Karpov challenge has obstacle

While Gary Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov played for the world title this fall, two other top-ranking Soviet players were quietly slugging it out to determine who would get a crack at the loser for the right to be the next challenger. Artur Yusupov, the world's third-ranked player, and 23-year-old Andrei Sokolov, a relatively new boy on the Soviet block, were playing great fighting chess in Riga, the capital of Latvia. Sokolov was not given much of a chance, particularly when he fell behind early. He trailed 4-6 but won three games in a row, then ceded a draw in a winning position to emerge victor by 7-6. He is now scheduled to play a 16-game match against Karpov in February in Linares, Spain, with the winner meeting Kasparov for the world championship in 1987.

Karpov will be the prohibitive favorite, and no less an authority than Kasparov has predicted that it will be no contest. I, for one, am not so sure. Over the years, I have learned not to underestimate the younger player, who figures to be hungry, ambitious, and alert, and to compensate in fighting spirit for what he may lack in technical excellence. That is why I am predicting that Sokolov will defeat Karpov. To bolster my position I give today's game, taken from last year's superstrong tournament in Bugojno, Yugoslavia. This was tournament winner Karpov's only loss. Sokolov, who tied for second, drew every game but this one.

Sokolov's great strength appears to be kingside attacks begun late in the middle game, as in the following masterpiece. Ruy Lopez Sokolov Karpov Sokolov Karpov Sokolov Karpov Sokolov Karpov Sokolov Karpov Sokolov Karpov Sokolov Karpov Sokolov Karpov 1. P-K4 P-K4 2. N-KB3 N-QB3 3. B-N5 P-QR3 4. B-R4 N-B3 5. O-O B-K2 6. R-K1 P-QN4 7. B-N3 P-Q3 8. P-B3 O-O 9. P-KR3 B-N2 10. P-Q4 R-K1 11. N-N5 R-KB1 12. N-B3 R-K1 13. QN-Q2 (a) B-KB1 14. B-B2 N-N1 15. P-QR4 P-B4 16. P-Q5 QN-Q2 17. P-QN4 P-B5 18. N-B1 N-R4 19. N(3)-R2 P-N3 20. B-K3 B-K2 21. Q-Q2 (b) R-KB1 22. B-R6 N-N2 23. N-N3 K-R1 24. N-N4 N-B3 25. NxN BxN 26. R-KB1 Q-Q2 27. P-B4 P-R4 (c) 28. P-B5 RPxP 29. QBPxP PxRP 30. R-B3 K-N1 31. Q-B2 B-R5 32. BxN (d) BxN 33. RxB KxB 34. P-B6 ch K-R1 35. R(3)-R3 Q-N4 36. Q-K3 R-KN1 37. P-R4 P-N4? (e) 38. PxP R-N3 39. K-B2! P-R3 (f) 40. R-R1 K-R2 (g) 41. B-Q1 QR-KN1 (h) 42. Q-R3 R-KR1 43. B-R5 Resigns (i)

A.White refuses the tacit offer of a draw by repetition.

B.Preventing 21.... B-N4, which would trade bishops and free Black's game.

C.More natural was 27.... PxKBP; 28.BxP, Q-K2, preparing to use K4 for piece play.

D.Forcing Black's next, since 32.... KxB; 33.N-R5 ch is obviously bad to Black.

E.Apparently Karpov fears White's P-KN4, N5 and P-R5, zeroing in on KR7, but the remedy is worse than the disease. 37.... B-B1 was a better try.

F.The intended 39.... QR-KN1 loses to 40.R-R1, RxNP; 41.Q-R3, RxP ch (41.... P-R4; 42.QxP ch mates); 42.K-B1, P-B6 ch; 43.B-Q3.

G.Or 40.... QR-KN1; 41.Q-R3, R-moves anywhere on the first rank; 42.QxP ch, RxQ; 43.RxR ch, K-N1; 44.R/3-R3, and mate is inevitable.

H.Equally unavailing is 41.... QxNP; 42.B-R5, Q-N7 ch; 43.K-N3, RxP ch; 44.QxR, PxQ (if 44.... QxR ch; 45.B-B3); 45.BxP mate).

I.Since 43.... RxP; 44.BxP, P-R4; 45.QxP ch mates.

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