Tatai - Karpov; Master Tourney; 1977.

I analyzed this game right after it was played. I have (also) looked at it many times since.

It is a great game of chess. My analysis (here) took over a week, and I worked on it
at least a few hours every day. (At least!) 

Many people have written me and accused me of being a Karpov hater. NOTHING 
could be further from the truth. While my favorites are probably Morphy, Fischer, 
and Kasparov, I like Karpov as well. In fact he had a huge influence on my play. 
(In the early 90's one player described me as "DULL" ... he said I won games 
 mainly on the basis of good opening preparation, solid technique and a lot of 
 grinding in the end-game phase.This was actually was meant (I believe) as an 
insult, but I took it as a compliment. Probably more than any other World (chess)
Champion, I have studied - and been influenced by - the play of  KARPOV.  I studied 
his games, because he was the reigning champ ... as I made the most initial progress 
to the greatly desired plane of chess master. I also started as an wild and 
unpredictable tactician/attacker and getting some solid technique was VERY 
necessary to my maturity as a chess player. 

This is a great game that even the computers don't do perfectly. Enjoy. 


 For an explanation of the symbols that I use, please click  here 

This is mostly a text-based page, with only one diagram. Therefore, you will probably need a chess board. 

IM Stefano Tatai (2460) - GM Anatoly Karpov (2705) 
All-Master Tournament
Las Palmas, (ESP);  1977.

[A.J. Goldsby I]


A fantastic game ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 
with an absolutely unbelievable move by the great Karpov.

Karpov DOMINATED this tournament,  (Las Palmas, Spain); as the reigning
World Champion. He scored 13.5 out of 15, and was 2.5 points ahead of 
GM Bent Larsen.  (S. Tatai is an Italian IM.)

This win is one of timeless beauty. 


1.Nf3 c5;  2.c4 Nf6;  {Diagram?} 
Play has transposed to a line of The Symmetrical English.

3.Nc3!?,  {Diagram?} 
This is a little unusual. 

     [  A more accepted method for White to employ here would have been: 
        3.d4 cxd44.Nxd4 e6!?5.g3 Qc76.Nc3 a67.Bg5 Be7;  
        8.Rc1 d69.Bg2 Nbd7{Diagram?}  
        The end of the column. 
        10.0-0 h611.Be3 0-0; "="  {Diagram?}  

        Now according to MCO  ...  this position is equal. 
        (I think White is a tiny bit better, here - in this position.)  

        GM A. Yusupov - GM L. Psakhis;  Yerevan, 1982.  

         [ See MCO-14;  page # 702, column # 105, and note # (j.). ]  ]   


3...d5!?;  (Maybe - '!')  {Diagram?}  
I like this ... Black strikes at the center of the board without delay.  

     [  Two other lines that the second player could have tried here was:  
         3...g64.d4 cxd45.Nxd4 Nc66.e4 d67.Be2 Nxd48.Qxd4,  
         8...Bg79.Bg5 0-010.Qd2 Be611.Rc1,  "+/="   {Diagram?}  
         and White is just a little better. 

         V. Kotronias - S. TiviakovGibralter Masters Open, 2003.  


         3...e64.g3 b6!?5.Bg2 Bb76.0-0 Be77.d4 cxd48.Qxd4 d6;  
         9.b3 0-010.Rd1, "+/="  {Diag?}  and White is clearly better here.  

         J. Donaldson - A. StearnsKoltanowski Mem. Open, 2000.  ]   


4.cxd5 Nxd5;  5.g3 g6;  6.Bg2 Bg7!?;  {Diagram?}  
An old pamphlet on this opening calls this interesting, but recommends 
that Black play ...Nc7; instead. 

But ... obviously! - since Karpov played this move and won with it, 
it is a perfectly legitimate move.  

     [ 6...Nc7!? ]   


7.Qa4+!?,  {Diagram?}  
"An interesting idea. White tries immediately to exploit his lead in 
 development and the relative disharmony of the Black pieces." 
  - GM Anatoly Karpov

     [  Also good for White was:  7.0-0, "="  {Diagram?}  
        when White is at least equal.  (Maybe better.)  ]    


7...Nc6;  {Diagram?}  
Black has developed fairly normally and is OK here.  

     [ 7...Bd7!? ]   


8.Ng5!?,  {Diagram?}  
This is interesting, but somewhat adventurous here.  
 (White pressures d5 and nearly forces the win of at least one pawn.) 

This might look good on the surface, but is a strategy that is just a little 
 suspect, at least IMOHO.  

     [  Maybe slightly better was: >/=  8.0-0 0-09.Qc4!, "+/="  {Diag?}  
         and White has a small edge. 

