Karpov,A (2715) - Kortschnoj,V (2640) [A33]
World Cup Brussels, 1988
[Karpov A.]

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.d4

One of the most popular symmetrical systems in the English Opening. It can be reached after another order of moves - 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.Nf3 - if White does not want to start a discussion on the Modern Benoni (3.d5). Therefore in theory this system is sometimes called "Anti-Benoni".

4...cxd4 5.Nxd4 e6 6.g3 Qb6

A more popular move than the immediate 6...Bc5 ; 6...Be7 ; 6...Bb4 ; and 6...a6 are seen only rarely. In this position there are three paths for White: the not too promising retreat of the knight ; 6...Qb6 7.Nc2 the modest but venomous reply 7.Nb3, to which this and the following game are devoted, and the active thrust 7.Ndb5 which is discussed in the game placed immediately after these two.

7.Nb3 d5

Nowadays 7...Ne5 is recognised as more reliable and is examined in the next game. Also played are; 7...Bb4 ; 7...Be7 ; and 7...d6 However, for a long time, at least in those years, the counterattack in the centre was considered the most effective way. Black sacrifices a pawn, but taking it means handing over a serious initiative to the opponent.

8.cxd5 Nxd5 9.Nxd5

Now arises a typical position with an isolated pawn. Black's pieces have a fair amount of freedom, and I had to grow quite a bit older before exploiting the pluses of my position. In the encounter G. Kasparov - A. Karpov (Moscow 1984, World Championship Match, 24th Game) there followed 9.Bg2 Nxc3 10.bxc3 a variation for those who do not like to fight against an isolated pawn. I preferred 10...Be7 ( Now in reply to to 10...e5 White could centralise his knight 11.Nd2 Qc7 12.Nc4 Be7 13.Ne3 Be6 14.0-0 0-0 15.c4 Bc5 16.Nd5 Qd7 17.Bb2 Rac8 18.Qd3 1/2-1/2 Tal,M -Ivanovic,B /Niksic 1983. True, he has wasted too much time and the chances of the sides here are approximately equal. ) and after 11.0-0 0-0 ( In any case in the next four games of the same match, in the 26th, I decided in favour of 11...e5 (instead of 11....0-0). Play continued 12.Be3 Qc7 13.Nc5 0-0 14.Qa4 Bxc5 15.Bxc5 Rd8 16.Rfd1 Be6 17.h3 Rxd1+ 18.Rxd1 Rd8 19.Rxd8+ Qxd8 White has a minimal advantage, but Kasparov decided to take the pawn, and after 20.Bxa7 Qa8! 21.Bxc6 bxc6 22.Kh2 h5 23.Qa5 f6 again followed an agreed draw - there are opposite coloured bishops, and the pawn has no significance.) 12.Be3 Qc7 13.Nd4 Rd8 14.Qa4 ( For those who like thrills we can recommend the queen sacrifice 14.Nxc6!? Rxd1 15.Nxe7+ Qxe7 16.Rfxd1 g6 17.Rab1 e5 18.Rb5! White retains the initiative with a material balance.( Adorjan,A -Zysk,R Dortmund 1984)) 14...Bd7 15.Nxc6 Bxc6 16.Bxc6 bxc6 17.c4 we agreed a draw. However 17.Rab1 creates some pressure on the queenside. In our first match Kasparov no longer returned to the English Opening. Thus it was possible to draw the conclusion that the move 9.Bg2 was "neutralised" and the exchange 9.Nxd5 is White, only chance of fighting for the initiative.

9...exd5 10.Bg2

Too dangerous is 10.Qxd5 Be6 11.Qe4 Bb4+ 12.Bd2 0-0!


 For that time - a new move. Previously 10...Bb4+ followed automatically here. However, the premature exchange of dark-squared bishops, with an "isolani" favours White. After 11.Bd2 Bg4 ( the move 11...a5 only increases Black's woes: to the weak pawn is added a second weakness - a5)) 12.0-0 Rd8 13.Bxb4 Qxb4 14.Qc2 0-0 15.Rfd1 White threatens a doubling of rooks on the d-file followed by an exchange of queens. In the game K. Spraggett - M. Chandler (Commonwealth Championship 1985) play continued 15...Qc4 16.Rd2 Rfe8 17.e3 g6 18.h3 ( Also quite good is 18.Rc1! not driving the bishop to f5, for example 18...Ne5? 19.Rxd5! Qa6 ( 19...Qxc2? 20.Rxc2 Nf3+ 21.Bxf3 Bxf3 22.Rxd8 Rxd8 23.Nd4 followed by Rc7) 20.Rxd8 Rxd8 21.h3 and there is insufficient compensation for the pawn. (Smejkal,J -Cebalo,M Yugoslavia 1986)) 18...Bf5 19.Qd1 Be4 20.Rc1 Qb4 21.Nd4! White has a noticeable advantage, while the exchanging operation 21...Bxg2 22.Kxg2 Nxd4 23.Rxd4 Qxb2 24.Rb1 Qc3 ( 24...Qxa2?? 25.Ra4! ) 25.Rxb7 will not rid Black of his difficulties.


