A very logical try to reorganize his remaining material so that the g-pawn can advance with effect. The only other try for White that seemed important was 51.Qh5, which could be met by 51 Qd3+ or 51 Qc2+!?
For example, after 51.Qh5 Qd3+, and now:
A) 52.Kh6 Qe3! and Black is OK.
B) 52.Kf6 Qc3+, and now:
B1) 53.Ke6 Qe5+ 54.Kd7Qb5+ 55.Kxd6 Qd3+ 56.Ke6 Qe4+, is equal.
B2) 53.Ke7 Qe5+ 54.Kd7 transposes to 53.Ke6 Qe5+ 54.Kd7 (Variation B2).
B3) 53.Kf7 Qc7+ 54.Ke6 Qc4+ 55.Kf6 Qf4+, with:
B3a) 56.Ke7 Qe5+ 57.Kd7 Qb5+ 58.Kc7 Qa5+ 59.Kxd6 (59.Kxb7 Qd5+ 60.Kc7 Qc5+ 61.Kd7 Qf5+ 62.Kxd6 is a theoretical draw) 59...Qd2+ 60.Ke5 Qe3+ 61.Kf6 Qf4+ 62.Ke6 Qe4+ 63.Kd7 Qd5+ 64.Kc8 Qc6+ 65.Kb8 Qd6+ 66.Kxb7 Qd5+, with a theoretical draw.
B3b) 56.Kg7 Qe5+ 57.Kh6 (57.Kh7 Qe7+, equal) 57...Qe3, transposes to Variation A.
C) 52.Kg7 b5 53.g6 b4, with equal chances.
Let's stop and make an assessment of the position after 51.Qh7. In this endgame, Black has a material advantage, but White's advanced g-pawn gives him enough compensation for his pawn deficit. Note that without Black pawns on the board, this position would be a theoretical draw - and so we must keep it in mind that in many circumstances it will be quite acceptable and correct for Black to sacrifice his pawns to reach a theoretically drawn Q + P versus Q ending. This idea forms a key element in Black's defensive strategy.
In the game situation, White will seek to shelter his king from checks delivered by the Black queen, while trying to advance his g-pawn further towards the g8 promotion-square.
Also, in this endgame, Black has the important possibility of creating serious counterplay with the advance of his d-pawn and/or his b-pawn - the threat to advance the Black passed pawns can become the very catalyst required to make White eliminate Black's pawns while they are in transit, thus reducing the position to one that is theoretically drawn.
Here, we came to the conclusion that with 51 Ka1, Black could secure a draw with technically precise play. Here are the main lines of the World's 51 Ka1 defense:
After 51.Qh7 Ka1! it is important to realize that Black does not fear the loss of his b-pawn. Thus:
A) 52.Qxb7 d5 53.Kf7 (53.Kh6 Qd2! 54.Kg6 d4 55.Kf5 Qf2+ is equal) 53...d4 54.g6 d3 55.g7 Qf1+ 56.Ke8 Qe2+ 57.Kf8 d2, leads to a draw.
The most important variations follow the sequence:
B) 52.Qg7+ Ka2 53.Qf7+ d5, and now three important lines:
B1) 54.Qf2+ Kb1 55.Kf6 d4 56.g6 d3 57.g7! Qg4! (an important move which covers not only the g8-square, but also the c8-square. This defense was found by SmartChess Online analysts and further refined by IM Ken Regan) 58.Qb6+ Kc1, and now:
B11) 59.Qc5+!? Kb1! 60.Qd5 Qf4+ 61.Ke6 Qg4+ 62.Kf7 Qf4+ 63.Ke8 Qa4+! maintains equal chances.
B12) 59.Qc7+ Kb1 60.Qxb7+ Kc2 61.Qc7+ Kd1 (but not 61...Kb2?? 62.Qb8+, and White wins) 62.Qf7 Qf4+, and Black is OK, for example: 63.Kg6 Qg3+! (Regan's move, which looks better than the 63 Qe4+ that had been explored by SmartChess Online) 64.Kf5 64...Qf2+ 65.Ke6 Qa2+ 66.Ke7 Qa7+ 67.Kf8 Qa8+ 68.Qe8 Qf3+, with equal chances.
B2) 54.Kg7 is met by 54 Qd4+! for example: 55.Qf6 (best try) 55...Qe3 (55 Qe4 or 55 Qc4 also seem playable) 56.g6 d4 57.Kf7 (57.Kf8 d3 58.g7 Qc5+! is equal) 57...d3 58.g7 d2 59.g8=Q Qb3+ 60.Kf8 Qxg8+ 61.Kxg8 d1=Q 62.Qf2+, with a draw.
B3) 54.Kh7 Qc2+! (key move) 55.g6 b5 56.Kg8 (note that 56.Qxd5+ Ka1 57.Qxb5 is a draw) 56...Qc8+ 57.Qf8 Qe6+ 58.Kg7 Qe5+ 59.Qf6 Qc7+ 60.Qf7 Qc3+! 61.Kf8 Qc8+ 62.Qe8 Qf5+ 63.Ke7 Qg5+! 64.Kd7 b4! 65.Qf7 b3, with equal chances - as Black's b-pawn counterplay is in plenty of time.
Extensive analysis revealed 51 Ka1! to be a draw, and that we can consider 51 Ka1 to be (technically) the correct move for Black. I had, in fact, considered presenting the move 51 Ka1 with an accompanying draw offer by Black. I did not consider such a draw offer to be a breach of chess etiquette as I was convinced that not only did White not have any way of demonstrating any advantage against 51 Ka1, but also that after 50 d1=Q, the queen ending is just a draw. However, sentiment on the Bulletin Boards appeared to be against the WT offering a draw. The preceding analysis was presented to the voting public. Remarkably (and without precedent), this move lost in the voting by a very narrow margin, to a move that had received less scrutiny and practically no supporting analysis from any MSN analyst. That move was
At first sight, this appears to be a reflex move to save the b-pawn from capture, as it was not so clear that the advance of the b-pawn at this time would create sufficient counterplay for Black.