        G. Hertneck - A. MilesDortmund, 1986.  ]   


White continues his little fishing trip and winds up winning a pawn.  
8...e6;  9.Nge4 Nb6!;  {Diagram?}  
This energetic pawn sacrifice is the best, according to Karpov. 

     [ </=  9...Qe7?!; ('?')  10.Nxd5 exd511.Nc3, "+/="  ]   


10.Qb5 c4;  11.Na4!? 0-0;  {Diagram?}  
 Probably the best move.  

     [  Not as accurate was: 11...Nxa4!?12.Qxa4 0-013.Qxc4,  
        13...Nd4; "~{Diagram?}  and Black has a lot of play.  ]   


12.Nxb6 axb6;  13.Qxc4,  {Diagram?}  
 Karpov himself calls this the critical position of this game. 

     [ 13.0-0!? ]  


Black hits the center, grabs space, gains the d4-square as an outpost,  
and also prepares ...Be6. (With a gain of time.)  

This looks like an obvious move, but Karpov spent over an hour here also 
examining the move, ...Bd7.  

Even in the year 2003,  Fritz 7.0  evaluates this position as clearly better 
for White.  


     [  Black could have also played the move:  13...Bd7!?; "~"  {Diag?}  
         with a nice initiative, according to Karpov. 
         (The current World Champion, at that time.) 

         {See the Damsky book for a long and detailed analysis of ...Bd7.} 


        This is the best move, according to the analysis by  GM A. Karpov


         a).  Also playable is:  14.d3 b5!15.Qc5[],  {Diagram?} 
                Probably the only move.

                  (15.Qxb5? Nd4; 16.Qc5 b6!; At least "=/+")     

               15...Nd416.Bg5 Qa5+17.Bd2 Qa4; "<=>" or "cp{Diagram?}  
               Black has good comp ... and a lot of play in this position.  {A.J.G.}

         b).  Not to be recommended was:  14.Qc2? Nd415.Qb1 Ba4;  
                16.b3!? Bxb317.axb3 Rxa118.Qxa1 Nc2+19.Kf1,  
                19...Nxa1;  "-/+"  {Diagram?}  
                with a won game for Black.  (Analysis by GM A. Karpov.) 


        14...Nd415.Qd3 Bc6!?16.Bxc6 bxc617.e3 Nf3+!?{Diagram?}  
         The best move, at least according to the analysis given.  

            (Maybe better is: 17...Nb3!?; 18.Qxd8 Rfxd8; 19.Rb1 Nxc1;      
             20.Rxc1 Bxc3; 21.bxc3 Rxa2; 22.d4 b5; "~"  {Diagram?}     
             with a fair ending.)    

        18.Ke2, "+/="  {Diagram?}  
         White is (maybe) slightly better here.   - Analysis by  GM A. Karpov]    


14.Qc2,  {Diagram?}   
This is OK, but I might have looked for a move that does not lose a  

White is anticipating Black's eventual threat of ....b5. White is also  
worried about ...Be6; which comes next move. Karpov said this,  
(The move, Qc2.);  was probably forced. 
(Damsky calls it the ONLY move.)  

     [  Maybe White should try:  14.d3!? Be615.Bg5! Qd7!?;  
        16.Qc1, "~"  {Diagram?}  with a fairly decent position.  
         (- GM Bent Larsen.)  ]   


Black's next move seems fairly obvious, but some programs
do not pick this move at all.  
14...Nd4; (!)   15.Qb1,   {Diagram?}  
This is very nearly forced.  

     [  </=  15.Qd1 Be616.0-0?! Bb3!17.Qe1 Nc2; 
         18.Qd1 Nxa1; "/+" ]    


15...f5;  16.Nc3 e4;  {Diagram?}  
This is good ... and probably best. 
 (Karpov said also possibly deserving attention was the move, 
   ...Be6; in this position.)   

     [ 16...Be6!? ]   


17.d3 b5!{Diagram?}  
The most active move, preparing to play ...b4; forcing 
White to move  his Knight here.  

The World Champion's play here is reminiscent of Morphy, 
Alekhine, or Tal ... at their very best. 
(I can offer no higher praise.) 

Many programs appraise this position as being much 
better for White.  ('' or "+/") 

Black has ample play though for his sacrificed material. 

     [ 17...Be6!? ]   


18.Be3!?,  {Diagram?}  
This is probably the best move here.  

