"A Non-Inside Look" by Mikhail Tal, last part

Jan 20, 2011, 10:49 AM |

Concerning home preparation... For example, Karpov reaches some position and evaluates it: "White is better." It's enough for him. Kasparov begins his analysis from this position. He finishes his analysis only when it's clear that White wins! Let's take that Ivanchuk game. Anyone else would stop after finding the g4 move. But I'm sure that Bf4 was also analyzed at home. I'm not sure that he reached the final position at home, but we can't exclude this possibility. So that's why we get the impression that Kasparov wins spectacularly, he didn't have any adjourned games! (I'm not counting the game against Salov.) And it's completely fair that Kasparov and Karpov got the same result at the finish. Based on both what happened and what could happen. But Kasparov made less effort. Judging by some analytical parameters, we can say that Kasparov got lucky only in the game against Salov. But the world champion got his opponent so exhausted that the Leningrad player finally made an unforced mistake. So Kasparov is also able to win like Karpov. But I didn't like his play against Eingorn in the last round. Did he believe in Ehlvest so much? There were no flashes of creativity in that game.

And the ending position against Khalifman! By the way, it looked somewhat like my game against Kasparov in the Interzonal. Black has an extra piece!

I had a piece for a pawn, Kasparov had a piece for two pawns. Yes, the Black's position is cramped and uncomfortable, but they are a piece up. (They say that I got unlucky in 1982. Let me remind you that Kasparov and Beliavsky shared first place, and I shared 3-4 with Andersson. But that doesn't matter. In the 5th round, I offered a draw in the opening, but Garry declined it, and he was right - he found a move that I didn't see, and my position became critical, to say the least. But then he also offered a draw, and I declined. Then Kasparov found a great chance - he sacrificed a piece. But the position was such that I just knew I had a win there! But I couldn't see it! I didn't like one move, didn't like another one. I looked at the clock: I had 15 minutes for 15 moves. OK, I thought, I have a good standing in the tournament, so I offered a draw. Garry stared at me, puzzled, but agreed. Then we analyzed the game and couldn't find a win for Black. White have a good counterplay everywhere. I came home, and my coach Volodya Bagirov - a good specialist in defending of uncomfortable positions - found a clear plan after an hour and a half: make a few accurate moves, the position "unwinds", and the piece remains. If he didn't find that, everything would be all right. But the day later, I lost to Beliavsky...)

The same thing happened with Kasparov. Only Black can win in the final position, but Garry offered draw! So I don't like all those talks about fortune and bad luck in sport. Everything can be diagnosed. Karpov and Kasparov just played differently! Karpov was incredibly stable for the entire tournament, played by some internal rhythm since the very beginning. He won the games when he was in the winning mood. And when he wasn't in the mood, he didn't even try to win. And Kasparov was spontaneous. He played in an uneven rhythm: a great start, a very interesting finish. Tumultous beginning, tumultous ending. And an adagio in the middle. Both of them played equally. And, unlike the Sevilla match, they played equally good. In Sevilla, they also played equally...

It stunned me how much Karpov played this years. But it's more interesting that Karpov plays better with each tournament. The two K's have different approaches to chess. On one side, there's Botvinnik's school, abstinence from practical play; on the other side, there's a school of the man who doesn't like to dig deeply into anything and prefers to face the opponent over the board. They are very different. But their playing strength, their class is roughly equal.

About Salov. This man also doesn't know how to rest. This amazed me. In the winter, Salov didn't play in a Swiss tournament at St. John. We once sat with the local players, and they showed us some interesting endgame studies. How easily Salov solved them! It was clear that he saw those positions for the first time, but 3-5 minutes later he showed us an incredibly difficult solution. This love towards research is the only thing that differs him from Karpov. In this tournament all his wins were deserved. The ability and love for analysis (that's not typical for a young player) paid off, but it also returned to him like a boomerang. Let's get back to the discussion of strict regulations. Salov didn't have a single day to rest! The Leningrad-based player's very ambitious game against Kasparov, and the analysis of this adjourned game (goodbye to ambitions!), profoundly influenced his last games - against Eingorn and especially Yussupov. Salov was the only one who could compete with the two K's for the first place. He plays very good, knows much. The only game where Salov allowed himself to rest was in the last round. Before it, I daresay that both Salov and Yussupov were sure that no-one would win the game. So they played a 10-move draw. But all other games were very sporting and hard. Salov's playing style is similar to Karpov's. But it's obvious - they had the same teachers (I mean, the economics faculty of the Leningrad State University). Salov also plays very solidly and logically. But Salov is generally more ambitious. I was greatly impressed by Salov's game against Karpov, where it was Salov who actually played for a win (with black pieces!) This game was equal all the way. But it was the Leningrad player who provoked any microtempests that ultimately didn't get into the game. Salov's result after both 14th and 17th round seemed a surprise for many. But it didn't surprise me. Knowing Valery's character, I'd suppose that it was a surprise for him as well, but it wasn't a pleasant surprise! Because since the first round, since the very first move he set himself up for the maximum, not the optimal result.

