Garry Kasparov Talks History of Queen’s Gambit Opening


Talking about Queen’s Gambit is often felt as embarking time machine and traveling trough the past. Because it’s always considered to be sort of corner stone of a black defense against 1.d4.

In modern times in the middle of the 20th century, the times of Fisher, it was considered very passive and many players rejected it and chose more aggressive openings.

While we could always see comebacks, great players and many of their followers return to the classical heritage and discovered new depths of this great most solid defense.

So let’s have a look and let’s study the general history of this opening which survived all the turmoil and all revolutions with this opening with the history of the game of chance for over 150 years.

After 1.d4 2.e5 3.c4 we are going to look only at 4.e6 and to investigate positions that are related to these pawn composition.

Of course there are many other options for black in this position, but we’re not going to talk about Queen’s Gambit Accepted, which is also a possibility but it’s a subject for another talk. We are also not going to talk about 4.c6 which leads to you number of options classified as Slav defense.

Sometimes you can see the move 4.c6 being inserted in the positions we are analyzing, but see, we are making clear distinction between Queen’s Gambit and Slav defense which is characterized by black chance of taking on c4 or somehow playing a6.

The general difference between Slav defense and Queen’s Gambit it that with Slav black still hopes to develop the bishop on f5 or g4 while in Queens Gambit black is playing to protect d5 square and hoping  for solving the problem of bishop on c8 later on.

So  it was played, as I said, for nearly hundred fifty years and we’ve course move was most national reply white Knight c3.

We are also not planning to you go very deep to another side of Queen’s Gambit so called Tarrasch Defense, were black is immediately attacking the center and in fact agreeing to play positional with isolated pawn. This position was highly popular in at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of 20th century.  But it lost most of its popularity after Akiba Rubinstein introduce a new system with fianchetto development of light square bishop from f1 to g2 and putting enormous pressure on black’s pawn on d5.

There are number of classical games played by Rubenstein that in fact a demolished the beauty of Tarrasch Defense in the eyes of his contemporaries, and for nearly half a century it was to aside as insufficient openings  and eventually black moved to classical defense that was employees by that time  as such great players as Lasker, Capablanca, and Alekhine.

But what’s special about Queen’s Gambit it’s the beauty of the opening. That it is always makes a comeback, and when you study the history of chess you can see the great players in 10, 30 or 50 years are looking again at the classical composition of this opening for finding new ideas. To the great surprises in 60s another World Champion Boris Spassky employed Tarrasch Defense  against Tigran Petrosian the king of positional chess and everybody when they looked at the Spassky’s choice were so  confuse by this so called stupid decision, because how could you play agains Petrosian the position with isolated pawn. In fact Spassky not only survived against Petrosian, but he even has a positive score winning one game, and number of draws. Because he had an ability to  look at these positions from a new  angle and pose new problems at Petrosian that he was not able to resolve.

Later there was another decline with popularity of this opening and eventually it was employed by myself in the candidate matches against Krochnoy and Smislov. I was very  successfully by not losing a single game and wining in fact 3 games against such a great and powerful opposition.

I remember the effect on Alexander Belyavski when I for the first time employed this opening in Moscow in 1983. Alexander was shocked because from his general perspective this opening was wrong, it did not fit the conventional wisdom of that time, and he spent most the time in the opening trying to find not the refutation, but at least clear way to get an advantage, and he failed, and even lost a game which had serious effect on the entire match.

I and then I also arrogantly employed this opening against Anatoly Karpov and I had to face not only a great player but an acting World Champion who was well prepared for this choice, and demonstrated new ways of fighting and isolated pawn and eventually it ended up as a total disaster  by losing games seven and nine, not because of the opening, but probably due to the nature if the  positions that fit Karpov’s style and didn’t allow me to show my tactical abilities. So I dropped this opening.

But the story was not over and later on we could see other comebacks of Tarrasch Defense  and today white has no clear way of getting advantage.

In the classical position which you could see here, after castle sometimes white is going on dc5, bishop takes c5, bishop g5d4, and bishop takes f6, followed by  Knight d5, Queen d8, Knight d2.

Or they play more traditional by playing Bishop g5 immediately, and after cd4, Knight d4, h6, Bishop e3, Rook e8 we see another classical position that was played on many, many games.

White is probably slightly better and you can look at dozens, hundreds of games played recently, but black has enough defensive resources and it is not that the game is over.

As we can see even  Tarrasch Defense  which is sort of deviation of the traditions of the Queen’s Gambit is still holding.

But now we want to look at most important part of the Queen’s Gambit – Declined, classical cornerstones of this defense that   some people called the opening for the World Championship Maches.

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