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Questions Without Answer and Nimzowitsch

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Some of my CC opponents keep complaining about the changes in the way of playing CC introduced by the intrusion of engines and databases. So here I leave some questions for the reader to consider:

-Do opening Chess books become quickly and easily outdated now ?

-If the player blindly follows those databases and engine recommendations, will s/he be playing what the engine decides and not what s/he decide?.

-The numerical assessments engines give to moves may be misleading. BUT if the player puts his/her confidence on them, will s/he end up following the engine move after move for fear of deviating and playing a move considered unfavourable by the program?

-Can today’s CC be played without the aid of an engine knowing that your opponents are employing them?

-Can the engine analytical brute force be met by an ultrapositional approach and no engine at all?

-In today’s CC games could it be possible to apply, for instance, restraint, blockade,overprotection and openings like 1. e3 , 1. Nf3 /2. e3, etc? (If so, do not use a computer…) and survive?

In any case, I firmly believe that the way CC is played now is a beginning, and not an end. New times new means,new ways of doing things. A matter of adaptation to the new environment and putting into practice our innate instinct of survival. (And remember that this is a wild jungle and only the strongest will survive.)


I am reading an amazing ,extraordinary book:  “ARON NIMZOWITSCH 1928-1935”  by Rudolf Reinhardt. The late Mr. Reinhardt devoted a lot of time and effort to investigate that period in Numowitsch’s life (the last one since Nimzowitsch died in 1935) . The book contains a gold mine of information including games annotated by Nimzowitsch and others, his writings in the form of commentaries and articles, etc. I thought I knew Nimzowitsch inside out but it turned out a self-delusion…

The introduction to the tournaments and the games offers objective analysis but also Nimzowitsch states of mind. We see him showing doubts, joy, disillusion, self-distrust, renewed confidence… We see how he uses his beloved “system” against his honourable opponents (names like Capablanca,Alekhine,Bernstein,Becker,Spielmann,Rubinstein, Marshall,Bogoljubow, Vidmar, Stahlberg, Yates,Tartakower, and so on), opponents with different approaches to Chess and against whom he tries his ideas and explains the conclusions.

The book is making me rethink my ideas about strategy and how to use it in these complex CC age. I would like to strongly recommend this book to all of you. But let me say it would be much more pleasant and instructive if you have already studied Nimzowitsch’s “MY SYSTEM” / “THE PRAXIS OF MY SYSTEM” or the excellent Keene’s book “ARON NIMZOWITSCH: A REAPPRAISAL” (aka “Aron Nimzowitsch Master of Planning”  


White to play wins. Horowitz & Kling. It resembles a real game, this is why I like.


1. Rxe6 , Rxe6 / 2. b6 , Kxb6 / 3. Rh6! winning


Written by QChess

April 27, 2014 at 6:46 am

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…


Written by QChess

April 11, 2014 at 7:12 am

Tigran Petrosian. In Memoriam

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This year the 30th anniversary of Tigran Petrosian untimely death will be commemorated. The 9th World Champion of Chess was born in 1929 and passed away in 1984. (For another post on him, see the one published on April the 2nd, 2012).

Petrosian’s Chess career started in 1946 and he was active nearly until the moment of his death. His World Championship Candidates series ran from 1952 till 1980. He was a Candidate in 1953, 1956, 1959, 1962, 1971, 1974 and 1980. In 1971 he defeated the Germa GM Hübner and the Soviet GM Korchnoi, losing in the Final to Fischer. In 1974 he defeated GM Portisch (Hungary) but lost to Korchnoi. In 1980, he lost again to Korchnoi who had become his arch-enemy (Korchnoi, who became a defector in the mid 70’s of the 20th century, accused and blamed  Petrosian (and many others too) of everything… In 1963, he became a Challenger and in the World Championship Match he defeated no other than Mijail Botvinnik. In 1966 Petrosian defended the Title successfully in a match against GM Boris Spassky but in 1969 against the same opponent he lost the match passing the honours to Spassky.

Petrosian played in 10 Chess  Olympiads with an overall impressive score of +79 -1 =50. Apart from the many international tournaments he took part in, he also played in a lot of Soviet Team events, Championships, etc. He was four times Champion of the Soviet Union  (1959, 1961, 1969 and 1975) .

Petrosian’s style was positional, strongly influenced by Nimzowitsch (he grew up studying his books). In fact, he used every Nimzowitsch’s weapon: overprotection, blockading Knight, prophylaxis, centralization, blockade, restraint, attack /play on squares of the same colour, etc., carefully blending them with the fresh new approaches of the Soviet Chess School. Petrosian was a master of manoeuvring, defence and prophylactic thinking. But he was also a superb tactician, very strong in blitz games, for instance. His games are full of hidden dynamism in Vasiliev words. He also mastered the art of sacrificing the exchange and his games were not as “dry” as many people, commentators and “experts” believe. He was able to realise advantages by means of tactical and combinative means, which mainly crop up after a careful strategical and manoeuvring play. He was able to detect and prevent the slightest of threats (some people have written that even before his opponent realized they existed ) , taking measures against them, which in some cases provoked a sudden collapse of his opponents’ positions.

Bobby  Fischer acknowledged his strength and skills and even his arch-enemy Korchnoi wrote that one had to accept Petrosian really understood Chess.

One of the hardest ever player to beat, he was more an artist and a sort of anti-hero than a fighter like a Fischer, it was said that ,in fact, he was not interested in honours and public acknowledgement. He simply loved playing Chess and spoke of his games as his “old friends”. Shortly before his death,at the beginnings of the 80’s,  he complained to Smyslov that , at least, the latter was engaged in Candidates’ matches… 

The following position, from the Black side, belongs to the game Kasparov-Petrosian, Tilburg, 1981. The young Kasparov has mounted what seems a terrible attack. It’s Black’s turn, what would you play here?


Now I am going to give the solution, but first try, at least, to choose the move you would have played as Black. Pay attention to White wonderful dominating position. Will you choose an overwhelming defensive move trying to steer the game into a draw?. Would you try to exchange pieces and hope for the better? Or perhaps you would try to hurry your King away from White’s ire looking for a safe haven on f7, for instance?.

Choose your move and go to the game continuation:

 35…, Kc6!!  (yes, even Kasparov was shocked after seeing this suicidal attempt. But there still was a pretty surprise for him in the offing…) 36. Rba3 bxc4  37. Rxa6  Bb6  38. Rxa6  Bb6  39. Bc5 Qd8  40. Qa1 Nxc5  41. dxc5  Kxc5  42. Ra4 and White resigned at the same time!


Written by QChess

April 4, 2014 at 11:41 am

Posted in CHESS, Chess History, Petrosian

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Brief Summary on “Schools of Chess”

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Sometimes we get used to employing certain terms and really we only have a sort of intuitive understanding of them. Let´s speak of  the concept “Schools of Chess”. Supposedly the idea has to be understood related to the strategical side of Chess, and it would have to do with groups of chessplayers who would share the same strategical concepts to apply in the game. Everybody have read about the “Romantic School”, the “Classical School”, the “Hypermodern School” or the “Soviet School”. In my opinion these are the main ones though other authors have mentioned the Philidor,the Modenese even the English Schools too. But I consider them the precursors of the previously mentioned ones.

The so-called “Romantic School” developed during the 19th century. Chess was in its beginnings as far as strategical and defensive ideas were concerned. The players’ opening repertoires were narrow  and the games were characterized by sacrificial attacks. Accepting gambits was a matter of honour and nobody cared about defence. People associate the period to Morphy(1837-1884) and Anderssen (1818-1879). Then W. Steinitz (1836-1900) appeared. Being a player in the Romantic tradition in his beginnings, he was destined to become perhaps the first systematic thinker in the history of Chess. Unfortunately, his ideas (some of them bizarre, others too revolutionary for the time,etc.)  were not understood by the rest of players. Evidently, he found inspiration is some of his predecessors, and in this respect there is a name I would like to mention: Howard Staunton (1810-1874). In my opinion, he was the one who started to lay the foundations for the arrival of Steinitz (but this is simply an opinion).

Steinitz began to develop defensive technique and elaborated a theory of the middle game. He also formulated the theory of accumulating small advantages as the means to obtain a decisive attack. He accepted cramped positions, defensive centres, advocated the Bishop pair, and believed that any position, provided it had no weaknesses, could be sustained. In the same way that I have mentioned Staunton previously, now I must mention L. Paulsen too. (If you are interested in this or any other aspect here treated, the Internet will help you to widen your knowledge. Please be so kind to understand I am simply offering a few hints for the interested reader , since everything in this post has been dealt with in hundreds of books and thousands of www articles.)

The man called to explain and widen Steinitz’s theories was the German Siegbert Tarrasch (1862-1934) He was among the best chessplayers in the world in his time and played for the World Championship (with no luck). He developed Steinitz’s theories and established his own ideas. This period falls into what is considered as the “Classical School of Chess”.

Then a reaction against all this broke up with the appearance of the three apostles of a new School of Chess: The new ideas of the “Hypermodern School of Chess” (Nimzowitsch liked the term “Neoromanticism”) , a reaction against the “rigid” concepts advocated by Tarrasch, were heralded by G.Breyer (1894-1921), R. Reti (1889-1929) and , above all, by A. Nimzowitsch ( 1886-1935). The Hypermodern ideas were exposed in three books by Nimzowitsch : “My System“, “The Praxis of My System” and “Blockade“. They are exceptional documents. 

