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Vasily Smyslov vs Cenek Kottnauer
Groningen (1946), Groningen NED, rd 14, Aug-30
Sicilian Defense: Scheveningen. Classical Variation (B84)  ·  1-0


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Given 10 times; par: 20 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 4 OF 4 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Apr-02-10  VincentL: In this "difficult" position, the first move I want to try is 18. Nc5

If black plays 18.....dxc5 then white continues 19. Rxd7 Rxd7 20. Ra8

Now black has the options Qxa8, Qd8 or Bd6. After the exchange of Q for R, white has a queen for two rooks - not really an advantage.

I am missing something here, and am going to check to see how the game went.

Apr-02-10  VincentL: Ah...19. Bf4. I didn't try that.
Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: In my 2004 post, I got mixed up on the move number in a side variation. If 18...Rc7, then as <Honza Cervenka> notes 19. Nxd7 Rxc6 20. Nxb8 wins easily.

P.S. As noted in my post on page 1 of the kibitzing, this problem appears under the pinning them in both the 1980 Encyclopedia of Chess Openings (#137) and in Reinfeld's 1001 Winning chess Sacrifices and Combinations (#55).

It's always good to have a reference point in the games here at to see how the winning position came about.

Apr-02-10  butilikefur: 18. Bf4 e5 19. Bxe5 dxe5 20. Rxd7 Rxd7 21. Nb6 Qc7 (or 21...Qb7) 22. Ra8+ Ke7 23. Nd5+ Rxd5 24. Re8+ mate
Apr-02-10  butilikefur: lol.. 22...Qxb6
Apr-02-10  TheaN: Friday 2 April 2010


Target: 6:00;000
Taken: ~2:30;000

Material: =

Candidates: Nc5, Qxb7... <[Nc5]>

I was looking at the key move instantly as it seems the most logical move, only to be diverted by a too coordinated defense by Black. After the spite try Qxb7 I went back and noticed it works.

White wants to get Ra1 into the party before Black gets the chance to castle (in which the outside pawns of White might be dubious in comparison to the Black king side majority... something completely different though). The Knight has to move, but White also wants to include the Knight into the attack. This happens in a spectacular way:

<18.Nc5!> simultaneously threatening the Knight on d7 and the Rook on b7. Aside capturing, Black has two alternatives to avoid the loss of a Rook, which is moving it to either a7 or c7. Lets consider the key of the position first, and capture the Knight.

<18....dxc5> the point in this position is that White opened up the a-file. and Black is, when capturing, forced to open the d-file. Two open files with Rooks on them cannot be good for Black.

<19.Ra8!> abusing the a-file. The alternative 19.Rxd7?!, part of the combination, meets the equalizing 19....Rb6!. After this move, Black is rather forced to take.

<19....Qxa8> and it's hard to consider that White is still winning even with a Rook and Knight down! Well, they'll both be retrieved in two moves.

<20.Rxd7> now it is playable. The major problem for Black here is the discovered check from the Rook. The alternative to capturing the Rook is moving the Bishop and creating a square:

<20....Be7 21.Rc7! Kf8 (21....Kd8 22.Qd7 1-0) 22.Rc8 Bd8 (22....Qxc8 23.Qxc8 Bd8 24.Qxd8 1-0) 23.Rxa8 > but it doesn't work.

<20....Rxd7 21.Qxa8 Ke7 22.Qf3 > defending against Rd1. Due to the coordination of the Black pieces, White is ahead in this position: Black cannot develop. 22....g6? 23.Bg5 and it's over. Moving the King might at one point allow another Qa8. Before Black gets out, White wins.

What were these alternatives?

<18....Ra7> threatening the Rook on a1. The problem is, why would White care?

<19.Nxd7 > after 19....Rxd7 20.Ra8 White did not sac the Rook on d1 and that is a trivial win.

<18....Rc7> a tricky defense that might be a troublesome counter. However, White can again play:

<19.Nxd7! Rxc6 20.Nxb8 Rxc2 21.Ra8 > Black has some compensation for the piece but it isn't enough. Time to check.

