Garry Kasparov retired from professional competition after he won the tournament in Linares, Spain, this month. You could see it coming when he declared in January that he was through with world championship play. "We have been going to tournaments for 30 years," his mother and closest supporter, Klara, said. Her son was the world's top-rated player for the last two decades. He played eight world championship matches and held the world title for 15 years. It's an amazing feat that may never be surpassed.
On March 10 in Linares, Kasparov played his last serious tournament game, losing to Veselin Topalov. The Bulgarian grandmaster won his last three games and this spectacular hat trick allowed him to share first place with Kasparov. Both scored eight points in 12 games and left the third finisher, Vishy Anand of India, 1 1/2 points behind. Kasparov was declared the tournament winner on a tiebreak because he won more games with the black pieces. The following is the final stage of his last game.
After 26 moves the players reached the position of today's diagram (White: Kf3,P:a2,b2,d3,d4,e4,g3,h2; Black: Kf6,P:a7,b7,d5,e6,g7,h7). As long as Kasparov could prevent the white king from entering the square e5, he would have good drawing chances.
27.h4? (Topalov carelessly throws the win away. Not much can be gained with a queenside pawn play, where symmetrical moves soon exhaust all possibilities. He needs extra pawn moves on the kingside to force black into a zugzwang. With 27.Kg4! white wins, for example 27...Kg6 28.h3! Kf6 29.h4 Kg6 30.Kf4 Kf6 31.g4 h6 32.g5+ hxg5+ 33.hxg5+ Kg6 34.Ke5!, winning the pawn race; or 27...g6 28.h3 h5+ 29.Kh4, followed by g3-g4 wins; or 27...h6 28.Kh5 Kf7 29.g4 Kf6 30.g5+ hxg5 31.h3, and black soon runs out of moves and has to allow the white king in.) 27...g6? (Kasparov returns the favor and can't save the game anymore. GM Ljubomir Ljubojevic pointed out that 27...h6! draws. For example: 28.Kf4 [28.Kg4 g6! 29.Kf4 g5+ comes to the same position.] 28...g5+ 29.hxg5+ hxg5+ 30.Kg4 Kg6 and white can't break through.) 28.b4 b5 (Kasparov stops the play on the queenside, but he can't do the same on the other wing.) 29.Kf4 h6 30.Kg4 (The black king has to leave the sixth rank, yielding the square e5, for example 30...Kf7 31.h5 and now after 31...Kf6 32.hxg6 Kxg6 33.Kf4 Kf6 34.g4 black is in zugzwang; and on 31...g5 32.exd5 exd5 33.Kf5 wins.) Black resigned.
Kasparov spent his last energy two rounds earlier, defeating the top English grandmaster, Michael Adams. It was Kasparov's last win as a professional and it featured his beloved Scheveningen Sicilian, which won him the world championship title in 1985. It also resembled his old marvelous, aggressive attacking style, supported by impeccable judgment and brilliant calculation.
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 e6 7.Be2 Qc7 8.Qd2 (Most of the white pieces are out, but Kasparov goes to work.) 8...b5! (Applying pressure on white's center, threatening 10...b4 .) 9.a3 Bb7 10.f3 (Adams is being forced into a position from the English Attack where the moves 7.Be2 and 9.a3 are often a waste of time.) 10...Nc6!? (A more subtle move than 10...Nbd7. It detects deficiency of white's setup and gains a special meaning after white's next move.) 11.0-0-0 b4! (Opening the b-file against the white king.) 12.axb4 Nxb4 13.g4 (Adams has to run two pawns to storm successfully on the kingside. Meantime, Kasparov catches up in developing his pieces.) 13...Be7 14.g5 Nd7 15.h4 Nc5 (Compared with other English Attack games, Kasparov's pieces are already placed in threatening positions.) 16.Kb1 Rb8 17.h5 0-0! (Castling under white's pawn avalanche seems bold, but Kasparov's king is safer and he can bring the other rook to the c-file.) 18.g6 Bf6 (The dark bishop jumps on the long diagonal, aiming on the white king and defending his own.) 19.Rdg1 Ba8! (A little magical retreat, giving the rook on b8 a major role in the attack. For the time being, the black queen defends the seventh rank. After 19...Qb6 20.h6! hxg6 21.hxg7 Bxg7 22.Nxe6!, white has a dangerous attack, for example 22...fxe6 23.Rxg6 Kf7 24.Rxg7+! Kxg7 25.Bd4+ Kf7 26.Rh7+ Ke8 27.Qg5 and white wins.)
20.Bg5?! (Challenging the powerful bishop on f6, but Adams could have prepared to swing his queen to the kingside with 20.Bd1!?, for example 20...Qb6 21.h6! and now after 21...hxg6 22.hxg7 Bxg7 23.Qh2 Rfc8 24.Nxe6! fxe6 25.Qh7+ Kf8 26.Qxg6 Bxc3 27.Rh7! white mates; or 21...fxg6 22.hxg7 Rf7 [On 22...Bxg7 23.Qh2 wins.] 23.Rxh7! Kxh7 24.Na4!! Nxa4 25.Qh2+ Kxg7 26.Nxe6+ wins the queen. Black's best is 21...Nd5 22.gxh7+ Kh8 23.hxg7+ Bxg7 24.Ncb5 Nxe3 25.Qxe3 f6 [On 25...Bxd4 26.Qg5! white mates.] 26.Rxg7! Kxg7 27.Qh6+ Kh8 28.Rg1 Qb7 29.Rg8+ Rxg8 30.hxg8Q+ Kxg8 and now 31.Nc6!! Qxc6 32.Qg6+ leads to a perpetual check.) 20...Be5 21.gxh7+?! (White could have chased the dark bishop on e5 with 21.Bf4 because after 21...Bxd4?! 22.Qxd4 e5 he has the powerful 23.h6!!) 21...Kxh7 22.Nb3? (Falling for a little combination that Kasparov executes with precision. 22.Be3 was playable.) 22...Nxc2! 23.Nxc5 Na3+ 24.Ka2 Qxc5 25.Na4 Nc2! 26.Kb1 (On 26.Nxc5 Rxb2 mates.) 26...Qa3 (After 27.Qxc2 Rfc8 28.Qxc8 Rxb2+! black mates on the next move.) White resigns.