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Keres, Smyslov, an Obscure Game and Other Matters.

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(For more on Keres, I have published two posts in March 1012)

In 1935, the great Estonian chessplayer Paul Keres  played in several tournaments: Tallinn, Tartu,Varsovia and Helsinki.He also played two matches, vs. Friedemann and Kibbermann. Browsing my archives, I found an obscure game played at Helsinki. Some sources offer the game Stahlberg-Keres as one of them, but omit the following one, played against Thorsten Gauffin:

W.: Keres (1)

B.: Gauffin (0)

Helsinki , 1935

1.e4, c5  2. Nf3, a6  3. b4, cb 4. a3, c5  5. ed, Qxd5 6. ab, Bg4 7. Nc3, Qh5  8. Be2, e6  9. 0-0, Nf6  9. 0-0, Nf6  10. Ra5!, Nd5  11. h3!, Bxf3  12. Bxf3, Nxc3  13. dc, Qg6  14. Qd4,!, Qf6  15. Qc4, Nd7  16. Bg5, Qg6  (16…, Ne5/ 17. Rxe5, Qxe5/ 18. Qc6!!)  17. Bb7, Rb8  18. Bc6, Be7  19. Bd7, Kd7  20. Rd1  Black resigned.

Where do I get this game from?.- Well, this is a long story. During my Chess career I have had the opportunity to  meet very interesting people from different countries. One of them was a man who was living in Spain (he sadly passed away around 1996). He had one of the largest Chess collections in Spain, with thousands of books, magazines, documents, etc. You could ask him whatever you needed: he would readily type the matter in question and send them to you. He loved Chess and he loved helping people too. His name was Mr. Cecilio Hernáez, lived in Vitoria , the Spanish Basque Country,  and I feel obliged to pay this little homage to him. He invited me to help him doing translations from English to be published in Spanish-speaking magazines and I readily accepted (I can speak and translate several languages apart from English, namely French, Portuguese, Spanish,) . No matter what you asked him to find: you can be sure he would find it even if he had to spend days looking for it in his enormous collection. He was an exceptionally strong CC player too and a living encyclopaedia.

Concerning the classics, there are two schools of thought : some people consider it a loss of time, some people use it to really learn how Chess has to be understood.  

Some players advocate the study of our contemporaries: Anand, Carlsen, Aronian, Shirov, Krammik, and so on. After all, theory has advanced a lot and they believe studying the classics is a waste of time: nobody can play like them because theory has changed drastically. Other people believe that by studying the classics you are not trying to study the latest cry in opening theory, but the way they think and so, how Chess should be understood. The third approach blends both points of view. 

Keres and Estonia, his native land, had bad luck (Spassky said publicly this too.) As a border-land, the Estonians were a country by themselves, were annexed by the former Soviet Union, invaded by the Nazi Germany , recovered by the Soviet Union and independent again. Keres was a Chess professional player and played in German tournaments during the Nazi atrocious regime. When WW2 finished, Estonia became a part of the Soviet Union, and he had to pay the toll of having played in Nazi territory… (see the above-mentioned posts). He began to play tournaments in the thirties (20th century), won the 1939 AVRO tournament so acquiring the right to play against Alekhine for the World Championship , something WW2 destroyed, but managed to survive the Stalinist period. In the Candidates’ matches which decided the Challenger to Petrosian´s title in the ’60s he lost to Spassky, who eventually became Champion of the World in 1969. 

A match Alekhine-Keres , like a match between Fischer and Karpov would have been two feast for millions of chessplayers throughout the world. But they never took place.

In the time when CC was played using postcards and stamps, many of my opponents in the former Soviet Union and the DDR (East Germany), sent me lots of books (in Russian, German, Estonian, Czech, Hungarian, etc.) From time to time I like leafing through these books. One of them is a Russian edition featuring photographs only (99% is devoted to Karpov. The author was the famous photographer Dmitry Donskoi).

Here you can see Karpov, Botvinnik, Polugaevsky, the young Kasparov, etc. There I found some snaps featuring one of the “forgotten World Champions” as I call them: Vassily Smyslov. Indeed, Smyslov beat Botvinnik in 1957 but lost the title in the 1958 return match.  He was an extremely educated man, an opera singer too. A. Saidy even wrote that his endgame skills were greater that Botvinnik’s ones. But in the end, Smyslov was a victim of the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Smyslov died in 2010, in a state of sheer poverty (sharing this damned state with his loving wife) and nearly blind… Then I think about those men who devoting their entire lives to Chess died in poverty… But we have their games and their memories. I have read that nobody really dies until the last person who has known them disappears too…This is an unjust,very sad world indeed…


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April 11, 2014 at 7:12 am

A Contribution by Bobby Fischer.

