21 December 2009

Two World Champions in Combat

Continuing with World Championship Opening Preparation, here is an excerpt from GM Taimanov's introduction to 'World Chess Championship, Karpov - Kasparov, Moscow 1985' by Averbakh & Taimanov (1986, Raduga Publishers). The second match between the two K's took place a little more than six months after the first match (1984-85) was terminated. By winning the second match, Kasparov became World Champion for the first time.

Only on rare occasions did Karpov manage to employ his favorite razor-sharp positional armory, which he generally uses so impeccably. How did Kasparov entice Karpov, a man who believes so strongly in the right of classical concepts, into [Kasparov's] "romantic territory"? The answer is given by an analysis of the games: Kasparov was better equipped theoretically, his choice of opening was far richer, and he therefore more easily laid his roads into battle.

It is worth noting that the new champion has paid great attention to the study of openings from his earliest years. In his book 'Ordeal of Time' he asserts: "Matches between two high-class players often become testing grounds for certain types of opening. In a number of consecutive games the players first and foremost try to vindicate their creative conceptions. Obviously, success in this theoretical duel, by its very nature, has a great bearing on one's success in the whole match."

Kasparov's shrewd assessment was fully corroborated in this match. Kasparov was superior to his opponent in the openings, and this automatically gave him the initiative in each ensuing battle, as well as making a significant contribution to his overall success. Suffice it to say that by his exhaustive study of the Sicilian and Nimzowitsch defenses he was able to destroy those very weapons which had brought Karpov so much success in the past. Using these openings he gained five victories without suffering a single defeat -- a most decisive achievement!

Of course, the outcome of each game was not firmly decided in the opening stages, but the whole character of the struggle was formed according to the creative aspirations of Kasparov. (p.25)

Taimanov continued with a quote from a post-match interview by Kasparov that I'll give another time.

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