07 February 2012

Garry's Finest Moment

Let's tie one of Kasparov's finest moments, as recounted in Garry's Story and Garry's Games, together with World Championship Opening Preparation. In the last game of their 1985 match, the soon-to-be 13th World Champion was ahead by one game as challenger against the 12th World Champion. Karpov was in a must-win situation. Kasparov discussed the tension, psychology, and emotions of that 24th game in Kasparov, My Story (last part), starting around the 40th minute of the Youtube clip.

[Before the game] I spoke to Tal. He told me, 'Last game, just play something new. It's very difficult for a player who has to win to find the right move or the right idea if he didn't expect this position to arise.'

I expected Karpov to play 1.d4. It's no longer a secret, I wanted to play the Gruenfeld for the first time in my life after 1.d4. So that would be my surprise. I already prepared it partially for our unlimited match in 1984-85, during the match, under heavy coaching by Adorjan and Dorfman. For game 24 I decided I would not go for a Queen's Gambit, I would go for a Gruenfeld.

One of the reasons was that I felt Karpov's best chance would be to play a long, tiring, boring game. Remember what I did in Seville in 1987. I just remembered that what would be the most unpleasant for me would be if he plays for the slight edge, to postpone the final celebration. Because if you force your opponent to fight, he doesn't have a choice. It's easier for him to forget that [only] a draw is needed, so he'll play and it's two to one. Two of the results are in favor of the leading player. So I was a bit afraid of Karpov playing 1.d4 and trying to play a very quiet game with a slight edge. That would be very irritating and eventually I could crack under pressure. That's why I wanted to play a Gruenfeld, bot a Queen's Gambit.

Then when I came to Tchaikovsky Hall, imagine the tension there. It was a big day and I knew I had to win -- I had no doubt I would win the match. And I had a strange feeling it would be an interesting game.

Suddenly Karpov played 1.e4. It was the best present for me he could give. After 1.e4 it would be a Sicilian.

The interviewer, GM Plaskett, asked, 'You came to the board with no special preparation for 1.e4? You expected 1.d4?'

I would play 1...c5 and 2...d6. That's what I prepared after game 16, after we found the refutation of my gambit. I switched back to my Scheveningen, we played game 18, and Karpov didn't do well. He was slightly worse when he offered a draw and I accepted. I was following the Candidate tournament in Montpellier and I saw Sokolov [as White] beating Ribli with this line. We looked at this game for probably an hour, maybe even less, before game 24, not specifically for game 24. I already had an idea for developing my pieces the way I developed them in this game. We didn't have a precise strategical configuration, but on 1.e4 I was very happy. The Sicilian! That would be the opening I've been playing since my childhood, since I was nine. It was a very good omen.

Karpov wants to play Sicilian, it would be my territory, not his. Eventually I knew he would have to play either g4 or f5 to make something dramatic. That's not how Karpov wants to win. He was always trying to avoid it. The good sign was that in the decisive game Karpov had to play some move that he didn't believe in and I had to play the moves I believed were the best in the position.

The opening we played very quickly. Everybody wanted to save time. That's the line we played already in game 18, and now Karpov played 15.g4.

White to play 15.g4

Very natural. If you want to win with White in the Scheveningen, you have to play g4. But it's against Karpov's beliefs. When Karpov plays g4 he considers Pawn weaknesses. In order to play g4, g5, f5, you should not be concerned about weaknesses, because it's too late.

Even in the final game I guess Karpov had certain ideas about positional weaknesses and about balancing the position and not creating any further weaknesses. We'll see what happened in the game.

The rest of Kasparov's presentation is a classic lesson in weighing the dynamics of an unbalanced position, an art in which he was an unsurpassed master.

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