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Alexey Shirov vs Garry Kasparov
Dortmund (1992), Dortmund GER, rd 1, Apr-16
King's Indian Defense: Saemisch Variation (E86)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Sep-24-06  SniperOnG7: I like this game.
Kasparov breaks out of the prison Shirov had set up (maybe an illusion) and wins back material.
Oct-30-08  Marmot PFL: 13.Bxf6? according to Kasparov, who thinks the dark sq bishop is too important in the KID to give up for a pawn.
Apr-11-10  DrGridlock: Very interesting game to me. I’m not sure why there hasn’t been more discussion here.

John Watson gives some good commentary on this game in “Mastering the Chess Openings, Volume 2,” as the game makes some good contributions to KID opening theory. According to the Chessgames database, this is the first time the position after 12 … Re8 occurred. There are 11 occurrences of this position after Shirov/Kasparov. Watson’s comment after Kasparov’s 12 … Re8 is, “Kasparov voluntarily gives up his grip on the centre by … exd4 in order to open the long diagonal for his g7 bishop and the e-file for his rook. As in many variations of the King’s Indian Defense (and for that matter in the Sicilian Defense), this creates a weak pawn on de6 that is a direct target down White’s open d-file. With 12 … Re8, Black decides that it’s not worth it to defend that pawn as yet. In fact, he also opens a square for the move … Bf8, which in some variations provides solid support for the pawn.”

In the game, Shirov accepts Kasparov’s offer of the d-pawn, and is unable to make his way through the positional compensations this gives to Kasparov. Watson’s comment is, “Shrirov accepts the sacrifice, but in doing so gives up the valuable dark-squared bishop that opposes its black counterpart. With hindsight, safer and more effective alternatives were found; for example modern theory concentrates upon 13 Bf2 and 13 Nb3.” In the Chessgames database, 13 Bxf6 was played in only 1 of the other 10 games which reached this position (A Linna vs M Kratochvil) which was drawn. Seven games use the Nb3 continuation (2 white victories, 1 black victory and 4 draws), and two games use Bf2 (1 black victory, 1 draw).

Kasparov produced dozens of this type of game in the 80s and 90s: an opening innovation with a deep positional compensation the opponent is unlikely to figure out over the board. At move 13, Rybka scores White’s alternatives as:

(depth = 20)

click for larger view

1. = (0.05): 13.Bxf6 Qxf6 14.Qxd6 Ne5 15.Qxf6 Bxf6 16.cxb5 axb5 17.Nb3 Be6 18.Nc5 Bc8 19.h3 Bg5

2. = (0.05): 13.Nb3 Bf8 14.c5 dxc5 15.Bxc5 b4 16.Ne2 Bxc5 17.Nxc5 Qb6 18.Nxd7 Nxd7 19.h4 Ne5

3. = (0.00): 13.h4 Bf8 14.a3 Ne5 15.Bxe5 Rxe5 16.cxb5 axb5 17.g4 Nd7 18.Nd3 Re8 19.g5 Ne5

4. = (0.00): 13.Bf2 Bf8 14.Nb3 Qc7 15.Qf4 Nh5 16.Qd2 Nhf6 17.Qf4 Nh5 18.Qd2 Nhf6 19.Qf4 Nh5

5. = (-0.02): 13.Be2 Bf8 14.Nd3 c5 15.Bxf6 Nxf6 16.Nf4 b4 17.Ncd5 Rb8 18.Qc2 Bg7 19.h4 Nxd5

6. = (-0.07): 13.c5 b4 14.Na4 d5 15.Qxb4 dxe4 16.Bc4 Qc7 17.Nb6 Rb8 18.Qa4 Nxb6 19.cxb6 Rxb6

7. = (-0.07): 13.a3 Rb8 14.c5 dxc5 15.Bxc5 Nd5 16.Bd4 Nxc3+ 17.Bxc3 Bxc3 18.Qxc3 c5 19.h4 c4

8. = (-0.11): 13.Be3 Bf8 14.Bf4 Ne5 15.c5 d5 16.Nb3 Nc4 17.Qc2 Nh5 18.Bc1 Bb7 19.Qf2

So perhaps the Bxf6 continuation for White still has some life left in it. The “fundamentals” of this position are similar to the Samisch variation of the KID. In his game against Aloni (1956), Bronstein attacked the center with c5 instead of e5, writing, “A daring decision: Black deliberately weakens his pawn on d6 and renounces control of the central square d5 in order to increase the power of his pieces. It will become apparent that the advantages of this plan outweigh the disadvantages.” Bronstein continues later, “The last four moves are typical of many variations in the KID. The pawn on d6 is sacrificed for an active deployment of the black pieces.”

I haven’t studied the KID enough to know when the d6 sacrifice works, when it doesn’t, and what determines the difference between it does and doesn’t work, but working on that is a good chess study project, and why this game interests me.

Apr-11-10  DrGridlock: Watson sees white’s 16 f4 as an interesting move (rates it “!?”), and states, “It’s almost impossible to resist driving away the beautiful knight, especially as what follows isn’t obvious. Perhaps better would be the seemingly suicidal 16 cxb5 axb5, 17 f4 Ng4, 18 Rxc6 b4!, 19 Nd5 Bb7, 20 Bb5, although Black can get enough compensation for his material in several ways. To defend this general type of position is extremely difficult, all the more so against Kasparov!” It’s fun to run through this variation with Rybka:


click for larger view

1. = (-0.13): 20...Rxe4 21.Rd6 Rb8 22.Bc6 Bf8 23.Nf6+ Nxf6 24.Rxf6 Kg7 25.Bxb7 Rxb7 26.Rc6 Rxf4 27.Re1

2. = (0.06): 20...Nf2 21.Rg1 Rxe4 22.Rd6 Bxd5 23.Rxd5 Rxf4 24.Rf1 Rb8 25.Nd3 Rd4 26.Rxd4 Bxd4 27.Bc4

3. = (0.14): 20...b3 21.Nxb3 Rxe4 22.Rd6 Ne3 23.Nxe3 Rxe3 24.Nc5 Bxg2 25.Rc1 Bh3 26.a4 Rf3 27.Rcd1

4. ² (0.62): 20...Reb8 21.Nd3 Bxc6 22.Bxc6 Ra7 23.h3 Nf6 24.N5xb4 Bf8 25.a3 Rd8 26.g4 Rd4 27.e5

5. ± (0.78): 20...Red8 21.Rc2 Bxd5 22.exd5 Ne3 23.Rd2 Rxd5 24.Rxd5 Nxd5 25.Nd3 Ne3 26.g3 Rb8 27.Ba4

It’s kind of a crazy position, but essentially equal. That white can survive it is what one needs to convince oneself of before entering into the line. Most d4 players prefer positional battles to tactical the tactical shoot-outs of this line, which is perhaps why it hasn’t been more often played. There does appear to be some life left in the line for White to try to play.

Jun-05-15  ToTheDeath: It's a pretty weak line... chess is about more than grabbing pawns. Kasparov refused to be contained here, even with queens off he's still attacking.
Apr-18-16  The Kings Domain: Two of some of the greatest attacking players in the game don't disappoint.
Jul-13-18  Howard: This game took place in Round 1 and Kasparov could hardly have asked for a better start--beating one of the event's toughest players rather easily...and with Black.

The rest of the tournament, though, was another story, from Kasparov's perspective. Check out his game against Kamsky, for one thing.

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