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Saint Louis Rapid day two: Battle of world war one veterans!

by Venkatachalam Saravanan - 16 August 2017

Day two of the Saint Louis Rapid held special importance. Two old foes Vishy Anand and Garry Kasparov, who had played the World Championship match against each other 22 years ago, were going to be seated opposite each other in the sixth round. It was a complex Sicilian Defence that ended in a draw. Meanwhile, Kasparov lost his first game after making a comeback by spoiling a very promising position against Ian Nepomniachtchi. Nepo is now the sole leader of the tournament. Our author IM V. Saravanan brings you all the action from the Saint Louis Chess Club. 

As I hurried early into the tournament hall to get the vantage point to stand and watch the eagerly awaited clash between Vishy Anand and Garry Kasparov in the 6th round of the Rapid event, I found another journalist simply squatting on the floor in front of the table which would host the game between the two world champions. Unlike the regular practice of all the spectators leaving the playing arena in the 20 odd minutes between the rounds and rushing in back again, the gentleman had never exited the hall for fear of losing a comfortable standing place to witness the game. And to my exaggerated raise of eyebrows teasing him, he smiles softly and says,”Yes, I am neither a Russian or Indian, but I was present at the now destroyed World Trade Center when Rudy Giuliani inaugurated the event. And after these 22 years, this is the first time they will be playing each other again on the American soil”.

This particular game was not about the competitive element of the tournament or for scrutiny of scoreboard later on. Simply, it was about witnessing a historic clash between two former world champions who probably know each other the best due to their years together and proximity in age. After all, 54 year old Kasparov and 47 year old Anand are way farther than the other participants of the event, as the next in the order would be Levon Aronian, 13 behind Anand at 34 years of age. And fittingly, Anand paid warm compliments, telling he was “very impressed - He is playing very well’ about Kasparov.

 

With characteristic sense of humour, he good-heartedly needled Kasparov at the commentary box, “He still calculates, calculates, calculates calculates! He is giving me all these long lines on his game with Aronian, complaining that Aronian escaped!” chuckling all the way. And ‘in the end, we chatted like some World War-1 veterans’.

Anand and Kasparov - World war-1 veterans in fire-forged friendship? | Photo: Lennart Ootes

But Kasparov was as serious as ever, drawing huge breaths, “20 years ago it could be 3 out of 3. As promised I played more aggressively. I wanted big fight(s). I said I would entertain everybody”. Promising to continue in the same way, he said, “I am going to have fun, and hopefully if I get winning position(s) I will not blunder again!”

 

With Kasparov around, there was no dearth of moments. At some point, the cramped tournament hall felt even worse when the Air-conditioning broke down partially, forcing the organisers to evacuate spectators periodically so as to bring solace to players. But a perspiring Kasparov came out with a typical expression:

Kasparov - Feeling the heat? | Photo: V.Saravanan

Deserted tournament hall which had a mild aircondition problem | Photo: Lennart Ootes

And what were those ‘many many good moves’ which Kasparov was referring to? Anand resorted to the Rossolimo, explaining “I tried to play something he might be unfamiliar with. (But) he hung in there quite well”. And more! With that intuition of being one of the best ever players of the Sicilian Najdorf ever, Kasparov reached the following position:

 

Anand - Kasparov, position after 19.Qd2:

Vintage Kasparov boldly uncorked, 19...d5! 20. Ncxd5 (Only move) Nxd5 21. exd5 Bg5 and it was Black who had the initiative here.

[Event "Saint Louis Rapid 2017"]
[Site "Saint Louis"]
[Date "2017.08.15"]
[Round "6"]
[White "Anand, Viswanathan"]
[Black "Kasparov, Garry"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "B51"]
[WhiteElo "2783"]
[BlackElo "2812"]
[Annotator "ChessBase"]
[PlyCount "62"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[EventType "tourn"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[SourceTitle "playchess.com"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceQuality "1"]
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Nd7 4. d4 cxd4 5. Qxd4 {As Anand remarked, he
wanted to play something which Kasparov would be unfamiliar with, but it
didn't quite work out as planned} a6 6. Bxd7+ Bxd7 7. Nc3 e5 8. Qd3 h6 9. Nd2
Be6 10. Nc4 Rc8 11. Ne3 Nf6 12. O-O Be7 13. Rd1 O-O 14. Bd2 Rc5 15. a4 Qc8 16.
Be1 Rd8 {Playing sensible moves from a Boleslavsky pawn structure, Black has
reached a reasonable position} 17. b4 Rc7 18. a5 Bc4 19. Qd2 {[#]} d5 $1 {
Excellent play by Kasparov!} 20. Ncxd5 {Only move} Nxd5 21. exd5 Bg5 22. d6
Rcd7 (22... Rc6 {Kasparov later remarked that White would have been in big
trouble after this} 23. d7 (23. Ra3 Qe6 24. d7 e4 25. Rc3 Rc7) 23... Qc7 24.
Ra3 Be6 25. Qe2 Rxd7 {with a slight edge for Black}) 23. Qc3 Bxe3 24. Qxe3 Rxd6
25. Rxd6 Rxd6 26. Qxe5 Qc6 27. Qc5 Qxc5 28. bxc5 Re6 29. Bc3 Bd5 30. Re1 Rxe1+
31. Bxe1 f6 1/2-1/2

