My Great Predecessors is an indispensable guide to the achievements, style and best games of the former world chess champions. It is a monumental series, consisting of five volumes, written by probably the greatest champion of them all, Garry Kasparov. In Modern Chess and Kasparov on Kasparov there are several more volumes, and in the latter Kasparov documents his own bouts for the title as well as his major career highlights. All titles are published by Everyman Chess. Kasparov’s oeuvre amounts to the most complete history of chess ever written.
This year’s World Championship match between Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana is set for London in November. This week and next I will give the flavour of Kasparov’s series with insights into two of the great champions he writes about.
Anderssen-Steinitz: London 1866; Ruy Lopez
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 Nf6 4 d3 d6 5 Bxc6+ bxc6 6 h3 g6 Preparation for an assault by a mass of pawns on the kingside. 7 Nc3 Bg7 8 0-0 0-0 9 Bg5 h6 10 Be3 c5 11 Rb1 Ne8 Making way for the f-pawn. 12 b4 cxb4 13 Rxb4 c5 14 Ra4 A dangerous rook journey; 14 Rb2 f5 15 Nd5 Nf6 etc was a quieter alternative. 14 … Bd7 15 Ra3 f5 16 Qb1 Kh8 17 Qb7 a5 18 Rb1 a4 (see diagram 1) 19 Qd5 White sounds the retreat. 19 Nd5 was more consistent, with a possible line being 19 … Nf6 20 Bxc5 Nxd5 21 Bxd6 fxe4 22 dxe4 Nf4 23 Nxe5 Be6 24 Bxf8 Qxf8 25 Nd3 with sharp play. 19 … Qc8 20 Rb6 Ra7 21 Kh2 f4 22 Bd2 g5 23 Qc4 Qd8 24 Rb1 A mistake. 24 Nd5 was much more energetic, with possibilities of active counterplay, for example 24 … h5 25 Ra6 Rxa6 26 Qxa6 g4 27 Ba5! (diverting the queen) 27 … Qb8 28 Nh4 Kh7 29 Qb6 Qa8 30 Qd8 with unclear play. 24 … Nf6 25 Kg1 Nh7 Now that the g-pawn has been protected, the phalanx can set itself into motion. 26 Kf1 h5 (see diagram 2) 27 Ng1 Probably the decisive error. After 27 Nb5! nothing terrible for White is apparent, e.g. 27 … Ra6 28 Nc7 Ra7 29 Ne6. 27 … g4 28 hxg4 hxg4 29 f3 A mistake that merely strengthens the enemy attack.
29 … Qh4 30 Nd1 Ng5 As Lasker observed, ‘The pieces post themselves menacingly. Soon the lines will be opened, which will allow the major pieces to approach the white king.’ This game is virtually a model of the modern King’s Indian Defence. 31 Be1 Qh7 32 d4 gxf3 33 gxf3 Nh3 33 … cxd4 was a more prosaic way to win. 34 Bf2 Or 34 dxc5 Nxg1 35 Kxg1 Qg6+ 36 Kf2 Bh3 37 Bb4 dxc5 38 Bxc5 Rc7 and wins. 34 … Nxg1 35 dxc5 Qh3+ 36 Ke1 Nxf3+ 37 Rxf3 Qxf3 38 Nc3 dxc5 39 Bxc5 Rc7 40 Nd5 Rxc5 41 Qxc5 Qxe4+ 42 Kf2 Rc8 43 Nc7 Qe3+ White resigns