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Anand vs Kasparov - Revival of a fascinating rivalry

by Saravanan Venkatachalam - 14 August 2017

When Vishy played Kasparov for the World Championship Match in 1995, the Indian youngster was brilliant, but inexperienced. One of Anand's major drawback was lack of high class opening preparation. Fast forward 22 years and the same Anand is feared in elite chess circles as a master of opening preparation! Chess fans always wondered how would Kasparov have fared against this meticulously prepared Anand. Well it remained only a theoretical question as Kasparov had retired in 2005. But now from 14th-18th we will see Garry back on the board in Saint Louis, and the age-old rivalry will be renewed. V. Saravanan takes you down the memory lane.

In the just concluded Sinquefield Cup, after his win against Ian Nepomniachtchi, when Anand visited the commentary box, he encountered another significant presence - Kasparov, the 13th World Champion who had decided to entertain himself watching the 7th round of the super tournament. There was one curious moment during the analysis when both were amused to learn of a funny-looking move suggested by a computer chess engine. Kasparov suggested a straight-forward dangerous looking push of a white pawn, while Anand instantly came up with a quiet rook move, which would calmly sidestep the engine’s threats and win the game much more efficiently.

The computer suggested the cheeky move ...Rg4!? and both Kasparov and Anand were amused by it!

After Ra4, Vishy also chipped in with ....f5!?

Marvelling the tactical sharpness of these two erstwhile rivals, one could not help getting excited that these two modern giants will be once again battling each other in the Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz which starts from Monday, the 14th of August.

Garry Kasparov back to professional chess at the Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz (Photo V.Saravanan) 

Viswanathan Anand’s first encounter with Garry Kimovich Kasparov was at the annual Torneo Internacional de Ajedrez Ciudad de Linares in 1991, held at Linares, a sleepy little town in southern Spain, and it was a thrilling draw. The Petroff Defence, precursor to the modern Berlin Defence of the Ruy Lopez, was a point of annoyance for white players at that time, aiming for symmetrical structures in the centre seemingly producing ‘dry’ positions where White found it difficult to infuse any dynamism. With black pieces, Anand played a topical variation of the opening at that time and held the draw without difficulties in a 27 move theoretical encounter.

[Event "Linares 09th"]
[Site "Linares"]
[Date "1991.??.??"]
[Round "11"]
[White "Kasparov, Garry"]
[Black "Anand, Viswanathan"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C43"]
[WhiteElo "2800"]
[BlackElo "2635"]
[Annotator "Schussler"]
[PlyCount "54"]
[EventDate "1991.02.??"]
[EventType "tourn"]
[EventRounds "13"]
[EventCountry "ESP"]
[EventCategory "17"]
[SourceTitle "CBM 022"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "1991.06.01"]
[SourceVersion "1"]
[SourceVersionDate "1991.06.01"]
[SourceQuality "1"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. d4 Nxe4 4. Bd3 d5 5. Nxe5 Bd6 6. O-O O-O 7. c4 Bxe5 8.
dxe5 Nc6 9. cxd5 Qxd5 10. Qc2 Nb4 11. Bxe4 Nxc2 12. Bxd5 Bf5 13. g4 Bxg4 14.
Be4 Nxa1 15. Bf4 f5 16. Bd5+ (16. Bxb7 Nc2 17. f3 Bh5 18. Bd5+ Kh8 19. Bxa8
Rxa8 20. Rd1 c5) 16... Kh8 17. Rc1 c6 (17... Rad8 18. Nc3 b5 19. e6) 18. Bg2
Rfd8 19. Nd2 (19. f3 Bh5 20. Na3 Rd4 21. Be3 Rb4 22. Nc4 Ra4 23. Na3) 19...
Rxd2 20. Bxd2 Rd8 21. Bc3 Rd1+ 22. Rxd1 Bxd1 23. f4 Nc2 24. Kf2 Kg8 25. a4 a5
26. Bxa5 Nd4 27. Bf1 Bb3 1/2-1/2


The 21-year-old Indian was a comparative newcomer to the world of ‘elite’ chess at that time, while Kasparov was the reigning world champion, en route to creating records which stand against his name till date. Most importantly, when the encounter took place, Kasparov’s play in the opening was the benchmark of theoretical preparation of the times, while Anand was a still a learner of top-class theory, a deficiency which would haunt him for the first decade of his career among the elites.


