Kasparov’s Best Chess Game At The Age of 12
Today, GM Eugene Perelshteyn shares an amazing game with you. The game was played by the genius himself, Garry Kasparov. However, this is not a game played at a time when Garry was already one of the world’s best players. Instead, we’re taking a closer look at a fantastic attacking game which Garry played at the age of 12.
Garry was already playing incredible attacking chess at the age of 12. It is no exaggeration to say that this is probably Kasparov’s best chess game of his youth.
Let’s dive right into Kasparov’s best chess game at the age of 12:
Leningrad 1975: Kasparov, Garry – Kantsler, Boris
The game started 1.e4 e6 2.d3. Kasparov is known to be a specialist in the King’s Indian Defense with Black. This time, he chooses a similar strategy in this game and goes for the King’s Indian Attack with White. One advantage of the King’s Indian Attack is that this opening setup can be played against various of Black’s most common chess openings. White builds a powerful pawn chain and – based on the pawn chain – we can already figure out White’s plan. He tries to attack on the kingside. 2…d5 3.Nd2 (an important move as Black was threatening to take on e4 and exchange queens) 3…c5 4.g3 Nc6 5.Bg2 c6 6.Ngf3 Bg7 7.0-0 Nge7 8.Re1 0-0 9.Qe2 b5 10.e5 a5 11.Nf1 (a typical plan – White’s wants to play h4 and transfer the knight to g4 via h2) Ba6 12.h4 (see the diagram on the right).
Kasparov plays his first twelve moves almost on autopilot. This shows us that it is hugely important to understand the key concepts and ideas of the openings you play. The plans for both sides are clear. White tries to generate an attack on the kingside in order to mate Black’s king. Black, by contrast, has to play on the queenside and try to open files in order to penetrate White’s position with his pieces before he gets mated.
The game continues 12…b4 13.N1h2 h6 14.Bf4. Kasparov overprotects his pawn on e5 with the move Bf4 – a key chess strategy which was already explained by Aaron Mimzowitsch in his famous book “My system”. Black continues with 14…Kh7. Now, Kasparov plays a clever move – 14. Bh3 (see the diagram on the left). If he had played the obvious move 14.Ng4, White could have answered with 14…Nf5. The knight on f5 is ideally placed, protecting h6 and eyeing the d4-square.
15…c4 16.Kg2 Nf5 17.Bxf5 gxf5 18.g4 fxg4 19.Nxg4 Ne7 (see the diagram on the right).
Kasparov builds up a strong attacking position. However, Black is ready to play …Nf5 in the next move and defend against all of White’s threats. Here, Kasparov find a brilliant move. Take your time and think about a stunning move in this position. What could Kasparov have played?
This is a pure intuitive sacrifice. Chess giants such as Tal, Kasparov or Alekhine don’t necessarily calculate all variations to the end. They use their intuition and a simple method called “counting”. They ask themselves how many attacking units they have in the game and how many defenders the opponent has. It’s important to note that pawns can also be strong attacking units and sometimes even outweigh the importance of a more valuable defending piece.
Here, Black’s rook on a8 and his bishop on a6 are not protecting the king at all. The h6-pawn, however, is an important defending unit for Black. Hence, with the move Bg5, Kasparov stops …Nf5 for the moment and sacrifices a minor piece in order to eliminate this important defending pawn.
It is quite funny to see that modern chess engines need a lot of time to evaluate Bg5 as winning for White. This underlines the fact that Kasparov had a very powerful intuition already at the age of 12.
The game continues 20…hxg5 21.hxg5 Rh8 (21…cxd3 would be answered by the strong 22.Qd2!, followed by Rh1 and Nf6) 22.Nf6+ (see the diagram on the left).
In the game, Black plays Kg6 and goes for a little walk with his king. Taking the knight, however, would also lose the game due to 22…Bxf6 23.Rh1+ Kg8 24.gxf6 Ng6 25.Rxh8+ Kxh8 26.Rh1+ Kg8 27.Qe3 Qf8 28.Ng5+- (see the diagram on the right).
If you want to see how Kasparov sealed the deal after the move 22…Kg6, you should definitely watch the whole video with great explanations by GM Eugene Perelshteyn.
Kasparov’s Best Chess Game At The Age of 12 – Conclusion
There are a couple of lessons we can learn from Kasparov’s best chess game in his youth. Let’s summarize them:
- 1. Try to play openings in which you have a clear plan and know the key concepts and ideas
- 2. When you’re attacking, always count the attacking and defending units. If you have more attackers in the game, don’t be afraid to sacrifice material in order to open the enemy king.
- 3. If you don’t see a mate or you can’t calculate all lines to the end, trust your intuition.
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