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Garry Kasparov vs Teimour Radjabov
"David and Goliath" (game of the day Mar-05-2009)
Linares (2003), Linares ESP, rd 2, Feb-23
French Defense: Steinitz. Boleslavsky Variation (C11)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 11 OF 11 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jun-15-12  fetonzio: 16 years old was he? holly sht
Aug-05-13  phil6875: <Ulhumbrus> and <SetNoEscapeOn> I hope I've got this right. <Ulhumbrus> started a line with

27. Kb1 Bxg3 28. hxg3 Qg6+ 29. Ka2 Rxh1 30. Rxh1 Qc2

<SetNoEscapeOn> continued 31. Qxg5 Rxe2 32. Rh8+

<Ulhumbrus> answered with 32...Kb7 33. Qxd5+ Nc6 34. Qxd7+ Kb6

<Ulhumbrus> and asked 'Now what does White do?

<SetNoEscapeOn> answered 'Ah, I see no mate.

But <SetNoEscapeOn>, you were right, it's Mate in 15 moves.

Oct-17-13  DrGridlock: This game has generated discussion in this forum, most focused on happenings “off the board” – Kasparov’s unique way of “resigning the game” (he simply walked away from the board after black’s 39th move, and lost on time), and for his unusual rant after this game was given the “la más bella” (most beautiful) game award after the 2003 Linares tournament. Some have analyzed the game itself, including White’s knight sacrifice on the 21’st move. Those that have gotten that analysis wrong, have also missed the ties between Black’s 21’st move and what happened after the game. ChessNews wrote (

“Justice should be blind, but should beauty? At the closing ceremony the prize for the most beautiful game went to Kasparov-Radjabov. The teen's win over the #1 was a landmark moment, but Radjabov had a losing position and it took a "??" move from Kasparov to create the upset. Kasparov erupted at the ceremony and went after the journalists who had voted. Who was wrong? Everybody...”

Turns out that ChessNews is included with the “everybody” who was “wrong.”

Turning first to the analysis of the game Spanish GM Miguel Illescas argues that, "at the end of the day Kasparov was right: his game with Radjabov was not beautiful, it wasn't even a good game. Kasparov was better, Teimour offered a desperate piece sacrifice as a last resort, Kasparov didn't take it and later he committed a tremendous blunder that cost him the point.” Kasparov commented that, “Radjabov was completely lost in that game.” This is the version of the game that has come to be accepted as fact.

Modern computer analysis of black’s position before move 21 gives a different picture of the reality of this game.

click for larger view

Analysis by Komodo32 3 32bit (depth = 24):

1. = (0.24): 21...Nh6 22.0-0 Na5 23.Bd1 Rdf8 24.Bg5 Rxf1+ 25.Kxf1 Nc6 26.Kg2 Bxg5 27.Qxg5 Qb7 28.Bf3 Qe7 29.Qg6 Kb7 30.a4 b4 31.Rf1 Rf8 32.Kg1 Qf7 33.Qg5 Qc7 34.Qd2 Qe7 35.Kh1 g5 2. ² (0.31): 21...g5 22.Bxg4 gxf4 23.Qxf4 Kb8 24.0-0 Rdg8 25.h3 Rg7 26.Qe3 Nd8 27.Kg2 Qc6 28.Qe2 Bh4 29.Rf3 Bxg3 30.Rxg3 Nf7 31.a4 bxa4 32.Qc2 a3 33.Rxa3 Nh6 34.Qa4 Qb7 35.b3 Nxg4 36.Rxg4 Ka7 37.Rxg7 3. ² (0.49): 21...Ngxe5 22.Bxe5 Nxe5 23.dxe5 Bc5 24.Bf3 Rhf8 25.Qe2 Be3 26.a4 b4 27.a5 Qc5 28.Rf1 Kb8 29.Bg2 Ka7 30.Rf3 Rxf3 31.Bxf3 bxc3 32.bxc3 Rb8 33.Kf1 Rb3 34.Bg4 d4 35.Bxe6 Qxe5 36.Bxc4 Rxc3 37.Rd1 4. ² (0.50): 21...Ncxe5 22.Bxe5 Nxe5 23.dxe5 Bc5 24.Bf3 Rhf8 25.Qe2 Be3 26.a4 b4 27.a5 Qc5 28.Rf1 Kb8 29.Bg2 Bg5 30.Rxf8 Rxf8 31.Bf3 Qg1+ 32.Nf1 Qc5 33.Ra4 bxc3 34.bxc3 Kc7 35.Kd1 Rb8 36.Kc2 Qb5 37.Rb4 5. ± (0.97): 21...Nxh2 22.0-0-0 Rh3 23.Bg4 Nxg4 24.Rxh3 g5 25.Bxg5 Bxg5 26.Qxg5 Nf2 27.Rh6 Nxd1 28.Kxd1 b4 29.axb4 Nxb4 30.Qf6 Nd3 31.Qxe6+ Qxe6 32.Rxe6 a5 33.Ra6 Nxb2+ 34.Kc1 Kb7 35.Rxa5 Kb6 36.Ra1 Nd3+ 37.Kd2

