CHESS Lubomir Kavalek

By Lubomir Kavalek
Monday, September 5, 2005

No matter what Garry Kasparov does in Russian politics, he will be always judged on what he achieved on the chessboard. His games are his legacy. Slovak grandmaster Igor Stohl looks closely at these games in his new two-volume work "Garry Kasparov's Greatest Chess Games." The first volume, covering Kasparov's early years to his 1993 world championship match against Nigel Short, was recently issued by Gambit Publications. Stohl explains the 74 games well and does not overburden the book with large amount of computer analysis. Still, he often improves on Kasparov's past comments. It is one of this year's best books, and it could be a great help to Kasparov in preparation of his own works about his career.

Kasparov's Fury

One of the games in Stohl's book is my King's Indian encounter with Kasparov in the Bosnian town of Bugojno in 1982. Kasparov commented on the game four years later in his stellar work "The Test of Time." Most of the action in this game is packed between moves 13 to 20 after I have unwisely invited Kasparov to show his excellent attacking skills. I was also amazed how quickly and brilliantly Kasparov's mind worked in the postmortem analysis. Here is a brief look on the game again, challenging some of Kasparov's and Stohl's conclusions.


1.c4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.h3 e5 7.d5 Na6 8.Be3 Nh5 9.Nh2 Qe8 10.Be2 Nf4 (Kasparov later preferred the pawn sacrifice 10...f5!? 11.exf5 Nf4!) 11.Bf3 f5 12.h4 (Too fancy. White can't lose time in this sharp position. The most solid way is 12.0-0 with a good game.) 12...Qe7 (The developing move 12...Bd7 with the idea 13.g3 Nb4! seems better.) 13.g3 Nb4! (With the help of a dangerous sacrifice, Kasparov's knights descend on white's position.)

14.Qb3? ("This is boldness, bordering on suicide," writes Kasparov. Both he and Stohl consider this queen move a mistake. However, in many King's Indian games my king lived long in the middle behind central pawns that created a comfortable hideout.

First, it was possible to accept the sacrifice. After 14.gxf4!? fxe4! [Not 14...exf4? 15.Bxf4 fxe4 16.Bg5! with white's advantage] 15.Nxe4! exf4 16.Bd2 Nd3+ 17.Kf1! and now the positions are not clear either after 17...Nxb2!? 18.Qc2 Nxc4 19.Bc3 Bf5 20.Bxg7 Qxg7 21.Re1 or after 17...Bh3+ 18.Kg1 Nxb2 19.Qc2 Nxc4, and here even 20.Qxc4 Bxa1 21.Ng4!? gives white good play.

Stohl points out that the real test comes after 14.0-0! "Now the knight is genuinely en prise and there is no way back, only forward," Stohl says. Kasparov was aware of it and proposed 14...g5!?, but after 15.exf5! either 15...Bxf5 or 15...Nfd3 can be met by the positional 16.Be4! with white's advantage.)

14...Nfd3+ 15.Ke2 f4 16.Bd2 fxg3?! ("Black confuses the road signs, and sets out on a bumpy road which should have led by force to a draw," writes Kasparov. His comment reminds me of the Czechs who turned the road signs in the opposite direction to confuse the Red Army during the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. Kasparov first believed that he could win with a knight sacrifice 16...Nxf2!, forcing 17.Kxf2 Nd3+ 18.Kg2 fxg3 19.Kxg3 Rf4! and now the best is 20.Bxf4! exf4+ 21.Kg2 Qxh4 22.Rhf1 Bh3+ 23.Kh1 Bxf1 24.Rxf1 Nf2+ 25.Rxf2 Qxf2 26.Qxb7 and here he and Stohl play 26...Rf8, missing 27.Qxc7! and white has good drawing chances. However, black can try 26...Re8!? with the idea 27.Qxc7 Bd4 28.Ne2 Rxe4! with advantage. Perhaps the simple 16...a5 was the best.)

17.fxg3 Rxf3! 18.Nxf3 Bg4 (The pin is uncomfortable and white can't hold the breaking point f3 for long.) 19.Raf1 Rf8 20.Nd1? (Seeing the variation 20.a3? Rxf3! 21.Rxf3 Bxf3+ 22.Kxf3 Qf6+ 23.Kg2 Qf2+ 24.Kh3 Qf3! 25.Rh2 Qf1+ 26.Rg2 Nf2+ 27.Kh3 Qh1 mate, I tried to cover the square f2, but it was the wrong piece. After the game I suggested the correct 20.Be3!, which also allows the white king to escape to d2. Almost in a flash, Kasparov produced the amazing 20...Bh6!? deflecting the bishop from the square f2. We quickly discovered that it led to a pretty draw after 21.Bxh6! Rxf3 22.Rxf3 Bxf3+ 23.Kxf3 Qf6+ 24.Kg2 Qf2+! [On 24...g5? 25.Rf1 Qxh6 26.Qa4 Qg6 27.Qd7! wins.] 25.Kh3 Qf3 26.Rh2! g5! [Not 26...Qf1+? 27.Kg4! and white wins.] 27.Bxg5 Qf1+ 28.Kg4 h5+ 29.Kxh5 Qf3+ 30.Kh6! Qf8+ with a perpetual check. After 20.Be3 Qf7?! both Kasparov and Stohl show 21.a3, overlooking a pretty deflection 21...Nc1+! and black wins. This is easy to remedy with 21.Kd2! and only after 21...Bxf3 22.a3 with white's advantage, for example 22...c5 23.axb4 Nxb4 24.Qa4 Qe7 25.Rh2.)

20...Qf7! 21.Be3 (Unfortunately, 21.Bxb4? Nc1+ loses the queen.) 21...Bxf3+ 22.Kd2 Qd7 23.Rhg1 Qh3 24.a3 Bxe4! 25.Rxf8+ Bxf8 26.axb4 Qh2+ 27.Kc3 Nc1! (A pretty finale. After 28.Bxc1 Stohl gives 28...Qe2! 29.b5 a5 30.bxa6 c5 31.dxc6 d5 and black wins.) White resigned.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company