Every chess player hopes to play his immortal game some day. Borrowing lyrics from the hit song of Kelly Clarkson "people wait a lifetime for a moment like this." You never know when it will happen, but if you look at the best games played in chess history, you can see that most of them happened when one opponent is significantly weaker than another. Some of them are even played in a simul or some other exhibition (that's where we see those "NN" players, like Alekhine-NN for example). It is not that surprising at all, since the weaker your opponent, the greater is the chance that he won't prevent the combination of your life. Luckily, we have some exceptions. Imagine a Candidate's Match for the World Title played by two Super GMs. What are the chances of an Immortal Game there? Now what if I tell you that there was not just one, but two unbelievable games played in such a match and that the unlucky "NN" guy was non other than GM Vassily Ivanchuk who is one of the most creative chess players in the World and frequently called 'genius' by most of his colleagues? Difficult to believe, right? And yet, this is exactly what happened in the Candidate's Match Yusupov-Ivanchuk played exactly 20 years ago in 1991. I vividly remember that time and the general opinion that Ivanchuk was a heavy favorite in that match. Vassily had just won the famous Linares tournament (and managed to beat Kasparov there!) so everyone called him the next World Champion. And the first Quarterfinal match vs. Leonid Yudasin which Vassily won 4.5-1.5 only confirmed this opinion. It looked like Ivanchuk was about to win his next match vs. Artur Yusupov when all he needed was a draw in the last game. And here GM Yusupov produced his first gem:
(Just like in most of my articles I give you a chance to test your attacking skills, so the games are given as a Quiz. Please remember that you can always replay the whole game from the first move if you click "Solution" and then "Move list".)
In this position White prepares a direct attack against the Black King. How can it be done?
All the White pieces are pointing at the Black King. How should White play here?
Now White's attack is obviously way too strong for the Black King to survive. How should White finish his deadly assault?
With this beautiful game GM Yusupov equalized the score in the match, but the best was yet to come! The very next day the opponents played a tie break. The time control there was 45 minutes for the first 60 moves and then 15 minutes for every 20 moves afterwards. Some people argue that rapid chess cannot produce a good game. Let's look at the next game then:
How should Black play here?
Black's attack is in full swing. How would you recommend Black to continue?
I strongly recommend you to replay these games again and analyze the variations if you want to improve your attacking skills. Both games are very instructive and deep. Talking about the second game I cannot even express my admiration since it takes inhuman abilities to produce such a masterpiece in a rapid game facing one of the strongest GMs in the World at the decisive moment of the match!
We'll continue analysis of Yusupov's games in the coming articles since we can learn a lot from this outstanding chess player.