Garry Kasparov on Garry Kasparov

Part lll: 1993-2005

Garry Kasparov

Reviewer: John Donaldson
Everyman Chess
501 pages (hardcover)

GARRY KASPAROV ON GARRY KASPAROV – Part lll: 1993-2005 is the 12th and possibly the last book in a series that Garry Kasparov first started in 2003, which includes:

* My Great Predecessors Part I (2003, Everyman Chess)
* My Great Predecessors Part II (2003, Everyman Chess)
* My Great Predecessors Part III (2004, Everyman Chess)
* My Great Predecessors Part IV (2004, Everyman Chess)
* My Great Predecessors Part V (2006, Everyman Chess)
* Garry Kasparov on Modern Chess, Part I: Revolution in the 70s (2007, Everyman Chess)
* Garry Kasparov on Modern Chess, Part II: Kasparov vs Karpov 1975–1985 (2008, Everyman Chess)
* Garry Kasparov on Modern Chess, Part III: Kasparov vs Karpov 1986–1987 (2009, Everyman Chess)
* Garry Kasparov on Modern Chess, Part IV: Kasparov vs Karpov 1988–2009 (2010, Everyman Chess)
* Garry Kasparov on Garry Kasparov, part I (2011, Everyman Chess)
* Garry Kasparov on Garry Kasparov, part II (2013, Everyman Chess)
The twelve volumes, totaling over 5000 pages, are a tremendous effort by the 13th World Champion and this last book, which takes him to the end of his career, is no exception. The annotations are of the highest standard and always objective. Losses are given as well as wins and mistakes for both sides are pointed out. There is a good mixture of concrete analysis and explanatory prose that makes this book (and the entire series) accessible to a wide audience.

It’s no accident that top Grandmasters interviewed in New in Chess magazine routinely cite Kasparov’s series as required reading. However GARRY KASPAROV ON GARRY KASPAROV – Part lll is more than just great games with excellent annotations. They makes up the bulk of this book, but there is also a significant amount of text devoted to the 13th World Champion’s views on important events that occurred during the 13 years covered.

One might argue that nothing could compare to the five World Championship matches with Anatoly Karpov, but the 1990s and early 2000s provided plenty of drama for Kasparov. During this time he played matches with Short (splitting from FIDE), Anand, Deep Blue (twice) and Kramnik, was a founder of the PCA, married three times and fathered three children, was active in promoting democracy in Russia, started up the website Kasparov Chess, helped rescue the 1994 Chess Olympiad and founded the Kasparov Chess Foundation in New York – and this is only the short list of his activities!

One thing that has always puzzled this reviewer is why Kasparov never demanded a rematch clause in his contracts to play Deep Blue in 1997 and Kramnik in 2000. In both cases he was operating from a position of strength – Deep Blue had lost to him the previous year and Kramnik was coming off a 3.5-5.5 loss to Shirov in which he didn’t win a single game. Did something in Garry’s psyche perceive asking for a rematch as a sign of weakness? Was he poorly advised by his manager? Did he fail to listen to his manager? After making this mistake with Deep Blue how could he repeat it against Kramnik?

Page 299 of Garry Kasparov on Garry Kasparov – Part lll gives a partial answer: “Of course, a clause about a return match should have been included in the contract, and Kramnik would not have objected. In the given instance this was a sensible idea, since the challenger had not participated in the organization of the match, he had not gathered the money for its staging, as happened in ancient times, and he was presented with all this on a silver platter (such a sinecure was unprecedented in chess history!), moreover without having to qualify – and after his win he tried to persuade everyone that I must play in a qualifier…But all my life I had spoken out against obligatory return matches – and I decided not to make an exception. For this choice I was to pay bitterly.”

The decision to not insist on a rematch clause in 2000 was one of the biggest blunders of Kasparov’s career – he never got a title shot for the next five years, despite being the highest rated player in the world. But one might argue he made even a bigger mistake at the 1994 FIDE Congress with his last minute backing of his hated enemy Florencio Campomanes who was facing defeat. Campo, who was being investigated in the Philippines at the time for financial irregularities regarding the 1990 Manila Chess Olympiad, only lasted a year before being replaced by Kirsan Ilyumzhinov who has held the position of FIDE President ever since.

