Habu's attacking flair - why Kasparov prepared carefully against him + Habu draws with GM Peter Hein

CM juniortay
Dec 6, 2014, 6:05 AM |

Hi! It's been a while since I last blogged. I was busy wrapping up the draft for my 3rd book, The Old Indian: Move by Move and managed to do so yesterday.

I am greatly encouraged by the massive support for this blog with regards to my previous two blogposts, especially those logging  in after reading the tweets from Miguel Greengard's twitter, Garry Kasparov's twitter and Kasparov's facebook post

Anyway, I wanted to give an insight to why Kasparov chose to play the way he did against Habu, playing closed openings  and heading for the endgame when given the chance. 

As I reported earlier, Kasparov had noted that Habu plays certain positions at a 2500+ level. Indeed, Habu has a fantastic feel for the initiative especially in complex tactical melees where he can hunt down his opponent's king.

For the record, Habu is not an IM as some of those commenting surmised. However, he is clearly IM strength as evidenced by his 2415 rating and in his last event, XXIV Miedzynarodowy Festiwal Szachowy CRACOVIA - 2013, Grupa A  he clearly exceeded the IM norm requirements.

The first Japanese IM is Ryosuke Nanjo who attained the feat at the Tromso Olympiad.

Back to the topic at hand. I would like to show you one complete game as well as a game excerpt to show the rationale behind Kasparov's choice of openings and his strategic choices during the game.

First up, Habu's win over Polish GM Heberla en-route to his equal 3rd place finish at Cracovia.

Next up, a segment showing Habu's imaginative central play against former World Championship Candidate GM Predrag Nikolic.

Certainly, Habu is a very formidable force to reckon with in tactical positions. Hence, the way Kasparov steered the match away from Habu's favoured positions is definitely a  testament to the Boss' clever preparation and insight. As Markokim commented on the previous blogpost "Can u imagine if he concentrated only on chess?"  He would certainly at least give the GMs a good run for their money. However, Habu is busy year round  competing in the 7 major shoji events (routinely earning US$700,000 to $900,000 annually), thus having  less time and incentive to ply the professional chess circuit.  He still holds 4 of the shogi titles (Meijin, Oza, Oi and Kisei)!

Post script: An exhibition match was held on December 7th 2014 between Habu and GM Peter Heine Nielsen (ELO 2654) with Habu taking White. The game was drawn. (info from takodori's chess.com blog and Zzelch's twitter).