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Anatoly Karpov vs Boris Spassky
9th Soviet Match-Tournament (1973), Moscow URS, rd 3, Apr-26
Spanish Game: Morphy Defense. Breyer Defense Quiet Variation (C94)  ·  1-0
ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Aug-20-02  refutor: Can Black really get away with all those knight moves? I'm sure it's all theory, but in the first 17 moves, he moves his queen's knight 6 times (from b8 to c6, from c6 to b8, from b8 to d7, from d7 to c5, from c5 to d7 and finally from d7 to b6) sure it's a closed position, so it's hard for white to take advantage of those tempi, but all those knight moves make the romantic chess player inside me shudder :)

with the threat of Rxd6, the finish could go 34. ... Nf8 35.Nxg6 Nxg6 36.Qh5+ Kg8(36. ...Kg7 37.Rxd6!) 37.Qxg6+ Qg7 38.Qxg7+ Kxg7 39.Rxd6 or something similar with white winning easily

Apr-26-04
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: 30...Nd6 was a mistake, but after better 30...Nf6 31.Bxg7 Kxg7 32.Qxc4 white has an advantage too. Spassky overlooked 32.Qg5.
Sep-23-05  jmelton: Crafty and I looked at this game together, and here's what we found: After 30...Nf6 31. Bxg7 Kxg7, stronger than 32. Qxc4 are either Qg5 or Nh4 (threatening a queen fork in either case). Black can't take the pawn after Nh4 because after 33. Ngf5+, he gets mated very quickly (gxf5 is followed by Nxf5+ and Qh6, while Kg8 is met by 34. Nxg6! fxg6 35. Bxc4+ and Black can resign).
Apr-29-07  lopezexchange: 21...Nxe5!; 22.Nxe5,Rxe5; 23.c4,bxc4; 24.Bxc4,Nxc4; 25.Qxc4,Re7; 26.h4, d5; 27.Qb3,Qe8; 28.exd5,Rd8; 29.Rxe7,Qxe7; 30.Bf4,Qd7; 31.a3,Bxd5 gives black full equality, leading to an easy draw.
Nov-06-07
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <21...Nxe5!; 22.Nxe5,Rxe5; 23.c4,bxc4; 24.Bxc4,Nxc4; 25.Qxc4,Re7; 26.h4, d5; 27.Qb3,Qe8; 28.exd5,Rd8; 29.Rxe7,Qxe7; 30.Bf4,Qd7; 31.a3,Bxd5 gives black full equality, leading to an easy draw.>

26. Bc3 looks more sensible to me than 26. h4, though I find Karpov's whole plan with dxe5 and c4 hard to understand.

According to OMGP V Karpov said the road to equality was 23....Nxc4 (which I think most of us would play without a second thought) 24. Qxc4 Re6! 25. Be3 Rd6. But Spassky's idea of pushing the c pawn and then playing ...Bc6 looks very strong -- it takes a first-class sacrifice from Karpov to refute it. 32. Qg5 is a wonderful move.

Jul-26-08  Alphastar: GM Beim had some very interesting things to say about this game in his book "how to calculate chess tactics":

<With his last move, 24..c6-c5, Black struck at his opponent's position. In order to fight for the initiative, Karpov now took a remarkable decision, requiring excellent calculation and, no less important, accurate judgment of the positions arising out of the different variations.

<25. a4!>
As we shall soon see, with this move, White prepares to sacrifice material.

<25. ..c4>
This continuation is the most principled, but this does not necessarily mean it is best. In the evend of 25. ..cxb4, Karpov gives 26. a5 Rac8 27. Qa2 Na8 28. Bxb4! Nc5 29. Rc1 with a decisive advantage. But as soon becomes clear, the path chosen by Black is also unfavorable. He should have played 25. ..Rac8! and after 26. a5 Na8 Black's pieces would be much more harmoniously placed than occurred in the game, and White would have only a small advantage.

<26. Ba2 Bc6 27. a5!> This move was planned by White when playing his 25th move. It is actually forced, since after 27. Bxc4 Nxc4 28. Qxc4 Bxa4 Black is better because of his two bishops.

<27. ..Ba4 28. Qc1>
This position arises by force after Black's 25th move. It has a clearer character than the initial position. Black now has a major choice. One can say that what we have is a case of calculation by stages, with the first stage now over.

