As an aspiring chess player in the late eighties I loved Inside Chess. My rating was around 1300 at that time, so while a lot of the analysis was too dense for me the fact of that matter is that having quality games to play through did me a world of good, even if I couldn't understand a lot of what was going on. (And let's face it, 450 points higher rated than I was then, a lot of the analysis still escapes me until I work really hard to understand it.)
Also, truth be told, there was something else I loved about Inside Chess. There was a number you could call and they would send you a trial issue. I grew up in some pretty abject poverty so this allowed for a rather nice workaround for me to pick up the occasional issue. Mostly I was able to get them from friends who were done reading them, but on the occasions when I couldn't I called and they sent me a freebie. Perhaps not the most ethical thing to do, but kind of funny when I stop to think that I also didn't pay for them now...
What is included in this set? Three DVD's encompassing the entire 284 issue run of the magazine from 1988-2000. The issues are in a searchable .pdf format. Each disc contains a few years worth of issues along with a TOC and an index.
Let's start with the first issue. I actually remember reading this one as a kid. Specifically I remember that the final two games of the Showdown in Seville were featured and analyzed by Yasser Seirawan, who was my chess hero at the time (hence a large portion of my delight at the existence of this magazine!)
To set the scene, after 22 of 24 games in their fourth match in as many years the match is tied at 11-11. Kasparov needs only to draw the final two games or win one of them to retain his crown. Then, in Game 23 disaster strikes. After Karpov gets an advantage Kasparov commits a grievous error and loses. This puts him in the almost untenable position of needing to win the final game. Curiously, this is the reversal of roles from their second match when Karpov trailed 11-12 heading in to the final game of that match.
In that match Karpov made the mistake of going all out for the win, which allowed Kasparov to cruise to victory. This also served to allow Kasparov to avoid repeating his predecessor's mistake. Instead of going all out for an aggressive damn the torpedoes attack Kasparov chose instead of play for a slow burning initiative which he would hold on to in order to allow Karpov as much time as possible to feel the pressure. In this way the champion clearly hoped to break the nerves of his challenger.
Here is the final game as printed in the magazine...please note that copying the .pdf, then pasting into here caused a number of typos (sometimes 5 or 8 translated as S and sometimes f translated as t) so you might want to use this copy of the game and just use the notes here.
Kasparov -24- Karpov
l.c4 e6 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.g3 d5 4.b3!? In his 1983 match against Korchnoi in London, Kasparov won some very nice games on the White side of a Catalan. Kasparov plays an opening with even less poison than the Catalan. By doing so he indicates to Karpov, "Get ready for a long struggle, Jack."
4...Be7 5.Bg2 00 6.00 b6 7.Bb2 Bb7 5.e3 Nbd7 9.Nc3 Ne4 10.Ne2 a5!? Odd. Certainly 10...c5 or 10...Bf6 would be more normal. With the text, Black seeks more space on the Queenside and tries to insure a measure of control over c5. 11.d3 Bf6 12.Qc2 Bxb2 13.Qxb2 Nd6 It would be a mistake for Black to misplace his Queen with 13...Qf6 which could be met by 14.Qc2! when Black's c7- pawn has become vulnerable.
14.exd5 Bxd5 15.d4 e5 16.Rfd1 Re5 17.Nf4 Bxf3 1S.Bxf3 Qe7 19.Rac1 Rfd5 20.dxe5 Nxe5?! Not the best. I prefer 20...Rxc5, which insures further exchanges and gives the Knight better options such as Nf6 or Ne5. Of course, White can capture 21.Rxc5 Nxc5 but that is a clear improvement over the game.
21.b4! This move gives White a microscopic plus. In order for Kasparov to win he must unbalance the pawn structure. In the resulting position, Black's b6 weakness is slightly more vulnerable than White's a2-pawn. Why? Because of the minor pieces. White's Bishop controls as. Black cannot make a frontal assault against the a-pawn while White has no such problem in attacking the b6-pawn.
21...axb4 22.Qxb4 Qa7 23.a3 Nf5?! Another slightly inferior move from Karpov. One of Karpov's tremendous strengths over the years has been his handling of quiet, simple positions. Here he has the slimmest of disadvantages. All he has to do is exchange the Queenside pawns and the World Championship is his. This, though, is no easy task. He must first insure that his minors are well placed. Superficially, the Knight appears strong on f5. Not so. Yes, it is protected, but, what is it doing there?
