Kasparov versus Anand 1995 World Chess Championship Match
An overview by Jason Luchan
By a sudden turn of events in the summer of 1995, New York found itself
hosting the Intel-PCA World Championship match between Garry Kasparov and Viswanathan Anand. The event was originally to be held in Cologne, Germany, but the PCA backed out of their arrangements there and switched the venue to New York after receiving an invitation from New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani. The mayor had been impressed with recent chess events in the city, such as the Chessathon and the Intel Grand Prix in June, and wanted to add another chess extravaganza to the calendar. (Perhaps he was also looking to make up for the loss of the New York Open, which relocated to New Jersey earlier in the year. Well, perhaps not.)
The match was scheduled to run a maximum of 20 games from 11 September through
13 October. To win the match and the title, 10.5 points were needed. In
the event of a drawn match, the $1.35 million prize fund would be split
evenly and Kasparov would retain his title. (The prize fund had been reduced
from $1.5 million to pay for production costs of the match.)
Four games were scheduled each week with no time-outs and no adjournments.
The games were played on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. The time
control was 2 hours for 40 moves, 1 hour for the next 20 moves, and sudden
death in a half hour. Each game was to start at 3 PM and could therefore
finish no later than 10 PM.
This brisk pace certainly affected the match strategy of both players. In
prior matches a schedule of three games per week was standard. The extra
game per week meant one day less for preparation and one extra game to prepare
for. The elimination of time-outs meant that a loss would become a bigger
burden. Under the old system, a player would use a time-out to regroup after
a loss. Without this option, the players had even more reason to play cautiously
and avoid losing. Psychological toughness after a defeat became an even
more significant factor for this match.
These changes in championship match rules were devised over the last few
years to make the games more appealing to the general public and, in particular,
the television and print media. Whether these changes are good or bad for
the game of chess itself remains to be seen.
By now you should know that Kasparov won this match and retained his title
by the score of 10.5-7.5, winning a tidy $900,000 and a crystal trophy
for his efforts. Anand received the loser's share of $450,000.
My intent in this article is to present you with some personal insights
of this special event. I attended 15 of the 18 games played in this match.
Regrettably, I was unable to attend Games 9, 10 and 14, which were all decisive
Intel and the Internet
Intel Corporation deserves a great deal
of credit for its sponsorship
of chess. Their backing has led to an exciting Grand Prix circuit and
greater television coverage for chess, in particular an unprecedented series
of programs on ESPN. Why do they
do it? Intel gave the following explanation in a press release:
Golf, tennis and Formula 1 Racing could all justifiably have
been selected as the sponsorship vehicle. In the end, however, Intel recognized
that the ancient sport of chess could meet all of its marketing objectives.
As the world's greatest mind sport, chess crosses all language barriers
and is played by millions of people in 150 countries all around the globe.
Furthermore, chess requires immense skills of logic and precise calculation
at speed--qualities similar to those exhibited by Intel's microprocessors.
This was justification enough for a sponsorship, but what also excited the
corporation was the belief that its investment in chess would lead to new
break-throughs for the sport. Intel was convinced that with an injection
of capital and with technical assistance, chess could move into the twenty-first
A very big step toward this goal was taken with innovative coverage of the
match on the Internet. The Internet
Chess Club (ICC), an electronic chess club with members all over the
world, was a major force in this respect. Each game was transmitted move-by-move
over the Internet by the ICC with contemporaneous commentary provided by
a number of GMs and IMs.
The game could also be followed via links from Intel's World Wide Web site
to the ICC's site. This system was configured to allow users with the appropriate
software to stay logged in and view the game on a graphical chessboard that
was automatically updated with each new move. Intel reported that in the
beginning of the match the web broadcast was averaging 2500 "hits"
per day, a "hit" representing one computer accessing one page.
In the last weeks of the match, that number reached 8000 "hits"
per day. Over the course of the match, Intel's Web page registered 252,000
"hits." Intel reported approximately 50 other Internet sites featuring
news of the match.
