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Erich Cohn vs Akiba Rubinstein
"Cohn Err" (game of the day Jan-24-2011)
St. Petersburg (1909), St. Petersburg RUE, rd 10, Feb-28
Queen's Gambit Accepted: Gunsberg Defense (D21)  ·  0-1


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Given 33 times; par: 83 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: The key variations from those diagrams are:


(A) 1...<g3>? 2.hxg3 fxg3 3.fxg3 Kxg3 4.Kg1 Kf3 5.Kf1 Ke3 6.Ke1 Kd3 7.a4! (the save) ....

(7...a6 8.axb5 axb5 9.Kd1 Kc3 10.Kc1 Kxb4 11.Kb2... =; 7...Kc3 8.axb5 Kxb4 9.Kd2 Kxb5 10.Kc3... 11.Kb2... =)


(A') 1...<g3>! 2.hxg3 fxg3 3.fxg3 Kxg3 4.Kg1 Kf3 5.Kf1 Ke3 6.Ke1 Kd3 7.a4... (not here) 7...Kc3 8.axb5 axb5 9.Kd1 Kxb4 10.Kc2 Ka3 ... 0-1.



(B1) 1...<f3>! 2.Kg1 Kh4 3.<Kf1> Kh5! ... (important tempo work) ... 4.Ke1 Kg4 5.Kf1 Kf4 (5.Kd2? Kh4) 6.Ke1 Ke4 7.Kd2 Kd4 8.Kc2 Kc4 9.Kd2 Kb3 10.Ke3 Kxa3 11.Kf4 Kxb4 12.Kxg4 a5... 0-1

(B2) ... 3.<Kh1> Kg5 4.h3(!) gxh3 5.Kh2 Kg4 6.Kg1 Kf4 7.Kh2 Ke4! 8.Kxh3 Kd3 (8.Kg3 h2 9.Kxh2 Kd3) 9.Kg4 Ke2 10.Kg3 a6 (tempo and zugzwang) ... 0-1


(B2') 1...<f3>? 2.Kg1 Kh4 3.<Kh1!> Kg5 4.h3! gxh3 5.Kh2 Kg4 6.Kg1 Kf4 7.Kh2 Kg4 ... =

7...<Ke4>? 8.Kxf3 Kd3 9.Kg4 Kc3 (9...Ke2 10.Kg3...zugzwang) 10.Kxf3 Kb3 11.Ke4 Kxa3 12.f4 Kxb4 13.f5 Kc3 14.f6... (White queens just in time to win)

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: Hmmm - gxf3 is either:

(a) a strong attacking move in the opening and early middlegame because it gives you a half open g file to play with;

(b) a weak move in the opening and early middlegame because it gives your opponent a half open g file and weak h pawn to play with; or

(c) a weakness in the late middlegame/ ending because the isolated h pawn is very hard to defend.


Jan-24-11  Oceanlake: Cohn loses tempi, and Rubinstein can count.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: Looking again at the position

click for larger view

I suddenly had a bit of a trouble to reconstruct Black win after

1.Kh1 e4 2.fxe4 fxe4 <3.f3!? exf3 4.Kg1 h4 5.e4...>

My problem was that after 5...Kg4? 5.Kf2 Kf4 7.e5 Kxe5 8.Kxf3 Kf5 9.h3..., the endgame would end in a draw. But Black still has a win if he simply ignores the passed e-pawn. After


Black pawn-avalanche slams into White king and wins the footrace in the process (e.g., 6.e5 g3 7.hxg3 hxg3 8.e6 g2 -- 8...f2+ 9.Kf1 Kh2 10.e7 g2+ 11.Kxf2 g1Q+ 12.Kf3 Qe1... also works -- 9.e7 Kg3 10.e1Q f3#).

Jan-24-11  amateur05: I love this game. It is so simple and beautiful. Thanks to cg for making it a game of the day.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: This was an old puzzle-in totality,the game is a good lesson tool. Black is able to exchange off pawns to get the upper hand with the remainder.

White's king is pinned on the first row,while black clips off the remainder of the pawns.

Another kind of Ruberstein masterpiece!

Premium Chessgames Member
  chrisowen: Times endgame?!

Molten steal black wedge compact machine rise evaluation sky high netting the premise born out it jip c-file rook needed.

Cohn's alchemy scratch ET off little melee Rubinsteins apparant king hiding aim ammass whitecoat pawns ado get taken away levelling Erichs corona off.