This is revised fact (I): Black does not have a “lost game.” Black can continue with 21 … Nh6, with an approximately even position.

Oct-17-13  DrGridlock: There is also a contention that declining the sacrifice is the correct option for White. <shad> writes, “"Obviously, White is not obliged to capture. It looks like after 22.Bxe5 Nxe5 23.dxe5 Bc5 24. Bf3 Black's position is dubious, but he has some compensation for the piece after all. My impression is that White should repel the attack and preserve extra material. For example: 24…Be3 25.Qe2 d4 26.cxd4 Qxd4 27.Rd1, followed by the knight transfer on e4. However, I disliked the fact that Black had an attack and opted not to capture the knight." –Kasparov. <WhiteHat1963> writes, “21...Ngxe5 is probably worthy an exclamation or two. It took me a mere year or so to figure out why Kasparov can't take the knight. I'm sure most of you have figured it out already. Still, could Crafty give us a couple of best lines in the cases of 22. dxe5 or 22. Bxe5.”

It turns out that these “facts” about the game are also wrong. Again turning to Komodo, we find:

New game

click for larger view

Analysis by Komodo32 3 32bit (depth = 23):

1. ² (0.37): 22.Bxe5 Nxe5 23.dxe5 Bc5 24.Bf3 Be3 25.Qg2 Kb8 26.a4 b4 27.a5 Qc5 28.Qe2 Rhf8 29.Rf1 Ka7 30.Bg2 Bf4 31.Nh5 Bh6 32.Bf3 bxc3 33.bxc3 Rb8 34.Bg4 Rxf1+ 35.Kxf1 g6 2. = (0.25): 22.Qe3 Bd6 23.0-0-0 Nd3+ 24.Bxd3 Bxf4 25.Qxf4 cxd3 26.Qg4 Rde8 27.Rhe1 Na5 28.Nh5 d2+ 29.Kxd2 Nc4+ 30.Kc1 Kb8 31.Nf4 Qd6 32.h4 Rh6 33.Re2 Rf6 34.Nd3 Re7 35.Kb1 Rf5 36.Nc5 Qf4 37.Qxf4+ Rxf4 3. ³ (-0.46): 22.0-0-0 Ng6 23.Be3 a5 24.Bg4 b4 25.Bxe6+ Kb8 26.Kb1 bxa3 27.Rdf1 Nxd4 28.Bxd4 Qxe6 29.Rf2 axb2 30.Re1 Qc6 31.Nf5 Ba3 32.Nxg7 Nf8 33.Qg5 Kc8 34.h4 Nd7 35.Ne6 Rhe8 4. ³ (-0.47): 22.dxe5 d4 23.cxd4 Nxd4 24.Rd1 Nf3+ 25.Bxf3 Rxd2 26.Bxd2 Qd4 27.Bc1 Qxe5+ 28.Kf1 Bd6 29.a4 Kb8 30.axb5 axb5 31.Be4 g5 32.Be3 Rf8+ 33.Kg2 Qxb2+ 34.Rd2 Qa3 35.Bxg5 Rg8 36.Rhd1 Bc7 37.Bh4 Rg4 White has two ways to take the knight on move 22: with his Bishop, and with his d-pawn. There is a significant difference between these two: and taking with the Bishop is much better. In addition, taking the knight with the bishop is also better than declining the sacrifice, as in the game, with Qe3.