     [  Two other lines were:  18.dxe4 b419.Nd5 b3;  
        20.0-0 Nxe2+;  {Diagram?}  
        which seems to be a little better for Black. ("=/+")  

        Or White could play:  18.e3 Nf3+19.Bxf3 exf3;  
        20.Nxb5!? Qa5+21.Nc3 b5!;  "~"  {Diagram?}  
        and the second player has a ton of play in this position.  ]   


18...b4;  19.Nd1 Re8;  20.dxe4 fxe4;  21.Bxd4,  {Diagram?}  
Most of the annotators have said this was forced for White.  

     [ Of course not:  21.Bxe4? Rxe4!22.Qxe4 Bf5; "-/+"  {Diag?}  
       which is, of course, winning for Black. ]   


21...Qxd4;  22.a3!?,   {Diagram?}  
Some commentators have really praised this particular move ... 
(some even gave it an exclam);  but I don't really like it. White is 
behind in his development ... it really is not in the first player's 
best interest to open the game here. 

Counter-point: White is dying for lack of space here, and this is  
a natural attempt to free White's position.  

     [  Maybe slightly better was: >/=  22.0-0 Bg4!?{Diagram?}  
        Several sources give this as being best.  

          (Also interesting is:  22...Qd2!?;  23.Bxe4 Bh3;  24.Bg2 Bxg2;     
           25.Kxg2 Rxe2; "<=>" or "cp"  {Diagram?}      
           ... "puts White under great pressure." - FM G. Burgess.)      

        23.e3 Qd524.Bxe4 Rxe425.f3 Bxf3;  {Diagram?}  
        This is probably best.  

        26.Rxf3 Rd427.Rf2 Rd3;  "/\"  {Diagram?}   
        but Black seems to be a tad better here.  {At least "=/+".}  
        (He definitely has the initiative.)  


        Karpov himself recommended that White play:  
         >/=  22.Qc2!?, "~"  {Diagram?}  with a playable game. ]   


22...Bg4!;  {Diagram?}  
This is the best for Black ...  he has many threats - both short and 
long term - with this particular move.  

(I tested this position on many different programs. ChessMaster 8000Fritz, 
 JuniorCrafty,  etc, etc. Most programs do NOT initially look at this move.) 

     [  Also good for the 2nd player was:  22...bxa3!?23.0-0,  
        23...Bg4; "=/+"  {Diag?}  with very active play for Black.  ]  


23.Qc2!?,     {See the diagram just below.} 
White is seemingly playing the only move that he can. 


     Black to play ... and make his 23rd move here: What move would YOU make?  (t-k_lpal77_pos1.gif,  16 KB)

(The actual position in this game after White's 22nd move.) 


White seems on the verge of being able to equalize in this game.

     [ </=  23.Ne3? Qxb2; "/+" ]   


Black's next move is a real thunderbolt, I saw this game in a chess 
magazine shortly after it was played. I was VERY impressed by the 
move that Karpov now plays!!! 
  23...Qd3!!;   (Maybe - '!!!')  {Diagram?}  
If I had been playing the White pieces, I might have fainted here. 
(One of my friends thought this was a definite mis-print!) 

     [ 23...bxa3!? ]  


24.exd3!,  {Diagram?}  
From the tournament report, apparently Tatai thought for quite some 
time before replying.  

This seems to be the best move, White incurs the least disadvantage 
with this play. (!)


     [  The alternatives are clearly worse for Black, some drastically so: 

        Variation # 24W1.) 
         </=  24.Qxd3?! exd325.e4,  {Diagram?} 
         This is nearly forced.  

           (Not 25.Bd5+? Kh8; 26.e4 Bf3; "/+")     

         25...Bxd126.Rxd1 bxa327.bxa3 Rxa3; "=/+"  {Diag?}  
         Black is definitely just a little better.   


        Variation # 24W2.)  
         </=  24.Ne3? Qxc225.Nxc2 Bxb226.Rd1,  
         26...bxa3;  "-/+"  {Diagram?}  Black is winning here. 


        Variation 24W3.)  
         </= 24.Rc1?! bxa3!25.exd3 exd3+26.Ne3 dxc227.bxa3
         27...Bf528.Bxb7 Rxa329.0-0!? Bd3;  {Diagram?}  
         Probably best.  

           (Interesting was:  29...Raxe3!?)   

         30.Nxc2 Rc3;  {Diagram?}  
         and Black will win material.   ("/+"  or  "-/+")  


        Variation # 24W4.)  
        Probably not as good was:  </=  24.Qd2!? Qxd2+!?;  {Diag?}  
        This is the most direct.  

           (Also maybe  24...Qb3!?; "~"  {Diagram?} with a lot of play.)     

        25.Kxd2 Rad8+!?;  {Diagram?}  This is very interesting.  

          (Or 25...Rac8!?; - FM G. Burgess.)     

        26.Ke1[];  {Diagram?}  This is probably forced.  

