Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana will be contesting their World Championship match in London in November. As I mentioned last week, there is no better guide to the entire history of the World Championship than the extraordinary series by Garry Kasparov. He catalogues the best games of every champion, demonstrating how each one represents the intellectual ethos of his day. This week’s game is the magnificent clash which led to Kasparov himself becoming the youngest ever world chess champion.
Karpov-Kasparov: World Championship, Moscow (Game 24) 1985; Sicilian Defence
1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Be2 e6 7 0-0 Be7 8 f4 0-0 9 Kh1 Qc7 10 a4 Nc6 11 Be3 Re8 12 Bf3 Rb8 13 Qd2 Bd7 14 Nb3 b6 15 g4 This move signals the start of an assault. Right from the opening Karpov begins a direct attack on the king. 14 … Bc8 16 g5 Nd7 17 Qf2 Bf8 18 Bg2 Bb7 19 Rad1 White completes his development and takes aim at the d6-pawn. 19 … g6 20 Bc1 An interesting idea. The bishop retreat clears the third rank for the rook on d1 to switch to the kingside, which significantly strengthens White’s attacking potential. 20 … Rbc8 21 Rd3 Nb4 22 Rh3 Bg7 (see diagram 1) Black should have decided on 22 … f5. After 23 gxf6 Nxf6 24 f5 exf5 25 exf5 Bg7 the position would have remained very complicated and unclear. 23 Be3 White targets the weak b6-pawn and creates the unpleasant threat of Bd4. However, 23 f5 was very strong. After the forced 23 … exf5 24 exf5 Black would have had to find a defence simultaneously against two threats: 25 Qh4, with a double attack, and 25 fxg6. 23 … Re7 Hurrying to defend f7. 24 Kg1 Rce8 25 Rd1 f5 This activity is practically forced, but from this moment the latent spring of Black’s position gradually begins to uncoil. 26 gxf6 Nxf6 27 Rg3 Karpov hardly calculated the variations with 27 Bxb6, fearing 27 … Ng4 but after 28 Bxc7 Nxf2 29 Bxd6! Nxdl 30 Bxe7 White has good winning chances. 27 … Rf7 Karpov underestimated the strength of this move: Black succeeds in successfully regrouping his rooks. 28 Bxb6 Qb8 29 Be3 Nh5 30 Rg4 Nf6 31 Rh4 g5 Black’s initiative becomes threatening, although the resulting irrational positions involve great risk for both sides. 32 fxg5 Ng4 33 Qd2 Nxe3 34 Qxe3 Nxc2 35 Qb6 Ba8 (see diagram 2) 36 Rxd6 A blunder, which effectively loses the game. It was essential to play 36 Qxb8 Rxb8 37 Bh3! with wild complications. 36 … Rb7 Until now this rook has moved only in small steps, uncharacteristic of such a powerful piece (… Rf8-e8-e7-f7), but its first ‘long’ active move proves decisive. 37 Qxa6 Rxb3 38 Rxe6 Rxb2 This throws away the win, and even jeopardises the required draw. 38 … Ne3! would have been decisive. 39 Qc4 Kh8 40 e5 Missing 40 g6 h6 41 Rxe8+ Qxe8 42 Nd1. 40 … Qa7+ 41 Kh1 Bxg2+ 42 Kxg2 Nd4+ White resigns