This is revised fact (II): White’s best continuation is to take the knight, not to decline it.

Oct-17-13  DrGridlock: Nigel Short’s comments on the game are very insightful, and start us down a path of understanding this move and game:

“Radjabov plays very imaginatively. I have had many blitz encounters with the boy, and I have often outplayed him. But he just won't give up, he is extremely tenacious and will always find a way to muddy the waters to throw you off track. He is very good at finding disconcerting moves. Here he unbalances Kasparov completely, disturbing his rhythm of play. The move probably caused the Great Player to fall off his chair. … Garry played 22.Qe3 because he simply dislikes being attacked. I once spent 50 minutes deciding on a murky pawn sacrifice which the champion declined without giving it a thought. He loathes being subjected to pressure. And after 22...Nd7 23.Qxe6 Bh4 24.Qg4 Kasparov again avoided the free lunch – this time clearly incorrectly (the greedy 24. Qxd5 was clearly better). But his choice was consequent. After declining the piece sacrifice on e5 he was now not simply going to grab a pawn. He wanted to retain the threats that arise from the pin on d7 and also get his queen out of the file of the rook. Then came 24... g5 25. Bd2 Rde8 26. 0-0-0 Na5 27. Rdf1. Kasparov was still fighting desperately for the initiative, when calm defence was required. This means that Radjabov's strategy had worked. Instead of simply allowing Kasparov to grind him down he unbalanced the game with his knight sacrifice, and six moves later Kasparov had blundered. That was the point of Radjabov's sacrifice -- it was not sound but it gave him these practical chances."

While Short repeats the standard misperceptions of the game (that Kasparov was going to “grind Radjabov down” and the sacrifice, “was not sound”), Short does give some important insights into Kasparov’s play: that Kasparov does not like being attacked, and will not accept a sacrifice if it opens up the possibility that he will be attacked, or subjected to pressure.

When we combined revised fact (I) (Black was in an even position with White), revised fact (II) (the knight sacrifice was sound) and Short’s observation (Kasparov will decline sacrifices that open him up to pressure), we get

Revised fact (III): Radjabov’s play was tactically and strategically sound, but also contained an important element of psychology.

While we cannot know Radjabov’s thoughts at the time of the game (in 2003), it is interesting to speculate whether he shared Short’s insights into Kasparov’s psychology, and that Kasparov was likely to decline the knight sacrifice. If so, the evaluation tree down the “offer sacrifice, but continue without White accepting it” branch offers black his best chances in the game.

If a 15-yr old could have done THAT against Kasparov, THAT was truly a thing of “beauty.”

Oct-17-13  csmath: Very good observations, thanks. The game always looked to me as a typical crazy stuff you see in French now and then.

It is nice to see somebody goes back and re-analyze this with newer and stronger tools. Perhaps in the future we'll change those "facts" again.

Kasparov's behaviour after the game is a different story.

Oct-17-13  csmath: Looks to me, using Houdini that sacrifice was speculative, meaning not entirely correct.

If Kasparov had taken the knight:

22. Bxe5 Nxe5
23. dxe5 Bc5
24. Bg4 [better move than Komodo's, simply without exposing bishop to open file which makes more sense.]

and black does have some more seiour problems to justify the sacrifice. The best continuation (Houdini):

24. ...Be3
25. Qg2

[again, natural common sense move increasing potential scope of queen and leaving e2 open for other pieces.]

and now black is at the crossroads, basically two moves: (A) immediate 25. ...d4, or (B) defensive 25. ...Kb8 away from x-ray and protecting a8.

25. ...d4
26. d4 Ne4
27. Rf1 Qb7
28. Rd1 d3
29. Qf3


The advantage of white looks serious.

