Karpov vs Kasparov: When Positional Play Beats Aggression! – IM Anna & IM Sopiko CHESS24

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In this video, Miss Strategy (IM Anna Rudolf) and Miss Tactics (IM Sopiko Guramishvili) analyze one of the many superb Karpov vs Kasparov encounters.

Seeing a clash of styles such as the refined positional sense of Karpov against the energetic aggression of Kasparov, shows us how to achieve balance in our play.

In this game, from the 1990 Karpov vs Kasparov World Championship, we get to see Karpov’s astonishing mastery of positional chess as he grabs space and forces the advancing Kasparov back until he’s virtually in zugzwang.

The game starts calmly enough with a Gruenfeld Defense and we join at Black’s 17th move. Anna Rudolf and Sopiko Guramishvili choose different continuations. Anna likes 17…b6, making sure this pawn is protected before exchanging Bishops and bringing the offside Knight back towards the center. Sopiko prefers 17…b5, helping secure a piece on the active c4 square. This was Garry’s choice too.

Karpov meets this with 18.Bg5, a move that surprisingly causes Black some difficulties, tying him to the defense of e7. After a series of exchanges, Garry has to play the passive 21…Re8 while Anatoly gets to claim the c-file with tempo. Then comes 23.d5, curiously opening up the long diagonal for Black’s Bishop. But Karpov has understood the position on a very deep level.

The Knights are exchanged and Garry gets to play 25…Rc8. If the Rooks are exchanged, the game is completely level. However, Karpov takes advantage of a tactical nuance and skillfully creates more threats to maneuver into a dominating position with tempo.

Now we see the full extent of Karpov’s mastery as he keeps taking away squares from Kasparov’s pieces while solidifying his own position. Nearly every move is played with tempo as Garry is forced to defend squares and avoid exchanges that would leave him with a lost position.

As we’d expect from a Karpov vs Kasparov game, the fight goes on right to the end with Garry , knowing he was lost for many moves, only resigning after Anatoly had met the time control.

This game is a fantastic example of how to pressure weaknesses, use tactical means to achieve positional goals and dominate with the initiative.

For more highly instructive games showing the fight between positional and aggressive play, including more Karpov vs Kasparov clashes, check out the full Miss Strategy vs Miss Tactics course.


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