<28. ..Nc8>
This is stronger than 28. ..Bxd1 29. Rxd1 Na4? (correct is 29. ..Nc8 30. Bxh6, transposing to the game), when the following possibilities arise: a) 30. Bxh6 Bxh6 31. Qxh6 and now Parov indicated the line 31. ..Nf8 32. Rc1 with an attack. But if Black plays 31. ..Rec8! the position is completely unclear. b) 30. Qc2! is significantly stronger. 30. ..c3 31. Be1 Nb2 32. Rd5! and Black is in trouble after both 32. ..Nf6 33. Bxc3! Nxd5 34. Bxd5 and 32. ..Rec8 33. Bxc3 Nc4 34. Qd3. Incidentally (and this is important for our theme), Karpov's analytical error suggests that when playing his 25th move, he had not calculated all of the possible variations, but relied partly on his intuition that the position reached after his 28th move was good for him. This was an eminently practical thing to do. There is also little doubt that had Spassky chosen this variation, 30. Qc2! would not have escaped Karpov's attention! These considerations support the view that this game is an example of the technique of calculation by stages.>

Jul-26-08  Alphastar: <<29. Bxh6 Bxd1 30. Rxd1> Here too we have the end of a short but clear stage, from Black's 28th-30th moves, and this position arises by force after his decision at the start of the stage. Let us try to assess it. For the exchange, White already has one pawn, and is about to collect another on c4. If he manages to do so, his light-squared bishop will become very powerful, looking not only at the weakened position of the black king, but also at the a6-pawn. If that falls, White will have two connected passed pawns. An important role is played by the scattered, disunited black forces. But these last two factors are both bound up with the question of whether black can play 30. ..Nd6. There is not the slightest doubt that the importance of this factor was clear to both players. And since after Black's 35th move, neither side has had very much choice, the main line leads virtually by force to this position and to the issue of Black's 30th move. Thus, the critical position for all that has happened arises after 30. ..Nd6. Can one just judge this position at first sight? Undoubtedly not. Everything depends on whether Black can avoid losing material along the d-file. and this cannot be determined without further calculation. Thus, we have another example of the fact that in complicated positions, a reliable assessment is impossible without calculating variations. FUrthermore, when at move 25 the two players entered these forcing lines, both had to foresee this very position and decide what was going on. As the game shows, only White in fact managed to do this.

<30. ..Nd6?>
Black, on the other hand, commits a decisive mistake. However, analysis shows that his position was bad anyway. Thus, after 30. ..Ra7 the reply 31. Bxc4! seems very powerful (Karpov gives 31. Bxg7 Kxg7 32. Qxc4 which appears insufficient because of 32. ..Nb8! and Black untangles his pieces; here again, we see that Parov relied as much on intuition as on concrete calculation, the importance of which appears later!) and after 31. ..Nd6 Fritz's suggestion of 32. Bg5! Bf6 33. Be3 is very strong, with an obvious advantage to White. In answer to 30. ..Nf8 there follows 31. Bxg7 Kxg7 32. Qxc4 Ra7 33. Rd5!? and Black is under strong pressure, while after 30. ..Nf6 31. Bxg7 Kxg7 32. Qg5! White also has a strong initiative. It only remains to consider the preliminary exchange of bishops: 30. ..Bxh6 31. Qxh6 and now 31. ..Nd6, but after 32. Ng5 Black is in a bad way: 32. ..Nf8 33. Nh5! gxh5 (33. ..f6 34. Rxd6! ) 34. Rxd6 Rec8 35. Rf6 or 32. ..Nf6 33. Rxd6 Qxd6 34. Bxc4 Ra7 35. Qxg6+ Kf8 36. Qh6+; White wins in both cases.

<31. Bxg7 Kxg7>
There now followed an effective and unexpected blow:

<32. Qg5!!>
Clearly Spassky expected only 32. Qd2? Then after 32. ..Nf6 33. Qxd6 Rad8 Black wins. Now it all ends quickly and unstoppably:

<32. ..f6>
It was more stubborn to try to defend the c4-pawn by 32. ..Rac8, but even then White wins after 33. Rxd6! Qxg5 34. Nxg5 Nf6 35. Ne2 (or 35. Rxa6).

<33. Qg4! Kh7>
Or: 33. ..Rac8 34. Rxd6 ; 33. ..f5 34. exf5

<34. Nh4 1-0>
After 34. ..Rg8 White wins immediately with 35. Rxd6 Qxd6 36. Nhf5!, although 35. Bxc4 is also good enough.>

