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Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz: Kasparov makes a solid comeback

by Venkatachalam Saravanan - 16 August 2017

Saint Louis became the focal point of world attention as the 13th World Champion Garry Kasparov, sat on the board, back from his retirement after 12 years! V. Saravanan was at the venue and he tells us about how the playing hall suddenly started looking really small as people rushed to buy tickets to see the great Garry in action. Kasparov managed to remain unbeaten with three draws on day one. Vishy Anand had an off day as he scored just 0.5/3. We have a full report with the biggest blunders, brilliant moves and all the action from the first day of Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz.

Is Rapid Chess only about quick-thinking and reflexes? Blunders and absurd decisions are the only entertainment for spectators? Does age matter particularly in quicker time controls? These are the questions which spring up whenever one observes these ‘faster events’. Consider these:

 

Le - Caruana, position after 50...Rdg7 

50...Ke8?? [A horrendous blunder in a winning position] (50... Rf2 and Black was winning]
[Event "Saint Louis Rapid 2017"]
[Site "Saint Louis"]
[Date "2017.08.14"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Le, Quang Liem"]
[Black "Caruana, Fabiano"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D20"]
[WhiteElo "2739"]
[BlackElo "2807"]
[Annotator "Saravanan,V"]
[PlyCount "105"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[EventType "tourn"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[SourceTitle "playchess.com"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceQuality "1"]
1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. e4 Nf6 4. e5 Nd5 5. Bxc4 Nb6 6. Bd3 Nc6 7. Ne2 Bg4 8. f3
Bh5 9. Nbc3 e6 10. Be4 Bg6 11. O-O Be7 12. Be3 Bxe4 13. fxe4 O-O 14. Nf4 Bg5
15. Kh1 Qe7 16. Qh5 h6 17. Rad1 Nc4 18. Bc1 Rad8 19. b3 Nb6 20. Nce2 Rd7 21.
Rd3 Rfd8 22. Rg3 Nxd4 23. Nxd4 Rxd4 24. Nxe6 fxe6 25. Bxg5 Qe8 26. Qxe8+ Rxe8
27. Bxh6 Re7 28. Rg4 Nd7 29. Be3 Rd3 30. Bf4 Rd4 31. Re1 c5 32. h3 b5 33. Rg3
Rf7 34. Bc1 c4 35. Kh2 a5 36. bxc4 Rxc4 37. Bb2 Rc2 38. Bd4 Rxa2 39. Rd1 b4 40.
Rg6 Nf8 41. Rg3 Rd7 42. Rf3 Ng6 43. Rg3 Kh7 44. Rg5 b3 45. Rh5+ Kg8 46. Rg5 b2
47. Rxg6 Rxd4 48. Rxd4 b1=Q 49. Rd7 Kf8 50. Rdxg7 {[#]} Ke8 $4 {A horrendous
blunder in a winning position} (50... Rf2 $19 {and Black was winning}) 51. Ra7
$6 (51. Rg8+ Kd7 52. R6g7+ Kc6 53. Rc8+ Kb5 54. Rb7+ Ka4 55. Rxb1 $18) 51...
Kf8 52. Ra8+ Kf7 53. Rag8 {and tragically, White wins here, as Black cannot
prevent mate!} 1-0

 

Caruana - Blundering into a mate | Photo: V.Saravanan

Anand - Nakamura, position after 24...Nb7 

Anand has given up a pawn and he has complete compensation here, probably looking at winning it back and retaining a small edge: 25. c4? (Clearly overlooking a tactical detail) Ra5 26. c5 Qd5 27. Rb4 Nxc5! The point. Black simply wins more material here. He went on to win the game without a fuss.

