This week, we will look at a game from Anatoly Karpov, the 12th world chess champion and one of the best Russian players. In the seventh round of the Mar del Plata tournament in 1982 hosted by the newspaper Clarín, Karpov with the white pieces is playing against Miguel Najdorf—a name most people know from the Najdorf Sicilian, one of the most common lines in the Sicilian Defense. Najdorf’s name carries a great deal of weight in the chess world.
Starting off with the relatively uncommon Queen’s Indian Defense and transitioning into a highly positional round, a Karpov classic, the game eventually results in the following position, where Karpov has an opportunity to close off the game and defeat Najdorf with a very pretty mating sequence. (White to move)
1.Nh5+ Rxh5 2. Rxg6+ Kxg6 3.Re6#
After a clearance sacrifice with the knight opening up the file for the g1 rook, and a rook sacrifice on g6 to force the black king to g6, the combination of the white king covering the 7th rank, the white pawn on f4 covering the g5 square, and the black rook on h5 blocking that square, white’s final rook is able to deliver checkmate by moving to the 6th rank, thus solving one of chess’s oldest known puzzles.
Max Vitek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.