Unfortunately, there was a much darker side to move 51 then anyone could have possibly imagined. A poster by the name of "Jose Unodos" claimed to have designed a method (which he described) for stuffing the ballot box with multiple votes for the move 51 b5. In the opinion of many, this turn of events caused the validity of the result of the vote at move 51 to be called into question (as the margin of victory for 51 b5 was quite small). The organizers quickly reacted by stating that no vote-stuffing had taken place, and their investigation indicated that such a practice was not possible. As we shall see, this statement will be contradicted by events occurring over the next few moves.
Regarding the issue of vote-stuffing at move 51 (or at any subsequent point in the game where it is believed to have taken place), I want to point out that I absolutely do not condone such activity - which is contrary to all sense of democracy, fair play and good sportsmanship. Nevertheless, the evidence that accrued over the following few moves regarding vote-stuffing allowed me to formulate a personal opinion that the validity of the result of the vote at move 51 (and therefore the validity of the game itself) is in serious doubt. Sadly, it appeared that my earlier predictions about "potential negative backlash and publicity" were going to come true.
From a chess point of view, the WT had to adapt to a suddenly altered game scenario - for the first time in three months a move suggestion by "Irina Krush" had been "ignored" - more accurately, a move suggestion by the vast majority of serious analysts had been ignored.
I tried to console myself with the idea that 51 b5 was as good as 51 Ka1 (in view of new findings in the 51 b5 52.Kf6+ Kc1 line), but realistically any move which makes a desired result more difficult (in this case a draw) is an error.
While it had been suspected that 52 Kc1 was the best response here (no useful checks for White, and Black does not block the path of the b-pawn) by some analysts I respected, both 52 Kb2 and 52 Ka1 were (correctly) undergoing examination. For 52 Kc1, there were a number of variations that needed deep human analysis to determine whether they were playable.
At this moment, a knight in shining armor who went by the name of "Alekhine via Ouija" (real name Carter Mobley), rode to the rescue and published line after line of deep and penetrating analysis (some of which he had formulated with other analysts, including Ross Amann) that demonstrated the efficacy of 52 Kc1. Other analysts joined in, and my friends at SmartChess Online managed to keep informed of developments (I was returning from Armenia where I had been playing in the World Women's U-20 Junior Championship). In a total of about 36 hours, the World Team had finally refurbished an old weapon to fight for a draw. A few important additions to the growing analysis tree took place during the WT voting period, when it had become clear that 52 Kc1 was Black's (technically) most correct move. Unfortunately, response time at the GM School web-site was slow on that day, and a recommendation for the inferior 52 Kb2 was maintained on their site even though it had been demonstrated that the one remaining line in 52 Kc1 that GM School did not like was in fact OK for Black.
Here is the essence of the 52 Kc1 defense.
A) 53.Qc7+ Kb1, and now:
A1) 54.Qc6 Qd4+ 55.Kf5 Qe5+ 56.Kg4 b4, with equal chances.
A2) 54.Qe7 Qf3+ 55.Ke6 b4! 56.g6 Qg4+ 57.Kf7 Qf5+ 58.Qf6 Qd7+ 59.Kf8 Qc8+ 60.Ke7 b3 61.g7 b2, is equal.
A3) 54.Qc3 Qf1+, and now:
A31) 55.Ke7 Qg1! with:
A311) 56.Qd3+ Kc1 57.Qxb5 (57.g6 b4 transposes to Variation C242) 57 d5 58.Qc6+ (58.Qxd5 is a theoretical draw) 58 Kb1 59.Qxd5 is a theoretical draw.
A312) 56.Qf6 b4 57.g6 b3 58.g7 b2, with equal chances.
A32) 55.Ke6 Qc4+ 56.Qxc4 bxc4 57.g6 c3 58.g7 c2 59.g8=Q c1=Q 60.Kxd6, draw.
A4) 54.g6 Qf3+ 55.Kg7 (if 55.Ke6 Qe4+, or 55.Ke7 Qe4+ 56.Kf7 Qf3+, equal) 55...b4 56.Qf7 Qc3+! 57.Kf8 Qh8+ 58.Ke7 Qe5+ 59.Kd7 Qb5+, is equal, for example:
A41) 60.Kxd6 Qd3+ 61.Ke5 (61.Kc6 Qa6+ 62.Kc5 Qa5+ 63.Kc4 Qa2+ 64.Kxb4 Qd2+! with a theoretical draw; 61.Kc7 Qg3+ 62.Kc6 b3 63.g7 Qc3+ 64.Kb5 Qd3+ 65.Ka4 Qa6+ 66.Kb4 Qb6+ 67.Kc4 Qa6+ 68.Kd4 Qb6+, is equal) 61...Qe3+ 62.Kf5 Qf3+ 63.Kg5 Qg3+ 64.Kh6 Qh4+ 65.Kg7 b3! and Black has equalized (White can take the pawn at the cost of yielding a theoretical draw).
A42) 60.Kc7 Qa5+ 61.Kb7 Qb5+ 62.Ka8 Qc6+ 63.Kb8 Qb6+, with a draw.
B) 53.g6 Qf3+ (53...Qd4+!? is also possible) 54.Ke7 Qb7+ (54...Qe4+, is also OK), with equal chances.
C) 53.Qe4 b4! (a key pawn sacrifice which we shall see again later in the story), and now:
C21) 54.Qc4+ Qc2, with:
C211) 55.Qxb4 Qf2+ 56.Kg7 d5,
C2111) 57.g6 d4 58.Qc4+ Kb2 59.Kg8 d3 60.g7 (60.Qxd3, is a theoretical draw; 60.Qb5+ Ka1 61.Qxd3, theoretical draw) 60...d2, equal.
C2112) 57.Qc3+ Kb1 58.Qb3+ Ka1 59.Qxd5, is a theoretical draw.
C212) 55.Qf1+ Qd1 56.Qf4+ Qd2 57.Qc4+ Qc2 58.Qxb4 Qf2+ 59.Kg7 d5, and now:
C2121) 60.g6 d4 61.Qc4+ Kb2 62.Kg8 d3 63.g7 (63.Qxd3, is a theoretical draw; 63.Qb5+ Ka1 64.Qxd3, is a theoretical draw) 63...d2, equal.
