Garry Kasparov's Best Attacks

Garry Kasparov's Best Attacks

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I clearly remember that day in March 2005 when Garry Kasparov announced his retirement from professional chess.

I was convinced that it was all a misunderstanding, that my days of waking up at dawn to watch Garry massacre one super-GM after another could not be over. 

In the next two articles, I would like to pay tribute to this leviathan of modern chess by examining his most brilliant attacking victories.

To be sure, Kasparov was a virtuoso in every type of position, and to call his opening preparation impeccable is to say nothing. But above all else, he excelled in the art of attack. Through a close inspection of his greatest tactical efforts, we will identify the individual elements of a successful attack. 

We will start with a fairly one-sided game that nonetheless made an indelible impression on me. The energy and precision with which Kasparov hunts down his opponent's monarch is truly a sight to behold. 

kojoku /

Note: In my annotations, I will reference Kasparov's comments and analysis in his excellent Garry Kasparov on Garry Kasparov series (Volumes 1 and 2). All unquoted commentary is my own.  

It was clearly not Marjanovic's day, but one outwardly innocuous misstep was all it took.  

Three years later, at an international tournament in the Montenegran town of Niksic, Kasparov faced Hungarian GM Lajos Portisch, one of the most solid players of all time. 

That reputation did not help Portisch neutralize Kasparov's aggressive play. 

Against both Portisch and Marjanovic, Kasparov's precision and willingness to sacrifice stand out. Two or three strong attacking moves are usually not enough to overcome a resourceful defender.

In the second game, the first wave of the attack was not immediately decisive, but Kasparov fueled the fire with a second bishop sacrifice, and Black's dreadfully exposed king simply could not hold out for very long. 

While patience is crucial, an attack will fizzle out unless decisive action is taken at critical moments. If your opponent is on the verge of consolidation, you must open a second theater of attack.

As usual, Garry makes it look easy. 

This is definitely one of my favorite games of all time. Perhaps it is not as spectacular as Anderssen's combinations, but the elements of a successful attack are beautifully displayed: detachment from material (12.Nd5 and 19.Nxe6), decisiveness (21.c5 and 23.c6), patience (24.Rac1, 26.Qc4), and precise calculation. 

Next week, we will delve into Kasparov's more complex attacking efforts, when intuition and tactical imagination entered the picture as well. I will end this week with Kasparov's most beautiful mating combination, a jaw-dropping sequence of sacrifices and study-like ideas.

Finding all of the moves on your first attempt is exceptionally difficult, so I would encourage you to simply enjoy the challenge and savor the finished product. 


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