Garry Kasparov is considered to be the greatest chess player of all time. From 1986 to 2005 he was ranked world’s number 1 for 225 out of 228 months! Kasparov holds a record for winning 15 consecutive tournaments. He is also the youngest ever undisputed world champion at age of 22. A great deal of his chess success should be contributed to his opening preparation. Kasparov did such a great job analyzing positions at how that he has won many of his games due to home preparation. Here are the top 10 openings Kasparov plays.
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nd4 g6 5. c4
The Sicilian Defense – Accelerated Dragon is a solid opening which leads to a somewhat positional game. Black often employs the Hedgehog formation, avoiding the Yugoslav Attack altogether. Kasparov is a universal player, and of course doesn’t afraid of opening complications. This line of the Sicilian is probably a bit more passive than 13th World Champion would prefer. That was probably the reason why he faced it so often. But Maroczy Bind is there to give Garry Kasparov the play he needs.
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O
Ruy Lopez is one of the most popular chess openings with the theory developed up to move 40. White has multiple ideas in his sleeve. One of the main ones are spoiling black’s pawn structure or keeping the tension and provoking black into pushing the pawns. Kasparov is excellent at understanding the positional nuances in Ruy Lopez. He is also superb at opening preparation. Brilliance of preparation in highly theoretical lines gives him a stable edge.
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4
This is a very flexible opening and can often lead to a sharp game. No surprise, an attacking player like Kasparov would love to play an opening like that!
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 ed5
This opening may lead to either sharp or quiet positions. Although, QGD usually goes towards the positional game. Kasparov being a very versatile player doesn’t mind that at all.
1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. g3 b6
Queen’s Indian Defense is somewhat similar to Nimzo, it borrows many of its plans and ideas. Kasparov doesn’t need very sharp positions to win. He can provoke complications without taking unnecessary risks like Alexander Alekhine did. That and ability to attack makes Kasparov a very difficult opponent to face. No wonder he was dominating Chess World for over a decade.
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cd4 4. Nd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6
Kasparov’s attacking style is similar to Bobby Fischer’s. Indeed Garry studied Fischer’s games and perhaps learned a thing or two. Najdorf variation of the Sicilian is a very sharp opening, and no wonder Kasparov plays it with both colors and achieves great results.
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6
This is an opening that can be played in variety of ways and against different types of opponents. Bobby Fischer himself had hard time playing against it with white. It’s probably not the main reason why Kasparov has won so many games here as black, perhaps attacking players simply don’t handle it well.
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nd5 5. e4 Nc3 6. bxc3 Bg7
Grunfeld is yet another complicated attacking system, a perfect fit for Kasparov’s tactical genius. The theory here is very well developed, and we can only guess how many moves of the opening preparation Kasparov keeps in his head.
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6
Kasparov is known to employ this line on regular basis. “Small center” allows for his creativity and leads to a rapid development of pieces. That, in turn, can translate into a devastating attack. Scheveningen is known for its counter-attacking possibilities and that’s, perhaps, one of the main reasons why Kasparov plays it so often.
1. c4 c6 2. Nf3 g6 3. g3 Bg7 4. Bg2 Nf6
English is the opening that can transpose into many different lines. Choosing to play this opening Kasparov avoids some of most unfavorable variations and keeps his opponents guessing about the next move. “An opponent surprised is half beaten” may very well be applied here.
There is no way to be certain, but some of the openings he plays like QGD and Sicilian are very popular and fairly universal. If you feel like they fit your personal style, go ahead and try it out in your own games!
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