           (Bad is 26.Ke3?? Bh6+; 27.f4 exf3+; 28.Kf2 Rxe2+;  29.Kg1 Rxd1+!;     
            30.Rxd1 Be3+;  31.Kf1 fxg2#.  And not 26.Kc2? Bxe2; "/+")     

        26...Bf327.Rg1,  {Diagram?}  This may be best.

           (27.exf3 exf3+; 28.Kf1 fxg2+; 29.Kxg2 b3; "~")     

        27...Bxg228.Rxg2 Rc8!;  "=/+"  (Maybe "/+")  {Diagram?}  
        Black has too much play and White's Rook is horrible on g2. 
         - GM A. Karpov.  ]    



24...exd3+;  25.Kd2,  {Diagram?}  
This move is forced.  

     [  Much worse is: 25.Kf1? dxc2; "-/+"  {Diagram?}  
         with an easy win for Black.  

         Or  25.Ne3 dxc2; "/+"  {Diagram?}  
& Black is much better here. ]   


25...Re2+!;  {Diagram?}  
The best move here, and given an exclam in Informant # 23.  

     [ 25...dxc2!?26.Ne3!? Rxe3; "~" ]   


26.Kxd3 Rd8+;  27.Kc4,  {Diagram?} 
Unfortunately this ugly move is completely forced. (again)

     [  Even worse for White was:  27.Bd5+ Rxd5+!28.Kc4 Rxc2+!; 
        29.Kxd5?!,  {Diagram?}  
        Several books give this move, but it is quite inferior. 

          (White had to play: 29.Kb3 Bxd1; 30.Rhxd1 Rxb2+; 31.Kc4,     
           31...Rxd1;  32.Rxd1 bxa3; "-/+" but Black is winning here.)     

        29...Bf3+!30.Ke6 Rc6+31.Kd7 Bg4+32.Ke8 Bf6;  
        33.Rc1 Rd634.Rc8 Bd7#  ]   


Black now finishes off sharply. 
27...Rxc2+;  28.Kxb4 Rcd2!?; ('!')  {Diagram?}  
Black had several attractive moves here. Damsky (and others!) 
gives this move (...Rcd2) an exclamation point here.

      [ 28...Rd3!? ]  


29.f3!? Bf8+;  30.Ka5 Bd7!; "-/+"  {Diagram?}  
White Resigns. 
(His King will be mated, at least according to all the pundits.)

One of Karpov's best games. A brilliancy that is a very sharp struggle  ...  
with incredible tactics. It is also a contest ... where, at least according to 
Damsky; the loser played well, inventively, non-routinely, and without any 
obvious mistakes.

This great contest was picked as the best game for 1977 by a panel of 
judges for an English magazine. 

This game was also picked as the best game  ... ... ... ... ... 
 by the panel of judges for the Informant. (# 24) 
{Some of the judges gave this game VERY high marks.} 

Additionally, the readers of nearly all of Yugoslavia ... and the magazine 
called 'Politika Ekspres' ... also chose this game as the best of the year 
for the whole of 1977.


  --->   An interesting note here is: that in the late eighties, most chess 
computer programs did NOT come close to finding the correct moves 
in this game!!


  0 - 1  


 Copyright (c) A.J. Goldsby I.  Copyright (c) A.J.G;  2003. 



I used many books, (and a few old magazines as well);  to annotate this 
game, but the following were the most helpful: 

# 1.)  "My (300) Best Games,"  by  GM Anatoly Karpov. 
(Copyright 1997, by Anatoly Karpov. Printed in Moscow.
            Published by Murad Amannazarov. <Chess V-I-P's> ) 

# 2.)  'Chess Brilliancy, '  250 historic games;  by  NM Iakov Damsky
          Published by EVERYMAN Chess, formerly Cadogan Books. 
          Translated by K. Neat.  (Copyright 2002.)  {Game # 61, page # 83.} 

# 3.)  [The Mammoth Book Of]  "The World's Greatest Chess Games," 
          by  Dr. (& GM) John Nunn, GM John Emms, and FM Graham Burgess
          Published by Carroll  & Graf books. Copyrighted by the authors, 1998. 
           (This game is not in here. I used this book as a reference only; a 
             couple of the games in here are very similar to this game here.)  

# 4.)  "Chess Highlights of The 20th Century," 
('The Best Chess 1900-1999 In  Historical Context')  
by  FM Graham Burgess. (The year 1977.) 
          Published by Gambit Books, Copyright G. Burgess, 1999. 

# 5.)  Several issues of the  INFORMANT.  Mainly 1977.  (Issue # 23.) 
          (Published in Yugoslavia.) 



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