[Event "Saint Louis Rapid 2017"]
[Site "Saint Louis"]
[Date "2017.08.14"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Anand, Viswanathan"]
[Black "Nakamura, Hikaru"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C50"]
[WhiteElo "2783"]
[BlackElo "2792"]
[Annotator "Saravanan,V"]
[PlyCount "92"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[EventType "tourn"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[SourceTitle "playchess.com"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceQuality "1"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. O-O Nf6 5. d3 d6 6. c3 a6 7. a4 O-O 8. h3 Ba7
9. Re1 b5 10. Bb3 h6 11. Nbd2 b4 12. a5 Rb8 13. Nf1 Be6 14. Bc2 b3 15. Bb1 d5
16. exd5 Qxd5 17. Be3 Bxe3 18. Nxe3 Qd6 19. Ra4 Rb5 20. Nc4 Bxc4 21. Rxc4 Nxa5
22. Ra4 Re8 23. d4 e4 24. Ne5 Nb7 {[#]Anand has given up a pawn and he has
complete compensation here, probably looking at winning it back and retaining
a small edge} 25. c4 $2 {Clearly overlooking a tactical detail} Ra5 26. c5 Qd5
27. Rb4 Nxc5 $1 {The point. Black simply wins more material here. He went on
to win the game without a fuss} 28. Nc4 Ra4 29. Ne3 Qe6 30. Qd2 Rxb4 31. Qxb4
Ncd7 32. Rc1 Rb8 33. Qa5 Qd6 34. Rc4 g6 35. Qxc7 Qxc7 36. Rxc7 Nb6 37. Kf1 Na4
38. Ke2 Nxb2 39. Rc6 Kg7 40. Rxa6 Nd3 41. Nc4 Nf4+ 42. Kd2 Rb4 43. Ne5 Rxd4+
44. Ke3 Rd1 45. Kxf4 Rxb1 46. Ra7 e3 0-1

 

And Anand’s woes did not end with this game:

 

Anand - Aronian, position after 22...Rc8

23. Nxe5?? (A tactical blunder which throws away the advantage) (23. Bxe5 Nc2 24. Re2 Na1 25. Kf1 would hold the advantage) 23... Nxe5 24. Bxe5 f4 and White lost all his advantage and went on to lose the game.

[Event "Saint Louis Rapid 2017"]
[Site "Saint Louis"]
[Date "2017.08.14"]
[Round "3"]
[White "Anand, Viswanathan"]
[Black "Aronian, Levon"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C50"]
[WhiteElo "2783"]
[BlackElo "2799"]
[Annotator "Saravanan,V"]
[PlyCount "78"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[EventType "tourn"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[SourceTitle "playchess.com"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceQuality "1"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. O-O Nf6 5. d3 O-O 6. a4 a5 7. c3 d5 8. exd5
Nxd5 9. Nbd2 Nb6 10. Bb5 Bd6 11. Ne4 Bg4 12. h3 Bh5 13. Ng3 Bg6 14. Re1 Re8 15.
Be3 Kh8 16. Qb3 Nd7 17. Bc4 f5 18. Bg5 Nc5 {[#]} 19. Bxd8 $1 {A nice piece of
calculation by Anand, who spots a way to sacrifice an exchange (or more?) in
quick time} Nxb3 20. Bxc7 Nxa1 21. Bxd6 Rad8 22. Bc7 Rc8 {[#]} (22... Rd7 23.
Nxe5 Ree7 24. Nxg6+ hxg6 25. Rxe7 Rxe7 26. Bf4 Re1+ 27. Nf1 $16) 23. Nxe5 $4 {
A tactical blunder which throws away the advantage} (23. Bxe5 Nc2 24. Re2 Na1
25. Kf1 $18) 23... Nxe5 24. Bxe5 f4 25. Bb5 fxg3 26. Bxe8 Rxe8 27. d4 (27. f4
Nb3 28. f5 Bf7 29. d4 Nd2 30. Bxg3 {gave White better chances to hold the draw}
) 27... gxf2+ 28. Kxf2 Nb3 29. g4 Kg8 30. Kg3 Nd2 31. b4 Ne4+ 32. Kh4 Nxc3 33.
bxa5 Nd5 34. Rc1 Be4 35. Rc5 Ne7 36. Kg3 Rc8 37. Rb5 Rc3+ 38. Kh2 Rc2+ 39. Kg1
Nd5 0-1

 

