Kasparov Broke the Computer with a Queen Sacrifice
Chess Middlegame

Kasparov Broke the Computer with a Queen Sacrifice

Kasparov Broke the Computer with a Queen Sacrifice

You must see how Kasparov broke the computer with a queen sacrifice! This happened on the beginning era of playing chess with computers.

We’re going to take a look at a really mind-blowing chess game played between Garry Kasparov against a chess computer in 1992. This special chess game was played within a big event which also had a match between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky.

This particular match between Kasparov and the computer was the first encounter between a human and a fairly strong chess computer. Of course, this chess computer from the 90’s wasn’t as strong as the modern day computers; but, nevertheless, it was already pretty strong.

The computer had to learn in a hard way what a queen sacrifice was. In order that the same thing doesn’t happen to you, be sure to see the lesson 5 Greatest Queen Sacrifices of All Time too.

Kasparov Broke the Computer with a Queen Sacrifice

Unusual Opening Choice

Kasparov was playing White, and chose to use the King’s Indian Attack. He was trying to drag his opponent out of its opening book, so that the computer is forced to think independently. That is why Kasparov chose a bit unusual order of moves in the opening.

Kasparov broke the computer, King's Indian Attack
Kasparov chose to play the King’s Indian Defense reversed

The opening is the King’s Indian Defense reversed. Kasparov was also trying to keep a closed type of position. Instead of playing some natural development moves, he played different pawn moves to create a shield.

By keeping a good pawn shield, Kasparov was avoiding potential tactical battles, where we all know that a chess computer is extremely strong.

Inaccurate Move by Kasparov

Kasparov broke the computer, White plays an inaccurate move
Kasparov plays the inaccurate move c3

At this point, Kasparov played c3, and this was a bit inaccurate. With this pawn structure, Kasparov should use the knight to close the existing gaps within the weak pawns. Nh3-Nf2 can make White’s position strong and pretty hard for Black to crack.

The computer could have taken advantage of this inaccuracy from Kasparov, by playing Qd7 to take control over the h3-square. Kasparov would be in trouble! But this didn’t happen. Quite the contrary, the computer was constantly disturbed by the inaccurate moves of Kasparov.

The Computer Released the Tension


Do you understand how important is not to release the tension in chess? I guess you already have studied some of my lessons on this subject. Well, the computer didn’t seem to know it. ☺ In this game, the computer wrongly released the tension many times, making things easier for Kasparov. You can see a full explanation about it on the video lesson below.

The idea of Kasparov was all the time to avoid the direct confrontation among the pieces, so that the computer did not have a chance to show its brilliant calculation abilities.

On the other hand, the chess computer was constantly committing positional mistakes like, for example, when it exchanged its bishop for a knight. In general, the bishop is stronger than the knight, and you should not trade it unless you can seize a certain specific benefit in the following move.

White’s Strong Pawn Shield

At first, it may seem like Black is fully developed while White was dancing back and forth with his minor pieces and played a bit weird moves with his pawns, so it looked like Black should be way superior in this position.

Kasparov broke the computer, White has built a strong pawn shield
Kasparov built a strong pawn shield

In fact, the situation is right the opposite! Kasparov has a strong pawn shield in the center, and it’s really hard for the computer to go into his position. Black’s idea of developing a quick attack kind of failed, while White has the bishop pair and a strong pawn center. Therefore, White just needs to finalize his development in the next few moves to enjoy his positional advantage.

The Computer Plays Funny Human Moves

A quite funny thing of this special chess game was to see the computer playing moves like h6 when it was kind of struggling to find the right plan. You know this happens to human beings. When you are hesitating on what to do or don’t know it at all, you play moves like this just because you got to make a move. ☺

It’s very interesting to see these funny moves and its explanation on the full video lesson below.

Kasparov Is Ready for the Attack

Kasparov was quietly preparing his position for unleashing an attack against the computer on the queenside. You, definitely, have to see how this gradually happened in the video lesson.

Kasparov broke the computer, White is ready for the attack
Kasparov stops the computer plan and reveals his attack!

A rook on the b-file, together with the queen looking towards the opponent’s position configure a clear plan of pressuring the black king.