 Again it is too dangerous to capture on d5: 11.Bxd5? Bb4+ 12.Kf1 Rd8.

11...Rd8 12.Bg5!

By provoking f7-f6, White obtains the better chances. However, he still needs to find the right deployment of his pieces.

12...f6 13.Bd2

13.Be3 suggests itself, but after 13...d4 14.Bxc6+ bxc6 15.Nxd4? c5 16.Qa4+ Bd7 Black has the upper hand. Possible, however, is; 13.Bf4 Be7 14.Qd3 0-0 15.Rfd1 and if now 15...g5? then 16.Qe3 Qxe3 17.Bxe3 with advantage to White.


Follows the simple 13...Bb4 14.Rc1 capturing the c5 square. In the event of; 13...a5?! already strong is 14.Be3!? d4 15.Bxc6+ bxc6 16.Nxd4 Bc5 ( on 16...Bh3 possible is 17.Qa4!? distinct from variations pointed out in the previous annotation, no good is; 16...c5? 17.Qa4+ Bd7 18.Qb3! with an obvious advantage for White) 17.Nxe6 Rxd1 18.Raxd1 Bxe3 19.Rd8+ Ke7 ( 19...Qxd8 20.Nxd8 Kxd8 21.fxe3 Kc7 22.Rf5 Ra8 23.e4 ) 20.Rxh8 Bxf2+ ( 20...Kxe6 21.Re8+ ) 21.Rxf2 Kxe6 22.Rxh7 Qxb2 23.Rxg7 Qxa2 24.h4 ]

14.Bc3! 0-0

Again 14...d4?! is insufficient for equality 15.Bxc6+ bxc6 ( 15...Qxc6 16.Nxd4 Qc4 17.e3 Bh3? 18.Qh5+ ) 16.Ba5 Bxb3 17.Qd2!

15.Nd4 Nxd4 16.Qxd4 Bc5 17.Qd2 Qd6 18.b4 Bb6 19.Bd4 Bf5 20.Rac1 Be4 21.Bh3 Rfe8 22.Rfd1 Re7 23.a3 Kf8 24.Qb2 Rc7 25.Rxc7 Qxc7 26.Rd2 Rd6 27.Bg2 Re6 28.e3 Ke7 29.h4 a6?!

Despite the series of exchanges, the isolated pawn still paralyses Black's activity. However, now he misses the possibility of achieving virtually full equality: 29...Bxg2 30.Kxg2 Re4 31.Rc2 ( not at all dangerous for Black is 31.Bxb6 Qxb6 32.Rxd5 Qc6 33.Qa2 Re5 34.e4 Rxe4 35.Rc5 Re2+ 36.Rxc6 Rxa2 37.Rc7+ Kf8 38.Rxb7 Rxa3 ) 31...Qd6.

30.Bxb6 Qxb6 31.Rd1 Qc7 32.Qd4 Qc4 33.Qa7 Qc7 34.Rd4 Kf7?

Correct was 34...Bxg2 35.Kxg2 Rd6 with a probable draw. However, Korchnoi could not stand the tension and in the end his "isolani" falls.

35.Rxd5! Bxg2

 Of course, no better is 35...Bxd5 36.Bxd5 etc.

36.Kxg2 Qc6 37.Qc5

Transferring to a winning rook endgame. Of course, no good is 37.e4?! Rxe4 38.Rc5 Qd7 39.Qb8 Re7 with a draw.

37...Qxc5 38.Rxc5

The rest is clear. White has an extra pawn which he easily realises.

38...Re7 39.Kf3 Ke6 40.Ke4 Kd6+ 41.Kd4 Kd7 42.g4 Re8 43.e4 b6 44.Rd5+ Ke7 45.e5 Rf8 46.Rd6 b5 47.Rxa6 fxe5+ 48.Kxe5 Rxf2 49.Ra7+ Kf8 50.h5 Rf3 51.Kd4 Rf4+ 52.Kc5 Rxg4 53.Kxb5 Rg5+ 54.Kc6 Rxh5 55.b5 Rh6+ 56.Kc7 Rh3 57.b6 Ke7 58.b7 Rc3+ 59.Kb6 Rb3+ 60.Kc6