White's pawns on e3, f2 and g3 hobble its hop. If the Knight jumps to another circuit via e7, the Bishop then controls its key squares d5 and c6. I recommend 23...Ne5!, a move that is in complete accordance with Karpov's style. The Knight eventually comes to f6 where it is nicely protected, covers d5 and prepares active play with e6-e5.
24.Rb1 Rxd1 + 25.Rxd1 Qe7 26.Nd3 h6?! My goodness, it's amazing to see Karpov committing so many small inaccuracies, in the face of such opportunity!
Let's begin as follows: 26...h6 creates luft for the Black King, but h7 is the wrong square for the King. Why? Because White has a light squared Bishop. The King needs a dark square, making himself
invulnerable to possible Bishop checks, so 26...g6 is the natural move. Black should then proceed with a possible h7-h5 assault a la Larsen. It's more surprising that Karpov doesn't take advantage of his opportunity to exchange pieces. Best was 26...Nxd3 27.Rxd3 g6!, preparing to play Qc5. White has only the slimmest advantage. If 28.Rb3 Qc1 + 29.Kg2 Rc2 Black has tremendous activity and threatens to equalize with Qd2. Bad for White would be 3O.Be4 Rc4 and if30.Qb6 Qd2 Black wins! So, 28.Rb3 allows Black far too much activity. Kicking back the Knight with e3-e4 blocks the h1-a5 diagonal. For instance 28.e4 Ne7 29.Rd6 Nc6 and Black's doing great. Garry would then be reduced to a move like 28.Kg2 allowing Qc5. Maybe White would be forced to speculate with a gross move like 28.g4. If it were me, playing for a draw, I would've grabbed White's Knight in a New York minute.
27.Rc1! Ne7 Here we have it. Black voluntarily retreats his Knight from "the fine square f5". This marking of time doesn't work out well.
28.Qb5! Nf5 29.a4! Karpov is still alive and kicking despite his slight inaccuracies. Garry must do something to heighten the conflict. The purpose of a4 is to undermine the Knight on c5 by threatening a5.
29...Nd6 30.Qb1 Qa7 31.Ne5! At. the sight of Ne5, Karpov must've kicked himself-in the teeth - for not having removed White's Knight. Black must face severe problems after the text. White has a direct threat: 32.a5!, when to capture costs the Exchange after 33.Nc6. What to do?
31...Nxa4 The lesser evil. Bad is 31...Qxa4 32.Qxb6 Qa3 33.Rd1 Ne5 34.RdS Rxd5 35.QxdS Qa1 + 36.Kg2 Qxe5 37.Qxe5 + and Qxf7 when an ending similar to that of the game arises but with a Knight offside.
32.Rxc8 + Nxc8 33.Qd1 Ne7?? Karpov has been gradually outplayed in a simple position that started from equality. He now commits one of his most grievous blunders of the match, perhaps of his career. The real question is: how does White win after 33...Nc5 34.Qd5+ Kh7 35.Kg2 f6! 36.Qxc8 fxe5? White is a pawn down but has the better chances, ego 37.Qe5!? threatening Bh5. But then 37...g6! and victory for White is no simple matter. Perhaps 37.h4 is best. The b-pawn is no concern since35...b5 is met by 39.Qd2 followed by Qh4. Black must ask himself if he wants to live with a white pawn sitting on h5. If White can grab a toehold with h5, then Qe5 followed by g4-g5 permitting h6xg5 Qe5-g6 + and h5-h6 looks like a good try. Black's King has no protection. But even then, how does White win with a bare Queen? White can prolong the torture for a long while but we cannot speak of a forced win. After Karpov's 33rd, however, he is on the edge of loss.
34.Qd8+ Kh7 35.Nxf7 Ng6 36.Qe8 Qe7 37.Qxa4 Qxf7 38.Be4 Kg8 39.Qb5 Nf5 40.Qxb6 Qf6 41.Qb5 Qe7
Another sleepless night of analysis. Is the position won? I'm not sure. White should win perhaps 60% of the time. Black has two modes of defense: passive and active. I'm not sure which is best. Which would you choose? The passive method is precisely that. Black plays Qd6 or Qf6 and waits. White probably puts his pawns on e3, f4, g4, h4 and King on g3. If Qd6, White puts his Queen on f7, but then has to worry about Qa3 threatening the pawn on e3 with check. Is White able to win? I don't know. If Qf6, White might put his Queen on d6 and Bishop on c4. In this variation e3 is less vulnerable than when the Black Queen sits on d6. Still, with the pawns brought forward, White's King is subject to perpetual checks. Believe me, these passive setups are not easy to break.