The computer was always struggling to find a plan. It was actually not that easy, due to its previous positional mistakes. Probably, the correct plan for Black would be just to start a pawn storm on the kingside to disturb the white king.

Kasparov stopped this plan of the computer on the kingside. The position on the kingside was kept closed. The white king was not exposed. Black couldn’t really attack.

Great Move by Kasparov!

Kasparov broke the computer, White unleashes his attack with d4
Kasparov plays d4 and the computer position falls apart!

Kasparov plays the great move pawn to d4! Black has no time for doing anything on the kingside because White has a lot of threats, either to take the pawn or to push the pawn forward and attack a whole lot of Black’s pieces. The computer had to take on d4 and accept to go where Kasparov wanted.

Winning Continuation Missed


There is a winning combination, not that easy to find, but a good challenge for you to try. Please, think about this position and write it down in the comments below if you can find the winning move for White here. There is a way for Kasparov to actually win the game against the computer right now. You can see later the solution on the video lesson below.

Also, you’ll want to see how Kasparov trapped the computer with some pins over the files!

Brilliant Queen Sacrifice, the Computer BROKE!

Kasparov broke the computer with a queen sacrifice
Kasparov sacrifices the queen and the computer broke down!

In this position, White played another brilliant move. Kasparov sacrificed the queen for a pawn! And, after that, the chess machine suffered from being under a strong pressure.

There were some comments that, at this point, the computer actually froze, and it’s interesting to see how a psychological attack of Kasparov could confuse even a chess machine. ☺

If you think that psychological factors play a minor role in chess, watch how Kasparov was scared by a 9-year old girl child and was unable to beat her.

At the end of this variation, Kasparov got a rook plus a minor piece in exchange for his queen, but also the black king is exposed and the computer has some weaknesses which give White good chances to develop an attack.

If you don’t want to make the same mistake that the computer made in this game a couple of times, you have to study my lesson about the two most important tactical motifs you should know.

Mistake by Kasparov

Kasparov broke the computer, White makes a mistake that prevents him from winning the knight
Kasparov makes a mistake that prevents him from winning the knight

In this position, Kasparov could have captured the knight, but he didn’t. He played Be5, with the right idea, but not the right execution. A better idea was firstly play Bf6, with this intermediate move driving the rook away.

After that, White could still play Be5 but, in this case, there is no escape for the knight and it will be captured on the next move. White will win the game immediately.

There is a difference on this move order. So, be sure to check it on the video lesson below.

The Computer Found a Brilliant Combination!

Coming to the end of this special chess game against Kasparov, the computer found an interesting combination which actually could have saved the game.

Sacrificing the knight on e4 and, after a series of exchanges, Black can enter with the queen to f5 and double attack the king and the rook.

Kasparov broke the computer, Black found a brilliant combination to save the game
The computer found a brilliant combination to save the game!

Black wins material, but cannot win the game due to the white passed pawn. The d-pawn goes to the promotion square guarded by the bishops. However, Black can find a way to keep hunting the white king and trying to deliver a perpetual check. The computer maybe could have made a draw in this way against Kasparov.

The Computer’s Deadly Mistake: a Missed Draw

In the real game, the computer was unable to find the right checks to draw and Kasparov won. Back in 1992, chess computers were not as strong as they are today and, therefore, they could not calculate an entire line until the end.

The King’s Great Escape, Running towards the Queen

With a protected passed pawn, just one step behind from promotion, Kasparov doesn’t have to worry too much about the computer taking his other pawns. Kasparov just needs to relocate his king to escape from perpetual checks.

The good news is that this king can go anywhere! The king can gradually escape, and there is something interesting. The king doesn’t need to run away from the queen; quite the contrary, the king tries to keep itself closer to the queen.

Kasparov broke the computer, White's king escapes from queen perpetual checks
Kasparov runs toward the computer’s queen to escape from its perpetual checks

The point now is that the king itself is taking away some squares from the queen and, therefore, it reduces the options for Black. At the end, Black has no way to deliver any more checks and, therefore, White is going for queen promotion on the next move. Kasparov’s winning over the computer is inevitable!

Kasparov Broke the Computer with a Queen Sacrifice (Video Lesson)

Play the moves on the board below and also download the PGN file, so you can study in depth this wonderful chess game played by Kasparov against the computer.


I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

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