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Reuben Fine vs Paul Keres
"Worall In This Together" (game of the day Jan-13-07)
AVRO (1938)  ·  Spanish Game: Closed Variations. Worrall Attack Delayed castling line (C86)  ·  0-1
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Given 9 times; par: 82 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <OBIT: why not play ...Be5 first to get the bishop on a better square before initiating the pawn break?>

I don't see that this makes g4 any more effective. It's a valid way to proceed and black still ought to win, but I don't think it's as clear-cut as the immediate g4.

In real world OTB chess, endings are often the stage of the game where you need to move quickly. Usually the clock is against you as both players will probably be short of time. That is why it is important to be able to form quick judgements about an endgame position.

Any half decent player will see that the position after 50...f4 leaves black comfortably ahead with the draw in hand. So why not play it straight away and worry about the details later?

Feb-05-10  cyclon: Late and little time, but this is very interesting puzzle. My suggestion is (by no means a correct one) ; 49. -g4, with some arguments regarding how White responses > 50.Kd3 Bd4 and WRook must abandon g-file, when 51. -g3 should decide/50.fxg4 f4 and making the multiple-line analysis shorter here, Blacks plan is Bd4-Kg5-pf3 in varying move-order with slight possibility of some minor deviation, unless White finds something beyond a miracle/50.f4 Kh5 51.Rh8+ (otherwise BKing penetrates with 51. -Kh4) -Bh4 and if now f.e. 52.Kxc3, then -g3 53.Kd3 (if 53.R-, or Kxb2, then -Kg4 decides) -g2 54.Rg1 (or anywhere else) -Bf2 and Black wins. Yet, after 49. -g4 some Rook-move or Kb1 gets simply 50. -Kg5 and I don't see HOW White survives. Do you?
Feb-05-10  nuwanda:

hi <OBIT>,

i still dont think black can win staying with his bishop on the long diagonal. in your line 49...g4 50. fg f4 51. g5 Bg7 52. Rf1 Kxg5 53. Rg1+ Kh6 54. Rh1+ Kg6 55. Rg1+ Kf7 white plays 56. Rg5 and i can see no progress for black. after both 56...Bh6 or 56...Kf6 white plays simple 57. Rg1 and the c3-pawn is hanging forcing black to move back


Feb-05-10  cyclon: I saw 51.g5, but didnīt analyze the game line after that move. I was sure g5 also loses. In the final position Iīd estimate Blacks plan to be something like -Kf2-Kf1-pf2 and then rise back with the King into f3-square, when there's a supported post in f4 for the Bishop enabling the promotion. There might arise ending with Q+B vs. R which is won for Black. Anyway, fantastic game by these two exceptionally great players.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beenthere240: <obit> In the game, white had earlier chased the bishop away from e5 by Re1. I started by looking at that idea, but since the B has to stay on the a1 h8 diagonal, the break has to be made with the B shielded. I agree that it's good to work out the nuances, but as long as the planned follow up was f4 after the exchange, then the key problem posed the the diagram has been solved. Granted a lot of excellent follow play is needed but who would calculate that (unless you were in an adjounment). Keres was a master in working out solutions after an adjournment and I think wrote a famous article about the process.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beenthere240: <obit> But I agree that to simply scan the board for the only available sacrifice and call that a solution isn't the key to winning chess either.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beenthere240: sorry for all the posts --
In my opinion, the position after 52. Rd1 is a completely different (and perhaps even harder) problem, since it appears to toss away the connected passed b and c pawns.
Feb-05-10  Patriot: <OBIT>

Yeah I understand what you mean and have often wondered if the first move is all they looked at or if they just got lucky and chose the right move.

Regarding your point about ...Be5 and initiating the pawn break, I'm not sure how that helps the pawn break but I do think you make a broader point that other moves/ideas should at least be considered before settling on any move (i.e. "When you see a good move, look for a better one.").

Premium Chessgames Member
  OBIT: <Once>I've been playing around with 49...Be5 this afternoon just to see if there are any differences. Who knows, I may learn something. :)

Starting with 49...Be5 50. Re1 Kf6 51. Rg1 Bf4 52. Kxc3 Bc1 53. Kc2 Ke5 followed by ...Kf4 wins. One direct method looks like 54. Re1+ Kf4 55. Rf1 g4 56. fg+ Kxg4. The game eventually comes down to what we see in the actual game, with Black pushing the f-pawn. One neat position that did not occur in the game is the following:

click for larger view

After 1...Kg2 2. Rg8+ Kf3 3. Rf8, the bishop makes a surprise reappearance with 3...Bf4!