Anand announced his phenomenal potential with a cracker of a tournament at the elite Interpolis tournament at Tilburg, Netherlands in the same year, when he defeated both Kasparov and Karpov, making sure the whole world sat up and took notice of him. The significance of Tilburg 1991 was the course of those two games when Anand defeated the two ‘formidable Ks’ in the same event. The two soviet grandmasters were the acclaimed giants of the game who were believed to be roaming the heights of the top exclusively between themselves, fighting a total of 5 world championship matches between them during 1984 to 1990.


That inaugural baptism by fire for Anand at Tilburg in 1991 has an amazing significance for today historically. Anand defeated Kasparov with white pieces in a complicated tactical Sicilian mess of a game, where at some point he had voluntarily accepted the imbalance of a queen against Kasparov’s three minor pieces. Material imbalance is one of the most difficult territories for a practical player to traverse over the board, where only naturally brilliant and tactically intuitive players possessing the knack of conducting the game correctly.

Anand vs Kasparov, Tilburg 1991 (analysis by Lautier)

[Event "Tilburg"]
[Site "Tilburg"]
[Date "1991.??.??"]
[Round "6"]
[White "Anand, Viswanathan"]
[Black "Kasparov, Garry"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B82"]
[WhiteElo "2650"]
[BlackElo "2770"]
[Annotator "Lautier"]
[PlyCount "57"]
[EventDate "1991.10.??"]
[EventType "tourn"]
[EventRounds "14"]
[EventCountry "NED"]
[EventCategory "17"]
[SourceTitle "CBM 026"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "1992.02.01"]
[SourceVersion "1"]
[SourceVersionDate "1992.02.01"]
[SourceQuality "1"]
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. f4 e6 7. Bd3 Nbd7 8. O-O
Qb6 (8... Be7) (8... g6) 9. Be3 Qxb2 (9... e5 10. Nf5 Qxb2 11. Qd2 Qa3 (11...
Qb4 12. Nb5 Qxd2 13. Nbxd6+ Bxd6 14. Nxd6+ Ke7 15. Nf5+ Kf8 16. Bxd2) 12. Bc4)
10. Ndb5 axb5 11. Nxb5 Ra5 (11... Qb4 12. Nc7+ Ke7 (12... Kd8 13. Nxa8 Qa5 14.
Nb6 Nxb6 15. Qe1 Qa7 16. a4 Ng4 17. a5) 13. Nxa8 Qa5 14. e5 Ne8 15. exd6+ Nxd6
16. c4 Qxa8 17. c5 Ne8 18. f5 (18. f5 f6 (18... Ne5) 19. Bd4 Ne5 (19... e5 20.
Qb3 Nc7) 20. Bxe5 fxe5 21. Bc4)) (11... Kd8 12. a3 Ra4 (12... d5 13. Rb1 Qa2
14. Rb3) 13. c4) (11... Rb8 12. Rb1 Qxa2 13. Ra1 Qb2 14. Bd4 Qb4 15. c3) 12.
Rb1 Rxb5 (12... Qxa2 13. Nc3 Qa3 14. Rb3) 13. Rxb2 Rxb2 14. Qa1 Rb6 (14... Rb4
15. Qc3) 15. Bxb6 Nxb6 16. Qc3 Be7 (16... Kd8 17. Qa5 Nfd7 18. Rb1 d5 (18...
