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Garry Kasparov vs Anatoly Karpov
"Grudge Match" (game of the day Sep-09-2015)
Linares (2001), Linares ESP, rd 5, Feb-28
Caro-Kann Defense: Advance Variation. Van der Wiel Attack (B12)  ·  1-0


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Garry Kasparov vs Anatoly Karpov (2001) Grudge Match

Kibitzer's Corner
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Apr-04-14  tranquilsimplicity: <Richard Taylor> "As a younger man Karpov was even probably better than Kasparov".

I am neither a fan of Kasparov nor of Karpov. But having played their games assiduously, I could not disagree with you more! I have played Karpov's games in the 60s (when he was young), and I have played Kasparov's games of 1976 (when he was only 13); Kasparov's brilliance is unique and unmistakable!

It was no surprise he dominated Chess circa 20 years. Karpov on the other hand though positionally astute, ground out wins and drew aplenty. I have to be honest and add that I did not see genius in Karpov's games, just technical mastery.#

Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: < tranquilsimplicity: <Richard Taylor> "As a younger man Karpov was even probably better than Kasparov".

I am neither a fan of Kasparov nor of Karpov. But having played their games assiduously, I could not disagree with you more! I have played Karpov's games in the 60s (when he was young), and I have played Kasparov's games of 1976 (when he was only 13); Kasparov's brilliance is unique and unmistakable!

It was no surprise he dominated Chess circa 20 years. Karpov on the other hand though positionally astute, ground out wins and drew aplenty. I have to be honest and add that I did not see genius in Karpov's games, just technical mastery.# >

I have been studying both their games since the 1980s as in fact GM Murray Chandler used to show their games in a column he had in our NZ Listener. When you say he "ground out his wins" and talk about positional chess, what do you mean? That's how Kasparov won his games. Stylistically there is a relatively minor difference but is wasn't great. Karpov won some great attacking and combinative games and his games that didn't feature that so much - stylistically he was quite like Fischer in this sense that he was a "classical" player (and while perhaps a little less aggressive) they were both "principled players". In some ways Karpov, Capablanca and Fischer are in similar orbit...

Now I used to prefer Tal and Kasparov but it wasn't until I studied Karpov's games and lines that I got good enough positions to beat one IM etc But more recently I have played over (the games in) his book "Chess at the Top" and those games have beautiful wins against Timman, Korchnoi, Tal and others. It wasn't until Kasparov had played, and learnt from playing, Petrosian (who could also uncork some great combos - on on this site he calculated 20 move ahead!) Karpov and others that he became an all round player (Tal never did, he was genius for sure, but he loved tactics too much). While Karpov had lost to Kasparov in the World Champs (not with a huge margin, they were pretty evenly matched), during that time he won a major tournament ahead of Kasparov.

Far from being a "quiet" player, he played some great games (as did Kasparov of course). His use of the Keres Attack led to some fine attacking games. Study these GMs more closely. Kasparov, when we see his best games, like Fischer or Alekhine, combines tactical alertness with deep positional ideas. (He had learnt a lot from his matches).

This is important as it saves you from thinking that every game requires an attack. Some (probably more than we think) of Kasparov's games were very simple positional wins.

It is important to not worry who is "the best" and to learn from the Master players if you can, and enjoy their games and different styles.

Apr-05-14  tranquilsimplicity: <Richard Taylor> First of all congrats on your win against an IM.

I agree that it is important to learn from all GMs with their unique talents and styles. And that is precisely the reason why I studied Fischer, Alekhine, Chigorin, Capablanca, Lasker, Kasparov, Karpov et al. I have to agree with you once more in that Kasparov and Karpov were closely matched, and that great GMs have both aspects of the game; that is, deep positional acumen and combinatorial expertise.

However, even though I have observed Karpov play aggressive Chess such as in popularising the Keres Attack and accept that as a mathematician he possesses great combinatorial calculating ability, Karpov's style is to me more reminiscent of Capablanca; a style that 'worships' technique over flashes of genius or intuitive disregard for the rules in pursuit of an objective, which in this case is winning. This is what I meant when I said that Karpov ground out wins. Karpov does nothing but you lose. Karpov generally plays many moves whilst seemingly doing nothing until when his opponent realises that they have a lost game and resigns.

Kasparov on the other hand is just as technically astute and can do the same, grind out wins. However in Kasparov's games, the general tendency is a knack towards creativity (genius=disregard for convention=originality) where Kasparov makes positional, vacating, demolition or deflecting sacrifices that culminate in a combination that either checkmates outright or costs the opponent heavy loss of material that resignation is the only reasonable thing to do. To put in my own words "Karpov wins in 60 moves, Kasparov in 40".

