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Anatoly Karpov vs Andrei Sokolov
Karpov - Sokolov Candidates Final (1987), Linares ESP, rd 10, Mar-22
Queen's Indian Defense: Fianchetto. Check Variation Intermezzo Line (E15)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Aug-26-05  scottnewhouse: I have to say the more I look at it the more I believe 58. Kb5 is most likely a draw. Therefore, I will rescind my earlier comment about these three moves winning. Obviously 58. Nxa5 is the best choice. 58. b4 wins as well but not as effectively and 58. Kb5 is most likely a draw unless black blunders.
Aug-26-05  YouRang: To me, it was a choice between 58. b4 or 58. Nxa5. While b4 was the first line I considered, I wasn't sure that white could force the remaining pawn to promote after 58... axb4. It might have worked, but it had complications.

When I considered 58. Nxa5, it seemed fairly clear that the white bishop could not stop two connected passed pawns supported by the king. I got 4/5 this week! (I missed Wednesday's puzzle).

Premium Chessgames Member
  WannaBe: Thanks to everyone on explaining/exploring the Kb5 move. I see why it isn't the move played. (That makes it 2/5 this week for me.)
Premium Chessgames Member
  al wazir: <sharpnova: actually i think Kb5 might actually be a draw. looks like both sides will promote..please someone post a way to win for white with Kb5... i'm sure there is one.. i'm just missing something> White wins in every line I've analyzed--but I haven't looked at every possibility. No question that 58. Nxa5 is cleaner.
Aug-26-05  klausewitz: I get it. The first of the week...
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Karpov must have anticipated the pawn race and that hewouldwin it-despite being a piece behind. Thebishop is overrated as it has only one square to arrest the pawn-a7.White just guides the second pawn to b6 andwins that way-therace would leave a queen at b8 and the black pawn stopped at h3.
Aug-26-05  EmperorAtahualpa: Very nice puzzle! I was thinking of b4 as well, but Nxe5 is more efficient and certainly more elegant.
Aug-26-05  et9: yeah. 58.b4 works but no reason to wait.
Aug-26-05  YouRang: Of course, the white pawn on h5 is crucial. Black must spend two tempos to (1) capture it, and (2) get out of the way. Those were two tempos black couldn't afford.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Karpov seems to do well with a knight against a bad bishop. He beat Karpov with one as well in Karpov vs Kasparov, 1984
Aug-26-05  LIFE Master AJ: As I thought, after less than 30 seconds of analysis, 58.Bxa5! wins handily for White.

Aug-26-05  PawnTaKingFewar: Black is up a full Bishop! It's all over for the patzer White!
Aug-26-05  LIFE Master AJ: <Pawn...> Did you understand that White WON this game?????
Aug-26-05  Boomie: Karpov got into a bit of trouble with the premature 8. e4. The mundane ♗g2 was better. He might have been unpleasantly surprised by 8...d5, which makes it difficult for white to complete his development. Karpov's next move, 9. cxd5 is for him a rare strategic error. This leads to a position where black's bishop is better than white's. Plus the weak pawn on d4 could become a target.

9...♗xf1 does not take full advantage. The displacement of the white king is unimportant here. Notice that the h-rook takes two moves to get to e1 through castling. So there is no loss of tempo here. Simply exd5 continues to restrain the white development and threatens dxe4, turning the d4 pawn into a serious liability. The only recourse for white is ♗xa6, but this develops the black knight to a square where it supports the thematic c5. Fritz gives black a half a pawn advantage here.

11. e5 is understandable to avoid the backward d-pawn but black can easily undermine the white pawn chain with c5.

14...♘c6 is anti-thematic. There is no compelling tactic with the knight. Sokolov wants to develop the knight on e6 but this gives Karpov time to play f4 and f5. c5 first is better. From here black's position erodes. White gains the advantage ironically through black's isolated d-pawn.

Aug-27-05  LIFE Master AJ: I think ...d5 was playable, but maybe less than 100% best. (White gets a solid advantage out of the opening.)

<Boomie> I have several books on this particular opening, the Fritz "eval" is overstated. 17...cxd4 was a real turning point in this game - - Black gets an isolated Pawn. (A good defense may be possible, but is unlikely. Karpov plays with his usual wondrous technique.)

Years ago, these same two players played a FIDE Candidates Final Match. Sokolov seems to like isolated QP-positions, and plays for them on a regular basis.

I gave a simul/lecture at UoF, and I likened this match strategy to washing your hair with gasoline ... and then immediately drying it with a blow-torch. (Karpov is one of the greatest technicians of all time. To atually try to achieve positions with an isolated-QP ... against this player ... seems virtually suicidal to me.)