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In a previous post I wrote about the clash between Queen vs. Rook+Rook and I even said that two pieces seemed stronger than one (depending on concrete details, of course). The great Bobby Fischer provoked in no less than five of his games the fight between his Q and his opponents’ R+R. BUT always a Pawn up for Bobby (even though sometimes he had doubled Pawns too , which apparently seemed a handicap.) This is a difficult struggle of heterogeneous forces and the key is to maintain the material advantage and the creation of threats one move after another without respite, with the advance of the Pawns on the one hand and the activity of the Queen on the other. This requires deep intuition and great calculation skills. Any mistake and the two Rooks would bounce back stopping the threats and creating deadly ones on their own because they are “two against one”. So the side with the Queen must handle the concept of “timing” with absolute dexterity. You can see how Fischer managed to do it. The games are wonderful.

The first position is from Fischer – Seidman, US.Ch. Ch. 1960

Fischer -Seidman

The game continued: 24. Re8, Qxe8  25. Bxe8, Rxe8  26. h3, b4  27. cxb4, Rxb/ 28. Qxf6, Kg8  29. Qg5, Kh8  30. Qf4, Ra4  31. Qf7, Rg8  32. Qc7, Ra2  33. Qe5, Rg7  34. g4, h6  35. Qb8, Rg8  36. c7! , 1-0


The following position was from Fischer – D. Byrne, Bay City Open, 1963. (Bobby has just played 24. Rhe1)

Fischer-. D.Byrne

The game continued: 24…, Qxe1/ 25. Rxe1 Rxe1 26. Kb2, Rh1  27. Qf4 , Rf8  28. c4, f6/ 29. c5, Rh5 30.Qc7, Rxh6  31. Qxb7, Rh5 32. c6, Re5  33. c7, Re-e8 34.Kb3, g5  35. Ka4 ,Ra8  36. c4, h5  37. c5, h4  38. Kb5, Kh8 39. a4, Kg8 40. Kb6, f5  41. Qd5, Kg7  42. Kb7, Kg6  43. Qe6, Kg7  44. Qe7, Kg6  45. f4! , gxf4  46. Qh4,  1-0


Fischer had repeated the theme in the game he played vs. Bisguier in the Stockholm Interzonal, 1962, beating his opponent in 54 moves.

Fischer game

Bisguier-Fischer, Stockholm 1962:

24…Rxf2  25. Qxf2, Rxf2  26. Rxf2, g4  27. Bc1, Qb5  28. Bf4, Qd3  29. Rd2, Qg6  30. Ne1, h5  31. Ng2, Kh7  32. Re1, Nd8  33. Nh4, Qe8  34. h3, gh  35. Kh2, Nf7  36. Kh3, Bh6  37. Rc2, Qg8  38. Rf1, Qg4  39. Kh2, Ng5  40. Bg5, Bg5 41. Nf3, Be3  42. Re2, Bh6  43. Ref2, Kg8  44. Nh4, Qd4  45. Rf7, Qg4  46. R1f3, Qg5  47. R3f4, d4  48. Nf3, Qg6  49. Nh4, Qf7  50. Rf7, Kf7  51. Kg2, d3  52. Kf2, Bg7  53. Nf3, Kg6  54. Ke3, Kf5 /  0-1


The following position corresponds to the game Portisch- Fischer, Santa Monica (USA), 1966:


Fischer played: 11…., Qd7 12. Ba3, Re8 13. Bd3, f5/ 14. Qxa8, Nc6  15. Qxe8, Qxe8 16. 0-0, Na5 17. Rae1, Bxc4 18. Bxc4, Nxc4 19. Bc1, c5  20. dxc5, bxc5  21. Bf4, h6  22. Re2, g5  23.Be5?, Qd8  24. Rfe1, Kf7  25. h3, f4  26. Kh2, a6  27. Re4, Qd5  28. h4, Ne3  29. R1xe3 ,fxe3  30. Rxe3, Qxa2  31. Rf3, Ke8/ 32. Bg7, Qc4, 33. hxg5, hxg5  34. Rf8, Kd7  35. Ra8, Kc6 / 0-1


And the last example took place a year before the previous one, in the game Fischer- Bilek ,Havana 1965:

1. e4, e6  2. d4, d5  3. Nc3, Nf6  4. Bg5, dxe4  5. Nxe4, Nbd7  6. Nf3, Be7  7. Nxf6, Bxf6  8. h4, h6  9. Bxf6, Qxf6  10. Qd2, 0-0  11. 0-0-0, b6  12. Bb5, Qe7  13. Rh3, Bb7  14. Rg3, Kh8  15. Bd7, Bxf3  16. gxf3, Qxd7  17. Rdg1, f6 (D)