Anand - two blunders cost two games with White | Photo: V.Saravanan

Aronian - Nepomniachtchi, position after 50...Kg7

51. Bxc3? Panic? White's position wasn't all that bad as Aronian probably feared. There was a defence but it is very difficult to find such a coldblooded defensive move when short of time.
[Event "Saint Louis Rapid 2017"]
[Site "Saint Louis"]
[Date "2017.08.14"]
[Round "2"]
[White "Aronian, Levon"]
[Black "Nepomniachtchi, Ian"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A34"]
[WhiteElo "2799"]
[BlackElo "2751"]
[Annotator "Saravanan,V"]
[PlyCount "126"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[EventType "tourn"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[SourceTitle "playchess.com"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceQuality "1"]
1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e3 Nxc3 6. bxc3 g6 7. h4 Bg7 8.
h5 Nc6 9. Be2 b6 10. Kf1 Qd6 11. d4 O-O 12. Ba3 Bf5 13. Kg1 Rfd8 14. Qa4 Qf6
15. hxg6 hxg6 16. Rf1 Rac8 17. Bb2 Na5 18. Ba1 c4 19. Ne5 Qe6 20. Nf3 Bd3 21.
Qd1 Qf5 22. Bxd3 Qxd3 23. Qc1 Nc6 24. Rd1 Qf5 25. Re1 Qa5 26. e4 e6 27. g3 Qxa2
28. e5 Ne7 29. Ng5 Nd5 30. Ne4 b5 31. Qg5 b4 32. cxb4 Qa3 33. Rc1 Qf3 34. Rh4
Rf8 35. Qd2 Qd3 36. Bc3 Qf3 37. Qg5 Rc7 38. Be1 Rb8 39. Nc5 c3 40. Na6 Rcc8 41.
Nxb8 Rxb8 42. Qg4 Qxg4 43. Rxg4 Rc8 44. Re4 Bf8 45. b5 Ba3 46. Rc2 Rc4 47. Ree2
Bb4 48. Ra2 Nc7 49. Rxa7 Nxb5 50. Ra8+ Kg7 {[#]} 51. Bxc3 $2 {Panic? White's
position wasn't all that bad as Aronian probably feared} ({It is very
difficult to find a coldblooded defensive move when short of time} 51. Kg2 Nxd4
52. Re4 c2 53. Bxb4 $1 Rxb4 (53... c1=Q 54. Bf8+ Kg8 55. Ba3+ Rc8 56. Bxc1 Rxa8
57. Rxd4 {wins}) 54. Rc8 $11) 51... Bxc3 52. Kg2 Rxd4 53. f4 Rd3 54. Rf2 Bd4
55. Rf3 Rd2+ 56. Kh3 Nc3 57. Ra1 Ne4 58. Raf1 Nf2+ 59. Kh4 Bc5 60. g4 Ne4 61.
g5 Rh2+ 62. Rh3 Rg2 63. Rb3 Nf2 0-1

 

Le - Nakamura, position after 70.Kc5

70...Ke4?? (A blunder in a theoretically drawn position) (Black can draw the game by simply attacking White's passed pawns with 70... Kc3
[Event "Saint Louis Rapid 2017"]
[Site "Saint Louis"]
[Date "2017.08.14"]
[Round "3"]
[White "Le, Quang Liem"]
[Black "Nakamura, Hikaru"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "E10"]
[WhiteElo "2739"]
[BlackElo "2792"]
[Annotator "Saravanan,V"]
[PlyCount "149"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[EventType "tourn"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[SourceTitle "playchess.com"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceQuality "1"]
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. g3 Bb4+ 5. Bd2 Be7 6. Bg2 O-O 7. O-O Nbd7 8.
Qc2 Ne4 9. Bf4 c6 10. Nc3 g5 11. Bc1 f5 12. b3 b6 13. Bb2 Bb7 14. Rad1 Qe8 15.
Ne5 Nxe5 16. dxe5 Nxc3 17. Qxc3 Rc8 18. e3 Qg6 19. Qc1 Qg7 20. f4 gxf4 21. gxf4
Kh8 22. Kh1 Rg8 23. Bf3 Qh6 24. Ba3 Bxa3 25. Qxa3 Rg7 26. Qb2 Rcg8 27. Rg1 Qh4
28. Rxg7 Rxg7 29. Qd2 Ba6 30. cxd5 cxd5 31. Rg1 Rc7 32. Qg2 Qd8 33. Qh3 Rg7 34.
Qh6 Rxg1+ 35. Kxg1 d4 36. Qxe6 dxe3 37. Qd6 Qg8+ 38. Bg2 Qg4 39. e6 e2 40. Qe5+
Qg7 41. Kf2 Qxe5 42. fxe5 Kg7 43. Bf3 Kf8 44. Bxe2 Bc8 45. Bc4 Ke7 46. Ke3 Bb7
47. Bd3 h6 48. Bxf5 Bc6 49. b4 Bd5 50. a3 Bb3 51. Bg4 Ba4 52. Kf4 Bc2 53. Kg3
Bd3 54. Kh4 Bg6 55. Bh5 Bc2 56. Bg4 Bg6 57. Kg3 Bc2 58. Kf4 Bd3 59. Ke3 Bc2 60.
Kd4 Bb3 61. Bf5 Bd1 62. Kd5 Ba4 63. Bd3 Be8 64. b5 Bh5 65. Kc6 Bf3+ 66. Kc7
Kxe6 67. Kb8 Kxe5 68. Kxa7 Kd4 69. Kxb6 Kxd3 70. Kc5 {[#]} Ke4 $4 {A blunder
in a theoretically drawn position} ({Black can draw the game by simply
attacking White's passed pawns:} 70... Kc3 71. a4 Kb3 72. a5 Ka4 73. Kb6 (73.
a6 Ka5) 73... Kb4 74. a6 Bh1 75. a7 Ba8 76. Kc7 Kxb5 77. Kb8 Bh1 78. a8=Q Bxa8
79. Kxa8 $11) 71. a4 Ke5 72. a5 Ke6 73. Kb6 Be2 74. Kc6 Ke7 75. b6 1-0

