 30.Bd3 Qc1+ 31.Kg2 c4 32.Bc2 Bxe6 33.Rxe6 Rxe6 34.Qxe6+ Kh8 35.Ng6+ Kh7 36.Qe2 Qg5 37.f6 Qxf6 38.Nxf8+ Kg8 39.Ng6 Qf7 40.Ne7+ Kf8 41.Ng6+, draw.


The players' contrasting approaches to the game of chess were reflected in their different chairs. Karpov's was a swivel chair on wheels - the kind one often sees behind the desk of a business executive. It afforded a comfortable position. On the other side of the table, Kasparov's was a nondescript straight-legged variety. I would describe it as inflexible and demanding, much like Garry's uncompromising style.

At the start of each game, I stood in front of the stage in the photographers area to take pictures. Shortly before game five began, a stagehand could be seen polishing the two chairs. A photographer called up to him, asking why Kasparov had selected such an ordinary chair. The stagehand replied, "He didn't want a comfortable chair. He said if it gets too comfortable, he falls asleep."

Karpov - Kasparov

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 O-O 6.Be2 e5 7.Be3 Na6 8.O-O c6 9.dxe5 dxe5 10.Qxd8 Rxd8 11.Rfd1 Re8 12.h3 Bf8 13.Nd2 b6 14.a3 Nc5 15.b4 Ne6 16.Nb3 Ba6 17.f3 Nh5 18.Bf2 Red8 19.Bf1 Nhf4 20.g3 Nh5 21.Kg2 f5 22.Rab1 Rac8 23.Rxd8 Rxd8 24.Rd1 Rxd1 25.Nxd1 fxe4 26.fxe4 c5 27.bxc5 Nxc5 28.Nxc5 Bxc5 29.Bxc5 bxc5 30.Nc3 Nf6 31.Kf3 Bb7 32.Bd3 Kf8 33.h4 h6 34.Bc2 Ke7 35.Ba4 a6 36.Ke3, draw.


On moves seventeen and eighteen, Kasparov chose to develop both his knights to their respective rook files, a tendency he had also exhibited in games five and seven. Garry's pawn sacrifice on his 25th move changed the complexion of this game from a positional battle on the queenside to a kingside mating attack for White. By move 32, Karpov was under such tremendous pressure that he reached to move his king to h7, hovered his hand for a few seconds, withdrew it before touching the piece, and then finally made the move. It was a rare display of indecisiveness on Anatoly's part.

Kasparov - Karpov

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 O-O 9.h3 Nd7 10.d4 Bf6 11.a4 Bb7 12.axb5 axb5 13.Rxa8 Qxa8 14.d5 Na5 15.Bc2 Nc4 16.b3 Ncb6 17.Na3 Ba6 18.Nh2 c6 19.dxc6 Qxc6 20.Bd2 Be7 21.Ng4 Ra8 22.Ne3 Nf6 23.Nf5 Bf8 24.Bg5 Nbd7 25.c4 bxc4 26.bxc4 Bxc4 27.Nxc4 Qxc4 28.Bb3 Qc3 29.Kh2 h6 30.Bxf6 Nxf6 31.Re3 Qc7 32.Rf3 Kh7 33.Ne3 Qe7 34.Nd5 Nxd5 35.Bxd5 Ra7 36.Qb3 f6 37.Qb8 g6 38.Rc3 h5 39.g4 Kh6 40.gxh5 Kxh5 41.Rc8 Bg7 42.Re8, draw.


As a colossal blunder at the world championship level, Kasparov's 27th move in this game must rank alongside Fischer's infamous grab of the h-pawn in game one versus Spassky. Rohde instantly branded 27...Qa5 "by far the worst move I've ever seen Kasparov play." From a player of Kasparov's caliber, the error was inexplicable, unless perhaps Garry's chair had gotten too comfortable.

