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Article - Lubomir Kavalek On "My Great Predecessors"
CHESS Lubomir Kavalek
By Lubomir Kavalek
Monday, July 21, 2003; Page C10
Garry Kasparov's new book "On My Great Predecessors" is a monumental and
ambitious work on contributions by 13 world champions and their
contemporaries to the royal game. The first part, recently issued by
Everyman Chess, includes Wilhelm Steinitz, Emanuel Lasker, Jose Raul
Capablanca and Alexander Alekhine. Dmitry Plisetsky, known for his excellent
book on David Janowski, contributed historical notes to the book.
Kasparov takes a fresh look at nearly 150 games and game fragments, places
them in a historical perspective, and updates and often refutes old analysis
with the help of computer programs. Interestingly, the 13th world champion
does not consider it a definitive work. Like an unsatisfied sculptor, he
invites readers to contribute comments so he can mold them into future
editions. In this respect, he bravely charges into a new, wonderful
experiment that could keep him busy for the rest of his life.
Although Kasparov quotes heavily, the book lacks biographical references.
The names of computer programs and the calculating speed are also not
available. But overall it is a magnificent book and Kasparov's craftsmanship
should be enjoyed and savored slowly. Following are two examples from the
The Immortal Game
It is hard to imagine that this friendly game between Adolf Anderssen and
Lionel Kieseritzky, played in London in 1851, can yield something new after
German grandmaster Robert Huebner published his extensive analysis more than
a decade ago. But after Kasparov lets his computer work miracles, he
concludes: "Objectively the game is rather weak and superficial, but what a
finish! After sacrificing both rooks, a bishop and a queen, the mate was
simultaneously pure, economic and smooth!"
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4 Qh4+ 4.Kf1 b5 5.Bxb5 Nf6 6.Nf3 Qh6 7.d3 Nh5 8.Nh4
Qg5 9.Nf5 c6 10.g4 Nf6 11.Rg1 cxb5 12.h4 Qg6 13.h5 Qg5 14.Qf3 Ng8 15.Bxf4
Qf6 16.Nc3 Bc5 17.Nd5!? (After Richard Reti's 17.d4!, followed by 18.Nd5,
white wins easily.) 17...Qxb2 18.Bd6? (Huebner considers it a big mistake,
throwing away the win that can be reached in at least three different ways:
18.d4 [the other two are 18.Be3 and 18.Re1] 18...Qxa1+ 19.Kg2 Qb2 20.dxc5
Na6 21.Nd6+ Kf8 22.Be5 Qxc2+ 23.Kh3 f6 24.Nxf6 and white wins; a variation
also given by Kasparov.) 18...Bxg1? (Loses in a spectacular manner. In 1879
Steinitz suggested the correct defense: 18...Qxa1+ 19.Ke2 Qb2! and now after
20.Kd2 black has to continue 20...Bxg1!, for example 21.e5 Ba6 and Kasparov
claims that white's attack is sufficient only for a draw.
However, Kasparov is fascinated by the work of computers and after 20...g6?
21.Re1 Bb7 22.Bxc5 first highlights that on 22...gxf5 23.exf5+ Kd8, to see
the next move from afar is impossible for a human, whereas a computer finds
such sacrifices almost instantly: 24.Bb6+!! axb6 25.Qe3! with the idea
25...Bxd5 26.Qxb6+ Kc8 27.Re8 mate.
Second, after 20...g6? 21.Re1 Bb7 22.Bxc5 Bxd5 23.exd5+ Kd8 24.Bd4 Qb4+
25.Bc3 Qc5 his computer comes up with a fresh line: 26.Ba5+ Kc8 27.d4! and
white is winning, because black can't control the square d6, for example
27...Qf8 28.Re8+! Qxe8 29.Nd6 mate.) 19.e5 Qxa1+ 20.Ke2 Black resigned.
Huebner points out that according to Friedrich Amelung's 1893 article in the
journal Baltische Schachblaetter, Kieseritzky probably played 20...Na6 and
Anderssen announced mate in three: 21.Nxg7+ Kd8 22.Qf6+!! (Kasparov calls it
"a spectacular concluding sacrifice.") 22...Nxf6 23.Be7 mate, but the final
combination was never played on the board.
After 58 moves, the famous game between Emanuel Lasker and Akiba Rubinstein,
played in St. Petersburg in 1914, reached the position in today's diagram
(White: Kd3,Rf1,P:f5,b2; Black:Kc5,Rf6,P:b5,d5). It has been hailed as one
of the finest examples how to take advantage of an outside passed pawn in
the rook endgame. But Kasparov still finds new ideas:
59.Rf4 b4? Kasparov gives it a question mark. "By occupying the b4 square
with his pawn, Rubinstein deprives himself of any counterplay," he says. He
prefers 59...d4 and after 60.Ke4, previously analyzed by Smyslov, Levenfish
and Averbach, 60...Rd6 61.Rf3 Kc4 he dismisses the recommended 62.b3+? with
some attractive variations leading to a draw. Instead, Kasparov proves that
62.f6! wins, for example 62...d3 63.f7 d2 64.f8Q d1Q 65.Qc8+ wins; or
62...Re6+ 63.Kf5 Re3 64.Rf4! the rook firmly restrains the d-pawn, winning
an important tempo.
But it seems that white can first improve the position of his rook before
moving up the king: 60.Rf1 Kd5 61.Rf2! (Not 61.b4 because of 61...Ra6! and
the black rook has many unpleasant checks) with the idea 61...Ke5? 62.Rc2!
and black can't take the f-pawn, for example 62...Rxf5 63.Rc5+ or 62...Kxf5
63.Rf2+ and white wins the pawn endgame. And on 62...Kd5 63.b4 followed by
64.Rc5+ wins. That leaves 62...Kd6, but after 63.Ke4 Rh6 64.Rf2! Rh4+ 65.Rf4
wins. After 61.Rf2! black's best is 61...Kc5, but now 62.Ke4 gives white
more options than in the above Averbach's line.)
60.b3 Rf7 61.f6 Kd6 62.Kd4 Ke6 63.Rf2 Kd6 64.Ra2! Rc7 65.Ra6+ Kd7 66.Rb6