Anand Narrowly Outgrinds John Mukabi

In the 1988 Chess Olympiad John Mukabi was up against 18-year old Viswanathan Anand, India’s first chess grandmaster. It appeared that the game was heading for a draw, but Anand managed to grind out a win late in the game.

Anand went on to become a 5-time world champion and Mukabi went on to win the 2015 TUK Open. In all fairness, John Mukabi has had excellent results as a Kenyan chess player. We do wonder what might have been if he had gotten a draw or a win.

To my knowledge, John Mukabi remains the only Kenyan chess player who narrowly lost against a 5-time world champion. It is worth having another look at that game to figure out what needs to be done when the two meet again.

White’s plan in the Ruy Lopez Exchange variation is amazingly simple; exchange all the pieces and use the pawn majority on the kingside to win the game. The execution is not as simple as the plan and in this game, Black was able to win due to his bishop pair.

For a long period, Mukabi kept his stand against Anand and was even slightly better. Things might have ended differently if he had managed to trade one of Black’s bishops. The loss did not stop Mukabi from playing in the 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2010 Olympiads. He also managed to grind out a few wins.

That is all for today. Stay on top of COVID-19 by following the WHO Guidelines and keep grinding out those wins with a simple plan like veteran chess player John Mukabi.

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