The Observation Deck of the World Trade Center was a unique place to hold
a World Championship match. Located on the 107th floor of Two World Trade
Center, the Deck showcases a panoramic view of the New York metropolitan
area. It takes about a minute to get from the Mezzanine level of the building
to reach the Deck via express elevators that reaches a top speed of about
30 miles per hour. Two more short (by comparison) escalator rides put you
on the Rooftop Promenade, the highest open-air observation platform in the
world at an altitude of 1,377 feet. The normal $6 admission price for the
Observation Deck was increased to $15 for the duration of the match.
By holding the match in this type of public venue, the organizers were seeking
to expose the non-chess public to the match. Of course, some sightseers
were put off by the higher admission price, so they stayed away. Others
lacked that flexibility. One group of Japanese tourists showed up on a day
when the visibility was zero. You could barely see an inch past the window.
Yet their schedule called for them to visit the Observation Deck, so they
Midway through the match, probably when someone realized that the higher
chess price was hurting business, a change was made to encourage more tourists
to visit. The $15 ticket price stayed in effect only until 5 PM, when the
rate went back to the usual $6.
The sightseers typically wandered around the Deck, looking out the windows
and taking photos. I saw very few of these people spend more than a few
moments watching the match. The presence of these momentary spectators made
it difficult to get a true estimate of the number of chess fans in attendance.
Frequently, attendance numbers as high as a thousand were bandied about
by the organizers; I'm just skeptical. The Observation Deck boasts that
it hosts 1.8 million visitors per year, or close to 5,000 per day who come
just for the view. My best guesstimate of the biggest crowd is 500 people,
give or take a hundred. That's still a good sized crowd considering the
timing of the games. This number surely would have been bigger had the games
started after normal business hours or been played on the weekend.
The players played in a 10-by-20 foot, glass-enclosed room, which itself
was located inside a bigger room. This bigger room was set up as a small
theater and called the King Room. It had seating for 40-50 people, including
six seats reserved for representatives of the players. The other seats in
the room were open to the press or spectators with VIP tickets.
Probably every other account of this match will describe the playing room
as soundproof. I won't, because it wasn't. Loud noise from outside the room
could be heard inside. This became a significant problem later in the match.
As early as Game 1, the commentators were told to turn down their microphones
because the sound was penetrating into the playing room.
Next to the King Room was the main seating area for spectators. There were
enough chairs to seat perhaps 200 people. In front of this area were a number
of big television screens as well as a demo chess board.
The organizers omitted one of the most useful recent innovations for chess
spectators, an "intelligent chess display." This is an electronic
display that shows the current chess position, a list of the most recent
moves, and, most important, is automatically updated when a move is made
by either player. This type of display was used at both Grand Prix events
held in New York as well as at the New York leg of the 1990 Kasparov-Karpov
match. Spectators who attended these prior events were surprised by the
absence of the display here.
The lack of an "intelligent" display made it harder to determine
the actual position or the moves that led up to it. The only accurate source
for the game position was the television screen showing the actual board
sitting between Kasparov and Anand. A three dimensional computer graphic
board displayed on one of the TV screens was supposed to be a substitute
for the intelligent display but it was lacking in several respects. First,
a 3D representation on a 2D screen is very hard to follow. While it may
have been a technical feat to rotate this 3D display every so often, it
was annoying and distracting. Second, there was a lag between the time a
move was played and when it was displayed. Finally, the graphic board was
missing the game score.
