29 Apr

Short and Sweet

At the Manila Olympiad of 1992, when he was pressed as to who his next world championship challenger would be, Garry Kasparov pleased the media with ‘It will be Short and the match will be short.’ Kasparov’s memorable quip proved to be prophetic, as Nigel Short emerged from the Candidates - following a series of victories over Boris Gelfand, Jon Speelman, Anatoly Karpov and Jan Timman - to become the first Englishman to compete for the title.


That match took place in London in 1993 - and it did indeed prove to be ‘short’ on paper, with Kasparov emerging as the easy winner to retain his title. But it was far from easy as the final result reflected, as Short squandered several golden opportunities at the start of the match that could well have led to an upset result.

Both Kasparov and Short were back again in action last weekend during the ‘Battle of the Legends’ series of rapid and blitz matches, held at the Chess Club and Scholastic Centre of Saint Louis (CCSCSL), as they rekindled their rivalry. But, unlike 1993, this time it did indeed prove to be a short and sweet victory for Kasparov, as he overwhelmed his opponent with a crushing score of 8.5-1.5, that culminated with a 5-0 whitewash on the final day.

Kasparov was in St. Louis for the official launch of a new form of grand slam of chess, the ‘Grand Chess Tour’, that will see the world’s top player’s competing in three major events. World champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway and ex-champion Viswanathan Anand of India, respectively ranked world number one and two, have signed up for the Grand Chess Tour that will take place in Stavanger (Norway), St. Louis (USA) and London (UK).

The tour will feature 10 players, nine of them playing in every event, with the organisers of each tournament reserving the right to select a wild-card entry. Along with Carlsen and Anand, the top players confirmed for this year’s tour are believed to be Fabiano Caruana (Italy), Hikaru Nakamura (USA), Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria), Alexander Grischuk (Russia), Levon Aronian (Armenia) and Anish Giri (Netherlands).

The first event is the Norway Chess 2015 Tournament in Stavanger, to be held 15-26 June. That will be followed by the Sinquefield Cup at St. Louis 21 August to 3 September and the London Chess Classic from 3-14 December. Each event will have a prize-fund of $300,000; the overall tour champion receiving an additional $75,000.

N Short - G Kasparov
Legends Blitz Match, (1)
English Opening
1.c4 g6 2.g3 Bg7 3.Bg2 c5 4.Nc3 Nc6 5.d3 e6 6.Nh3 The idea for developing the knight here is that it heads to f4 and hopes to control d5. 6...Nge7 7.Nf4 a6 8.h4 h6 9.Qd2?! This is blitz, and perhaps we can excuse Nigel Short for playing this way. What he is aiming for is energetic ideas of a3 and b4 with play down the b-file and the better developed pieces. However, Kasparov is one step ahead of him in the energetic ideas department. 9...b5!? 10.cxb5 axb5 11.Nxb5 d5 For the pawn, Kasparov has a total lock on the centre with potentially good outposts for his pieces. Defending against this will not be easy - blitz, rapid or classical! 12.e4 Ba6 13.exd5 Bxb5 14.dxc6 Bxc6 15.0-0 0-0 16.Qc2 e5 17.Bxc6 17.Ne2 Bxg2 18.Kxg2 Qd5+ 19.Kg1 Nc6 would give Black more than the game continuation. 17...Nxc6 18.Ne2 Rc8 Indirectly defending c5, as Nd4 would win on the spot. 19.Bd2 Qd7 An obvious, but nice little move - Kasparov gets ready to heap pressure on the weak d3 pawn with Rfd8 and causing Short to think about the white-square weaknesses around his kingside. 20.Rad1 20.a4 Rfd8 21.Ra3 c4! wins. 20...f5! With the idea of ...f4 and crashing home with the attack. 21.f4 Kh7 Safety first - Kasparov casually moves his king out of the way of a check. 22.Bc3 Nd4 23.Qd2 If 23.Bxd4 cxd4 24.Qb1 Rfe8 threatens e4. 23...exf4 24.Rxf4 Rfe8 25.Bxd4 cxd4 26.Rdf1 (See Diagram) 26...Re3! The rook 'luft' to e3 threatens to double on the e-file and also probes all the weaknesses in White's kingside. 27.R4f3 Rce8 28.Nf4 Qb7 29.Qg2 Qa6 30.b3? Attack is always the best form of defense - and Short's only option was 30.g4 potentially opening lines of attack at Kasparov's king. 30...Be5 31.h5 Bxf4 32.hxg6+?? Easy to say without the pressure of the clock - or Kasparov menacingly leaning across the board - but Short had to play 32.Rxf4 32...Qxg6 33.gxf4 Qh5 Threatening ...Rg8, so... 34.Rxe3 dxe3 35.Qh2 Rg8+ 36.Kh1 e2 Now, i37.Rg1 e1Q soon mates and likewise 37.Re1 Qf3+ so... 0-1

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