25. ...Kb8
26. Rf1 d4
27. Ne4 Qb7
28. Rd1 d3
29. Qf3 Qa7
30. h3


This position does not look great to me for black as white defence looks impenetrable while his queen seems poised for intrusion or exchange.

Basically it seems as soon as white entangles his pieces (if possible) black will lose because the material advantage here is serious. Thus my opinion is that sacrifice is speculative (not exactly correct).

Oct-18-13  csmath: Also the quality of game in the sequel is questionable.

24. Qg4?

[Totally crapy move and obviously a big error since 24. Qxd5 Nf6, 25. Qf5+ with decisive advantage. Even without much analysis this looks quite hopeless for black.]

27. Rdf1?

[Outright losing move because here Kasparov blunders a whole piece. See further.]

27. ...Nb3
28. Kd1 Bxg3!
29. Rf7

[white cannot take bishop because 29. ...Qg6 would immediately decide the game. Kasparov obviously overlooked this powerful move.]

So yes, Kasparov erred first from won position into slightly worse position and then from slightly worse position into outright lost position. And while Radjabov played fearless (but not brilliant) game Kasparov was not exactly playing to his high standards.

Thus his irate reaction at the prize award is understandable though of course he could have been more civil and kept the anger to himself.

Oct-18-13  DrGridlock: <csmath> Interesting observations, and lines from Houdini. The unresolved issues in this game are down the tree you've looked at. As Steinitz said, "a sacrifice is best refuted by accepting it." Kasparov did not go down this route, while computer analyses suggest perhaps that this was his best choice.

Computer analysis also shows there is a big difference between dxe5 and Bxe5. If White wants to accept the sacrifice, he must do so with Bxe5. After that move, things are rather forced until White's move 24 (22 Bxe5 Nxe5 23 dxe5 Bc5).

In my first analysis, Komodo here continued Bf3. In your analysis, Houdidi preferred Bg4. I used this point as a new starting point for a Komodo analysis:

click for larger view

Analysis by Komodo32 3 32bit (depth=28):

1. ² (0.54): 24.Bg4 Be3 25.Qg2 d4 26.Ne4 Kb8 27.a4 bxa4 28.Nd6 Bg5 29.Ra3 Bh4+ 30.Kd1 Rhf8 31.Bf3 Be7 32.Rf1 Rxd6 33.exd6 Bxd6 34.Rxa4 dxc3 35.Kc1 Qe3+ 36.Kb1 Qd3+ 37.Ka2 c2 38.Rxa6 Qb3+ 39.Ka1 Rxf3

2. ² (0.44): 24.Bf3 Be3 25.Qe2 Rdf8 26.Nf1 Bf4 27.Kd1 Rf5 28.Kc2 Rhf8 29.Kb1 Rxe5 30.Qd1 Kb8 31.Bg4 Rd8 32.Ka2 a5 33.Ng3 Be3 34.Qf3 b4 35.Rab1 d4 36.cxd4 Bxd4 37.Ne4 Qc6 38.Nd2 Red5 39.Rhc1

In this relatively deep analysis (28 plys), Komodo also prefers Bg4 to Bf3, but not by a large margin (.54 to .44). Interestingly, Komodo "blends" your two branches, playing both d4 (on move 25) and Kb8 (on move 26). Komodo also wants to pursue an additional exchange sacrifice on d6 (on move 32). Combined with his original knight sacrifice, this now leaves him down a rook for 3 pawns. Somewhat surprisingly, Komodo wants to pursue a second exchange sacrifice on move 39. That his position is even playable at this point is due to some significant pressue he is able to place on White's position - a precarious king with black's queen lurking, and a pawn waiting to promote on c2.

click for larger view

Komodo still finds an advantage for White, but it does not rise to the " " level of an advavantage.

What is the numerical advantage Houdidi gives to White, and what is the analysis depth in your lines?

Oct-18-13  csmath: It was significantly higher in Houdini, I don't remember but it raises to .

The thing is that white has created impenetrable position and he "only" needs to entangle. Once he does so black would be lost.

But the winning position in the game for white was after 23 moves since this is where Kasparov made crucial error (24. Qg4?). This is definitely something white could have won but he blew it.

