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Aron Nimzowitsch vs Siegbert Tarrasch
"Tarrasch the Thought" (game of the day Apr-28-2014)
St. Petersburg (1914), St. Petersburg RUE, rd 5, Apr-28
Queen's Gambit Declined: Tarrasch Defense. Pseudo-Tarrasch (D30)  ·  0-1


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Given 66 times; par: 51 [what's this?]

Annotations by Raymond Keene.      [407 more games annotated by Keene]

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <Conrad93: Is there a point to 12. Nh4?>

Possibly, but you need to get in the mind of Nimzo to find it.

I think his idea is that he wants to attack along the a1-h8 diagonal with his Bb2 and possibly moving his queen to c3. He would also quite like to be the only player with the bishop pair, especially as the position could open up with an exchange of central pawns. Open positions tend to favour bishops more than knights, and bishop pairs in particular.

So the idea of 12. Nh4 is to threaten to play Nf5, forking the black queen and bishop. Black would then have to allow the exchange of bishop for knight, ceding the bishop pair.

The only sensible way to keep the white knight out of f5 is by playing g6, which is what Tarrasch played. But this has the disadvantage of weakening the long black diagonal and creating dark square weaknesses around his king.

So Nimzo probably figured that he would get an advantage whatever happened. He would get his knight onto the juicy f5 square or black would be forced to make a concession - either the bishop pair or by forcing the weakening g6.

The problem of course is that this is a slow plan. It takes white two moves to play Nf3-h4-f3, where it only takes one move for black to push g6. That would not matter in the relatively closed positions where Nimzo excelled, but it was a bit of a liberty to take on an open board like this one.

Mind you, had it worked we would have been talking about the brilliance of Nimzo's long-distance strategy...

Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: <Once> *Nimzo* would like to have the Bishop pair? I admit that Nh4 seems to have this idea in mind, but isn't it out of character? As Ray Keene astutely noted, when Nimzowitsch discusses the two Bishops in My System, it's in terms of something to be guarded against, something which the enemy may have ... "We restrain, we blockade, but it is the enemy who has the two bishops in his oily grasp..."
Premium Chessgames Member
  Castleinthesky: Nimzovitch was 24 and Tarrasch 52 at the time this game was played.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Castleinthesky: Nimzovitch was 24 and Tarrasch 52 at the time this game was played.>

Nimzo was 27, not 24.

Premium Chessgames Member
  ChemMac: 28..Qg3+ 29.Kd2 Qf2+ 30 Kd1 Qe2++ is quicker, but probably Tarrasch thought that the five-move checkmate was nicer.
Premium Chessgames Member
  gars: I think <chrisowen> learned to read and write sutdying "Finnegans Wake" and the works of Clacoxia and Samuel Beckett.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <Domdaniel> I have always seen Nimzo as someone who is happiest when in his favoured territory - closed positions where he can blockade his way to a zugzwang - but who also (perhaps grudgingly) accepts that he can't always play that way. Sometimes he has to play an open board when piece mobility is more important than restraint of the enemy.

On the bishop pair, he says:

"The proud bishop pair ... is a terrible weapon in the hands of today's warriors."

"...I should make you aware of the dangers posed by an opposing bishop pair..."

"...the principal weakness of the bishop consists of the difficulty of protecting squares of the opposite colour, its main strength is its range... And now we can suddenly see why two bishops should be so strong. The reason is clear, their strength is doubled but their weakness which we have just mentioned is cancelled out by the presence of the "other" bishop."

In the section on Horrwitz bishops, he calls them "devastating".

So while Nimzo might not be looking for the bishop pair as readily as modern players, I don't see it out of character for him to angle for them if the position calls for it.

There is also a debating point here. In "My system" he says that he considered leaving the bishop pair out of his book because they he argued that they are not a strategy, they are a kind of weapon. I must say I am not entirely convinced by this. It is a perfectly legitimate to base your strategy on who has the bishop pair - in general to close the position if your opponent has the bishop pair and to open it if you have it.

More relevant to 12. Nh4 was that the game was likely to be opened up, making the bishop pair an important factor whether he liked it or not. He might have expected Tarrasch to want to keep the two bishops, which in turn would make 12...g6 more likely.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: <Once> All very interesting. I suppose I've been a Nimzo-esque player for many years, even when it seemed detrimental. Recently, I had two games where I consciously rejected the chance to grab the bishop pair. One of them I lost, badly, after turning down a chance for a clear advantage -- my opponent was baffled afterwards as to why I didn't just take the bishop pair -- even if the position is closed, he said, you just have to wait for it to open up. I won the 2nd game, however, without needing the bishops. There are clearly certain positions in which two bishops are a distinct advantage. Maybe such positions are less likely to occur after my typical openings, such as the French and Reti. Or perhaps I just underestimate the bishop pair...
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: There may be another possible explanation. Not all closed positions are created equal. Some are closed and likely to stay closed for quite some time. Others have the potential to open up, either by pawn levers or piece sacrifices.

So I think we need to judge whether a closed position is permanently closed or temporarily closed - and several different shades in between. It might be worth hanging onto the bishop pair if there is a strong likelihood of an open board coming about eventually. But we would want knights if the position was going to stay closed.

I suppose a good example is the KIA/ KID. In each case, the King's Indian player fianchettoes a bishop and then buries it behind pawns. Does that mean that one or both of the bishops are "bad" - or simply that they are biding their time?