Fischer Bilek

18. Rxg7, Qxg7  19. Rxg7, Kxg7  20. Qf4, Rac8  21. h5, ,c5  22. Qg4, Kf7  23. Qg6, Ke7  24. dxc5, Rxc5  25. Qxh6, Rg5  26. b3, e5  27. Kb2, Rf7  28. a4, Ke6  29. Qh8, Re7  30. h6, Kf7  31. Qh7, Kf8  32. Qd3, Kf7  33. h7, Rh5  34. Qd5, Re6  35. f4, f5  36. fxe5, Rxh7  37. Qd7, Re7  38. Qxf5, Ke8  39. f4, Kd8  40. e6 , 1-0  An impressive  game.


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February 1, 2014 at 7:24 am

Posted in CHESS, Chess games, Fischer

Tagged with

Calculation,Intuition, Both…

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In a previous post I spoke of the influence Alekhine exerted  on Spassky. If you study both, you will really feel the connection, though sometimes it is very difficult to express it in words. Spassky always strived for positions full of tactical or combinative possibilities relying on his intuition and calculation skill. In most of his games the overall landscape seems unclear, blurred, lacking clear strategical indications. In other players’ games you  can follow their tactical lines of thought. As Spassky blended it with an immense underground intuitive work, many of his games seems very complicated, nearly chaotic, until the ideas finally emerge . Sometimes you will need to play through his games twice or three times to fully appreciate the details. Do not miss the following game or dismiss it because of the result, for instance:

W.: B. Spassky 

B.: R. Jolmov

Moscow 1957. 

1.  d4, Nf6/ 2. c4, e6 / 3. Nc3, Bb4 / 4. Bg5, h6/ 5. Bh4, c5/ 6. d5, Bxc3/ 7. bxc3, e5/ 8. Qc2, d6/ 9. e3, Qe7/ 10. Nf3, Nbd7/ 11. Nd2, e4/ 12. 0-0-0, 0-0/ 13. g4, g5/ 14. Bg3, Ne5/ 15. h3, Ng6/ 16. Be2, Re8/ 17. Rdg1, Bd7/ 18. h4, Rab8/ 19. hxg5, hxg5 /20. Rh5 !!!?


(Typical Spassky’s kind of hammer-blow. What follows is a display of blows/counterblows which require precise calculation:)
20. …, Nxh5/ 21. gxh5, Nf8/ 22. Nxe4!!, Qxe4/ 23. Qxe4, Rxe4/ 24. Bxd6, Rbe8/ 25. Rxg5, Kh8/ 26. Bxc5, f6/ 27. Rg3, b6/ 28. Bd4, Nh7/ 29. Kd2, Rg8/ 30. Rg6, Be8/ 31. Bd3!? (Does the key of the game lie in this junction as Kasparov seems to hint at? Or at another point?) 31…, Bxg6/ 32. hxg6, Rxd4/ 33. cxd4, Nf8/ 34. c5, bxc5/ 35. dxc5, Nd7! 36. c6, Nb6 / 37 e4!!?, Kg7 /38. Ba6 (Kasparov suggests 38. a4!? but …) ,Kxg6/ 39. a4, Kf7/ 40. a5, Na8!/ 41. Bc4 Rd8.  Draw agreed!. 

I am still trying to understand the way Spassky understands “strategy”. Of course he has played many games where the strategical plans are more or less “clear”. But he has always been bordering the red line which separates the complicate from the chaotic. What I am going to write now may seem too strong, but it is what I think:

Boris Spassky has been one of the most injustly treated among the World Chess Champions of all times.

When I met him in 2007  he left a deep impression on me. I do not know if it was his personal charisma, the fondness with which he treated me or the traits of is character I could perceive, but this man is worth a clear and absolute vindication.  And the problem is that you cannot mention Spassky without Fischer and the 1972 match cropping up immediately. But nobody seems to remember that Spassky was the leading figure of the 60’s, above Petrosian and Fischer. He had to play six gruelling Candidates’ matches and two World Championship ones to become Champion of the World, defeating Tal,Keres,Korchnoi,Geller ,Larsen,…and Petrosian. It is understandable that Fischer’s feat may overshadow any other achievement, but this does not mean justice to the man who also deserves it.


This is a mate in 3 composed by Pauly. (Click to enlarge if there is any problem.)


Written by QChess

January 24, 2014 at 8:06 am

Posted in CHESS, Chess games, Spassky

Tagged with ,

Missed Opportunities

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Difficult problem

(This problem composed by Ed. Lasker  was labelled as very difficult. Perhaps you would like to solve it.)


