Bulletin No.36 – The 1993 World Chess Championship Revisited – Part 2

The photo above is of the VHS tape of the match by Messrs Keene and King.

In Part 1, we covered how two local chess players, but one in particular, had the privilege of attending and reporting on the 1993 Short versus Kasparov World Chess Championship at the Savoy Hotel in London, and who also had the great honour of playing the World Chess Champion himself in two blitz games. Today, in Part 2, we will attempt to show you, by analysing six of the key positions from these Championship games, how the scoreline of 12.5 – 7.5 in favour of Kasparov could have easily been so much closer!

As well as revealing some of Short’s missed chances in the first 10 games at the business end of this Championship match, we will complete this bulletin with Short’s biggest highlight, being his only win!

We also include 4 YouTube clips of the TV coverage of the games.   These are very entertaining (especially those for games 8 and 10), so are well worth watching, but some of the analysis in them come with a health warning!

A great time for UK chess

Putting chess politics to one side which involved both players splitting from FIDE, this was a great time for UK chess as the national press and television became very interested. Channel 4, headed by Carol Vorderman, Danny King and Raymond Keene OBE, had two one hour slots on each day of the Championship, whilst BBC2 had Bill Hartston as its main chess analyst in its 30 minute programmes. This also meant there was a fantastic opportunity for chess clubs all over the country to capitalise on all this welcome publicity, to promote the game and encourage more people, including many juniors, to play. Following this match there was a rise, albeit temporary, in local club memberships.

Prize giving at the World Junior Championship 13 years earlier in 1980.

Kasparov went through the 13 round tournament undefeated to come 1st, one and half points ahead of Short in 2nd, with Morovic a further half point behind in 3rd.

Photo by GF Hund CC BY 3.0

Build up and assessment on both players

Prior to the match, Kasparov was always known as a very fit, hard worker. He was very dynamic and had this tremendous energy at the board. He was also a street fighter with a special ‘air’ that intimidated his opponents. Further, it was well known he had the strongest opening repertoire, which was described by Short in the lead up to this Championship match as equivalent to having a very powerful serve in tennis. This would suggest that Short had no chance but many commentators felt that ‘softy’ Short had hardened up and was becoming a great match player which was clearly shown by defeating Speelman, Gelfand, Karpov and then Timman in the earlier rounds. Kasparov was the odds on favourite but could Short at his best produce something special out of the locker?

Plenty of exciting games

In lots of ways these World Championship games did not disappoint as many were very exciting with plenty of sacrifices and a few king hunts, very different to the Kasparov v Karpov World Championship matches! Unfortunately, even though he came with a strong attacking armoury and a game plan to hurt Kasparov, Short did not quite take all of his chances by failing to deliver the final lethal knockout blow. Kasparov proved to be just that bit more tactically astute at the vital moments resulting in the match being effectively over by game 10 when the reigning champion had accumulated a 5 point lead. Here are some of the pivotal moments in the first 10 games.

Game 1 – Kasparov v Short – A Dramatic Start!

Missed Opportunity: At least a draw – Keep an eye on the clock!

Despite what must have been a very nervous time playing on the World Chess Championship Final central stage for the very first time, Short, playing Black, had defended well frustrating Kasparov in all of his aggressive attempts to complicate matters. Just when Short seemed certain to achieve at least a well deserved draw, the following position was reached after Kasparov’s 39th move.

It is Short to move and to everyone’s disappointment in the Savoy theatre and at home, whilst playing 39…Ke8, his flag fell. What a disaster – Short was left totally stunned.  Kasparov’s comments and the post-match analysis shown below indicate that Kasparov might have had a tough time holding the position.

In the words of Raymond Keene, “Well, if Nigel Short hadn’t lost on time in that dramatic first game, if he had made the last move to make the time control he might well have won and the course of chess history could have changed. What made Nigel Short’s defeat in game 1 even more infuriating was the fact that at the height of the time scramble when Garry Kasparov realised that his attack had run out he actually offered Nigel Short a draw. Nigel Short bravely refused it and played on. On the very next move his clock flag fell.

Indeed, had Short drawn or even won this game, his confidence would have been given a massive boost, and the subsequent events could have been very different.

Kasparov in 1993
Photo courtesy of S.M.S.I., Inc. – Owen Williams, The Kasparov Agency
CC BY-SA 3.0

The players in their active adult playing days

Photo (cropped) by steenslag (Flickr)
CC BY-SA 2.0

Game 3 – Kasparov v Short – An offensive Counterattack!

Missed Opportunity: A level position after 31…Qf3!

After a quieter game 2, Short really went for it in game 3 with a ferocious if perhaps unsound king side attack but let’s not allow that to detract from our fun.

The following crazy position had been reached well into the middle game!   Two of Short’s rooks are skewered and his knight on h5 is also en prise so all seemed lost. However, he then played the ingenious move 27…Ng3+! which gave him a tenable position, only to go wrong a few moves later.

