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|1982 Turin - Karpov vs Ljubojevic|
|Every Move Explained|
This game was played in 1982 between Anatoly Karpov and Ljubomir Ljubojevic during the international tournament at Turin, Italy. Karpov had the White pieces, Ljubojevic the Black.
What happens when a master strategist meets a master tactician? Who wins?
In 1982, when this game was played, Anatoly Karpov was the reigning World Champion and the world's no.1 ranked player. In 1975 he had won the World Championship by default after Bobby Fischer declined to defend the title won from Boris Spassky in 1972. Unlike Fischer, who stopped playing after beating Spassky, Karpov (b.1951, Russia) set out to prove that he was a worthy title holder, played in all of the strongest tournaments, and, until 1985, dominated world chess in a way that few players have ever managed to do.
Ljubomir Ljubojevic (pronounced 'you-boy-of-itch'; b.1950, Yugoslavia, now Serbia) became a world top-10 player in the mid-1970s. He peaked at world no.3 in 1983-84, behind Karpov and Kasparov. Ljubojevic was a feared tactician, capable of introducing complications into his games at any time. His tactical strength was also his weakness. He sometimes lost key games against lower rated players and never managed to advance beyond the Interzonal stage of the World Championship cycle.
In his heyday, Karpov was known as a positional player of the Capablanca style. He would create long term strategic plans that left his opponents wondering what was happening, then clinch the point with a sharp, accurately calculated tactical sequence.
Next move: 1.e4 For more about White's first move, see our tutorial Chess Openings - Initial Position.
The Turin tournament was a strong 7-player double round robin. Ljubojevic had beaten Karpov in the first leg and Karpov wanted revenge. In his notes (Chess at the Top, Pergamon 1984), he introduced the game with a personal reminiscence.
I prepared for this game with particular care. And the point was not only that a win would enable me to take the lead in the tournament. As Black against Ljubojevic in the first cycle, I suffered a not altogether deserved defeat (incidentally, the first in my meetings over many years with the talented Yugoslav grandmaster). It was natural that I should want to level the score in the Turin micro-match.
In 1985, Karpov lost the title to Garry Kasparov (b.1963, Azerbaijan). Kasparov, who had overtaken Karpov as world no.1 in 1984, beat his Soviet compatriot in their second match (1985). The first match (1984-85) had been annulled after 48 games when Karpov, needing to win six games to win the match, failed to win the necessary sixth game even though leading 5-0 after 27 games had been played.
When we look at Karpov's games through his first match with Kasparov, the period where he was top gun in the chess world, we see that he had a great preference for 1.e4 as White. He opened with it in about 75% of his games, using 1.d4, 1.c4, and 1.Nf3 in the rest.
In other games against Ljubojevic, Karpov had opened with 1.e4, 1.d4, and 1.c4. His previous experience with 1.e4 against Ljubojevic had been at Bugojno in 1978, a game that Karpov won.
Next move: 1...c5 For more about Black's responses to 1.e4, see our tutorial Chess Openings - King's Pawn Openings.
Looking at Ljubojevic's games through the mid-1980s, we see that as Black against 1.e4 he had a great preference for 1...c5. His second string defenses like 1...Nf6 were used infrequently. He also used 1...c5 against Karpov at Bugojno 1978.
For a discussion of the ideas behind the first few moves for both sides in this game -- 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 etc. -- see also Every Move Explained, 1962 Tal-Mohrlok
Next move: 2.Nf3 For more about White's different plans against the Sicilian Defense, see our tutorial Chess Openings - Sicilian Defense.
Early in his career, Karpov was more inclined to use 2.Nc3, the Closed Sicilian. Later he switched to 2.Nf3, the Open Sicilian.
When playing Black against 1.e4, his preference was for 1...e5, although he answered 1...c5 about 1/3 of the time. Playing the Black side of 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3, he favored 2...e6.
Next move: 2...d6 For more about Black's responses to 2.Nf3, see our tutorial Chess Openings - Sicilian Defense 2.Nf3.
