I read that during Kasparov's long chess career he always avoided the Marshall attack with Anti-Marshalls (h3 and a4). This seems very counter-intuitive to me since the positions that arise from the opening are very double-edged which seem to favor him. I at first thought that it was because he found it hard to get an advantage out of it, but then again he didn't mind facing the Berlin defense to which he basically got no advantage out of. Could someone please help me understand why he never faced the Marshall attack.

Kasparov avoided the Marshall in classical time format

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    Cant speak to Kasparov but I avoid it because it is annoying to play against especially when slash and burn attack kiddies do it. I prefer to then play a slow positional game and mess with their heads. Feb 20, 2020 at 15:06

2 Answers 2


It comes down to one main thing, but there are other factors that probably played a part too. The main thing is that despite the nature of the Marshall attack, it is considered drawish at the highest levels. At lower levels, of course, it is a double-edged game where anything can happen. And while they are double-edged, white is on the defensive, not where Kasparov liked to be.

There is, clearly, a lot of theory to learn, but it is doubtful that Kasparov was put off by that since he had the reputation as the most prepared player in history at that time.

With the advent of computers, the Marshal has been analyzed to the N-th degree (meaning a lot), and most of the time, black has enough initiative to hold the draw, or better if white is not prepared. Kasparov, being Kasparov, probably felt like "why should I allow that possibility when I can probably play a line that you do not get the initiative, and we keep more pieces on the board, and I can simply outplay you in the long run? I am Kasparov, after all."

Lastly, and I touched on this already, but it is simply not Kasparov's style: He is the player, who loves to play with the initiative, so why play into a line that neutralizes his greatest strength? He did not, and I confirmed that by searching Mega 2020, and you are correct: There is not one game in there where he allowed it, and that includes faster time controls. That is not a practical way to play good chess.


Kasparov is an attacking player. He is not going to go into lines which allow his opponent to attack. Nowhere in Kasparov's repertoire will you find him choosing to defend for material.

He has a much greater advantage just avoiding forcing book lines where his opponent will obviously be well prepared.

Lastly, he is not choosing the Spanish Torture, as the Ruy Lopez is known, to not torture his opponent; let him go free for a measly pawn?

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