Training Session Kasparov

The Kasparov University Cup was held on February 5-6, and at the end of two days of online battles it was the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley which took home the cup.  The tournament attracted students from every continent and from over thirty countries. With nearly 700 participants, it was anybody’s tournament, but UTRGV had a brilliant performance to become the repeat winner.

The first prize for the winning team was a private training session with legendary world champion Garry Kasparov. One more university team had this magnificent opportunity with the 13th World Champion, and that was awarded to the winner of the u2200 rating section: the University of Texas at Dallas.

UTRGV’s team was composed of GM Kamil Dragun, IM Viktor Gazik, IM Irakli Beradze and Ricardo Peredo, and is supervised by Coach GM Bartek Macieja and Manager GM Alex Mista.

Both sessions were one hour long each. The teams met Kasparov over zoom, and both hours were certainly action packed. The team from UTRGV had their session first. The World Champion prepared nine different games which exemplified his decision making in complex situations, his attacking intuition and what patterns allowed him to decide if a sacrifice had the potential to work.

Many of these games are rather recognizable masterpieces!

Some of the stronger students were aware of the more famous games that Kasparov showed, and it made the discussion only the more interesting: they were able to get into the mind of the World Champion in key junctures of the games were a decision seemed difficult to make.

An example of a position in which intuitive understanding, developed through many years of practicing the same opening, proves to be correct. Kasparov was candid explaining the way that he sought and solved problems during games. In this particular example, Kasparov is playing black against Movsesian in the Sarajevo tournament of 2000. Black has many ways to continue his queenside initiative, for which he has already sacrificed an exchange. Instead, Kasparov played the move 16… 0-0 “castling into it”. White’s attack is not as fast as Black’s with the important inclusion of the rook to the proper flank, and Black won a beautiful game.

The second session was with the University of Texas at Dallas, represented this time by GM Razvan Preotu, IM Guillermo Vazquez, IM Joshua Ruiz, IM Ivan Schitco, Chris Vazquez and Wilson Farris. The head coach of UTD is GM Julio Sadorra.

In many cases brilliant games come with a myriad of easy-to-miss but fantastical and instructive variations. The students were able to delve into Kasparov’s own analysis during his brilliant bout against Viswanathan Anand in Linares 1994, and also all of the variations that stemmed from these positions.

The students certainly seemed happy with their sessions, UTD had the following to say:

“I’m so happy for my guys to hear the passion and see high level decision-making of the great World Champion through some of his memorable games.” -Coach Julio Sadorra

“The KCF Cup was a great experience for me because I got to perform really well against strong opposition. The training session with the 13th World Champion was definitely something special. Personally, it was extremely inspiring to see how a great player analyzes and more importantly the amount of belief and confidence Kasparov has in himself and in his position, no matter the opponent and the circumstances.” -IM Ivan Schitco

“I’m challenged to keep improving my chess education and inspired to make strong exchange sacs like Garry!” GM-elect Guillermo Vazquez

Coach Bartek Macieja from UTRGV:

“We would like to thank Mr. Garry Kasparov and the Kasparov Chess Foundation (particularly its President – Mr. Michael Khodorkovsky) for this tremendous opportunity. We will remember it forever and we look forward to participating in next year’s edition of the tournament.”

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