Apr-02-10  TheaN: 4/5

<zooter>, you must have used a wrong position in that final analysis. I just put the entire Ra8 line in my Rybka, and after 22.Qf3 it is no -4. However, it is incorrect as she's evaluating this as a beautiful <0.00>, if Black overcomes his troubles. One way of doing so is 22....f6:

click for larger view

With Kf7 coming, etc. Oh, on a side note, 19.Rxd7 is the same, as 19....Rxd7 is forced. 19....Rb6 20.Qa4 with +4. So both Ra8 and Rxd7 evaluate the same, but draw instead of win.

Apr-02-10  wals: Rybka 3 1-cpu : 3071mb hash: depth 17 :

Black's errors. 13...Nxe5 (+ 1.26) was inferior to dxe5 (+0.19).

18...dxc5 (+ 5.96)
was inferior to Rc7 (+ 3.20).

Apr-02-10  tarek1: <Jimfromprovidence> You're completely right I had overlooked this Bd6 defense. Still losing but better than the line I posted.
I always try to look for resources for the defender, thanks for pointing this out :)
Apr-02-10  this is a sign: I came up with <18...dxc5 19.Rxd7 Rxd7 20.Ra8 Qxa8 21.Qxa8+ Ke7 22.Qf3>. Obviously, this is not a winning line (more like draw-ish) but it's the closest I came to solving a difficult Friday puzzle. :)
Apr-02-10  krakukas: Hi I'm new here. Is <18.Nc5 Rc7 19.Nxd7 Qc8> worth considering? Black isn't a piece down since white knight is lost after <20.Nf6++ Ke7 21.Qxd6+ Kxf6>. What do you think?
Apr-02-10  BeautyInChess: Krakukas, yes. I was thinking the same thing, I'm surprised no one else mentioned this line. Given this line <18.Nc5 Rc7 19.Nxd7 Qc8> I think 20. Nf6 looks best then there are two ways to go. And they both lose for black!

First if 20. ... Kd8 21. Rxd6! Ke7 ( Not 21. ... Bxd6 as 22. Qxd6 Rd7 23. Qxd7 Qxd7 24. Nxd7 Kxd7 when white is up a piece) 22. Ra7! and Jordan fades back ... swish and that's the game. So, 20 ... Kd8 is out.

The only other option is 20. ... Ke7
which is immediately answered by Ra7!

Apr-02-10  BeautyInChess: Actually, in the line with 21. ... Bxd6 22.Qxd6 Rd7 23. Nxd7 Qxd7 24. Ra8# Or if not white is up two pieces. At any rate black can't play Bxd6 without losing, and nothing else helps. This is just my analysis over the board without comp help. I'm sure there's a better continuation out there, but the point is black is lost on Rc7, and Qc8.
Apr-02-10  zb2cr: ARRRGHH! I was able to deduce that 18. Nc5 was the initial move, but I didn't find a good follow-up. Isn't it ironic that when I see it demonstrated, it seems so clear--but when I am looking for it myself, I can't find it except in the simpler puzzles?
Apr-02-10  krakukas: 18.Nc5 Rc7 19.Nxd7 Qc8 20.Nf6++ if <20. ...Kd8> there is just <21.Qe8#> with the f6 knight and Rc7 Qc8 blocking the King. <20. ... Ke7> and 21.Ra7 is good indeed. Anyway, it's a part of solution I guess.
Apr-02-10  tacticalmonster: 1) Black king was stuck in the center. Black kingside pieces were totally out of play

2) White had an unpleasant pin on d7 knight. The d1 rook has an indirect influence on the pin as well.

3) White had an open a file at his disposal. The a4 knight currently got in the way

4) Black queen was oddwardly placed. She was vulnerable to tactic on the backrank.

Candidate: 18 Nc5

a) 18 Rc7 19 Nxd7 Rxd7 (19 Rxc6 20 Nxb8 ) 20 Ra8

b) 18 Qc7 19 Qxb7 Qxc5 20 Ra7

c) 18 dxc5 19 Rxd7 Rxd7 (19 Rb6 20 Qa4 Rb4 21 Rb7+ Rxa4 22 Rxb8+ Kd7 23 Rxa4 ) 20 Ra8 Qxa8 (20 Ke7 21 Qxc5+ Kf6 22 Qg5#) 21 Qxa8+ Rd8 22 Qa4+ Ke7 23 Bd2!

