5-0 Sweep For Kasparov vs Short On 2nd Match Day

5-0 Sweep For Kasparov vs Short On 2nd Match Day

| 74 | Chess Event Coverage

With a 5-0 sweep on Sunday, GM Garry Kasparov crushed GM Nigel Short in the Battle of the Legends match in St. Louis. The final score was 8.5-1.5 for the 13th world champion, who said that he “enjoyed it immensely.”

The second day of the Battle of the Legends saw the same schedule of one rapid game and four blitz games. Nigel Short arrived first at the board, having the white pieces in the rapid. Being 3.5-1.5 down, he looked gladsome and ready to improve his score.

Relive the full show from the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis here: 

Kasparov stuck to his old repertoire with the Sicilian Najdorf, and Short chose the 6.g3 variation. Perhaps the English GM was inspired by his compatriot GM Mickey Adams, who had used 6.g3 to beat GM Anish Giri in the Shamkir Chess tournament.

The middlegame was defined by a standard but always attractive exchange sacrifice with ...Rxc3 and ...Nxe4. Short reacted well, and at some point it wasn't so clear if Black had enough. But with the clock starting to play a role, Short lost control of the game.

Annotations by GM Dejan Bojkov

For the first time in the match, Kasparov didn't immediately rush away to the adjacent room.

The players exchange a few words and variations. | Photo Austin Fuller, courtesy CCSCSL.

If there was a turning point in the match, this was it. Up till here, Short played rather well and had his chances. Who would guess that he wouldn't stand a chance in the remaining games?

“Nigel collapsed and I think it was difficult for him to recover after this game,” Kasparov later said.

Perhaps in an attempt to push Kasparov out of his comfort zone, Short played some offbeat openings in the match. But that seemed to backfire. For instance, his 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 b6 was not a great success in the fifth blitz game.

On the contrary, Kasparov dominated from start to finish in what looked like a simul game:

And so, with three rounds to go, the match was over. While Kasparov again joined his friend Michael Khodarkovsky in the other room, Short remained sitting at the board, drinking some water, while arbiter Tony Rich set up the pieces again.

A tough day at the office for Short.

The next game also started with1.e4. With a different move order, Short managed to avoid Kasparov's Najdorf in the next blitz game, but it didn't matter much. In a Rauzer, Short's central action was nicely refuted by The Boss:

Kasparov then also returned to 1.e4, which Short had answered with 1...Nc6 on the first day. This time he finally chose a normal opening as Black, 1...e6, and then it was Kasparov's turn to leave theory early.

It became a kind of King's Indian Attack with the white bishop on e2. After the light-squared bishops were traded, Short sacrificed his a-pawn to speed up his play on the queenside, while pushing away a white knight with h7-h5.

Kasparov with his trademark watch on the table. | Photo Austin Fuller, courtesy CCSCSL.

Kasparov targeted that pawn with 22.h4!? and in no time he developed a devastating attack on the king.

The last game was a fitting finale for the match and Kasparov, and a bitter pill for Short, who even got checkmated this time. His Torre Attack didn't work out well, especially when he missed a strong temporary pawn sacrifice. Again, Kasparov reached a winning position remarkably fast.

Short explained his bad form in an interview with Maurice Ashley: “I think he played very well. Unfortunately chess is a sport and you need energy. And that was completely lacking in my own game. Actually I was feeling my energy going down throughout this match.

“I just didn't arrive in good physical condition. I have not been sleeping. Again I woke up at half-past two last night and I've not been to sleep since then.

“This is about rapid reactions and calculations. When you're sleep-deprived it's very difficult. Basically you're playing hundreds of points worse than normal. 

“My chess was really awful. Even in my worst nightmare I couldn't score this few points. It was disgusting really.

Short called his play “awful” and “disgusting.” | Photo Austin Fuller, courtesy CCSCSL.

But Short surely gave credit to Kasparov too: “He played well, no question about it. He played some very good chess. It was a massacre today, really. Pretty horrible. He still understands something about the game apparently,” Short said. 

He's the greatest player in chess history, in my opinion. He had a much longer reign than Bobby Fischer. Bobby probably burnt brighter for a short period of time but Garry just went on winning and winning for many, many years.”

Kasparov also talked to Ashley: “I feel great. I have to confess that I'm also surprised. It was a very difficult day in the beginning. I played quite poorly the opening and then I realized my only chance is to create big complications.

“The game was hanging in balance, I think Nigel was better at some point. In the time trouble I actually managed to win. After this game I felt that it's time to play as I played not even 20, 30 years ago. Just to have fun, attack, attack. I did it in every game and... it worked!

Kasparov just started attacking, and it worked. | Photo Austin Fuller, courtesy CCSCSL.

“That is what makes me feel very happy and proud today: I played many good moves just by hand, as if I have been practicing. It doesn't happen often that you see the move and you know that it's the right move," he said. 

Kasparov didn't consider giving Short one or two courtesy draws. “For me it was not a match, it was 10 games and I just wanted to play each game.

“I enjoyed it immensely. I'm not playing anymore professionally, and it was a very rare opportunity to play good chess and just to enjoy it.”

On Twitter the fans were cheering:

The obvious question on everyone's mind is how Kasparov would fare in current top level chess. He said himself that Carlen and other top players are in “a different league.”

“Maybe in blitz I can resist," said Kasparov.  "I will still probably be losing, but in blitz maybe I can resist. In rapid no way because it's just too much pressure.

“If I play a blitz tournament with the top 10 definitely I will not be the last one. I doubt very much if I could fight with Magnus, or Caruana or Aronian these days. But definitely I would give them a good fight for their money!”

Kasparov would give today's top players “a good fight for their money.” | Photo Austin Fuller, courtesy CCSCSL.

All photos by Austin Fuller, courtesy of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis.

Battle of the Legends 2015 | Score

# Name Rtg Perf R1 B1 B2 B3 B4 R2 B5 B6 B7 B8 Pts
1 Kasparov,Garry 2812 2965 ½ 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 8.5/5
2 Short,Nigel D 2664 2511 ½ 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.5/5


Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

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