Malcolm Pein on…The Return of Karpov


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The return to the chess board of Anatoly Karpov is attracting considerable interest.

In Today’s Daily Telegraph chess column, Malcolm Pein presents a classic clash from one of the titanic Kasparov – Karpov  title matches, which also ties in nicely with this week’s coverage of the English Opening.

Malcolm Pein on…The Return of Karpov

The 12th World Champion Anatoly Karpov, 69, will be back at the board in the 26th Tepe Sigeman Chess Tournament, to be held from 24-30 April in Malmö, Sweden. The field for the eight-player all-play-all includes Swedish number one and tournament winner in 2013, 2017 and 2018, Nils Grandelius, Alexei Shirov and the 16-year-old Indian prodigy Nihal Sarin.

Jorden Van Foreest, winner of the Tata Steel Masters, gets a chance to enhance his growing reputation. GM Harika Dronavalli, ranked 10th on the women’s list, Asian Champion Le Quang Liem of Vietnam and Czech number one David Navara complete a very strong field.

Karpov’s analytical team led by Igor Zaitsev found many strong opening novelties, including this bombshell 9…e3! (see board), which was unleashed on Kasparov. Karpov came very close to recapturing the world title at Seville, only a last-gasp victory in game 24 enabled Kasparov to get to 12-12 and as holder, he remained champion. No tie-breaks in those days; Rapid chess was in its infancy.

Classic Clash

G. Kasparov – A. Karpov
34th World Championship (2) Seville 1987
English Four Knights

1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.g3 Bb4 5.Bg2 0–0 6.0–0 e4 7.Ng5 Bxc3 8.bxc3 Re8 9.f3 e3!

G. Kasparov – A. Karpov

10.d3! (After 10.dxe3 b6 11.e4 h6 12.Nh3 d6 Black is doing very well with the c4 pawn ripe for plucking) 10…d5 11.Qb3 Na5 12.Qa3 c6 13.cxd5 cxd5 14.f4 Nc6 15.Rb1 Qc7 16.Bb2 Bg4 17.c4 dxc4 18.Bxf6 gxf6 19.Ne4 Kg7 20.dxc4? (Not 20.Qc3 Qe7? 21.Rxb7! Qxb7 22.Nxf6 but after 20.Qc3 Qd8 21.Rxb7 cxd3 22.Qxc6 dxe2 23.Re1 Rc8 the complications work out fine for Black) 20…Rad8 (Black is perfectly coordinated and White must contend with Rd2, Bxe2 and Nd4. Not 20…Bxe2 21.Nxf6! Kxf6 22.Qb2+ Ke7 23.Rfe1) 21.Rb3?! Nd4 22.Rxe3 Qxc4! (Staying coordinated, not 22…Nc2? 23.Qc3 Nxe3 24.Qxf6+ Kf8 25.Qh6+ Ke7 26.Qg5+ =) 23.Kh1 Nf5 24.Rd3 Bxe2 25.Rxd8 Rxd8 26.Re1 Re8 27.Qa5 (27.Nf2 Bf3! 28.Rxe8 Qf1# or if 28.Qc1 Qc6) 27…b5 (27…Rxe4 28.Qxf5 Bf3) 28.Nd2 Qd3 29.Nb3 Bf3 30.Bxf3 Qxf3+ 31.Kg1 Rxe1+ 32.Qxe1

Test Your Strength

Kasparov - Karpov Black to Play and Win

Black to play and win

Highlight the space below this line to reveal the answer.

32…Ne3 0-1 If 33.Qf2 Qd1+

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