Lesson Counterattack

In our previous lesson we covered methods of defence based on extreme and scrupulous efforts to improve the co-ordination of the pieces. But chess today has become more intricate and dynamic than it used to be, say, 50 years ago. The art of attack has become more versatile and subtle. And, this, in its turn, has caused a reciprocal reaction; in other words, the sharpening of the sword has gone hand in hand with the strengthening of the shield.

To begin with, the role of active defence aimed at creating counter threats has considerably increased.

I was lucky to meet on many occasions Tigran Petrosian whose death was tragically premature. He lavishly shared his invaluable experience with me, and the chess encounters with this phenomenal master of defence were extremely useful for me. For instance, it took me a long time to understand why my seemingly irresistible attack had been frustrated in our game at the super-tournament in Tilburg in 1981.

G .Kasparov-T .Petrosian Tilburg 1981

Having sacrificed a pawn in the opening, I managed to cramp Black's pieces. Besides, it's obvious that Black's king is actually misplaced. The threat is a4-a5, and it's not clear how to repel Hcb2 and #b 1. The cramped position of Black's pieces makes his defence passive and absolutely unpromising and therefore Petrosian resorts to a desperate move.

31 ab cb

32 Ba2!

The impression is that Black is on the edge of the precipice, the destruction of his queen-side down the open files seems inevitable. However, from now on Tigran Petrosian finds moves that turn the whole game into a display of magic.

Most masters would have preferred 32 ... &d6, giving up the pawn with an inferior position — 33 Bxb5 Bxb5 34 &xd6 txd6 35 #xb5 — but avoiding a catastrophe.

Escaping from one pin, Black falls under another two pins. I really don't know how my highly esteemed opponent determined that his king would be safe on b7, but his decision had an unexpected psychological effect on me. I could still appreciate the attacking power of my pieces, but after this unexpected move I really became muddled.

33 Ab4?

Strange as it may seem, this apparently natural and supercharged move turns out to be a serious error. I was perfectly aware that d5 was Black's foothold, but I didn't see any way of gaining it. Having returned to Moscow, I found the winning line — 33 £ia3! A.b6 34 £>c2! 2a8 35 ®b4 Wd6 36 e4! fe 37 Wxe4 Ea7 38 0xg6 Axd4+ 39 &h I £}7b6 40 f5! As you see, the win was far from easy, and it required a lot of time; I had to penetrate deeply into the secrets of the position.

The only move: the b5-pawn must be strongly protected. After 33 ... Wd8 the continuation 34 e4 fe 35 #xe4 We8 36 Wxd5+! ed 37 Axd5+ &a7 38 Bxa6+! &xa6 39 Ba3+ Aa5 40 Bxa5 mate would be decisive.

34 A.d6 Ba8

35 Wbl

Here, for the first time in this game, I experienced vague fears over the outcome of the attack, and I decided just to develop my pieces occupying vantage points and hoping to inflict a serious combinational blow on the enemy. However, the former world champion's next move caught me completely unawares. 35 ...

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