Kasparov explains his sudden turnabout as follows: “Intuitively I felt that things were not right with the world championship, and I took the opportunity to make a truce with Campomanes. At the FIDE Congress we signed a Declaration of Cooperation between FIDE and the PCA, according to which in the final of both qualifying series a ‘unifying’ match for the title was envisaged.”

He then quotes the Russian journalist Yuri Vasiliev who describes the effect of Garry’s actions more bluntly: “The intrigue, at the center of which were the key figures of that time – Kasparov, the Russian Chess Federation President Makarov and the FIDE President Campomanes, who was unexpectedly re-elected for a new term, gave birth the following year to a phantom by the name of Ilyumzhinov. The victory in Moscow proved to be a pyrrhic victory for Kasparov.”

GARRY KASPAROV ON GARRY KASPAROV – PART III describes Vasiliev as having a 21st century perspective, but Garry’s actions were widely criticized at the time by many observers.

The only serious blemish on Kasparov’s lifetime record is his loss to Vladimir Kramnik. Considering his tremendous competitive record, including must win victories in game 24 of the 1985 and 1987 world championships, this reviewer has always wondered what happened to cause Garry to draw with White in 11 and 14 moves in games 7 and 13 against Kramnik.

Here Kasparov has much more to say than he does about his political battles. He writes: “For understandable reasons I have never spoken in detail about my match with Vladimir Kramnik. My preparations for it were serious, but unfortunately, inflexible and therefore ineffective: hardly any of our opening ideas came in useful in the match and they were employed only in subsequent tournaments. The state of my nervous system was also far from ideal. Emotional fatigue had accumulated from the constant tournament victories and endless organizational problems with internet projects. I was also worn out by a two-year lawsuit with my former wife living in the USA, for the right to bring my daughter Polina to Moscow at least once a year.”

Kasparov writes that he and his usual team of Yury Dokhoian and Alexander Shakarov were joined by Andrei Kharlov and Mikhail Kobalia with Boris Alterman and Michael Adams also helping. Training camps were held in Croatia and Moscow, but during them the possibility Kramnik might play the Berlin was never considered because at that time he rarely met 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 with 2…Nc6. A lot of preparation time was spent on Kramnik playing 1.e4, something that never happened. Kasparov also regretted not spending more time on preparing other answers to 1.d4 besides the Grunfeld. He suffered the times he played the Queen’s Gambit Accepted which lead to Dokhoian persuading him to take up the Nimzo- Indian which led to a catastrophic loss in game 10.

One very revealing comment occurs on page 317 where Kasparov writes: “The match was approaching its mid-point, and I did not see any ray of hope for myself: what to do next and how to regain my previous form was quite unclear (the situation partially resembled the first half of my 1995 match with Anand).”

Keep in mind Kasparov was only one game down with eight more to play! Even the very greatest can lose their confidence.

The 11 move draw in game seven is explained by the surprise at Kramnik’s choice of 4…a6!? and the belief that in the final position “only Black can have the more pleasant position here.”

What of the short draw in game 13 when Kasparov was down two points? He explains: “After the 12th game I suffered a sleepless night (fancy missing such a chance!), and I was simply not in any state to play the next day. For the 13th game I prepared an interesting idea in the variation of the Ruy Lopez from the 11th, but Kramnik again chose the Berlin Defense and moved his king to e8, avoiding the preparation by myself and Adams. After losing the thread of the game, I made a couple of second-rate moves and immediately, now in a slightly inferior position, I offered a draw.”

He then quotes Kramnik: “I think that Kasparov was obliged to continue the game, but he could not find the strength to do this.”

The use of a third party to deliver harsh truths is often employed in this book and throughout the series, but that is the not the case in Kasparov’s summary of his match with Kramnik where he tells it as he sees it. After praising his rival for his new ideas and well-thought out match tactics Garry writes:” As for myself, I overestimated the role of computer analysis, I did not get the feel of my opponent, and I was unable to withstand the intensity of a battle in which much had to be devised along the way. The wound suffered in the second game proved impossible to heal. I was let down by my defects in my psychological preparation and a lack of nervous energy. I did not have alongside me an experienced, top-class grandmaster, and an overall conception of the match was not devised.”

“In that historic autumn match, fate punished me for my excessive self-confidence and lack of practicality.”