Jan-24-11  YoungEd: This pun relies on err = air. However, my mama would be quick to say that the preferred--nay, the correct--pronunciaion of "err" is "ur" (and indeed my dictionary lists that first). Oh, well.
Jan-24-11  WhiteRook48: nice! 39 f4 (only freeing move) 39...exf4 40 e5 f3 41 e6 g2 42 e7 Kg3 43 e8=Q f2# 0-1
Premium Chessgames Member
  mjmorri: Nothing difficult about this game. Cohn allows his pawn structure to be disrupted and erroneously trades down into a lost King and pawn ending. Pretty routine win for someone like Rubinstein.
Jan-24-11  Petrosianic: An excellent example of 20/20 hindsight.
Jan-24-11  lionel15: He was a great player Rubenstein. To play so correctly (though not always the best move)is good to see. Remember this was 1909, but he was in his prime
Jan-25-11  azax: This is a very charming GOTD. A small weakness in White's pawn structure leads to instant death in the endgame.
Feb-07-11  splatty: < chrisowen: Times endgame?!

Molten steal black wedge compact machine rise evaluation sky high netting the premise born out it jip c-file rook needed.

Cohn's alchemy scratch ET off little melee Rubinsteins apparant king hiding aim ammass whitecoat pawns ado get taken away levelling Erichs corona off.> Hehe, great words.

Premium Chessgames Member
  chrisowen: <splatty> Hi pus doxic for id enrol call knights tour d6 c4 ive really made the grade hook led ram space hatrick pawn movement lie landbouwbelang le g3 it feeds in. Dead cleric opening knight mutton why alfie rook c1 arrivederci.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: [from Aug-24-05]
<RookFile: Yeah, you want to dope slap Cohn for playing 24. Rc1. As the saying goes: "All rook endings are drawn", which is what he can get with something reasonable like 24. f4>

[from Dec-08-06]
<RookFile: *** Something that not enough people talk about is 24. Rc1. That was a mistake. <The moral of the story is: if you want a draw, keep the rooks on the board. It's by far the safest way to draw.>>

Chess is not so simple that it can be reduced to the application of reliable maxims (such as “all rook endings are drawn”). There are exceptions, such as this game: Alekhine vs Reti, 1922 In which Reti realized that exchanging rooks (with <57. … Rxg4!>) would assure him of a draw from this position (black to move):

click for larger view

Keeping rooks on the board with <57. ... Rc4> (from the position in the diagram above) would probably have left black with a lost position after <58. g5>.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: As several kibitzers have already noted, Cohn was probably lost after his dubious <24. Rc1?!> (which possibly should be given simply "?"), and it was inevitable he would lose the resulting position with Rubinstein across the board. Nevertheless, the remaining phase of the game holds much interest.

For example, extremely interesting is the position in the second diagram below (which did not occur in the game but could have arisen if Cohn had played <35. fxg4!?> instead of his actual <35. e4?!>, which was routinely losing) in this position:

click for larger view

After the further hypothetical continuation <35...hxg4?!> (Better here - and more likely to have been played by Rubinstein - is <35. ... fxg4!>, but players of less-than-immortal stature would probably find the capture "towards the centre" more natural. The position after <35. ... hxg4?!> is still theoretically winning for Black, by the way, but the technical burden is much greater than after <35. ... fxg4!>.) ... <36.Kg1 f4 37.exf4 exf4 38.Kh1 g3?> (Correct is <38. ... f3! >, the only move that wins by force, as demonstated in analysis by IM Steve Giddins presented in the source cited infra.) <39.fxg3 fxg3 40.hxg3>, the resulting position would have been:

click for larger view

The position in the diagram above appears to be winning for Black due to the much stronger position of his King. Averbakh, among others, gave the line reaching this position as “ ”. Nevertheless, White surprisingly can hold, as follows: <40. ... Kxg3 41.Kg1 Kf3 42.Kf1 Ke3 43.Ke1 Kd3 44.Kd1 Kc3 45.a4! a6> (No better are either (A) <45...bxa4 46.Kc1=>; or (B) <45...Kxb4 46.axb5 Kxb5 47.Kc1=>) <46.axb5 axb5 47.Kc1 Kxb4 48.Kb2=> producing the following drawn position (with Black to move):

click for larger view

The foregoing analysis is taken from the recently published book, <The Greatest Ever Chess Endgames>, by Giddins, Steve, Everyman Chess ©2012, at pp. 16-17.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: [from May-16-09]
<Gypsy: *** My point is this: While the Mestel lines> (*) <are perceptive and correct, they became relevant only because Rubinstein sort of misplayed the endgame when he played the <34...g4(?)>. This move brought the position into a realm of study-like, tempo-based drawing resources and study-like tempo wins. In contrast, Black win is relatively simple after <34...e4(!)>. *** >

(*) - <Note by PP: - The referenced "Mestel lines" demonstrate a draw after a hypothetical <35. fxg4 hxg4 36. Kg1 f4 37. exf4 exf4 38. Kh1 g3?> [In this line, only the "study-like" <38. ... f3!> wins.>

Although <34. … e4!> is unquestionably the simplest win and therefore objectively better than Rubinstein’s <34. … g4>, the above comment exaggerates the defects of Rubinstein’s choice at move 34.

