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Ruslan Ponomariov vs Garry Kasparov
Linares (2002), Linares ESP, rd 6, Mar-01
Sicilian Defense: Scheveningen Variation. English Attack (B80)  ·  1/2-1/2

ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Dec-31-02  Samuel Maverick: Is the match between these two actually set or just a rumor? If so, can I get the date, location and conditions?
Nov-10-04  acirce: The FIDE WC played Kasparov for the first time here; it turned out the former had so little respect for the latter that he got himself in danger by trying too hard to win in a very drawish position. He wass lucky that Kasparov missed the opportunity near the end. These are Sakaev's annotations in <Super Tournaments 2002> from Chess Stars.

12.a3

<This continuation is rather rare. White wastes a tempo and weakens the queenside, but on the other hand, he provides his knight with a safe stand on c3. The idea is quite viable; they have started to play like that recently. 12.Kb1 is the main theoretical continuation.>

14.f4

<It goes logically with a2-a3. White combines the advance of the pawns g and h with the play in the centre, taking into account the c3-knight's strong position. At the same time another task is being solved: the e5-square, from which Black's knight could be engaged into the play, is taken under control.>

14..Bb7?!

<Usually when White is advancing the f-pawn, the knight should not be placed on b7, so that the e6-square will not be weakened in prospect. In this case the move has some other shortcomings as well: the b8-rook's way is being blocked and in consequence of that the advance b5-b4 is more difficult. 14..b4!? 15.axb4 16.e5 or 14..Qa5 with the subsequent b5-b4 deserved attention.>

15..Nc5

<Too sluggish is 15..Bc6 16.h5 (on the contrary, 16.g6 fxg6 is too sharp, and after 17.h5 or 17.Bh3 - 17..e5!) 16..a5 17.g6, and White is developing his attack, for example 17..b4 18.h6! fxg6 19.hxg7 Rxf4 20.Bc4 Bg5 21.Bxe6+ Rf7 22.Be3 bxc3 23.Bxf7+ Kxf7 24.Qxc3 Bxe3+ 25.Qxe3 Nf6 26.Qf4.>

16.Bg2!

<To an unclear play led 16.Qe3 Qa5 (16..Qc7 was also possible, with the idea of 17..e5) 17.h5 b4 18.axb4 Qxb4 19.g6.>

Nov-10-04  acirce: 18.Qxd8?

<18.Nxb5 is correct. Now bad is 18..Qxd2+ 19.Rxd2 Bxe4 20.Bxe4 Rxb5 21.Rd7. Black is faced with a hard defence also after 18..Qb6 19.c4 Bc6 20.a4! Rfd8 21.Qc2! Bxb5 (may be it is worth to run the risk of 21..Rd4!? 22.Nxd4 cxd4 with compensation for the exchange. However, White is able not to take the sacrifice at once, by means of playing 22.Kb1) 22.cxb5 Rd4 23.Rxd4 cxd4 24.Kb1. The move 18..Bxe4 remains, but after 19.Qe2 (if 19.Bxe4 Rxb5 20.c4, then 20..Qxd2 - 21.Bh7 is threatening - 21.Rxd2 Rb6 and Black is still holding his ground) 19..Qe8 20.Bxe4 Rxb5 21.Bd3 Rb6 22.Qe4 g6 23.h5 White has a dangerous attack.>

22.f5

<It engenders unnecessary simplifications and makes easier Black's attack of the kingside pawns. If Ponomariov was seriously expecting to win this position, he should not have played like that. After 22.Bd3 possible was 22..c4!? 23.Bxc4 Rf5 24.Rd1 Bc7 25.Rd7 Bxf4+ 26.Kd1 g6 with sufficient counterplay. It was possible to raise some problems by 22.c3!? Bc7 23.Rf1. Then the struggle could develop differently: 23..c4 24.a4 Rc5 25.Kd2 and 26.Ke3, or 23..g6 24.a4 Rb8 25.Bd3 Rd8 26.Kc2. In both cases Black would be faced with a long, laborious defence.>

23..g6

<Isolated pawns a5 and c5 are quite compensated with weaknesses on h4 and in prospect on g5. Taking into consideration that there is little material on the board, the draw seems unavoidable.>

31.Rd7?!!

<Playing for the win entails great risk (and I do not think that Ponomariov did not understand it), but thirst for victory is too great...>

36.Be6!

<However, White does not lose his head completely. United, unblocked pawns are very mighty; they only have to wait until the main forces move closer to them, for example, till the king arrives in the centre or the black rook penetrates into White's rear.>

37.Bd5

<Though Black's passed pawns are advanced far, they are safely blocked. Again it seems that the draw is near...>

38.Bf3?!!

<The move, akin 31.Rd7?!!, with the only difference that White goes too far and has to lose. 38.Rxa8 Rxa8 39.Bxa8 suggested itself and then 39..c4 was the easiest for Black, fixing the pawn on b2 and forcing a draw.>

43..Kf7?

<Kasparov misses an opportunity to punish his opponent for too ambitious play; the king's retreat leads to an immediate draw. Other continuations (for example, 43..cxb4) gave White very serious, perhaps unsolvable, problems. Also 43..Ke5 44.axb4 Bd6 or 44..Ke5 was strong. In all variations Black's passed pawns were much more dangerous than White's.>

44..Bxc5 1/2-1/2

<It is hard for Black to reckon on the advantage in other continuations as well, for example 44..g2 45.Bxg2 Rxg2 46.c6 Bd6 47.c7 Bxc7 48.Ra7 Ke6 49.Rxc7; 44..Bf6 45.c6 Rd3 46.Bg2 Rxc3 47.Kb4=. After the move 44..Bxc5 White achieves a draw by 45.Ra5.>

Nov-10-04  euripides: <acirce> Compliments on your interesting notes. I am not sure that 23 f5 is wrong. If White does not play f5 Black can play g6 fixing the f4 pawn as a weakness which allows Blacks bishop to tie down the white rook.
Nov-10-04  acirce: <euripides> Thanks for commenting. You saw of course that it's not my own notes but Sakaev's. You might be right about 22.f5, he did give the line <22.c3!? Bc7 23.Rf1 g6 24.a4 Rb8 25.Bd3 Rd8 26.Kc2>, but perhaps White can make slow but steady progress by moving his king towards the f4-pawn so as to free the rook etc. After 22.f5 pawns are exchanged, which is generally what the defending side seeks, and White still has weaknesses.
Nov-10-04  euripides: <acirce> no I admit I thought they were your comments. Compliments anyway. f5 may boil down to a matter of taste, because the position is probably drawn anyway. But if it is wrong to exchange off the f4 weakness this would be surprising (to me) and instructive. Does anyone els have an idea ?
Jun-10-06  spirit: <acirce>pono had little respect for GAZZA...thats something
Jun-10-06  SniperOnG7: <spirit> In order to beat people supposedly much better, one has to play the board. Too many people had "respected" Gazza so much that Kasparov was able to have an aura of intimation/invinsibility, which made the aim of beating him even harder than it already was.
Jun-15-06  spirit: maybe pono didn't want to respect GAZZA...

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