Karpov - Kasparov

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 O-O 6.Be2 e5 7.Be3 Na6 8.O-O Ng4 9.Bg5 f6 10.Bc1 Kh8 11.h3 Nh6 12.dxe5 fxe5 13.Be3 Nf7 14.Qd2 Nc5 15.Ng5 Nxg5 16.Bxg5 Bf6 17.Be3 Ne6 18.Bg4 h5 19.Bxe6 Bxe6 20.Nd5 Bh4 21.Rac1 Kh7 22.Rc3 Rf7 23.b3 c6 24.Nb4 Rd7 25.Rcc1 Bf6 26.f4 exf4 27.Bxf4 Qa5 28.Nd5 Qc5+ 29.Kh1 Bxd5 30.cxd5 Qd4 31.dxc6 bxc6 32.Rxc6 Re8 33.Rc4 Qxd2 34.Bxd2 Be5 35.Be3 Bg3 36.Rf3 h4 37.Bf2 Bxf2 38.Rxf2 Rde7 39.Rf4 g5 40.Rf6 Rxe4 41.Rxe4 Rxe4 42.Rxd6 Re7 43.Ra6 Kg7 44.Kg1, Black resigns.


This game was a grueling ten-hour struggle that took two evenings to complete. Before the first playing session, I handed my camera up to referee Geurt Gijssen of Holland and asked him if he would take pictures of the board for me. To my surprise, he invited me onto the stage where I photographed the board myself, to a chorus of jealous howls from the professional cameramen. For a few Walter Mittyish seconds, I knew how it felt to be playing for the world championship, on that stage, in that theater.

At the adjournment, Karpov was a pawn up, and most chess experts were of the opinion that he would win rather easily. Consequently attendance was sparse for the second session. Apparently those who stayed home made the right decision, but for the wrong reason. Anatoly soon frittered away his advantage, and the game seemed to drag on forever. The low point came when Karpov spent more than thirty minutes on a move that was virtually forced. Dzindzi summed up everyone's feelings about the latter portion of this game when he complained, "It bored me to death."

Kasparov - Karpov

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 O-O 9.h3 Nd7 10.d4 Bf6 11.a4 Bb7 12.Be3 Na5 13.Bc2 Nc4 14.Bc1 d5 15.dxe5 Ndxe5 16.Nxe5 Nxe5 17.axb5 axb5 18.Rxa8 Qxa8 19.f4 Ng6 20.e5 Bh4 21.Rf1 Be7 22.Nd2 Bc5+ 23.Kh2 d4 24.Qe2 dxc3 25.bxc3 Rd8 26.Ne4 Ba3 27.Bxa3 Bxe4 28.Qxe4 Qxa3 29.f5 Ne7 30.Qh4 f6 31.Qg3 Kf8 32.Kh1 Qc5 33.exf6 gxf6 34.Bb3 Nd5 35.Qh4 Kg7 36.Rd1 c6 37.Rd4 Qc3 38.Rg4+ Kh8 39.Bxd5 Qa1+ 40.Kh2 Qe5+ 41.Rg3 cxd5 42.Qg4 Qc7 43.Qd4 Qd6 44.Kh1 Re8 45.Qg4 Qd7 46.Rd3 Re1+ 47.Kh2 Re4 48.Qg3 Re5 49.Ra3 Re8 50.Qf4 Qb7 51.Kh1 Qb8 52.Qh4 Qb6 53.Qb4 d4 54.Rg3 Qc7 55.Rd3 Qc1+ 56.Kh2 Qf4+ 57.Kg1 Qc1+ 58.Kh2 Qf4+ 59.Kg1 Rc8 60.Rd1 Rd8 61.Qxb5 Qe3+ 62.Kh1 d3 63.Qa5 Qd4 64.Qa1 Qb6 65.Qa2 Kg7 66.Qd2 Qc5 67.Rf1 Rd4 68.Rf3 Qd6 69.Re3 Ra4 70.Re1 h5 71.Rb1 Qd7 72.Qd1 Kh6 73.Qd2+ Kg7 74.Qe3 h4 75.Qf3 Kh6 76.Qe3+ Kg7 77.Qf3 d2 78.Qh5 Qf7 79.Qxf7+ Kxf7 80.Rd1 Rd4 81.Kg1 Rd5 82.Kf2 Rxf5+ 83.Ke2 Rg5 84.Kf2, draw.


Under ordinary circumstances, either player might have requested a postponement after the 84-move marathon. However, each had already used one of his three alloted time-outs. So, in games nine and ten, the contestants did the next best thing by playing black defenses that were less demanding than their usual ones.