These inadequacies led to several mistakes in the game score for some of
the games. Though the mistakes were caught and corrected in the official
press bulletin, some publications did not verify their game scores before
publishing them. The mistakes I am aware of are move order errors in Games
6 and 7. (In Game 6, the first 13 moves were: 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6
4 Ba4 Nf6 5 0-0 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. In Game 7, the first nine moves were:
1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Be2 e6 7 0-0 Be7 8 a4 Nc6
9 Be3 0-0.) So check your databases.
The principal commentators for the main spectator area were IM Maurice Ashley
and GM Daniel King. Other commentators were rotated in to give the spectators
a different perspective on the games, and the commentators a breather. There
were two other locations on the Observation Deck where GM commentary was
available. In addition to Ashley and King, the commentary staff consisted
of the following GMs: Joel Benjamin, Walter Browne, Larry Christiansen,
Nick deFirmian, Roman Dzindzichashvili, John Fedorowicz, Ilya Gurevich,
Michael Rohde, and Yasser Seirawan. They each did a splendid job.
The Skyline Cafe snack bar featured standard fast food fare at appropriately
sky-high prices. At $3 for a slice of pizza and $5 for a hot dog (don't
even ask the price of a hamburger), the exorbitant rates induced most rational
people to take the elevator ride back down to the basement where the street-level
prices, as well as the food, were more palatable.
The Press Conferences
A relatively recent innovation in World Championship matches is the post-
game press conference, held immediately after each game. This helped reveal
some of the mysteries of chess at this level, and gave the players a chance
to give their immediate impressions of what went right or wrong. Of course,
neither player was very forthcoming when a question concerned opening preparation.
For this match, the rules required only one player to attend: either the
victor or, in case of a draw, the player with black. Probably the idea was
to protect the disappointed player from unpleasant questions. For purposes
of publicity, a better idea would be a joint press conference by both players,
giving the players a chance to interact and analyze together. This was accomplished
without incident, for example, at the Fischer-Spassky match in 1992.
At the press conferences, Kasparov often tried to demonstrate how much he
saw during the game. He rattled off variations in a rapid fire delivery,
so that only the 2400+ journalists could follow his analysis. He was always
confident in his opinions. The phrase "sometimes wrong, but never in
doubt" comes to mind. Kasparov's certitude seemed to motivate the press
room GM's to find flaws in his post-game comments, and they did find a few.
In contrast, Anand was more modest, even admitting after the draw in Game
6 that "neither of us had a clue what was happening" in the final
position. When Kasparov had his chance to comment on the same game two days
later, rather than admit he was clueless, he said the draw offer slipped
out of his mouth accidentally, a verbal fehler that he instantly regretted.
There were many opportunities for humor. After Game 2 Anand was asked about
the tension of the match. He said: "It's not exactly rock and roll,
but it's OK."
While the general run of questions were the usual questions you'd expect
after a game of chess, one journalist searched for the deeper, psychological
ramifications of chess. Kasparov had to answer the following questions,
and as you can see, he did a nice job dancing around the answers.
Q: Do libidinal energies contribute or distract from your game?
A: Excuse me?
Q: Do libidinal energies contribute to your game?
A: That's beyond my knowledge.
Q: Is it easier to play chess when you're in love or when you're not?
A: Depends, you know. I have played chess in many quite different moods
concerning, you know, my relations with woman and I can't tell you exactly
what's the best because sometimes it works and sometimes it didn't work
and it probably depends on some other ingredients of this combination, but
there is no precise answer.
Midway through the match these post-game press conferences were broadcast
to the television monitors in the main spectator area. After several of
the shorter draws, the players also took the time to directly address the
spectators after the game.
A Very Slow Start
The match began with eight consecutive draws. Both players shared responsibility
for the low level of fighting spirit. Kasparov approached his opponent very
cautiously, using a different opening for each of his first four games with
white. In retrospect, it seems that his early strategy was to find out what
repertoire Anand had prepared for this match and then to attack it at its
Anand also began the match with great caution, which was understandable
in his first world championship match. He clearly did not want to repeat
the strategy of all-out assault that failed so miserably for Nigel Short
against Kasparov in 1993. Anand chose to combat Kasparov's Najdorf Sicilian
with the tame 6 Be2. This was the same restrained strategy used by Anatoly
Karpov in his first two matches with Kasparov. Yet Karpov had failed to
win a single game in either match with this line and ultimately gave up
trying to beat Kasparov with 1 e4. So it was curious that Anand chose to
resurrect this variation.