Keene’s comment on the diagram below was “The position in front of you is just about one of the most dramatic I have ever seen in a World Championship match.”

Kasparov in later life at the 2011 London Chess Classic, signing a book for a young fan and still with a look of intensity!

Photo courtesy of Brendan O’Gorman

Game 7 – Kasparov v Short – Kasparov Onslaught!

Missed Opportunity: Good chances to hold after 33…Bg5!

The position below is very complicated.  Short had a chance to hold with 33…Bg5! but instead grabbed the pawn with 33…Bxd4 and suffered the full force of Kasparov’s might.

Short’s view: “Kasparov played well. It was the first time in this championship that he has genuinely won by playing a good game against me rather than by my mistakes.

This is the first of the YouTube clips.  It is a recap of the early part of the match and contains coverage of Games 1, 3 and 7, the first two at the beginning and the latter at 17 minutes and 15 seconds into the video.

Game 8 – Short v Kasparov – A Shower of Sacrifices!

Missed Opportunity: 38.Bd4! winning

In perhaps the most exciting game of the match, Short had gone a bit gung-ho sacrificing many of his pieces. He may have been winning on move 24 but the clearest winning opportunity perhaps came on move 38 after Kasparov had himself just blundered with 37…Qxg2?

Julian Hodgson had this to say about this game: “He (Short) sacrificed the house and came within inches of winning.
Whilst Eric Schiller said “Garry survives again. It’s not luck, he’s learned to duck.

As you will see in this video after the game there were strongly held and opposing views on whether Short’s approach to the match was correct!

Game 9 – Kasparov v Short – Endgame Oversight!

Missed Opportunity: 46…Rc5! draws

This has been covered in our Bulletin No.29 – Blunders Part 1: World Championship Matches

With the pawns split this wide the endgame is normally won even with one of the pawns being an a-pawn. Both players would have known this and were perhaps on autopilot. However, Kasparov has just carelessly played 46.e4? and Short then despondently replied with 46…Ke6? as opposed to 46…Rc5! which would have held.

Ironically, the position after 57…Rh8 in the drawing line had just been covered in a newly published book by Jonathan Speelman… who was one of Short’s seconds!

Nigel Short in 2011 at the British Championships in Sheffield

Photo courtesy of Brendan O’Gorman

Game 10 – Short v Kasparov – An Imaginative Queen Sacrifice and Raymond Keene prematurely sings the national anthem live on TV!

Missed Opportunities: Many missed wins including 26.Rh1+!

In this game Short had embarked on an optimistic queen sacrifice for a rook and minor piece. Commentators at the time thought this was fantastic preparation but Short later admitted he had got it wrong and recognised he had insufficient compensation.  However, these positions can sometimes be difficult to assess and Kasparov went wrong in the middlegame.

In the diagram below, Kasparov has just played 28…Qxh2?   As you will see Short had a winning position but missed several opportunities to wrap up this complicated game, the easiest being 36.Rh1+!   So good was Short’s position that commentator Ray Keene started to sing the national anthem, only to be disappointed when Short did not close out the game.

There is no doubt that time trouble contributed to Short not being able to claim the full point.  He was down to around a minute on his 34th move and still not playing instantly, causing Danny King to say in frustration “Play the damn move!” referring to 34.Nd3.   In fairness to Short he followed up instantly with 35.Re1! whereas Danny King would have followed up instantly with 35.Ne1?? which would have lost the d-pawn and the game!

Hear the excitement and Keene singing the national anthem and see how nervous Short looked at the critical juncture.

Bonus Game – Game 16 – Short v Kasparov – The Savoy Celebrates … Finally!

The following position had been reached after White’s 22nd move and appeared to be lacking energy. If either player had swapped off queens there would have been a high chance that a draw would have been agreed shortly after.

Maybe due to inertia this did not happen and both players meandered on with Kasparov trying to mix things up and playing some weakening moves.   This allowed Short to build up a considerable advantage by the time he had played 36.Rxb5.

As Bill Hartston put it, “There is something inconsistent about Black’s moves here. Either that or we do not understand what he is doing again.
A bit later in the game Hebden, Benjamin and Adams declared “White is doing very well… Black’s position is yucky… If Kasparov saves this position, he’s God.”

After this game some commentators once again stated their view that Short should have played more restraining chess during the match which may have given him a better chance of success … but as shown in the first six games above, Short had his chances, he just did not have that final killer (or drawing) touch. 


Closing Remarks

This was a well contested World Chess Championship which could, perhaps should, have been a lot closer than it was. Short played exceptionally well to test Kasparov in many of the games but sadly stumbled at the final hurdle. Fortunately for us, it did result in our local chess clubs increasing their memberships for a couple of years and it was also a memorable time for our local Merck/Wimborne player, Phil Taylor-Bowd who had the great experience and honour of playing Kasparov!

If the games on this page are not showing up as interactive boards but just text or the YouTube clips are not working, please look at this page on how to resolve the issue.

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