Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search


Kasparov-Karpov rivalry goes on: a grinding game by Gary

By Arthur Bisguier / August 15, 1988



Though Nigel Short, the talented 23-year-old grandmaster from Britain, has moved up to No. 3 in the world chess rankings, it is likely that he is still years away from entering the particular stratosphere reserved for Gary Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov. We can expect future chess historians to compare their chess rivalry favorably with any in the broad chess panorama. In particular, chess connoisseurs will scrutinize every one of their decisive games with a pedant's eye. Last month we featured a spectacular (if possibly unsound) game won by Kasparov in an Amsterdam tournament, which he dominated. Today's featured game from the same event, not nearly as flashy as the other, will likely have more lasting psychological ramifications for Karpov. Kasparov, with the white pieces, plays for and obtains a modest advantage that is far short of decisive. But he exerts relentless, implacable pressure, which eventually wore Karpov down. The student will note the great similarity, both in position and method of winning, between this game and the epic 24th (decisive) game of their world championship match.

Skip to next paragraph

As Bobby Fischer's favorite whipping boy, I can personally testify that each loss of this type (failing to save a game that could have been held) makes it that much easier to lose a succeeding encounter. In this context we should view the game featured below. Caro-Kann Defense

Kasparov Karpov 1. P-K4 P-QB3 2. P-Q4 P-Q4 3. N-Q2 (a) PxP 4. NxP N-Q2 5. N-N5 (b) KN-B3 6. B-Q3 P-K3 7. KN-B3 B-Q3 8. O-O P-KR3 9. N-K4 NxN 10. BxN O-O 11. P-B3 P-K4 12. B-B2 R-K1 13. R-K1 PxP 14. RxR ch QxR 15. QxP Q-K2 16. B-B4 BxB 17. QxB (c) N-B1 18. R-K1 B-K3 19. N-Q4 R-Q1 20. P-KR4 Q-B4 21. R-K3 Q-Q3 22. NxB PxN (d) 23. Q-KN4 Q-Q7 24. B-N3 K-R1 25. R-K2 Q-Q3 26. P-N3 (e) P-R3 27. K-N2 R-K1 28. R-K3 R-K2 29. R-B3 R-Q2 30. Q-R5 Q-K2 31. Q-K5 R-Q1 32. P-R4 P-QN4 33. Q-K4 Q-QB2 34. R-B4 P-B4 35. Q-B3 Q-Q3 36. PxP PxP 37. R-B7 R-N1 38. R-R7 P-N5 39. B-B2 PxP 40. PxP Q-K4 41. R-KB7 N-R2 42. Q-N4 K-N1 43. R-K7 N-B1 44. Q-B3 P-B5 45. B-K4 R-R1 46. B-B6 N-R2 47. Q-B7 N-B1 48. R-K8 RxR 49. BxR N-R2 50. B-Q7 N-B3 (f) 51. BxP P-R4 52. BxP Q-K5 ch 53. K-R2 K-R2 (g) 54. Q-K6 Q-B6 55. Q-K1 N-N5 ch 56. K-N1 Q-QB3 57. B-Q3 ch P-N3 58. Q-K7 ch K-R3 59. B-K4 Q-N3 60. Q-B8 ch K-R2 61. Q-B7 ch K-R3 62. P-QB4 Q-R3 63. P-B5 Resigns

A.The text is played instead of the more usual 3.N-QB3 to allow the White QBP freedom should Black opt for a closed position with 3.... P-KN3. After Black's actual reply, the game merely transposes into normal channels.

B.In their earlier encounter (featured in a previous column) in this quadrangular event, Kasparov played 5.N-KB3, KN-B3; 6.N-N3 and won an exciting, though possibly unsound, game. The text, a move of relatively recent origin, tempts Black to play 5.... P-KR3, when 6.N-K6 yields White a substantial edge, since 6.... PxN; 7.Q-R5 mates.

C.Though the game has simplified and the pawn structure remains balanced, White's superior development yields him a prolonged initiative. This subsequently translates into a better pawn structure and an active bishop against a passive knight.

D.Readers of this column should recognize the similarity of Black's pawn skeleton to the critical and final 24th game of the last world championship match, in which Kasparov's victory enabled him to retain his title. Though 22.... NxN maintains the integrity of Black's pawn chain, it does not solve his defensive problems, since after 23.Q-K4, N-B1 (23.... P-KN3, 24.P-R5 is also unpleasant) 24.B-N3, White exerts considerable pressure on the Black KBP, since he threatens 25.Q-K7. Note that 24.... RQ2, 25.Q-K8 is equally unappetizing for Black.

E.White must use restraint, since 26.BxP, NxB; 27.RxB, Q-Q8 ch; 28.QxQ, RxQ ch; 29.K-R2, R-Q7 poses no drawing problems for Black in the rook-and-pawn endgame.

F.White's patience and perseverance have paid off and he will gain material, but this will not necessarily mean that he will win the game. The term ``equalizing injustice of chess'' has been used to designate endgames where one side is enabled to draw despite obvious material inferiority.

G.Now that Karpov has shed his weak pawns, his position has become quite active and he would have retained excellent drawing chances by playing 53.... Q-B6, which attacks both of White's bishop pawns. Then 54.Q-B8 ch, K-R2; 55.Q-B5, N-K5; 56.B-Q5 (56.Q-K3, QxQ; 57.PxQ, NxBP probably draws, in view of the paucity of pawns and the fact that the queening square of White's rook pawn is the wrong color for him to win, should he be left with a bishop and rook pawn against his opponent's lone king); 56.... QxNP ch; 57.PxQ; 58.NxQ, and again realizing the pawn advantage is probably impossible, as Black is ready for K-R3 and P-N4 (see last parenthetic note). When Black missed his last drawing opportunity, White is soon enabled to defend his pawns comfortably, when the victory is assured.

International Grandmaster Arthur Bisguier is a former US champion and has won or shared the US Open title five times.