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Kamsky's Endgame Play

  • GM BryanSmith
  • | Apr 22, 2014
  • | 10691 views
  • | 22 comments

The Philadelphia Open recently concluded in my home city with the victory of the top seed, former world championship challenger, Gata Kamsky.

Kamsky has a very unusual style, a style which I think many people neither understand or appreciate. I spoke to one of his opponents after an earlier round, GM Magesh Panchanathan, who said something to the effect of: "I would be thinking that some move was forced, and while I was calculating some long line, Kamsky would find a completely different first move, which I hadn't even considered." This interesting game ended in a draw:

Kamsky's style is distinguished by a deep understanding of the basic mechanics of chess. He is known as a great technician, but you can find examples of crazy, complicated games played by him - such as his recent contests against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov from the World Cup. While he played very theoretical openings in the past (and was also criticized at that time by Kasparov for being "unimaginative"), since his retirement and return to chess, he has mostly played obscure openings. A main feature of his play seems to be the relentless setting of problems for the opponent. My own game with him from some years ago left a strong impression on me:

In this position, arising from the Dragon, Black's queenside pawns are broken up, as usual, but Black has some piece activity for compensation. I expected 22.Nb2, but Kamsky almost immediately played 22.Rxd8+! Rxd8 23.Nxb6! axb6, not only giving up the d-file, but also unifying Black's pawns. Then followed 24.Rd2 Rxd2 25.Kxd2, with the following position:

Black's problems are mainly that White, by a4, b4, and a5, can create a passed pawn on the queenside. While I understood that White was better, what was impressive was that Kamsky took this decision almost immediately despite the risk of a draw that the simplification posed, confident of his evaluation of the resulting ending.

Gata Kamsky at FIDE Tashkent Grand Prix | Photo courtesy of FIDE

It takes a very deep understanding to even consider the - on the surface, paradoxical - sequence of moves (unifying the black pawns), and to be perfectly confident in the evaluation. And additionally, it seems he was right, since I couldn't find a draw, and I doubt that one exists:

The main game of the article will be Kamsky's final round game against GM Ioan Chirila, of Romania. As above, we will see Kamsky's play in the endgame, including his understanding of when chances remain after considerable simplification.

While the final blunder, 42...b5??, was clearly the immediate reason for Black's demise, it is very possible that the position is objectively lost anyway. Note that I could hardly condemn any of Black's earlier moves as outright "mistakes" - just as "questionable decisions," such as 17...cxd4, 23...Rcc8, and 27...dxe4, which added up to give Kamsky enough to create his chances and take the clear first prize.


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Comments


  • 6 months ago

    Spektrowski

    @Prodiashvili

    To be precise, Kamsky's score against Jobava is currently 3-1 Laughing

  • 6 months ago

    papgmi

    Thanks all for explanations !  I just not considered enough 36..:Rf4+! first.

  • 6 months ago

    Prodiashvili

    GM Jobava more great:)

  • 6 months ago

    Spektrowski

    @papgmi

    36. Rd8 Rf4+! White either loses a lot of material after 37. Qg4 Rfxg4+ 38. hxg4 Rxe1, or gets checkmated after 37. exf4 g5+ 38. fxg5 hxg5#.

  • 6 months ago

    brzivrag

    From papgmi... "Kamsky-Panchanathan : on move 36, instead of 36.Qd6+...why not 36.Rd8 ? ex.: 36.Rd8;g5+ 37.Kh5;Re7+( no double-check!) 38.Rxe8+...i can't find a draw for Black."

    Actually, not 36...g5+, but 36...Rf4+ 37. ef g5+ with mate.

  • 6 months ago

    papgmi

    Kamsky-Panchanathan : on move 36, instead of 36.Qd6+...why not 36.Rd8 ? ex.: 36.Rd8;g5+ 37.Kh5;Re7+( no double-check!) 38.Rxe8+...i can't find a draw for Black.

  • 6 months ago

    papgmi

    [COMMENT DELETED]
  • 6 months ago

    bulent2k2

    Enjoyed the article, thank you. Also liked the comment from KennyLingus: "evolution" after "semi-retirement". 

  • 6 months ago

    loeksnokes

    Thanks for the article.  It is amazing how games can be won so often by these small finesses.  

    I try to win my tournament games with White this way, and since that decision, went rapidly to 2007 USCF.  (With Black looking to imbalance the positions.)  Unfortunately, my calculation skills deteriorated as I became more reliant on winning with simple moves.  I wish I'd had a coach at that time to keep me working at the board while changing my style.

    Thanks again for the very nice article.

  • 6 months ago

    KennyLingus

    neat article -  Its interesting that Kamsky seems to have evolved since semi retirement

  • 6 months ago

    BrankoSurovina

    Kamsky is great playerLaughing

  • 6 months ago

    zeeekoo

    لا اله الا الله محمد رسول الله

  • 6 months ago

    zeeekoo

    لا اله الا الله محمد رسول

  • 6 months ago

    -_KNiGHt_-

    Kamsky is great! 

  • 6 months ago

    Pravinkhairkar123

    I remember his matches against anand a decade back and I still admire him as one of the best orthodox!!

  • 6 months ago

    bolt_eater

    toguchawemmig: aguero14's post was deleted because he pointed out that your chess coach shares a bedroom with Mr. Gamsky.

  • 6 months ago

    AE1659

    hi

  • 6 months ago

    cheese714

    WOW!

  • 6 months ago

    FreeRepublic

    I wonder what would have happened if Gata hadn't taken a break from chess. Would he have become world champion?

  • 6 months ago

    togahcuwemmig

    funny, my coach covered the same exact games here... must mean Kamsky is a great ending technician!

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