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Boris Spassky vs Anatoly Karpov
Hamburg 1982  ·  King's Gambit: Accepted. Fischer Defense (C34)  ·  1-0
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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 5 OF 5 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Aug-17-12  Everett: <keypusher> You may disagree with someone else, but what you state does not address what I'm saying.

It is well known that if someone condemned a particular opening variation <incorrectly, in his eyes>, then Lasker would question whether that player understood the position, and take it up against him.

And if that last paragraph is from Lasker, I'm surprised the older man wouldn't eschew fiction altogether.

Mar-11-14  tranquilsimplicity: Having been a KG player (I am now "retired"), I observed whilst using Fritz 12 (in 2010) that the Bishop Variation (3.Bc4) is rated as positionally worse than Nf3 at the outset. However as the game continues whilst letting Fritz 12 play against itself (with me picking up the best lines for White), the Bc4 variation won a few games and drew many more but also lost. I repeated the experiments with the Nf3 variation and the results were many draws and losses for White. I tried this several times to confirm what I was observing before my eyes; and the conclusion was that though initially worse with -0.84 as compared to Nf3 -0.15 (circa), the Bc4 variation later gave White better chances with the Nf3 variation losing almost always. Incredibly, the Muzio Gambit initially looking 'lost' for White, turned out to give White excellent winning chances!

The KG as Bronstein once noted, is too rich in the variety of positions and ought to be played. This may be the reason why even with powerful software, no one has been able to prove that the KG is busted. Rudolph Spielmann carried out extensive research and wrote an article; 'On the Death Bed of the King's Gambit'. However Spielmann continued to play the Gambit with success. Perhaps he had discovered like Spassky did (and said) 'that other openings like Ruy Lopez are not objectively better than the KG' ie by opting for safer openings, one does not win more games by avoiding or not employing the KG.

In my opinion, what the KG does is increase both your losses and also your number of wins; thereby reducing your draws. Whereas openings like Ruy Lopez will reduce your losses, your wins, and increase your draws. So if you like 'tidy' games or loathe losing, avoid the KG. But if you are an adventurer, creative, aggressive, and love tactical shots and combinations, then the KG ought to be in your repertoire.#

Mar-11-14  tranquilsimplicity: Actually I feel that the correct translation for Rudolph Spielmann's article is;'From the Sick Camp of the King's Gambit' (Vom Krakenlager des Konigsgambit).#
Mar-11-14  tranquilsimplicity: <Keypusher> <Everett>

It is my belief that no matter how great a Chess player is, eg of world champion calibre, there are certain openings or a style of play that the player will favour. Emanuel Lasker was simply great!

However I have a feeling that Emanuel Lasker made the comment regarding gambits indicating Chess noviceness because he was not particularly successful with the King's Gambit (inspite of not playing strong players according to Keypusher). Lasker scored a 42% winning percentage as White in 78 KG games. Interestingly, despite playing 175 Ruy Lopez games, Lasker scored a winning percentage of circa 55%. Lasker obviously loved the Lopez, and it suited him.

In contrast, Chigorin, a true lover of the King's Gambit, had a winning percentage of 61% as White with the KG in 92 games. Chigorin played 28 Ruy Lopez games and had a winning percentage of 42% as White.

Therefore, my conclusion is that it all depends on the player; and the Ruy Lopez is not objectively superior to the KG. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the KG. It depends on your temperament. #

Mar-11-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Lasker scored a 42% winning percentage as White in 78 KG games. Interestingly, despite playing 175 Ruy Lopez games, Lasker scored a winning percentage of circa 55%. Lasker obviously loved the Lopez, and it suited him.>

55% with the Ruy Lopez? That's awful! Actually he won 55% of his games with the Lopez. I would define his winning percentage as wins + 1/2 draws/total games X 100, which yields a percentage around 70%.

<Therefore, my conclusion is that it all depends on the player; and the Ruy Lopez is not objectively superior to the KG.>

Not many would agree with you; they'd want a sample size larger than two masters from a century ago, certainly.

And evidently very few masters agree with you; in modern times even geniuses with the King's Gambit like Spassky played 2.Nf3 much more often.

Lasker provides another example of this; as you can see from the database, he has a much higher winning percentage in the Lopez with 4.Bxc6 than he does with 4.Ba4. But he played 4.Ba4 about three times as often. Very few people would argue that BxN is objectively stronger than Ba4; I don't think Lasker would either.

Mar-11-14  Petrosianic: <FSR> <Somehow the King's Gambit still hasn't been refuted. If you look at recent (2010-11) games with it, the top players rarely play it, but do well when they do.>

It's never been refuted, no. The reason it fell out of favor is because equalizing lines were found. White usually has ambitions for more than just equality, and the Lopez is the only Double King Pawn opening that gives him a small but enduring edge.

The King's Gambit still has value as an occasional or surprise weapon, but can no longer be used at the GM level as a primary weapon.

Mar-13-14  tranquilsimplicity: <Keypusher> <Petrosianic> Controversy is the art of arousing debate and getting answers by playing devil's advocate!

