Chess Puzzle

c/o Max Vitek

This week, we will be looking at a game from the great Garry Kasparov, one of the strongest and most influential grandmasters the chess world has ever seen. His opponent is Bent Larsen, widely considered to be the best Danish player of all time, and in his prime considered the second-best non-Soviet chess player (right after Bobby Fischer). Even though Larsen never achieved the rank of world champion, he is no opponent to disrespect.

This game was played in Belgium’s 1987 SWIFT Blitz tournament, meaning the players have very little time to play.

After a Tarrasch Defense—an aggressive response by black to gain more center control—Kasparov, playing white, kept trying to optimally position his pieces with the goal of attacking down the center, the bishop on a2 proving to be an invaluable asset. Once Kasparov felt that everything was in place, he broke through, with Larsen making a small but significant blunder in his defense, leading to the following position. Now, Kasparov has a mate in 4 to end the game. (White to move.)

Last Week’s Solution:

21… Qxf2+! 22. Kxf1 Bc5+ 23. Kf3? Rxf6+ 24. Kg4 Ne5+

Between the b1 rook’s attack on black’s queen, the pin by white’s e1 rook and the f6 bishop’s attack on black’s e7 bishop, the threat of Qg4+ if black takes white’s f6 bishop with the pawn, and the threat on the c6 rook by the g2 bishop, it looks like black’s position is going to be utterly butchered. However, Nakamura found the only winning idea: attacking white’s one weakness, the f2 pawn, and using his own weaknesses as tools to hunt down Krasenkow’s king. Regardless of where Krasenkow moves his king or defends, Nakamura can continue to ruthlessly assault white’s king, leading to, at the very least, a substantial material gain. Krasenkow resigned shortly after.

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