In the first game of the day against Aronian, Kasparov created winning possibilities in an equal looking ending, even when short of time:

 

Aronian - Kasparov, position after 31...Rd7:

After Aronian’s mistake here, suddenly Kasparov created winning chances: 32.Nc3? Rxd3 33.Kxd3 Rxc5 34.bxc5 Ke6 and Black had chances to win the endgame. Garry missed a tactic at a critical moment:

Aronian - Kasparov, position after 40.Ne4: 

Here, instead of the patient 40...h6 41.h3 g4 42.h4 Ke6 which would have given Black serious winning chances, Kasparov went wrong with 40...Kg4?? 41.h3! Kxh3 42.Nxg5 Kxg3 and the game was drawn.

[Event "Saint Louis Rapid 2017"]
[Site "Saint Louis"]
[Date "2017.08.15"]
[Round "4"]
[White "Aronian, Levon"]
[Black "Kasparov, Garry"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "A45"]
[WhiteElo "2799"]
[BlackElo "2812"]
[Annotator "ChessBase"]
[PlyCount "84"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[EventType "tourn"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[SourceTitle "playchess.com"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceQuality "1"]
1. d4 Nf6 2. Bf4 c5 3. dxc5 Nc6 4. Nc3 e5 5. Bg5 Bxc5 6. e3 Bb4 7. Nge2 d5 8.
a3 Bxc3+ 9. Nxc3 Be6 10. Bb5 d4 11. Bxf6 Qxf6 12. Ne4 Qg6 13. Ng3 O-O 14. Qd3
Qxd3 15. Bxd3 f5 16. O-O-O dxe3 17. fxe3 a6 18. Ne2 e4 19. Nf4 exd3 20. Nxe6
dxc2 21. Kxc2 Rf7 22. Rhe1 Re8 23. Nf4 Rfe7 24. Nd5 Re5 25. Rd3 Kf7 26. g3 g5
27. Red1 Rd8 28. b4 Ree8 29. Rc3 Re6 30. Rc5 Re5 31. Rd3 Rd7 {Black is
threatening ...Kf7-e6 here} 32. Nc3 $2 ({Better was} 32. Kc3 Ke6 33. Kc4 h6 {
and Black has a slight edge but it is not clear how he can continue}) 32...
Rxd3 33. Kxd3 Rxc5 34. bxc5 Ke6 {Suddenly, Kasparov has chances of a win in
this endgame!} 35. e4 Ne5+ 36. Ke2 Nd7 $1 37. exf5+ Kxf5 38. Kd3 Nxc5+ 39. Kd4
Nd7 40. Ne4 Kg4 $4 {Missing a tactic} (40... h6 41. h3 g4 42. h4 Ke6 {and
Black has very good chances to win this endgame}) 41. h3+ $1 Kxh3 42. Nxg5+
Kxg3 1/2-1/2

Levon Aronian - Just escaping from Kasparov | Photo: Spectrum Studios

Kasparov’s most disappointing moment had come in the 5th round, when he held a clear initiative:

 

Kasparov - Nepomniachtchi, position after 21...0-0:

Conducting an impressive assault on Black, White has created an advantage, but he inexplicably played 22.exd7? Losing the pride of his position, the e6-pawn after 22...Nc3 23.Bc4+ Kh8 24.Qxd2 Ne4 25.Qe3 Qxd7 when the position got equalised. As pointed out by Kasparov himself, he missed 22.Bxd7 Nb6 23.Bb5 Qd5 24.Qe2 and White keeps an edge. And his lack of matchplay got exposed in the following position which brought him his only loss so far in the tournament:

 

Kasparov - Nepomniachtchi, position after 34...Rxe8:

35.Bf7?? Re3!! Beautiful! Kasparov obviously overlooked this tactic 36.fxe3 Qxg3 37.Kf1 f3 and faced with mate, Kasparov resigned. But at the end of the day, Nepomniachtchi is the only unbeaten player of the tournament, going on a thinly marginal sole lead.

[Event "Saint Louis Rapid 2017"]
[Site "Saint Louis"]
[Date "2017.08.15"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Kasparov, Garry"]
[Black "Nepomniachtchi, Ian"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "D90"]
[WhiteElo "2812"]
[BlackElo "2751"]
[Annotator "ChessBase"]
[PlyCount "74"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[EventType "tourn"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[SourceTitle "playchess.com"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceQuality "1"]
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. h4 c6 6. Bg5 dxc4 7. e4 Be6 8. e5
Nd5 9. h5 Nd7 10. h6 Bf8 11. Ne4 f6 12. Bd2 b5 13. a4 Bf5 14. Ng3 e6 15. Nxf5
exf5 16. axb5 cxb5 17. Be2 Be7 18. O-O a5 19. b3 c3 20. Bxb5 cxd2 21. e6 O-O
22. exd7 $2 {Kasparov was upset with himself later on for losing the pride of
his position, the pawn on e6} (22. Bxd7 Nb6 23. Bb5 Qd5 24. Qe2 {and White
keeps an edge}) 22... Nc3 23. Bc4+ Kh8 24. Qxd2 Ne4 25. Qe3 Qxd7 26. Nd2 Nxd2
27. Qxd2 Bb4 28. Qd3 Qd6 29. Ra2 Rae8 30. Re2 Qf4 31. g3 Qxh6 32. Kg2 f4 33.
Rh1 Qg5 34. Rxe8 Rxe8 {[#]} 35. Bf7 $4 Re3 $3 36. fxe3 Qxg3+ 37. Kf1 f3 0-1

Nepomniachtchi - Beating Kasparov and leading the tournament | Photo: Spectrum Studios

Most of the games provided the thrill only towards the end of the time controls, inevitably when the games descended into clock induced chaos. Only exception of the day was:

 

Navara - Karjakin, position after 31...Kh7

32.Nxh6 A delightful sacrifice - the Knight can't be accepted, and White rips open the kingside 32...Nc7 33.Qd2 Re6 34.Qg5 Qb2 36.Ng4+ (White chooses the wrong check with the knight, but ultimately finds the correct mating sequence) Kg8 37.Nh6+ Kh7 38.Nf7+ Kg8 39.Rh8!+ Kxf7 40.Rd7+ and mating.

[Event "Saint Louis Rapid 2017"]
[Site "Saint Louis"]
[Date "2017.08.15"]
[Round "4"]
[White "Navara, David"]
[Black "Karjakin, Sergey"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "E15"]
[WhiteElo "2737"]
[BlackElo "2773"]
[Annotator "ChessBase"]
[PlyCount "79"]
[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 d5 8. cxd5
exd5 9. Bg2 O-O 10. O-O Re8 11. Ne5 Bb7 12. a3 c5 13. dxc5 bxc5 14. Rc1 Na6 15.
Nd3 Rc8 16. Bg5 Ba8 17. e3 h6 18. Bxf6 Bxf6 19. Nf4 d4 20. Bxa8 Rxa8 21. exd4
Bxd4 22. Nb5 Be5 23. Nd3 Qb6 24. Qf3 Bxg3 25. hxg3 Qxb5 26. Ne5 Rf8 27. Rfd1
Rac8 28. Rc4 Rc7 29. Rd6 Re7 30. Ng4 f5 31. Qd5+ Kh7 {[#]} 32. Nxh6 $3 {
A delightful sacrifice - the Knight can't be accepted, and White rips open the
kingside} Nc7 (32... gxh6 33. Rh4) 33. Qd2 Re6 34. Rh4 Qxb3 35. Qg5 Qb2 36.
Ng4+ {White chooses the wrong check with the knight, but ultimately finds the
correct mating sequence} Kg8 37. Nh6+ Kh7 38. Nf7+ Kg8 39. Rh8+ $1 Kxf7 40.
Rd7+ 1-0

David Navara - Impressive sacrificial attack against Karjakin | Photo: Austin Fuller

Crosstable after six rounds

Points in rapid are counted twice. For eg. Nepomniachtchi is on 4 points, which means he has currently 8. Blitz will see the normal scoring system. 

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

Viswanathan Anand has disastrous Day 1; Garry Kasparov impresses on return


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