As I mentioned in my last article “Chess in Alaska”, when I first began playing chess, the world was busy discussing the world championship match between Garry Kasparov and Nigel Short. It was being covered in installments in Chess Life magazine, which I received monthly as a member of the U.S. Chess Federation. It may be hard to believe now, but that used to actually be a good magazine.
Kasparov and Short produced some exciting, beautiful chess. Although we can say that it was a bit of a mismatch, Short showed his incredibly imaginative attacking style in several games, which tragically he was unable to win. It is one of these games I decided would be a good idea to look at in my column on the yin and yang of chess – Short’s attack and Kasparov’s defense.
GM Johnathan Rowson wrote in his excellent book The Seven Deadly Chess Sins about the Kasparov-Short match, and about Short’s difficulties in finishing Kasparov off in a few games. He said something to the effect that – due to Kasparov’s higher rating and his large plus score against Short in previous games – it was a new experience for Short to be winning against Kasparov, and thus he felt much more pressure in those winning positions. Meanwhile, for Kasparov it was “normal” to beat Short, and therefore he played in a much more relaxed manner once an advantage was obtained. This is a major phenomenon in chess – the “background” psychology affects what moves you play whether you are aware of it or not. In this case, I am sure that the institution of ratings has strongly affected the psychology of competition in chess.
This was the eighth game of their match, which took place in London. By this point Kasparov had a commanding four point lead. Kasparov played his Najdorf in a rather risky fashion, and Short whipped up a wild attack with several consecutive sacrifices. The position was incredibly complicated, but I think most players would crumble as black there. Kasparov instead found the only moves, and when Short erred, Kasparov’s king went for a walk with Short’s pieces in hot pursuit. Nevertheless Short’s king was also not so safe, and faced the danger of perpetual check. After a mistake by Kasparov, Short had one more chance to win, by running his own king to safety on the queenside. However, he missed this chance and the game ended in a perpetual.
I don’t think you can call this draw – which is surely among the most complex ever played in the world championship – dull.
In the next game where he was white, Short again played brilliantly, sacrificing his queen, but tragically again drew from a winning position. Can you find the win?
Short actually played 36.Ne5, which allowed Kasparov to hide his king with 36...g6, and somehow make a draw (37.Nc6 is met by 37...Qf5).