Here Kasparov chose the Grunfeld over the King's Indian and offered an exchange of queens as early as move ten. In the queenless endgame that followed, Karpov pressed slowly but surely for the win, achieving a considerable positional advantage until he played 32.Bd2? blundering his d-pawn. Both players showed signs of fatigue in this game.

Karpov - Kasparov

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Be3 c5 8.Qd2 cxd4 9.cxd4 Nc6 10.Rd1 Qa5 11.Qxa5 Nxa5 12.Nf3 O-O 13.Be2 Bd7 14.Bd2 b6 15.O-O Rfd8 16.Rc1 Bg4 17.d5 Nb7 18.h3 Bxf3 19.Bxf3 Nc5 20.Be3 Rac8 21.Bg4 Rb8 22.Rc4 h5 23.Bf3 e6 24.Rd1 exd5 25.exd5 Be5 26.g4 hxg4 27.hxg4 Nb7 28.Ra4 Na5 29.g5 Rbc8 30.Be2 Bd6 31.Kg2 Bc5 32.Bd2 Rxd5 33.Bf3 Rdd8 34.Bxa5, draw.


This was the only disappointing game of the match, an 18-move "grandmaster draw". The biggest excitement occurred when booth commentator Patrick Wolff noted at one point that Karpov's elapsed time was 44 minutes, and Bruce Pandolfini responded, "44. Reggie Jackson's old number." People with headphones in the audience laughed, and the "Silence Please" warning flashed on the screen.

Kasparov - Karpov

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.d4 exd4 4.e5 Ne4 5.Qxd4 d5 6.exd6 Nxd6 7.Nc3 Nc6 8.Qf4 Nf5 9.Bb5 Bd6 10.Qe4+ Qe7 11.Bg5 f6 12.Bd2 Bd7 13.O-O-O Qxe4 14.Nxe4 Be7 15.g4 a6 16.Bc4 Nd6 17.Nxd6+ Bxd6 18.Rde1+, draw.


Kasparov's exchange sacrifice on move 13 drew a collective gasp from the crowd. Except for his victory in game two, this was Garry's best tactical performance. Both games were undoubtedly the result of home preparation.

In the booth, Pandolfini found time to ask Patrick Wolff about when he first learned the game of chess. Wolff's story fascinated me. It turns out that Patrick was four years old when he came across his father sitting in front of the television, moving pieces on a chessboard. The year was 1972, and the TV program was a broadcast of the Spassky-Fischer match.

Perhaps a generation from now, some future grandmaster will say that he first learned the moves during the 1990 Kasparov-Karpov match.


1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 O-O 6.Be2 e5 7.Be3 exd4 8.Nxd4 Re8 9.f3 c6 10.Qd2 d5 11.exd5 cxd5 12.O-O Nc6 13.c5 Rxe3 14.Qxe3 Qf8 15.Nxc6 bxc6 16.Kh1 Rb8 17.Na4 Rb4 18.b3 Be6 19.Nb2 Nh5 20.Nd3 Rh4 21.Qf2 Qe7 22.g4 Bd4 23.Qxd4 Rxh2+ 24.Kxh2 Qh4+, draw.


Every chess player knows the dreaded feeling of time pressure. What this game taught me is that experiencing it from the audience can be even more unbearable. Karpov seemed to be inviting time trouble, all match long. This final game in New York was no exception. When Kasparov offered the draw, Anatoly had only two minutes for his remaining four moves, and the position was still complicated enough to have me sitting on the edge of my chair. Karpov calmly accepted the offer with a handshake, and Garry arose at once and strode offstage to a burst of handclapping.

Anatoly sat at the board for a minute or two longer, ostensibly signing his scoresheet. But I suspect he was savoring the moment, having played his heavily favored opponent to a 6-6 dead heat. When Karpov finally left the stage, the applause was loud and heartfelt for this tenacious fighter.

Kasparov - Karpov

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 O-O 9.h3 Nd7 10.d4 Bf6 11.a4 Bb7 12.Na3 exd4 13.cxd4 Na5 14.Ba2 b4 15.Nc4 Nxc4 16.Bxc4 Re8 17.Qb3 Rxe4 18.Bxf7+ Kh8 19.Be3 Re7 20.Bd5 c6 21.Be6 Nf8 22.Bg4 a5 23.Rac1 Ng6 24.Bh5 Rc8 25.Bg4 Rb8 26.Qc2 Rc7 27.Qf5 Ne7 28.Qd3 Nd5 29.Bd2 c5 30.Be6 Nb6 31.dxc5 dxc5 32.Qxd8+ Rxd8 33.Bf4 Re7 34.Ng5 Bd5 35.Bxd5 Rxd5 36.Rxe7 Bxe7 37.Re1, draw.