C2122) 60.Qc3+ Kb1 61.Qb3+ Ka1 62.Qxd5, is a theoretical draw.
C22) 54.Qxb4 Qf3+, and now:
C221) 55.Ke6 d5,
C2211) 56.g6 d4 57.Qc5+ (if 57.Qxd4 Qb3+!! with a theoretical draw) 57...Qc3!
C22111) 58.Qg5+ Qe3+! 59.Qe5 (59.Qxe3+ dxe3 60.g7 e2 61.g8=Q e1=Q+, draw) 59...Qxe5+ 60.Kxe5 d3 61.g7 d2 62.g8=Q d1=Q, draw.
C22112) 58.Qxc3+ dxc3 59.g7 c2 60.g8=Q Kb1 61.Qg6 (61.Qb8+ Ka1, is a draw) 61...Ka1! and draw.
C2212) 56.Qc5+ Kb1 57.Qxd5, is a theoretical draw.
C222) 55.Kg7 d5 56.g6 d4 57.Qxd4, is a theoretical draw.
C23) 54.Qf4+ Qd2 55.Qxd2+ Kxd2 56.g6 b3 57.g7 b2 58.g8=Q b1=Q 59.Qd5+ Qd3 60.Qxd3+ Kxd3 61.Ke6, is a draw.
C24) 54.g6 Qf1+ 55.Ke7 Qg1 56.Qc4+ (56.Qc6+ Kb1 57.Qxd6 b3, with equal chances) 56...Kd1, and now:
C241) 57.Kf7 Qf2+ 58.Kg8 Qc5 59.Qg4+ (59.Qxc5 dxc5 60.g7 b3 61.Kf7 b2 62.g8=Q b1=Q 63.Qg1+ Kc2 64.Qxc5+, draw) 59...Kc2 60.g7 b3 61.Kh7 b2, equal.
C242) 57.Qd3+ Kc1, and now:
C2421) 58.Kxd6 b3 59.Qc3+ Kb1 60.Qxb3+ Ka1! is a theoretical draw.
C2422) 58.Kf8 Qf2+ 59.Ke8 (59.Ke7 Qg1 repeats) 59...Qe1+ 60.Kd7 Qg1, with:
C24221) 61.Kxd6 b3 62.Qc3+ Kb1 63.Qxb3+ Ka1, and a theoretical draw.
C24222) 61.Ke7 Qa7+ 62.Kxd6 b3 63.Qc3+ Kb1 64.Qxb3+ Ka1! and a theoretical draw.
C24223) 61.Qc4+ Kb1 62.Qxb4+ (62.Qb3+ Ka1 63.Qa4+ Kb1 64.Qxb4+ Ka1 65.Qxd6, is a theoretical draw) 62...Ka1 63.Qa3+ (63.Qxd6, theoretical draw) 63...Kb1 64.Qxd6, theoretical draw.
C2423) 58.Ke6 Kb2! 59.Kf7 (59.Kd5 b3 equalizes. Note then that 60.Kc4?? loses to 60...Qc5 mate! If 59.Kf6 Qf2+, with equal chances) 59...Qf2+ 60.Kg8 b3 61.g7 (61.Qxd6 Kc2 62.g7 b2, is equal) 61...Ka2 62.Qd5 (62.Qa6+ Kb1 63.Qxd6 b2, equal) 62...Qc5! 63.Qxc5 dxc5 64.Kh7 c4 65.g8Q c3! with a draw!
C2424) 58.Kf7 Qa7+ 59.Ke6 Qc5! 60.g7 (60.Qxd6 Qxd6+ 61.Kxd6 b3 62.g7 b2 63.g8=Q b1=Q, draw) 60...Qe5+ 61.Kf7 Qf4+ 62.Kg8 (62.Kg6 Qg4+ 63.Kf6 Qh4+ 64.Ke6 Qg4+ 65.Kf7 Qf4+, is equal) 62...Kb2! (idea b4-b3), with:
C24241) 63.Qe2+ Kc1! and equal chances.
C24242) 63.Kh7 Qh4+ 64.Kg6 Qg4+ 65.Kf6 (65.Kh7 Qh5+ 66.Kg8 Qe8+ 67.Kh7 Qh5+, draw) 65...Qh4+ 66.Kf7 Qf4+, equal.
C24243) 63.Qh7 b3 64.Kh8 Qe5 65.Qh3 Ka2 66.Kh7 Qe4+ 67.Kh8 Qe5, with a draw.
C243) 57.Qb3+ Kc1 58.Kf7 Qf2+ 59.Kg8 (59.Kg7 Qd4+, equal) 59...Qc2 60.Qe3+ Qd2 61.Qg1+ Kc2 62.g7 b3 63.Kh7 Qd3+ 64.Kh6 Qh3+ 65.Kg6 Qe6+ 66.Kh7 b2, is equal.
D) 53.Qh6 Qd4+! 54.Ke6 (54.Kf7 Qd5+ 55.Ke7 Qb7+, equal) 54...Qe4+ 55.Kf6 Qf4+ 56.Ke7 Qe3+ 57.Kf7 Qa7+ 58.Kg8 Qb8+ 59.Qf8 Qxf8+ 60.Kxf8 b4 61.g6 b3 62.g7 b2 63.g8=Q b1=Q, a theoretical draw.
E) 53.Ke7 Qf3! 54.g6 Qb7+, transposes to Variation B.
F) 53.Qh4 Qf3+ 54.Ke6 d5 55.g6 (55.Qb4 Qe4+ 56.Qxe4 dxe4 57.g6 e3 58.g7 e2 59.g8=Q e1=Q+, with a theoretical draw) 55...Qe3+ 56.Kxd5 Qd3+, is equal.
G) 53.Qf5 Qd4+! 54.Kf7 b4 55.g6 b3 56.g7 (56.Qg5+ Qd2, with equal chances) 56...b2, and now:
G1) 57.Qg5+ Kc2! with equal chances.
G2) 57.Qf1+ Qd1 58.Qc4+ Qc2 59.Qf4+ Qd2 60.Qc4+ Qc2 61.Qxc2+ Kxc2 62.g8=Q b1=Q 63.Qg6+, draw.