Kc7 19. Bb5 Kb8 (19... Nc5 20. Be8) 20. Bxd7 Nxd7 21. Qd8 g6 (21... d5 22. Kf1
dxe4 23. Rb3 Nc5 24. Rc3) 22. Kh1 Bg7 23. Qe7 Kc7 24. Rd1) 19. exd5 exd5 20.
Bf5 Bc5+ 21. Kf1 Ke7 22. Bxd7 Nxd7 23. Qc7 f6 24. Rd1 d4 25. c3) (16... Nfd7
17. Rb1 Be7 (17... d5 18. Rxb6 Nxb6 (18... Bc5+ 19. Kf1 d4 20. Qc4) 19. Qc7))
17. Rb1 Nfd7 (17... Bd8 18. Qd4 Nbd7 19. Qxd6 Be7 20. Qc7 O-O 21. Kf1) 18. Qxg7
(18. Qc7 O-O 19. Rxb6 Bd8 20. Qxc8 Bxb6+) 18... Bf6 19. Qh6 Ke7 (19... Rg8 20.
e5 dxe5 21. Bxh7 (21. Rxb6 e4 22. Rxe6+ fxe6 23. Bxe4) 21... Rh8 22. Rxb6 Nxb6
(22... e4 23. Rb4 Ke7 24. Rc4) 23. Qxf6 Rxh7 24. Qxe5 Nd5 25. c4 Ne7 26. a4)
20. Bb5 (20. g4 Rg8 21. g5 Bg7 (21... Bd4+ 22. Kf1 Nf8) 22. Qh4 (22. Qxh7 Bd4+
23. Kf1 (23. Kh1 Rh8) 23... Rh8) 22... e5 (22... h6 23. Kf1 hxg5 24. Qxg5+) (
22... Na4 23. Kh1 Nac5 24. g6+ Bf6 25. gxh7) 23. Kh1 exf4 24. e5 Bxe5 25. g6+
Bf6 26. gxh7 Rh8 27. Qh6) 20... Rg8 (20... e5 21. Rf1 (21. f5 Nc5) 21... Rg8
22. fxe5 Bxe5 23. Qxh7 Rg7 24. Qh4+ Nf6) (20... Nc5 21. e5 dxe5 22. fxe5 Bxe5
23. Qg5+ Kd6 24. Rd1+ Nd5 25. c4) 21. Rd1 e5 (21... Nc5 22. e5 (22. Rxd6 Rg6)
22... dxe5 23. fxe5 Bxe5 24. Qe3 (24. Qh4+ Bf6 25. Qb4) 24... Nbd7 (24... Bd6
25. Qd4 Rd8 (25... Nd5 26. c4) 26. Qh4+ f6 27. Qxh7+ Kf8 28. Qh8+ Ke7 29. Qg7#)
25. Bxd7 Nxd7 26. Rxd7+ Bxd7 27. Qxe5 Bc6 28. g3) (21... Rg4 22. e5 dxe5 23.
Qh3 Rxf4 24. Qa3+ Ke8 25. Qc5 Bd8 26. a4) 22. f5 Nc5 (22... Rd8 23. g4 Nc5 24.
g5 Nxe4 (24... Bh8 25. f6+) 25. gxf6+ Nxf6) (22... Rg4 23. Qd2 d5 24. Bxd7 Nxd7
(24... Bxd7 25. Qb4+) (24... Kxd7 25. Qe2) 25. Qxd5) (22... Na8 23. Bxd7 Bxd7
24. Rxd6 Bg5 (24... Kxd6 25. Qxf6+ Kc7 26. Qxf7) 25. Qxh7) (22... Na8) 23. Rxd6
Bg5 (23... Kxd6 24. Qxf6+ Kc7 25. Qxf7+ (25. Qxe5+) (25. Qxe5+)) 24. Qxh7 Nxe4
(24... Kxd6 25. Qxg8 Be3+ (25... Nxe4 26. Qxf7) 26. Kf1 Nxe4 (26... Ke7 27.
Qe8+ (27. f6+ Kxf6 28. Qd8+) 27... Kf6 28. Qd8+) (26... Bd7 27. Bxd7 Nbxd7 28.
Qxf7) 27. Qxf7) 25. Rxb6 (25. Qxg8 Be3+ 26. Kf1 Nxd6) 25... Rd8 (25... Be3+ 26.
Kf1 Rd8 27. Qh4+) 26. Bd3 (26. f6+ Nxf6 27. Rxf6 Bxf6) 26... Be3+ 27. Kf1 Bxb6
(27... Nd2+ 28. Ke2 Bxb6 29. Qh4+ Kd7 (29... Ke8 30. Bb5+ Bd7 31. Qh8+ Ke7 32.
Qxe5+ Kf8 33. Qd6+) 30. Kxd2) 28. Bxe4 Rd4 29. c3 (29. c3 Rxe4 30. f6+ (30. f6+
Kxf6 31. Qxe4)) 1-0


Against Karpov, what started as a slow manoeuvring game in the solid Caro-Kann descended into tactical chaos late in the middlegame, again with a material imbalance of Anand with white pieces holding a rook against a minor piece and two pawns. Moving with lightning speed, Anand’s pieces wove a consistent assault on the black king which Karpov could not withstand.

