Garry Kasparov, possibly the greatest of world champions, returned briefly to play an exhibition match at Clichy, France. He played the winner of a rapid blitz match between the top French players, Laurent Fressinet and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. The latter won the match and played two blitz games against Kasparov.
Kasparov showed that he still has that true grit to win 1.5-.5. Here is his single win, with the White pieces. In a French defense, Vachier-Lagrave allowed Kasparov to descend upon Black’s king side with pawns. Kasparov exchanged queens and gradually put a pawn choke on his opponent. Vachier-Lagrave got counterplay, even queening a pawn, thus winning a piece. However, White’s pawn phalanx was irresistible, and his 57th move a la Kasparov.
a) While this looks natural, I think it loses time. I would prefer 13. . .b5 with the idea of b5-b4, to maximize the power of the bishop and take immediate aim at White’s queenside.
b) I simply do not understand this move. Now White gets to gain space on the king side.
c) Dangerous, but otherwise White plays g2-g4 next move and cements his wedge.
d) White now has a very easy game to play, as he can take aim at d5 with Bg2 and also thrust his kingside pawns forward. Seeing the danger, Black tries desperately to get counterplay.
e) Kasparov does not want to allow 18.dxe4 d4 with tempo.
f) Perhaps 18. . .exd3 19.Bxd3 (19.g5!? c4!? 20.f6 Nxf6!?) was a reasonable alternative? Now White gets a solid extra pawn.
g) Was this best? Black manages to get some counterplay now. Perhaps 27.Nf3!? was an alternative?
h) White has the advantage here but it is hardly a clear win now.
i) Perhaps 46. . .Rd8 was better. The pin on the bishop becomes brutal now.
j) Or 48. . .fxe6 49.g6 etc.
k) Doesn’t 51.g6! win right away? Kasparov’s move looks less precise, but it still wins.
Annotations by grandmaster Patrick Wolff, a two-time US champion.