Anand's strategy almost paid off in Game 3, when Kasparov engaged in a dubious
regrouping of his pieces away from the defense of his king. Anand found
several key attacking moves, but then, at the critical moment chose to exploit
his advantage by positional means when a direct kingside attack looked crushing.
Anand avoided further risk in this game, which petered out to a draw.
Some of the draws in this series had reporters searching for synonyms for
the expression "petered out." One suggestion, "fizzled"
was rejected, because the game in question never really fizzed. GM Dzindzichashvili
queried during Game 5 whether "either player is in any danger of winning
A curious fact is that Kasparov was making all the draw offers. Later in
the match, Anand remarked that he hadn't made a single draw offer. He continued
this policy through the end of the match.
Kasparov's came closest to winning Game 6. It was a very unclear game where
Anand made a forced exchange sacrifice, giving him two connected passed
queenside pawns. During the game analysts couldn't decide which player was
winning, and the least likely result was a draw. Both clocks counted down
to the time control as a very exciting finish loomed. Just then, at a moment
of great tension ... DRAW! Spectators booed. Later, Anand called it "absolutely
the right moment to offer a draw" as neither player could be sure of
the outcome. The next day Yasser Seirawan described the draw offer by Kasparov
as "horrible, weak-kneed and chicken." Analysis later showed that
Kasparov had good winning chances in the final position.
The position in that game was reminiscent of a critical game from Kasparov's
candidates match with Viktor Korchnoi in 1983. In that game, also a sixth
match game, Kasparov was down an exchange but had a menacing pair of passed
pawns on the queenside. The position was probably balanced, but Korchnoi
pressed on in the endgame and ultimately lost. That loss was the beginning
of the end for Korchnoi. Going into the game he led Kasparov by a point,
but he could not win another game, and went on to lose the match. Perhaps
Kasparov did not want to make Korchnoi's mistake.
In Game 9, Anand finally showed that his tame treatment against the Sicilian
had some poison. He developed a queenside initiative, very much in the style
of Karpov, and slowly crushed the life out of Kasparov's position. Kasparov
sealed his fate by accepting an exchange sacrifice that gave Anand a powerful
central pawn roller. It was a nice victory by Anand, but Kasparov's resistance
was weak. The next game was critical.
The Turning Point
Kasparov showed up for Game 10 "literally furious" according to
arbiter Carol Jarecki. His anger was not directed at his opponent, but at
himself for losing Game 9. In response to Anand's Open Ruy Lopez, Kasparov
went straight for a complicated line involving a very sharp rook sacrifice.
Kasparov spent virtually no time in the opening, playing his first 21 moves
in 6 minutes. But Anand was riveted to the board, spending 45 minutes on
move 15. By the time Kasparov left his home analysis, it was clear his position
was already winning. It was the most devastating piece of home-cooking ever
served up in a championship match.
In the press conference after the game, Kasparov described how he and his
team had spent an entire weekend preparing the sacrificial idea in this
game. In his opinion, Anand did not resist well in this game, but he refused
to elaborate. Kasparov believed the rook sacrifice in this game was completely
original, but a number of amateurs independently found an earlier game in
their databases. It was the game Berg-Nevesteit, correspondence 1990. Both
players were asked whether they knew of this game. Neither one did. It's
curious that these two professionals with a world championship at stake
were unaware of a game that was uncovered effortlessly by a bunch of amateurs.
