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Anatoly Karpov vs Lubomir Kavalek
Nice Olympiad Final-A (1974), Nice FRA, rd 8, Jun-22
English Opening: Symmetrical Variation. General (A30)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Sep-14-06  yyacb: This game is covered in Roman's Lab, Volume 7, Think and Play Like a Grandmaster.
Sep-08-08  ToTheDeath: <19... Bxd5?> appears to be a significant inaccuracy, allowing Karpov to squeeze indefinitely. Perhaps 19...h5 with a passive but solid game is better.

It's instructive to see how Karpov opened the psoition for his bishops, then killed the bishop on g7:

<29. Bxc5! Rxc5 30. h6 Bf8>. (If 30... Bh8 31. Rb1; Likewise 30... Bb2 31. Rb1 Ba3 32. Rb8+ Kf7 33. Rh8 )

<31. Kc3!> In my opinion the best move. (31. g5!? Ra5 with counterplay.)

<32... Kf7!?> (32... Rc7 33. Be6+ Kh8 is quite passive)

<33. Be6+ Kf6> (33... Ke8 34. Rb1 winning)

<34... Rc7?!> (34... e6! 35. Bxe6 Rc7 looks like a better chance, with some slight drawing chances due to opposite colored bishops.)

<37... Bg7> (37... Rxc4+ 38. Kd3 Bg7 looks slightly better but Black is still in bad shape.)

<45. Kg4> the only move the doesn't lose material is 45...Kf7 but then 46.Kg5 wins the g6 pawn. Black resigns.

Excellent game by Karpov.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Mateo: <Volmac: Actually 31.g5! is the best move which was pointed out later in analysis by Karpov.> Karpov pointed out this move, that's true. But he said it was a matter of taste, not that it was the best move.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Mateo: Some of the variations given by Karpov after 31.g5 Ra5 32.Rb1 are unclear. For instance, Karpov analysed 32...Ra3+ 33.Rb3 Rxa2 34.c5 dxc5 35.d6 c4+ 36.Kxc4 e6 37.d7 Rd2 38.Rb7 Be7 39.Rb8+ Kf7 40.Rh8 Rxd7 41.Rxh7 with advantage to White. This is not obvious at all.

Another variation given by Karpov is questionable. 32...Ra3+ 33.Rb3 Rxb3+ 34.axb3 a5 35.Kc3 Kf7 36.Kb2. He says White wins after 36...e5, but Black could play 36...Ke8 (bringing the King to the Queen side and avoiding checks in some variations). After 37.Ka3 e5! 38.dxe6 d5+! 39.Ka4 dxc4 40.bxc4 Bd6, Black should draw. However, 35.Kd4 followed by c5 seems an improvement giving winning prospects.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Mateo: <ToTheDeath> <37... Rxc4+ 38. Kd3 Bg7 looks slightly better but Black is still in bad shape.> 37...Bg7? was a blunder, as Karpov noticed. Clearly better was <37... Rxc4+ 38. Kd3 Bg7>. Karpov continues this way : 39.Bxd5 Rc5, and Black's position is difficult. But there is no obvious win, if there is one, for White.
Sep-30-08  pubplayer: <Mateo> sorry to be obtuse but in your last line why 39...Rc5 not 39...Rxf4?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Mateo: <pubplayer: <Mateo> sorry to be obtuse but in your last line why 39...Rc5 not 39...Rxf4?> 39...Rxf4 40.h8Q Bxh8 41.Rxh8, White should win.
Oct-01-08  Woody Wood Pusher: Total zugzwang!
Jul-15-09  WhiteRook48: that was weird
Apr-26-11  Salaskan: <ToTheDeath><<19... Bxd5?> appears to be a significant inaccuracy, allowing Karpov to squeeze indefinitely. Perhaps 19...h5 with a passive but solid game is better.> What else do you suggest? Karpov was going to continue with Nf4 and h5 when black can't do anything. ...f5 or ...f6 allow black to retreat the bishop in case of Nf4 but weaken the kingside.
Apr-27-11  bronkenstein: After 19...h5 , kavalek probably didnt like simple 20. Nf4 (or maybe even 20. g4 !? ).

