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Alexander Kotov vs Efim Geller
USSR Championship (1949), Moscow URS, rd 16, Nov-12
King's Indian Defense: Fianchetto Variation. Classical Fianchetto (E67)  ·  0-1


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Given 19 times; par: 50 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Mar-09-03  ughaibu: In Geller's first appearance in the Soviet championship he finished 2nd. This game was awarded a brilliancy prize.
Aug-09-05  Rama: 18 ... Qa5 is very nice.
Mar-24-06  zev22407: Anothe masterpiece by geller.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Geller reckoned this as one of his best-ever games. Every black move seems to be an attack.

Bronstein thought that 27...b2 was stronger than bxa2.

Premium Chessgames Member
  notyetagm: <ughaibu: In Geller's first appearance in the Soviet championship he finished 2nd. This game was awarded a brilliancy prize.>

Indeed. A -STUPENDOUS- game by Geller.

Makes me want to learn how to play the KID. :-)

Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: <ughaibu> <In Geller's first appearance in the Soviet championship he finished 2nd.>

Yes, and this was also Petrosian's Soviet Championship debut, where he started off with a terminal case of stagefright and dropped his first 5 games.

Vasiliev's book on Petrosian, in discussing Geller's great result here, makes the cryptic comment that if Geller in his last round game had practiced one iota of the caution that Petrosian always did, that he'd have finished 1st. However, I haven't bothered to track down Geller's last round game to see how true that is.

Maybe that's something to do right now. I infer from the comment that Geller lost the game. And Geller lost four games in this tournament, while finishing a half point out of first: to Keres, Aronin, Sokolsky, and Lilienthal. Think I'll track down which it was and see how close Geller came to becoming Soviet Champion on his first attempt.

Premium Chessgames Member
  notyetagm: <Petrosianic: ... Maybe that's something to do right now. I infer from the comment that Geller lost the game. And he lost three games in this tournament: to Keres, Sokolsky, and Lilienthal. Think I'll track down which it was and see how close Geller came to becoming Soviet Champion on his first attempt.>

Geller's three 1949 USSR Championship losses that you mentioned:

Geller vs Keres, 1949
Geller vs Sokolsky, 1949
Lilienthal vs Geller, 1949

Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: He also lost to Kholmov (I misremembered, and said Aronin).

In fact, it looks like this might be the game in question:

Geller vs Kholmov, 1949

...judging from this comment:

<Kangaroo> <What a game! If Geller won it, he would have become the champion.>

It's also labeled Round 19, which would be the final one. Geller scored +10-4=5 in this tournament to finish a half point behind Smyslov and Bronstein. I'll have to have a closer look at this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  notyetagm: Position after 37 ♗e4xg6?

click for larger view

With his last two moves (35 ... h7-h5, 36 ... h5-h4) Geller (Black) has setup a nasty little tactical surprise for White, which 37 ♗e4xg6? did nothing to prevent.

<<<Geller has noticed that the lineup of dark-squared Black e5-bishop and White e1-queen means that the g3-square is a <TACTICAL BASE> from which the Black e5-bishop would strike at the White e1-queen. So the g3-square is a <TACTICAL BASE> and the White e1-queen a <TACTICAL TARGET>.>>>

Geller knows that he must gain control of this g3-tactical base. So first he <COORDINATES HIS FORCES> on the crucial g3-square with 35 ... h7-h5 and 36 ... h5-h4.

Secondly, Geller knows that he must <CLEAR THE TACTICAL BASE> of its defenders. Here the g3-tactical base is defended by the White h2-pawn, which is already attacked by the Black b2-rook and defended only by the White h1-king, a tacitcal situation which screams for <REMOVAL OF THE GUARD> by <ILLUSORY PROTECTION>.

So Geller (Black) <REMOVES THE GUARD> of the g3-tactical base with 37 ... ♖b2xh2+!.

Position after 37 ... ♖b2xh2+! <remove the guard>

click for larger view

And after the forced 38 ♔h1x♖h2 ♗e5xg3+, Geller has realized his fantasy position of a <FORK> on the g3-square involving the Black e5-bishop and White e1-queen.

Position after 38 ♔h1x♖h2 ♗e5xg3+

click for larger view

Note how the Black g3-bishop needs the support of the Black h4-pawn, else White would simply play ♕e1x♗g3 or ♔h2x♗g3 and not lose material. Hence the real reason for the advance of the Black h-pawn is revealed: it did not mindlessly advance to "attack" the White h1-king, it advanced to support a <BISHOP FORK> on g3!

Ingenius tactical play by Geller.

Premium Chessgames Member
  notyetagm: <ughaibu: In Geller's first appearance in the Soviet championship he finished 2nd. This game was awarded a brilliancy prize.>

What a beautiful win this is by Geller.

Premium Chessgames Member
  notyetagm: Position after 25 ... c4-c3

click for larger view

Geller (Black) has the <BISHOP PAIR (♗♗)> and a pair of advanced <CONNECTED PASSERS> for a piece, clearly a winning position.

This game is so full of beautfiful tactical shots that no wonder it won a brilliancy prize.

Premium Chessgames Member
  notyetagm: Kotov vs Geller, 1949,

Nice prelude to a winning tactical shot:

35 ... h7-h5 it's coming

36 ... h5-h4 it's coming

37 ... ♖b2xh2+! bang! it's here!

<IMPORTANT!: notice how the advance of the h-pawn supports the occupation of the <TACTICAL BASE>, just like Fischer's 14 ♕d1-b3 supports the occupation of the d5-tactical base in Fischer vs P Lapiken, 1956 >

Premium Chessgames Member
Jun-18-11  qqdos: <ughaibu> <notyetagm> The Brilliancy Prize was awarded by the Konsomolskaya Pravda newspaper, however Botvinnik one of the judging panel, rather uncharitably, pointed out that the game was not faultless and hence could not be considered as one artistic whole - <source Geller's 1962 Autobiography, translated by Bernard Cafferty (1969)>. At one point during the game, Geller had written off his own chances when to his horror he suddenly saw that Kotov had a simple move 15.f4! (Botvinnik's suggestion) "which would win a pawn and leave me with a hopeless position unless I was prepared to give up a piece." Instead an unsuspecting Kotov made the obvious move 15.Nde2? allowing Geller to pounce "in a flash" with 15...axb3! sacrificing his knight. Later, at move 22. Kotov again missed f4 "essential" which Geller felt would have given White "drawing chances"!
Jul-12-11  LIFE Master AJ: One of the more brilliant games in the DB.

Hard to believe that its never been featured as a POTD ... or "The Game of The Day."

Jul-12-11  SimonWebbsTiger: @AJ

I agree. I wonder what Kotov thought when Geller played the star move.

Do you know the Russian for: "oh, crap" :o)

Premium Chessgames Member
  notyetagm: Game Collection: GELLER'S BEST GAMES
Dec-22-12  rilkefan: 22.e5 is equal or a bit better for white per stockfish. Black doesn't have time to take on e5 because his queenside pawns fall, and soon f4 holds it. Thus 17...b2 with a half-pawn edge was better.
Jul-06-15  saturn2: Does 37 Rg1 instead of Bxg6 hold for white? At least blacks blow Rxh2 seems not to work then. I played against Geller a simultan in 1983 or 1984 during which he won all the games.
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