So, that wasn't terribly complicated, and, hmm, and it was done without the ...g4 break. So why do we all think that move is so critical?

Well, maybe White can defend better. Let's try 49...Be5 50. Re1 Kf6 51. Rf1, which also prevents ...g4. Hmm, no difference there - Black still has 51...Bf4 52. Kxc3 Bc1 53. Kc2 Ke5 followed by ...Kf4 and wins. It seems like the only way White can stop this is by having the rook on the e-file, but after something like 49...Be5 50. Rf1 Kf6 51. Re1 Black just plays 51...g4 52. fg fg and wins without the pawn sacrifice. Am I missing something, or isn't this even easier than Keres' line?

Premium Chessgames Member
  OBIT: <nuwanda>Hmm, interesting point about 56. Rg5. If Black tries 56...Bh6 or 56...Kf6, he only has to take it back after 57. Rg1, so it appears he can't make progress. That finesse certainly reduces the routes to victory.
Premium Chessgames Member
  YouRang: While playing around with the line I mentioned above (that is, <49...Be5> with intent to play ...Bc1), I found an amusing position that I thought I would mention:

It continues: 50. Re1 Kf6 51.Kd3 Bf4 52.Kxc3 Bc1 53. Kc2 g4 54.fxg4 fxg4 55. Re4 Kf5 56. Re8 g3 57. Re2 <not 57.Rg8? Bg5!> Kf4 58. Re8 Kg4 59. Re4+ <again, 59.Rg8+ loses to ...Bg5> Kh3 60. Re8 g2 61. Rg8 Kh2 62.Rh8+ Kg3 63.Rg8+ Kf3 64.Kb1 <not 64.Rf8+? Bf4!> Kf2 65.Rf8+[diagram]

click for larger view

Our king is in check and there is no shelter (except at g1, which is no good since it blocks our pawn). On previous moves (as noted above) we could block checks with the bishop because it was guarded with our king. But with our king on f2 (to support ...g1), it can't guard the bishop.

What to do? Block it with the bishop anyway! 65...Bf4!

66.Rxf4+ Kg3! and our g-pawn will promote with check! Granted, this leads to a K+R vs K+Q endgame which isn't trivial, but it certainly is winning for black.

Premium Chessgames Member
  OBIT: <YouRang>Actually, you don't need to test your Q vs R technique and instead play 65...Kg3 66. Rg8+ Kf3 67. Rf8+ Bf4! Then after 68. Rg8 Bg3! 69. Rf8+ Ke2 70. Re8+ Kd2 71. Rd8+ Kc3 72. Rd1 (if 72. Rc8+ Kb4 ends the checks) Bf2 and wins. That seems like a lot of running, but anything to avoid that Q vs R ending. :)
Premium Chessgames Member
  YouRang: <OBIT: <YouRang>Actually, you don't need to test your Q vs R technique and instead play 65...Kg3 66. Rg8+ Kf3 67. Rf8+ Bf4! Then after 68. Rg8 Bg3! 69. Rf8+ Ke2 70. Re8+ Kd2 71. Rd8+ Kc3 72. Rd1 (if 72. Rc8+ Kb4 ends the checks) Bf2 and wins. That seems like a lot of running, but anything to avoid that Q vs R ending. :)>

Hi <OBIT>. Actually, if <65...Kg3 66.Rg8+ Kf3>, I arrive at the same position I had on move 64. There, I noted that white must NOT play Rf8+ because ...Bf4! wins.

Instead, white should keep his rook aimed at the g-pawn (so it can't promote). White can waste a tempo either by moving his king to c2 or his rook to g7. At some point, in order to promote the pawn, I think I need to move my king to f2.

However, I see that I could have improved slightly. I didn't need to force the white king to b1 on move 64 (I thought I needed to in order to promote with check). Instead, I can play <63...Kf2> immediately, and then

64.Rf8+ Bf4! 65.Rxf4 Kg3! [diagram]

click for larger view

Now white plays 66.Rf8 to set up a skewer such that 66...g1=Q is answered by 67.Rg8+ =

But black still wins with: 66...b1=Q+! 67.Kxb1 g1=Q+ and again a winning R v Q ending for black. :-)

Feb-05-10  muwatalli: i really wasn't even close on this one, i knew i had to get a passed pawn on the kingside, i just didn't even look at g4 fxg f4.
Feb-05-10  SamAtoms1980: I had this the wrong way around, I tried 49 ... f4 with the idea of 50 ... Kf5 and a later ....g4.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <OBIT> Yes, I think this is one of those positions with multiple solutions. 49...Be5 does seem to win. But I don't see it as a necessary preparatory move for a later g4, especially as in your line g4 doesn't happen for another 6 moves.

