Kenilworth Kibitzer

A blog for members of the Kenilworth Chess Club.

Friday, June 10, 2011


Short-Kasparov Game 16

Enough of this drawing nonsense....let's try something better.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Short-Kasparov Game 10

Short's third venture into the Fischer-Sozin (click here to follow along) gave him his best advantage out of the opening yet, as he varied his opening sequence yet again, following this with a stunning, though apparently flawed, queen sacrifice. Uncharacteristically, Kasparov misread the resulting position and found himself in a losing situation. However, Short's time trouble addiction (something that, more than anything else, hampered his performance in the match) made sure that the finish would not be clinical…

1. e4 c5
2. Nf3 d6
3. d4 PxP
4. NxP Nf6
5. Nc3 a6
6. Bc4 e6
7. Bb3 Nbd7
8. f4 Nc5
9. Qf3

A third game, a third 9th move. After trying e5 and f5, Short tries a new plan with 9. Qf3. The basic idea is similar to 9. f5, where a key idea is opening the diagonal of the light-squared bishop. Here the queen supports f5 as well as indirect pressure on f6 in some cases (after Bg5). As we'll see Short had a more revolutionary idea in mind. Notice that Short consistently rejects the quiet lines, such as the perfectly acceptable 9. O-O.

9. …. b5

As in games 6 and 8 Kasparov favors this positioning of the knight, although after this game Kasparov gave up the Nb8-d7-c5 maneuver altogether, having obtained difficult positions in all cases.

10. f5 Bd7
11. fxe6 fxe6 Short's pawn exchange is strategically incorrect, releasing pressure on e6 too early, but it's another question as to whether it is tactically justified…

12. Bg5 Be7
13. O-O-O O-O
14. e5?!

The product of Short's home analysis, though apprently he realized its flaw over the board, which led to an hour-long think that came back to cost him later in the game. Short's idea is the queen sacrifice which he ultimately executes in the game, however the concept could have been refuted. Kasparov: "…the simple 14. … Nd5 15. Bxe7 Nxe7 16. Qg3 d5 leaves Nigel strategically lost because his bishop on b3 is out of play and I can win automatically by advancing my queenside pawns." But Short's uncertainty at the board may have bluffed Kasparov into thinking the loss of a queen had simply been missed during analysis.

14. … Nfe4? (….Nd5! See above)
15. Bxe7 Qxe7

16. Nxe4!!

But this is precisely the position Short had aimed for. A series of forcing moves gives White a winning position.

16. … Rxf3
17. exd6 Nxb3+
18. Nxb3 Qf8
19. gxf3 Qxf3
20. Nec5 Bc6
21. Rhe1 e5
22. d7 Rd8 and from here to the end, Kasparov is one pawn move away from disaster. For the queen Short has a rook, piece, and a monster passed pawn.

23. Rd6 a5

In Keene's book on this match, kindly provided by Lou, Kasparov points out that 23. … Bd6 is met strongly by the simple 24. Nd2 when Black's army gets disorganized, but it sets a trap for 24. Rd1 when 24. … Bxb3 25. Nxb3 e4 gives Black excellent, possibly winning play with his own passed pawn.

24. a3 a4
Likewise 24. Nxa5? gives up too much - 24. …Qf4+ 25. Kb1 Qb4

25. Nd2 Qg2
26. c3 Bd5
27. Nd3 Bb3

Now White is perilously close to a win, but Kasparov is giving himself potential lifelines with mating or perpetual checking threats against the White king which is exposed on the light squares. Also, Short by this time was already in significant time pressure.

28. Nxe5 Qxh2 The pawn on e5 was gold, the pawn on h2 was silver, a good transaction.
29. Nc6! Qxd6
30. Re8+ Kf7
31. Nxd8+ Kg6

With a clever tactical maneuver, Short eliminated Black's defense of d8 and exposed Black's king. For the next several moves, a modestly powered laptop can find winning variations for White…but for a human sitting across from the greatest player of all time with only minutes to play, the problem is more complex. Short: "[It was] possible to play 32. Re6+ Bxe6 33.Nxe6 Qxe6 (33. … Qxd7?? 34. Nf8+) 34. d8 = Q which is winning. However, I thought that Black may be able to cause some problems in my time pressure by running his h-pawn down the board so I preferred to try to win the game immediately. Indeed, the Q+N vs Q ending Short cites would undoubtedly have been tricky under these conditions.

32. Ne6!? Qh2 (again 32. … Qxd7?? 34. Nf8+)
33. Nf4+ Kh6 (33. d8=Q leads to a win…for Black! (mate in four) - you may see the problems Short was facing in making quick choices)
34. Nd3 Qg1+

Here the press center was calling for 35. Ne1?? which is very likely to have been what Short was planning in rerouting his knight from e6 to d3. However, this loses! 35. … Qg4! threatens the pawn on d7 and mate on d1, and after 36. NxB Qxd7 there is a fork winning back the piece, and the game.

35. Re1 Qg5 (covering d8 and pinning the knight)
36. Ne5? g6
The last simple win was here, when after 37. Rh1+ Kg6 38. Ne5+ Kf5 (38. … QxN?? 39. d8=Q) 39. Nc6 [Short] there are no mating threats and White will queen.

37. Rf1 Be6
38. Nf7+ Bxf7
39. Rxf7 Qd5

And with seconds left….

40. Re7?
An impulse move, moving the attacked rook. However, the rook was tactically defended because taking it would allow White to queen. Kasparov and Short agreed on the following line for White: 40. Ne4! Qd3 41. Rf2 Qxd7 42. Rh2+ Kg7 43. Rxh7+! Kxh7 44. Nf6+ followed by NxQ winning. If only it were move 41 I would think Short would have found this. As it was after…

40. … Qd6
41. Rf7 Qd3!
42. Ne4 Qe3+
43. Nd2 Qd3 a draw was agreed. White's king won't be able to find shelter enough to avoid perpetual check. Surely a bitterly disappointing result for Short, who had a great opportunity after a powerful queen sacrifice. Unfrotunately for Short, in this match his fighting spirit was not totally matched by high level execution, however for the third White game in a row he came close to taking Kasparov's number...

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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