Against 2.Nf3, Ljubojevic usually played 2...d6. He occasionally used the popular alternatives 2...e6 and 2...Nc6, but just as occasionally responded with the less popular 2...a6 and 2...Nf6.
Since Black has difficulty playing ...d5 in the early moves of the Sicilian and rarely plays ...b6 to fianchetto the light-squared Bishop, ...d6 is a natural move to continue Queenside development. Another great attraction of 2...d6 is its flexibility. It avoids committing the Queen's Knight with 2...Nc6, when a later ...Nbd7 might prove advantageous. In contrast to both 2...e6 and 2...g6, it also avoids committing the future development of the dark-squared Bishop,
Next move: 3.d4 For more about the different variations that can occur after 2...d6, see our tutorial Chess Openings - Sicilian Defense - ...d6 Variations.
After 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 and almost any second move by Black, most good players continue 3.d4 without giving it a second thought. Karpov also played the move most of the time, but on occasion varied with 3.Bb5+ or 3.Nc3. Those moves are playable, but put less immediate pressure on Black than 3.d4 does.
The move 3.d4 is the calling card of the Open Sicilian. Again, after almost any second move by Black, most games continue 3...cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3, without either player giving the moves a second thought.
Ljubojevic occasionally varied on his third move with 3...Nf6, as he did in our current game. In most games which continue this way, the move eventually transposes back to the main line by 4.Nc3 cxd4 5.Nxd4.
Why play 3...Nf6 first? One reason is that Black avoids the possibility of 3...cxd4 4.Qxd4 Nc6 5.Bb5 Bd7 6.Bxc6 Bxc6 7.c4. Once the Knight moves to c3, the c-Pawn remains blocked for a long time.
Next move: 3...Nf6
Black develops the Knight to its natural square and attacks the White Pawn on e4. Here Karpov noted,
I was expecting that my opponent would try to go into the Najdorf Variation. For this reason I made the text move, although under other circumstances I might have considered 4.dxc5.
The Najdorf Variation is reached after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6. Karpov's notes that he intended to reach the same position after 3...Nf6 4.Nc3 cxd4 5.Nxd4 a6, which is indeed how the game evolved. It was also the sequence used by the two players in their previous game at Bugojno 1978.
If 4.dxc5 Black recaptures the Pawn by 4...Qa5+ 5.Bd2 Qxc5, instead of 4...dxc5 5.Qxd8+ Kxd8 which would forfeit the right to castle.
Next move: 4.Nc3
White develops the Queenside Knight to its natural square and protects the Pawn on e4. The Knight also prevents Black from checking by ...Qa5. Now d4xc5 threatens to stop Black from castling after the variation mentioned in the previous comment.
Next move: 4...cxd4
The easiest way to protect against 5.dxc5 is by capturing first. The Pawn exchange creates two half-open files : White gets the half-open d-file, Black the half-open c-file.
The two half-open files will have an impact on the players' respective strategies for many moves to come. White will seek to develop at least one Rook to the d-file, while Black will develop a Rook to the c-file. Any doubling of Rooks by either player will most likely occur on those same files.
Another significant strategic difference concerns the castling option. White can castle to either side; if White castles O-O-O, the Rook will be ideally placed on the half-open d-file. Black can also castle to either side, but castling O-O-O is less attractive; the King is not particularly well protected on c8, and the Rook is not developed on the half-open c-file.
The castling difference means that if White decides to castle O-O-O, Black will often castle O-O. Once the two players have castled on opposite sides, the logical strategy for both players will be to launch a Pawn attack against the opponent's castled King.
Next move: 5.Nxd4
White recaptures the Pawn with the Knight instead of the with the Queen. The move 5.Qxd4 would expose the Queen to attack by 5...Nxc6. White's counter with 6.Bb5 is easily met by 6...Bd7, when Black has no further problems to solve.
The move 5.Nxd4 leaves White with a Knight impressively placed in the center of the board. If Black attempts to dislodge the Knight with ...e5, Black will create a 'hole' on d5 and the Pawn on d6 will become weak ('backward on a half-open file') for a long time to come.
