Karpov in Linares 1994 – Round One

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In 1994 the lineup at the annual tournament in Linares, Spain was so strong that it was said by World Champion Garry Kasparov that the winner could consider themselves to be the world champion of tournament chess.

Perhaps Kasparov thought that he was informally creating another accolade for himself with that proclamation, but it was to be his old rival, Anaroly Karpov, with whom he had contested five matches for the world crown, who was to win.

Not only did Karpov win, but he did so with an impressive +9 score with 11/13, finishing a full 2.5 points ahead of Kasparov.

In this series we’ll take a look at the performance of Karpov in this event.

Here is Karpov’s round one win against the Frenchman Joel Lautier, with annotations by Zoltan Ribli.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

The Technique is Still Impeccable

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Just over a year ago, former world champion Anatoly Karpov played in his most recent OTB event, which was a rapid featuring many players from his generation.

In this game against Robert Hübner he shows that his technique is, well, Karpovian. I particularly enjoy the Nb4-c2-e3 maneuver.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

What a Difference a Year [Doesn’t] Make: Karpov – Unzicker 1975 1-0

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In our last post we took a look at Karpov – Unzicker 1974 from the Nice Olympiad. Here we have a game from the following year where Unzicker chooses a different line in the opening, yet crashes and burns even faster.

I’m really enjoying looking at these old Karpov games and seeing how he handled the Spanish.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

Karpov – Unzicker 1974 1-0

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Here’s another game from the 1974 Olympiad that really demonstrates the power of a pre-world champion Anatoly Karpov.

This game is a masterful example of how to make use of a space advantage. It also shows how Karpov was able to ever so slightly increase the pressure in his position until his opponent collapsed.

Check out the reshuffling maneuver beginning with 24.Ba7 and ending with 27.Bb1 and marvel at a master in action.


Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

Karpov – Westerinen 1974 1-0

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Here is a game that I’m marveling over from the 1974 Nice Olympiad vs Finnish GM Heikki Westirnen

It’s amazing to see a strong player get completely squeezed like that. “Spanish torture” indeed.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

One Small Step Khanin-Trjapishko 1-0

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You ever play a game where you’re kind of cruising along through the opening and suddenly you realize that something has gone very wrong?

Historically that’s me on many lines on the White side of the French.

Here’s a position from a game in the 2018 Russian Junior Championship where a semi-sideline of the Caro has been played by White. It’s Black to move, and Black plays…

15…Nd7?

It seems like Black is putting the knight on d7 to try to exchange some pieces, which makes sense, but then after 16.Bf4

Black needs to admit his mistake and just go back to f6. But of course it’s hard to grasp that during a game.

Personally I think I would have played 15…Nxe4 16.Qxe4 Bf6

Instead, Black just gets steamrolled by White.

Here’s the game.

Til  Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

Amazing Calculation Karjakin-Navarra Shamkir 2018

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Let’s say you are Black and you are faced with this decision. White has just played 31.Rxd5. Do you take the rook or not?

Sure, you have three pawns for the piece, but if you take the rook you’ll have no pieces and your opponent will have a bishop.  Still, who wants no pieces when our opponent has one? No way we take the rook, right?

Let’s say our two candidate moves are 31…Rxd5 or 31…Rc3 – what would you do?

Navarra took the rook.

At a depth of 40 Stockfish 12 gives this position -0.15

At a depth of 40 Stockfish 12 gives this position 0.42

When I really think about this decision I realize it’s not one to be taken lightly. After all, if you don’t take the rook then how do you stop this  Rh5 idea which forces …h6, then swing the rook back to a5 to force …a6 and now Black’s pawns are getting weak.

So what I would think of as an “automatic” decision of not taking the rook turns out to be anything but automatic in the hands of a strong player.

Here is the entire game.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

Spassky-Larsen 1/2 (USSR vs World)

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The 50th anniversary of the USSR vs The Rest of the World Match just passed a couple of months ago. I have been playing through some of the games and thought I’d post some here and I go through them.

For those who may not know, this event took place as a 10 board team match with each board playing a four game match.

You can (and should!) read more about the event here.

Here is some raw film footage. No sound, but still pretty cool stuff.

Here is the opening game of board one between world champion Boris Spassky and Bent Larsen.

As I get to some of the more famous games I’ll link to videos analyzing the games, etc.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

Solid Planning Topalov-Sasikiran 1-0

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Here is an example in modern GM praxis where a long term plan presents itself. Granted, when the opportunity arises, Topalov turns the game into a bloodbath, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that he was running with a long term plan out of the gate.

Let’s look at this position first:

White has a nice space advantage and a target on c7. Black has counterplay only on the kingside. So what move would you play as White here?

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If you chose 15.Ba3 then congrats, you’re on the same track as Topalov was! The idea is to simply exchange off Black’s useful bishop on d6 for White’s worst placed piece. This is an example in using Aagaard’s three questions. Here all three questions sort of combine into one as White will be increasing Black’s weakness (question one) while interfering with Black’s plan of kingside counterplay (question two) while improving his worst placed piece by trading it (question three.)

Now after 15…Rc8 16.Bxd6 Black choses to recapture with 16…cxd6 as it’s really a “six of one, half a dozen of the other” type of position. Black’s options are to either create a permanently weak target on c7 by playing 16…Rxd6 or to play the move he did which will come with long term structural weaknesses of its own.

This takes us here:

Here is where Topalov says his plan is to exchange off the rooks, then put pressure on the d5 pawn with his light squared bishop and knights. Eventually on move 32 he sacs a knight to cause havoc in Sasikiran’s time pressure, but that’s just vintage Topalov at work.

Here is the entire game:

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

Nice Way to Open the Center

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I was looking at this game from the 10th Soviet Championship and this position was reached between Makagonov and Kasparian with White to move.

It’s White to move, and in a position like this where Black seems determined to close down all the pawn breaks White needs to be active. Here, Makagonov finds a nice way to open the center and get his pieces active.

He plays 16.Bxc5 dxc5 17.d6!

With this he is able to gain activity and break through.

Here is the entire game:

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott