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Anatoly Karpov vs Garry Kasparov
Karpov - Kasparov World Championship Match (1984/85), Moscow URS, rd 41, Jan-14
Russian Game: Classical Attack. Jaenisch Variation (C42)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Dec-27-04  offramp: It seems that whatever black plays after 33.a6 he ends up in a position like this one: R7/5kp1/7p/8/5p2/7P/1b3PPK/8 b.

That is, for white a Ra8, Kh2 and pawns at f2, g2 & h3. Black Bb2, Kf7 and pawns at f4, g7 and h6.

But is that a win? If all the pawns are exchanged then there are no winning chances... I wouldn't fabcy it myself, as white. Does anyone have a good endgame book that might have a similar position?

Aug-29-05  Hesam7: <offramp> according to Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual, Rook vs Bishop endings with three pawns vs three pawns on the same wing is a win for the stronger side. I quote:

"With three pawns on each side a fortress, as a rule, can not be built. Salvation is possible only in exceptional cases: when the pawn structure of the stronger side has flaws." (pg. 231)

Then he gives an example of a case when the weaker side could have drawn but missed it: Balashov vs Shirov, 1988

Apr-02-07  Fisheremon: This must be their 41st game. Again not best quality game. 15...Nd3? should be counted as a blunder.

22.Bxc5?! (22.Rxa7!? Bc2 23.Rc1 with a huge advantage).

30...f4? losing move (30...Kf7 with chances to equality).

<offramp> Certainly 33.a6! could win nicely, but 33.Rxd1 wins too, cos' White missed 35.Nxg7!

Apr-02-07  euripides: <22.Bxc5?! (22.Rxa7!? Bc2 23.Rc1 with a huge advantage).> is 23...Rd1+ 24.Rxd1 Bxd1 25. Bxc5 much better than the game ?

Apr-02-07  Fisheremon: <euripides: <22.Bxc5?! (22.Rxa7!? Bc2 23.Rc1 with a huge advantage).> is 23...Rd1+ 24.Rxd1 Bxd1 25. Bxc5 much better than the game ?> Better, cos' in the game Black's pieces were quite active and as I noted Black could lose because of 30..f4?
Apr-02-07  euripides: <fisher> I agree it's a bit better for White than the game, but I guess I thought by 'huge advantage' you meant White was winning. The position is:

click for larger view

This is the same as the position after Black's 23rd in the game, except that the rooks on f1 and d8 are missing (which favours White, as the f1 rook in the game is restricted) and it's Black's move (which favours Black).

One posibility is <22.Rxa7!? Bc2 23.Rc1 Rd1+ 24.Rxd1 Bxd1 25. Bxc5> Bxf3 26.gxf3 Re1+ 26.Kg2 when Black will be able to get his rook behind the pawn. Without bishops, I would expect that to be drawn; with bishops on, I'm not sure. Also, Black may well have something better than Bxf3.

Apr-03-07  Fisheremon: <euripides: <fisher> I agree it's a bit better for White than the game, but I guess I thought by 'huge advantage' you meant White was winning.> Right. As in the game White's advantage was about one pawn up (minus positional advantage). As I suggested White got some positional advantage, so approximately one and half pawn what I meant by "a huge advantage", cos' at GM level it's quite serious. Also Black has no counterplay. In the game Black had more chances to draw except he made a blunder 30...f4?
Apr-12-08  Knight13: Have to say White's better, huh? Black's been like pushing in positionally the whole time, with initiative it seems. Worth the pawn to me.
Jul-08-11  Capabal: Is 33. a6 really a *clear* win? This is the position after 32... Rxb4

click for larger view

After two full days working on this position, Rybka 4.1 comes up with this as the best line: 33. a6 Bb3 34. Nxb3 Kh7 35. a7 Ra4 36. Re7 Bf6 37. Rc7 Ra3 38. Kf1 Ra2 39. f3 Bh4 40. Nc1 Ra1 41. Ke2 Bg3 42. Nb3 Ra2+ 43. Kd3 Kg6 44. Nd4 Bf2 45. Nc6 Kf6 46. Kc4 Ra1

Leading to this position, still not quite clear to me, or is it?:

click for larger view

Aug-20-11  JoergWalter: <Capabal> Karpov gave this as main line to win: 33. a6 Bb3 34. Nxb3 Ra4 35. Nc5 Ra5 36. Re4 Kf7 37. Ra4 Rxa4 38. Nxa4 Bd4 39. Nc3 and wins the bishop.
Aug-23-11  Capabal: <JoergWalter: <Capabal> Karpov gave this as main line to win: 33. a6 Bb3 34. Nxb3 Ra4 35. Nc5 Ra5 36. Re4 Kf7 37. Ra4 Rxa4 38. Nxa4 Bd4 39. Nc3 and wins the bishop.>

Yes, well ending up a whole knight ahead with three pawns each should certainly win easily. But black doesn't really have to go along with that, no? This is the position after 36. Re4 in the above line:

click for larger view

here black is better off taking the knight. Black will later drop his rook when white queens, and then it will be a game of rook vs bishop with three pawns each:

36... Rxc5 37. Re8+ Kf7 38. a7 Ra5 39. a8=Q Rxa8 40. Rxa8

click for larger view

Still a theoretical win for white, but certainly more difficult, or so it seems to me, than playing with a full knight up, as after Karpov's line.

Aug-23-11  JoergWalter: po<Capabal>

33. a6 Bb3 34. Nxb3 Ra4 35. Nc5 Ra5 36. Re4 Rxc5 37. Re8+ Kf7 38. a7 Ra5 39. a8=Q Rxa8 40. Rxa8

results to the same ending as <offramp>'s line (see first post on this page)

33.a6 Bb3 34.Nxb3 Rxb3 35.a7 Ra3 36.Re8+ Kf7 37.a8=Q Rxa8 38.Rxa8

Karpov's line shows what happens not taking the N and is very optimistic. In the computer line 33.a6 Bb3 34.Nxb3 Kh7 35. a7 I do not see the need for 35. a7 after Kh7. Why not 35. Nc5 instead of a7?

Aug-24-11  Capabal: <JoergWalter: In the computer line 33.a6 Bb3 34.Nxb3 Kh7 35. a7 I do not see the need for 35. a7 after Kh7. Why not 35. Nc5 instead of a7?>

I suppose because 34...Kh7 (instead of 34...Ra4) changes everything, and the line leading quickly to a rook vs bishop ending has been avoided by black. After 34...Kh7, 35. a7 forces the black rook to the a file, and allows the white rook to grab the 7the rank right away. Whereas 35. Nc5 no longer leads to anything, it simply allows black to chase the knight with 35…Rb5 and then bring the bishop to the a7-g1 diagonal. It’s a completely different game from then on.

After 34…Kh7, 35. a7 makes sense if white can manage to maneuver things well enough to avoid losing the exchange on a7 once the black bishop goes to the a7-g1 diagonal.

The question is whether 34…Ra4 is better or worse for black than 34…Kh7. Considering that 34…Ra4 seems to lead quickly to black’s losing the exchange, 34…Kh7 has to be considered better.

(Note that once white has the pawn and rook on the 7th rank, and after it manages to bring the knight to c6, the black king in many positions cannot come down to the 5th rank without allowing white to sack its knight and rook in exchange for a queen. For example, with the white rook on b7 or d7, if the black king comes down to the 5th rank, white can force the black rook to the 5th rank with Na5. Black is forced to take the knight. Then white plays Rb5+ or Rd5+, and black is forced to take the rook, allowing white to queen and leaving an ending of Q vs R + B)

I’ve been fooling around with this position on and off for a long time. If you play it out with engines, using normal time controls, white usually builds a decisive advantage fairly soon. But not if you use more lavish time controls. Currently I have two engines playing it out in an older computer, under a fixed search depth of 32 ply per move. After 21 full moves (averaging about 3 half moves per day!!), they still haven't made any captures after 34. Nxb3.

Bottom line is the position after 33. a6 seems to be a win for white under most continuations, but if black defends well it can take a while and it is by no means an easy win.

Aug-24-11  JoergWalter: <capabal> thanks a lot. I agree with your analysis and evaluation.
Mar-07-12  Capabal: A few months ago I set up a computer to play this game starting after 32...Rxb4 between two Rybka engines set at a fixed search depth of 32 ply for the first game and 36 ply for the second one. I let them play out to mate. The computer was on continuously and each game took more than a month. For whatever it's worth, here are the results.

Position after 32…Rxb4:

click for larger view

33. a6 Bb3 34. Nxb3 Kh7 35. a7 Ra4 36. Re7 Bf6 37. Rc7 Ra2 38. Kf1 Kg6 39. f3 Kh7 40. Rb7 Bh4 41. Nc1 Rf2 42. Kg1 Rc2 43. Nd3 Ra2 44. Kf1 Bg3 45. Rf7 h5 46. Rc7 h4 47. Re7 Ra1 48. Ke2 Bh2 49. Nb4 Bg1 50. Nc6 Ra3