As a fr'instance, I play the KIA against the French (and I play the French against 1. e4). Here's the position after 6 moves using Opening Explorer's most common moves within the KIA:

1. e4 e6 2. d3 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. Ngf3 c5 5. g3 Nc6 6. Bg2 Be7

click for larger view

Are the white bishops good or bad?

The game can take many different paths from here. The club hack is to play for a kingside attack. The more principled approach is to wait to see whether the game opens or closes before deciding which pieces you want to keep as friends and which to discard. Sometimes the bishop pair is powerful, sometimes it's not particularly relevant.

And if the game does close up, white usually needs to keep a pawn lever or two up his sleeve so that he can open it up to allow his bishops to breathe.

Silman is very good on these sorts of issues in books like Reassess Your Chess.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sneaky: <Conrad93: Is there a point to 12. Nh4?> flip back and read my post from 2003. It's the star move of the game IMO.
May-10-14  Lonnie Lurko: <ray keene: I wrote the notes to this game>

No, Ray, you didn't. The variations are taken in their entirety from Tartakower and du Mont.

The only commentary you wrote is the note to the very first move, and that (as with the rest of the text) is copied from the 1999 edition of Aron Nimzowitsch: A Reappraisal, as these notes ought to admit, but don't.


Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: Garry Kasparov mentions in Volume 1 of "My Great Predecessors" that the sacrifice of the other bishop on move 19 also wins, eg 19...♗xg2 20. ♔xg2 ♕g5+ 21. ♔h1 ♕f4 22. ♔g2 ♕xh2+ 23. ♔f3 ♖fe8 24. ♘e4 ♕f4 25. ♔g2 ♖xe4, with an overwhelming position.
Sep-16-14  Christoforus Polacco: Nine moves and almost symetrical position - only white knight is not on 'c3' but 'd2'. Very Hypermodern :) And very boring beginning - typical ''Queen's gambit'' without life and light :)Without fresh wind like in energetic ''King's gambit'' or ''Dutch stonewall''. But later is beautiful like in Morpphy's or Anderssen's games. Brilliant attack.

P.S. When ten years old child play ''Queen's gambit'' I think in this moment : ''Oh my God...'' Chess teachers make prejudice his young pupils very often...

Sep-16-14  iamsheaf: 100 years ago...!
Premium Chessgames Member
  hoodrobin: A brilliant attack... against a <sleeping> Nimzowitsch. I don't like this game (but I wish I could play like this at CC).
Oct-24-15  marimo: Tarrasch plays a "pseudo-Tarrasch" line, what an insult~~
Jan-26-16  Joker2048: Very nice mate by tarrasch.
He absolutely know what he's doing.
Nicely done.
Jul-18-18  Atking: It's hard to imagine Paul Morphy missing 28...Qg3+ 29.Kd2 Qf2+ then mate
Jul-19-18  RookFile: Black had an opportunity in the early opening to play ...dxc4. I would have played it. For example, 6....dxc4 instead of 6....Bd6.

What is the point? This: Black reaches an improved version of the Queen's Gambit Accepted.

In the normal QGA, 1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 White will recapture on c4 with a single bishop move. For example, 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 e6 5. Bxc4.

But in this game, Nimzo played Bd3 first. So, by virtue of playing dxc4 a little later than normal, black would actually be a tempo up on the usual QGA lines.

What's interesting is that the QGA is a neutralizing defense. That is black is not attacking, he's set out to equalize. So, the extra tempo doesn't mean black attacks now. Only, the defense would be a little easier.

Jul-19-18  WorstPlayerEver: 19. g3=
Jul-19-18  Atking: 19.g3 !? It's remember me Fischer last approach of Marshall defense. 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.c3 d5 9.exd Nxd5 10.Nxe5 NxN 11.RxN c6 12.g3!? Is 19.Rfe1 for 20.Nf1 refuted? 19...Bxh2+ 20.KxB Qh4+ 21.Kg1 Bxg2 22.KxB Qg4+ 23.Kf1 now 23...Rd5? is going nowhere 24.Qe4. Do I miss something?
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Sneaky: <Conrad93: Is there a point to 12. Nh4?> flip back and read my post from 2003. It's the star move of the game IMO.>

Seriously, sneaky? In <this> game, you think 12.Nh4 is the star move?

Even in 1914, it was hardly original. In Lasker vs Steinitz, 1894, the last game of the match, Lasker does the same thing on the other side, 23.Na4 b6 24.Nc3. Isidor Gunsberg was decidedly unimpressed.

click for larger view

Of 23.Na4, Gunsberg writes: <Then came a period where neither player knew what to do, therefore Lasker, probably thinking that a whale has before now been caught with a sprat, amused himself by playing Kt-R4.>

After 23....b6, he sneers, <This is a triumph for the modern school, because it weakened the pawns. >

Aug-05-18  mifralu: Black resigned after < 31. ..Re8+. >

Notes from Deutsches Wochenschach: < 32. Kd7 Bb5# >

Premium Chessgames Member
  Telemus: I have two books which present the game with Tarrasch's comments from the tournament book, and in both cases 32.♔d2 ♗b5# belong to the gamescore.

1. Kamm's Tarrasch biography.

2. Skjoldager/Nielsen's Nimzowitsch book.

I have a copy of the tb, too, but cannot find it right now. Damn.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Telemus: The game appeared without the moves 32.♔d2 ♗b5# in "Neue Hamburger Zeitung" already on 9 May 1914.
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