Jul-26-08  Alphastar: <Although we have already pointed out many different considerations while going through this game, there is one other aspect which is also well worth discussing in this context. We have already seen that the calculation of the variations between White's 25th and 32nd move, together with the consequences thereof, can be carried out by stages. We can identify the stages, and there are also indirect clues that this is how Karpov approached the position (see the tactical erros pointed out in his notes). But at the same time, the main line of the play was very accurately played by Karpov, and it is impossible to imagine him playing his 25th move without having seen his 32nd, and its consequences, as well! So how do we reconcile the theory of calculation by stages with the accuracy of the calculation of the main line? Can we regard it as a hybrid approach, under which a clearly defined main line had to be worked out in detail, while the accompanying sidelines were calculated by the stage method? If this seems a somewaht unlikely theory, I am not as yet saying that it is definitely the truth. Rather, I would suggest that each reader relies on his own experience. Do not similar things quite often occur in your own games? Furthermore, isn't it the case that we are constantly correcting and refining the analysis of the games of even the greatest players, while at the same time, the main line of those games turns out to be fully correct? This only goes to show that not only can no player calculate everything accurately, but also that he does not need to. The human player approaches the game by concentrating primarily on the main line of the development of events. How well he can do this, and how clear and precise the line will be, depends on the position. The rest he has to leave to his judgment and intuition. For a human player this is essential, since his calculating abilities have a limited horizon and no other approach is within his capabilities.>
Jul-26-08  RookFile: <keypusher: According to OMGP V Karpov said the road to equality was 23....Nxc4 (which I think most of us would play without a second thought) >

Absolutely. I was going to say - why in the world did Spassky not get rid of a knight on b6 for the powerful king's bishop. A guy like Tarrasch or Fischer would have played 23.... Nxc4 in about a nano second. I see black as being ok after this approach.

Oct-21-09  birthtimes: It's interesting to note that Karpov played the first 20 moves the same as he did versus Gligoric a year earlier in San Antonio...but here Spassky deviated with a kingside rearrangement while Gligoric chose a queenside buildup...

Karpov vs Gligoric, 1972

Nov-09-09  M.D. Wilson: “I consider myself to be an idler, too, but the dimensions of Spassky’s laziness were astounding” (Karpov on Karpov: ‘Memoirs of a Chess World Champion’, page 98).
Nov-20-10  Everett: This kind of chess understanding, as explained by Beim via <Alphastar, thank you!>, is spooky.
May-30-11  ahmadov: Is my understanding correct that Black cannot defend by playing 34...Rg8 because of 35.Bxc4 Nxc4 36.Rxd7?

But then again, after 35.Bxc4 Black continue by playing 35...Rg8, no?

Feb-26-12  nolanryan: Karpov would have really put the test to Fischer. In 1975, he only lost one game, and I suspect was already better than Fischer.
Feb-26-12  RookFile: Yes, but he won far fewer games than Fischer did over an equivalent stretch of GM games.
Feb-26-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: Not sure why Spassky gave up here.
Feb-26-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Penguincw: Not sure why Spassky gave up here.>

Read the kibitzes.

Feb-27-12  nolanryan: fair enough rookfile... but by '77, he was winning an obscene fraction of games against top competition. they would have been great matches 75, and 78
Feb-27-12  King Death: < RookFile: <keypusher: According to OMGP V Karpov said the road to equality was 23....Nxc4 (which I think most of us would play without a second thought) > Absolutely. I was going to say - why in the world did Spassky not get rid of a knight on b6 for the powerful king's bishop. A guy like Tarrasch or Fischer would have played 23.... Nxc4 in about a nano second....>

Sure Spassky must have considered this and his concrete play in the game would have worked against many weaker opponents.

One of the reasons both Tarrasch and Fischer were great was that they were able to play concretely and not just play "obvious" moves like 23...Nc4. Karpov could make a statement like this after the game or even much later but it's another thing to play a move with the clock ticking, especially with the tempting ideas that are shown in the notes by Beim.

Mar-31-12  rannewman: the whole plan starting with 25.a4 is such a deep exchange sacrfice...to my patzer eyes black postion after 31...Nd6 looks fine. yes his pawn on c4 is weak but as long as he defends it the weakness on a6 will never reveal and he might even be able to gang up on white's b4, he's an exchange up after all! but then comes 31.B:g7 K:g7 32.Qg5!, black is busted on the other wing (with white bishop still locked in!), and I could assest "weakness on the queen side bla bla bla" all I want, while karpov is coming for the king..

maybe the whole thing is much more obvious to stronger players, but to me it reminded R Byrne vs Fischer, 1963 . something that I can't understand even if it hits me on the head..

Jul-26-16  Howard: The latest issue of New in Chess analyzes the last 10-12 moves of this instructive game.
Jul-26-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <keypusher: <Penguincw: Not sure why Spassky gave up here.>

Read the kibitzes.>

Novel concept, that.

<....According to OMGP V Karpov said the road to equality was 23....Nxc4 (which I think most of us would play without a second thought)....>

Raises hand--this, along with the followup, looks okay for Black.

<....24. Qxc4 Re6! 25. Be3 Rd6. But Spassky's idea of pushing the c pawn and then playing ...Bc6 looks very strong -- it takes a first-class sacrifice from Karpov to refute it....>

As an author once wrote: never believe it when the great masters tell you they don't calculate.

Jul-27-16  Howard: Uhhhh.....where in OMGP is this game located---which page? Just tried to find it last night, but could not.
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