As for Tal, indeed he was very much enamoured of intuitive play but had to tone it down as GMs learnt ways of defending from his attacks. Fischer was perhaps in my eyes, the most well rounded player. Kasparov is also rather well rounded. Tal and Karpov, in my view, probably not. Tal and Karpov represented the extremes of Chess styles. But that is not to suggest that Tal was positionally ignorant nor that Karpov is a tactical novice. Not at all. Top GMs appreciate and are well versed in both aspects of the game, and that's what makes them great.

All in all I accept a lot of what you say.#

Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: A good answer but I think you still don't understand Karpov's play. Some of Kasparov's attacks were rather direct (some were incredible) but the first match they played I didn't see Kasparov as significantly better. I know it is harder to like Karpov, but in fact he was always a very genial man who plays bridge and collects stamps. Kasparov became very arrogant and couldn't accept that he was finished. He rightly retired. Karpov played on as he loved chess (perhaps too much as chess is an (albeit) fascinating waste of brain time!

My point is: dont bother comparing these guys: see what is beautiful and interesting in Karpov (like Rubinstein his so-called technique is in fact often a game of subtle genius - it took me long time to see that in this respect Karpov was the = of Fischer (about the time they were due to have a match)...

Smyslov is a greatly underestimated player who played games of all kinds - beautiful attacks and combinations and subtle positional games.

But if you fixate on The Ego (Kasparov) or The Mad One (you know who he is) you wont learn from these many great chess players all of whom are wonderful players.

It's a bit like music, you might like Mozart and perhaps Bach, but also say Schnittke and some of the experimental composers of the 20th to 21st Cs from say Charles Ives to Schoenberg and Cage and also perhaps jazz and some pop. Keep an open mind, worship no one. Kasparov was fallible, flawed, or he would have nothing to offer....

Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: <tranquilsimplicity> Here's game to warm the cockles of yer 'art:

Karpov vs Topalov, 1994

Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: Karpov wss 50 when he played this, so good on him for playing, but he was well past his peak.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <TheFocus: Didn't Kasparov say something along the lines of, "I know Karpov better than anyone. I know all his smells." Must have been the Ural ravioli.>

Thought it came from Uranus.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Richard: Some (probably more than we think) of Kasparov's games were very simple positional wins.>

One such virtuoso display for the uninitiated, facing a man who could play a little: Kasparov vs Petrosian, 1982.

Apr-06-14  tranquilsimplicity: <Richard Taylor> I actually intended to highlight this game as an example that Karpov is no tactical novice, but wasn't sure whom he played against even though I was right in thinking it was Topalov. The reason I wasn't sure is because Kasparov also played an incredibly combinatorial game against Topalov; "Kasparov's Immortal".

My point is that it's not that Karpov cannot attack or see into tactical motifs, it is that in my view Karpov has a tendency for defensive, prophylactic thinking, and advancing cautiously, slowly and quietly whilst avoiding complications and combinations. He even said so, comparing himself to a python that strangles it's prey crushing it slowly but surely.

With my energetic and impatient nature, one can see why I am not a fan of this kind of style. However, as you correctly pointed out the genius of Rubinstein, I may have to discard my prejudice against ultra-positional play and accept that there is genius even in this style.

I believe it is a matter of taste even though as you suggest, it is best to appreciate all styles and learn something from each. And it is for this reason that I learnt the Closed Sicilian Fianchetto Variation from Karpov's and Smyslov's games, players I would consider 'quiet'= ultra-positional.

I try as much as possible to be objective, but ultimately it's a question of taste.#

Premium Chessgames Member
  Zhbugnoimt: Richard Taylor: you commented about Kasparov's retirement. Kasparov retired for one reason. He was kicked out of world championship matches. Every time he tried to organize a match, some excuse came up, and that was for one simple reason. Nobody wanted to sponsor a one-sided match. Maybe a rematch versus Kramnik would have been good, but the sponsors, or maybe Kramnik, didn't think that. Probably the sponsors figured that people were tired seeing Kaspy for the second straight decade. So they came up with their excuses, which they themselves new were invalid, and that made it impossible for Kaspy to play another match. Kasparov saw that he was not being allowed to win the title back, so he retired! There is no other reason for his retirement.
Jul-07-15  Petrosianic: He was still entitled to a FIDE Championship match against Kasimdzhanov, and according to Kirsan, the guarantees were on the table. He was lying, of course, but that was the claim for months. If it was only about the match, he could at least have waited until Kirsan pulled the plug or changed the rules.
Aug-24-15  SimplicityRichard: I never tire to replay this brilliant game. And indeed, ultimately it is a matter of taste; combinative chess is my cup of tea. My feelings and comments last year as <tranquilsimplicity> have not changed one iota. #
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Against Karpov's Caro-Kann Kasparov scored 4-0 with 3 draws.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Kasparov kicks Karpov a dead dog.
Sep-09-15  JohnBoy: Has the issue of why not 14...Nxh4 been resolved? The Knight at f8 seems to me, as a former CK player, to be at the center of blacks problems.
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: <offramp: Against Karpov's Caro-Kann Kasparov scored 4-0 with 3 draws.>

Which is the reason why I pronounce the opening as "Caro-Con"; if you think you will beat Kasparov with this opening, you are conning yourself.

