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Vasily Smyslov vs Andre Lilienthal
USSR Absolute Championship (1941), Leningrad- Moscow URS, rd 16, Apr-21
Spanish Game: Closed Variations. Chigorin Defense (C98)  ·  1/2-1/2


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Kibitzer's Corner
Sep-11-04  mjk: It's a draw already after 79.h5 (unless Black commits suicide). 79.♔g2 also draws, but 79.♔h2? is mated in 18. <-- Nalimov Tablebase Server>
Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: "In general, this end-game is a rare occurrence in practical play. However, if my memory does not betray me, Lilienthal had encountered this very end-game (irony of fate!) twice previously, and on neither occasion could he discover the way to victory. - Mikhail Botvinnik in Championship Chess.

If Botvinnik was right, one occassion was against G M Norman in 1934 but what was the other?

Jul-21-05  who: <mjk> white can commit suicide as well. If mjk is right then Botvinnik is wrong for faulting Lilenthal (if that's what he's doing).
Premium Chessgames Member
  YouRang: After 95 moves, we have this position (diagram:white to play)

click for larger view

Here, White played 96. Kg1?, giving Black his last shot at forcing a win, according to the Namilov tablebase (96. Kf1 is the only move that saves the draw). But in this game, Black let it slip away for good with 96...Ke3 (Kf3 leads to mate in 26!).

With White's pawn advanced to the 6th rank, Black must be very precise -- He could lose if his timing is off! A likely continuation (with best play on both sides) is presented below. I use "!!" to mark the only winning move (all other moves draw), and ! to mark critcal moves (all other moves draw or lose ground).

96. Kg1? Kf3!!
97. Kf1 Nf2
98. Ke1 Ke3!! The king and a single knight begin to corner the opposing king.

99. Kf1 Nd3
100. Kg2 Kf4!!
101. Kh3 Kf3
102. Kh4 Ne5
103. Kh5 Kf4
104. Kh4 Ng6+
105. Kh5 Ngf8
106. Kh4 Ne6
107. Kh3 Kf3!
108. Kh2 Nf4
109. Kg1 Ke2
110. Kh2 Kf2 (diagram:white to move)

click for larger view

This is the position that black needs (it would be equivalent if the knight were on e3 instead of f4). However, we need it to be Black's move! So, now we do a strange 7-move triangulation such that we will wind up with the equivalent position with Black to move:

111. Kh1 Kg3
112. Kg1 Ng2!
113. Kf1 Kf3!!
114. Kg1 Ne3
115. Kh2 Kg4
116. Kg1 Kg3
117. Kh1 Kf2
118. Kh2 (diagram:black to move)
Here is the position Black was after!

click for larger view

118...Ng5! Now we can commit the other knight!
119. h7 Nf1+
120. Kh1 Ne4
121. h8=Q Ng3#

Mar-18-07  Autoreparaturwerkbau: Very nice analysis, <YouRang>!
Feb-08-09  WhiteRook48: 79. h5 looked more like a desperate attempt to salvage a draw
Mar-04-09  David2009: After 84 moves by White

click for larger view

Botvinnik in his book of the 1941 match-tournament claimed that 84... Nc2 won, giving 85 Kf2 Ne1 with main line 86 Kf3 Ke3 87 Kg4 Ke4 88 Kg3 Nd3 89 Kg4 Nf2+ 90 Kg3 Ke3 91 Kg2 Ne4 and wins by driving the WK into either the h1 or h8 corner (White's choice). The h1 corner lasts longer see <YouRang>s analysis (the equivalent was also given by Botvinnik). However the Nalimov Tablebase Server shows that 85 Kg2! draws. White heads for g6 via h3, h4 and h5 while the Nc2 is sufficiently out of play.

I was interested to see from <YouRang>s analysis that Lilienthal missed a further win at move 96: this possibility is not mentioned by Botvinnik.

May-11-10  Tophie1984: Now they can play on in heaven.

Rest in peace, Vasily and Andor!

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