The diagrammed position is one of the most popular positions in chess. Black has four excellent ways to continue -- 5...Nc6, 5...e6, 5...g6, and 5...a6 -- each move presenting different challenges to both players.
Next move: 5...a6 For more about the different variations that can occur in the diagrammed position, see our tutorial Chess Openings - Sicilian Defense - ...d6 Variations.
The move 5...a6 is the start of the Najdorf Variation. It is named after GM Miguel Najdorf (1910-1997), one of the world's strongest players in the 1940s and -50s.
The move is somewhat paradoxical. White has six pieces to be developed, Black has seven. White has already placed a Knight in the center of the board, while Black has not yet moved a Pawn to allow the development of the dark-squared Bishop. Despite trailing in development by several moves, Black takes the time to play another move which does nothing to further development.
By common sense ('the race is won by the swiftest'), Black would appear to have a serious disadvantage. Instead, thousands of games by the world's best players have demonstrated that Black's position contains dynamic resources that render the ensuing positions difficult for both players. Black will often gain the upper hand over an inferior player and it is no coincidence that the Najdorf Variation was a main weapon for both Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov, two of the greatest players of all time.
The key to the move ...a6 is that it takes control of the square b5. White can no longer play a Knight to that square, while Black can consider continuing with the aggressive ...b5. This allows the Bishop fianchetto by ...Bb7 and threatens ...b4, attacking the Pawn on e4 by removing its only protection.
The first consequence of ...a6 is that it prepares an immediate ...e5, a move that Bf1-b5+ rendered awkward before ...a6 was played. White's sixth move must take the ...e5 option into account.
Next move: 6.Be2
White has many ways to meet the Najdorf. The most popular moves are 6.Bg5, 6.Be2, 6.Be3, and 6.Bc4, with 6.f4 and 6.g3 also played from time to time. One of the characteristics that differentiate these moves is in how they intend to meet ...e5.
Karpov's favorite response to the Najdorf was 6.Be2. It puts less pressure on Black than the other popular moves. In particular, it does nothing to prevent ...e5. Its strength is its flexibility. White's light-squared Bishop, for example, can continue to the a8-h1 diagonal. It often leads to less tactical play than the alternatives and allows both players a large choice of strategical plans. This gives the stronger of the two players more opportunity to outplay the weaker player.
Ljubojevic continued as he had in the previous game against Karpov at Bugojno 1978, and chose 6...e6 over 6...e5. Why did he pick the quieter of the two moves for a second time? Only he can say for sure, but we can guess that he had prepared a specific variation to use against Karpov in the current game.
Next move: 6...e6
What's in a name? If you look in any standard reference on the opening, you will see that the diagrammed position arises from the moves 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Nf6 4.Nc3 cxd4 5.Nxd4 e6 6.Be2 a6 and is called the Scheveningen Variation.
What happened to the Najdorf Variation? The name is normally reserved for 5...a6 games where, after 6.Be2, Black continues 6...e5, attacking the Knight on d4 and leaving the problem Pawn on d6. The name Najdorf is also used for White's other choices after 5...a6.
In short, 6...e5 is the Najdorf; 6...e6 is the Scheveningen. The move 6...e6 doesn't attack anything on White's side of the board and it doesn't create any holes on Black's side of the board. It's another game with a different character than the Najdorf.
Next move: 7.f4
White, who would eventually like to play Be2-f3, is wary about blocking the f-Pawn with that move. By playing 7.f4 first, White prepares the Bishop move.
The Pawn on f4 coordinates well with the Pawn on e4. White can now play e4-e5, forcing the Knight from its excellent spot on f6. White might also steer for an eventual f4-f5, establishing a strong Pawn on Black's side of the board.
A small disadvantage of f2-f4 is that it weakens the a7-g1 diagonal. After White castles O-O, the King ends up on g1 where it is vulnerable to checks and pins by Black's Queen and dark-squared Bishop. White might have to lose a tempo by playing the King to h1.