The reason that g4 appeals is that it is direct and puts the question immediately to white. Sure, we could try to build up our position, but the demon clock is ticking and white is pretty passive. Winning from the starting position will inevitably nead the move g4 (or f4) to be played at some point, so if I can play it straight away I will do.

OTB I believe in pragmatism. I don't always follow the maxim "if you see a good move, look for a better one". Instead, if you see a good move, play it and leave the better moves to the post match analysis. For me, either of 49...g4 or 49...Be5 work. I preferred 49...g4 because it was quicker, but I would also be happy to win with 49...Be5.

Sep-03-10  LIFE Master AJ: 49...g4!!

Keres shows real artistry in the endgame.

Sep-08-10  I play the Fred: 81 (par 77) on Guess The Move. It's my first one, so I'll be interested to see what my future scores are like.
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: Keres was critical of Whites going after the b-pawn with 10 axb, 10 h3 is the standard move in this sideline of the Worrall. Keres 12..Na7 is the best way to recover the pawn; if 12..Na5 13 Bc2..Nxe4 14 Nxe5..dxe 15 Qxe5 with an advantage for White as played in Book-Alexander Margate 1938. One possible alternative for White would have been 17 Bxg5..Bxg5 18 dxe..dxe 19 Re1..Bf4 20 Re2 although Black would still have been clearly better. Keres was critical of 23..f5? recommending 23..Rb4 24 Bb5..Na7 25 Bc6..Nxc6 26 dxc..Rc4 winning the c-pawn. Fine could have maintained decent chances to equalize with 27 Nxf4..Bf6 28 Bf4..Ncd3. Fine may have been expecting 29..Rb6 when after 30 Nxe7 or 30 Bxd5 he is holding his own but after Keres exchange sacrifice dxc! White was in trouble. Keres pointed out that a quicker win would have been 33..Nc1 34 Nc3..Bb4 35 Nb1..Ke7 and White is defenseless against the march of the c-pawn. 43..Bf4 followed by ..Bd2 would have won as well.
Jul-27-11  ARubinstein: <Legend: Keres once said that this is the best game he ever played.>

Where did you read that? I feel this game is a bit overrated. It was of enormous significance for the tournament, of course, and it's an interesting game, but for me this doesn't rank among Keres' top five or even ten. There were some significant mistakes from both sides at critical moments.

Jun-07-12  master of defence: Whatīs wrong with 32.Nxe7? After 32...b2 33.Rxb2 Nxb2 34.Nxf5=. Or I missing something?
Jun-07-12  Shams: <mod> 32.Nxe7 Nf4+ and 33...Nxe2 wins.
Jun-02-16  cwcarlson: 12.Qb5 Na5 13.Bc2 Ne4 14.Ne5 Rb8 15.Qa4 Bf5 16.Qa5! Qa5 17.Nc6 Qb5 18.Ne7 Kh8 19.Nf5 Qf5 20.f3 is . 14... de 15.Qe5 Bf3! is a shot Alekhine wouldn't have missed.
Aug-24-16  Howard: Good game, but I still remember a ludicrous comment that Inside Chess quoted back when Fine died, in 1993. I don't recall who said it, but he stated that if Fine hadn't blundered at one point, then the game would have been drawn, and Fine would have won the tournament---and thus become Alekine's challenger.

He (whoever he was) then added that Fine "came within one move of possibly becoming the first world champion of the United States."

Now, that is ridiculous ! As Edward Winter pointed out, this game took place in the 7th round of a 14-round event. Even if Fine had drawn here, there's no telling how the remaining seven rounds would have turned out.

Bottom line: the significance of this game is rather overrated in my view.

Premium Chessgames Member
  wwall: <Howard> The quote came from Martin Beheim in Chess With the Masters, p. 237. "Had Fine been the winner,it is quite possible that his American compatriots would have found the backing for a title match with Alekhine -and Fine would have had excellent chances against an Alekhine who was, in 1938, well past his peak. It is scarcely exaggerating to suggest that Reuben Fine came within one move [40. RxN instead of 40.KxN] of becoming the first world champion from the United States. What actually happened was that Fine, disappointed by not winning the Avro tournament and his inability to dislodge Reshevsky from the United States championship, gradually withdrew from international chess."
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