Here is the game:
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 0-0 Ne4 6 d4 b5 7 Bb3 d5 8 de5 Be6
9 Nbd2 Nc5 10 c3 d4 11 Ng5 dc3 12 Ne6 fe6 13 bc3 Qd3 14 Bc2 Qc3 15 Nb3 Rd8
16 Bd2 Qe5 17 Re1 Qd5 18 Nc5 Bc5 19 Bb3 Qd4 20 Re6+ Ne7 21 Kh1 Qf2 22 Ra6
h5 23 Bg5 Rd1+ 24 Rd1 Ba7 25 Re6 Qc5 26 Be7 Qe7 27 Bd5 Qe6 28 Be6 Ke7 29
Bf5 Rf8 30 Rd7+ Ke8 31 Rd5 c6 32 Bg6+ Ke7 33 Re5+ Kd6 34 Rf5 Rf5 35 Bf5
c5 36 Kg1 Draw
Enter The Dragon
In Game 11, Kasparov chose to defend the black side of the Sicilian Dragon
(1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 g6), an opening he had never
used before in serious play. Previously, the prevailing view was that the
Dragon was too sharp for the championship level, particularly after the
discovery of the Yugoslav Attack (6 Be3 Bg7 7 f3 0-0 8 Qd2 Nc6 9 Bc4). Indeed,
the only match to feature the Dragon was Botvinnik-Smyslov 1958. But in
that match, Botvinnik avoided the sharpest lines by a move order transposition
(1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 Nc6 6 Be2 g6).
The Dragon was also seen once in the Karpov-Korchnoi candidates final in
1974, which became a de facto championship match after Bobby Fischer resigned
his title in 1975. But Korchnoi was crushed so badly in that game that he
rarely ever used the Dragon again.
Anand did not betray any surprise after 5 ... g6 and headed straight for
the main line of the Yugoslav Attack. But he avoided the sharp attacking
lines and made several moves to safeguard his king and neutralize black's
counterattack. On move 19, Anand offered the exchange of queens, which Kasparov
accepted. Instead of playing the automatic and forced recapture, Anand paused
to think. It was obvious that Kasparov had just offered a draw.
In the press room, bulletin editor John Donaldson sat watching the TV monitor,
chanting quietly "just say no." The last thing anyone wanted was
a return to the short draws that characterized the first two weeks of the
match. Anand finally recaptured the queen and the game continued. At move
26, GM Miguel Najdorf was predicting a draw, because the position was in
his words "a little better White" but "you need something
The position didn't seem to hold much promise for excitement. GM Larry Christiansen
was diligently analyzing the possibilities, when he discovered a trap hidden
in the seemingly quiet position. And Anand walked right into it, playing
the blunder 30 Nb6. Anand spent just one minute on the move, although he
had ample time on his clock. The entire press corps surrounded the TV monitor
to watch the unpleasant finish. Kasparov played the crusher 31...Rc2 and
left the room, glancing back at his helpless opponent with great relish.
Anand spent two minutes looking for a way out, but there was none. When
Kasparov returned, Anand extended his hand in resignation.
How does a world-class grandmaster with phenomenal tactical vision miss
such a trap? An examination of some Anand's prior defeats would reveal his
occasional tendency to analyze superficially. These two examples are quite
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 Ne5 d6 4 Nf3 Ne4 5 Nc3 Bf5?? 6 Qe2 1-0
1 Nf3 d5 2 c4 c6 3 d4 Nf6 4 Nc3 dc4 5 a4 Bf5 6 e3 e6 7 Bc4 Bb4 8 0-0 0-0
9 Qe2 Nbd7 10 Ne5 Re8 11 Rd1 Qc7 12 Nd7 Qd7 13 f3 Nd5 14 Na2 Bf8 15 e4 Bg6
16 Qe1 f5?? 17 ed5 1-0
After the game, Kasparov explained that after Anand rejected his draw offer,
he thought back to game 47 from his first match with Karpov. In that game,
Karpov had rejected a draw offer and went on to lose. As Kasparov said after
the game: "That's why playing this endgame I was always looking for
a little trick and eventually I found it and I was surprised that Anand
fell into it without much thinking." He also had a psychological explanation
for Anand's oversight: Anand had played so many games as white with his
king safely on h1 that he wasn't prepared for the more vulnerable position
of his king in the Dragon.
