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Jan Timman vs Anatoly Karpov
"Tim-Owned" (game of the day Nov-20-2010)
Montreal (1979), Montreal CAN, rd 11, Apr-25
English Opening: King's English. Four Knights Variation Quiet Line (A28)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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May-10-14  karban: When I saw the puzzle and caliber of the players this game immediately crossed my mind: R Byrne vs Fischer, 1963. I was trying sacrifices on e3 like in that game. Incorrect, but pattern recognition worked out for me.
Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: <15...Nxh2>

A well known game and position. Its game #73 in 'The World's Greatest Chess Games' by Burgess, Nunn & Emms [Burgess is the chief annotator for this game]

<agb2002> Great to see other notable games from this tournament! (Tal really had Spassky's number)


May-10-14  mistreaver: Saturday. White to play.Very Difficult. 15...?
As i matter of fact, i was just reading Kasparov's My Great Predecessors, and the book featured this game, which is famous for Zaitsev's antipositional brilliancy dxc4. In the position, black's pieces have captured excellent posts and he is ready to start the assault: 15 ... Nxh2!
I am almost positive that this is the first move of the combination. A) White can choose to capture:
16 Kxh2 Qh4+
and now 17 Kg2 Qh3+ 18 Kg1 Bxg3 leads to the same
17 Kg1 Bxg3
18 fxg3 Qxg3+
19 Kh1 Re4
and i don't see how mate can be prevented. I know that in the game Timman reached position where he had two pieces for a rook and a hopeless king position, but i can't remember what the best defence was. B) Maybe it was simple denial of the sacrifice
16 Re1
and now probably the simple retreat is good enough
16 ... Ng4
or maybe black can continue with
16 ... Qg5
I am not certain. That's the problem when you pretend you are good enough fo a chessplayer to be able to read the books without the board in front. -----------------
Ahhh, c5 is the try, but not good enough. Brilliant game by Karpov.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <morfishine:(Tal really had Spassky's number)>

I suppose in certain circumstances Tal did:
<Boris Spassky beat Mikhail Tal 9 to 7, with 30 draws.>

May-10-14  Nerwal: <I suppose in certain circumstances Tal did: <Boris Spassky beat Mikhail Tal 9 to 7, with 30 draws.>>

When both were under 30 Tal had a terrible score against Spassky. The trend completely shifted later on. Actually Spassky didn't beat Tal once after their 1965 Candidates match.

Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: This classic Karpov demolition combination with 15...Nxh2!! makes for some entertaining and stimulating Saturday morning mental gymnastics.

Timman keeps his extra piece for quite a while, but he is so many pawns down in this shattered position he might as well answer the "resistance is futile"call of the "Borg."

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: 15.Nxh2 straight from memory. (and, apparently, Karpov got it from pre-game analysis. No gripe from me here. This is Chess BC, before computers.)

Looking for pot-shots using only the human eye was a honed skill. These days the players have it much tougher. They have to guess what computer line their opponent may adopt knowing there will be nothing tactically wrong it and look for other ways to squeeze out an advantage.

The Montreal 1979 tournament book is one of the best Tournament books out there. Some great games, some already mentioned.

Larsen defeating Karpov with a Centre Counter adding more fuel to the then club discussions (pre-internet bickering without the spelling mistakes and death threats.) that Karpov may have a weakness against uncommon openings in the hands of a player who knew what to do with them.

Of course all this 'evidence' was based on one or two games where Anatoly had a bad day and his opponent had a good one.

Karpov vs Larsen, 1979

And that positional masterpiece from Karpov that if it had been crowned with the pretty tacical win that was sitting there then it would have found it's way into every chess book on how to play the game.

Karpov vs Huebner, 1979

Instead it gets relegated to sit-on-your-hands positions in 'Missed by the Masters' columns.

click for larger view

White (Karpov) to play. The b6 Rook is undefended.

That would have been a good POTD or do they only use shots that have been played so they do not have to post a solution.

All that skill in setting it up and then he knocked the ball over the bar. Heart breaking.

May-10-14  Patriot: Material is even.


16.Kxh2 Qh4+ 17.Kg1 Bxg3 18.fxg3 Qxg3+ 19.Kh1 Re6 looks very strong.

16.Qc3 Be5 17.Qxe5 Qxe5 18.Bxe5 Nxf1


16.c5 is a threat I didn't see. Interesting play!

Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: <Offramp> I wasn't clear referencing Tal vs Spassky. I was referring to Montreal 1979: Montreal (1979) not their lifetime record


May-10-14  hcgflynn: nice game. 31. - qd6 would have been even more beautiful.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: A knight sac leads to a long king chase. Who would have thought the white king was chased to the left coast?
May-10-14  James D Flynn: Material is equal but Black has a K-side initiative. 15.Nxh2 16.Kxh2 Qh4+ 17.Kg1 Bxg3 18.fxg3 Qxg3+ 19.Kh1(clearly Balck has a draw by perpetual check with Qh3+, but is there more?) Re6(threat mate in one(not Bh3 20.Rg1 Qh4(threat Bf1#)21.Rxg7+ Kf8 is less clear)20.Rf4 Rg6+ 21.Bg4(if Kf1 Qh1+ 22.Kf2 Qg1+ 23.Kf3 Qg2#) Qe1+ 22.Kg2 Bxg4(now the threat of Be2+ forces further gain of material on the g file to avoid mate and Black emerges with decisive material advantage and will probably mate with Q and R on the exposed White K-side).
Premium Chessgames Member
  playground player: Again I run out of pieces to sac before I can accomplish this.
May-10-14  Howard: As one reader pointed out about five years ago, this game did indeed take first place in the Informant both for best novelty and also best game.....but somehow strangely the game appeared in Informant 28---not the previous one (27) where most of the other Montreal 1979 games appeared.
May-10-14  Marmot PFL: Board isn't appearing on my screen. Anyone else having problems?
May-10-14  Marmot PFL: <<marmot pfl > Good for me,>

Mine back also. Not sure what was wrong.

The Karpov team thoroughly analyzed the English for the match with Korchnoi. Even if most of the game was prepared it was still well played.

11...dc4 is not an obvious move, the point seems to be that 12 Bxc4 Ng4 13 g3 Nxh2 14 Kxh2 Qh4+ 15 Kg1 Bxg3 16 fg Qxg3+ forces a draw. Timman wanted more but 12 bc4 Rb8 is better for black, as Karpov shows.

May-10-14  BOSTER: < S.Simpson : That would have been a good POTD>.

This game was as GOTD 10 y. ago.

May-10-14  john barleycorn: Jan Timman vs Anatoly Karpov
"Tim-Owned" (game of the day Nov-20-10)
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: As I recall, the game went 15...Nxh2! 16.c5!? Nxf1 17.cxd6 Nxg3! Timman was reportedly the victim of opening analysis that Karpov's camp had done for his 1978 match against Korchnoi.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: Note that the shocking 11...bxc4! was Karpov's improvement on 11...Rd8 as in Keene vs B Jansson, 1976 (1-0, 40).
May-11-14  TheBish: Timman vs Karpov, 1979

White to play (15...?) "Very Difficult"

I didn't get around to this before the day rolled over to Sunday (EDT), but putting my notes in for future reference.

It looks like Black gets a powerful attack with 15...Nxh2! as after 16. Kxh2 Qh4+ 17. Kg2 Qh3+ 18. Kg1 (not 18. Kf3? Bg4#) Bxg3 19. fxg3 Qxg3+ 20. Kh1 Re4 and 21...Rh4+ will be mating.

Am I missing something, or is this one of the easier Saturday puzzles? I suppose White's best defense is not 16. Kxh2 but 16. Qc3, and now 16...Rxb2! 17. Qxb2 Nxf1 18. Bxf1 nets a pawn, but as the knight seems better than the rook maybe better is 17...Qg5 (if 18. Kxh2 Qh4+ goes into a similar line as above) with ideas of 18...Bxg3 19. fxg3 Qxg3+ 20. Kh1 Nxf1 21. Bxf1 Re6 and 22...Rh6+.


OK, I totally missed the best defense of 16. c5! which definitely raises the difficulty level, requiring you to see 16...Nxf1 17. cxd6 Nxg3! with the threat of ...Nxe2+ forking king and queen. Great attack!

May-11-14  Ulhumbrus: Black's attack brings to mind the game Alekhine vs Capablanca, 1914
May-11-14  Ulhumbrus: Karpov may have said that the move 11...dc was an innovation. Either White recapture makes a concession to Black. 12 bc opens the b file for Black's queen's rook while 12 Bxc4 displaces White's KB from its cover of the g4 square.
Premium Chessgames Member
  naresb: Had white played 12.Bxc4 instead of 12.bxc4, he could be in an attacking mode rather than a defensive. Next move awaiting for White could have been 13. Qf3 thus giving absolute control over c6-Ra8, both loose pieces. By playing cxb4, white not only allowed Rook to pressure along 'b' file and Bb2 being a loose piece but a total loss of tempo to White and handed over the command to White. Karpov was not going to miss such an open invitation.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <TheBish.... I totally missed the best defense of 16. c5! which definitely raises the difficulty level, requiring you to see 16...Nxf1 17. cxd6 Nxg3! with the threat of ...Nxe2+ forking king and queen....>

Believe it was noted in the tournament book that Timman overlooked this finesse, which spells ruination for White.

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