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Ratmir Kholmov vs Mark Taimanov
USSR Championship (1969), Moscow URS, rd 21, Oct-08
Sicilian Defense: Paulsen. Szen Variation (B44)  ·  0-1
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Last move:

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Kibitzer's Corner
May-19-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  SpaceRunner: Maybe it could be game of the day!
Nice finish!
May-19-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli:


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Here Taimanov played 21...e5, which I would call a grandmaster move. Even if it is more or less typical in other Sicilian setups, from the point of view of pawn structure, it looks just horrible. But white can exploit neither the d5 square nor the d6 weak pawn. Black has solid piece activity, and the pawn on e5 restricts the Ne2 and hence the Bf1 too.

I think 21...e5 is a beautiful, instructive GM move.

May-19-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  moronovich: Agreed <Fussilli> ! Very instructive. Tarrasch would turn in his grave :)
May-19-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Tarrasch would turn in his grave> Even Capablanca would have probably criticized Black's move for creating such a "hole" on d5.

But we can still find a few occasions when the old grandmasters did play similar moves: Stahlberg vs Alekhine, 1930 Alekhine played 23...e5. But it probably didn't become "standard operating procedure" until the 1950's.

May-20-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: Indeed, when Lasker played the then-rare idea <5...e5> in Schlechter vs Lasker, 1910, Capablanca commented <Altogether unusual and I believe not very good as Black's d pawn remains weak.>

Checking with the opening explorer, I found the line became frequent only since 1955.

May-20-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <moronovich....Tarrasch would turn in his grave :)>

And Reinfeld after him; I well remember the first chess book I owned, <The Complete Chess Course>: packed with dogma to gladden the heart of the biggest Tarrasch fan. The Lasker-Pelikan would surely have been consigned to the dustbin.

May-20-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  ChessHigherCat: <Fusilli: But white can exploit neither the d5 square nor the d6 weak pawn.>

Theoretically white could occupy the d5 square with the knight, but it would take forever: 24. Ng3 25. Nf5 26. Bf2 27. Ne3 28. Ne5

May-21-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: <CHC> Yes, but black moves too :) Because that plan would take forever, black has plenty of choices to get comfortable, dynamic piece play. Ng3 can be countered with g6, a natural move. If white then plays for Be2, Nf1, etc. black can play for Bc6, Ne6, and Nd4 is in the air, especially if white plays Ne3. Bg5 will be annoying when white plays Bf2, and if white responds to it with Be3 black has at least a draw, but would rather play Bf6 winning a tempo, further supporting a possible Nd4.

Sorry I am not discussing specific lines, but I prefer to leave it in the realm of ideas, making the point that 21...e5 is indeed a grandmaster move.

May-21-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  ChessHigherCat: <Fusilli> <CHC Yes, but black moves too :) Because that plan would take forever, black has plenty of choices to get comfortable, dynamic piece play.>

That's true, I was going to add "five moves is the minimum if black cooperates and white would probably get mated by the time the knight finally gets there." :-) Anyway, it would be easy to trade the bishop for the knight even if it did get to e5. It was just an interesting exercise to see how the N could get there.

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