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Alexander Kotov vs Kalmanok
Moscow (1936)
French Defense: Classical. Burn Variation Morozevich Line (C11)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
Jan-03-10  nfazli: 16.white to play could be a puzzle
Jun-04-11  PSC: Kotov gives this game as 1935 in The Art of the Middlegame. I've posted Kotov's annotations here:
Mar-12-12  backrank: I'm sure to have recently kibitzed on this game, but strangely my comment isn't there ... maybe has removed it?

This game is a duplicate of Kotov vs Kalmanov, 1936 , where the correct score is given. Both Kotov and Chernev give 21. ... Qc5; however, it doesn't matter that much, the black position is hopeless anyway, and 22. Bxe6 works after both replies.

<PSC> Unfortunately, your blog isn't there anymore.

Apr-15-12  backrank: Since PSC's blog isn't available anymore, and this game is very interesting and instructive, I will post some of Kotov's (The Art of the Middle Game, p. 76) and Chernev's (The Russians Play Chess, p. 91) annotations here, which I have transferred to algebraic.

8. Bc4 (!)

Kotov: Black has adopted a slow opening system with the result that he remains backward in development. This Bishop move lessens the power of movement of the Black pieces still more, since after the natural c5 there would follow d5.

Chernev: White is prepared to reply to 8. ... c5 with 9. d5 Nb6 10. Bb5+ Bd7 11. Bxd7+ Qxd7 12. d6 Qc6 13. Qe2 Bxd6 14. Nxf6+.

Myself: This line doesn't look convincing to me, more about even (apart from the even better try 13. ... f5). The prevention of the freeing move c5 seems to have been a more psychological one. Black still should have tried c5, as his best chance, even more so as the further progression of the game shows that he will nowhere get a chance any more.

9. ... b6

Kotov: Let us pause and consider this position for a moment. White has brought out nearly all his pieces whereas Black obviously stands badly as regards his development. But if White delays for one of two moves - if, in other words, he puts off for a time the decisive operations - then Black too will be able to complete the development of his pieces and castle. But White does not delay the attack and instead at once initiates a decisive offensive against the enemy position.

10. Qh6!

Kotov: This move has as its temporary aim 11. Qg7, winning the KRP. It forces Black to make qet another move with a piece that has already been developed.

12. ... h5

Chernev: Black's game is cramped, and he tries to free himself by driving White's Queen away from her commanding post. His immediate threat is 13. ... Bh6.

13. ... Be7

Chernev: If instead 13. ... Qb8 14. Nxf6+, or if 13. ... Qe7 14. Qc7 is uncomfortable for Black.

Myself (with the kind assistance of Rybka): Black has to give up his plan Bh6, since after 13. ... Bh6 14. Nd6+ Ke7 (Kf8 15. Qe4 f5 16. Qe2 Qc7 17. Nxf7! is no better for Black) 15. Nf5+! exf5 (forced) 16. Rhe1+ Kf8 17. Qd6+ Kg8 (or Kg7) 18. Re7! is crushing.

14. Qg3!

Kotov: The same strategy again! This threatens 15. Qg7 and 16. Qh7, and the KRP would fall. Defensive measures must once again be taken.

15. ... f5

Kotov: White has developed his pieces rapidly, while the Black King still stands in the middle of the board. It is therefore hardly surprising that the pretty move that now follows should decide the whole game.

16. d5!!

Chernev: A brilliant move which leads to delightful combinative possibilities. At the trifling cost of a Pawn, White's Bishop becomes a powerful factor in the attack. If Black plays 16. ... exd5; 17. Nf6 is mate, or if 16. ... fxe4; 17. dxe6 attacks the Queen, and also threatens 18. exf7 mate.

(Kotov gives the same two variations here)

18. Ne5

Chernev: More troubles for Black! If 18. ... Bc8; 19. Nc6 Bh4 20. Qg7 Bf6 21. Nd6 mate. Another pretty win after 18. ... Bc8 is 19. Qg7 Rf8 20. Rxd5! exd5 21. Nf6+ Bxf6 22. Ng6+ Be7 23. Qxf8 mate.

(Kotov gives only the second possibility here)

Myself: Relatively best seems here 18. ... fxe4 19. Qg7! Rf8 20. Bxd7+, with two bishops for the Queen, losing in the long run, as opposed to the game where Black loses swiftly.

18. ... Qc7

Chernev: Loses a piece, but Black hopes to regain it. The position is complicated, and White might miss his way.

19. ... Kd8

Chernev: If 19. ... Kf8; 20. Ng6+ wins Black's Queen.

21. Ng5

chernev: Threatens, among other things 22. Qxf7 Rxf7 23. Ngxf7 mate.

21. ... Qc5 [note that this is the correct game score!]

Chernev: If 21. ... f6; 22. Nxe6 is mate.

22. Bxe6 [with the Black Queen on c5!]

Chernev: Rips up the defensive barrier of Pawns surrounding Black's King. As the Bishop cannot be taken (22. ... fxe6 23. Nxe6+ winning the Queen), therefore 22. ... Resigns.

Myself: Black can't win back the piece. If 22. ... f6; 23. Bxd5! Bxd6 24. Ne6+, or if 22. Bxg5 23. Qxg5+ f6, then 24. Qg7 threatening Qd7#.

Oct-15-16  SpiritedReposte: <16. d5!> would be tough to spot (for me at least) as a puzzle you know is there, let alone find it in the flow of a game.
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