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Ivan Sokolov vs Garry Kasparov
"Put a Sok in It" (game of the day Nov-20-2011)
Hoogovens Group A (1999), Wijk aan Zee NED, rd 9, Jan-26
Nimzo-Indian Defense: Normal Variation. Bernstein Defense (E58)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Here is a rare case where Kasparov is the victim of a good attack-instead of the victor.
Nov-21-11  King Death: < Eric Farley: If what people say here is true : that kasparov lost this game because his opening preparation didn't take this variation into account and he was surprised by that, then he may not have been the great player that some people advertise him to have been.>

Who can know everything? Kasparov never played the Nimzo much as Black, so it isn't that surprising that he didn't know all of the ins and outs.

< He is supposed to solve OTB problems using his talent. Capablanca and Alekhine did it.>

What's your point here? That you're way better than Kasparov?

< As a matter of fact, his endings left a lot to be desired, so many blunders, more than would be acceptable for a player of his --supposed -- caliber.>

Again, are you rated 4000 or something?

< A chess player is to be rated based on his overall knowledge not just by the opening novelties he introduces here and there. I'm beginning to suspect that it wasn't he who was great, but his contemporaries that were poor.>

Guys like Karpov really couldn't play. They're just lucky I got bored and didn't hit the international circuit. There, that sounds as stupid as your statement.

< And if you check the Tal Memorial going on now, you'll understand what I mean. Nakamura and Nepo kept on playing for 85 moves in a position well-known as a book draw. A position found in The ABC of Rook Endings in Korchnoi's book "Practical Rook Endings." The Vancura position. >

There's nothing wrong with making a man play it out. That's a personal choice, and I wouldn't show any mercy either.

Nov-22-11  kasparvez: Alekhine, Capablanca were all extraordinary practical players, but its an exaggeration to say that they didn't have problems with opening surprises. Since in their times opening theories were still under construction they prepared more on general grounds. Thus they hardly faced middlegame novelties connected with opening lines, except perhaps, from Rubinstein and Euwe.

Post-Fischer chess, we know, places a high value on opening schemes, always connected to middlegames and in some cases, even endgames. In such a high stake 'all-know-all' system novelties play a very powerful role, often practically deciding a game by itself. It is absurd to demand of Kasparov, the man who authors the most number of middlegame novelties in history, to refute prepared surprises every time he faces them.

And no chess player is complete. Kasparov surrendered many endings, Fischer lost many double edged positions, Alekhine played prosaic positions worse than most. The point is, their overall playing strength was of such magnitude that these particular weaknesses didn't make much difference.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kamalakanta: Vajeer, I think 23...Qf4 is a good try, but it hangs the c-pawn, which supports the d4-knight, after 24.Qxc5.
Premium Chessgames Member
  wordfunph: missed my source..

<1999 Wijk aan Zee: When Garry Kasparov, with a 7.5-0.5 score and a 3000-plus performance rating met Ivan Sokolov in the 9th round, the Bosnian GM went straight into a Nimzo-Indian variation that had been analyzed for 50 years. Sokolov was unaware that Kasparov and his trainer had analyzed the key line out to a win for black in 1973, following an obscure Soviet game. When the key position arose after Sokolov's 21st move, Kasparov's hand moved too quickly. "I should have stopped, taken a sip of coffee, taken a breath, and I would have recalled the game." Kasparov said afterwards. But he played a rook move instead of a king retreat he had analyzed --- and resigned six moves later. Jan Timman told him, "Sometimes you need to check old analyses." Kasparov concluded, "No. You simply need to produce them at the board.">


Jun-28-12  outplayer: 27...Qe6 is a blunder. 27...Rh7 is correct.
Nov-12-12  Jim Bartle: Kasparov wrote down Sokolov's last move on his scoresheet before it was played. And made sure Sokolov saw it. Wonder what his point was.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Jim> Wonder whether that could be regarded as illegal, as is writing down one's own move before making it, under FIDE rules.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <outplayer: 27...Qe6 is a blunder. 27...Rh7 is correct.>

Hard to agree with this conclusion after 27....Rh7 28.Qg2 Qe8 29.Rg7 Qf8 30.Rxh7+ Kxh7 31.Bxd4 cxd4 32.Qh3+ Qh6 33.Qf5+ Kh8 34.Rg5.

