World chess champion Gary Kasparov tore his opponent to pieces in only half an hour and eight moves when Game 8 of the world chess championship resumed yesterday in Seville. The victory evens the match score at 4-4 -- one might almost say 4-4 in Kasparov's favor, since he keeps his title if the series ends in a tie.
The game had been adjourned Monday after Kasparov's 42nd move with the champion enjoying an overwhelming advantage over challenger Anatoly Karpov.
Karpov tipped over his king, signifying defeat, after Kasparov's 50th move. It was a quiet move, pulling his rook away from the center of the action. But it had devastating implications because the rook was making room for his queen to come in and finish off Karpov's king.
"There was really no way, in the long run, that Karpov could have prevented the defeat," said Swedish grandmaster Ulf Anderssen, one of the experts observing the game on video monitors at the scene, in Seville's Teatro Lope de Vega. English grandmaster Raymond Keene called Kasparov's final combination "fantastic," and many observers agreed with Dutch grandmaster Gennadi Sosonko, who called it "the best game of the match."
Kasparov, whose nerves had betrayed him in earlier games, played deliberately and calmly on Monday in the first session of Game 8, in no hurry to launch his attack. But returning to the game yesterday, his moves were quick and deadly.
In spite of a flashing electric sign commanding "SILENCIO," the audience greeted Kasparov's sacrificial attack on moves 44 to 46 with bursts of applause, whistling and waving fists. At game's end, there was more applause, which Kasparov acknowledged with a big smile as he left the stage. Karpov departed silently after nodding and shaking Kasparov's hand to acknowledge defeat.
Kasparov had an advantage in the game from Move 17, but it became decisive shortly before the adjournment. Karpov may have been fantasizing about attacking opportunities when he put his rook on e6 on move 39, but Kasparov was ready right on time with the devastating move 42. f4, and after that it was obvious that Karpov's position would collapse rather quickly. He might have chosen different defenses and prolonged the game, but Kasparov would have won in any case.
For example, instead of 43. ... Re5, Karpov could have played 43. ... Bxf4; 44. Nxf4, Rf6. But then, after 45. Raf2, black has no defense against 46. Nxg6. So Karpov had decided to win two light pieces for a rook, usually a good material exchange. But in this case, his minor pieces lacked coordination and the black king was still vulnerable to white's attack.
The dominant position of white's knight on d5 and white's heavy artillery along the f-file signaled Kasparov's readiness to overrun the black position. Karpov might have put up a better defense with 47. ... Bg7 instead of 47. ... Qe8. But after 48. Rf7, Be6; 49. Rxa7, the threat of Ne7ch makes things very difficult for black. After 49. ... Bxd5; 50. Qf5ch, the black position would collapse anyway.
Kasparov's 48. e5 was a beautiful ending in a strongly conducted attack. After 48. ... Qxe5, white simply wins with 49. Re2.
In the final position, Karpov has no defense against the devastating 51. Qf6ch. If he places his queen on the f-file, with 50. ... Qf7 for example, he loses the bishop after 51. Qxf7.
This game may be recalled in future years as the turning point of the match, but the tide actually began to turn after the adjournment in Game 7, when Kasparov took a difficult position and held a draw. Game 7 may not have been as important as the seventh game in a tennis set or a World Series, but if Karpov had won it he would have been on his way to success in the match, with a two-point lead, and Kasparov would have had a very difficult time coming back. By saving the seventh game, Kasparov experienced something like a blood transfusion.
The draw, which was a psychological victory, gave him momentum and made him a favorite to win in Game 8. It is not so surprising that he won the game, but it is amazing that he did so in such a patient style. This may be reasonably interpreted as a sign of confidence, and Kasparov, with the momentum on his side, should now be a favorite to win the match.
Each of the players has now won two games in this match, with the other four games ending in draws. This 50 percent ratio of wins to draws, one-third of the way through the match, is twice as high as their lifetime average against one another previous to this match: 25 won games vs. 75 draws.
The 24-game match will be won by the first player to win six games or to score 12 1/2 points, with draws counting as a half-point.
Grandmaster Lubomir Kavalek contributed to this report.