Kasparov Tops Kramnik with Late Heroics

By Sands, David R. | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 2, 2001 | Go to article overview

Kasparov Tops Kramnik with Late Heroics


Sands, David R., The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


With a last-round win over the man who dethroned him, Garry Kasparov yesterday won the Category 20 SuperGM Tournament in Astana, Kazakhstan, the strongest event of the year.

Kasparov finally cracked the Ruy Lopez Berlin Defense of fellow Russian Vladimir Kramnik with a 42-move win yesterday, thereby passing the reigning world champ and winning the event by a half-point. We'll have a full recap of the final-round heroics next week.

The Astana scorecard: Kasparov 7-3; Kramnik 6 1/2-3 1/2; Boris Gelfand (Israel) 5 1/2-4 1/2; Alexander Morozevich (Russia), Alexei Shirov (Spain) 4 1/2-5 1/2; Darmen Sadvakasov (Kazakhstan) 2-8. For the hometown favorite Sadvakasov, the tournament was one long, painful learning experience. Kramnik produced a modern attacking classic against the young Kazakh GM in Round 7, punctuated by a pretty queen sacrifice.

Black bravely assays a Queen's Gambit Accepted line that Kramnik studied deeply for his match with Kasparov last year, and already by 12. Bb2 e5?! 13. Nc3! (a new move in this line) e4, one feels Black is being drawn into some hand-to-hand combat for which he is not prepared.

Sadvakasov snatches a pawn and finds his pieces cannot get back in time to organize a defense: 15. Nd5 Nxd5 16. Rxd5 Bxh2+ 17. Kh1 Be5 18. Qh5! (threatening mate on the move) Bf5? (see diagram; Black had to try 18...h6! 19. Nxf7 Rxf7 20. Rxe5 Nxe5 21. Bxe5 Qe7 22. Bxf7+ Qxf7 23. Qxf7+ Kxf7 24. Rc1, with some chances of holding a difficult ending) 19. Nxf7!.

Black has many options here, none of them good - a) 19...Qxf7 20. Rxe5 Nxe5 21. Bxf7+, winning the queen; b) 19...Be6 20. Ng5! g6 21. Bxe5! Nxe5 22. Nxe6 Nxc4 23. Nxc7 gxh5 24. Nxa8 Rxa8 25. bxc4, and when the carnage concludes, White is up a rook; c) 19...Bg6 20. Nxe5! Bxh5 21. Rd7+ Kh8 22. Rxc7, winning a piece; and d) 19...Bxb2 20. Rxf5! Bxa1 21. Ne5+ Kh8 22. Ng6 mate.

Black's 19...Rxf7 walks into another killing shot after 20. Qxf5!! g6 (Rxf5 21. Rd8 mate!) Bxe5, and since 21...gxf5 22. Bxc7 Rxc7 23. Rd7+ is hopeless, Sadvakasov gave up.

* * *

Happy 50th, Anatoly Karpov.

With fanfare and an official proclamation from President Vladimir Putin, Russia celebrated the 50th birthday of one of its great champions May 23, honoring the man who held the world title from 1975 to 1984 and remains one of the best players in the world.

Bookended by the immense talents (and egos) of Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov, the slight, quiet Karpov always has been something of an acquired taste. He never challenged the Soviet system that produced him. On the chessboard, he preferred the efficient win to the spectacular attack or the daring sacrifice.

But to a discriminating minority, Karpov ranks among the best the game has ever produced, producing more perfectly played positional masterpieces than any player this side of Capablanca.

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