Curiously enough Nimzowitsch also mentions Steinitz, but the interpretation he gave to his predecessor’s ideas and the new ones introduced by the Hypermodern players constitute the establishment of a fundamental milestone in the history of Chess. Even today books keep being published discussing Nimzowitsch contributions to our beloved game. A new set of openings were invented, or rediscovered and put into practice by them. Everybody plays them today. The “system” worked in its time and works ,with the necessary adjustments, today. The English Opening, the Reti, the Larsen/Nimzowitsch, the Nimzoindian, Bogoindian, Queen’s Indian, systems with 1. Nf3 and all sort of fianchetto-based openings and defences like the Pirc, the Modern, the King’s Indian, the Grünfeld, the Bogoindian, the Alekhine and so on.   

And while all this was taking place mainly in Central Europe, a parallel movement with its roots deep in the 19th century tradition began to take place in Russia/the Soviet Union. With Chigorin as one of its foundling fathers, the 30`s and 40’s of the 20th century witnessed the appearance of an enormous Chess machinery:” The Soviet School of Chess”. (See the two posts  published on the 21st and the 23rd  of March 2012 for more information).


In the development of Chess ideas there is no watertight departments. Different ideas and different approaches, once established and formulated tend to coexist. Classicist and Hypermodernists lived and played together. A Capablanca and a Nimzowitsch or a Tal and a Petrosian. The topic I have written about is immense and a lot of players could be mentioned. But remember that the aim of this blog is to encourage the reader to make his/her own findings. Thank you so much.

Apart from the names mentioned above you may be interested in looking up the names of players like the following: S. Tartakower, E. Bogoljubow, J.R.Capablanca, A. Alekhine, E. Lasker, R. Spielmann,J . Zuckertort, F. Sämisch, L.Paulsen, G. Maróczy, F.Marshall, A. Rubinstein, Ilyin-Zhenevsky, N. Riumin, H. Pillsbury, G.A. MacDonnell, F. Yates, M. Euwe …)


Mate in 3 moves.- N. Rubens, 1953.


Written by QChess

March 21, 2014 at 8:35 am

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.)


Written by QChess

October 1, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Nineteen Eighty-One.

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karpovkorchnoi1981Karpov-Korchnoi 1981

The 1981 World Championship Match was to be played in the same venue as the Candidates’  Final between Korchnoi and Hübner, the Italian town of Meran (north of Italy, region of Trentino-Adigio.The place gives also name to the famous Meran Variation in the Semislav after the game Tartakower-Rubinstein played there in 1924. That part of the old Europe is very interesting historically speaking ). After that match fiasco, I guess the organizers would expect to cash in on a bigger stake. The events which had taken place three years before still cast their shadows over Meran ’81 :Korchnoi’s family was still in the Soviet Union : the Soviet authorities refusing to allow them to leave the country, and the rivalry between the two K’s had not diminished. But the match turned out to be a sort of anticlimax… The Soviet delegation included many people: Chess helpers, Karpov’s personal cook, medical staff, physical helper,translators and diplomats,as well as A. Roshal and V. Baturinsky, and bodyguards.  (Any Soviet World Champion had access to any sort of help.  Karpov had many “consultants” and I could mention his all-time helper Zaitsev, and Yuri  Balashov, for instance. In Meran Tal and Polugaevsky were side by side with him too. On those days it was very difficult to clearly determine “who were doing what” in Soviet official Chess camps) . Korchnoi’s seconds were Stean, Seirawan,Gutman and Ivanov. He was also accompanied by a lawyer, A. Brodbeck and a Chief of Delegation, E. Sztein. Journalist present mention also the  presence of a bodyguard… Those were hard days…The match was scheduled to beguin on October 1st, the winner would have to win six games with draws not counting.

All in all, one thing was immediately clear: Karpov was still becoming stronger while Korchnoi seemed to be slowly declining, at least to maintain such intensity against a terrific opponent as Karpov and for so many years . The first games of the event showed that Viktor was not in the match: after the first five games, the score was 3-0 for Karpov. Korchnoi managed to win the sixth game but after the tenth game the score was 4-1 in Karpov’s favour. Some drawn games followed, Korchnoi won the 13th game but lost the 14th and leaned over the abyss much to the organizers’ desperation who saw that a quick resolution of the match would finish with their financial expectations (understandably, under such conditions a very long match can be catastrophic but if it is too sort and one-sided the financial situation for the sponsors is the same: absolute disaster!). I have read that the organizers  managed to express their worries to Karpov who somewhat reassured them (!)… Be that as it may, three more games ended in a draw but the 18th one ,played on November 19th was adjourned with a winning position for Karpov. The game was not resumed and Karpov renewed his World Champion title for three more years.