The position only would have become “study-like” if

<A> Cohn had played <35. fxg4> (instead of his actual <35. e4?> – played one move too late; although inadequate even there, at move 34, the advance of the e-pawn would have been White’s best defensive try);


<B> Rubinstein had played the second-best (but still winning) <35. … hxg4>. In that case, at move <38>, Rubinstein would have been required to find the “study-like” <38. … f3!> instead of the obvious (but inadequate) <38. … g3?>.

It is impossible to be certain whether, when Rubinstein played <34. … g4(?!)>, he had worked out that after <35. fxg4>, the correct reply would have been <35. … fxg4!>. It seems unlikely that at move 34 anyone (even Rubinstein) would have worked out and been relying on the "Mestel line" with <38. ... f3!>, but it is not too difficult to believe he had worked out that <35. ... fxg4> was best in response to <35. fxg4>; if so, then the great Akiva had analyzed a continuation that was winning without significant difficulty and had the endgame fully under control. If he might actually have played <35. … hxg4?!> in response to a hypothetical <35. fxg4>, then he was a bit off-form (for him) that day and was perhaps fortunate that Cohn erred (again; cf. <24. Rc1>) with <35. e4?>.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: Of the final position:

click for larger view

IM Steve Giddins (op. cit. [supra, in separate post from earlier today]) writes simply, “White clearly loses the e4-pawn.” (at p. 17)

This is a bit oversimplified. White could have tried <39. f4!?>, but it would have been to no avail, as these lines demonstrate:

<39.f4!?> [or 39.f3 g2 40.f4 exf4 41.e5 Kg3 42.e6 f3 43.e7 f2#] <39...exf4 40.e5 f3 41.e6> [or 41.Kf1 g2+ 42.Kf2 (42.Kg1 Kg3 43.e6 f2#) 42...Kh2 43.e6 g1Q+ 44.Kxf3 Qe1–+] <41...g2 42.e7 Kg3 43.e8Q f2#>, with this final position resulting:

click for larger view

Jul-18-13  Albion 1959: This ending is instructive and also interesting. Gypsy has done a lot of extensive analysis, I like the idea of a4 to liquidate the pawn on b5, this needs to be looked at in more detail. The game itself is certainly not one of Rubinstein's "Best" games, the win against the same opponent in a 56 move rook & pawn ending was a better effort from Rubinstein.
Apr-27-15  Howard: When I get a couple days' time, I'm gonna look at this endgame more closely.
Dec-10-16  Albion 1959: Had another look at this ending. The variation instead of 35. e4 35. fxg fxg!
36. Kg1 e4!
Squashes any hope for white. I'm not yet sure about move 30 b5 instead of Kh1. Does b5 really save the game foe white? Apart from b5 was in order or better, there is nothing else here to support this. An interesting line that needs further analysis. I am still of the belief that Cohn went wrong on 24 with Rc1?? He should have played f4 to keep Rubinstein's rook out of the kingside, this should be sufficient to hold the position. This game features in Chervev's The Golden Dozen page 32 - Game 14. Though the notes on this ending are light:
Dec-13-16  karrer1: continuation that Rubinstein did use:
<34...g4> If now ...35.fxg4! hxg4 36.Kg1 f4 37.exf4 exf4 38.Kh1...

we get the position M1:

click for larger view
Mestel shows that, after some study-like play, the 'natural' <1...g3?> only draws, while the 'contra-intuitive' <1...f3!> wins. No. (B2) ... 3.<Kh1> Kg5 4.h3(!) gxh3 5.Kh2 Kg4 6.Kg1 Kf4 7.Kh2 Ke4! 8.Kxh3 Kd3 (8.Kg3 h2 9.Kxh2 Kd3) 9.Kg4 Ke2 10.Kg4! .

May-12-17  User not found: No one spotted 29..b5! immediately instead of the pointless e5?

click for larger view

White is left without a single move, complete zugzwang and time to tip the king. I saw this before I ran it through the engine.


click for larger view

23.c1? was a blunder of 1600 5min blitz levels because all you need to do is count, you don't really have to work out variations and lines or be a Grandmaster or even an expert, if you know the rules and understand chess it's just obvious. If you can count to 8 you <should see> you lose by playing Rc1 and offering the exchange, this is when playing for a draw backfires..

I thought Rg1 to look after the hanging h pawn but the engine prefers f4 and I guess it does a similar job by stopping blacks c4 rook swinging over to the g or h file. Either way very bad middle/end game from white after an accurate and even opening.

Premium Chessgames Member
  boringplayer: Thank you to all the players who took the time for such in-depth analysis of the K+P ending!
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