click for larger view

51. Kd2 Kg6 52. Kc2 Kf6 53. Rb7 Kg6 54. Kb2 Ra6 55. Kb3 Be3 56. Kc4 Ra2 57. Rd7 Ra1 58. Rd4 Kh7 59. Kd5 Ra6 60. Ke5 Kg6 61. Rd7 Ra2 62. Rb7 Ra1 63. Kd6 Ra2 64. Kc7

click for larger view

Bxa7 65. Rxa7 Rd2 66. Ra5 Kf6 67. Rh5 Rxg2 68. Rxh4 Kf5 69. Kd6 Rd2 70. Ke7 Rb2 71. Rg4 Rb7 72. Kd6 Rb6 73. Rxg7 Ra6 74. Rg4 Kf6 75. Rxf4 Kg7 76. Rg4 Kf6 77. h4 Ra8 78. h5 Ra2 79. Nb4 Ra8 80. Nd5 Kf7 81. Ke5 Re8 82. Kf5 Rd8 83. Nf6 Rd3 84. h6 Rxf3 85. Ke5 Re3 86. Ne4 Re1 87. Rg7 Kf8 88. Rb7 Kg8 89. Ra7 Rf1 90. Nf6 Kf8 91. h7 Rf5 92. Ke6 Re5 93. Kd6 Re6 94. Kd5 Re5 95. Kd4 Re7 96. h8=Q Kf7 97. Qh7 Kxf6 98. Rxe7 Kg5 99. Rg7 Kf4 100. Qe4# [1-0]

Mar-07-12  Capabal: And this is the second one played with fixed depth at 36 ply.

click for larger view

33. a6 Bb3 34. Nxb3 Kh7 35. a7 Ra4 36. Re7 Bf6 37. Rc7 Kg6 38. Kf1 Ra2 39. f3 Kh7 40. Rb7 Bh4 41. Nc1 Ra1 42. Ke2 Bg3 43. Nb3 Ra2 44. Kd3 h5 45. Re7 Ra3 46. Kc4 Bh4 47. Rd7 Bf2 48. Nd4 h4 49. Nc6 Ra1 50. Kd5 Be3 51. Kd6 Ra6 52. Ke7 Bc5 53. Ke8 Be3 54. Kf7 Bg1 55. Rd5 Kh6 56. Rd6 Kh7 57. Rg6

click for larger view

Bxa7 58. Rxg7 Kh6 59. Rg6 Kh7 60. Ne7 Rxg6 61. Nxg6

click for larger view

Kh6 62. Kf6 Bd4 63. Kf5 Bf2 64. Nxf4 Kg7 65. Ke6 Bc5 66. Nd5 Kh6 67. Kf6 Bd4 68. Kf7 Be5 69. Ke7 Kg6 70. f4 Ba1 71. Ke6 Kg7 72. f5 Bb2 73. f6 Kg6 74. Ke7 Ba3 75. Ke8 Kf5 76. f7 Ke6 77. Ne3 Bd6 78. Nf1 Kf6 79. f8Q Bxf8 80. Kxf8 Ke5 81. g4 hxg3 82. Nxg3 Kf6 83. h4 Kg6 84. Kg8 Kf6 85. Kh7 Kf7 86. Ne4 Ke6 87. Kg6 Ke7 88. h5 Ke6 89. h6 Ke5 90. Ng5 Kd4 91. h7 Kc5 92. h8Q Kc4 93. Ne4 Kd5 94. Kf5 Kc6 95. Qb8 Kd7 96. Qb7 Kd8 97. Ke6 Ke8 98. Qc8#

May-06-16  Howard: So, the verdict is that Karpov missed a sure win in this game, though it was a bit more tricky than originally believed.

A shame for Karpov. Had he won this game, that not only would have clinched the match for him, but K-K II and K-K III would never have taken place! Just think...two world championship matches would not have materialized.

Oct-05-16  walterzuey: Well, K-K II surely would've taken place, in 1987. Probably a III as well. Chess was probably served by these two locked in eternal battle, even if perhaps they weren't.
Oct-05-16  WorstPlayerEver: The Russians Who Went up a Mountain but Came down a Hill
Oct-16-16  RookFile: Those exchange up lines where both sides have 3 pawns are a win for white. It's not even close. The f4 pawn is terrible for black.
Apr-14-18  rcs784: Was this the only time GK ever played something other than the Sicilian against 1. e4 in a WC game?
Apr-14-18  Howard: That's very, very unlikely.
Apr-14-18  Olavi: But it's true.
Nov-29-20  fisayo123: Yes, a shame for Karpov. 33. a6 was just an irressistable win missed in time trouble and there wasn't much Kasparov could have done about it.

And the match would have ended 6-1.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: In his 1978 match with Korchnoi, Karpov also missed a chance in a won ending, which was far less difficult than the analyses published here.
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