Chigorin-Lasker-Anand,  Knight Attack and Great Warriors!

Chigorin-Lasker-Anand, Knight Attack and Great Warriors!


Certain games and Masters leave a very strong impression on me. It is partly due to the natural beauty of the game; there is something about chess which is hard to define. Chess has a metaphoric quality to it; it is a reflection of life in so many ways!

At the same time, the patterns and relationships that the pieces create on the chessboard have a beauty about them, and this is why, for many great players, chess is an Art. There is a great element of intuition, imagination and creation involved in the game.

The Knight is probably the most intuitive piece on the chessboard. It is the only piece that can jump over others, and also it is the only piece that has a composite way of moving; it moves both horizontally and vertically on the same move!

Life is a battle, a battle with oneself. Everybody is fighting an inner battle to become a better person, to overcome obstacles. This can take many forms- you can try to become a better son or daughter, a better mother or father, a better student, or musician, a better neighbor or citizen of the world. On the way to perfection we have to struggle against many enemies; many battles are fought. Doubt, fear and many other "enemies" we have to fight every day to become the best version of ourselves. The knight jumps over obstacles, which is a nice metaphor for life itself!

But also, life is a beauty, a creation, a convolution of imagination, intuition, resourcefulness, courage and faith.

Part of what chess is, is to do the best you can with the position you find yourself in. Certain chess Masters are incredibly resourceful, and famous for their resourcefulness. Karpov, for example, talks about the fact that he was not very good at the opening stage of the game, but he was very resourceful. When he joined the Botvinnik School, for example, in the training games he would often get in difficulties in the opening, but then he would start fighting, clawing his way back. So at the beginning of his experience in the Botvinnik school, Botvinnik did not have a good opinion of Karpov. But then, gradually, Botvinnik saw and appreciated his talent. Lasker also was famous for his fighting spirit, and Reshevsky was also famous for not being very good in the opening, but world-class in the middlegame and endgame.

This brings us to the theme of this post, the three Masters who were famous for their use of Knights- Chigorin, Lasker and Anand. All three are geniuses, and all three have made a unique contribution to the game of chess, to chess Art.


First we look at one of Chigorin's games. Now,  Chigorin (1850-1908) had a very, very tough life. First of all, by the age of nine he was an orphan. The orphanage he attended (Gatchina Orphans Institute) was famous for the abusive culture run by its officials. It was so brutal, at one point some orphans had to retaliate against the offending tyrant, and Chigorin found himself alone, out in this world, at the age of 18.

His troubled childhood is what caused him to drink, which affected his chess performance sometimes. Sometimes you do have to drown your sorrows!

Chigorin learned the game of chess at the age of 16. One professor at the orphanage taught him the moves. 

In 1895 he almost won the Hastings Tournament. The game we will now look at was his first encounter against Emanuel Lasker, who had won the World Championship the year before against Steinitz (1894). It was a battle of giants; players of deep concepts and great capacity- a battle of heavyweights!

Chigorin was an intellectual rebel, a real artist of the chessboard. He liked to challenge dogmas, whether these pertained to opening theory, or general considerations! He was very fond of knights, and liked to challenge the dogma that two bishops are always better than two knights.

Chigorin was a Master who could balance the positional and tactical elements, and also recognize the specific situations in which these elements played in different ways. We hear a lot about Nimzowitsch and his "blockade", but in this game you will see Chigorin blockading on both flanks, with two knights against two bishops. Lasker was the newly minted World Champion at the time this game was played....


Emanuel Lasker was the best World Champion of all time; he held the title for 27 years! His games abound with chess genius. A serious study of his games can lead to mastery of the game.

The next game, Alekhine-Lasker, was played at the 1914 St. Petersburg Tournament. Once the Black knight lands at d5, White is essentially doomed, and it takes a great Master like Lasker to calculate the opposing-sides initiatives to his advantage!


And now we come to Anand, World Champion in different formats, and one of the great geniuses of our time. Let us see what Kramnik has to say about Anand:

Kramnik speaks about Anand

V.K.:" No, I've always played won endgames poorly and couldn't even tell you why myself. Perhaps I relax too soon. Its when the evaluation isn't yet clear, or , that I play well and turn those endings into won ones, which I then sometimes make a mess of, just as I did in my younger years.

To be honest, I've never particularly stopped to think about the features of my own style, while I could give you a full breakdown on Anand.

V.T.: Let's try that.

V.K.: I always considered him to be a colossal talent, one of the greatest in the whole history of chess. Each champion has had some sort of specialty, and his is creating counterplay in any position out of absolutely nowhere. He's got an amazing ability to constantly stretch himself so that even in some kind of Exchange Slav he nevertheless manages to attack something and create something. He also plays absolutely brilliantly with knights, even better than Morozevic. If his knights start to jump around, particularly towards the king, then that's that, it is impossible to play against and they'll just sweep away everything in their path. I noticed its better to get rid of them when you're playing against him.

In general, he's improved a great deal in recent years, at some point after 2002. He's a chess player of genius, but previously he didn't work enough, by and large.

V.T.: But how has he managed to improve? Did marriage help?

V.K.: Perhaps. He's matured, while previously he lacked the character to become World Champion. I remember in 1995 against Kasparov it was enough just to poke him a little and he simply fell apart. In the match against me things were completely different. Plus, he's started to work a great deal and now his opening preparation is among the best, if not the best. At the given moment I don't see who can compete with him when he¡¦s on form. Perhaps only Carlsen in his very best condition, though probably not. I think he'll only leave the stage when he weakens himself and ceases to maintain that extremely high level.

V.T.: His weaknesses?

V.K.: The trouble is there almost aren't any!!

V.T.: So nowadays it is impossible to play the psychological card against him?

V.K.: Yes, though in any case I never wanted to do something on the level of slamming doors (it seems this is hinting at the well-known case of game 10 of the Anand-Kasparov match in 1995, when Kasparov, or so many people claimed, slammed the door noisily on purpose in order to affect his opponent  V.T.) and so on. That's something that in any case probably wouldn't work now. His main weakness is that he's no longer so young, and now he's also got a child. I can't imagine he's still going to work his socks off as before. But at the given moment I think he's the best in the world in terms of play, namely in terms of play.

V.T.: And the defence of passive positions?

V.K.: He doesn't get passive positions, as they immediately become active.

V.T.: It seems to me he's got a very big weakness, only it's difficult to get at it: his play in blockaded positions. I could list half a dozen examples.

V.K.: He does have weaknesses. For example, he doesn't sense some nuances or move orders very well. But the thing is that in modern chess you can arrange the whole play to suit your style; that's the problem. So with a computer you can create your own little chess world and live in it. Ok, blockaded positions, but then he probably knows about that too. If you can tell me how to block everything in the Meran and still get an edge I'd be very grateful.

I think that namely in terms of play Anand is in no way weaker than Kasparov, but he's simply a little lazy, relaxed and only focuses on matches. In the last 5-6 years he's made a qualitative leap that's made it possible to consider him one of the great chess players. Perhaps it doesn't look like that to observers, but when you play against him you sense what a great range he has."

Here is a video of Anand, offering some analysis of this masterpiece!

In his World Championship match with Vladimir Kramnik, Anand won in games 3 and 5 by playing a modern version of the Meran Variation. In the next game, Anand's knight lands the mortal blow!