On some webpages I have tried to find what other people think of  the following game. (Many years ago I got a book with Botvinnik notes to his games, a translation from the Russian original.) To my surprise not many people seemed interested and those I found showing some sort of interest did not know the real story or did not remember it … as Botvinnik left in writing.

W.: M. Botvinnik (1)

B.: B. Larsen (0)

Palma de Mallorca (1967)

In his notes to the game, Botvinnik said the game was published in the whole world. Most people liked the game, also said Botvinnik-, but the ex-World Champion wrote “it was a comedy of errors”. Botvinnik admitted to having foreseen winning lines on six clear occasions (!). We must remember that in those years Larsen had become one of the best players in the world. Let’s first have a look at the moves :

1.c4 , Nf6 /2. Nf3, e6 /3. g3, d5/ 4. Bg2, Be7/ 5. 0-0, 0-0 /6. b3, c5 /7. Bb2, Nc6/ 8. e3, b6/ 9. Nc3, Bb7/ 10. d3, Rc8/ 11. Rc1, Rc7/ 12. Qe2, Rd7/ 13. Rfd1, Re8/ 14. cxd5, Nxd5 / 15. Nxd5, Rxd5/ 16. d4, Qa8/ 17. dxc5, Rxd1/ 19. Ng5, h6 20. Ne4, Bf8/  (Diagram)  21. Rd7 *, f5/ 22. Nd6 **, Bxd6/ 23 ***. Rxd6, Nd4/ 24. Rxd4, Bxg2/ 25. Rd7, Bh3/ 26. f3, Rd8/ 27 ****. Rxg7, Kf8/ 28. Rh7, Qd5/ 29. Kf2, Qd1/ 30 *****. Rh8, Kf7/ 31. Rxd8, Qxd8/ 32. Qc2, Qd5/ 33. Qc7, Ke8/34. Qb8, Kd7/ 35. Qxa7, Kc8/ 36. Qa6, Kc7/ 37. Qc4, Qxc4/ 38. bxc4, Kc6/ 39. Bd4, h5/ 40. a4, Kc7/ 41. c5, bxc5/ 42. Bxc5, Kc6/ 43. Bb4, Kb6/ 44. g4, hxg4/ 45. Kg3, e5 46. e4, fxe4/ 47. fxg4, Black resigned.

The key position will be the following: After Black’s 20. …, Bf8)


From now on, Botvinnik admitted to having missed at least six opportunities to finish off the game in a combinative (tactical) way. These missed opportunities were found by himself, Kotov, ,Gligoric and Flhor. (Remember: no computers involved and I am going only to write what Botvinnik said)

 * Botvinnik said that in the diagrammed position Flohr pointed out that White would have won with 21. Nf6, gf6/ 22.Qg4, Kh7/ 23 Rd7!

**  The second missed opportunity appeared on the 22nd move: instead of 22. Nd6, Kotov pointed out 22. Nf6!! and Botvinnik added  (3rd missed opportunity) that even 22. Qh5 would have led to a winning position after: 22 … Re7/ 23. Rxe7, Nxe7/ 24. Nd6!, Bxg2/ 25. Qf7, Kh7/ 26. Bxg7!!

*** The fourth was pointed out by  Shamkovich  : 23. Rxg7!! (… Kf8/ 24. Rh7)

**** The fifth was noticed by Gligoric who said 27. Qd1! was winning.

***** And the sixth was pointed out by Botvinnik again : 30. Bc3  followed by 31. Rxh6. If 30…, Qh1/ 31. Rh8, Ke7/32 Bb4 and 33. Qd3.  

Botvinnik wondered how many more could  still be found…


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October 11, 2013 at 7:09 am

The System

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Nimzowitsch wrote three books: “My System”, “Chess Praxis” ( a.k.a. “My System in Practice”) and “Die Blockade”. Much has been writen about them and they have become a sort of  milestones for every chessplayer. But the whole thing can be very obscure, especially pre-conceptions concerning “My System” and “Chess Praxis”. What is that of a “system”? Are there “systems” to play Chess?. Is the system first and the games derive from it or were the games first and he derived the system from them?. Well, let’s assume a system, in short, is but a set of  organised and related concepts. In this respect, what Nimzo did was to reasses Steinitz’s theories, add  new ideas he and others had found concerning the openings, increase the number of playable positions and start playing new openings. We are dealing with new strategical concepts a broader understanding of Chess positions and openings and a fight against Tarrasch’s dogmatic points of view.  Nimzowitsch, Reti, Breyer et alii studied the games and ideas played/used by their predecessors, broadened them , start playing new openings and changed the assessment of different strategical concepts . If their predecessors defended the occupation of the centre with Pawns and the use of openings leading to that, they advocated an indirect approach and proved it can be as valid as the opposite point of view. To control the centre was not necessary to play e4-d4-Nf3-Nc3-Bc4-Bf4 and so on. You could play ,for instance, c4-g3-Bg2-Nf3-Nc3 and exert pressure on it attacking from the wings. This gave rise to a number of new openings for White and for Black: the English,  fianchetto openings, the so-called Indian Defences including the Nimzoindian, etc. These new ideas changed Chess and after applying  them in his own games, Nimzowitsch could later speak of a system (Larsen somewhat was of the same opinion). In this same respect Soviet trainers could do the same after working very hard on the strategical aspect of Chess mainly after WW2 (They did not do it speak of a “system”- though everybody knows the meaning of the term “Soviet Chess School”.)   

