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How deeply can Kasparov calculate?

by Priyadarshan Banjan - 23/05/2016

Often, non-chess playing journalists tend to ask grandmasters how far ahead they can see in a chess position. How deeply can they calculate? We are sure even you are asked the same thing by your non-chess friends. How many moves ahead can Kasparov see in your opinion? New York, circa 1995: Anand took on Kasparov in one of the most hyped World Championships ever in chess history. Most people around the world wanted, with all their hearts, to see Anand become the World Champion, but in their heads, they knew that Kasparov would retain the title. Maybe because he can calculate very deeply?

How deeply can Kasparov calculate?

The PCA World Championship 1995 was held in New York and after eight games of the match, the score stood dead even. And then, in the ninth game, Anand won. All odds went for a toss, and the press was hysterical — light at the end of the tunnel.


Kasparov, though, began to go for the blood from the very next game. Anand: "What I mean is that he’d come up to the board, make a move, walk away and slam the door behind him. I’m pretty sure he did it consciously – he really wanted to take revenge for the previous day."

Kasparov back in those days was several floors over the lesser mortals — to be more precise, 107 floors. The 1995 PCA World Championship was fought on the 107th floor of the World Trade Center!

How far ahead do grandmasters calculate during a game? In the past, the great champions had varying answers to these age-old question, with some like Alekhine proclaiming to have calculated 10-15 move deep combinations in his autobiographical books while somebody, I imagine with a perfect deadpan, said that he sees only one move ahead, the best one. Carlsen has stated that there is no precise algorithm and it depends on the position — sometimes one does not need to calculate while sometimes one must dig very deep.


How far ahead could Kasparov see? Although he lost, Kasparov must have created a world record of sorts in the ninth game of PCA-WCC 1995.

V. Anand — G. Kasparov, Game 09, PCA-WCC, 1995


[Event "Kasparov - Anand World Championship Matc"]
[Site "New York, NY USA"]
[Date "1995.09.25"]
[Round "9"]
[White "Viswanathan Anand"]
[Black "Garry Kasparov"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B84"]
[PlyCount "69"]
[EventDate "1995.??.??"]
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be2 e6 7. O-O Be7 8. a4
Nc6 9. Be3 O-O 10. f4 Qc7 11. Kh1 Re8 12. Bf3 Bd7 13. Nb3 Na5 14. Nxa5 Qxa5 15.
Qd3 Rad8 16. Rfd1 Bc6 17. b4 Qc7 18. b5 Bd7 19. Rab1 axb5 20. Nxb5 Bxb5 21.
Qxb5 Ra8 22. c4 e5 23. Bb6 Qc8 24. fxe5 dxe5 25. a5 Bf8 26. h3 Qe6 27. Rd5 Nxd5
28. exd5 Qg6 29. c5 e4 30. Be2 Re5 31. Qd7 Rg5 32. Rg1 e3 33. d6 Rg3 34. Qxb7
Qe6 35. Kh2 1-0



You can watch GM Daniel King's in-depth analysis of the game in the video:










Kasparov, understandably, was shell-shocked after the loss.

Now, back to the original question — how far ahead did Kasparov calculate in the game? When asked to comment on the game by USA Today, an American newspaper covering the match, he explained that his loss was due to the anxiety he felt over the novelty he had planned for in the tenth game!


In other words, the then World Champion was calculating a whole game ahead.

The light at the end of the tunnel turned out to be a false alarm — it was actually the Kasparov Express charging towards Anand.

G. Kasparov — V. Anand, Game 10, PCA-WCC, 1995

[Event "Kasparov - Anand World Championship Matc"]
[Site "New York, NY USA"]
[Date "1995.09.26"]
[Round "10"]
[White "Garry Kasparov"]
[Black "Viswanathan Anand"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C80"]
[PlyCount "75"]
[EventDate "1995.??.??"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Nxe4 6. d4 b5 7. Bb3 d5 8. dxe5
Be6 9. Nbd2 Nc5 10. c3 d4 11. Ng5 dxc3 12. Nxe6 fxe6 13. bxc3 Qd3 14. Bc2 Qxc3
15. Nb3 Nxb3 16. Bxb3 Nd4 17. Qg4 Qxa1 18. Bxe6 Rd8 19. Bh6 Qc3 20. Bxg7 Qd3
21. Bxh8 Qg6 22. Bf6 Be7 23. Bxe7 Qxg4 24. Bxg4 Kxe7 25. Rc1 c6 26. f4 a5 27.
Kf2 a4 28. Ke3 b4 29. Bd1 a3 30. g4 Rd5 31. Rc4 c5 32. Ke4 Rd8 33. Rxc5 Ne6 34.
Rd5 Rc8 35. f5 Rc4+ 36. Ke3 Nc5 37. g5 Rc1 38. Rd6 1-0



What happened in the tenth game, and what was the novelty Kasparov was referring to, that caused his loss in the ninth game? Let GM Daniel King show you that.

He used six minutes for his first 21 moves and said afterwards that everything had been prepared. And this was the time when computers weren't as powerful as they are today, and all work had to be done using your own head.

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