Aug-28-05  LIFE Master AJ: Up to move eleven ... this is all 'book.'

---> Please see: MCO-14, page # 570; column # 31, and especially note # (c.). (Now play nornally proceeds with 12.Kg2, Qd7; etc.) This line can also be found in ECO and NCO as well.

The stem game for this would be:
1.d4 Nf6; 2.c4 e6; 3.Nf3 b6; 4.g3 Ba6; 5.b3 Bb4+; 6.Bd2 Be7; 7.Nc3 0-0; 8.e4 d5; 9.cxd5 Bxf1; 10.Kxf1 exd5; 11.e5 Ne4; 12.Kg2 Qd7; 13.Qe2 Nxc3; 14.Bxc3 c5; 15.Rad1 Nc6; 16.Rd2 Qe6; 17.Rhd1 Rfd8; 18.Ng1 Rac8; 19.Nh3 cxd4; 20.Bxd4 Qf5; 21.Bb2 Qe4+; 22.Qf3 Rc7; 23.Qxe4 dxe4; 24.Rxd8+ Nxd8; 25.Nf4 Kf8; 26.Ba3 Rc8; 27.Bxe7+ Kxe7; 28.Rd4 g5; 29.Nd5+ Ke6; 30.Nb4 Nb7; 31.Rxe4 Nc5; 32.Re2 a5; 33.Nc2 Nd3; 34.Nd4+ Kd5; 35.Nf5 Rc1; 36.Rd2 Rc3; 37.Ne3+ Ke4; 38.Nd1 Rc2; 39.Rxc2 Ne1+; 40.Kh3 Nxc2; 41.Kg4 h6; 42.f4 gxf4; 43.gxf4 Nb4; 44.Nc3+ Kd4; 45.Nb5+ Kc5; 46.a4 Nd5; 47.Kf5 Kb4; 48.Ke4 Ne7; 49.Nd4 h5; 50.f5 Kc3; 51.f6 Ng6; 52.e6 fxe6; 53.f7 Nf8; 54.Ke5 Nd7+; 55.Kxe6 Nf8+; 56.Ke7 Nh7; 1-0

Johann Hjartarson (2585) - Sune Berg Hansen (2505) [E15] / ICT / Aruna Masters / Copenhagen, Denmark; (R#3) / 02.04.1997 (Source:, and their on-line DB.) ---> This game is often credited to the "other" Hansen. (Curt or even Lars Bo)

I won't bother annotating the game ... most (here) are capable of using their chess engine and doing this for themselves.

Aug-29-05  Boomie: <LMAJ> Thanks for the heads up on the Queen's Indian. Checking Fritz's opening book, this line was tried a few times in the late 80's. I was of course blowing the usual smoke with some of my comments. Ignorance is bliss if you don't get caught. ;->

I was however delighted to find a game in Fritz where black played c5 before ♘c6: Karpov-Anand 1999 Leon Man+Computer match. Alas <> doesn't have this match in the database.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Karpov said that this match set up a kind of a strange record. All the games where he was white were Queen's Indians and all the games where Sokolov was white were Caro-Kanns - no other openings.
Aug-31-05  LIFE Master AJ: <boomie> Thanks, there are many incorrect perceptions about this game... and the opening as well. (I received several e-mails about this.)

You may want to know ... I have been working on a QID game now for almost 2 weeks ... for my September, 2005 column. ("The Game Of The Month")

This game will be quoted as a note to that game.

Jul-19-12  zakkzheng: A spectacular game by Anatoly Karpov
Premium Chessgames Member
  hoodrobin: Bobby Fischer had begun his decline, Karpov was at the top then. Just the next generation.
May-09-15  Howard: Time out !!!

Was 58.Nxa5 the ONLY winning move, or not ?!

Chess Life and Review, as I recall, did point out an alternative winning move, but I don't recall it.

Those of you with software, please help settle this !

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <hoodrobin: Bobby Fischer had begun his decline, Karpov was at the top then. Just the next generation.>

Indeed. By 1987 Fischer's results were starting to level out. He was at a plateau.

May-09-15  Howard: Strange....I can't find any games on this website that Fischer played in 1987. Maybe I should inquire with the webmaster.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Retireborn: <Howard> You shouldn't need software to see that 58.b4 wins easily as well, as after 58...axb4 59.Nxb4 White can just play a5 and Nc6-d4.

58.Nxa5 is prettier, but just showing off really.

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