Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Kasparov - Korchnoi
Candidates’ Match, 1st Game
London, 1983

(Notes by Prof. Nagesh Havanur, based on Kasparov’s annotations to the game from his book My Great Predecessors Part V. This annotated game was extracted from his review of My Best Games Volumes Two by Viktor Korchnoi.)

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6

The Queen's Indian Defence.

4.Nc3 Bb7 5.a3

Kasparov's favourite Petrosian Variation.

5...d5 6.cxd5 Nxd5 7.e3

7.Qc2, the more dynamic continuation, was played in Kasparov-Kramnik, Linares 2004 (Kasparov's last tournament!). It was drawn in 25 moves.

7...g6! TN

7...Be7 8.Bb5+ c6 9.Bd3 was the usual continuation.

"A surprise! This leads to a kind of Grunfeld Defence, which was part of Korchnoi's armoury long before I was born... Korchnoi keenly sensed that I would become nervous - especially in the first game of the match - and that I would lose my aim. More than that, the effect of the surprise proved stunning.!" - Kasparov

8.Bb5+ c6 9.Bd3 Bg7 10.e4 Nxc3 11.bxc3 c5 ! 12.Bg5 Qd6! 13.e5 Qd7

“13...Qd5!? was also possible. But Korchnoi wanted to provoke me into making the following reply‘’’


14.0–0 0–0 15.Qe2 cxd4 16.cxd4 Nc6 17.Qe3 was simple and good.


Korchnoi remains alert. Not 14...bxc5? 15.Bb5 ! 15...Bc6 16.a4±

15.cxb6 axb6 16.0–0 Qc7 17.Bb5!?

“Initially I had been planning 17.Re1, but on closer examination I discovered an interesting exchange sacrifice for Black- 17...Nd7!

Analysis Diagram: after 17...Nd7!

18.Be7 Bxf3 ! 19.gxf3 (19.Qxf3 Nxe5 20.Rxe5 Bxe5 21.Bxf8 Rxf8 winning a pawn.) 19...Bxe5 20.Bxf8 Bxh2+ 21.Kg2 Rxf8 and White faces an unpleasant defence. "By this point I had already used more than two hours, whereas Korchnoi's first 15 moves had taken him only four(!) minutes. True, on his next move he spent about 50 minutes..." - Kasparov

17...Bxe5! 18.Bh6

Not 18.Nxe5? Qxe5 19.Bh6 Qxb5 20.Qd4 e5–+


Having obtained a permanently better pawn structure, Korchnoi wants to decide the outcome with the help of simplification and purely technical means. But after the exchange of the dark-squared bishops White has gained an opportunity to create counterplay on the weakened dark squares.

18...Rd8!suggests itself. 19.Qe2 Bxf3 20.Qxf3 Ra5! 21.a4 Bxh2+ 22.Kh1 Rd5! (threatening ...Rf5 on the next move) 23.g4 Be5 24.Rad1 with compensation for the pawn according to Kasparov.

19.Bxg7 Kxg7 20.Qd4+ Kg8


This excursion only results in the elimination of the knight.

Centralization by 21.Ne5! which involves a piece sacrifice, would have given attack sufficient for a draw: 21...Rd8 (Not 21...Nc6? 22.Bxc6 Bxc6 23.Ng4! e5 24.Qxe5 Qxe5 25.Nxe5 Rac8 26.a4± -NSH) 22.Qh4 Rd5 23.Ng4 Rxb5 24.Rad1 Rd5 ! 25.c4 Rxd1 26.Nf6+ Kf8 27.Rxd1 h5 28.Qg5 Ra5 29.Qh6+ Ke7 30.Ng8+ Ke8 and draw by perpetual check.

21...h6 22.Ne4 Bxe4 23.Qxe4


Not missing the tactical trick, 23...Nd7? 24.Bxd7 Qxd7 25.Qe3!