{This article originally appeared in Atlantic Chess News in 1991}

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Pirc Defense 5...c5

At the Morton Metz Memorial tournament, held at the Marshall Chess Club on the weekend of October 12th through 13th*, I finished with 3 points, defeating an international master and drawing a grandmaster along the way. Here is my victory against the IM who told me afterwards that it was the worst game he had ever played!

Jim West [FIDE 2225] - Mikhail Zlotnikov [FIDE 2373]

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.f4 Bg7 5.Nf3 c5 6.dxc5 Qa5 7.Bd3 Qxc5 8.Qe2 O-O

Another plan for Black is to transpose into a Najdorf variation set-up, where 6.f4 has been played, with moves such as ...a6, ...Qc7, and ...e5. This was the system used by Bernie Friend (USCF 2143) against me in a tournament held at Dumont, NJ in 1989.

That game continued 8...a6 9.Be3 Qc7 10.O-O Nbd7 11.h3 b5 12.Rae1 e5 13.Qf2 Bb7 14.g4 O-O-O 15.fxe5 dxe5 16.g5 Nh5

17.Bxb5! Nf4 18.Bxf4 exf4 19.Bd3 Ne5 20.Qe2 h6 21.Kg2 Qa5 22.Nxe5 Bxe5 23.gxh6 Bxc3 24.bxc3 Qg5+ 25.Qg4+ Qxg4+ 26.hxg4 g5 27.Rh1 Rde8 28.Rh5 f6 29.Kf3 Rh7 30.Kf2 Re5 31.Kf3 Kc7 32.Rb1 Kc6 33.Bc4 Kc7 34.Bd3 Bc6 35.Rb4 a5 36.Rd4 Bd7 37.Bc4 Re8 38.Rd1 Re5 39.Bg8 Rh8 40.h7 Be6 41.Bxe6 Rxe6 42.c4 Re7 43.c5 Rexh7 44.Rdh1 Rxh5 45.gxh5 Rh6 46.Kg4 Kc6 47.Rd1 Kxc5 48.Rd5+ Kb4 49.e5 fxe5 50.Rxe5 Rc6 51.Re2 Ka3 52.Kxg5 f3 53.Rh2 Kxa2 54.h6 a4 55.h7 Rc8 56.h8=Q Rxh8 57.Rxh8 Kb2 58.c4 a3 59.Kg4 f2 60.Rh1, Black resigns.

9.Be3 Qa5 10.O-O Nc6

The famous encounter between Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer at Reykjavik in 1972 proceeded differently with 10...Bg4 11.Rad1 Nc6 12.Bc4 Nh5 13.Bb3 Bxc3 14.bxc3 Qxc3 15.f5 Nf6 16.h3 Bxf3 17.Qxf3 Na5 18.Rd3 Qc7 19.Bh6 Nxb3 20.cxb3 Qc5+ 21.Kh1 Qe5 22.Bxf8 Rxf8

23.Re3 Rc8 24.fxg6 hxg6 25.Qf4 Qxf4 26.Rxf4 Nd7 27.Rf2 Ne5 28.Kh2 Rc1 29.Ree2 Nc6 30.Rc2 Re1 31.Rfe2 Ra1 32.Kg3 Kg7 33.Rcd2 Rf1 34.Rf2 Re1 35.Rfe2 Rf1 36.Re3 a6 37.Rc3 Re1 38.Rc4 Rf1 39.Rdc2 Ra1 40.Rf2 Re1 41.Rfc2 g5 42.Rc1 Re2 43.R1c2 Re1 44.Rc1 Re2 45.R1c2, draw.

