07 July 2009

Elastic Maneuvering III

Finding examples of elastic maneuvering by Karpov (see Elastic Maneuvering II) isn't trivial. The games aren't often included in volumes of 'Best Games', and when they are, they have been chosen for some other reason than the maneuvering sequences.

In Karpov's 'Chess Is My Life', I found a game against Portisch that seems to fit the bill. If you want to play through it, it's also on Chessgames.com: Anatoli Karpov vs Lajos Portisch, It, Milan 1975. I'll use a double diagram to illustrate the maneuvering sequence.

Between the first and second diagrams, White has played 15 moves, Black has played 16. It's hard to see what Black has accomplished in that time. The Black Pawn structure has changed by only one move, and the pieces are in positions that could have been reached four moves after the first diagram.

After 17.Bc3-a5(xN)

After 32...Be8-c6

The changes in the White position are more pronounced. The Pawns have advanced on both sides of the board, while the pieces have also made at least four moves. Karpov's co-author, Roshal, wrote,

No one has yet succeeded in utilizing at the same time all the space on the chess board. But the one who is closer than anyone to solving this extra-difficult problem obtains the greatest successes. An example of such a utilization of the majority of squares on the chess board is provided by the second match game between Karpov and Portisch in Milan.

With each new move the White pieces took control of more and more space. Dangers threatened the Black position from all sides. Threats followed one after another. Portisch went completely onto the defensive, and had not the opportunity even for a second to draw breath and take his bearings. Is it surprising that in such a situation he should suddenly stumble into a combinational trap, set for him by Karpov?

Where's the trap? After 32...Bc6, shown in the second diagram, the game continued 33.b4 cxb4 34.axb4 Be8 35.Rd2 Rb6 36.Qd4. Now Portisch played 36...Qe5?, and Karpov answered 37.Qxb6!, forcing the win of a Pawn.

All that maneuvering to win a Pawn? Yes, and it was sufficient to win against one of the best players in the world at that time.

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