11 Nov

Back To The Future


Only a couple of weeks ago, on 21 October 2015, this was the date to which Marty McFly and Doc Brown - America’s version of Doctor Who - travel in their scientifically souped-up DeLorean DMC-12 sports car in the enormously popular 1980s movie Back To The Future II. And after visiting 2015, Marty must repeat his visit to 1955 to prevent disastrous changes to 1985...without interfering with his first trip.

And if he had gone back to this week, 30 years ago, he would have witnessed the victor's laurels being placed on Garry Kasparov in Moscow, as the 22-year-old Baku-born bundle of energy triumphed over his arch-rival Anatoly Karpov, to become the new World Chess Champion, the youngest in history. This was a match that gripped the chess world, coming less than a year after their aborted 1984 match that lasted almost 6 months and 48 games was controversially halted on ‘medical grounds’ with Karpov leading 5-3 in the first-to-six-wins contest, to become the first, and so far only, world championship match to be abandoned without a result.


The rematch was similarly a titanic tussle between the two opposing personalities and styles: Communist party hero Karpov being solid, classical and positional, as opposed to the young, free-spirited and free-thinking Kasparov being exciting, adventurous and daring.  In the end, Kasparov emerged victorious, winning the 24 Game match 13-11 - with the whole match only firmly swinging in Kasparov’s direction following his ‘masterpiece’ win in game 16.

And with the aid of the Flux Capacitor, we can go 'back to the future' for today’s game and a defining moment that perhaps best showed the contrasting chess styles between the two Ks. And the energy and dynamism in which Kasparov plays this game makes it one of my all-time favourite world championship games - and indeed, many rate it as one of the best games of all time, and it ranks #89 in Andy Soltis’ excellent book The 100 Best Games of The 20th Century.

The whole Kasparov swashbuckling gambit idea of 8…d5 has now been totally refuted in praxis - but you have to commend Kasparov’s bravery, ferocity, and not to mention his willingness to play this adventurous idea at the very highest level of the game. 

Happy 30th Anniversary, Garry Kimovich!

Anatoly Karpov - Garry Kasparov 
World Championship 1985, (16)
Sicilian Defence, Paulsen Variation
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nb5 d6 6.c4 Nf6 7.N1c3 a6 8.Na3 d5!? The very move that White’s set-up is intended to prevent! And as Garry Kasparov himself explained, in his DVD series, My Story, Vol.5, Rites of Passage, he had this stunning idea while flying from Baku to Moscow for the match with his second Aleksander Nikitin. "I looked at my pocket chess-set and I saw Nikitin, and said 'I've got an idea!' He looked and replied: 'Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah, don't even show it to me.'" 9.cxd5 exd5 10.exd5 Nb4 11.Be2 Kasparov's big idea, if White signals he intends holding onto the pawn with 11.Bc4, is 11...Bg4! 12.Be2 Bxe2 13.Qxe2 Qe7 14.Be3 Nbxd5 15.Nc2 Nxe3 16.Nxe3 Qe6! which quickly ended in a draw in Game 12 of the match. 11...Bc5 12.0-0 0-0 13.Bf3 In theory the bishop looks good on f3; trouble is, it spends most of the game doing nothing here. However Karpov remains oblivious to the dangers, almost expecting each move Kasparov to recapture the pawn, only for Kasparov to ignore this and instead develop his pieces very actively. 13...Bf5 Stopping Nc2 and also laying the foundations for the knight 'changing' species and heading to d3. 14.Bg5 Re8 15.Qd2 b5 16.Rad1 Nd3! (See Diagram) "This is not a knight," says Kasparov. "It's an octopus!" And we quickly see how its tentacles wreck havoc from the very heart of the White camp. 17.Nab1 h6 18.Bh4 b4 19.Na4 This is ugly, but forced, as 19.Ne2 gets hit by 19…Ne5! and Black is much, much better. 19..Bd6 Just look at how awkwardly placed White's two knights have become; they are not playing a part in the game at all - and Kasparov has only sacrificed a pawn for this. 20.Bg3 Rc8 21.b3 g5 22.Bxd6 Qxd6 23.g3 Now, if 23.Nb2? Nxb2 24.Qxb2 g4 25.Be2 Rc2 wins a piece and the game. 23...Nd7 24.Bg2 Qf6 The last two moves have seen the scope of both White's knights again being restricted. Karpov can only watch on in horror, as Kasparov picks the right moment to make the breakthrough. 25.a3 a5 26.axb4 axb4 27.Qa2 Bg6 28.d6 Again Kasparov ignores the return of his pawn, instead preferring to  prolong the torture. 28...g4 29.Qd2 Kg7 30.f3 Qxd6! Now is the time to take - and we'll soon see why. 31.fxg4 Qd4+ The check is ultimately deadly, as a ...Nf2+ is soon following. 32.Kh1 Nf6! 33.Rf4 Ne4 34.Qxd3 Nf2+ 35.Rxf2 Bxd3 White is dead and buried now, but Kasparov very clinically ends the agony. 36.Rfd2 Qe3 37.Rxd3 Rc1! 38.Nb2 Qf2 39.Nd2 If 39.Rxc1 Re1+ 40.Rxe1 Qxe1+ 41.Bf1 Qxf1#. 39...Rxd1+ 40.Nxd1 Re1+ 0-1

2 Comments November 11, 2015

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  • Mike

    One of your best

    • John Henderson

      But Mike, they are ALL my best!