Kenilworth Kibitzer

A blog for members of the Kenilworth Chess Club.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


Short vs Kasparov 1993 Game 8

After an exciting first outing for the Fischer-Sozin that Short controlled from start to finish, Short again came back to this opening for game 8 (click here to follow this game online), as he did for the rest of the match. In game 8, Short tried a different strategy - rather than try to open the a2-g8 diagonal with an early f5, he went straight for blasting open the center with an early e5, seemingly closing down the key diagonal. But all is not so simple...

1. e4 c5
2. Nf3 d6
3. d4 PxP
4. NxP Nf6
5. Nc3 a6
6. Bc4 e6
7. Bb3 Nbd7
8. f4 Nc5 Reaching the same basic setup as in game 6, where 9. f5 was played.
9. e5!?
A rarer plan but one fully deserving of attention. Short intends to take advantage of Black's slowed development and the inconvenient location of the king in the center. Black has taken significant liberties with ...a6 and ...Nb8-d7-c5 so White can usually contemplate violent action in the center. e6 will be a target for piece sacrifices.
9. .... dxe5
10. fxe5 Nfd7
11. Bf4 b5

Having supported his e5 point, White can continue in the style of overprotection with Qe2 (most popular), or with Short's sharper choice in the game.
12. Qg4 h5!?

Kasparov responds to fire with fire. Black has a somewhat poor record in the 12. Qg4 line, see for example this master class in destruction: Kasparov tries to radically weaken White's center, after which Black might even gain an advantage with piece activity. However, with his superior development White will have the first say.

13. Qg3 h4
14. Qg4 g5

This is the unlikely conclusion to Black's idea - e5 is the target at any price. There is a tactical basis to this move of course - [ 15. Bxg5?! Nxe5 16. Qf4 Ncd3+ 17. cxd3 Nxd3+ 18. Kf1 Nxf4 19. Bxd8 Kxd8 favoring Black (Keene) ] However, we will follow Steve Stoyko's method and look for intermezzos or tactical alternatives to simply moving the attacked piece. With White's next move, he develops a fourth piece more than Black, which by Steve Stoyko's point counting system is enough to consider a decisive sacrifical attack. (This is a good opportunity to review Steve's system, and actually when one considers all the elements Steve cites, after Short's next he is as many as 9 points ahead....though he is hanging a piece.)

15. O-O-O!! Qe7

And the piece is not accepted. In what follows, notice how if Black takes the bishop, tactics are based on the utter lack of space around the Black king and queen - mate is constantly threatened as is trapping the queen. With ...Qe7 Kasparov shores up e6 which is otherwise a target for sacrifices. In the main variation - [ 15. ...gxf4? 16. Nxe6! Nxe6 17. Bxe6 Qe7 (on...fxe6? I'm guessing that 18. Qxe6+ Qe7 19. Qg6+ Qf7 20. Qe4 threatening the rook and a pawn fork is pretty bad; no computer used so consume with caution) 18. Bxd7+ Bxd7 19. Qf3 Rc8 20. Nd5 Bc6 21. Nf6+ Qxf6 22. exf6 Bxf3 23. Rhe1+ gives White an overwhelming position (Short) ]. By the way you can try out all these lines yourself on the game page (link at top of page) just by moving the pieces around creating variations, a very nice feature.

16. Nc6! Nxb3+ (Necessary else the queen has to retreat and disaster follows)
17. axb3 Qc5
18. Ne4 Qxc6 (A different piece sacrifice - Black is still poorly developed and with a weak king but....a piece ahead)
19. Bxg5 Bb7

Black is catching up, but it turns out White is now very close to a win. Using Yaacov's logic it is easy to see the Black is weak on the dark squares around his king. But how to exploit this? My first instinct was to try 20. Rxd7?, further attacking the dark squares and giving white Nf6+ later on. But of course 20.... KxR is near winning for Black since the king will hide on the queenside. Short's solution is elegant, combining attack on the dark squares with attack on the weak light squares near Black's king (temporarily and locally weak because of Black's misplaced queen and bishop).

20. Rd6!! Bxd6 (20. ....Qxe4?? 21. Rxe6+ fxe6 22. Qxe6+ Be7 23. Qxe7# (Short))
21. Nxd6+ Kf8

Now White is the total master of the dark squares, and Black must be precise to avoid a rout. Still, White is down a rook...

22. Rf1 Nxe5
23. Qxe6 Qd5
24. Rxf7+! Nxf7 (Pure power play - the Black king is running out of real estate and is being hunted by queen, bishop and knight.)
25. Be7+ Kg7
26. Qf6+ Kh7
27. Nxf7 Qh5

White is now down a rook and the exchange for a pawn, but Black's rooks are still not in the game and his king is in a horrid place. Naturally the game ends in...a draw!

28. Ng5+ Kg8
29. Qe6+ Kg7
30. Qf6+ Kg8
31. Qe6+ Kg7
32. Bf6+ Kh6
33. Nf7+ Kh7
34. Ng5+ Kh6 (Here Kasparov gives a detailed analysis of the bishop-of-opposite-color endgame arising from 34. Nxh8 Rxh8 35. Qe7+ Kg6 36. Bxh8 Qg5+ and though Black ends up two pawns down, apparently it is drawn with best play)
35. Bxh8+ Qg6
36. Nf7+ Kh7
37. Qe7 Qxg2?
38. Be5?

After an apparently sufficient defense, Kasparov slips and gives Short a winning shot. In time trouble, Short missed the paradoxical 38. Bd4! which prevents the perpetual check used in the game. The key line is 38. Bd4 Qh1+ 39. Kd2 Qxh2+ 40. Kc3 Rc8+ 41. Kb4 Rc7 42. Qg5 Qg6 43. Qxh4+ Kg8 44. Nh6+ Kf8 45. Qf4+ Ke7 46. Qc7+ Ke6 47. Qxb7 Qxh6 48. Qxa6+ +-. Simple, right?

38. ... Qf1+
39. Kd2 Qf2+
40. Kd3 Qf3+
41. Kd2 Qf2+ 1/2-1/2

Disappointing for Short, who had played an inspired attack and had his opportunity. A very instructive game combining several elements of attacking strategy.


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