Of course I agree with you both. And thanks to Keypusher for enlightening me on my mathematical calculations that ignored the 0.5 points in draws. I have now incorporated the half points in the statiscal calculations; and yes..Lasker had a 69% success percentage with the Ruy Lopez as white.

However, we cannot ignore the fact that the first official World Champion Steinitz played gambits (Vienna and King's Gambit), throughout his career. Steinitz had a 74% success percentage with the King's Gambit. Chigorin had a 70% success percentage with the KG.

My feeling however is that though the Ruy may have a small but enduring advantage, many Chess players (Masters included), employ it out of safety; it seems better to draw than lose whilst trying to win. The KG in it's nature is simply naked aggression.#

Mar-13-14  Petrosianic: Yes, well fashions do change. There was a time when it was very rare to see anything except the Ruy, even as a surprise weapon. You had Spassky and Bronstein playing an occasional King's Gambit. I think Mednis tried 3. Bc4 against Fischer in a US Championship (and missed a promising continuation that would have left him with serious winning chances!) Spassky tried 3. Bc4 against Hort in a Candidates Match, and Karpov played it twice against Korchnoi in the 1981 World Championship. Since around the mid-80's, the Scotch Game seems to be regaining a little favor. Speaking of fashions, there was a time, around the 1950's - 70's or so that any time you saw a Ruy Lopez, Black would play the Morphy Defense, almost 100% of the time. Arthur Bisguier tried to revive the Berlin Defense in the early 60's, but didn't get very far. These days the Berlin is hugely popular.
Mar-13-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Mednis vs Fischer, 1963 was in fact the very first game of Fischer's clean score in the US championship.

Kasparov was chiefly responsible for the revival of the Scotch at top level when he employed in his 1990 defence of the title-before him, only Ljubojevic was known to give it a try for many years.

Recall Bisguier playing the Berlin fairly regularly during the 1980s and probably would have wound up in one if I had essayed 1.e4 in either game we played where I was White. The Berlin Wall would still be a backwater at the highest levels if not for Kramnik in 2000.

Mar-13-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <keypusher: AFAIK (Lasker) played the KG once in a serious game in his career, at the very end of the Janowski WC match, so query how serious that was.>

There was actually one other game, from Lasker-Miniati (1890):

Lasker vs N Miniati, 1890

Mar-13-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <I think Mednis tried 3. Bc4 against Fischer in a US Championship (and missed a promising continuation that would have left him with serious winning chances!) Spassky tried 3. Bc4 against Hort in a Candidates Match, and Karpov played it twice against Korchnoi in the 1981 World Championship.>

The modern Ruy Lopez lines look so bad to me for White -- I'm surprised we're not seeing 3.Bc4 more often.

Mar-13-14  Petrosianic: Yeah, that's true about Kasparov and Kramnik. Sometimes that's what it takes to bring an opening back into fashion. Just to have a high visibility player achieve something with it.

Fischer himself was a trendsetter, and it wasn't always good. A lot of US players tried to play the Najdorf just because Fischer did, even if it wasn't well suited to their playing style. It's a tough, sharp line. It wasn't even really suited to Fischer's own style, but it worked for him just because he knew it inside and out. But it may be a little tough for a club player.

Mar-13-14  Petrosianic: Petrosian played the KG once too, in the mid 40's, before he was anybody.

I like the KG, but I still think of the Evans Gambit as the epitome of swashbuckling chess.

I wonder how many World Champions have lost to each one? Steinitz, Lasker, and Botvinnik all lost to the Evans at least once in their careers. How about the KG? We know Fischer and Karpov lost to it. How many others did?

Mar-13-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <I like the KG, but I still think of the Evans Gambit as the epitome of swashbuckling chess.>

I like it a lot, but funnily enough because (to me) it's not so swashbuckling as the KG. Sometimes White's king dies very early in the KG. Much less chance of that early on in the Evans.

The real problem with the Evans is that you don't get to play it. Not all that many people play 1...e5 to begin with, and those that do generally prefer 3....Nf6 in my experience.

<I wonder how many World Champions have lost to each one? Steinitz, Lasker, and Botvinnik all lost to the Evans at least once in their careers. How about the KG? We know Fischer and Karpov lost to it. How many others did?>

Well of course Steinitz lost to the KG as well as the Evans.

Charousek beat Lasker with the KG at Nuremberg, you'll remember.

Charousek vs Lasker, 1896

None of Lasker's losses to the Evans look like serious games; of course he helped put the opening out of business in the 1890s.

Corzo beat Capa in an Evans....of course JRC was 13 at the time. Doesn't look like Capablanca ever lost to the KG in serious play.

to be continued...

Mar-13-14  Petrosianic: One thing I like about the Evans is that I can point to a specific time (1880's-90's) when everyone was playing it, and it was the opening of choice.

But I'm not really sure when the Golden Age of the King's Gambit was. It seems like anybody might play it at any time in the 19th century, but I'm not sure when the time was that EVERYONE was playing it.

(Speaking of that, how about the Danish? Was there ever a time when the Danish was big, or was it always an occasional opening?)

But yeah, as you say, the KG can be a lot dicier for White than the Evans is.

Did any world champion (past, present or future) ever lose to an Evan's Gambit after this game?

