The World Champions Part Three

Wed, 2013-03-13 21:40 -- IM Max Illingworth

The World Champions Part Three

For this blog post I’ll go through two more games played between the world champions. Unfortunately Bobby Fischer and Anatoly Karpov never played each other, so we’ll have to settle for one of Fischer’s wins against one of his predecessors, namely Tigran Petrosian who had an exceptionally solid style and whose trademark was the positional exchange sacrifice, which he introduced into the arena of chess tournaments. Meanwhile Fischer possessed an extremely aggressive style, backed up by thorough opening preparation and machine-like calculation.

(128) Fischer,Robert James (2760) - Petrosian,Tigran V (2640) [B42]
Candidates final Buenos Aires (7), 19.10.1971
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 We haven't seen the Kan Sicilian very often on this blog, but it is one of Black's most flexible variations in the Open Sicilian as Black does not commit his pieces until White has declared his intentions. He can get away with this approach only because of the relatively closed nature of the position. 5.Bd3 With this move White can choose between playing c4 or Nc3, depending on Black's reply. In fact he can postpone this decision further with useful moves such as 0–0 and Qe2 if need be. [5.c4 tries to set up the Maroczy Bind, but Black obtains good piece play with 5...Nf6 6.Nc3 Bb4 and should not stand worse.] 5...Nc6 This move leads to a fairly static position where White's lead in development will give him an edge. [5...Bc5 6.Nb3 Ba7 is one of the many possible approaches by Black, using the fact that d4-knight was undefended to bring his bishop to an active diagonal. ] 6.Nxc6 bxc6 [6...dxc6 7.0–0 e5 8.Nd2 again sees Black with some problems after Nc4 and f4 due to his lack of development.] 7.0–0 d5 Statically this space grab in the centre makes sense, but unfortunately he doesn't have enough pieces out to support his pawn centre. 8.c4 Nf6 [8...dxc4 9.Bxc4 Qxd1 10.Rxd1 would be a very pleasant endgame for White, as he has a superior pawn structure and more space. ] 9.cxd5 cxd5 10.exd5 exd5

[fen]r1bqkb1r/5ppp/p4n2/3p4/8/3B4/PP3PPP/RNBQ1RK1 w kq - 0 11[/fen]

11.Nc3 As we will see, this IQP position is very promising for White. True, the passed d-pawn could be useful in an endgame, but first Black has to get there and as we'll see the IQP proves to be well blockaded even after simplifications. 11...Be7 12.Qa4+ A timely check to disrupt Black's coordination. [12.Re1 0–0 13.Be3 Be6 14.Bd4 would have favoured White as well, but at least here Black has fluidly developed his pieces.] 12...Qd7 [12...Bd7 13.Qd4 0–0 14.Nxd5 Nxd5 15.Qxd5 Bb5 16.Qxd8 Rfxd8 17.Bxb5 axb5 followed by ...Bf6 would give Black enough activity for the pawn, but a simple move like 14.Bf4 would keep the pressure on Black.] 13.Re1 [13.Bb5 axb5 14.Qxa8 0–0 15.Rd1 leaves White an exchange up, but he has lost the initiative and 15...Bb7 16.Qa5 b4 17.Ne2 Ra8 followed by ...d4 and ...Qd5/...Nd5 gives Black fantastic counterplay. ] 13...Qxa4 14.Nxa4 Be6 Black has to rush to get developed or he will be totally outgunned. 15.Be3 f4 was also a good square for the bishop, but it makes sense to control d4 and besides Fischer has a particular endgame position in mind. 15...0–0 [15...Nd7 would prevent White's next but after 16.Rac1 0–0 17.Bd4 White is for choice. Black will struggle to find an active plan and even Petrosian didn't like positions without any counterplay.] 16.Bc5 [16.Nc5 to try and win the bishop pair was perhaps even better.] 16...Rfe8 17.Bxe7 Rxe7 18.b4 Kf8 [18...Rc7 19.Rac1 Rxc1 20.Rxc1 d4 intends ...Nd5 and at least offers more play than Black gets in the game.] 19.Nc5 Bc8 20.f3 Now White has full control of the position (just look at the bishop and rook on their starting squares) so he can afford to take his time and give his king some air. 20...Rea7 This move feels unnatural as the rooks don't do anything on the a-file except defend the a-pawn. Fischer exploits this waste of time brilliantly. [20...Nd7 21.Kf2 Nxc5 22.bxc5 Rc7 23.Rac1 Rb8 would probably be defensible for Black - true, he has two weaknesses, but he can create counterplay against White's pawns with ...Rb2 and the c8-bishop can defend both the queenside pawns with ...Bb7.] 21.Re5 Bd7