Premium Chessgames Member
  johnlspouge: < <TheaN> wrote: <zooter>, you must have used a wrong position in that final analysis. I just put the entire Ra8 line in my Rybka, and after 22.Qf3 it is no -4. However, it is incorrect as she's evaluating this as a beautiful <0.00>, if Black overcomes his troubles >

Hi, <TheaN>. Toga also evaluates the variation with 22.Qf3 at about +0.4 P, i.e., "unconvincing", as (with wetware alone, and no computer) I had estimated. My ego has no trouble conceding that Smyslov's chess was (and likely will remain) much better than mine, but I did wonder: am I really still such a cockeyed optimist?

Thanks for the reality check: I do enjoy your posts.

Apr-02-10  AnotherNN: Right from the start, I had trouble with 18. ..Rc7. Yes, I also saw 19. Nxd7, etc., but then I considered 19...Qd8 (not 19...Qc8 which allows 20.Nf6++ Ke6 followed by either 21.Qxd6 or 21.Ra7).

Best I could come up with, after 20.Nf6++ Ke6, is 21.Nd5+ Pxe5 followed by 22.Qxd5 (threatening 23.Bg5 f6 24.Re1+ Kc6 25.Ra6+,etc) or 22.Re1+, or 22.Bg5+, etc., etc., ... all leaving Black with a bad position but nothing really indefensible.

Apr-02-10  AnotherNN: On second thought, I think 22.Qxd5 is totally winning. Black can't stop 23.Bg5 with 23... h6 since 23.Bf4 leaves the d6 Pawn indefensible (23... Rd7, simply 24.Bxd6 Rxd6 25.Ra7+).

Various other replies can't fend off moves like Re1+, or Ra8, etc. Try it and see ...

Apr-02-10  TheBish: Smyslov vs C Kottnauer, 1946

White to play (18.?) "Difficult"

There was only one move that jumped out at me, a move that opens several lines at once:

18. Nc5!! What a stunning move! This accomplishes several things: 1) attacks the rook and knight, after which capture of the white knight (virtually forced) opens the d-file for White's rook and 2) opens the a-file for the other rook. Now:

A) 18...dxc5 19. Rxd7 Rb6 (or 19...Rxd7 20. Ra8 Qxa8 21. Qxa8+ Rd8 22. Qc6+) 20. Qa4! with a nasty discovered check coming, since 20...Rb4 21. Rb7+ Rxa4 22. Rxb8+ followed by 23. Rxa4 wins a rook.

B) 18...Rc7 19. Nxd7 Rxc6 (or 19...Rxd7 20. Ra8) 20. Nxb8 Rb6 21. Ra8 (or 21. Na6) and White wins a piece.

Time to see how this went down.

Apr-02-10  TheBish: Wow, totally missed 19. Bf4!. I knew I was missing something, because 19. Rxd7 Rxd7 20. Ra8 didn't seem convincing enough.
Apr-02-10  Shah Mat: @<Krakukas><Black isn't a piece down since white knight is lost after <20.Nf6++ Ke7 21.Qxd6+ Kxf6>. What do you think?>

i liked this until i saw that after 20.Nf6++ Ke7 21.Nd5+! is completely winning. 21...exd5 22. Qxd5 and the d6 pawn to go shortly. black is finished.

Apr-03-10  Dr. J: <BeautyInChess ... 18.Nc5 Rc7 19.Nxd7 Qc8 I think 20. Nf6 looks best then there are two ways to go. And they both lose for black!

First if 20. ... Kd8 21. Rxd6! etc.

The only other option is 20. ... Ke7 21 Ra7!>

In your first line: After 20 ... Kd8 21 Qe8# is a simpler win.

Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: "Occasionally I used to experiment with dubious variations. This one I remembered from some lightning competitions. To try it against a player of Smyslov's calibre was a bit cheeky, to put it mildly" - Kottnauer.
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: The rare 7..b5 was criticized for being premature though it has actually scored well in the limited times it has been played since this game. 9 Qe2 prevents the response 9..Rd7 due to 10 e5..dxe 11 Nc6..Qc7 12 Nxb8..Qxb8 13 Bc6 winning the exchange. Perhaps 9..Be7 is better than Kottnauer's 9..Rc7?!. <wals: Rybka 3 1-cpu : 3071mb hash: depth 17 : Black's errors. 13...Nxe5 (+ 1.26) was inferior to dxe5 (+0.19).>

Smyslov gives 13..dxe 14 Bxb7..exd 15 Bxa6 with advantage to White.

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