One of my first Chess books was Nimzo’s “Chess Praxis”. I have  re-read it tens of times and it has always been a source of inspiration. (Of course the first times I studied it -starting around 1979- I understand little… This usually happens when you learn Chess by yourself.) The games there always offer something new to me and I enjoy reading Nimzo’s prose. Sometimes I simply open it and without looking at the chapter the games belong to I represent them on the board. The advantage of such an approach is that you are not influenced by the main topic the game features and you get more benefit from it. Some weeks ago , while doing this, I came across two games which made me enjoy myself on a depressing Sunday afternoon  :

W.: Yates (0)

B.: Nimzowitsch (1)

London 1927

A typical game … even for today’s standars.

1. e4, c5/ 2. Nf3 , Nf6 (one of Nimzowitsch’s pet variations. It pursues the same idea as the Alekhine Defence: to provoke the advance of the enemy’s Pawns overextending the centre and try to destroy it from the wings.)/  3. e5, Nd5/ 4. Nc3, Nxc3/ 5. bxc3 (today 5. dxc3  is considered better) , 5…, Qa5 (Also the typical Nimzo’s bizarre move) / 6. Bc4, e6/ 7. Qe2, Be7/ 8. 0-0, Nc6 (Nimzowitsch proposed …b6 instead) / 9. Rd1, 0-0/ 10. Rb1, a6/ 11. d4 (White has no problems. Nimzo gives a variation showing that now 11…, Qxc3 is not possible but computer analysis may give a second opinion: this is your work for today) 11…, b5/ 12. Bd3 (Nimzo says nothing, but here 12.d5 must strongly be taken into consideration .Work it out by yourselves) ,…, c4/ 13. Be4, f5/ 14. exf6 ep, Bxf6/ 15. Ne5, Bxe5/ 16. dxe5, Rf7/17. Qh5! (and  Nimzowitsch has managed to create an attacking position … for White. White reaches the King’s side ,creates threats and destroys Black defences there) 17…, g6/ 18. Bxg6, hxg6/ 19. Qxg6, Rg7/ 20. Qe8, Kh7/ 21. Qh5, Kg8/ 22. Bh6, Qxa2 (only move) 23. Bxg7, Kxg7/ 24. Qg5, Kf7/ 25. Rbc1, Qa3/ 26. Re1, Ke8 / (Now Nimzowitsch writes that White, instead of trying to chase Black’s King he should have remembered he had a passed Pawn – h2-. Yates lets victory slip trhough his fingers…) 27. Re4, Qe7/ 28. Qh6, Kd8/ 29. Rd1, Kc7/ 30. Rg4, Qc5/ 31. Re4 , Ne7/ 32. Qd2, Nd5/ 33. h4 (too late), Bb7/ 34. Rd4, Rh8 (Bishop and Rook work as a deadly team) / 35. Qe1, Bc6/ 36. g3, Qf8/ 37. f4, Qf5/ 38. Qf2, Qh3/ 39. Qh2, Qg4/ 40. Qf2, Rxh4/ 41. f5, Nf6 /42. Qe3, Qxe4!/ 43. Rxd4, Rh1/44. Kf2, Ng4/45. Ke2, Rh2/ 46.Ke1, Nxe3 / White resigned.

W.: Kmoch (0)

B.: Nimzowitsch (1)

Niendorf, 1927

A typical game with some imprecissions and an excellent example of tournament Chess.