Kasparov’s comments about computer preparation are particularly interesting in light of an interview the great Armenian Grandmaster Rafael Vaganian gave earlier this year to Sergey Kim:

“Kasparov crushed everyone in the opening—in his best years he was head and shoulders above the rest and it was simply impossible to play him as Black. He gave chess an incredible number of ideas. He worked a lot and deserved his results, but when people began to approach him in terms of knowledge, with the help of computer programs, Garry stopped playing. I’d like to have seen how he would have played when everything leveled out and he no longer had such an advantage. Would he have won tournament after tournament? I think not. He probably realized that and quit. He says something else, but I think that’s the way it was.”

Those wanting Kasparov’s account on the famous incident with Judit Polgar at Linares 1994 will find several pages on it including the curious sentence: “In time-trouble suddenly I nervously picked up the d7-knight and placed it on c5, but immediately – without taking my hand off it, but merely releasing my fingers …”

Wait a moment. Is it possible to hold a piece with your hand and not use your fingers? Only those who have viewed the never publicly released videotape of the incident will know the truth, but a more balanced and nuanced look at what happened is offered by Judit Polgar in her book GM to Top Ten. One thing these two great competitors do agree on is this incident had a negative effect on both of them for the rest of the tournament.

Kasparov is quite critical of his fellow top players for not sufficiently supporting the Grandmasters Association (GMA) and Professional Chess Players Association (PCA) and blames them for their demise. That is one way of looking at things. Those looking for a more even-handed treatment of the breakup of these organizations are advised to check out Yasser Seirawan’s CHESS DUELS (full disclosure: this reviewer worked for Seirawan’s magazine Inside Chess from 1988 to 2000 and has known him since 1974) and the writings of Jan Timman in New in Chess magazine. A more extreme interpretation of Kasparov’s behavior with the GMA board is offered in the following letter which was published in Alessandra DeLucia’s BOBBY FISCHER: TRIUMPH AND DESPAIR on page 337 earlier this year.

“Strange things happen. Weinstein, as you prefer to call the man, and Karpov are very different as people. The younger one is a psychopath, with messianic mission in his and his mother’s head, with high political ambitions to rule the chess world and the other world, too. At first he was for Gorbachev, then very much against him, and just lately, he left his new political party in Russia, namely disappointed for the lack of its radicalism. He feels no responsibility for truth in his statements. He felt offended and also left the leadership of the GMA (Grandmasters Chess Association) when he met some opposition (Kok, Timman, Ljubojevic, Spassky and others) and could not have full control as much as he liked. …”

— Svetozar Gligoric, writing to Bobby Fischer about Garry Kasparov on May 13, 1991

Keep in mind there could be bad blood here. Gligoric was well respected in the chess world, but he was also the chief arbiter for the first Kasparov-Karpov match and Kasparov suspected him (fairly or unfairly) of complicity in helping Karpov terminate it.

Those looking for an explanation of what happened in the sixth game of the second match with Deep Blue will find no answers nor are any games against computers featured in this book. There are rapid, blitz and simul games included in it – particularly clock simul games against teams of strong Grandmasters. Normally the merit of including such games might be questioned, but here it would be mistaken as all Kasparov games – excepting a few short draws in the latter part of his career – are worth examining.

Due to the way this series has been organized, with each book sold independently, some of the material has appeared in more than one volume. This was particularly the case with games involving Kasparov and Karpov in My Great Predecessors: Volume V and Kasparov vs. Karpov: 1988-2009 where there was significant overlap. That is not the case here.

Inevitably in such a huge project a few gremlins are going to creep in. A few typos that stand out are the misspelling of Kasparov’s second wife’s maiden name on page 157 (Vovk not Volk) and Sofia and not Sophia for the Bulgarian capital on page 220. The Kasparov Chess Fund described on page 460 should be the Kasparov Chess Foundation.

The production qualities for GARRY KASPAROV ON GARRY KASPAROV – PART III are first rate. This is a well-bound hardback book printed on good quality paper with a handsome dust jacket. This book is also available in various electronic formats with Everyman Chess providing a PGN viewer which allows the material to be viewed on the iPhone, iPod-Touch or iPad or Android tablets and phones with all manner of features.

GARRY KASPAROV ON GARRY KASPAROV – PART III is a wonderful end to a great series. The games and annotations are outstanding and will be enjoyed by all chess players.

Highly Recommended