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There is a subtle psychological ploy, favoured by certain players, of adopting the favourite opening variation of one's opponent, thus giving him the unpleasant task of competing against himself. Like most psychological ploys, however, it suffers from the disadvantage of being total balderdash. As the following game shows.

White: Garry Kasparov

Black: Viswanathan Anand

PCA Grand Prix, Moscow 1996

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6

Here we go - straight into Kasparov's favourite opening . . .

6.Be2 e6 7.f4 Be7 8.0-0 0-0 9.Be3 Qc7 10.g4

Only nobody ever dares to attack Kasparov quite as directly as this.

10...Re8 11.g5 Nfd7 12.Bd3! Nc6 13.Qh5 g6 14.Qh4 Bf8 15.Rf3 Bg7 16.Nde2

White's 12th move unblocks the road for the queen to get to h5, and provides a useful square for this knight.

16...b5 17.Rh3 Nf8 18.f5 Ne5 19.f6 Bh8

White's moves flow with an undeniable logic: the black knight is first lured to f8 to deprive the bishop of that retreat square. With the pawn on f6 now burying the cleric in the corner, the game is strategically decided.

20.a3 Rb8 21.b4!

Cutting out any chance of Q-side counterplay.

21...Bb7 22.Rf1 Rbc8 23.Bd4 Nc6 24.Be3 Ne5 25.Rf4 Qd7 26.Qh6

If left unmolested, White will continue with 28.Rfh4 followed by 29.Qxh7+! Nxh7 30.Rxh7 when Black can do nothing to prevent mate.

26...Nxd3 27.cxd3 e5 28.Rf1

There was no longer much point in Rfh4 since Black could always return the queen with Qxh3 in extremis.

28...Rc7 29.Bb6 Rc6 30.Nd5 Bc8 31.Re3 Qb7 (see diagram)

Black's position is the picture of misery, and the next move finishes him off.


Very pretty: 32...Rxd8 loses everything to 33.Ne7+.

32...Ne6 33.Ne7+ Rxe7 34.fxe7 Qd7 35.Rh3 resigns.