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K-K 1 at 25 in Valencia, Day 2

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[This was supposed to go up last night but apparently it didn't publish to the homepage. Maybe the Spanish website is contagious? Deleting and trying again.] After he won the first two games in Valencia, I warned Garry that if he keeps up like this there won't be any more matches in Paris, London, or New York, let alone Moscow. But of course that warning should go to Karpov, who played like a karp on day one. (And not Rybka, to pummel the pun into oblivion.) Both players moved slowly in the first rapid game. Kasparov played a trademark pawn sac to activate his pieces (20..f4!? though 20..Ne4 also looks good) and although Karpov reacted well, it cost him dearly on the clock. That was time he didn't have and just a few moves later he actually flagged. All the training and GM seconds in the world don't help if you don't give yourself time to move. Before the match I was concerned about Kasparov's clock handling. The rhythm of play is something we see players have trouble with after layoffs far shorter than 4.5 years. And he did play quite slowly -- just not as slowly as Karpov.

At first I thought the final position was clearly winning for Black. But I missed a nice intermezzo that allows White to keep his e-pawn and after that it's a long and difficult fight. 24.Ne6 (Did they always record the final move even if the player flagged after making it on the board? For some reason I had it in my head that this used to not be the case and that, while interesting to know, the move didn't 'count.') After the ice-cold 24.Qd3, threatening to go to c4 and then play Ne6, White is still for choice. It looks like Black then has good defensive chances by giving the exchange. The computer says he can try the baroque maneuver 24..Rf5, but just taking on b5 or even taking the knight straight off look natural enough. Black either keeps the monster knight on d4 or gets the two bishops. 24..Qf5 is another possibility, though 25.Qc4 Bc8 doesn't much inspire a human mind.

After Karpov's 24.Ne6, whether it counts or not, Black wins the exchange immediately and the series of captures is forced. When I first saw the final position (at TWIC, where, FSM bless him, Mark has put up a JavaScript viewer so people on mobile devices can see the damn things, something I've been whinging about since I got my G1) I thought Black then had an easy job after 24..Nxe6 25.dxe6 Qxd2 26.Rxd2 Rxd2 27.Bxb7 and now 27.Rfd8 followed by ..Rd1 and the white rook comes off and the e-pawn will fall. Later I saw that White has the annoying 28.Bc7, saving the white rook and the e-pawn after either 28..Re8 or 28..R8d3. Not an easy move to find, and Black is still the one with the chances, but it's definitely a tough grind.

Really a shame to lose a game like that. And by that I mean a shame for the chess community to be robbed of an interesting position between Karpov and Kasparov, not a shame for Karpov, who brought it on himself. The opening, to do this recap entirely backwards, was a Fianchetto Grunfeld, which has a long world championship pedigree. And not just the two Karpov-Kasparov games from the 87 match (both drawn). Alekhine played it twice against Bogoljubov, once per match, and Botvinnik relied on 3.g3 against both Bronstein and Smyslov. That includes the wild Smyslov queen sac win in the 14th game of the drawn 1954 match, a game Kasparov annotated deeply.

Starting with the opening this time, the first few moves of the second game also looked familiar to WCh aficionados. The K's played both sides of these QGD positions with the early capture on d5. Even the position after 5.Bf4 c6 was tried by each K, Karpov with black in the second match and Kasparov in the third, both drawn. Kasparov played 6.Qc2 this time, putting Karpov into a deep think. Apparently he didn't include Kasparov's post-retirement simul games in his database! Garry used this move in Bastia last year against a 2200 named Humeau. Well, he also used it against Short in 1988 and Karpov himself chose it against Kasparov in that WCh game in 86. Kasparov played 6..g6 then, which is still played as often as 6..Nf6 and the move Karpov chose, 6..Bd6. After exchanges and 8.e3 they were still following that Kasparov simul game, oddly enough. But that continued 8..Nf6 instead of Karpov's 8..Ne7. The first new move was 10..h6, protecting the h-pawn the simple way instead of playing ..Nf6 or ..Qh6.

Kasparov used quite a bit of time on his plan to pust things open with Rad1 and e4. Karpov sank nearly eight minutes into 16..Ba6, but White's control of the center was still very dangerous after the exchange. Just how dangerous became apparent when Karpov used two minutes on the blunder 21..Nc5, allowing Kasparov a pretty and devastating piece sacrifice with 22.Nf6+! No insult to either K, but this sort of shot would have gotten a nice murmur during Monday's simul and isn't the sort of thing a GM should be walking into after a two-minute think. Counter-intuitively, the mating attack after Black takes the knight isn't much of a surprise, but the forced mate in four after 22..Kh8 23.Rh5 isn't something you see unless you look for it. Karpov didn't look for it. He played a few more moves and this time when his flag fell it was understandable. Since all of Black's pieces are defended it's still worth playing out for a bit, however. There's no mate or immediate win of material until the black king is forced to cross the d-file and the other white rook gets into the attack. A nice win by Kasparov but still not much of a test of his capabilities after his layoff.