Anand vs Karpov, Tilburg 1991 (analysis by Anand)

[Event "Tilburg"]
[Site "Tilburg"]
[Date "1991.??.??"]
[Round "6"]
[White "Anand, Viswanathan"]
[Black "Karpov, Anatoly"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B12"]
[WhiteElo "2650"]
[BlackElo "2730"]
[Annotator "Anand,V"]
[PlyCount "113"]
[EventDate "1991.10.??"]
[EventType "tourn"]
[EventRounds "14"]
[EventCountry "NED"]
[EventCategory "17"]
[SourceTitle "CBM 026"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "1992.02.01"]
[SourceVersion "1"]
[SourceVersionDate "1992.02.01"]
[SourceQuality "1"]
1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. Nf3 e6 5. Be2 a6 (5... Nd7 6. O-O Ne7 (6... h6
7. c3 Qc7 8. a4 g5 9. Na3 f6 10. Bd3 Bxd3 11. Qxd3 O-O-O 12. exf6 Ngxf6 13. Re1
Re8 14. c4 Ne4 15. Nd2 Bb4) 7. c3 (7. Nh4 Bg6 8. Nd2 c5 9. c3 cxd4 10. cxd4 Nf5
11. Nxg6 hxg6 12. Nf3) 7... h6 (7... c5) 8. Na3 a6) 6. O-O Nd7 7. Nbd2 (7. c4
dxc4 8. Bxc4 Ne7) 7... Bg6 8. a3 Nh6 (8... Ne7 9. Nh4) 9. c4 Be7 10. Nb3 O-O (
10... Nf5 11. Bd2 a5 12. cxd5 cxd5 (12... exd5) 13. Bb5 b6 14. Bc3) 11. Bxh6
gxh6 12. Qd2 Kg7 13. Na5 Qc7 14. cxd5 (14. b4 b6 15. Nb3 dxc4 16. Bxc4 a5)
14... exd5 15. b4 f6 16. Rae1 Rae8 17. Qc3 Bd8 18. Bd3 fxe5 19. Bxg6 hxg6 20.
dxe5 c5 21. e6+ Nf6 22. Nb3 cxb4 23. Qxb4 (23. Qxc7+) 23... Be7 24. Qd2 Bxa3
25. Qd3 (25. Nbd4 Re7 26. Qd3 Bc5) 25... Bd6 26. Nbd4 Qc4 (26... Re7) (26...
Ne4) 27. Qb1 Qb4 (27... Re7) 28. e7 Rf7 (28... Rg8 29. Ne6+ Kh8 30. Qa1 Bxe7
31. Nc7 Rd8 32. Re6 Rgf8 33. Ne5) 29. Ne6+ Kh7 30. Nf8+ Rexf8 31. exf8=N+ Bxf8
32. Qd3 Qc4 33. Qe3 Qe4 34. Ne5 Rg7 (34... Re7 35. Qc5 Qf5 36. Nxg6) 35. Qb6
Qf5 36. Nf3 Rf7 37. Re5 Qf4 38. Re6 Nd7 39. Qb1 Qg4 40. Re3 (40. Rfe1 Rxf3 41.
h3 Qg5 42. h4 Qg4 43. h5) 40... Bc5 41. Rd3 Qf5 (41... Qe4 42. Re1 Qf5) 42. Nd4
Qh5 (42... Qe4 43. Re1 Qh4 44. g3 (44. Rg3 Nf8 45. Nf3 Qf6) 44... Qh5) 43. Rh3
Qg4 44. Nf3 Re7 45. Qxb7 Qc4 (45... Nf6 46. Qxa6 (46. Qc6 Ne4 47. Qxd5 Qf5 48.
Qxf5 gxf5) 46... Ne4) 46. Qb2 h5 47. Rg3 Re2 48. Qa1 a5 (48... d4) 49. Ng5+ Kg8
50. Nh3 Ne5 51. Qxa5 Be7 52. Qa7 Ng4 53. Rf3 Ne5 54. Re3 Kf7 55. Qb7 Kf6 56.
Rxe2 Qxe2 57. Nf4 1-0


This in a nutshell, was the phenomenon of young Vishy Anand - incredibly gifted and natural tactician moving like an express train who burst into the world elite and challenged the might of western dinosaurs who seemingly possessed all-rounded chess pragmatism and knowledge.