Another good move for White is 7.O-O. After 7...Qc7 8.f4, this transposes back to the current game.
The Bugojno 1978 game, after reaching the diagrammed position, had continued 7...Nbd7 8.Bf3 Qc7 9.g4 Nb6 10.g5 Nfd7. With his next move, Ljubojevic was the first to vary.
Next move: 7...Qc7
Black prevents White from playing an immediate e4-e5 by guarding the e5-square a second time. The Pawn on a6 protects the Queen from an attack by Nd4-b5 (or by Nc3-b5).
The move 7...Qc7 might seem to violate the general principle about not moving the Queen too early in the game, but as always, the specifics of the position take priority over general principles. The Queen on b6 blocks ...b6 or ...b5, while on a5 it is vulnerable to Nd4-b3. Other squares interfere with the development of the minor pieces. Of all the squares available to develop the Queen, c7 is the best choice.
Next move: 8.O-O
In many Sicilians, White has the option of castling to both sides, but castling O-O-O is somewhat risky here. It first requires White to play Bc1-e3 and Qd1-d2, during which time Black can play ...b5. This would threaten ...b4, attacking the Knight that protects e4, and starting a Pawn storm against the King on c1.
The more logical castling option is 8.O-O. This brings the King into safety and develops the Rook on the f-file, where it supports an eventual f4-f5. In case of e4-e5, the Rook puts pressure on the f7-square after an exchange of Pawns on e5.
Now the game reaches a turning point. A typical continuation would be something like 8... Be7 9.Bf3 Nbd7 10.Kh1 O-O, with complicated play for both sides. Ljubojevic chose an atypical continuation.
Next move: 8...b5
Karpov assigned Black's move a '?!' (dubious) and noted
Theory regards this move with suspicion, considering it premature and risky. But anyone who has made a careful study of Ljubojevic's games will have noted that at the very first opportunity he aims for active counterplay on the Queenside.
Why would a world top-10 player venture on a line of play that is dubious, premature, and risky, especially against the reigning World Champion? The answer is to be found somewhere in psychological considerations. Ljubojevic wanted to play his kind of game, tactically complicated. Knowing that Karpov's preferred game would be more strategically complicated, he steered into tactical complications while still in the opening. He had undoubtedly prepared specific variations beforehand, perhaps for this game itself.
The first thing to note about 8...b5 is that sets up an indirect attack on the e-Pawn with 9...b4 10.Na4 Nxe4. The second thing to note is that it prepares the fianchetto of the Bishop on the long diagonal. Another important detail is that Black is still two moves, ...Be7 and ...O-O, from castling.
Next move: 9.Bf3
The e-Pawn is threatened and White protects it in the simplest way. At the same time the Bishop move threatens a discovered attack on the Black Rook with e4-e5.
Another point of 9.Bf3 is that it prepares an escape square for the c3-Knight in case of ...b4. If Black now continues 9...b4, White has the choice between the offensive 10.e5 and the defensive 10.Nce2.
Next move: 9...Bb7
Black decides against an immediate 9...b4, and protects against the threat of e4-e5 by countering White's Bishop on the long diagonal. The Bishop move 9...Bb7 also renews the threat on the e-Pawn with ...b4.
Black isn't afraid of White's capturing twice on b5, giving up a Knight for two Pawns, because this 'attack' can be countered with a Queen check on b6 (or c5), attacking the remaining, unprotected Knight and forcing its retreat to d4.
Next move: 10.e5
White attends to the threat on e4 by pushing the Pawn out of harm's way and attacking Black's Knight. White isn't afraid of losing the Pawn on e5 by 10...dxe5 11.fxe5 Qxe5, because the Queen must remain on c7 to protect the Bishop. If Black first exchanges Bishops with 10...Bxf3, then 11.Qxf3 leaves both the Black Rook and the King's Knight under attack, with material loss to follow.