It's easy to bury him now after such a horrible first day, but I don't think Karpov is capable of four games this atrocious against his old nemesis. Kasparov still has another white tomorrow though, so the result of the rapid match isn't in much doubt. And it's really tough to believe the blitz will be anything other than a massacre, though I hold out hope for some competitive chess.


"Did they always record the final move even if the player flagged after making it on the board?"

Doesn't the live transmission software simply record every move made on the board (provided it's a legal one)? If white wins, at the end of the game his king is put on e4, and that one is also given in a live transmission as long as it is legal - even if the actual game went e.g. 43. Kf5-g6, black resigns.

Certainly glad that Karpov showed up for game 3 today, although a Kasparov sweep wouldn't have hurt my feelings either. Kasparov got a nice, dominant win and Karpov at least won one game. Won't the blitz games be interesting!

I just wondered if there's a rule on the status of a move made before you hit your clock and you flag. This would actually be relevant if the move were checkmate, no? And since your move isn't completed until you hit your clock, that move doesn't exist. I've definitely seen in books the line "so-and-so actually played x, but his flag fell" and the move x isn't included in the score even though it was completed on the board. That is, the person who loses on time shouldn't be the person making the last move.

Electronic boards have messed this up by sending the move out instantly. But shouldn't these phantom moves be removed from the official scores? Add them as notes, but if you don't include checkmate you don't include anything. It would be interesting if only because of the perception of some games. Not so much in game 1 here because Karpov's position after Ne6 is still okay. But had it been a horrible blunder the game would be seen as "but he was lost anyway." And since we wantonly and absurdly discard the clock information, nobody who sees the score for the rest of chess history will know Karpov lost on time anyway. Weep.

In a tournament game, mate or stalemate ends the game, even if your flag falls.

yep. You have to prevent your opponent making a move that ends the game if you want to win on time.

I believe this was decided in the legendary London League dispute of Maggs -v- Rumens in the 1950's or 1960s, which had the piquant additional feature that neither player noticed the move in question was mate until it was pointed out by a spectator, and which went to the House of Lords or whatever FIDE's equivalent was. As Martin M said, mate is the end of the game even if the flag then falls (or perhaps in certain forms of the game even if the flag does fall first, so long as the mate comes before a claim).

I guess it's only really a question if your flag falls before you complete your move. If I pick up my queen to deliver mate, my flag falls, and my opponent calls the flag as I place checkmate, who wins? Since moves aren't really made instantaneously, there has to be a ruling for that moment the move is in the process of being made. Personally, I've never seen it OTB.

My understanding is, if the move is allowed to be completed without a claim, its a win for the Mating side. If there is a legitimate claim while the hand is in the air, as for example might happen if the flag had fallen earlier and the person about to be mated only noticed at that point in time) clearly the move isnt complete and a loss on time is correct. However if the claim and completion of the move is near simultaneous, my understanding is that the person delivering the checkmate can say, "flag, what flag? its checkmate my friend".

I once had such a situation in a blitz tournament: I "knowingly" mated my opponent (but didn't "claim mate"), but my flag was down and he claimed victory. It was impossible to reconstruct when the flag fell: "during" the move, just before, or maybe it had been down for a few moves already [in blitz it only becomes relevant when claimed].

I called the arbiter (who hadn't been around because he had to take care of 20-50 games), he declared the game lost for me being "deaf" to my remark "but there's a mate on the board". The decision was later confirmed by the head arbiter - at the end of the day, it cost me about 50 Euros prize money [and it didn't help me that many fellow players, including titled ones, thought that the arbiter(s) made the wrong decision ...].

Thomas, youse was cheated fella!

Having said that, I remember as a 15 year old kid being cheated by a middle-aged opoonent in a minor blitz tournament. I won an exchange, but this guy claimed I moved the Knight or Bishop (cant remember which) wrongly, i,e. it was a on a different square to that which it was actually on. This guy was actually a foreigner to my country, was loud, and I was totally intimidated. No arbiter was around, so I agreed and played on and lost...

Karpov wins first blitz game with Black! Strange pawn sac (?) by Kasparov with Nc5, to my eyes at least... though maybe the relay wasn't correct?

That reminds me of a blitz game I watched between Browne and a 1600-ish player. The class player achieved 3-fold repetition and kept claiming the draw. Browne said that unless there was a TD around, he had no claim. The class player was really low on time, so, they just shuffled their pieces back and forth until he lost on time (this was 10-15 years ago before delay was accepted). Sometimes you just get the shaft.

Game 2 apparently drawn but we didn't get the moves live - being reconstructed now though.

After the first couple of games, I wonder if Kasparov has decided not to push too hard. I think he is a great sportsman and knows that he has the match in his back pocket, so why embarrass Karpov? Personally, I think that Kasparov is not trying to win every game--he has no reason to and several reason mentioned on this site why he would not want to. Not that he's throwing the games, just playing to avoid blunders and not lose. IMHO.

Kasparov won game 3 and 4. Outplayed Karpov in game 3. Karpov flagged in game 4 in what from the commentary did not seem like a bad position, rather the contrary?, but I'm not sure at all.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on September 23, 2009 11:51 AM.

    In the K-K Shadow was the previous entry in this blog.

    K-K 1 at 25: Karpov Strikes, Kasparov Wins is the next entry in this blog.

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