Look at his last performances. First - defeat in Candidates 1/8 against Timman. Five games and five draws. Great fight, both players gave it all until the very end. And then Salov lost the sixth game without any resistance. In this match, he wasn't worse than a very strong grandmaster.

Then there was the Brussels tournament, where Salov played brilliantly.

Chess players are generally very conservative. When it was said at the opening ceremony that any place, except for first, will be determined by coefficients, we could count on the regulations to be followed. But in this tournament, despite that Salov had a worse Berger coefficient than Yussupov, I think he deserved his bronze medal as well.

I'm not saying that to spite Yussupov. He's a quality player. His failure at the finish of the match against Sokolov in 1986 surprised me. Even more surprising was his poor performance in Balfour. Here, his start was quite lacklustre, despite a brilliant game against Kasparov in the first round. A very dull game against Ivanchuk. But I, especially as a chess player, was very glad to see how Yussupov overcame himself. By the chess parameters, his victory over Salov wasn't entirely logical, but it gave him his bronze medal.

And all that struggle was worth it for just one win against Sokolov. This game is one of the, sadly, few gems of this tournament.

I think that even the space allowed by 64 magazine won't let me describe the play of all other participants. The chess lovers will most probably be able to see what happened at the "Sovincenter" hall in the great bulletin Sozvezdie ("Constellation") that I adored. I played in many championships, but I've never seen such an interesting bulletin before!

But still, I'd like to say something about the Vasya Ivanchuk phenomenon.

So many things have already been written about him! Do you remember the film Jack Vosmerkin - the American? I've had similar associations. The boy from the village Berezhany, now playing for Lvov army team, is a champion of New York!

I remember when I visited New York on my way back from USA, everyone was shocked there: who was that kid?!

An incredible result! And two last games were drawn without much play.

A Miraculous Vasya appeared! Looking at the 19-years-old master, I drew some analogies with (I hope this won't seem inappropriate to him) myself. I also played in my first USSR Championship at age 19. And showed similar results.

But he lost three games, I lost two then. I shared 5-7th places, Vasya shared 5-6th.

In this championship, there were two Ivanchuks. The first one played until his game against Smyslov. The defeat from Kasparov probably (Vasya is too sensitive) made him treat the grandmasters with much piety.

And for several rounds, his games ended very quickly with the same result - draw! Commentators found various reasons: here he feared something, there he overlooked a move. But if you can see your partner's strong move, I think it's unethical to offer a draw - what if your partner sees it, too? But I think that's not the case. The Lvov player just felt that he belongs to a very respectable company. And he was imbued with its spirit, the spirit of respect. I thought that 30 years ago and I still think now that a chess player has two key disadvantages: underestimation and overestimation of his own strength. The first one is much more grave, in my opinion. And when Smyslov won a great game for absolute championship among Vasilys, Ivanchuk understood that he needed to play. Just to play chess! And after that, he played wonderfully! What a game against Malanyuk, with fantastic ideas beyond good and evil! He can play like that and he should play like that.

In the creative department, I expected more from this championship. There wasn't much of a choice of purely chess discoveries, gems. Look, Yudasin played only three decisive games! Vaganian played only five!

This phenomenon alerts me. Such players as Ivanchuk, Malanyuk, Ehlvest, Smirin, Yudasin, Khalifman - they are all very combative players! What does, for instance, Khalifman do abroad? He's a real storm from Neva! And here, only one (!) player had more decisive games than draws - it was Salov. So the creative background of this championship compared to the fame of its participants, the so-called "qualification background", looks poorer than usual. The character of international tournaments was probably transferred to our championship in some way. And looking at the line-up, we could expect much better. How such a good player as Kharitonov couldn't win a single game?! How could Sokolov and Gurevich win just one?! How could Gavrikov win only in the last round and only because his opponent made a mistake?..

Something was wrong with this tournament. The participants probably know better...