Sunday, August 2, 2015

Kasparov's Sicilian Sacrifice

I'm sure many of you will be familiar with a few Sicilian variations such as Najdorf and Dragon, and understand the basic plans behind them (if you're not, someone's been sleeping during training). Today, we will go through a Sicilian themed game, where our hero of the day is Garry Kasparov himself.

FIDE politics aside, Kasparov is a household name that every chess player will know, and his dominance of the board is unquestionable. In the following game, he uses an exchange sacrifice to launch a strong queenside attack against his opponent, as is recommended when playing the Sicilian Najdorf as Black.

Maybe that's why he was such a good player

1. e4 c5
2. Nf3 d6
3. d4 cxd4
4. Nxd4 Nf6
5. Nc3 a6
6. Be3 e6
7. f3

Black employs the classic Najdorf-Scheveningen setup in the Sicilian Defense. Here, both sides usually castle on opposite wings, with White seeking play on the kingside while Black goes for a queenside minority attack.

7... b5
8. Qd2 Nbd7
9. O-O-O Bb7
10. g4 Nb6
11. Qf2 Nfd7
12. Kb1 Rc8
13. Bd3 (D)

Position after 13. Bd3

We can already see both sides preparing their attacks on opposite wings. With his next move, Black sacrifices the exchange to kickstart his Queenside attack.

13... Rxc3!

Black opens up the b-file and destroys White's pawn cover. Another way to continue the attack would be 13... b4 14. Nce2 Nc5 hitting the bishop, and preparing to stack the major pieces on the c-file.

14. bxc3 Qc7
15. Ne2 Be7
16. g5 O-O

Now Kasparov can bring his rook into the attack.

17. h4 Na4

Black's assault revolves around the weak c3 pawn and the semi open b and c files.

18. Bc1 Ne5

Of course Black could win a pawn with 18... Nxc3+?! 19. Nxc3 Qxc3 but after 20. Bb2! Qc7 21. Qg3 White regains the intiative.

19. h5

19. f4 is met by 19... Nxd3 20. cxd3 d5! 21. exd5 (21. e5 d4 hitting c3 and h1.) 21... Bxd5 with the threat of Qa5 followed by Nxc3+

19... d5
20. Qh2 Bd6! (D)

Position after 20... Bd6

Threatening a discovered attack on White's Queen. While Black continues with his plans he must also be on the watch for White's kingside counterplay.

21. Qh3?!

Kasparov gave the strong reply 21. Bf4! b4 22. cxb4 Rc8 23. Rc1 d4 24. g6 with an unclear position.

21... Nxd3
22. cxd3 b4!

Position after 22... b4

With his earlier move Kasparov removed an important defender on the queenside; now he opens up more lines for the attack.

23. cxb4

23. c4 dxc4 24. dxc4 Be5 25. g6 (25. f4 $2 Bxe4+) 25... Qxc4 26. gxh7+ Kh8 and White's position is about to fall apart.

23... Rc8
24. Ka1 dxe4
25. fxe4 Bxe4!
26. g6!

Movesesian wisely avoids 26. dxe4 Be5+

26... Bxh1
27. Qxh1 Bxb4
28. gxf7+ Kf8 (D)

Position after 28... Kf8

White tears down Black's kingside pawns, but Black can afford to parry the blow since his own attack is already so strong.

29. Qg2 Rb8
30. Bb2 Nxb2
31. Nd4

31. Kxb2 leads to mate: Bd2+ 32. Ka1 Bc3+ 33. Nxc3 Qxc3+ 34. Qb2 Qxb2#

31... Nxd1
32. Nxe6+

It seems that White has regained the momentum, but Kasparov calmly fends off the counterblow.

32... Kxf7! (D)

Position after 32... Kxf7

Movesesian resigned in view of the following line: 33. Qxg7+ Kxe6 34. Qxc7 Bc3+ and White is forced to give up the Queen.


From this game we have seen how Kasparov kickstarted the queenside attack with an exchange sacrifice, combined with a central pawn break. Although his opponent counterattacked on the opposite wing, Kasparov eventually won the race. These are just a few of the many classic ideas which you can use when handling the Sicilian in your future games (:


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