 

A disheartened Nakamura in a displeasing handshake | Screengrab

But it were not just such dramatics happening throughout the day. Sample these now:

 

Aronian - Navara, position after 18...f6:

19. Rde1!! Aronian said that if Black could develop his knight to d7, he would be completely fine. Hence, it was important to keep the knight on e5.
[Event "Saint Louis Rapid 2017"]
[Site "Saint Louis"]
[Date "2017.08.14"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Aronian, Levon"]
[Black "Navara, David"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "E15"]
[WhiteElo "2799"]
[BlackElo "2737"]
[Annotator "Saravanan,V"]
[PlyCount "61"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[EventType "tourn"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[SourceTitle "playchess.com"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceQuality "1"]
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. g3 Ba6 5. b3 Bb4+ 6. Bd2 Be7 7. Nc3 O-O 8. Bg2
d5 9. cxd5 exd5 10. O-O Re8 11. Ne5 Bb7 12. Qc2 c5 13. dxc5 bxc5 14. Rad1 Qc8
15. e4 Bf8 16. f4 d4 17. Nd5 Nxd5 18. exd5 f6 19. Rde1 $5 {[#]Fantastic!
Aronian gives up the piece for long term compensation, which translates into
an attack on the kingside here} fxe5 20. fxe5 Nd7 21. e6 Nf6 22. Rxf6 $1 {
And it is a sacrifice of a whole rook now!} gxf6 23. Qf5 Qd8 $2 (23... Qc7 24.
Re4 h5 25. Qxf6 $3 {White has a draw, but he can get more here!} (25. Qxh5 Qh7
26. Rg4+ Kh8 27. Qxh7+ Kxh7 28. Be4+ Kh8 29. Rh4+ Kg8 30. Rg4+ Kh8 $11 {
with perpetual check}) 25... Bg7 26. Qg5 {and the computers assess the
position as better for White here, which means all along Aronian's sacrificial
play was fully justified!}) 24. Re4 Re7 25. Rg4+ Kh8 (25... Rg7 26. Be4) 26.
Be4 $18 Rc8 27. Rh4 Kg8 28. Rxh7 Bxd5 29. Qg6+ Rg7 30. Qh5 Bxe4 31. Rh8# 1-0

 

This was the second tragedy to strike Nakamura, as he had drawn a game which he should have won the previous round. But talking about that game should be dealt with the whole background information of the day itself! First of all, when you entered the venue today, you suddenly felt the surge in crowd, all wanting to buy the tickets, all wanting to get in f..a..s..t:

Believe me, it was a lot worse than it seems ! | Photo: V.Saravanan

It was a day when the King Kong arrived, and went to war as the whole world watched with bated breath. And the crampedness of the place exposed itself as the limited space in the tournament hall for such a glorious moment hurt the spectators and mediapersons alike.

All want a piece of history being created (or was it re-created?) in front of our own eyes! | Photo: Lennart Ootes

And then one remembered what Garry Kasparov did whenever he got serious with the position, and then you remembered what it was like when the 13th World Champion got out of his opening preparation and started the ‘second battle’ of any game.

That piece of metal which used to tell us the story of the moment!! | Photo: V.Saravanan

And it didn’t take you long to understand that it was vintage Garry all the way!