The other option for Black is activity. Instead of allowing himself to be confined to the back ranks, Black plays g7-g5 and Kg7. Black must then be prepared to exchange Queens since a White Queen on e5 cannot be tolerated. The minor piece ending is questionable. In order to win, White must be able to infiltrate with his King either to d6 or through d5 and e8. That is as difficult to achieve as it is to defend. I recall Beliavsky holding the inferior side of a similar ending against Ribli in the 19S5 Montpellier Candidates Tournament. Imagine my shock when I saw the game continuation.
42.Kg2 (s) g6!? OK, Karpov prefers the active defensive set up but why wait, why not play g7-g5 at once?
43.Qa5!? Qg7 44.Qc5 Qf7 45.h4 h5?? What's this? This move is unbelievable! Complete and total rubbish. I have no idea what Karpov could have been thinking to make such a move. Black cannot transfer both his pawns to light squares. I don't mean to sound dogmatic, but it's true. The move reeks. If Black has to defend in this way, then the ending is dead lost because this position is dead lost. Again, I must fault Karpov's team on its adjournment analysis. Twice in a row his early moves after resumption were bad. What gives? I just don't understand. Now all the minor piece endings are lost. Black pieces will forever be tied down to the g-pawn's defense White's King will then trot around the board and it's over. That means Black must keep the Queens on the board. Whenever challenged, Black must give ground. Under such circumstances, it's easy to see that the position is now lost. Incredible. What a feeling of unbelievable joy for Garry! The game is won!
46.Qc6 Qe7 47.Bd3 Qf7 48.Qd6 Kg7 49.e4 Kg8 50.Bc4 Kg7 51.Qe5 + Kg8 52.Qd6 Kg7 53.Bb5 Kg8 54.Bc6 Qa7 55.Qb4 Qc7 56.Qb7 Qd8 57.e5 Qa5 58.Be8! Black has been consistently challenged to exchange Queens, an offer he had to refuse. White now gains f7 for his Queen. With Black's pawns on g6 and h5 instead of g7 and h6 this means instant death. Unbelievable. What could Karpov possibly have been thinking when playing these moves?
58...Qc5 59.Qf7ch Kh8 Now Garry's task is simple. All he needs to do is redeploy his Bishop so as to be able to attack g6.
60.Ba4 Qd5 + 61.Kh2 Qc5 62.Bb3 Qc8 63.Bd1 Qc5 64.Kg2 RESIGNS
It is impossible to prevent Bf3-e4xg6.·The only thing to be wary of is that Black is in stalemate. Therefore, White must take the precaution of putting his King on a square that doesn't allow Black to give up his Queen. It's remarkable to see Karpov lose in a style that he himself has patented. Truly, Garry has learned a great deal from their 124 fights together.
One amusing note is that the first issue of the magazine incorrectly identifies the year as 1987 rather than 1988.
After this amazing first issue the magazine goes on to cover all of the most important events of the next 12 years. The tail end of the peak years of players such as Hubner, Karpov, Andersson, and Ljubojevic, are covered simultaneously with the emergence of such players as Shirov, Kamsky, Topalov, and Kramnik.
Due to some technical issues with the difficulties of converting .pdf into text on this blog I have decided to limit this review to the excerpt above.
There is one downside with the DVD's, and that is that it would be nice if they came with some sort of .pgn files accompanying them. The .pdf format does not allow for ease of playing through the analysis or really of reading the articles.
What I have found myself doing is printing them out as I read them. Granted, this flies in the face of having this information in an electronic rather than a hard format, but it is the easiest way to play through the games and read the articles. And believe me, this is all well worth reading/playing. There are some real gems here and not only do you get the analysis, but you also capture the flavor of the moment in which these games occurred.
So all in all I enjoyed this time capsule and again I am very grateful to the folks at ChessCafe.com for sending the DVD's to me for review. I had had, and anticipate continuing to have, hours of enjoyment.
Please purchase this DVD set here.