The Black knight has better prospects than the White bishop, so White should have played 24.Bxa6! 24...Rxa6 25.Qb4 (25.Qe3?!Rfa8! 26.Qxh6?!Rxa3 27.Rxa3 Rxa3 28.h4 Qxc3 29.h5 Ra1 30.hxg6 Rxf1+ 31.Kxf1 Qd3+ 32.Kg1 Qb1+ 33.Kh2 Qxg6) 25...Rc8 26.Rfc1 with good drawing chances.

24...Qc5! 25.Qxc5


If 25.Qe2? Nc7!

Or 25.Bxa6?Qxe3 26.fxe3 Rxa6 - because of the appearance of a third weakness (the e3 pawn) White has a very difficult rook endgame.

25...Nxc5 26.Rfb1 Rfd8


27.Bc6 Rac8!28.Bf3 (Not 28.Rxb6? Rd6 29.Bb7 Rxb6 30.Bxc8 Rc6–+) 28...Rd6 29.Rb4 Nd3 30.Rd4 Rxd4 31.cxd4 Kf8. Whites problems are not yet at an end. - Dvoretsky.

Instead 27.a4!? deserves attention.

27...Rd6 28.Rb4 Kf8 29.a4

This move prepares Rab1.

"Short of time it was not easy to give up a pawn by 29.Rab1 Rxa3 30.Rxb6 Rxb6 31.Rxb6 Rxc3 The ending with three pawns against four on the kingside is an important drawing resource for White." - Kasparov


Eliminating the threat of a4-a5 and fixing the weakness at a4.


Another hasty move in time trouble. 30.Bb5 was better, and after 30...Nxa4?! 31.Bxa4 b5 32.Rxb5 Rxa4 33.Rbb1 Rc4 34.Ra3 Rd3 35.Rc1 White could have hoped for a draw.

30...Ke7 31.Kg2 f5! 32.Bb5 Rd2?!

An over-hasty move, weakening the defence of the b6-pawn. Black should have begun its activity with 32...Kd8 and ...Kc7, or 32...g5.


In serious time trouble White overlooks the loss of a pawn. 33.Bc6? Nd3 34.Rxb6 Nxf2! 35.Rb5 Ra6 36.Rb7+ Kf6 37.Bb5 Ng4+ 38.Kg1 Rad6! is good for Black.

But 33.Rab1!(exploting the weakness of b6 pawn) 33...Ne4 34.R1b2 Rxb2 35.Rxb2 Nxc3 36.Bc6 Nxa4 37.Bxa4 Rxa4 38.Rxb6 would have led to a drawn rook ending.

33...Rxd4 34.cxd4


This simple tactical stroke leads to a won endgame.


If 35.Bxa4? 35...b5.

35.Bc6? Nc3 36.Re1 Ra2 is worse.

35...Rxb5 36.Ra7+ Kd6!


37.Kf3 or 37.h4 would have demanded greater resourcefulness on the part of Black to achieve a win. - Korchnoi

37...h5 38.Rg7?!

Again 38.Kf3 is more tenacious. - Korchnoi

38...Rd5 39.Rxg6 b5 40.Kf3


It is a question of style. 40...Rxd4 would also have won. - Korchnoi


If 41.Rg8 Rb5

41...b3 42.Kd2

Not 42.Kd3? 42...Rb5

42...Rxd4+ 43.Kc3 b2 44.Kxb2 Rd2+ 45.Kc3 Rxf2 46.h4 f4 ! 47.Rg5

If 47.Rh6 fxg3 48.Rxh5 Rf5! 49.Rh6 Ke5 50.Rg6 Kf4 –+

Or 47.g4 hxg4 48.Rxg4 e5 –+

47...Rf3+ 48.Kd4 Rxg3 49.Rxh5 Re3! 50.Rh6 Ke7 51.h5 e5+ 52.Kd5 f3 0–1

Final Position

Kasparov’s only loss to Korchnoi.

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