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Garry Kasparov Turns 60: A Look Back at Iconic Chess Puzzles from the Legendary Career

Today, April 13th, marks the 60th birthday of legendary Garry Kasparov, the 13th world champion and one of the greatest to ever do it. His list of chess accomplishments is impressive, to say the least. Kasparov became the youngest ever undisputed World Chess Champion at the age of 22 by defeating Anatoly Karpov in 1985. He went on to defend his title successfully against formidable opponents, including Karpov twice, Nigel Short, Vishwanathan Anand, and Vladimir Kramnik. He also set many records along the way, including the longest period spent as the top-ranked player in the world, which lasted an incredible 255 months. 

Join us in celebrating Kasparov’s 60th birthday by revisiting some of the puzzles from his games that continue to inspire and challenge us.


1. Kasparov vs Karpov, 1985

Probably the most iconic position from the 1985 World Championship match between the defending champion Anatoly Karpov and challenger Garry Kasparov. Karpov was leading the match at this point and seemed to be doing just fine in this 11th round as well until he made a crucial mistake by playing 22...Rcd8. Kasparov seized the opportunity and stunned the opponent with a beautiful tactical combination.

See the solution / White to move 23. Qxd7! Rxd7 24. Re8+ Kh7 25. Be4+ followed by Rd7 leaving Black with no chances to save the game.




2. Anand vs Kasparov, 1995

Another famous position from a World Championship match, this one from the 1995 Kasparov-Anand showdown. After suffering a loss in the 9th round, Kasparov made a comeback in the 10th and managed to turn the tables in the 11th. In this game, Anand made a critical mistake by playing 30. Nb6??, and Kasparov quickly capitalized on it.

See the solution / Black to move 30... Rxb4+ 31. Ka3 Rxc2 A terrible heartbreak for Anand. If he takes the rook 32. Rc2 then 32… Rb3 will force his king to retreat to a2 allowing Black to win back one of the rooks with an open check 34. Ka2 Re3+ followed by Re1 and Black is up two pawns.




3. Lputian vs Kasparov, 1976

Before his championship run, Kasparov was already showcasing his prodigious talent in producing chess masterpieces. This game from the 1976 Caucasus Youth Games against Armenian Grandmaster Smbat Lputian is a prime example. With the opponent's king just one move away from castling into a very advantageous position, Kasparov executed a brilliant sequence of moves. 

He started by 15… c5 16. bxc5  Nxe4 17. fxe4  Qh4+.


Here the opponent failed to keep up with Kasparov's calculations. Had he played the correct move 18. Bf2 the position would transition into an equal endgame after 18... Bxc3 19. Bxh4  Rxb1+ 20. Kf2  Bxd2 21. Rxb1  dxc5. However, Lputian thought he can win material with g3 and ended up losing the game.

See the solution / Black to move 18… Rxb1+ 19. Kf2  Rb2! (the move missed by Lputian) White now has to take on h4, since 20. Qxb2  loses to Bxd4+ 21. Ke1  Bxc3+ 22. Qxc3  Qxe4. The game continued 20. gxh4 Rxd2 21. Bxg7  Kxg7 22. Ke3  Rc2 23. Kd3  Rxc3+ 24. Kxc3 dxc5 with a solid advantage for the Black, which Kasparov converted pretty easily.




4. Kasparov vs Timman, 1985

In this puzzle, you’ll need to play better than Kasparov himself. Black’s last move was 17…Bc8, to which Kasparov responded 18. Nd4 and ended up winning the game despite the approximately equal position. However, with the black king's vulnerability and underdeveloped pieces, there was a better move for White to make. Can you find it?

See the solution / White to move 18. f4 was the best move in the position. If 18… Bf5 then 19. fxe5 wins. Black cannot avoid opening up the center and cannot win any material either.




5. Anand vs Kasparov, 1992

It is often the intermediary moves that are missed in calculations, particularly during shorter time controls. A similar situation happened in the 1992 Paris Immopar rapid event when Kasparov executed a beautiful combination thanks to an intermediary check missed by Anand, whose last move was 20. Rxf5.

See the solution / Black to move 20…Rxe3 21. Rxe3 Qb6 22. Qf2 Ng4 23. Re8+ Rxe8 24. Qxb6 Bd4+ 25. Qxd4 Re1+ (If Black takes on d4 immediately, then White would win the g4 knight with Rg5+) So 26. Rf1 Rxf1+ 27. Kxf1 Nxd4 secures an extra knight for Kasparov.




If you like our edition of birthday puzzles, you may also be interested in

Top 4 Positions From Magnus Carlsen's World Championship Matches

Chess Puzzles from the Games of Bobby Fischer

Legendary Chess Positions From The Games Of Akiba Rubinstein

Top 5 Birthday Puzzles from the Games of Savielly Tartakower

Best Puzzles from the Games of Alexander Grischuk

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