Kan vs Botvinnik, 1929

Mar-13-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Obviously I am counting games when these men weren't WC....otherwise we would have a very small sample.

Alekhine never lost to the KG, it looks like. A couple of losses to the Evans in correspondence games when he was very young.

Botvinnik is the first WC to not rely on 1....e5. He never lost to the KG, it appears, and had that horrible loss to Kan as Petrosianic mentioned in the Evans declined. Kan vs Botvinnik, 1929

Smyslov is interesting. He played 1...e5 regularly, but never faced the Evans and never saw a KG until 1987, if this database is to be trusted.

Tal -- mostly played the Sicilian. Lost this wonderful game to Bronstein Bronstein vs Tal, 1968 in the KG

One Evans, also wonderful, which he won.

J Klovans vs Tal, 1951

Petrosian also didn't play 1...e5 a lot. Had a couple draws with the KG. (Bronstein played it against him, but Spassky didn't.) No Evans.

Spassky -- figured no one would dare play the KG against him, but I was wrong. He faced it five times and...won every time. Not too surprising.

No Evans.

To be continued...

Mar-13-14  Petrosianic: Interesting. Spassky is 5-0 against the King's Gambit? I'm going to have to look up those games. Boy, that's cheek, playing it against him.

A lot of people have pointed out the fact that White won every King's Gambit game that Fischer was involved in. He lost to Spassky as Black, played it three times as White, and won all of those.

Mar-13-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Fischer...we all know about the Spassky game. I didn't realize that Bryant Park's own Asa Hoffman had beaten Bobby in the Evans, albeit in blitz.

A Hoffmann vs Fischer, 1963

Karpov -- well, here we are at his only loss to the KG. No Evans.

Kasparov -- there's this one, nearly as bad a blow to Bryan's defense as the Immortal Game.

Short vs Kasparov, 1993

But also this one, which is blitz. Short vs Kasparov, 2011

Evans, just this. Blitz. Kasparov doesn't seem to have liked 1....e5 any more than Fischer did.

Short vs Kasparov, 2011

Kramnik -- nearly 600 games with 1....e5 in the database, including lots of blitz and rapid I assume, and not a single KG or Evans. Sad.

Anand lost a KG to Morozevich and a very famous and beautiful Evans to Kasparov.

Carlsen -- one draw with the KG (which clinched the GM title, way back in 2004). No Evans.

Mar-13-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Petrosianic: One thing I like about the Evans is that I can point to a specific time (1880's-90's) when everyone was playing it, and it was the opening of choice.>

I can't really speak to the 1880s, but the 1890s tournaments I know well (Hastings, Nuremburg, St. Petersburg, London) you don't see the Evans often, and it doesn't score well. At Hastings there was a prize for the most victories with the Evans. Chigorin got the prize -- he won once.

Just took a quick look at the London 1883 collection -- very few Evans. Even Chigorin only played it three times.

I've said this before, but Steinitz kept the Evans in business an extra 20 years with his horrible defenses.

Mar-13-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <keypusher: The real problem with the Evans is that you don't get to play it. Not all that many people play 1...e5 to begin with, and those that do generally prefer 3....Nf6 in my experience.>

Though I often played 1....e5, the Two Knights was always my preference; never tried 3....Bc5.

<....Steinitz kept the Evans in business an extra 20 years with his horrible defenses.>

Then Lasker put it out of business with his.

Mar-13-14  Petrosianic: <I've said this before, but Steinitz kept the Evans in business an extra 20 years with his horrible defenses.>

Well, that may well be true. I don't know if I've ever mentioned this, and you probably know these games already, but I have a perverse fascination with the 1889 World Championship. At least the games in which Steinitz was black (the ones where he had White were quiet positional squeezes).

But the games in which Steinitz was black are like the proverbial watching a train wreck. You can't bear to look but you can't bear to look away either, when you see his whole army squeezed agaiunst the back rank, white pawn on d6, black Queen boxed in on b8. It's horrific. And I love it.

The fact that he only scored -1 against the Evans is a tribute to Steinitz, not his openings. He should have lost at least 2 of the ones he won, as well as the one he drew.

Mar-13-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: One rather doubts that even so formidable a defender as Korchnoi would have tried his hand at some of those abominations when facing the Evans, and he was the exponent of heroic defence.
Mar-13-14  Petrosianic: Korchnoi was heroic defense, Steinitz was bat*** insane defence.

Here's another good one.

Blackburne vs Steinitz, 1876

And he played this same line against Blackburne three times, and won all three games.

Mar-13-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: In the early nineties, looked at 4....Qh4 a bit, but could never convince myself it was worthwhile to have a go at it. Stayed with 4....Bc5 vs the Scotch.
Mar-13-14  Petrosianic: I don't face the Scotch much. I like 4... Bc5 too, but I've occasionally gotten a little pressured by White forcing the Bishop to b6, advancing the a pawn, to force Black to play a6, and then having to deal with the threat of Bxb6 cxb6, which would be ugly for Black. It's avoidable, but I'm not sure if I'm doing it the most efficient way. I think I need to study the line some more.
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