Eyes! Those eyes which held such lust, hunger, thirst and dreams in them | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Honestly, the games weren’t the glorious pieces of battles that they were used to be. But Garry proved his erstwhile class, and also his ability to keep the chess strength all these years by not making a single obvious blunder in all the three games. Considering the gap of 12 years which have separated after the last tournament game, it was commendable that he drew his games with Karjakin, Nakamura and Dominguez Perez. For me, the glimpse of vintage Kasparov play was revealed in an almost negligible moment on the board:

 

 

Nakamura - Kasparov, position after 19.Na4:

After a short thought, Kasparov played without hesitation: 19...e5. When I saw the move, I could not stifle a smile. Okay people, we have him, with all his straightforward approach to chess, with all the grand schemes of his persona still intact, and the same determination to play for the fullest on the board in an open way. And his dogged determination came in the following position when he saved a losing position:

 

Nakamura - Kasparov, position after 51...Kxf7:

Now, after a long time of pushing, Nakamura finally faltered with 52.Ke4? when the other choice of 52.Kc4 Bf2 53.Kb5 would have won the game.

[Event "Saint Louis Rapid 2017"]
[Site "Saint Louis"]
[Date "2017.08.14"]
[Round "2"]
[White "Nakamura, Hikaru"]
[Black "Kasparov, Garry"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "D80"]
[WhiteElo "2792"]
[BlackElo "2812"]
[Annotator "Saravanan,V"]
[PlyCount "154"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[EventType "tourn"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[SourceTitle "playchess.com"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceQuality "1"]
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Bg5 Bg7 5. Bxf6 Bxf6 6. cxd5 c6 7. e4 O-O 8.
Nf3 cxd5 9. e5 Bg7 10. Qd2 Nc6 11. Bb5 Bg4 12. Ng1 f6 13. h3 Be6 14. exf6 Rxf6
15. Bxc6 bxc6 16. Nge2 Qd6 17. O-O Raf8 18. Rae1 Bc8 19. Na4 {[#]} e5 20. dxe5
Qxe5 21. b4 Re6 22. Nc5 Ree8 23. Nb3 Qb2 24. Qxb2 Bxb2 25. Ned4 Rxe1 26. Rxe1
Bd7 27. Re2 Bc3 28. Rc2 Bxb4 29. Nxc6 Bd6 30. Nxa7 Re8 31. g4 h5 32. f3 Re1+
33. Kg2 Kf7 34. Nc6 h4 35. Ncd4 Rd1 36. Rd2 Rxd2+ 37. Nxd2 Kf6 38. Kf2 Ke5 39.
Ke3 g5 40. f4+ gxf4+ 41. Kd3 Be7 42. N2f3+ Kd6 43. Nf5+ Bxf5+ 44. gxf5 Kc5 45.
Nd4 Kd6 46. a4 Bd8 47. Ne6 Bb6 48. Nxf4 Ke5 49. f6 Bc5 50. f7 Kf6 51. Nxd5+
Kxf7 52. Ke4 $2 (52. Kc4 Bf2 53. Kb5 Ke8 54. Kc6 Kd8 55. Kb7 {and White wins})
52... Ke6 53. Nf4+ Kd6 54. Ng2 Bf2 55. Kf3 Bg3 56. Kg4 Kc5 {It's a theoretical
draw now} 57. Nxh4 Bf2 58. Nf5 Kb4 59. Ng3 Kxa4 60. h4 Kb5 61. h5 Be3 62. Ne4
Kc6 63. Ng5 Kd7 64. h6 Ke7 65. h7 Bd4 66. Kf5 Ba1 67. Kg6 Bb2 68. Nf7 Ba1 69.
Nh6 Bh8 70. Ng4 Ba1 71. Ne3 Bh8 72. Nd5+ Ke6 73. Nf4+ Ke7 74. Nh3 Ke6 75. Ng5+
Ke7 76. Nf7 Ba1 77. h8=Q Bxh8 1/2-1/2

 

No doubt that the slightly portly Kasparov also shows signs of nervousness with age. The grimaces, pulls, exaggerated eye-widenings were all there, worse than ever!

And then you remember the immortal words of Vladimir Kramnik. “Favourite Actor? Garry Kasparov!” And then you smile! | Pictures: V.Saravanan

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 

Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz: All eyes on Garry Kasparov as former champion returns to chess after 12 years


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