Raymond Keene

Garry’s comeback

To great surprise, the former world champion Garry Kasparov staged a brief comeback when he participated in a blitz tournament held to celebrate the close of this year’s US Championship. His opponents were the top three from the championship and an 18-round competition resulted in the following scores: Nakamura 11, So 10, Kasparov 9½ and Caruana 5½.
It is astounding that at the age of 53, with no tournament practice whatsoever for some time, Kasparov can hold his own with the young tigers of the contemporary chess scene. Indeed, had he converted two winning positions against Wesley So, he would have emerged as the clear victor. Instead, in both cases, bad blunders transformed near-triumph into loss for him. Here are some key moments from this interesting tournament.
Nakamura-Kasparov: Ultimate Blitz Challenge, Saint Louis 2016 (see diagram 1)
Here Kasparov can win easily with 41 … Rxe5! 42 Nxe5 (42 fxe5 Rxd7 is straightforward) 42 … Ra8 43 Rc1 b3. Instead he blundered with 41 … Nf6 42 Nc6+ Kxd7 43 Nxd8 Rd5 Kasparov is clearly rattled. 43 … Kxd8 is still a simple draw. 44 Nxf7 Now a fork is coming on e5 and White remains a piece ahead. 44 … Ng4 45 Nfe5+ Nxe5 46 Nxe5+ Kd6 47 Rc6+ Ke7 48 Kg1 b3 49 Rb6 Rd1+ 50 Kf2 Rd2+ 51 Kf3 Rxh2 52 Nxg6+ Black resigns
Caruana-Kasparov: Ultimate Blitz Challenge, Saint Louis 2016 (see diagram 2)
This game features a classic Sicilian Defence with opposite castling and attacks on both wings. Kasparov now spots a tactical trick by which he furthers his own queenside ambitions while simultaneously impeding White on the kingside. 23 … Nc4 24 Re2 A better try is 24 Bxe6 fxe6 25 bxc4 Qxa4 26 h6, urgently looking for kingside counterplay. 24 … Bxg5 25 bxc4 Bxc4 26 Bxg5 Qxg5+ 27 Re3 Bd3 More accurate is 27 … b3.

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