Did Garry Kasparov Underperform?
I know this is somewhat overdue... but never too late to say sorry!
Among the most anticipated chess events in this chess age was the stunning return of former World Champion Garry Kasparov in competitive chess (St. Louis Rapid/Blitz events). I believe Garry performed as many of us expected; in the bottom half, but not necessarily in clean last. Questions are still in the air. Did he underperform? Let's look on paper:
As we can see from here, Garry finished in 8th place; ahead of tail-ender David Navara and legendary rival Viswanathan Anand. Though note that Garry (16.0) finished only one-half point behind Le Quang Liem, Fabiano Caruana, and Lenier Dominguez (16.5). If only Garry had a few more rounds (and he was hot on the final day), we could be talking about Garry in the rough middle of the pack!
Now let's look on the board. We will give our main focus to the rapid portion and maybe absorb some blitz moments:
Garry and his former pupil Hikaru Nakamura faced off in round two of the rapid segment, being a fascinating game which could have gone either way, though credit to Garry for defending well in the end:
Kasparov held his own on day one with three split games. His first blow came as White against Ian Nepomniachtchi, though don't forget Kasparov was slithering a nice strategic maneuver on the Queenside before his fatal mistake:
Kasparov irritated Nepo's Queenside pawns with 19. b3! These overextended pawns will now serve as targets for White's hungry pieces.
Obviouslly crushing for Kasparov as he ended day two with a minus one score. The final rapid day did not suit him better either, even though it was a roller coaster day!
Kasparov falters into mere equality by moving the King the wrong way (Ke3). Kc3 was correct because now Navara has access to the c-file which gave Kasparov problems. Garry ended up losing the game with a last-minute blunder. You can check out the news report for much more elaborate analysis on the game.
I, unfortunately, can't dive in very much into the blitz portion where Kasparov finished at 50%, he did play some amazing games. I can't exclude his King's Gambit draw against Karjakin!
And it does not hurt to conclude one's career with a nice Sicilian Dragon in the penultimate round!
So... the big question remains: Did Kasparov underperform? I can't say he did. As for whether he won or lost, Kasparov did outplay his opponents and gain brilliant positions. Would he be a top-10 player right now? Probably not. It is worth noting Kasparov did not play one Ruy Lopez (let alone Berlin!), while 10+ World Championship games in 2016 produced Ruy Lopezes. Pretty amazing in this day in age.
I hope to see Kasparov (once again) out of retirement, or at least playing exhibition matches. If/when he does, he will not disappoint.
Thanks for reading, as I know I took a hiatus from blogging. Hope to post much more in the future!