Rusty Garry Kasparov Leads 3.5-1.5 vs Bushed Nigel Short

Rusty Garry Kasparov Leads 3.5-1.5 vs Bushed Nigel Short

| 37 | Chess Event Coverage

Despite showing signs of rustiness GM Garry Kasparov leads 3.5-1.5 in his rapid & blitz match with GM Nigel Short, who made a bushed impression after traveling from Thailand and defending his gender column to dozens of media.

Dubbed the “Battle of the Legends,” the match between Kasparov and Short took off on Saturday afternoon in the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. The two play one rapid and then four blitz games on both Saturday and Sunday.

The time control for the rapid game was 25 minutes for the game, with a 10-second delay for each move. The blitz games were played with 5 minutes and a 3-second delay.

You can watch the full show from the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, with commentary by GMs Maurice Ashley and Alejandro Ramirez, below:

For the rapid game Nigel Short arrived at the board minutes before the starting time, and stood up from his chair for a firm handshake with his legendary opponent. His face revealed excitement.

Smiling briefly, Kasparov adjusted his pieces and showed the first of his trademarks: he removed his watch from his wrist, and put it next to the board on the table. Short surely knows the old saying: “As long as the watch is on the table, you're not lost yet!”

Kasparov arrives, back in the chess arena. | Photo Austin Fuller, courtesy of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis.

Kasparov played 1.d4, and Short defended with the Bogo-Indian. It was a fairly theoretical line; the players followed a game Gelfand-Andreikin, Moscow 2013 for 13 moves.

The 13th world champion won the bishop pair, could finish his development and then started to play active on the kingside. Meanwhile, one of Short's knights was sitting pretty on b3.

However, with lots of promising options Kasparov missed two not so easy wins, and Short escaped with a draw.

Visibly irritated, Kasparov stormed away from the board, a habit known from his active chess career. He would repeat this after each blitz game, and every time he was awaited by his good friend Michael Khodarkovsky, who is also the President of the Kasparov Chess Foundation.

Kasparov will never get used to losing. Laughing | Photo Austin Fuller, courtesy CCSCSL.

The somewhat funny schedule continued with four blitz games. In the first, Kasparov took “revenge” for his missed win in the rapid game.  The game started as a Symmetrical English and or a long time the chances were about even, until Short suddenly collapsed.

Game 2, watched by a few dozen spectators standing close to the board. | Photo Austin Fuller, courtesy CCSCSL.

The second blitz game was the clearest sign that Kasparov is just rusty. Like Anatoly Karpov had done several times in their exhibition match in 2009 in Valencia, The Boss completeley forgot about his clock and lost on time in a slightly better position.

Afterward Kasparov said: “I lost control. Not of the game so much, but the fact that you have to play, you have to push the clock... (...) Sometimes I felt disconnected from the clock.”

In November last year Kasparov had played two exhibition games with shogi legend Yoshiharu Habu. If we don't take into account his blitz match with Short in 2011 in Belgium, Kasparov's last serious rapid games were those against Karpov six years ago.

In the third game Short started with 1.b3, which got Kasparov thinking for about half a minute. He chose a natural setup, Short also fianchettoed his other bishop, and then Kasparov allowed a weakening of his structure in return for the initiative.

Nigel Short | Photo Austin Fuller, courtesy CCSCSL.

That initiative become stronger when he started running with his h-pawn, and soon it turned into a devastating kingside attack. This was one of those typical Kasparov games where he dominated the fight from start to finish.

In the fourth blitz game, Short defended with the Chigorin, one of his old favorites. Interestingly, on move ten Kasparov deviated from one of his games with Vassily Smyslov (!) from their 1984 Candidates’ match.

Again, Kasparov allowed a doubling of pawns as he forced an ending with two bishops versus two knights. White looked better, but it became tactical very quickly. Having the advantage, Kasparov allowed Short to get back in the game due to a tactical error.

Kasparov trying to get the most out of the ending.| Photo Austin Fuller, courtesy CCSCSL.

An exciting RB vs RN ending came on the board. It should have ended in a draw, but right at the end Short blundered away the game.

The players end their last game on Saturday with a smile.| Photo Austin Fuller, courtesy CCSCSL.

Looking back at the first day, Kasparov said: “My biggest challenge is how to get myself ready for the game. I'm happy that I played a few good moves. I don't think we had one single good game, but there were some good moves and I thought it could be worse.”

Short made a somewhat bushed impression on this first day. He was in Thailand a week ago, where he won the open, and then he spent his full week answering questions from media about his gender column (see our report here).

“Obviously I'm disappointed with my chess. I've had some opportunities, I've been missing things. When you play blitz chess everything is a question of form, and this varies greatly from day to day. (...) Today I was not at my freshest; I am still suffering from jetlag. I've actually been up since 3am.”

Kasparov said that he fared better in sharp positions. “It's easier for me to play the sharp game where I see straight lines. When you're out of practice it's extremely difficult to play a slow, maneuvering game. When it's sharp tactics... I'm still following games, I'm looking at a computer screen... Then I could show my teeth!

Kasparov can still show his teeth in sharp positions.| Photo Austin Fuller, courtesy CCSCSL.

Short said that his opponent would definitely be a top 10 player if he'd still been active. Kasparov, who was flattered by that comment:

“I learnt from my great teach Mikhail Botvinnik that you should be objective, analysing your games and looking at your position. Also you have to be objective analysing your own potential.

“It requires something else. Today to play, the young games, to stay on top, requires so much energy. And motivation. After winning all these events, what else I can do?

To play another tournament and maybe hope I can compete with Magnus, or Caruana... I'm quite happy with who I am now, with what I am doing now. I'm nervous of course, but I'm having fun.”

Sunday at 2pm St. Louis time again one rapid and four blitz games will be played. You can watch it live and on

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

Battle of the Legends 2015 | Score

# Name Rtg R1 B1 B2 B3 B4 Pts
1 Kasparov,Garry 2812 ½ 1 0 1 1 3.5/5
2 Short,Nigel D 2664 ½ 0 1 0 0 1.5/5


Update: here's GM Magnus Carlsen's reaction to the first day of play in St. Louis:

“I watched the games yesterday since in general it's not easy to sleep early. I've never been able to do that and the games start late anyway.

“I thought the games were very interesting, especially the rapid game. I was watching, listening to the commentary, without the computer, and it was just fascinating.

“Apart from the collapse in the second blitz game that Garry played really energetically and, not least, also very well. Also I was, at least at times, impressed with Nigel's fighting spirit so I thought that was a great watch.”

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