Sep-09-15  Howard: For those of you who are wondering what tournament this game took place in, it was actually Linares 2001---not SuperGM2001.

In fact, it was the last time that Karpov and Kasparov met in a classical time control. Linares 2001 was a double-round robin, incidentally. The two players drew their other game in this event.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: To be fair, Kasparov has an impressive score in the CG database against almost any black defence to 1. e4:

Caro Kann - 63.2% wins, 34.2% draws

Sicilian - 59.3% wins, 34.9% draws

French - 67.7% wins, 22.6% draws

1...e5 - 55.1% wins, 40.8% draws

Scandinavian - 92.3% wins (12 wins and one draw).

In fact the only defence where he seems to be struggling is 1...Nc6 where he has scored the rather underwhelming 100% losses. Admittedly, from only one game:

Kasparov vs Short, 2015

And before we get too excited about finding a weakness in his opening repertoire, this was a blitz game where he lost on time.

The truth is that choice of opening is not really going to matter all that much if you find yourself sitting opposite either of the two Ks.

According to opening explorer, the caro is not that much better or worse than the other choices against 1. e4. White wins fewer games against the caro (36.2%) than he does against the French (39.3%) or 1... e5 (38.8%).

Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: Through the not so scientific method of trying to remember their games that I have looked at, it seems that Karpov did best by playing the Spanish against Kasparov when Gary opened with 1.e4.

I don't recall Karpov using the Sicilian much.

Sep-09-15  Everett: Karpov really had a tough time with Black vs Kasparov in general. By the time the '86 match rolled around, Karpov's Nimzo vs d4 was taking a hit, and soon after that his Zaitsev Ruy was starting to get roughed up.

IMHO, it was only when Kasparov played 1.c4 when Karpov could fight on equal terms. Even so, in 1987, Karpov went +2 -3 (including the famous Game 24) vs the English/Reti.

Kasparov was just a beast with White, but I found him most convincing when he went in for e4 and d4, not c4.

Sep-09-15  The Kings Domain: Good game, impressive victory by Kasparov, the way he controlled the game from the start with his trademark aggression barely gave Karpov breathing space and helped him seal the deal.
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: Played at Linares 2001 a 6 players double round robin won by Kasparov at +5 a full 3 points against the other 5 players who tied for 2nd at -1. This was the first time that Kasparov played 3 e5. 4 Nc3 is a particularly sharp line that Kasparov never repeated; he apparently thought it was a good choice against Karpov. 8..Nec6 is the most popular move; here Karpov varied with the rarely used 8..Nd7. 10..h5?! led to problems for Black; better was 10..d4 11 h5..dxc 12 Qxd8+..Kad8 13 hxg..N7xg6 14 b4..Nxf4 15 Bxf4..Nc6 16 Bxc6+..bc 17 Be5 with equality. In a 2000 Shirov-Karpov blindfold game (reached via a different move order) 13 Nxd5 had been played; 13 Bg5 was new.

<Oginschile: 23... Nd7 24. Rh5 Rxh5 25. Qxh5 Bf6 26. Bd6+ is a possible line. There is some work left to do, but there is no doubting Kaspy wins this position against even the strongest computers.> After 26..Ne7 27 Nd5 Black is completely lost.

Kasparov avoided the trap 26 Qc4..Nd8 27 Rxc5?..Rxh5!.

Jul-23-17  Muttley101: The discussion here is an excellent example of why is such an excellent website. Thanks to all who contributed so many interesting and well-argued points, and did so with good grace.
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  OrangeTulip: Nice to see Van der Wiel becoming a bit immortal having an attacked named after him. Check also the VdWiel attack in the Two Knights (Nice DVD by L’Ami on the 2 knights)
Oct-12-18  paavoh: @JohnBoy: <Has the issue of why not 14...Nxh4 been resolved?>

14...Nxh4 15. Bxh4 Bxh4 16. Bxd5 Kf8 17. Bxc6 bxc6 18. Rd1 seems to leave Black in a bad way for the endgame?

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