Monday, June 13, 2011

The World Champion of Tournament Chess

Anatoly Karpov turned 60 during the time my 'puter, and I, was down. I reached the age of 60 last summer, so Karpov is the World Champion nearest my age group. I met Karpov, along with former World Champion Tigran Petrosian, and GM Paul Keres, in San Antonio in 1972. They were playing in the Church's Fried Chicken, Inc. First International Tournament. I had traveled there with Branko Vujakovic, a chess master exchange student from Yugoslavia. We played in the weekend tournament sponsored by Church's. Bobby Fischer flew in for the last round, which was held-up waiting for him to arrive. He had just won the World Championship. I had only been playing chess for a couple of years and there I was in company of one former World Champion, the new World Champion, and, as it turned out, the next one as well!
There was a restaurant named the Golden Egg across the street from the Hemisphere, where the players stayed and played. It was basically a glorified Waffle House. The Soviet players ate every meal there, unlike the western players, who dined at much more expensive restaurants, because they could use the per diem to purchase things to take back with them.
Branko was a very strong player, the first really strong player to play in Georgia. He cleaned up while there. I recall Branko playing speed chess with NM John Dunning, who was living in San Antonio. I remember one game Branko had two bishops for two rooks and won. An argument ensued as to whether Branko had sacked the exchange twice, or lost, the rooks! John was a strong player too. He drew with black vs Walter Browne, Mr 6-Time, in a tournament in Houston called the Space City Open after the conclusion of the Church's tournament.
Some time later a book was published by RHM press by IM David Levy, Karpov's Collected Games. I found that Branko had played Karpov in a junior match between Russia and Yougoslavia. Karpov had won the first three games and given Branko a draw in the final game although he had a winning position. How was that possible, I thought. It was difficult for me to understand how another player could beat Branko as easily as he beat me.
The field at Linares 1994 was one of the strongest ever, and Kasparov prior to the event commented that the winner could call himself "world champion of tournament chess". It must have rankled Gary when Karpov smashed the world elite with an amazing score of 11/13 (+9 =4 -0) and a record performance rating of 2985, after having won his first 6 games and leaving Kasparov and Shirov 2.5 points behind. This was arguably the greatest achievement in the history of tournament chess.
When I first began to play chess my neighbor, Larry Jones, would push his pawns in the shape of a picket fence. He could not understand why I would win every game by taking advantage of the holes in his position. For that reason I never cared for the Sonewall variation of the Dutch. But when I purchased a book written by Tim Harding, The Leningrad Dutch, and played over this game, I fell in love with the variation. I have a copy of the book now, although not the same copy. It is written in English descriptive, so I played over the game again to transcribe it and was just as astounded as I was in the mid seventies when the book was published.
Karpov-Jacobsen, USSR vs Scandinavia junior match, 1968
1 d4 f5 2 g3 g6 3 Bg2 Bg7 4 Nf3 Nf6 5 0-0 0-0 6 c4 d6 7 Nc3 Nc6 8 d5 Ne5 9 Ne5 de5 10 ef f4 11 b3 g5 12 f3 Qd6 13 g4 h5 14 h3 hg4 15 fg4 Bg7 16 a4 Qb6+ 17 Kh2 Kf7 18 Bf3 Rh8 19 Kg2 Rh4 20 a5 Qc5 21 Ba3 Qe3 22 Qe1 Bg4 23 hg4 Ng4 24 Rh1 Rh1 25 Qe3 Ne3+ 26 Kh1 g4 27 Be2 f3 28 Bc5 Bh6 29 Re1 b6 30 Bf3 bc5 31 Bd1 Kg6 32 Nb5 Bf4 33 Re3 Be3 34 Nc7 Rh8+ 35 Kg2 Rh4 36 a6 Bf4 37 Kg1 g3 38 Bf3 Rh2 39 Bg2 Kf7 40 Kf1 Rh6 41 Ke2 Rb6 0-1

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

this is Branko.Beloow is my mail adress. Would be glad to get in touch.