Now 10....b4 would lead to a line that Black avoided on the previous move. After 11.exf6 bxc3, White would have the choice of several tempting tactical continuations, all with Black's King caught in the center of the complications.
Next move: 10...dxe5
Black meets the threat against the Knight by removing the Pawn The immediate 10...Nfd7 would fail to 11.exd6 Bxd6 12.Bxb7 Qxb7 13.Nxe6, discovering an attack on the Bishop by the Queen.
By swapping Pawns on e5, Black plays to keep the center Pawns immobile and the lines as closed as possible. The weak Pawn on e5 will be the object of a future attack.
Next move: 11.fxe5
White recaptures the Pawn, renewing the attack on the Black Knight. White isn't afraid of a Bishop swap on f3, because the White Queen will recapture, attacking the Rook on a8.
One variation showing some of the tactical possibilities in the position is 11...Bxf3 12.Qxf3 Bc5 13.exf6 Bxd4+ 14.Be3 Bxc3 15.bxc3 Nc6 16.fxg7. The Black King still hasn't castled and White has an annoying Pawn on g7.
Next move: 11...Nfd7
Black removes the Knight from the attack by the Pawn, threatening the same Pawn a second time. White, with several ways to protect the Pawn, chooses a line that continues development and maintains the tension.
Next move: 12.Bf4
White protects the attacked Pawn by activating the last undeveloped minor piece. The Black Queen, assigned the task of protecting its Bishop isn't really attacking the Pawn a second time. Even if Black could play ...Nxe5 without losing a piece immediately, the White Bishop would pin the Knight against its own Queen.
Karpov now considered that 12...Nc6 was 'essential'. That move would do many things at the same time: develop a piece, attack White's Knight and e-Pawn, free the Queen's Rook, prepare castling O-O-O, and avoid a swap of the light squared Bishops by interposing on the long diagonal. Instead, Ljubojevic chose a more tactical continuation.
Next move: 12...b4
After seeing 12...b4, Karpov considered that Black had 'lost his sense of danger'. He commented, 'To be honest, I never thought that Black would go for the win of a Pawn with both wings undeveloped.' The World Champion's comment makes two revealing points.
The first point is the reference to a 'sense of danger'. This is an intuition that good players develop over time and that keeps them out of many difficult situations. It is the same sort of common sense that keeps people out of danger in common situations like not jumping from high places into water of unknown depth and not putting unknown substances into their mouths.
The second point is an underlying faith -- there is no other term for it -- in chess logic. This is the light that guides the master strategic player through tactical complications that are otherwise impossible to fathom.
All other things equal, the loss of a Pawn puts a player at a disadvantage. In the diagrammed position, White might lose a Pawn, but White's superior development and the insecurity of Black's King will more than counterbalance the missing Pawn.
The White Knight is attacked. The appreciation for non-material compensation helps White to weigh the advantages and dsadvantages of the various Knight retreats. White decides that the Knight in the center compensates for the loss of the e-Pawn.
Next move: 13.Ne4
White decides that the Pawn on e5 is expendable and sacrifices it. This is a good time to look at the development for both sides.
White has all minor pieces developed with the two Knights aggressively positioned in the center. A Rook is already posted for operations on the f-file and indirectly eyes the traditional weakness on f7. White is two moves away -- the Queen and a Rook -- from having all forces in full play.
Black has two of the four minor pieces developed. The King is still in the center and the Rooks are sitting on their initial squares. Black is at least six moves away from having all pieces in play.
Next move: 13...Nxe5
Black's only real alternative to accepting the sacrificed Pawn is to exchange the Bishops for the Knight on e4, 13...Bxe4. This would add the advantage of the Bishop pair to White's considerable lead in development.
The move 13...Nxe5 grabs the extra Pawn, seeking material compensation for the positional disadvantages. Black hopes to play ...Nxf3+ on the next move, breaking the self-created pin on the Black Knight and grabbing the Bishop pair.
Next move: 14.Kh1
Here Karpov gave '!' to his move, 'a characteristic move in such positions', and mentioned that his opponent, 'had evidently not taken it into account, since he sank deeply into thought'.
