Games: World chess lowlights
Wednesday 14 January 1998
Before play began, one prediction could confidently be made: if Anand lost, voices would be raised against the absurdity of rules that allowed Karpov a bye into the final, while all his potential opponents were exhausting themselves in eliminating matches; but, if Anand won, the pro-Karpov lobby would have suggested (unconvincingly) that their man had been at a disadvantage through not having had the opportunity to play himself into form in the early rounds.
When the match was over, Kasparov was ready with his comment: he described it as a match between a tired player and a weak one. The games, however, suggest that it was a match between two men both of whom let their nerves get the better of them. In the end, Karpov held his together better, but it was a very close thing. Here are the action lowlights in slow motion.
The first diagram comes from game two after White's 34th move:
Karpov (Black) thought about 1...Ne2+ 2.Kf1 Qe6 (to stop Qf7+) but rejected it because of 3.Kxe2 Bb8+ 4.Re3 with a winning position for White. He played 1...h6 and went on to lose. Instead, he could have won with 1...Ne2+ 2.Kf1 Qe8! when 3.Kxe2 Bb8+ 4.Re3 no longer works because of 4...Qb5+!
The second diagram is from game six. Anand, White, has just played Ng6. Karpov replied 1...Qd8?? losing a piece after 2.Nxh8 Bxf3 3.Nf7. Instead 1...Rxg6! 2.Rf8+ (or 2.Bxg6 Bxf3) 2...Rxf8 3.Qxf8+ Nc8! is fine for Black (4.Bxg6 Qg5!).
Finally, the seventh game - first of the speed play-offs. No moves this time, just ask yourself how Anand, a pawn up with Black, his move, and having 15 minutes left to Karpov's two, could actually lose this position.
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