After the 1978 match I was looking forward this new event. On the one hand , my sympathy was with Karpov. But I still had the secret hope of witnessing another magnificent struggle with the scores dangling from one side to another. That was not to happen. But the match taught me a lot of Chess strategy, especially the first and the ninth games. In the first game, Karpov played superbly using one of his favourite weapons: the hanging Pawns. In the ninth game, he showed another of his specialties: the fight against the isolated Queen Pawn. The fifth game was also of great technical interest since Karpov managed to draw as Black -a Pawn down- in a typical King +Rook + four Pawns vs. King + Rook + three Pawns  all in the K-side. Nevertheless and in retrospect, the feeling left by that match was  one of dullness. Nothing to do with what was going to come: the immense clash Karpov-Kasparov in the following years. In a sort of gesture to the gallery, Karpov even played the Italian Opening in the 8th and the 10th games. Two draws. Karpov himself in his notes to the games says that the Italian Game had last appeared in a World Championship Match in 1896 (Lasker-Steinitz return match).

W.: V. Korchnoi (0)

B.: A. Karpov (1)

Meran, Italy 1981.- World Championship Match (1)

1. c4, e6/ 2. Nc3, d5/ 3. d4, Be7/ 4. Nf3, Nf6/ 5. Bg5, h6/ 6. Bh4, 0-0/ 7. e3, b6/ 8. Rc1, Bb7/ 9. Be2, Nbd7/10.cxd5, exd5/ 11. 0-0, c5/12. dxc5, bxc5/ 13. Qc2, Rc8/ 14. Rfd1, Qb6/ 15. Qb1, Rfd8/ 16. Rc2, Qe6/ 17. Bg3, Nh5/18. Rcd2, Nxg3/ 19. hxg3, Nf6/ 20. Qc2, g6/ 21. Qa4, a6/  22. Bd3, Kg7/ 23. Bb1, Qb6/ 24. a3, d4!/ 25.Ne2, dxe3/26. fxe3, c4!/ 27. Ned4, Qc7/ 28. Nh4, Qe5/ 29. Kh1, Kg8/ 30. Ndf3, Qxg3/ 31. Rxd8, Bxd8/ 32. Qb4, Be4!/33. Bxe4, Nxe4/34. Rd4, Nf2+/ 35. Kg1, Nd3/ 36. Qb7, Rb8/ 37. Qd7, Bc7/ 38. Kh1, Rxb2/ 39. Rxd3, cxd3/ 40. Qxd3, Qd6/ 41. Qe4, Qd1+/ 42. Ng1, Qd6/ 43. Nhf3, Rb5/ The game was adjourned here. Karpov sealed a move but Korchnoi, after a while, stopped definitively the clocks. White resigned.

W.: V. Korchnoi (0)

B.: A. Karpov (1)

Meran, Italy 1981. World Championship Match (9)

1. c4, e6/ 2. Nc3, d5/ 3. d4, Be7/ 4. Nf3, Nf6/ 5. Bg5, h6/ 6. Bh4, 0-0/ 7. Rc1 dxc4 (TN according to Karpov)/ 8. e3, c5/ 9. Bxc4, cxd4/ 10. exd4, Nc6/ 11. 0-0, Nh5!/ 12. Bxe7, Nxe7/ 13. Bb3, Nf6/ 14. Ne5, Bd7/ 15. Qe2, Rc8/ 16. Ne4, Nxe4/ 17. Qxe4, Bc6!/ 18. Nxc6, Rxc6/ 19. Rc3, Qd6/ 20. g3,Rd8/ 21. Rd1, Rb6/ 22. Qe1, Qd7/ 23. Rcd3, Rd6/ 24. Qe4, Qc6/ 25. Qf4, Nd5/ 26. Qd2, Qb6/ 27. Bxd5, Rxd5/ 28. Rb3, Qc6/ 29. Qc3, Qd7/ 30. f4, b6/31. Rb4, b5/ 32. a4, bxa4/ 33. Qa3, a5/ 34. Rxa4, Qb5 /35. Rd2, e5/ 36. fxe5, Rxe5/ 37. Qa1, Qe8!!/ 38. dxe5, Rxd2/ 39. Rxa5, Qc6/ 40. Ra8+, Kh7/ 41. Qb1+, g6/ 42. Qf1, Qc5+/ 43. Kh1, Qd5+/ White resigned.


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