The move 14.Kh1 accomplishes two things. First and foremost, it stops Black from playing ...Nxf3 with check. The Knight move would now leave the Queen exposed to White's Bishop. Second, it avoids any checks or pins on the a7-g1 diagonal. The King on h1 is one step further from participating in an eventual endgame, but with all the pieces still on the board, the endgame is nowhere in sight.
Next move: 14...Be7
Since the quiet 14.Kh1 gave White no new tactical threats, Black uses the move to seek shelter for the King by castling O-O. Once the Black King finds shelter, Black can play for the endgame and make the extra Black Pawn count.
Karpov assigned his next move '!' and noted that on 14...Nbd7, he would have played the same 15.Ng5, which he also gave '!'.
Next move: 15.Ng5
One threat is now 16.Nxf7. Another is the twin attack on Black's Queen's Bishop and King's Knight, where both pieces are protected only by the Black Queen.
If now, 15...Bxf3, then 16.Ngxf3 Nbd7 17.Nxe5 Nxe5 18.Qh5 wins (18...Bf6 19.Nxe6). With the King on h1, Black has no saving check on b6.
Next move: 15...Bxg5
Black's move is forced. It is the only way to sidestep White's several threats and avoid material loss.
Karpov gave his next move another '!', the third straight move to be so honored, and noted that 16.Bxe5 Qxe5 17.Bxb7 Ra7 18.Bc6+ Ke7 19.Nf3 Qc5 would favor Black.
Next move: 16.Bxb7
White plays the only move he calculated that would maintain the advantage. After the following captures, White's pieces will all be in central positions, attacking targets on both Black's Kingside and Queenside.
If now 16...Bxf4, then 17.Bxa8. If 16...Ra7, then 17.Nxe6 fxe6 18.Qh5+ Qf7 19.Qxg5.
Next move: 16...Qxb7
Black again plays the only move. White's next move is also forced. After 17.Bxg5 Nbc6, White's attack runs out of steam, when Black's extra Pawn will be a substantial advantage.
Next move: 17.Bxe5
This is the position Karpov envisioned when he played 15.Ng5. The g-Pawn is under attack. If 17...Bh6, then 18.Nxe6 fxe6 19.Qh5+ wins. Black has no choice but to castle.
Next move: 17...O-O
Black has managed to get the King into safety and to keep the extra Pawn. If it were now Black's move, ...Nd7 would be good enough to gain the advantage. White must act quickly.
Next move: 18.Qg4
Since Black has no immediate threats, White looks for an attacking move and finds a good one. Not only does the Queen threaten the Bishop, it also supports the threat Nd4xe6. The move 18...h6 fails to 19.Nxe6 Qd7 20.Bxg7, while 18...Bh6 fails to 19.Nxe6 fxe6 (19...Qd7 20.Bxg7) 20.Qxe6+ and mates.
Next move: 18...Qe7
Black plays the only move that defends both the Bishop and the e-Pawn. The hapless Knight on b8 prevents the Queen's Rook from protecting its Kingside's counterpart.
Next move: 19.Qg3
Karpov again gave his move a '!' and noted
This was the most difficult move of the game for me, and demanded half an hour of thought. The battery of Queen plus Bishop decides the game. It seemed to me that it was only here that my opponent, who up till now had been not at all dejected, sensed that his position was hopeless.
White's threat is now 20.Bd6, for example 19...f6 20.Bd6 Qd7 21.Bxf8 Qxd4 22.Rad1 or 19...Nd7 20.Bd6 Qd8 21.Nc6, forcing the Queen away from the protection of the Bishop.
In choosing 19.Qg3, White rejected both 19.Nxe6 Qxe6 20.Qxg5 Qg6 and 19.Bxb8 Raxb8 20.Nc6 Qc5 21.Nxb8 Rxb8.
