Kasparov's stunning comeback

One could scarcely conceive of a more tension-filled scenario for a chess match. After a long series of draws, the challenger, former world titlist Anatoly Karpov, had won the exciting and hard-fought 23rd game to take a one-point lead going into the final game. No one had ever failed to win a World Federation title match after reaching that position. World champion Gary Kasparov pulled himself together after the harrowing defeat of Game 23, however, and played cleverly to create winning chances against the solid Karpov, who is renowned for his ability to draw crucial games. The situation became complicated, with the time clock relentlessly ticking. Even after the first time-pressure situation was ended and the game adjourned, opinion was divided among the cognoscenti as to whether Kasparov was winning or whether Karpov's inferior position could be held. It may be that new ground will be broken in endgame theory.

Some felt Karpov's resignation was premature, but analysis showed he was lost. So the match was drawn, the purse shared (about $800,000 apiece), and Kasparov retained his title. The match only seemed to prove that these two chess players are in a class by themselves among the world's elite.

Reti Opening

Kasparov Karpov 1. P-QB4 P-K3 2. N-KB3 N-KB3 3. P-KN3 P-Q4 4. P-N3 B-K2 5. B-KN2 O-O 6. O-O P-QN3 7. B-N2 B-N2 8. P-K3 QN-Q2 9. N-B3 N-K5 10. N-K2 (a) P-QR4 11. P-Q3 B-KB3 12. Q-B2 BxB 13. QxB N-Q3 14. PxP BxP 15. P-Q4 P-QB4 16. KR-Q1 R-B1 17. N-B4 BxN 18. BxB Q-K2 19. QR-B1 KR-Q1 20. PxP NxP 21. P-QN4 (b) PxP 22. QxP Q-R2 23. P-QR3 N-B4 24. R-N1 RxR ch 25. RxR Q-B2 (c) 26. N-Q3 P-R3 27. R-QB1 N-K2 (d) 28. Q-N5 N-B4 29. P-QR4 N-Q3 30. Q-N1 Q-R2 31. N-K5 (e) NxP 32. RxR ch NxR 33. Q-Q1 (f) N-K2 (g) 34. Q-Q8 ch K-R2 35. NxP (h) N-N3 36. Q-K8 Q-K2 37. QxN QxN 38. B-K4 K-N1 39. Q-N5 N-B1 40. QxP Q-B3 (i) 41. Q-N5 Q-K2 42. K-N2 P-N3 43. Q-QR5 Q-KN2 44. Q-QB5 Q-KB2 45. P-R4 P-R4 (j) 46. Q-B6 Q-K2 47. B-Q3 Q-KB2 48. Q-Q6 K-N2 49. P-K4 K-N1 50. B-B4 K-N2 51. Q-K5 ch K-N1 52. Q-Q6 K-N2 53. B-N5 K-N1 54. B-B6 (k) Q-QR2 55. Q-N4 Q-QB2 56. Q-N7 Q-Q1 (l) 57. P-K5 Q-R4 (m) 58. B-K8 Q-B4 59. Q-B7 ch K-R1 60. B-R4 Q-Q4 ch 61. K-R2 Q-B4 62. B-N3 Q-B1 63. B-Q1 Q-B4 64. K-N2 Resigns (n)

A.In a ``must win'' situation, Kasparov avoids simplification. He must try to exact a price for each exchange.

B.This excellent move assures White a small but clear advantage. He unbalances the pawn structure by exchanging pawns when Black's QNP is shown to be more vulnerable than White's QRP, largely because of White's powerful bishop, which focuses on important squares such as QR8 and QN7.

C.The queen soon becomes uncomfortable on this square, so simply 25.... P-N3 or 25.... P-R3, or even 25.... Q-R4, was preferable to the text.

D.Black marks time, as the ``natural'' 27.... N-Q3 allows 28.N-K5, which would intensify White's pressure.

E.Both players were quite short of time, and this blockbuster move, which offers a pawn, poses thorny problems for Black. His actual acceptance of the pawn was dubious, but good moves were at a premium.

F.Gary could have won cleanly with 33.Q-N5, after which there is no satisfactory defense to the threat of 34.Q-K8 ch. If 33.... N-Q3, 34.Q-B6 is crippling and 33.... K-B1; 34.N-B6, Q-R1; 35.Q-Q3, N-K2 (35.... P-N3; 36.Q-Q4); 36.Q-R3. Black's best is probably 33.... N-B4 (aiming for 34.... Q-R8 ch), but 34.Q-K8 ch, K-R2; 35.NxP, Q-R8 ch; 36.K-N2, Q-B3; 37.Q-R8 ch, K-N3; 38.NxP, followed by 39.QxN, and White is winning.

G. Karpov misses 33.... N-B4, which might have enabled him to regain his title. After 34.Q-Q8 ch, K-R2; 35.K-N2 (better than 35.QxN, Q-R8 ch; 36.K-N2, QxN, when Black is even winning), 35.... P-B3; 36.QxN, PxN; 37.Q-K8, White probably stands better despite the pawn minus, but Black should hold the draw.

H.Kasparov himself criticized this natural move, pointing out that 35.B-R5 was much stronger and should have won: One attractive variation: 35.... P-N3; 36.Q-K8, N-N1; 37.BxP ch, PxB; 38.QxP ch and 39.N-B7 ch.

I.A position that defies exact analysis. With a black P at KB2 instead of K3, it would be theoretically drawn in a pure Q or a B vs. N endgame. But here White has chances to win via Zugzwang if he can exchange Qs and penetrate with his K to Q6 or Q8. In theory it isn't clear (neither Kasparov nor Karpov was sure of the result), but in practical play there are substantial winning chances.

J.After this mistake Black is almost certain to lose, since his kingside pawns are now vulnerable, and a queen exchange will give him fewer chances than before.

K.Intending P-K5 and Q-QN7, offering a Q exchange.

L.After this, Black loses in surprisingly few moves. It seems his best chance was to succumb to the queen exchange with 56.... QxQ; 57.BxQ, P-K4, when Black should at aleast be able to pose technical problems.

M.No better is 57.... P-N4; 58.PxP, QxP; 59.B-K8.

N.Karpov had no more heart for 64.... Q-R6; 65.B-B3, Q-N5; 66.K-R2, Q-R6; 67.B-K4, Q-B4; 68.B-Q3, Q-N5; 69.BxP, NxB; 70.QxN, QxP ch; 71.K-N2 (not 71.PxQ stalemate!). Now Black has a pawn free to move, stalemate tricks are gone, and he must lose one or both pawns or enter a hopeless K&P endgame with 71.... Q-N5.

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