Rather than 11.Rad1, the recommended move in most books on the Spassky-Fischer match is 11.h3 to secure the bishop pair. A couple of my games now ended in draws. For example, here is the finale to Jim West (USCF 2213) - Matthew Traldi (USCF 2100) from a quad at Somerset, NJ in 1998: 11.h3 Bxf3 12.Qxf3 Nc6 13.a3 Nd7 14.Bd2 Qb6+ 15.Kh1 Nc5 16.Rab1 Nxd3 17.cxd3 Rac8 18.Nd5 Qd8 19.f5 Ne5 20.Qg3 Re8 21.Rbc1 Rxc1 22.Rxc1 Nc6 23.Bc3 Bxc3 24.Rxc3 e6 25.Ne3 d5 26.exd5 exd5 27.Rc1 Ne5 28.fxg6 hxg6 29.Ng4 Nxg4 30.Qxg4 Qb6 31.Rc8, draw.

Instead Jim West (USCF 2226) - Nenad Vulicevic (USCF 2451), played at the Marshall Chess Club in 1996, took a more tactical course with 14...f5 15.exf5 gxf5 16.Rab1 Kh8 17.Kh1 Rae8 18.Qd5 Qd8

19.Bxf5 Nf6 20.Qd3 e6 21.Be4 d5 22.Bf3 Nd7 23.Bh5 Re7 24.b4 Nd4 25.Ne2 Nf5 26.Bg4 Nf6 27.Bxf5 exf5 28.Bc3 Ne4 29.Bxg7+ Rxg7 30.Rf3 Rf6 31.Qd4 Rfg6 32.Rg1 h5 33.c4 Rd6 34.c5 Rdg6 35.Nc3 Qg8 36.Nxd5 Ng3+ 37.Kh2 Ne2 38.Qe5 Nxg1 39.Kxg1 Rxg2+ 40.Kf1 Rd2 41.Rg3 Rxd5 42.Rxg7 Qxg7 43.Qxd5 Qa1+ 44.Kf2 Qxa3 45.Qd8+ Kg7 46.Qd7+ Kf6, draw.

11.h3 Bd7 12.Qf2

In the game Olafsson-Benko, Beverwijk 1969, White played more cautiously with 12.a3 Rfc8 13.Qf2 Be8 14.f5. But I was not particularly worried about ...Nb4 followed by ...Nxd3 because it takes time and leaves the e5 square without adequate protection. In fact, one of the ideas behind Fischer's 10...Bg4 is to overprotect the e5 square. The other idea is to eliminate possibilities of Ng5 which, in conjunction with Qh4, yields White a powerful kingside attack.

12...Nb4 13.g4 b5 14.a3 Nxd3 15.cxd3

Ironically a similar position can arise from the accelerated fianchetto variation in the Sicilian defense, as happened in a game that was played at the Marshall Chess Club on the final weekend in November 2002.

Jim West (USCF 2200) - David Spigel (USCF 1915)

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.Bc4 Qa5 8.O-O Qb4 9.Bb3 O-O 10.a3 Qa5 11.h3 d6 12.f4 Bd7 13.Nf3 Rac8 14.Qe1 Qc7 15.Qh4 Na5 16.e5 Nxb3 17.cxb3 dxe5 18.fxe5 Ne8 19.Nd5 Qd8 20.Nxe7+ Kh8 21.Ng5 h6 22.Rxf7 Rc2 23.Qxh6+ Bxh6 24.Rh7#.

15...Bc6 16.f5 Nd7 17.Qh4 Qd8 18.Ng5 h6 19.fxg6 Ne5 20.gxf7+ Nxf7 21.Nxf7 Rxf7 22.Rxf7 Kxf7 23.Rf1+ Kg8 24.Bxh6

Here Black could have resigned, since he is two pawns down with no compensation.

24...e6 25.Qxd8+ Rxd8 26.Bxg7 Kxg7 27.Kh2 a5 28.Ne2 Bd7 29.Kg3 b4 30.axb4 axb4 31.Rc1 Kf6 32.d4 Ra8 33.Nf4 Ra2 34.Rc2 b3 35.Rf2 Bc6 36.d5 exd5 37.exd5 Bb5 38.h4 Ra1 39.g5+ Kf5 40.g6 Rg1+ 41.Rg2 Rxg2+ 42.Kxg2 Be8 43.Kg3 Ke4 44.h5, Black resigns.

After this third-round victory, I completed my day with a 61-move draw against GM Michael Rohde. Not a bad day's work!

*{This article originally appeared in the Winter 2003 issue of Empire Chess}