G3) 57.g8=Q Qc4+ 58.Kf8 Qxg8+ 59.Kxg8 b1=Q 60.Qf4+, draw.
So it appeared that 52 Kc1 held the draw. But alas it was not to be. A number of forces came together and provided the impetus for a move to win the vote (albeit only by a small margin) that would make Black's goal of achieving a draw even more difficult. It is here we can note an advantage for the World Champion - for not only does the World Team have to find a best move, it must also be able to generate the necessary momentum to vote for the best move! Two different problems that must be solved every two days!
A second-best move. I was more surprised by this move than 51 b5 the move previously. Let's take a look at some of the factors that apparently contributed to the success of 52 Kb2 in the vote.
a) Two MSN analysts selected the move 52 Kb2 as their preferred choice, apparently (as best as I could tell from their commentary) with the idea of following up with Kb2-b3 to guard the Black pawns as they advance - (from a chess point of view, this strategy is probably suicidal and I think they made a chess misjudgment - fair enough, that happens in chess), while only one MSN analyst recommended 52 Kc1. The fourth MSN analyst was unavailable that day. So 52 Kc1 was outgunned 2-1 on the MSN Analysis Board.
b) GM School had still not updated their own web-site with the latest findings about 52 Kc1 (we were closing in on the weekend and they were possibly understaffed). GM School is not necessarily a decisive factor in the vote, but their reputation and (justified) popularity certainly motivates an important part of the vote. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that with the necessary update to their web-site, GM School could have been swayed to support 52 Kc1.
c) Moderator GM Danny King, who was usually neutral in his commentary, came down strongly against 52 Kc1, citing some weak (and irrelevant) analysis to support his "gut feeling" that 52 Kc1 was not correct. This was not only like having a third analyst aligned with 52 Kb2 (a move of which King approved), but a high-profile antagonist to 52 Kc1 was also established. I was very disappointed in Danny King's treatment of 52 Kc1, and I felt he played a major role in undermining the analysis of the WT on this move.
d) Finally, a few vociferous hold-outs on the Bulletin Boards were championing 52 Kb2 all day long on the basis of some weak 52 Kc1 computer analysis. I am not sure that this is an important factor, as I think relatively few votes can be garnered in this way for one move or another.
Not surprisingly, a combination of these factors led to 52 Kb2 being a winner in the polls. It was at least reassuring that the margin of victory for 52 Kb2 was quite low, for this indicated to me that there were a substantial number of voters for whom concrete and thoughtful human and human-guided computer analysis remained important.
After 52 Kb2, Black's position was more critical than before - and WT had to adjust to a new set of difficult problems. While 52...Kb2 may not be a bad move in of itself - it sets the scene for the forthcoming error by Black.
We will see that the move 52 Kb2 simply jeopardizes Black's ability to demonstrate equality. Out of curiosity, I ran the position after 52.Kf6+ (for the first time) on a number of well-known computer programs, and sure enough they tend to gravitate towards slightly favoring 52 Kb2. To my mind, the move 52 Kb2 is something of a "computer move" and demonstrates what can happen when one becomes a bit too reliant on chess playing programs to carry out analysis for you. I was very disappointed that we didn't get to play 52 Kc1 - I was worried that I had not made a strong enough case for the move and he defense it initiated, but as Paul Hodges pointed out in an e-mail to me, "We are a team, we will play some great moves as a team, and we may play some bad moves as a team. 52 Kb2 is our move now - it may not be the best but we go forward with it, and try and find the best move next time." Attached to the note was an updated, re-organized and re-prioritized 52 Kb2 analysis file. While I was in Armenia, it was Paul Hodges who ensured I stayed informed about the game and developments. Due to my tournament schedule and travel arrangements, it was his willingness to stay awake at all bizarre hours for days on end that actually even saw me get my move 51 and move 52 recommendations to MSN for posting in the first place. I know how disappointed he felt about what he thought was two critical drawing chances being lost, but Paul seemed more worried about the strength of the BBS being drained away by mounting concerns that the last two votes would leave the general voting public completely disassociated from the core of analysis activity on the Bulletin Boards. "I think the BBS needs to feel it will win a vote," Paul told me.
A free tempo to reorganize his forces! Black's ability to make a draw have been made much more difficult. Patient human analysis and advances in computer endgame tablebase technology will one day reveal to us whether Black's drawing chances exist at all after 52 Kb2 - for the moment, we believe that Black can just hold on with a precise sequence of moves and a calculated defense with absolutely no margin for error.
On this move, an inventive New Zealander demonstrated once and for all, that "vote-stuffing" was possible using the so-called "Unodos Method" that had been described at move 51 (and that had been seemingly used to alter the course of the game).
The best move available - although the Black king is surprisingly more vulnerable than we imagined on this square. However, the remarkable report that the move 53 Qe2 (giving away the queen) had acquired nearly 5% of the vote could not be ignored. At first I had suspected that the organizers had made a typographical error and that this was meant to read 53 Qc2 (a plausible novice-like error). All was revealed when a regular contributor to the Bulletin Boards announced that he had used the "Unodos Method" for stuffing the move 53 Qe2 into the ballot box many, many times, and had therefore demonstrated that vote-stuffing was indeed a problem, and was indeed taking place, and was jeopardizing the integrity of the game.
The World Team had now found itself having to quickly adapt to situations that it had not "wanted" for itself. With 54.Qf4, Kasparov completes a maneuver that activates and centralizes his queen, almost freely at Black's expense. Black also had to take into account the possibility of White playing 54.Qf2!? when it appears that Black has a promising defense with 54 Qd3.
For example: 54.Qf2 Qd3, and now play may continue:
A) 55.Qe1+ Ka2 56.Qe6+ (56.Qb4 Qf3+ 57.Ke6 Qh3+, with equal chances, for example: 58.Kxd6 Qg3+ 59.Kc6 Qxg5, and a draw) 56...Ka1 57.g6 Qc3+ 58.Ke7 b4 59.Qf7 b3, equal.
