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How To Not Learn From Your Mistakes Like Karpov

How To Not Learn From Your Mistakes Like Karpov

Mar 12, 2017, 12:00 AM 19,624 Reads 37 Comments Other

As I explained in this article, modern life forces me to recollect the episodes from my childhood years. One such memory is something that every Soviet schoolboy was supposed to know if he wanted to get into a good college, something I thought I would never need in the future. 

I am talking about the law of opposites, which is the cornerstone of the Marxist philosophy of nature. Unlike many postulates of Marxism, this one made perfect sense to me. Day and night, right and left, up and down, good and evil. We are surrounded by opposites everywhere!

And we have to choose between them on a daily basis: paper or plastic, Clinton or Trump, Ginger or Mary Ann.  (Disclaimer: to prevent heated debates in the comment section, I emphasize that it is just a figure of speech! You don't really need to think to make a wise choice here. It is Mary Ann of course!)

Actress Dawn Wells via Wikipedia.

Some time ago in this article, we discussed how Karpov learned from his mistakes. Now it is only natural to discuss how Karpov did not learn from his mistakes.

Here is the loss that cost young Anatoly Karpov clear first place in the tournament:

Everyone can make a mistake in an opening and lose a game.  

Karpov via Wikipedia. 

As they say, to err is human. It would be natural to expect that after losing such a painful game that cost him dearly, Karpov studied the opening and showed the fruits of his preparation the next time he faced this variation. So he had almost 18 years to figure out all the intricate details of this fairly simple opening before the next game was played:

It is amazing that Karpov fell into a well-known positional trap introduced by Petrosian more than 30 years before Karpov's game!

While it is surprising that Karpov suffered from essentially the same opening mistake twice, it is simply amazing that (as you'll see) he managed to fall into one opening trap three times!

It all started the same year Karpov played the above-mentioned game vs. Korchnoi:

This defeat should have taught Karpov how powerful the d4-d5 break can be in this kind of a position. As a matter of fact, White could have played this thematic pawn push on move 14. Karpov was already one of the strongest chess players in the world, so during his analysis he should have found this possibility missed by both players during the game. Obviously he didn't do it since four years later he fell into the same trap again:

While it is really puzzling, I still can understand that Karpov somehow missed this idea during the analysis of his loss to Smyslov, but how could he forget about the game played by two leading Soviet grandmasters? 

As you can see from these examples, Karpov should have studied the games of the great Tigran Petrosian! 

If you think that after all these games Karpov's problems with the d4-d5 break were over and he finally learned how dangerous it can be, you would be wrong. The worst actually was yet to come!

Losing in just 18 moves is always painful and I cannot even explain it. You see, there was an iconic game that reached practically the same position:

This is the game published in almost every book about an isolated queen's pawn. It was also published in the book of selected games of GM Boleslavsky. Since it was a part of the famous "black series" on the best chess players in the world, the book was a must-have for any serious Soviet chess player. And most of all, this game was published in the famous "Zurich International Chess Tournament 1953," which was practically a required book for any Soviet chess-playing kid.

It is a very interesting detail that in his annotations Bronstein mentioned that the move 13...Nb4 played by Karpov was refuted by Rauzer in his old analysis. So, it looks like Karpov fell into a trap known for over 50 years!

There is one more very interesting story about this position. In the early editions of his book (for example English edition 1979, Spanish edition 1984), Bronstein mentioned that if instead of Kotov's 13...Na5 or Karpov's 13...Nb4 Black played 13...Nd5, then White would have a secret weapon.  Here is his analysis:

In the Russian edition of the book published in 1983 the whole variation with the secret weapon disappeared and instead Bronstein suggested 14.Bxd5!, which is indeed much stronger. There are multiple problems with Bronstein's analysis of his secret weapon. One of them was shown in the following game:

As you can see, Bronstein learned from his mistakes and eliminated a faulty recommendation from the later edition of his famous book!

I hope this little investigation helped you to understand how important it is to analyze your own games. Don't repeat your mistakes!

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