It is too early, after one game in a 24-game match, to say that Gary Kasparov has taken the world chess championship from Anatoly Karpov. But this week in Moscow, the feisty 22-year-old challenger dealt the 35-year-old champion a blow from which he may not recover. On Tuesday, Kasparov won the first game of the 24-game rematch, picking up the winning streak he had begun when the previous match was unexpectedly terminated without a winner last February. Yesterday, in game 2, Kasparov launched a wild slugging match that put him in an unbalanced but strong, possibly winning position at the adjournment.
Karpov is trailing in a championship match for the first time since he took the world title (by forfeit from Bobby Fischer) 10 years ago. Kasparov has a slight though significant strategic advantage, but his psychological advantage is overwhelming. All he has to do, theoretically, is draw the next 23 games and win the title. Since he has already played 40 draws against Karpov in the last year (including 17 that broke the record for consecutive draws in a world championship match), this seems entirely possible.
But the second game gave no sign that this match will settle into the kind of long dry spell that repeatedly afflicted the first match. Still unfinished, this game is already one of the wildest in the history of the world championship. At adjournment, the spectators in Moscow's Tchaikovsky Concert Hall applauded both players, who had earned the accolade with five hours of hair-raising action.
It could have gone the other way; Karpov, with the white pieces, launched a series of moves (the Scheveningen Variation of the Sicilian Defense) that the two have frequently played to a draw in previous games. Although he only has to play for a draw, Kasparov deliberately avoided a drawish-looking position with his 17th move and shifted into a variation where buckets of blood had to flow. Karpov, challenged to a slugfest, rose to the occasion, and when the dust settled Kasparov had two rooks and five pawns (including two passed pawns) against Karpov's rook, knight and bishop with three pawns. Grandmasters watching the game generally agree that a draw was the most Karpov could hope for, while Kasparov had a some winning prospects.
Whatever the result when the game is resumed, the middle-game play showed that Tuesday's loss has not dampened Karpov's fighting spirit. Kasparov may have been the aggressor, but he ran into a tough, determined defense.
The opening moves were mostly familiar:WhiteBlack KarpovKasparov
Black's 16th allows White to put the challenge in a clear-cut form. Translated from chess into English, the 10 next moves might be: Karpov: "Back off!" Kasparov: "No; let's fight," Karpov: "All right; take that." By retiring his bishop to d7 on move 17, Kasparov could have taken most of the dynamics out of the position and coasted to a draw. The move he chose, followed by Karpov's 20th, means that massive slaughter has to take place -- as it happened, the exchange of a white rook and two pawns for two black bishops. This kind of unbalanced position makes chess exciting and gives grandmasters gray hair.
But Karpov continues the attack, apparently sacrificing a bishop but actually forcing an exchange of pieces:
29. Nd3Qxe2 30. d7Nxd7
Kasparov is almost forced to precipitate the exchange of queens. Picking up the unguarded h-pawn would put his queen terribly out of position and allow white to take the e-pawn with his rook (black could not recapture because of Qxc8, mate).
The final moves, leading up to adjournment, result in a complex situation, difficult to analyze but apparently favorable to black: 37. Rb1, Rc4; 38. Rxb7, Rxa4 39. Be1, Ra3; 40. Rd7, a4; 41. f2; Adjourned
Whatever the result in game 2, game 1 of the rematch marked the fourth time Kasparov has beaten Karpov and his third victory in a row. The first time the challenger ever beat the champion was on Dec. 13, in the 32nd game of their previous match. There followed a series of 14 consecutive draws during December and January, then on Jan. 30, Kasparov won game 47. Karpov and the match officials postponed game 48 until Feb. 9, when Kasparov won again. At that point, the match was ended by Florencio Campomanes, president of the International Chess Federation, and the present rematch was arranged with a rules change Kasparov violently protested.
Kasparov has now turned the tables while playing under conditions seemingly rigged to favor Karpov's style. Karpov would have won the last match by a score of 4-0 if it had been played under the 24-game limit of the rematch. He was leading by that score on Oct. 6, after game 9, but managed only one victory (game 27) in the 39 remaining games. With no limit on the number of games and six victories required to win the match, Kasparov made the match a test of stamina and Karpov's strength began ebbing. Nothing much seemed to be happening, with one draw after another, but Kasparov was taking the measure of his opponent and proving that Karpov's invincibility was a myth. He was also mastering the special art of match play, in which he has little previous experience.
Now, starting with a one-point advantage, Kasparov could relax and force his opponent to take the chances, but he does not seem inclined to do so.
The first game opened with each player giving the other a little surprise. The opening was the Nimzo-Indian Defense, which had not appeared at all in the previous match. It is not an opening especially associated with Karpov, but one in which he has done fairly well when he used it.
1. d4, Nf6;
2. c4, e6;
3. Nc3, Bb4;
4. Nf3?!. Karpov was undoubtedly surprised at this move, which is not exactly unknown but is relatively uncommon. From a study of Kasparov's previous games, Karpov might have expected 4. e3, which is the most common response and the one usually favored by Kasparov in the past. By adopting this variation, the challenger is trying (successfully) to lure the champion into a premature attack.
Play continued: 4 . . . c5; 5. g3, Ne4 (the beginning of the premature attack); 6. Qd3 (another surprise move), Qa5. Black has prematurely committed his queen to get three pieces attacking the pinned knight. 7. Qxe4, Bxc3ch; 8. Bd2, Bxd2ch; 9. Nxd2, Qb6. In the opening, Kasparov has managed to avoid disruption of his pawn structure, which Karpov now threatens with a double attack on d4 and b2. Kasparov disrupts the pawns on his own initiative and invites the champion to capture the b2 pawn -- which he does, putting himself in a very un-Karpov-like position: 10. dxc5, Qxb2; 11. Rb1, Qc3. Capture of the a-pawn would leave Karpov hopelessly behind in development; also, he wants to maintain the uncomfortable pin on the knight. Kasparov now virtually forces a queen exchange: 12. Qd3, Qxd3; 13. exd3, Na6; 14. d4, Rb8; 15. Bg2, Ke7; 16. Ke2, Rd8.
With the queens off the board, neither side needs to castle; the game has gone directly from opening almost to end game, with black still sadly undeveloped. Now, white begins to attack. 17. Ne4, b6; 18. Nd6, Nc7; 19. Rb4, Ne8; 20. Nxe8, Kxe8; 21. Rhb1, Ba6. This hapless move marks the beginning of the end for Karpov; defense of the unfortunate bishop will force him to compromise his pawn structure. 22. Ke3, d5; 23. c5xd6 e.p., Rbc8; 24. Kd3, Rxd6; 25. Ra4, b5; 26. cxb5, Rb8.
The bishop has been saved, but at the cost of a pawn. The rest of the game illustrates the axioms that the pawns are the soul of chess and that victory awaits a queenside pawn majority: 27. Rab4, Bb7; 28. Bxb7, Rxb7; 29. a4, Ke7; 30. h4, h6; 31. f3, Rd5; 32. Rc1, Rbd7; 33. a5, g5; 34. hxg5, Rxg5; 35. g4, h5; 36. b6, axb6; 37. axb6, Rb7; 38. Rc5, f5; 39. gxh5, Rxh5; 40. Kc4, Rh8.
Black has no time to go after white's loose f-pawn; emergency measures are needed (and will not suffice) to stop the passed b-pawn. 41. Kb5, Ra8, and black resigned in a hopeless position.