B) 55.Qa7+ Kb1 56.g6 (if 56.Qf2, then 56...Ka1 repeats) 56...Qf3+, equal.
C) 55.Qg1+ Ka2 56.g6 Qc3+ 57.Kf7 Qc4+ 58.Kf6 Qc3+ 59.Ke7 Qc7+ 60.Ke6 Qc8+ is equal, for example: 61.Kxd6 Qb8+ 62.Kc6 (62.Kc5?? loses to 62 Qa7+) 62...Qc8+ 63.Kxb5, with a theoretical draw.
D) 55.Ke7 d5 56.Qf6+ d4 57.g6 Qa3+ 58.Kf7 Qa7+ 59.Kg8 Qa8+ 60.Kh7 Qh1+ 61.Kg7 Qd5, equal.
E) 55.g6 Qc3+, and now:
E1) 56.Kg5 b4, with:
E1a) 57.Qa7+ Kb1 58.g7 Qe5+ 59.Kg6 Qe6+ 60.Kh7 Qh3+ is equal.
E1b) 57.Qf1+ Ka2 58.Qf7+ b3 59.g7 Qg3+, equal.
E1c) 57.Qf6 Qxf6+ 58.Kxf6 b3 59.g7 b2 60.g8=Q b1=Q 61.Qa8+, draw.
E2) 56.Kf7 Qc4+ 57.Kf8 Qc8+ 58.Kg7, and now either 58 d5 or 58...b4!? were found to give Black sufficient play.
This pawn sacrifice idea is borrowed from the similar pawn sacrifice seen in the 52 Kc1 defense. White is practically forced to take the pawn. With the text, Black sacrifices the b-pawn in order to activate his queen and prepare the possible sacrifice of his d-pawn to reach a theoretical draw - however, it is now known that this pawn sacrifice 54...b4 is insufficient as the modified endgame tablebases designed by Peter Karrer show the position after 55.Qxb4 to be winning for White (it turns out that the Black king is on too vulnerable a square - a1 - for the b5-b4 sacrifice to work).
My own analysis of alternative defenses such as 54...Qd3 or 54...Qd5 were too passive to hold the balance, but these defenses will undergo even deeper scrutiny in post-game analysis to determine the crucial moment or "point of no return." If either 54...Qd3 or 54...Qd5 are shown to be sufficient for equality, then it will be revealed unequivocally that it was my recommendation (as played) of 54...b4 which lost the game for Black. If neither 54...Qd3 or 54...Qd5 are sufficient to hold the game, then we will have discovered that the move 52...Kb2 lost the game for Black. Our findings on 54...Qd3 and 54...Qd5 will be posted soon.
Declining the pawn allows Black a very easy game, for example: 55.g6 b3 56.Qa4+ (56.g7 b2! 57.g8=Q b1=Q 58.Qa8+ Qa2, leads to a draw) 56...Kb2 57.g7 (or 57.Qe4 Qc2! 58.Qd4+ Qc3 59.Qxc3+ Kxc3 60.g7 b2 61.g8=Q b1=Q 62.Qg3+, with a draw) 57...Qf3+, and now:
A) 58.Kg5 Qd5+ 59.Kf6 Qf3+ repeats.
B) 58.Kg6 Qd3+ 59.Kf6 Qf3+, with a draw.
C) 58.Ke7 Qe3+ 59.Kf7 Qf2+, and Black holds a draw as the pawn on g7 turns out to be weak!
The Peter Karrer endgame tablebases indicate the position after 55.Qxb4 to be winning for White (yet placing the Black king on c1 as in the 52...Kc1 defense indicates a draw, as originally postulated. The importance of this crucial difference was not appreciated at the time).
Insufficient is 55...Qd5 56.Qc3+ Ka2 57.g6 Qe4 58.Qa5+ Kb3 59.Qb5+ Ka3 60.g7 Qd4+ 61.Kf7 Qa7+ 62.Kf8 Qa8+ 63.Ke7 Qe4+ 64.Kd8 Qa8+ 65.Kc7 Qa7+ 66.Qb7 Qa5+ 67.Kc8 Qc5+ 68.Kb8 Qc4 69.Qa7+ Kb4 70.Qe7 Kb3 71.Qxd6, and White wins (as confirmed by the Peter Karrer endgame tablebases).
Black draws easily after 56.Ke6 Qh3+ 57.Kxd6 (or 57.Kd5 Qf5+, or 57.Kf7 Qf5+, equal) 57...Qg3+, with a draw, or 56.Ke7 Qe3+ 57.Kf6 Qf3+, repeating the position and compelling White to continue as in the game.
Black's alternative of 56...Qe3 also fails to hold the balance according to post-game analysis with Peter Karrer's endgame tablebases. I had investigated 56...Qe3 quite deeply, but had not come to a final conclusion about the continuation, while 56...d5 was widely considered at the time to be sufficient for Black to hold a draw. It appears at this time, we were laboring under the assumption or conclusion that Black was still able to (theoretically) hold a draw in this situation. Here are the important variations from 56...Qe3.
A) 57.Qa4+ Kb2 58.g6 d5 59.Qb5+ transposes to Variation D4.
B) 57.g6 Qe5+ 58.Kh6 (58.Kh7 Qh5+ 59.Kg7 Qe5+ 60.Kf7 Qf5+ with a draw) 58...Qh8+ 59.Kg5 Qe5+ 60.Kg4 Qe6+, and Black is OK, because of the weakness of g6.
C) 57.Qxd6 Qxg5+, is a trivial draw.
D) 57.Qa5+ Kb2, and now:
D1) 58.Qf5 d5 (not 58...Qe5+?? 59.Qf6, and White wins) 59.g6 (59.Qxd5 is a theoretical draw) 59...d4 60.Kf6 d3 61.g7 Qd4+ 62.Kg6 Qc4 63.Qf6+ Kc2, is equal.
D2) 58.Kf6 Qf4+ 59.Qf5 Qd4+ 60.Ke6 Qe3+ 61.Kxd6 with a theoretical draw.
D3) 58.Qd5 Qe5+ 59.Qxe5+ dxe5 60.Kf6 e4 61.g6 e3, draw.