1. e4, Nc6 (Nimzo’s trade mark again) / 2. Nc3, e6/ 3. d4, Bb4/ 4. Nge2, d5/ 5. e5, h5 (Again typical in Nimzowitsch and his (extreme) “prophylaxis theory” though he says 5…, Nge7 was better) 6.Nf4, g6/ 7. Be3, Bxc3?!  (again …Nge7) / 8. bxc3, Na5/ 9. Bd3, Ne7/ 10. Nh3, c5/ 11. Bg5, c4/ 12. Be2, Nac6/ 13. Bf6, Rg8/ 14. 0-0 (Nimzowitsch recommends 14.Ng5),…, Qa5/ 15. Qd2, Nf5 / 16. Rfd1, Kd7/ 17. Ng5, Rf8 /18. h3, Kc7/ 19. g4, hxg4/ 20. hxg4, Nfe7/ 21. Kg2, Ng8 (Nimzowitsch labels this as an error and proposes 21…, Bd7/ 22. Rh1, Rae8/ 23. Rh7, Nd8 ) / 22.Bg7, Re8/ 23. Rh1, (Nxf7 – Nimzo), Bd7/ 24. Rh3, Nd8/ 25. Rf3, Rc8/ 26. Rh1?! (26 Nxf7 or 26. Qc1 -Nimzo-), … Qxa2 27. Rh7 , Kb8/ 28. Nxf7, Nxf7/ 29. Rxf7, Bc6/ 30. Bf6, a5/ 31. Rh1, Qb2/ 32. Bg5, Rf8/ 33. R7-h7, Rc7/ 34. Rxc7, Kxc7/ 35. Qc1!, Qxc3/ 36. Qa1, Qxa1/ 37. Rxa1, Ra8 (Black has managed to disentangle himself taking advantage of defensive subtleties, intermediate moves his opponent inacuracies and  his typical defensive technique. The process is worth a study. The game enters a new stage : manoeuvres to break White’s position whose Bishop pair offers good defensive perspectives ) 38. Bd2, b6 /39. Kg3, Ne7/ 40. Bd1, Bd7/ 41. Bb4, Nc6/ 42. Bd6, Kb7/ 43.c3, b5/ 44. Rb1,b4/ 45. Ba4, b3/ 46. Bxc6, Kxc6 (Like Steinitz, Nimzowitsch saw the King as a strong piece, and used it accordingly: it is not a piece to be hidden in safety: he must play with the other fellow companions. In this respect, we can say both Masters … played a piece up!.) 47. g5, Ra7/ 48. Rb2, Rb7/ 49. Kf4,Bc8/ 50.Kg3, Rb4! 51. cxb4, a4 / 52. b5, Kxb5/ 53. Ba3, c3/ 54.Rb1, Kc4/ 55. f4, Kxd4/ 56. Kf2,Kc4/ 57. Ke1, d4/ 58. Ke2, Kd5/ 59. Kf3, Bb7/ 60. Re1,Kc4/ 61. Kf2, b2/ 62. f5, exf5/ 63. e6, Bc6/ White resigned.  

(By the way, Nimzowitsch games are very good to study the topic of piece exchanges and the transition from one postion to another, especially because he preferred closed positions and complicated strategical decisions. This can be done with many other players, of course.)  

(Possible idea for a future post: perhaps in some of your games you have hesitated  between, say, 1. e4 or trying 1. d4… Or as Black between 1. d4 d5 or 1. d4, Nf6. This is normal especially if you are a CC player: doubts about playing one’s pet opening or have a try at something new and perhaps more exciting…  But , what about “the second move”???. The answer in a future post.)


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October 1, 2013 at 2:51 pm

A Summer´s Chess Tale

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What would you play here? .- The position is from Karpov – Timman, Brussels 1988.  One of the problems in Chess is that all of us have heard or read a lot of things said by “very important experts” and these things remain there, stuck in our memory forever. Then we believe those “decrees” are permanent and perennial and we tend to repeat them like a mantram to show how much we know about  Chess. Yes, I’ve done it, you’ve done it, everybody has done it… one time or another. But GM Rowson strongly recommends to avoid this sort thinking out of inertia, to avoid taking anything from granted, to try always to look at things from fresh new approaches. (Of late I have been reading a lot about  “cognitive/social biases” / “fallacies”, etc,  and perhaps one day I will write about the ones affecting Chess and Chess thinking). The one I am speaking about here may fall into different biases/tendencies, for instance the “bandwagon effect” : the tendency to do or believe things because many other people do or believe the same”,but there are other biases implied because I can see a sort of “anchoring” and an overestimation of the opinion of supposed experts who may be or may be not such “experts” (“empty suits” in the words of N. Taleb)

Well, Karpov is unjustly considered a boring positional player, and so on. I defend he has been one of the deepest thinker in the history of Chess, a player who preferred strategical play, dry manoeuvring, positional plans, zugzwang strategy and control to uncertain tactical blazes. BUT, he was a daring tactician too. In the above position he unleashes a tactical whirlwind sweeping away his opponent not in a Tal-like approach, but in a rather controlled,scientifical explosion (if such a thing does exist…) :