[fen]r4k2/r2b1ppp/p4n2/2NpR3/1P6/3B1P2/P5PP/R5K1 w - - 0 22[/fen]

[21...a5 22.b5 just gives White a strong passed pawn which will soon become protected after a4.] 22.Nxd7+ At the time of the game the Soviet masters criticised this move as exchanging White's good bishop for Black's bad knight. The truth is that what matters is not what leaves the board but what stays on it! As we'll see the d3-bishop will be a lot stronger than the f6-knight which is stuck on guard duty protecting the d5-pawn. Also Black will find it harder to defend his weak a6-pawn. 22...Rxd7 23.Rc1 Rd6 [23...a5 24.bxa5 Rxa5 25.Rc8+ would be a tragic end to the game.] 24.Rc7 The exchange of the knight for bishop has made it a lot easier for White to activate his rooks. Now the threat is Ree7 intending to decimate the pawns on the 7th rank. 24...Nd7 25.Re2 g6 26.Kf2 White has Black all tied up so if he steadily improves his position he should win. 26...h5 27.f4 h4 28.Kf3 f5 29.Ke3 d4+ This move does let White bring his bishop to c4 and weakens the d-pawn somewhat, but the alternative of shuffling was also unappetising. 30.Kd2 Nb6 31.Ree7

[fen]r4k2/2R1R3/pn1r2p1/5p2/1P1p1P1p/3B4/P2K2PP/8 b - - 0 31[/fen]

31...Nd5 32.Rf7+ Ke8 33.Rb7 The two rooks on the seventh rank give White a near mating attack against Black's king. 33...Nxb4 [33...Rb8 34.Ra7 Ra8 35.Rxa8+ Kxf7 36.Bc4 was also winning for White, albeit not as quickly as in the game.] 34.Bc4 Black resigned due to the threat of Rh7 and Rh8 mate. 1–0

Our second game was played between Anatoly Karpov and Boris Spassky. Spassky was a fairly universal player who had a liking for relative sidelines (though he could also play main line openings very well of course!), while Karpov was a very classically positional player who was dominant in the endgame through his reign as World Champion. His tournament games greatly advanced the development of ‘chess technique’.

(129) Karpov,Anatoly (2705) - Spassky,Boris V (2640) [D37]
Montreal Montreal (4), 14.04.1979
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Be7 5.Bf4 The idea behind placing the bishop on f4 rather than g5 is that the bishop puts some pressure on Black's queenside (contrary to g5 where the pin on the f6-knight limits Black's options somewhat). 5...0–0 6.e3 c5 The standard break that we saw in Lasker-Steinitz, though 6...Nbd7 and 6...b6 are somewhat more trendy nowadays, keeping more tension in the position. 7.dxc5 Nc6 8.Qc2 Qa5 9.a3 Bxc5 10.Rd1 The reason White develops his queenside and delays castling is because he wants to put early pressure on Black's centre, and if he can force an early dxc4 he will play Bxc4 in one go, saving a useful tempo. Also White is hoping that Black will be unable to active his c8-bishop which is banging its head against the e6-pawn. [10.0–0–0 is a lot sharper and not in keeping with Karpov's calmer style. ] 10...Be7 11.Nd2 [11.h3 can be met by 11...Ne4 12.cxd5 Nxc3 13.Qxc3 Qxc3+ 14.bxc3 exd5 15.Rxd5 Bxa3 and Black has a very solid position, plus a passed a-pawn that could be dangerous if White loses his slight initiative.] 11...Bd7 12.Be2 It's surprisingly hard for Black to get his pieces active, and taking on c4 would allow Nxc4 followed by a timely Nd6 when Black would be under a lot of pressure. His problem is that while his position is solid, Black struggles to generate active play - and Karpov was an expert at suppressing the opponent's counterplay with his prophylactic approach to chess. 12...Rfc8 [12...e5 13.Bg5 d4 is active but White is able to get a bind on the light squares with 14.Nb3 Qb6 15.Bxf6 Bxf6 16.Nd5 Qd8 17.0–0 and again it's difficult for Black to find a constructive plan.] 13.0–0 Qd8 This reorganisation of the pieces doesn't have the desired effect. 14.cxd5 exd5