Jan-03-13  FISCHERboy: The bishop on b2 is annoying.
Jan-03-13  bobbylee: For some reason, Kasparov's play on the black side of the Nimzo-Indian has generally always left something to be desired. Almost as if he has never been comfortable in with that opening. He had defeats on the back side in several notable games, such as in his first candidates match with Beliavsky and in his world title match against Kramnik. Both times he got a bad position out of the opening and went down hard.
May-25-13  tjipa: As a general observation, it is quite entertaining to read back how people in 2004 boast that Fritz8 says this and that about this game. And I was curious enough to find that now, in 2013, my Fritz 13 says the black blundered on move 25, and 25... Qh5 would have held just fine, albeit slightly worse for Black. Anyway, I am in no position to judge, since my OTB rating is at the level of Fritz0.1, at best. In any case, this is a great game by Ivan Sokolov, a player whose style and thinking I have long admired, wishing he would overcome his shortcomings and rise to an elite level where he would certainly be at home.
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: <plang:.. < Several people have referred to this game as Sokolovs "masterpiece". I doubt he would agree - this was a relatively easy game for him. >>

Well, here is what Sokolov thinks about the game:

<Later on, perhaps the most beautiful moment of my career was when I beat Garry Kasparov in Wijk aan Zee I 999 - also with a NimzoˇIndian with 4.e3." <>>

- Ivan Sokolov in <The Strategic Nimzo-Indian, 2012>

Jan-09-15  ALKINAN: I was able to get Kasparov in an unpleasant psychological situation. How did I get him into this condition? Kasparov enjoys very much when people are scared of him and if you show him that you are not, he gets intimidated and is less self-assured. And by the line that I was chose I was very clearly showing that I was neither scared of him nor his preparation. He did not like it. And then he had to remember his preparation and for even a player with a fantastic memory like Kasparov it is not easy to recollect everything. He even recalled the right game but not the right move. Once he realised that he was unable to remember the correct game he quickly collapsed. From the slightly minus position that he was in, he lost the game in just a few moves. He made a horrible blunder Kh7 when the position was quite playable.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <ALKINAN: I was able to get Kasparov in an unpleasant psychological situation. How did I get him into this condition? Kasparov enjoys very much when people are scared of him and if you show him that you are not, he gets intimidated and is less self-assured.>

Sounds like a typical bully in other walks of life as well.

Jan-09-15  passion pour 64: After 28.Qg2 f5 29.Rh3! Qf6,h6 or e7 30.Rxh4 White wins. When 29...f6 30.Rh3!also wins.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: From the same chessbase interview:

- When you saw that Kh7 was a mistake and that you could win the game now, what went through your mind?

- It was kind of a funny moment because we both had plenty of time on the clock. I realized that after I triple on the g-file it was going to be mate. Kasparov was already prepared to resign and leave. He had his Rolex back on his hand, his chocolate was taken away from the board, his jacket was on. Basically he was saying - Come on, make this move and get it over with! Then I said to myself - Hang on, when is the next time that I will have such a position against Kasparov from which I can demolish him in just one move? Perhaps never! How much time did I have on my clock? 40 minutes! Well, let's wait for a while then! Have a look at this beautiful position, look at miserable him (Garry really looks miserable when he is lost), there is no reason to rush! So I took 10 minutes and then executed the move and he immediately resigned. (Smiles)

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: The temptation for Sokolov to play his winning move a tempo had to have been overwhelming--he thus proved himself a shrewd psychologist indeed.
Jan-10-15  john barleycorn: <perfidious: ...he thus proved himself a shrewd psychologist indeed.>

There is a little Machiavelli in all of us.

Jul-17-15  Retireborn: In NiC 99/2, Sokolov gives 25.Qc1 a ! and says "with the simple idea of Qc1-f1-g2, followed by Rg8."

Houdini points out that 25.f4! is even stronger/faster, as White can then play f3 and Qg2 and Black can do nothing.

Interesting that this is harder to see; the idea of moving *both* f-pawns is evidently counterintuitive.

Jul-17-15  Howard: Interesting point, Retireborn.

Remind me to check the Informant when I get home later today, to see if that improvement is mentioned by some chance.

Jul-17-15  Retireborn: No,Sokolov's Informator variations are pretty much the same as his NiC notes.
Feb-28-16  The Kings Domain: Nice win by Sokolov, it's pitiful to see Kasparov grinding it out to such a result.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Tabanus: Photo:
May-12-19  Inocencio: Pin is mightier than a sword! The centralized Knight is irrelevant. He can be compared to a dead coconut tree.
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