I think this and the following Linares (2004) were instrumental in his decision to retire as he blew couple of won tactical positions and was simply not sharp enough although he played quite fine in 2005 (Linares, and Russian Superfinals).

Oct-18-13  DrGridlock: White's blunders on moves 24 and 27 were the game determinitive moves.

However, iIf White had a better position at move 24, it is only because of black's weaker move at move 22 (Nd7) and not because of any inherent strength in declining the sacrifice with Qe3. Komodo gives:

click for larger view

Analysis by Komodo32 3 32bit (depth=24):

1. = (0.24): 22...Bd6 23.0-0-0 Nd3+ 24.Bxd3 Bxf4 25.Qxf4 cxd3 26.Rxd3 Qc7 27.Qg4 Rde8 28.Rd2 Kb7 29.Kb1 Rh6 30.Re2 Qf7 31.Rhe1 Na5 32.Rf1 Rf6 33.Rxf6 gxf6 34.Qh5 Qd7 35.Qg6 Nc4 36.Nh5 f5 37.Nf4

22 ... Bd6 is a much better move for black than 22 ... Nd7. In fact, Nd7 is not even one of Komodo's top 6 in move preferences at black's move 22.

The sacrifice 21 ... Ngxe5 creates a very unbalanced position. In exchange for the piece, black receives 2 pawns and an initiative. White's pieces are "entangled," and if he is able to "untangle" from this, of course with his additional material he'll be better. The trick is to get White "untangled." I do not agree that White's defense is "impenetrable." Black's asset is an advanced 4-3 queen-side pawn majority which it can throw at a White king that has to keep moving towards the queenside. In the Komodo line above, this can create a c-pawn which black can push to c2, and its promotion creates some significant defensive issues for White. This Komodo line:

24.Bg4 Be3 25.Qg2 d4 26.Ne4 Kb8 27.a4 bxa4 28.Nd6 Bg5 29.Ra3 Bh4+ 30.Kd1 Rhf8 31.Bf3 Be7 32.Rf1 Rxd6 33.exd6 Bxd6 34.Rxa4 dxc3 35.Kc1 Qe3+ 36.Kb1 Qd3+ 37.Ka2 c2 38.Rxa6 Qb3+ 39.Ka1 Rxf3

is quite fun to work through, because there are quite a few tactics in here where black has to keep sacrificing to keep the initiative.

While the positional Nh6 gave black his best option at move 21, I think Ngxe5 is playable, and I'm a long way from being convinced that it is "unsound."

Aug-26-14  SpiritedReposte: LOL Kasparov went Kanye West on the brilliancey prize ceremony!!? That's hilarious!
Premium Chessgames Member
  tpstar: <It's a pity this beautiful game is remembered chiefly for Kasparov's massive dummy spit. It deserves better.>

Right on.

<Here Radjabov, 15 years old, ends Kasparov's 6 year undefeated streak at Linares and 7 seven straight years undefeated streak with the white pieces.>

An astounding tidbit.

<Kasparov's behavior was understandable, but, still, inappropriate for a person of his position. What is really shocking is not his behavior, but the fact that he had been so easily ticked off about the fact that the chess journalists voted this as the best game of Linares. Imagine, a person who has such a strong psychology being so easily intimidated by the fact that a teenager defeated him! However, I do agree with him that voting this game for the beauty prize is very condescending to Kasparov. He just shouldn't have made such an outburst at the award ceremony.>

Agree - he was right and wrong. Except chess history will remember him in the wrong.

<It is in the nature of champions that they take losing very badly as a rule. Kasparov is only human and had an off day at the office. He uncharacteristically went into his shell when challenged and then made a blunder (Rdf1?) against a 15 year old rising star, and then the assembled journalists deemed the game the "most beautiful" of the tourney. Is there any wonder he felt insulted, disrespected and probably humiliated? I think he had every right to be infuriated, it would have felt like everyone was spitefully crowing that he fell after going so long undefeated with white, and not through a brilliancy but through an error by him. This was a fascinating game but it's no Byrne v Fischer. The whole episode, and many of the comments here, smack of the Tall Poppy Syndrome. I'm sure Kasparov regretted his tirade later, but he deserves a little more understanding. He was, in fact, insulted.>

Very insightful. Also 29 ... Qg6! is easy to miss.