[fen]r1rq2k1/pp1bbppp/2n2n2/3p4/5B2/P1N1P3/1PQNBPPP/3R1RK1 w - - 0 15[/fen]

15.Nf3 This IQP position is extremely good for White - normally Black gets a lead in development in compensation for an IQP but here White has both the initiative and better development in addition to his better structure! In fact Spassky does well to avoid losing a pawn over the next moves. 15...h6 16.Ne5 [16.Nxd5 Nxd5 17.Rxd5 Nb4 would be an unfortunate oversight on White's behalf.; 16.h3 was a Karpovian-looking move, making luft for the king as if to say that Black can't do anything, but Karpov prefers to immediately put the pressure on the d5-pawn with Bf3 coming up after Ne5.] 16...Be6 17.Nxc6 Rxc6 [17...bxc6 18.Ba6 would drop an exchange, though after 18...Rcb8 19.Bxb8 Rxb8 Black gets a little bit of compensation as his pawn structure has been repaired and his development is complete.] 18.Bf3 Qb6 19.Be5 A strong reorganisation, threatening to win a pawn at some point with Bxf6 and Bxd5. 19...Ne4 20.Qe2 Nxc3 21.Bxc3 Rd8 [21...Bxa3 22.Bxd5 Bxd5 23.Rxd5 Be7 24.Rfd1 might have liquidated the IQP, but in its place White has activated his pieces and controls the d-file while keeping ideas of Qg4 to boost the pressure on the kingside.] 22.Rd3 Rcd6 23.Rfd1 R6d7 It won't be trivial to win this position as White since Black only has one weakness. Therefore Karpov manoeuvres around trying to create a second weakness in Black's position. 24.R1d2 Qb5 25.Qd1 b6 26.g3 Karpov's play is almost Taoist in nature - why hurry when the fruit will ripen of its own accord? 26...Bf8 27.Bg2 Be7

[fen]3r2k1/p2rbpp1/1p2b2p/1q1p4/8/P1BRP1P1/1P1R1PBP/3Q2K1 w - - 0 28[/fen]

28.Qh5 a6 29.h3 Qc6 30.Kh2 a5 31.f4 f6 32.Qd1 Qb5 White's play has been almost too calm, but now Karpov gets his kingside play rolling along. 33.g4 g5 White's cat and mouse games have the desired attack and Spassky decides to lash out. However this only weakens his king and funnily enough the d-file, as we'll see. 34.Kh1 Karpov misses a good opportunity: [34.Bd4 was more to the point, intending Rb3 winning the b6-pawn. If 34...gxf4 35.exf4 Rb7 36.Rb3 Qc6 37.Qc2 Qxc2 38.Rxc2 Black's pawns are too weak - White should slowly but surely win.] 34...Qc6 35.f5 Bf7 36.e4 Now it's all good for White, though it's still not over, as White's extra pawn will be well blockaded. 36...Kg7 37.exd5 Now the IQP has been transferred to White! 37...Qc7 38.Re2 b5 A blunder, but after [38...Bd6 39.Re6 Bxe6 40.fxe6 Re7 41.Be4 intending Qf3-f5 Black's chances of survival would have been below 50%.] 39.Rxe7 This tactic finishes the game. 39...Rxe7 40.d6 Qc4 41.b3 Black resigned because he can't defend both his queen and rook. 1–0

I hope you enjoyed the games and learned something along the way. Next week our coverage will be truly modern, with a look at the play of Kasparov, Kramnik and Anand! Stay tuned chess friends!