Tag Archives: Kasparov

Guess Who’s Back? Back Again

“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Your blogger-in-hiding hopes to make a return over the next few weeks, partly to write about the upcoming Anand – Carlsen match, but also because I’ve been playing a few games again in the US Chess League!

For now though, I refer you to the following: http://youtu.be/g_6memS77L8?t=8m1s

I heard about this video from Dennis Monokroussos’s blog (The Chess Mind) and the stretch he refers to in that entry is pretty amazing to watch. Start around 8 minutes in and you’ll see Karpov fidgeting a bit, but pretty calmly resigning and losing the Championship Match in 1987.

I’ve definitely reacted worse to some losses, but maybe given the adjournment break and some time to consider the sizable audience watching, I might have not completely embarrassed myself in his shoes. But not only does Karpov shake hands and sign the scoresheets, he calmly puts his pen in his jacket pocket and starts analyzing the endgame with Kasparov!

Gelfand’s no slouch in the upstanding-citizen department, but when he lost to Anand in the Championship tiebreaks last year, he shook hands, said a few words of congratulations, and then got up and left. No hanging around to figure out where he might have gone wrong or to look at some alternatives. Pretty normal if you ask me, but Karpov reacts like he’s just lost a casual weekend game.


Musings on a Chess Style: A Winner Just Wins

“His deep, infiltrating style, subtle positional feeling, and extraordinary persistence, practicality, and flexibility rapidly raised him to the very summit of chess … [He] was not a researcher in the openings and he did not work so much on chess, but he was very skillful at selecting and absorbing new ideas, and then making brilliant use of them in practice …”

There was an interesting discussion in the comments of my last post, brought about by the question (from a certain Unshod fellow): “What do you think of the increasingly repeated claim that Carlsen wins by being more consistent, and a tougher fighter, but brings no new chess ‘ideas’?” There was a short discussion there, but basically, I wanted to take that discussion out of the comments because it deserves its own post I think.

First things first, my general response to the question …

As I said in those comments, I think it’s too much to say he has brought no new chess ideas forward, but I do think his style has taken a clear turn over the past few years towards the “more consistent, tougher fighter” approach. (As a very rough measure, you can see how his average game length has simply gotten longer over the past couple years, moving up from about 40 moves to 49 per game.)

Now for the actual details …

His goal is simply to win games. How can you win games at that level? Every game starts with the opening phase, so in a way, you can think of a continuum with two extremes. On the one hand, you can do only the minimum amount of opening work (this extreme can’t be to absolutely ignore the opening, as then you’ll simply never get close to the top to begin with), try to get a normal position, and make more good moves than your opponent. If you blunder (or even slightly err) less often, you might be able to accumulate enough advantages to win. At the other end of the spectrum, you work through a repertoire as deeply as you can, to essentially claim an advantage as often as possible. Despite starting the middlegame ahead, you still need to play good moves, but you might be able to get by with a few more small mistakes and still have enough to win.

His chessic contribution seems to be that he’s been the first top player in the last few years to fully make this move to the former – it’s a more practical style, eschewing the deep opening study and innovations that characterized every top player from Kasparov on. However, he was not the first to start moving in this direction.

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Here and There

I haven’t blogged for over a month now, missing the end of the Tal Memorial (which Carlsen won) and the non-existent Bazna King’s tournament (which looks to be canceled, although the official word is “postponed”).

The annual Dortmund tournament is underway though, and the field has been opened up for once to include a number of players outside the traditional elite. So far though, things are generally falling in rating order with the 2700+ players in the top half, and the 2600 players in the bottom half.

Still, there was a pretty amazing game played in round 2 between Jan Gustafsson and Vladimir Kramnik, where Kramnik played the King’s Indian Defense with a rather deep idea in mind.

In the following position, Kramnik introduced a novelty with 13…a5!?:

(FEN: rnbqr1k1/pp3pbp/6p1/3p4/3NP3/4BP2/PP2B1PP/2RQ1RK1 b - - 0 13)

I’m not totally sure what the idea is if White doesn’t play like Gustafsson did with 14.Qb3, but I’m sure there’s something.

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Revelations: Anand, Carlsen, Gelfand, Kasparov, and Kramnik

There was a nice 2-part interview with Gelfand about the World Championship match over at ChessVibes: part 1 is here and part 2 is here.

Here are a few things that I found interesting:

  • Kasparov offered to help Gelfand as his second! And Gelfand declined! Haha, there’s really nothing more to say about Kasparov at this point. He is what he is. As for Gelfand, he too is what he is and at least in that aspect, he commands more respect as a person in my view.
  • Gelfand’s second coach told him that to help remember what he should be playing, he should repeat the moves at an actual chess board, not just review them in a book (or on the screen). At some point, I realized this helped me remember my opening lines better, and I began traveling with a regular chess set, in addition to the usual professional second (the laptop). A lot of players were surprised/amused by this habit of replaying moves on an actual board, but it’s nice to know at least one other person has found it useful!

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Using The Little Grey Cells

Well, the Tata Steel results came in a week ago, and I was hit-and-miss with my predictions. I had Anand winning the A group, but his non-winning streak in regular tournament play continues for at least a few months more. Instead, he finished half a point behind the winner, Hikaru Nakamura.

This must be Hikaru’s biggest win to date, and it takes him up to about 2775 FIDE. He was briefly #7 on the live list, until Chucky’s amazing 9/10 in Gibraltar vaulted him slightly ahead in the rankings.

One potentially interesting development was that within hours of Hikaru’s win, Kasparov was on the record at a NY Times blog with this comment:

“Fischer never won a tournament ahead of the world champion. He was second in Santa Monica. Of course there were far fewer such events back then, and Fischer had several great tournament results like Stockholm 62, but it’s interesting. Reuben Fine only equaled Keres on points at AVRO in 38. Then you have Marshall at Cambridge Springs in 1904 ahead of Lasker, though Tarrasch wasn’t there. So unless you include Capablanca as an American player, I think you can go back to Pillsbury at Hastings 1895 for an American tournament victory on par with Nakamura’s!”

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Kasparov Videos and Drawing Etiquette

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.

Video 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgHBFgyhGvg&NR=1

Video 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3dWHH3aCNc&feature=related

Video 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCGBee8pvhQ&feature=related

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:

(FEN: 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:

(FEN: 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! =)

(FEN: 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.

Kasparov gets the shaft

You can’t make this stuff up: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbnySBqioB0

For those interested, after the security guard swatted it to the ground, Kasparov says, “I think we have to be thankful for the opposition’s demonstration of the level of discourse we need to anticipate. Also, apparently most of their arguments are located beneath the belt.” Someone in the audience shouts, “Finally the political power shows its face!” Kasparov quickly replies, “Well, if that’s its face…” to laughter from the audience. (ht to Mig for the translation …)

I’d say they are getting more creative. Kasparov was attacked with a chessboard back in 2005: http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=2329