Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 24th 2015 Contents "When it came time to play for the kill, Karpov
played a move that fit his prudent style but not the
win-at-all-costs situation that he himself had created.
His personal style was in conflict with the game
strategy that was required in order to win, and he
Kasparov notes that the lesson the ex-champion
learned from this critical game was almost to entirely
stop opening with his king s pawn. Karpov recognised
that, at key moments, his style wouldn t fit the sharp
positions it created. "He learned and adapted and
stayed near the top for many many years because
he recognized the need for a change."
In assessing the course of the game, Kasparov
advises a return to the power of "Why?" Combatants
over the chessboard must know what questions to
ask, and ask them frequently. Have conditions
changed in a way that necessitates a change in strat-
egy, or is a small adjustment all that is required?
"If you have already decided on a good strategy,
why drop it for something that suits your opponent?
Avoiding this trap requires extraordinarily strong self
Giving a military example of this trap, Kasparov
tells how the French forces were routed at the battle
of Agincourt in 1415 when their cavalry allowed a
long distance volley of arrows to provoke them into
a disorderly charge. The French knights, out of for-
mation and charging across muddy terrain, were
repeatedly cut down. Kasparov calls it "a downfall
An interesting side effect of his many years of
success was the decision of some of his opponents
to employ unorthodox variations to take their games
into original channels. "Here they felt my long expe-
rience would be nullified and they would be better
prepared for the unusual positions. The problem, as
many of these players discovered, is that most of
their original concepts were rare for good reason."
Finally, Kasparov advises: "Questioning yourself
must become a habit, one strong enough to surmount
the obstacles of overconfidence and dejection. It is
a muscle that can be developed only with constant
practice." Pablo Picasso nailed it when he said that
"computers are useless. They can only give you
"Questions are what matters. Questions, and dis-
covering the right ones, are the key to staying on
What is your personal style in pursuing
the chess battle? Do you aggressively seek
opportunities to attack or do you wait to
capitalise on the weaknesses or miscal-
culations in your opponent s play? As for-
mer world champion Garry Kasparov tells
it in his book, How Life Imitates Chess,
switching from one style of play to another
can be fatal.
"One of the tensest games of my life saw
my opponent fail to have faith in his own
plans," he recalls by way of illustration. In
1985 he was locked in yet another battle
with his longtime foe, Anatoly Karpov. It
was the final game of their world cham-
pionship match, and Kasparov, the chal-
lenger, was in the lead by one point. Karpov,
however, had the advantage of the white
pieces, and if he won he would draw the
match and so retain the title for three more
The champion played aggressively right
from the start and built up an impressive
attacking position against Kasparov s king.
Then came the critical decision, the chal-
lenger recalls. "It was whether to completely
commit to his attack by pushing his pawns
forward against my king side or to continue
with more circumspect preparations.
"I think we both knew that this was the
critical moment in the game"
Karpov decided against the push, and
the opportunity was gone. After spending
the first twenty moves of the game preparing
a direct assault, he got cold feet and missed
"Suddenly I was in my element, coun-
terattacking instead of defending," Kasparov
relates. "The game entered complications
on my terms, not my opponent s, and I
brought home the victory that made me
the world champion.
Thursday, September 24, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
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