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More from the Garrython

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It's been all Kasparov all the time here in New York over the past week. From fundraisers for the Kasparov Chess Foundation charity to teaching sessions for the US women's training squad to appearances and interviews about chess, Russia and Iraq, Garry Kasparov has been a whirlwind in the Big Apple.

Free time he spends with his daughter or hunched over his laptop looking at analysis of Bobby Fischer games for the upcoming third volume of his "My Great Predecessors" books. "These Fischer games are incredibly complicated," he says, "but we are finding all sorts of amazing stuff." He showed me several examples - including one from the Karpov section - of famous masterpiece games that have flaws that have gone undiscovered for decades. I won't spoil the surprises, but I did dig through my own over-large collection of books without finding the main lines Kasparov was talking about.

One of these, in a Fischer win that won the Informant's best game prize, a natural move leading to a draw late in the game has apparently escaped notice. (I say "apparently" because there are countless chess books out there and you can't have or read them all.) In a way it's always a shame when an immortal game meets a refutation. The canon of golden games took a beating when computers and their ruthless objectivity came fully into effect in the 90's. Now Kasparov and his co-author (with help from the latest and greatest from Intel and ChessBase) are grinding the mill finer than ever before. That is, after a lamentable lack of rigor in the first edition of the first volume.


You left out the most important thing! Was he wearing that gaudy shirt he's always got on in pictures?

You are not the first to ask about The Shirt! As far as I could tell it didn't even make the trip this time. Maybe his wife or some other non-colorblind saint, accidentally poured kerosene on it and burned it at the stake.

These "flaws" are not necessarily flaws if Fischer could sense over the board that his opponent would not know how to deal with the situation.

A flaw is when either player makes a move that is demonstrably inferior. When someone misses a drawing continuation and makes a losing move, it's a flaw. Plus, someone as strong as Kasparov can tell the difference between going for practical chances, trying to confuse your opponent, and a continuation that is simply inferior.

But it's a shame, and Garry commented on it, that Fischer never annotated the games of his candidates matches and world championship match himself. Without that we'll never know what was going on in his mind. And these days probably Fischer doesn't know either!

In most cases these ignored mistakes were by Fischer's opponents in Fischer wins. As is often the case, the winner (especially when it's a player of the stature of Fischer, Karpov, etc.) gets the benefit of having played perfectly and defensive tries are ignored. I'm mentioning one of them with some of Garry's analysis in this week's Black Belt.

When you said "after a lamentable lack of rigor in the first edition of the first volume", you mean that or you are just being ironic?

Meant it. Garry and Plisetsky (his co-author) copied too much analysis, some of it dubious, and were insufficiently rigorous in their own. It's still a fantastic book, but the amount of work they are putting in on the other volumes has increased tenfold because of the scrutiny they got on the first one, which was apparently unexpected. They have embraced this as a challenge and are incorporating improvements.

Plisetsky was in charge of research and combining the new analysis with the old, but Kasparov was equally to blame because his name is on the cover and it's his job to look over the final product and also to impress upon his co-author that higher standards are required. You can tell this was done by how few corrections and criticisms came out about Volume Two. They hired a GM-level player to go over every line and to check everything with a few computer programs, so errors are cut to a minimum. Garry is also much more involved in looking at the old analysis instead of just contributing his own. There will always be improvements of course, but that's chess.

Off topic, but very relevant to me... could anyone please tell me if you know anything or can provide a news source and date about Kasparov... that Garry was apparently quoted a few years ago, stating that "ALL WOMEN ARE INFERIOR TO MEN" when it comes to chess.

Any information on this statement would help immensely. Thank you!

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on May 30, 2004 11:10 PM.

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