D4) 58.g6 d5 59.Qb5+ (59.Qxd5 is a theoretical draw, while 59.Qb4+ Ka2 60.Kf7 Qf2+ 61.Kg8 d4 is equal) 59...Ka2, and now:
D41) 60.Qxd5+ is a theoretical draw.
D42) 60.Qa5+ Kb2 repeats.
D43) 60.Qf1 d4, with:
D431) 61.Kf8 d3 62.g7 Qc5+ 63.Kf7 Qd5+ 64.Kf8 Qd8+ (64...d2? loses to 65.g8=Q Qxg8+ 66.Kxg8) 65.Kf7 Qd5+ 66.Kf6 d2 67.Qd1 Kb2 68.g8=Q Qxg8 69.Qxd2+ draw.
D432) 61.Kf7 Qb3+ 62.Kf6 d3 63.g7 d2 64.Qe2 Qd5 65.Qg4 d1=Q 66.Qxd1 Qxd1 67.g8=Q+ draw.
D44) 60.Qa6+ Kb2, with:
D441) 61.Qf6+ d4 62.Kf7 Qb3+ 63.Ke7 (63.Qe6 Qxe6+ 64.Kxe6 d3 65.g7 d2 66.g8=Q d1=Q, draw) 63...Qb4+ 64.Ke6 Qb6+ 65.Kf5 Qxf6+ 66.Kxf6 d3 67.g7 d2 68.g8=Q d1=Q, draw.
D442) 61.Qf1 d4 62.Kf8 d3 63.g7 Qc5+ 64.Kf7 Qd5+ 65.Kf8 d2 66.g8=Q Qd8+ 67.Kg7 Qg5+ 68.Kh8 Qh5+ 69.Qh7 Qe8+ 70.Kg7 Qe7+ 71.Kg8 Qe8+ 72.Qf8 Qxf8+ 73.Kxf8 d1=Q, draw.
D443) 61.Kf7 d4 62.Qb7+ (62.g7 Qf4+ 63.Qf6 Qc7+ 64.Kg6 Qg3+ 65.Qg5 Qd6+ 66.Kh5 Qh2+ 67.Qh4 Qe5+ 68.Kh6 Qe6+ 69.Kh7 Qf5+ 70.Kh8 Qe5, with a draw) 62...Ka1 63.Qh1+ Kb2 64.Qg2+ Ka1 65.g7 Qb3+ 66.Kf6 (66.Kf8 Qb8+ 67.Kf7 Qc7+ 68.Kf6 Qd6+ 69.Kf5 Qd7+ 70.Ke5 Qe7+ 71.Kxd4, is a theoretical draw) 66...Qb6+ 67.Kf5 Qb5+ 68.Kg6 (68.Kg4 Qd7+ 69.Kf4 Qc7+ 70.Kf5 Qd7+ transposes to 66.Kf8) 68...Qe8+ 69.Kh6 Qe6+ 70.Qg6 (70.Kh7 Qf5+ 71.Kh6 Qe6+ repeats) 70...Qe3+ 71.Qg5 Qe6+ 72.Kh7 Qh3+, draw.
D5) 58.Qb5+! and now:
D51) 58...Ka1 59.g6 d5 60.Qa6+ Kb1 61.Qf1+ Ka2 (61...Kb2 loses to 62.Qf6+ Ka2 63.Kf8, while 61...Kc2 62.Qf5+ Qe4 63.Qf2+ transposes to the losing 56 d5 57.Qd4+ Kb1 58.g6 Qe4 line) 62.Qg2+ Ka3 63.Kh7! Qd3 64.Kh8 Qf5 65.Qg3+! Kb2 66.Qh2+ Ka1 67.g7 Qf6 68.Qh5, and White wins.
D52) 58...Ka3 59.g6 d5 60.Qa6+ Kb3 (60...Kb2 loses to 61.Kf7 Qf4+ 62.Qf6+) 61.Kf7! Qf4+ 62.Qf6 Qc7+ 63.Qe7 Qf4+ 64.Kg8 Kb2 65.g7, and White wins.
D53) 58...Kc2 59.Qc6+ Kb2 60.Qb7+ transposes to Variation D54.
D54) 58...Kc3 59.Qc6+ Kb2 60.Qb7+ Kc2 61.Qg2+ Kc3 62.g6 Qd4+ 63.Kf8 Qf4+ 64.Ke8 Qe5+ 65.Kd7 Qf5+ 66.Kd8 Qa5+ 67.Kc8 Qc5+ 68.Kb8 Qe5 69.Qb7 Kd2 70.Qb4+ Kd3 71.Kb7 Qe7+ 72.Kb6 Qd8+ 73.Ka7 Qf6 74.Qg4 Qg7+ 75.Kb8 d5 76.Qf5+ Kd2 77.Qxd5, and White wins as demonstrated by the Karrer tablebases.
Note that 56...Qf5 is also considered insufficient, when Black at best will eventually transpose into variations after 56...d5 57.Qd4+ Kb1 58.g6 Qf5, discovered to be losing in the post-game analysis.
Centralizing the queen, blockading Black's passed pawn, and exploiting the vulnerability of the Black king on a1 - it turns out that this is, in fact, the only winning move in this position for White (note that this resource is not available to White in the corresponding position in the 52...Kc1 defense, as Black's king is on the comfortable c1-square). During the game, we felt after the continuation .
57 Kb1 58.g6
that Black had very reasonable prospects for fighting for and achieving a draw. Certainly, Black's drawing chances would be much more difficult than after 51 Ka1, or 51 b5 52.Kf6+ Kc1, but the World Team was confident at the time that the continuation 58 Qf5 would lead to a draw.
What was known about this position with absolute certainty was that 58 Qe4 would not hold a draw.
