For our annotated game this week, we take a look at a game from one of the all-time-greats of chess, (if not ‘the’ great), Garry Kasparov. The game is taken from the 2005 Linares International. In round-twelve, Kasparov would play Michael Adams with the black pieces and this is our game for today.
The game turned into a Sicilian Defence, Najdorf variation, which will come as little surprise, due to it being one of Kasparov’s main weapons against 1.e4. The game took a rare line with 10…Nc6 and saw Adams up for a fight with his novelty of 11.0-0-0, clearly taking the game into a position with opposite side castling. Such decisions are not to be taken lightly.
Opposite side castling changes things in chess. Very often, the usual principles are abandoned and the game becomes a direct (and sometimes urgent) hunt for the King. Pawns are advanced “with gusto” as aptly described by Alexander Kotov, in order to open lines to the enemy King. The player who can make the opponent defend first and make concessions, will have the advantage. This makes perfect sense, of course — when castled on opposite wings, it is very hard to defend and attack and the same time.
The decision to castle long was perhaps ill-considered by Adams and it has not been repeated very often since — and never at top level, that I can find. Kasparov wastes no time in advancing his b-pawn and lining up towards Adams’ King position. As remarked in my annotations, Kasparov’s moves, for the main, are nothing dramatic, but good, logical, useful positional play. This sees him being very aggressively placed, before White has even got going.
Every move counts in chess and even more so when the players are castled on opposite wings. Unfortunately for Adams, he would make an inadequate move or two at crucial times and allow Kasparov to seize the initiative.
With his rook and Queen already nicely placed on the Queenside, he would then add a super dark-squared bishop and two beautifully poised knights into the fray. One of these knights would ultimately create havoc in the Adams position and render his King helpless. This, regardless of there having been only one piece exchanged. The finish of the game shows Kasparov’s lethal tactical abilities, but the tactic itself is created by superb positional play.
Of course, the 2005 Linares Tournament was a bitter-sweet occasion for Garry. Though he would pip Veselin Topalov on tie-breaks (wins with black) in order to win the tournament, he would lose to him in the final round before announcing his retirement from professional chess.