<"I'm ashamed of my behavior during those 10 minutes, it was over the top. I was tired and upset and I can apologize. But [Ian] Rogers and Leontxo [Garcia] should also be ashamed. What they did was a blow to classical chess. Is Makropoulos right? Is chess all about blunders now? Linares is supposed to be about classical chess. If that game can be given a beauty prize then classical chess is dead." "If it had been a prize for most memorable game then I would have handed it to Radjabov myself! It was the first time I lost to someone born after I won my title! I didn't say anything when the prize went to my losses to Ivanchuk in 1991 and 1997. My loss to Kramnik in 1994 also got the prize, but all right, that was a spectacular game."> - Kasparov

OK, so he kind of apologized. ;>D

Jul-13-15  Artemio: Blunder is part of the game of's not an excuse for losing..chess is a matter of full concentration and focus . this is what makes human different from the engine!!!! chess is a battle of nerves!!! not purely chess skill as the engine..
Premium Chessgames Member
  DWTaylorSr: Just read the post about Kasparov going "off" about the beauty prize. I have to agree with him on the quality of the game. Yes, it was a beautiful thing for a 15 year old rising star to defeat a World Champion. No, I don't think the press was correct in awarding the prize as a beauty prize ( upset prize would have been acceptable ).I cannot speak for Kasparov's actions, but as a competitor, none of like to lose especially when our own mistakes cost us the game. I think I'll give Kasparov a walk on this one. To err is human!!
Oct-24-16  ewan14: Fischer did not enjoy the waters being muddied either , before 1971
Mar-12-17  ColeTrane: Nigel Short: "...This means that Radjabov's strategy had worked. Instead of simply allowing Kasparov to grind him down he unbalanced the game with his knight sacrifice, and six moves later Kasparov had blundered. That was the point of Radjabov's sacrifice -- it was not sound but it gave him these practical chances."
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: < ewan14: Fischer did not enjoy the waters being muddied either , before 1971>

Just ask the ghost of Efim Geller.

Apr-15-17  The Kings Domain: Appalling behavior by Kasparov. Not even Fischer behaved that badly. Perhaps him no longer being world champion exacerbated his already obnoxious personality.
May-06-17  Saniyat24: beautiful finish by Radjabov...
May-06-17  paavoh: <... so easily ticked off about the fact that the chess journalists voted this as the best game of Linares...>

Temperament addicted to winning in all arenas, perhaps? A person elected recently to a high US office may come to mind. Seriously, I do see the complaint about beauty prize decided on an error but he should have bitten the bullet. -1 for GK.

Sep-19-17  A.T PhoneHome: Despite Kasparov's outburst, he made one PAL.
Premium Chessgames Member
  chancho: <Leontxo Garcia: "The concept of beauty is very subjective. When I was watching the game live, giving commentary to the spectators on their headphones, the move ..Ngxe5 by Radjabov against Kasparov gave me a sensation of beauty.

It is beautiful that a child of 15 has the courage to make that move with black against Kasparov in his Linares debut. It is beautiful that a record of seven undefeated years with white, and six years without losing in Linares at all, is broken by a 15-year-old child.

In his rage Kasparov talked about "best game." I explained at the top of my lungs that the paper on which I marked my vote said "prize for the most beautiful game," which permits a much greater level of subjectivity.

What's more, the tournament did not provide an "immortal" game of sublime beauty, so I felt quite free to vote for Radjabov's game and it seems that the majority of the journalists felt the same.

Chess is too important to me to insult it. I respect Leko and Kramnik and Kasparov, and it would never occur to me to insult them.

In fact, Kramnik told me last night (without being asked) that he thought it was fine that the prize went to Radjabov.">

Jul-07-18  WorstPlayerEver: Makes me wonder why Kasparov never made it in politics.. free press.. huh?
Mar-30-19  YesChess1010: lmao great game!
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By Heart Openings
from French Defense: Steinitz. Boleslavsky Variation by ISeth

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