OFC , i`ts much easier to suggest moves for white than defending plans for black in this karpovian torture :)

Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: 13...a6 was a total waste of time. It wasn't like the White Knight could do any harm even if he got to b5. I see no other reason for the Pawn push. Black could hardly have expected to expand on the side where his Pawns were the minority. 13...h6 puts the question to the Bishop, expands on the side with a Pawn majority, and Black is fine excepting he's still playing Karpov.
Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: I ran it through Fritz and he didn't care for 13...a6 and hates 16...Rac8 That move didn't set off any alarms when I played the game through. I'll have to spend some time to figure out the problem. Right now I'll let Fritz sit on 19...? At lower plies he likes f5.
Apr-27-11  bronkenstein: The position is strategical , here you need plans and judgements rather than tactics ... i dont think Fritz is the right tool for it (except to just check the tactics here and there ) .

Maybe Houdini on some superstrong computer could try ;)

Apr-27-11  bronkenstein: BTW , <13...a6 was a total waste of time>

In this line of english , black typically plays a6 preparing b5 breakthrough , with counterplay on queens flank (25. ...b5 , just Karpov was well prepared for it in this one ).

Aug-23-11  swissfed: Kavalek in Huffington: Pitching a Perfect Chess Game

22.08.2011 ¡V "There is no perfect game in chess," Fischer once said. After all, we are human and we make mistakes. <But the twelfth World Champion Anatoly Karpov came close to playing a mistake-free game at the 1974 chess olympiad in Nice, France.> His opponent in that game was GM Lubomir Kavalek, who shows us how Karpov improved an essentially drawn position and turned it into a win.

Karpov in his prime !!!!

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Mateo: <Volmac: Actually 31.g5! is the best move which was pointed out later in analysis by Karpov....> Karpov pointed out this move, that's true. But he said it was a matter of taste, not that it was the best move.>

In an OTB game, I believe Karpov's decision was correct; it's far from easy to take the committal decision to seal the kingside until or unless some concrete gains arise, and to muzzle potential counterplay via 31.Kc3 is very much in Karpov's style; he'd certainly want to retain the option of opening play on the kingside so as to quietly keep psychological pressure on his opponent.

Mar-25-12  Mr37: <OhioChessFan> 13..a6 is the established main line of this opening. 13... h6 just throws away a pawn to 14 Bxh6
Jan-14-13  vinidivici: Black could save himself with 37...Rxc4+ 38.Kd3 Bg7
39.Bxd5, now white position is JUST SLIGHTLY better and draw would be the biggest odds.

White would achieve nothing with 39.h=Q Bxh8
40.Rxh8 Rc8...dead draw.

Jan-15-13  vinidivici: <ToTheDeath>
<31. Kc3! In my opinion the best move. (31. g5!? Ra5 with counterplay.)>

You are wrong, Mr!!

The position after move #30 is deserved to watch.
Actually the bigger chance to win for white is 31.g5!. White would lose the a-pawn but the win would be in the hand.

31.g5 Ra5
32.Bd1!! Rxa2
33.Bb3 Ra5
34.Kc3 Kf7
35.Kb4 Rc5
36.Ra1! (the other choice is 36.Re1!? e5! 37.dxe+ Ke8 38.Ra1...likely draw) a5+ 37.Rxa5 Rxa5 38.Kxa5 e6 (if 38...e5 then 39.c5!) 39.dxe6+ Kxe6
40.Kb6 Kd7
41.Ba4+ Ke6
42.Kc6 Ke7
43.Kd5 Kf7
44.Bd7 Be7
45.Be6+ Kf8
46.Kc6 Ke8 (if 46...Bd8 47.Kxd6 Ba5 48.c5 Bd2 49.Kd7 Bxf4 50.c6 ... 1-0) 47.Bg8 Kf8 48.Bxh7 Kf7 49.Kd5 Bd8
50.Bxd6 Bxg5
51.fxg f4
52.c5 f3
53.c6 f2
54.c7 f=Q
55.Bg8+ Kxg8
56.c=Q...1-0........from Analytical Manual