Next move: 19...Rc8
Black moves the Rook away from the threatened skewer, but there are other dangers lurking in the position. Karpov thought 19...Rd8 was 'more tenacious', because it prevents White's next move. In that case, the immediate 20.Rad1 would have been strong.
Next move: 20.Bd6
It isn't immediately clear what White is doing, but White senses that the Black Bishop is in serious trouble. Meanwhile the remaining Black Queenside pieces are undeveloped and unable to participate in the fight.
If now 20...Qd8, then 21.Nxe6 forks the Queen and Bishop. Black can't capture 21...fxe6 because of 22.Rf8+.
Next move: 20...Qd7
Since 20...Qd8 loses immediately, Black makes the only other playable move, maintaining an attack on the White Bishop. If White now takes Black's Bishop, Black takes White's and gets out of trouble.
Next move: 21.Rad1
White develops the last inactive piece, bringing it into the game with the threat of 22.Qxg5. If Black then replies 22...Qxd6, the strong move 23.Nf5 discovers a double attack on the Queen and threatens mate on g7.
Next move: 21...f6
Black protects the Bishop from being taken by the Queen, but the move further reduces the squares available to the Bishop for retreat. The move 21...h6 would meet a similar refutation.
Next move: 22.Bxb8
White's first step in clinching the win is to get the Bishop out of the way. The easiest way to do this is by trading if for the unfortunate Knight that has never managed to move off its original square. The move 22.Bxb8 also removes one piece from the d-file for a discovered attack on the Queen by White's Rook.
Next move: 22...Raxb8
Black must recapture the Bishop. Taking with the Queen's Rook has a small advantage over 22...Rcxb8 because the King's Rook attacks White's c-Pawn.
Next move: 23.h4
Karpov gave this move his last '!' of the game. Since 23...Bh6 loses to 24.Nf5, and there are no other retreat squares, the Bishop is forced to give itself up for the Pawn.
The cute 23...Bc1 loses to 24.Nb3, attacking the Queen and Bishop at the same time.
Next move: 23...Bxh4
Black gets only one Pawn for the piece, but already holds an extra Pawn. The net result is that Black loses a minor piece for two Pawns.
Meanwhile, White's c-Pawn is under some pressure from the Rook and White's King is somewhat exposed because of the missing h-Pawn. Black plays on.
Next move: 24.Qxh4
White captures the Bishop and takes a moment to size up an advantageous endgame. If now 24...e5, White discovers an attack on the Queen with 25.Nf5. After the Black Queen moves away with 25...Qa7 or 25...Qc7 there is no need to defend the c-Pawn. The move 26.Rd3 threatens to continue White's attack on the g- and h-files.
Next move: 24...Rc4
Black pins the Knight to the Queen, threatening ...e5. The threat is easily parried.
Next move: 25.Qg3
The White Queen moves out of the pin and attacks the undefended enemy Rook on b8.
Next move: 25...Rbc8
Black moves the attacked Rook out of danger and doubles Rooks on the c-file. The Knight is attacked twice, but defended once, and there is still some hope of winning White's c-Pawn. This would give Black three Pawns for the Knight.
Next move: 26.Nf5
White finally executes the discovered attack that has been threatening since 21.Rad1, and, at the same time, moves the Knight out of danger. Black must keep the Queen on its second rank or be mated by Qg3xg7.
Next move: 26...Qa7
Did Black overlook a Knight fork of the two Rooks? The move 26...Qc7 would have been a little better, but 27.Nd6 Rxc2 28.Qb3 would have been decisive.
Next move: 27.Nd6
Black might have noticed only now that White's move discovered an attack on the f-Pawn. If 27...Qc7, then 28.Rxf6.
Next move: 27...R4c5
Black has one last trick to try. The Rook threatens 28...Rh5+ winning, because the Black Queen covers the King's escape square on g1.
Next move: 28.Qh3
White defends the check on h5, and attacks the e-Pawn. The Rook on c8 is still attacked by the Knight. If now 28...Rf8, then 29.Qxe6+ wins easily.
Next move: 1-0
For all games in the 'Every Move Explained' series, see