The night before I had to make my recommendation for move 58, I had not received confirmation of Kasparov's move 58 by the normal time at either of my e-mail accounts (later we received the e-mails which were timestamped at normal times, and we made the obvious assumption that these e-mail transmissions had been hung up in an e-mail server). Soon I was going to bed - I was back at school and had tests starting early the next morning. I contacted Paul Hodges at SmartChess Online who told me he would wait up for the move, and that I should just get to sleep. Next morning, about 3 hours before the normal deadline for submitting a recommendation, Paul Hodges notified the organizers that my recommendation would be late and that I would send my recommendation as soon as I returned home from school that day. On my return from school that day, I was able to e-mail my recommendation to MSN - albeit after the normal deadline for submission of recommendations. Some time later I repeated the transmission of my recommendation, as neither Paul or I received any acknowledgement of my attempts to communicate with the organizers.
As I understand it, all during the voting period, the voters waited and waited, believing my recommendation would be posted "shortly". On many occasions, we had seen recommendations from other analysts posted at a later time (as was the case only two days later for Etienne Bacrot!). Within 10 minutes of receiving e-mail from me, SmartChess Online had my recommendation posted at its web-site. The idea that this series of events was "orchestrated" is ludicrous and unfair to people who have invested so much time and energy into making this project a success.
Here is the full text of my recommendation at move 58.
"I recommend the World plays the move 58 Qf5 (Queen on f3 to f5).
I believe that the active move 58 Qf5 is Black's best way to continue fighting for a draw. (Analysis has revealed severe problems with the alternative 58 Qe4 - and it looks bad for Black. I think 58 Qe4 is probably losing by force according to the latest analysis on the World Team Strategy Bulletin Board). Therefore 58 Qf5 to give us our best chances."
In a close vote, a move other than 58 Qf5 was chosen by the voters. Unfortunately, the move chosen (58 Qe4) had already been established by many analysts worldwide to be losing. Had my suggestion for the move 58 Qf5 been available for review (in addition to the proposal by Florin Felecan to play 58 Qf5), I believe the vote would have been in favor of the more stubborn 58 Qf5. However, as we shall see, the position is still winning for White even after 58 Qf5.
The best move is the stubborn 58 Qf5 as originally indicated by GM Chess School. This endgame has been studied in detail by many analysts. However, one of the true WT experts on this endgame is IM Ken Regan, who has discovered many important ideas and variations that have allowed us to better understand this most difficult of endgame scenarios.
After 58 Qf5 play continues with 59.Kh6 Qe6 60.Qd3+ Kc1 61.Qc3+ Kb1 62.Qd4! (there are other methods to reach this position), returning to the same position after Black's move 59, except Black is now on move. This 'zugzwang' idea was first noted for the WT by IM Ken Regan.
First it can be demonstrated that 62 Kc2 fails as follows: 63.Kg5 Qe7+, and now:
A) 64.Qf6 Qe3+ 65.Kg4 - "The line that makes me sick," - Alexander Khalifman, after he had discovered this "problem" in the Black defense. At this time, I was studying this endgame in detail with the new FIDE World Champion, and we believed that this line spelled the end of 62 Kc2. Black continues with a sequence of only moves as follows: 65...Qg1+! 66.Kf5 d4! 67.g7 d3! when we believed the position after 68.Qc6+ Kd2! 69.Qg6 Qc5+! (all Black's moves are forced) 70.Ke4, to be winning for White. However, the Karrer tablebase (Peter Karrer) indicates that the previously not considered move 70...Kc1! is a draw!
However, White does in fact win with an important method not given much attention by either WT analysts or Kasparov and Alterman!
B) 64.Kh5! Qe8 65.Qf2+ Kb1 66.Qf5+ Ka2 67.Kg4 Qe3 68.Qf4 Qc3 69.Qf2+ Kb1 - we shall see this position again! - 70.Qf1+ Kb2 71.Kf5 Qc7 72.Qe2+ Kb1 73.Qd3+ Ka2 74.Qa6+ Kb2 75.Qe6 Ka2 76.Qf7 Qc2+ 77.Ke6! Qe2+ 78.Kxd5, and White wins.
On a side note, I would like to report that I was so pleased when Alexander emerged victorious from the grueling Las Vegas tournament to become the new FIDE World Champion - in a way this was so ironic for this modest player to achieve such a new height in his chess career. I remembered back to the time of his proposal of 18 f5! When we had exchanged some e-mails and analysis files. I had asked him how he would like the move credited when I made my report to the WT Analysis section, and Alexander provided me my favorite quote of the match when he told me, "18...f5! is a product of my own exhausted brain, but I still would like to ask you refer to GM School. MY NAME IS NO NAME." How wrong could he be?
So the World's fate hung in the balance of the move 62...Ka2. Largely through the efforts of IM Ken Regan, it was found that Black could hold many of the unclear positions that arise from 62 Ka2, and that the Kasparov-Alterman claim for a White win after 58 Qf5 based on their analysis (published shortly after the game was over) was not correct. However, the introduction of partial endgame tablebases to deal with this scenario (by Peter Karrer) indicated that White was indeed winning even after 62...Ka2.
After 62...Ka2 63.Kg5 Qe7+ 64.Qf6 Qe3+ 65.Qf4, a critical position is reached. Black's best defense in both the WT and the post-game Kasparov/Alterman analysis is 65 Qg1+.
For an in-depth treatment of the evolution and analysis of this defense, I highly recommend a visit to IM Regan's home pages on the Web dealing with this queen endgame at
The newly created Karrer endgame tablebase indicated the main line as:
66.Kf6 Qb6+ 67.Kf7 Qb7+, and now:
A) 68.Kg8 Qc8+ 69.Qf8 Qe6+ 70.Kg7? (Kasparov and Alterman called this "Position A" in their post-game analysis) 70...Qe5+ 71.Qf6 Qc7+ 72.Qf7 Qe5+! 73.Kg8 Qb8+ 74.Qf8 Qe5 (Kasparov and Alterman called this "Position G" in their post-game analysis). This variation is important because it is the line on which Kasparov and Alterman base their own winning for White argument - an argument which is in fact incorrect as 70.Kg7? actually ends White's winning chances (as shown originally by Regan and confirmed with the tablebases). With extensive analysis, Regan has shown that continuations other than 75.g7 do not hold any chance for advantage for White, and that White's only chance to obtain the initiative must follow 75.g7, allows Black to play 75 d4 after which Black holds a draw. Regan's seminal work in this area has been confirmed in its entirety by the new tablebases.