IM Vitaly Zaltsman summed up the sudden turn of events in this game best:
"What a drama! What a drama!"
Kasparov went on to use the Dragon in games 13, 15, and 17, scoring two
wins and two draws. After game 17, Kasparov revealed his rationale for choosing
this dangerous variation for such an important occasion. First, he thought
Anand's play as White against the Dragon was not very convincing. Second,
none of Anand's seconds were Dragon experts. Third, it wouldn't be easy
for Anand to prepare the Dragon during the match. Finally, Anand wouldn't
expect it from talking to Kasparov's former seconds--the Dragon was not
on the agenda for any of Kasparov's previous title matches.
While Kasparov may not have been expected to resort to the Dragon, it surely
was Anand's responsibility to be prepared for it. There was no doubt that
Anand did work on the Dragon during his pre-match preparation. After the
match I asked Anand how much time he spent preparing for the Dragon. His
reply was succinct: "Not enough."
The next several games saw Anand in a tailspin, barely holding on for a
draw in Game 12, and failing again to the Dragon in Game 13. In Game 13,
Anand tried an offbeat plan against the Dragon, but his play was stale and
he soon found himself in an inferior position. Kasparov played the attack
creatively, while Anand's resistance was uninspired. The resulting Black
victory was unusual for a Dragon, because White never got his king out of
the center. After the game Kasparov said he was certain the blunder in Game
11 was still weighing heavily on Anand.
Anand's chances for victory in this match were bleak after Game 13. Game
14 eliminated all doubts. Anand chose to defend with the Center Counter
Defense, an excellent choice because Kasparov had never faced the opening.
Kasparov fell into an inferior position right out of the opening and offered
a draw. Anand declined, but he was not ready for a struggle. Kasparov saw
a chance to exploit Anand's lack of confidence by offering an unclear piece
sacrifice, a brilliant psychological decision. Rather than plunge into complications,
Anand chose a safe move, but it was a serious error. Another factor affected
the decision in this game: crowd noise. With both players in time pressure,
the crowd became excited. Anand was particularly disturbed as he had less
time than Kasparov, and the crowd was noisiest on his thinking time. Anand
could not hold the position. A great tragedy.
At the post-game press conference, Kasparov was not happy to have won under
these circumstances. Here are some of his statements from the press conference:
I think that the commentators did not tell the public that the booth is
not soundproof ... It's a shock for the players because we just realized
that we're not separated from the public ... He had to defend a position
with many, many weaknesses and he was also behind on time. After the game
he complained that it was not fair just to play under these conditions.
I had to agree.
The next two games were drawn quickly. Kasparov had no reason to risk his
3-point lead and Anand needed some draws to regain his confidence.
Anand's last chance was Game 17. He didn't realistically think he could
still win the match, but he wanted to fight one last game with White. He
had had an entire weekend to recover from the disasters of the prior week.
Again Kasparov defended with the Dragon. Anand chose a positional treatment
but, unlike his prior efforts, this line was testing. Anand steered the
game into a superior ending, but missed some good winning chances. The players
played out the ending until a position with bare kings was forced. With
this draw, Kasparov retained his title.
The next day Kasparov needed only a draw to win the match. With Black, Anand
lacked the mood and the color to offer any resistance. He acquiesced to
a draw in 12 moves. As the saying goes, the match ended not with a bang,
but with a whimper.
Copyright © 1995, 1996 Jason
G. Luchan. All rights reserved.
Earlier versions of this article appeared in the Illinois Chess Bulletin
(Illinois Chess Association),
Empire Chess (New York State Chess Association), and Scottish
This page last modified on
28 April 2018.
Copyright (c) 1995-2018 Christopher F. Chabris. All rights