17. dxc6!!, Rxd1/ 18. cxb7, Kb8 /19. Rfxd1, Bc5/ 20.Bxc5, Qxc5/ 21. Rd7, f5/ 22. Rad1, Nc6/ 23. Na4, Qb5/ 24. Rdc1! (exchanging pieces does not diminish the strength of the attack, and this is one of the most difficult things to realize in advance)  24… , Qxa4/ 25. Rxc6, Qxa5/ 26. Rxe6, Ka7/ 27. g3, g5/ 28. Rxh7!! , Rb8 (the point is that if now 28…, Rxh7, then 29. b8Q!!, Kxb8/ 30. Re8, Ke7/ 31. Ra8, Kb6/ 32. Rb8, Ka7 33. Rb7! winning)  29. h3, g4/ 30. hxg4, fxg4/ 31. Bg2, Qa1/ 32. Kh2, Qxb2/ 33. Rh-h6, Qa2/ 34. Re-f6, c5/ 35. Rf4, Qd2/ 36. Bf1, Rxb7/ 37. Rxa6, Kb8/ 38, Rf8, Kc7/ 39. Bg2, Qd7/ 40. Rh8, c4/ 41. Be4, Black resigned. 

(Perhaps many of you are on holidays , basking by the seaside, perhaps in the golden California, Italy, Greece, Spain… Well, it is winter time in the southern hemisphere too and there perhaps you are imagining your next holiday but with time to devote to Chess…  For all of you, here is a problem to test your tactical ability:


White to move, Mate in four moves. Shinkman 1872.)


Written by QChess

August 16, 2013 at 7:01 am

The Way They Used to Play.

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In one of my first books on Karpov -I bought it around 1980- I saw a note by the author pointing out that the plan followed by Karpov had appeared in an earlier game. Nothing to write home about. That was the way they and we worked those days: you had your opening repertoire, try to find GM games with those lines and try to follow the strategical specifications.

Some days ago, while perusing the webpage <>, I came across a note in a game of the European Individual Women’s Championship, Belgrad 2013. Evgeni Shirov tried to explay the surprise showed by the official commentator GM. Atalik, who did not understand why some of the players, instead of following the plans played by Fischer,KarpovnTaimanov, etc. played the position quite the opposite way. E. Shirov’s explanation astounded me: “The players’ preparation is limited to the recommendations given by her coach and Houdini, so she has no idea of Taimanov´s plan” (in a certain position) 

So that is the key today! No Chess “culture” or something like that: a coach + Any engine and the point is what matters. Perhaps this explain why I find today´s Chess so BORING??.- In the past we discussed the different styles of Petrosian and Spassky, Karpov or Fischer, Botvinnik and Tal… Today perhaps they discuss the different styles  of Rykka and Houdini !!?? … so ignoring the immense Chess lore accumulated throughout the centuries… Food for thought… The more I read these things, the more I love my dear old Chess books.

Going back to my story, while I was preparing the post I found a curious fact: There were at least two previous games to that of Karpov. The first one was played between Polugaevsky and Uhlmann. The East German GM lost, but learnt a valuable lesson:

W.: L. Polugaevsky (1)

B.: W. Uhlmann (0)

Amsterdam, 1970

1. c4, Nf6/ 2 . Nc3 , g6/  3. e4, d6/ 4. d4, Bg7/ 5.Be2, 0-0/ 6. Bg5, c5/ 7. d5, e6 / 8. Qd2, exd5/ 9. exd5 ,Re8 / 10. Nf3, Bg4/ 11. 0-0,Nbd7 / 12. h3, Bxf3/ 13. Bxf3, a6/ 14. a4, Qe7/ 15. Rae1, Qf8/ 16. Bd1, Rxe1 /17. Rxe1, Re8/ 18. Rxe8, Qxe8/ 19. Bc2, Nb6/ 20. b3, Nbd7/ 21. Bf4, Qe7/ 22. Qe2, Kf8/ 23. Qxe7, Kxe7 / 24.a5, h5/ 25. Bd2, Ne8/ 26. g3, Bd4/ 27. Kg2, Ng7/ 28. f4, Nf5/ 29. Nd1, Nh6/ 30. Kf3, f5/ 31. Bd3, Kd8/ 32. Ne3, Ke7 33. Nc2, Bb2/ 34. Ke3, Nf6/ 35. Ne1, Bd4 / 36. Kf3, Bb2, 37. Ng2!, Nd7 /38. Nh4, Kf6 /39. Ke3, Nf7 / 40. Bc2, Ba1/ 41. Ke2, Bb2/ 42. Be1, Ba1/ 43. g4!, hxg4/ 44. Nxg6, Kg7/ 46.Nh4, Kf8/ 47. Bf5, Nf6 / 48. Bc8, Nd8/ 49. Nf5, Nh5/ 50. Bd2, Bd4/ 51. Nxd4, Black resigned.

