Raymond Keene

Books of the year | 7 December 2017

Books of the year | 7 December 2017
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The English Chess Federation has awarded its Book of the Year prize to Timman’s Titans: My World Chess Champions by Jan Timman (New in Chess). This is a good choice for a present: Timman’s book is aimed at both the expert and the general chess enthusiast, and describes his interactions with many world champions.

A perennial favourite for the committed chess fan is the great series by Garry Kasparov on himself and his predecessors as world champions. This comprises a 12-volume set which analyses his clashes for the title with Anatoly Karpov, Nigel Short and Vladimir Kramnik. This contribution by Kasparov is probably the most significant account ever produced in world chess literature.

This week, Kasparov losing to Jan Timman.

Timman-Kasparov: Hilversum 1985; Ruy Lopez

1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 0-0 Be7 6 Re1 b5 7 Bb3 d6 8 c3 0-0 At the time this game was played, such lines of the Ruy Lopez, where White strives for d4 in one go, were the height of fashion. Nowadays, contemporary grandmasters almost universally prefer to store up energy with an early d3. 9 h3 Bb7 10 d4 Re8 11 Ng5 Rf8 12 Nf3 Re8 13 Nbd2 Bf8 14 a3 h6 15 Bc2 Nb8 A retreating concept attributed to that innovative Hungarian master Gyula Breyer. Black loses some time but reinforces the centre and prepares to advance his c-pawn. 16 b4 Nbd7 17 Bb2 g6 18 c4 So much of White’s strategy in these older lines of the Ruy Lopez consisted of finding a path for his bishops to enter the game. White’s 18th move clears a route for his queen’s bishop while the glorious future of the king’s bishop is yet to come. 18 ... exd4 19 cxb5 axb5 20 Nxd4 c6 21 a4 bxa4 22 Bxa4 Qb6 23 Nc2 Qc7 24 Bb3 White’s king’s bishop now nestles on its preferred diagonal. 24 ... Ba6 25 Rc1 Bg7 26 Ne3 Bb5 27 Nd5 Nxd5 In a later game Garcia-Lukacs, Havana 1986, Black sought to improve with the dour 27 ... Qa7 28 Ra1 Qb7, holding his lines intact. 28 Bxg7 (see diagram 1) 28 ... Kxg7 No human player would think twice about this obvious recapture. However, modern computer analysis proves that the amazing 28 ... Nxb4 29 Bxh6 Nd3 30 Qg4 d5 in fact favours Black. Hence Lukacs’s innovation on move 27 turns out to have been unnecessary. 29 exd5 Ne5 30 Ne4 He should have played 30 Re3, meeting 30 ... Nd3 with 31 Rxd3 Bxd3 32 dxc6 and White is better. 30 ... Nd3 31 Qd2 Ra3 A blunder. 31 ... Qe7 leaves Black well on top (see diagram 2). 32 Nf6 Overlooking 32 Rxc6 Bxc6 33 Qxd3 with too many threats. 32 Nf6 is optically brilliant but objectively not best. 32 ... Rxe1+ 33 Rxe1 Kxf6 34 Qc3+ Ne5 35 f4 Ba4 This loses. 35 ... Kg7 36 fxe5 dxe5 37 Qb2 Qa7+ 38 Kh2 f6 and White has compensation for the pawn but nothing more. 36 fxe5+ dxe5 37 d6 This stiletto thrust resurrects White’s bishop and terminates Black’s resistance. 37 ... Qxd6 38 Qf3+ Ke7 39 Qxf7+ Kd8 40 Rd1 Ra1 41 Qf6+ Black resigns