Danny gives us his thoughts on Kasparov’s return and a game from the recent 4NCL weekend.
Although the United States Championship this year was an exciting event in itself, featuring three of the top ten players in the world in Caruana, Nakamura and Wesley So, far more interest perhaps was generated afterwards by the blitz event.
This is surely because it featured the return of the legendary Garry Kasparov, taking on the three aforementioned players. Although since his retirement we have seen Garry in recent years take on the likes of Nigel Short and his old rival Karpov in exhibition matches, this is the first time the public could get a feel for how Garry would fare against the “new generation”.
I think Garry on the whole can be very pleased with how he did. I actually commented on Twitter that after the first day of play Garry should have been several points ahead. He actually looked like the best player.
But unfortunately for Gazza he was let down by too many blunders. Time after time he would outplay his opponents only to be frustrated by their fierce resistance and blunder towards the end of the game. Then he’d rise from the board, arms outstretched in a gesture of disbelief, only to be met by a mysterious figure (presumably his coach) near the kitchen area.
The first time this happened you could give him the benefit of the doubt but after it happens several times it started to lose it’s effect on the viewer. You just get the feeling that if Garry came back and played a lot this kind of thing would happen much more than happened in his prime.
The years wear on you. With his shock of white hair, Garry looks his age now and while if he came back I’m sure just on general class alone he could compete with these guys, he would be some way behind the number one spot and would probably be around high 2700 level. Which would still make him by far the strongest player of his age group and one of the strongest players in the world, I’m not sure that would be enough for him.
You look at someone like Magnus and he is there ready to play for six, seven hours if he has to. Looking at the blitz tournament and the way Garry was fading at the end of some of those games, I’m not sure he could compete with that.
Of course there would always be someone willing to pay a lot of money to see a Carlsen - Kasparov match and I’m sure it would stimulate a lot of public interest, but the bare reality is that father time is still unbeaten and I think Garry would struggle in such a match.
Not that this is anything but a theoretical concept. I’m sure Garry has no real plans to come back in a more serious way and potentially tarnish his legacy. He’ll be happy to continue with the political stuff while playing the odd exhibition match.
Strangely enough while all the attention centered around Garry, the most brilliant game by far was actually played against him.
Garry himself almost created a masterpiece in his game against Caruana, who struggled throughout the event, probably feeling fatigue after winning the main event.
The eventual winner of the event was Nakamura, which was hardly a surprise. Nakamura is so good at blitz I think because his intuition is so good. Watching him as a guest commentator at the World Cup last year I was struck by how often he’d just see the right move instantly. It was really really impressive. He’s got the right strategy at blitz as well, and Ithink it’s something he’s given a lot of thought to- the best methods for becoming strong at blitz. If he plays a three minute game online for example, he’ll play it at close to one minute pace. I think that’s what you’ve got to do. Play quick, then save yourself that bit of time for when the game turns critical later.
Too many times in the blitz event we’d see Gazza spend too much time in the opening - he’d pay for it later on. Naka on the other hand although wasn’t always comfortable on the board was always comfortable on the clock. He also very rarely blunders at blitz which can be rather wearing on the opposition when you never have the sense he’s going to make a serious mistake. Beating Nakamura at blitz is rather like trying to beat Djokovic at tennis - the defensive level is so high and he gets you out of your comfort zone by forcing you to do stuff you wouldn’t normally do. He just forces youto make that one extra move or find that one extra idea and eventually that wears on you.
I think luck can play a role in chess. Have a look at this game I played in the final weekend of the 4NCL against David Smerdon.
Danny Gormally is a talented English Grandmaster. He lives in the bustling market town of Alnwick, somewhere near Scotland.
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