I’ve finished my event in Cappelle la Grande and am now in Brussels, Belgium for a few days. I wrote about the first couple rounds at Cappelle earlier here, and I’ll wrap up the tournament in a couple posts in a few days. For now, though, I wanted to post on something else I saw.
I came across these videos a few days ago, and while they’ve been making the rounds on some other chess blogs, I figured I would put the links up myself. The entire video is split up into 3 parts, each about 10 minutes in length, and document Kasparov’s simultaneous exhibition against a junior team of American players in 1988.
Kasparov faced off against 6 American juniors: Patrick Wolff, Alex Fishbein, Stuart Rachels, Ilya Gurevich, Vivek Rao, and Danny Edelman. In the end, he won by a score of 4-2 – Wolff scored the lone win and with black to boot! Fishbein and Edelman both drew, although they went about it quite differently.
There were a few things of special note in the video. The first was that in two of the games as Black, Kasparov chose the Sveshnikov Sicilian and made a curious decision in the opening. In both games, the following position was reached after White had played 10.Nc3-d5:
r1bqkb1r/5ppp/p1np1n2/1p1Np1B1/4P3/N7/PPP2PPP/R2QKB1R b KQkq - 0 10 )
This is a Sveshnikov Sicilian, and White has played one of the two main lines with 10.Nd5 (the other being 10.Bxf6). On both boards, Kasparov responded with 10…Qd8-a5+. Nowadays, this move is considered inferior due to 11.Bd2 Qd8 12.Bd3, for example. However, after both White players repeated with 12.Bg5, reaching the same diagram above, Kasparov continued to play 12…Qa5+! (No, that’s not an exclamation mark for the move)
After 13.Bd2 Qd8, White has the option of forcing a 3-time repetition with 14.Bd2-g5, reaching the above diagram for the 3rd time. So what to do? Take the draw against the World Champion or play on? I’m not quite sure what I’d do, given that I’ve never faced anybody with the stature of Kasparov, but in rated play, I’ve pretty much always chosen to play on in similar positions against anybody. I would repeat once though, just to see. =)
Edelman took the draw with 14.Bg5 while Fishbein played 14.c4. Fishbein got outplayed in the middlegame and ended up in a worse position, but then finagled a draw in the endgame. So they got to the same place, but the journey was rather different.
Kasparov isn’t really known for his good behavior, so I guess it fits the pattern, but his berating of Edelman during the match is pretty ridiculous. Sure it’s the easy way out to take the 3-time repetition, but do you really think Kasparov wasn’t good enough to play the main Sveshnikov move of 10…Be7? It takes two to tango after all …
But that brings up what I thought was an amusing moment – Stuart Rachels shushed Kasparov! That was classic.
To me, it’s a classic Kasparov move to try and get into his opponent’s head. Here, he dangles the chance of a draw in front of a young player’s eyes – if he accepts, that’s one less game to play and it’s a game with black as well. He can claim that White has the responsibility to play on, even though White’s “advantage” with the first move is more than offset by the difference in strength.
If he declines, as did Fishbein, it creates a nagging doubt in the back of a player’s mind as the position gets complicated – “What did I do? I declined a draw with the World Champion and now I might lose!” Had Rachels found his way through the unsound Kasparov attack and won, the Fishbein decision (and possible loss) might have come back to haunt the American team. A draw would have meant a 3-3 tie, while a loss there and a Rachels win would have left the team down 3.5 – 2.5. All credit to Fishbein for not giving up and finding a way to draw anyways even when he was the only one left. Here’s the endgame position they reached after 58.Kh2:
8/8/8/7p/3rpk1P/3p1p2/5P1K/3R1B2 b - - 0 58)
Black sacrificed a piece for some strong pawns and is now very close to winning. Kasparov, though, messed up with the natural 58…e3?. This allows a draw after 59.fxe3+ Kxe3 60.Bxd3!! Rxd3 61.Ra1 with a theoretically drawn endgame. After 61…Ke2 62.Kg3 Rd2 (62…f2+ 63.Kg2 doesn’t get Black anywhere – White threatens 64.Ra2+ with a draw and 63…Rd2 doesn’t actually threaten anything) 63.Rb1 Ra2 and a draw was agreed. Black has no way of making real progress here as his rook can never leave the 2nd rank because of a rook check.
Instead of 58…e3, though, Black could have won with 58…d2!, taking the pawn out of the firing line. After something like 59.Bb5 e3 60.fxe3+ Kxe3 61.Kg3, Black wins by bringing his rook to c1 and then using his king to break through. For example, 61…Rd8 62.Bc4 Rd7 63.Bb5 Rg7+ 64.Kh2 Rc7 65.Kg3 f2 wins. After 66…Rc1, White will have to play 67.Ba4, when 67…Ke2 forces at least one pawn through.
Going back to Stuart Rachels, in the final video, he talks about being a professional chess player and how difficult it is to make a serious living (along the same line, Wolff talks about the likelihood, or lack thereof, of an American world champion in the near future after the match): “You’re just going to be poor unless you’re the very best.” More than 20 years later, I can say it’s the same as it ever was …
The final (and certainly not the least important) note is that Patrick Wolff won his game as black. Almost as interesting is the hat that Patrick wore to the match and at various points during the game! =)
r1b2rk1/pp2bppp/1q6/3p4/Q2N2n1/2N3P1/PP2PPBP/R4RK1 b - - 0 13)
Wolff got into some trouble in the opening and at this point in the game, he’s losing the d5-pawn pretty much regardless of what he does. In order to seek out some compensation, he lashed out with 13…Qh6! 14.h4 g5!. I’m not completely sure the attack is sound (the computer seems to like 16.Nf3 for White after the game continued with 15.Nxd5 Bd8), but it definitely bamboozled Kasparov during the game and Wolff scored the lone win for the American team. Here’s a link to the whole game for those who want to play through it – Wolff executed his attack perfectly after Kasparov slipped up on move 16.