Curiously, the final encounter between Kasparov and Anand too was from the Petroff Defence with same colours again at Linares in 2005, resulting in another draw in 22 moves. But in the interim years, Anand’s reputation underwent a radical change, ultimately resulting in the feared theoretician that he would establish himself after the millennium, as praised by another esteemed colleague Vladimir Kramnik, himself an opening theoretician of excellence.


Between these 14 long years, the two modern giants of the game would duel a total of 48 times in the classical format of Chess, where Anand would score 3 wins against 15 losses with 30 draws. In rapid chess - as much as we can rely on available data which may not be entirely complete - Anand’s score was a much better 5 wins against 10 losses with 13 draws.


  Anand Wins
  Anand White Anand Black Total
Classical Chess 2 1 3
Rapid Chess 4 1 5
Total 6 2 8


  Kasparov Wins
  Anand White Anand Black Total
Classical Chess 5 10 15
Rapid Chess 6 4 10
Total 11 14 25


  Anand White Anand Black Total
Classical Chess 13 17 30
Rapid Chess 5 8 13
Total 18 25 43

Seen in the overall context of their rivalry, Anand probably ran into Kasparov too soon for the title of the World Chess Champion, when they played each other at the Kasparov-founded Professional Chess Association’s summit match at the World Trade Center in New York in the autumn of 1995. Funning into the opening theoretical might of Kasparov, Anand almost didn’t know what hit him. Delightedly tasting first blood in the 9th game, Anand immediately ran into disaster in the next two games, losing in the opening battle itself, from the black side of an Open Ruy Lopez in the 10th game and white side of a Sicilian Dragon in the 11th game. Anand never recovered from those twin hits. 


Battling his own career frustrations, Kasparov retired from the sport in 2005, and Anand’s long reign as the world champion started 2007 when he won the Mexico City round robin. But it was the year 2008 when he etched his name determinedly as one of the all-time greats of opening theory, defeating Kramnik convincingly in a World Championship match winning the 3rd and 5th games with black pieces in amazingly concocted theoretical ambushes where Kramnik couldn’t withstand the force of black’s raw attacking threats on the kingside.


What basically happened between those years of Anand with being hit by the Dragon by Kasparov 1995, and Anand creator of the onslaught in the Slav with black against Kramnik in 2008? Mastery of theory, even inventing his own scientific methods of using computers for opening preparation, more maturity in board presence, and even more sharpening of tactical skills. A pity for chess lovers that Kasparov was not still around.

Viswanathan Anand - the tactical express train who became a theoretical innovator (Photo V.Saravanan)

It will be exciting to watch Vishy Anand take on Kasparov at the Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz. 14th, 15th and 16th will be the rapid, while 17th and 18th will be blitz. Anand will play Kasparov once in rapid and twice in blitz.

Anand Career Vol.1+2

Anand discusses his game with Kasparov from Tilburg and much more on this ChessBase DVD which covers his entire career. This is something which every chess lover must possess.


About the Author:

Saravanan Venkatachalam is an International Master and has been an active chess player in the Indian circuit, and has been consistently writing on chess since late 1980s. He turned complete chess professional in 2012, actively playing and being a second and a trainer to a handful of Indian players. He reports on chess tournaments, occasionally being a correspondent to national newspapers and news channels. Apart from chess, he is also interested in Tamil and English literature, music and photography.

Coverage on Firstpost

Firstpost and ChessBase India have collaborated to bring you extensive and detailed coverage of the chess scene in India and internationally.


Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz will be extensively covered by Venkatachalam Saravanan who is in USA.




Viswanathan Anand vs Garry Kasparov: A classic rivalry set to revive at Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz event 

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