After 31.g5! Ra5...Karpov himself suggested
32.Rb1?! Rxa2 (DOUBTFUL MOVE)
33.c5! Ra3+ 34.Ke2 dxc 35.d6 exd 36.Bd5+ Kh8 37.Rb8 ... 1-0....Karpov's best games collection

Like i said 32...Rxa2 is a doubtful move. The options are (32...Kf7/Ra3+) but the strongest is 32...Ra3+ 33.Rb3 Rxa2 34.c5 dxc5 35.d6 e6 36.d7 c4+ 37.Kxc4 Rd2 38.Rb7 Be7 39.Rb8+ Kf7 40.Kh8 Rxd7 41.Rxh7+ (Until here Karpov thought white would win, but Tibor Karolyi, the Hungarian IM refuted this with 41...Kg8) 41...Kg8 42.g7+ Kh8 43.Rxg6 Bd6 44.Rxe6 Bxf4...likely DRAW thanks to too many pawns has disappeared.

My addings:
After 31.g5 Ra5 32.Bd1 Rxa2 33.Bb3 of course you can try 33...Rf2?? (targeting f4 pawn, but what you would get is a doom for black) 34.c5!! Rf3+ 35.Kc2 if 35...Kf7 36.c6 1-0; if 35...Rf2+ 36.Kc3 Rf3+ 37.Kb2 dxc5 38.d6+ Rxb3+ (forced)...1-0

If after 31.g5 Ra5 32.Bd1 Rxa2 33.Bb3 Ra3 then
34.Kc3 (threatening 35.Kb2) Ra5...this is loses tempo...a tempo slower than the BEST LINE ... 1-0

The conclusion is 31.g5 is a better way to win than 31.Kc3 (like actual game), however Karpov didnt let his way to glory vanished. I just put the g5 line here although this is also far from comprehensive because so many variations in there. But if someone interested to immerse himself to the lines, feel free to analyze and correct the lines or ask about it.

Mar-18-14  Conrad93: This should be game of the day.

It just needs a pun.

Jan-24-15  Poisonpawns: To those keen observers; this game started out as a "Symmetrical English" but by move five we are in the "Accelerated Dragon" territory. Maroczy bind to be precise. Maroczy is pronounced "MAR-ot-see" by the way if you did not know.
May-11-15  ToTheDeath: <vinidivici> nice analysis, but these are computer lines. Chess is played between humans, and with the clock ticking allowing even optical counterplay without seeing everything to the end is not practical.

Even if he knew your analysis Karpov would almost certainly still choose <31.Kc3> because it wins and because that's the kind of player he is.

Oct-05-20  fisayo123: Karpov endgame magic. From a seemingly harmless position. He generates winning chances from nowhere
Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: From 30... Bf8 to 32. Kf7, there are 12 pages of analysis in Tibor Karolyi's "Karpov's Strategic Wins 1: The Making of a Champion" (

The comment after 30...Bf8 reads:

<This endgame has captured the attention of several players and has been analysed extensively. In particular, I would like to mention Dvoretsky, Marin and Karpov himself as three analysts who have made especially important contributions to our understanding of this endgame. I decided to take a detailed look at this endgame, and since I enjoyed the immense benefit of "standing on the shoulder of giants", I was able to discover some important finesses which had not been mentioned previously.>

One long summer day, or some time after retirement years down the road, I'll sit down with this fabulous book to devote as much time as needed to this endgame. Too much of a luxury at the moment.

Incidentally, Karolyi's book is from 2011 and the first edition of My Great Predecessors is from 2006. I don't have Kasparov's book. Does he analyze this game? If he does, it's a bit surprising that Karolyi does not mention Kasparov among the analysts he drew from.

At +4 = 12 -1 lifetime record for Karpov, Kavalek was a worthy opponent for the world champion. Kavalek won their first game (1970) and his four losses were in 1974-1980, when Karpov was beyond doubt the best in the world.

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