Thursday, July 4, 2013

How Garry Kasparov Used Simple Counting to Find a Brilliant Combination

National Master Jim Jordan, a two-time Dayton Chess Club Champion, insists that anyone who can count can become a chess master, because he believes that even the most complicated chess position can be reduced to counting how many times each player is attacking a key square. While this is a bit of an oversimplification, there is some truth to Jordan's blunt observation: he may be too casually dismissing how much skill it takes to know what to count and when to count it but counting is certainly an important aspect of chess mastery.

Garry Kasparov played a beautiful Queen sacrifice against Anatoly Karpov in game 20 of the 1990 World Chess Championship in no small part because Kasparov sought to exploit a basic numerical advantage--he could deploy seven attackers against Karpov's King, while Karpov could only mobilize five defenders:

Be sure to check out the end of the video, when the narrator notes that Kasparov is "very excited" but must "restrain himself" in order to accurately calculate the winning line; that is great advice for all chess players: even if you are sure that you are winning, restrain your excitement, refrain from moving too quickly and make sure that you play the best moves all the way until the end.

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