So, later that year, Uhlmann applied the very same strategical recipe to Gligoric !:

W.: W. Uhlmann (1)

B.: S. Gligoric (0)

Hastings 1970-71

1. d4. Nf6 2. c4, g6/ 3. Nc3, Bg7/ 4. e4, d6/ 5. Be2, 0-0/ 6. Bg5, c5/ 7. d5, e6/ 8. Qd2, exd5/ 9. exd5/ 10. Nf3, Bg4/ 11. 0-0, Nb7/ 12. h3, Bxf3 /13. Bxf3, a6/ 14. a4, Qe7 / 15.Rae1, Qf8/  16. Bd1, Rxe1/ 17. Rxe1, Re8/ 18. Rxe8, Qxe8/  (The same position as in the previous game. Now White follows the very same plan and beats his opponent. ) /19.Bc4, Qe7/ 20. Qe2, Kf8/ 21. Qxe7, Kxe7/ 22. a5, Ne8/ 23. Bd2, h5/ 24. Kf1, Bd4/ 25. b3, Ng7/ 26. Bc2, Ne8/ 27. Ne2, Bb2/ 28. f3, Ng7/ 29. Kf2,, Bf6/ 30. Nc3, Bd4/ 31. Ke2, f5/ 32. F4, Ne8/ 33. Bd3, Bxc3/ 34. Bxc3, Nef6/ 35. Be1, Kf7/ 36. Ke3, Ke7/ 37. Bc2, Kf7/ 38. b4,cxb4/ 39. Bxb4, Nc5/ 40. Kd4, Nfd7 / 41.Bd1, Ke7/ 42.g4, hxg4/ 43. hxg4, Kf6/ 44. Ke3, b6/45. gxf5, gxf5/ 46. Bxc5,Nxc5/ 47. axb6, a5/ 48. Bc2, Ke7/ 49. Kd2, Kd8/ 50. Bf5, Nc4/ 51. b7, Kc7/ 52. Bc8, Nc5/ 53. f5, Ne4/ 54. Kc2, Kb8/ 55. Kb3, Nd2/ 56. Ka4, Nxc4  / 57.f6,Ne5/ 58. Kxe5 , Black resigned.

And four years later (!) Karpov, who knew those games, used a similar plan this time in a slightly different position (this game is, perhaps, a bit more involved than the others, but notice the similar Pawn structures, the exchange-of-certain- piece manoeuvres, etc.)

I played through these games several times one August Sunday afternoon and spent a delicious time “LEARNING”

W.: A. Karpov (1)

B.: B. Spassky (0)

Candidates’ Match , Leningrad 1974

1. d4, Nf6/ 2. c4, g6 / 3. Nc3, Bg7/ 4. e4, d6 / 5. Nf3, 0-0/ 6. Be2, c5/ 7. 0-0, Bg4 / 8. d5, Nbd7/ 9. Bg5, a6/ 10. a4, Qc7/ 11. Qd2, Rae8/ 12. h3, Bxf3/ 13. Bxf3, e6/ 14. b3, Kh8/ 15. Be3, Ng8/ 16. Be2, e5/ 17. g4, Qd8/ 18. Kg2, Qh4/ 19. f3, Bh6?! / 20. g5!, Bg7/ 21. Bf2, Qf4, 22. Be3, Qh4/ 23. Qe1!, Qxe1/ 24. Rfxe1, h6/ 25. h4, hxg4? (f6)/ 26. hxg4/ 27. a5! f6/ 28. Reb1!, fxg5/ 29. b4! Nf5/ 30. Bxg5!, Nd4/ 31. bxc5, Nxc5/ 32. Rb6!, Bf6/ 33. Rh1, Kg7/ 34. Bh6, Kg8/ 35. Bxf8, Rxf8/ 36. Rxd6, Kg7/ 37. Bd1, Be7/ 38. Rb6, Bd8/ 39. Rb1, Rf7/ 40. Na4, Nd3/ 41. Nb6, g5/ 42. Nc8, Nc5/ 43. Nd6, Rd7/ 44. Nf5, Nxf5/ 45. exf5, e4/ 46. fe, Nxe4/ 47. Ba4, Re7/ 48. Rbe1!, Nc5/ 49. Rxe7, Bxe7/ 50. Ra1, Kf6/ 52. d6, Nd7/ 53. Rb1, Ke5/ 54. Rd1, Kf4/ 55. Re1, Black resigned.


Written by QChess

August 9, 2013 at 6:57 am

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