Instead of 68.Kg8, White can play the stronger:
B) 68.Ke6! and after 68 Qc8+ 69.Kf6 Qd8+ 70.Kf5 Qc8+ (or 70...Qd7+ 71.Kg5 Qe7+ 72.Kh6! Qe6 73.Qf3! and White wins) 71.Kg5 Qc3 72.Qh2+ Ka1 73.Qe2 Kb1 74.Qf2 Qc1+ 75.Kg4 Qc3 - a position we saw in the abortive 62...Kc2 defense, the winning method is now familiar - 76.Qf1+ Kb2 77.Kf5 Qc7 78.Qe2+ Kb1 79.Qd3+ Ka2 80.Qa6+ Kb2 81.Qe6 Ka2 82.Qf7 Qc2+ 83.Ke6 Qe2+ 84.Kxd5, and White wins.
So therefore it appears White is winning after 58 Qf5. This complex endgame was so difficult that even the World Champion's post-game analysis was found to be not sufficient to support his own claim that White held a winning advantage after 58...Qf5, an opinion that Kasparov boldly proclaimed before the actual game was even over!
White is winning in all lines. For this move, I posted my final analysis - essentially a compendium of the lines worked out by many WT analysts showing how 58 Qe4 loses. I would not post any further move recommendations, for the following reason: I knew the position to be lost, and considered it insulting to both Kasparov and my teammates to continue offering recommendations.
Although this is the best move (in a lost position), it was not the move that won the vote!
Annoyed by the fact that the organizers had not posted my suggestion at move 58 as had been indicated on the web-site, and that no mechanism for voting to resign had been provided for the voters, voters voiced their displeasure en masse and the "suicidal" move 59 Qe1 won the vote by a huge margin. In response, the organizers discounted the move 59 Qe1 (including all legal votes!), and installed the move 59 Kb2 as the duly elected move, citing "vote-stuffing" as the source of the incredible 59 Qe1. This controversial step was taken by the organizers despite their previous statements and assurances that "vote-stuffing" was either not taking place, or could not take place.
A weak move in a lost position. Maximum "resistance" is achieved with 60 Ka1, which indeed allows us to witness some pretty themes.
60...Ka1 61.Kf6 d4 (61...Qh1 62.g7 Qh6+ 63.Kf7 Qh5+ 64.Kf8, and 61...Qb4 62.g7 Qd6+ 63.Kf7 Qd7+ 64.Kg6 Qe8+ 65.Qf7, are winning for White) 62.g7 Qc6+ 63.Kg5, and now:
A) 63...Qc5+ 64.Qf5 Qe7+ (64...Qc1+ 65.Kf6 Qc6+ 66.Qe6, transposes to 63...Qd5+ 64.Qf5 Qg2+ 65.Kf6 Qc6+ 66.Qe6) 65.Kh6 Qd6+ 66.Qg6 Qf4+ 67.Qg5 Qd6+ 68.Kh7 Qh2+ 69.Qh6 Qc2+ 70.Kh8, White wins.
B) 63...Qc1+ 64.Qf4 Qc5+ 65.Qf5, transposes to 63...Qc5+ 64.Qf5.
C) 63...Qd5+ 64.Qf5 Qg2+ 65.Kf6! Qc6+ 66.Qe6 Qf3+ 67.Ke7 Qb7+ 68.Qd7 Qe4+ 69.Kd6 Qf4+ (69...Qg6+ 70.Kc7 Qg3+ 71.Kc8 Qc3+ 72.Qc7 Qh3+ 73.Kd8 Qh4+ 74.Qe7 Qg3 75.Qa7+ Kb1 76.Qxd4, and White wins) 70.Kc5, and now:
C1) 70...Qc1+ 71.Kb6 Qb1+ 72.Kc7! Qc1+ 73.Qc6 Qf4+ 74.Kb6 Qb8+ 75.Ka6 Qg8 76.Qa4+ Kb1 77.Qxd4, and White wins.
The following is perhaps my favorite variation of the game from an aesthetic viewpoint, for it shows how chess can be beautiful and unforgiving at the same time:
C2) 70...Qe5+ 71.Kb6 Qb8+ 72.Ka5 Qa8+ 73.Kb4 Qb8+ 74.Kc4 Qg8+ 75.Kc5 (not 75.Kxd4? Qa2!! and Black makes a draw) 75...d3 (75...Kb1 loses to 76.Kxd4) 76.Qd4+ Ka2 (76...Kb1 77.Qxd3+, and White wins) 77.Qc4+ Qxc4+ 78.Kxc4 d2 79.g8=Q d1=Q 80.Kc3+, with discovered check, and mate in a few moves! (as found by "Agent Scully").
This is why 58 Qf5 is necessary - to prevent this maneuver with Kg7-f6 and g6-g7.
61 d4 62.g7
The hopeless nature of Black's position had made itself apparent to even the most die-hard members of the World Team after the arrival of the White g-pawn on the seventh rank.
Black Resigned (1-0)
After 62 Qc6+ 63.Kg5 Qd5+ (63...Qe8 loses to 64.Qxd4, and after 63...Qc5+ 64.Qf5 Qe7+ 65.Qf6, White wins) 64.Qf5 Qg2+ 65.Kh6 (65.Kf6 Qc6+ 66.Qe6 Qf3+ 67.Ke7 Qb7+ 68.Qd7 Qe4+ 69.Kd8, wins for White; 65.Qg4 Qd5+ 66.Kh4 Qg8 67.Qf4+ Kc2 68.Qf8 Qh7+ 69.Kg5, winning for White) 65...Qh1+ 66.Qh5 Qc6+ 67.Kh7 Qe4+ 68.Kh8, White wins, and so the WT voters finally decided to call it a day.
I would like to thank, in particular, two people who worked behind the scenes throughout the course of the event to maximize the efforts of the World Team and to maximize my own ability to participate in this event - Paul Hodges and David Koval of SmartChess Online.
(This article is dedicated to my WT teammates all around the world. I thank my friends at SmartChess Online for their assistance in assembling and editing this article from material in my diaries, e-mail logs and databases)