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B Mikyska vs Karel Traxler
cr (1896)
Italian Game: Two Knights Defense. Traxler Counterattack Knight sac line (C57)  ·  0-1


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Kibitzer's Corner
May-15-03  Bears092: 18. Bf1 Bxg2 19. Bxg2 should lead to a draw...
May-15-03  Cyphelium: Bears092> I wonder if white is not losing after all, though it is true that 18. Bf1 Bxg2 19. Bxg2 Rf4 20. Qb3 (only move?!)Rh4+? 21. Qh3 Rxh3+ 22. Kxh3 g5! 23. Kh2 Nf6 24. Rd1! Ng4+ 25. Kh1 Qh4+ 26. Kg1 seems to be nothing more than a draw.

But what about 20.-Nf6! instead?
Then 21. Qh3+ Ng4+ 22. Qxg4 Rxg4 23. Rg1 Rh4 mate.
Or 21. Rd1 Rh4+ 22. Qh3+ Ng4+ 23. Kh1 Rxh3+ 24. Bxh3 Qh2 mate.

May-15-03  Bears092: A few things...
- in your original line, 20. Qa3 and Ng6 also draw
- If 20... Nf6, 21 Ng6 or 21. Qg3 both draw...
May-16-03  Cyphelium: I still think white is losing, but you certainly have a point. I was aware of the fact that technically speaking, 20. Qb3 wasn't the only move. I thought that alternatives would just transpose, which would have made sense if my analysis had been correct. I missed 21. Qg3 though.

Anyway, as I said I still think white is losing. 18. Bf1 and now not 18. Bxg2 (which indeed seems to lead to a draw), but instead 18. -Qf4+.

Now 19. Kf1 Qxf1+ 20. Kh2 Qxg2 mate is clearly bad, but 19. Kxh3 Rf5 (not 19. -Rf6 20. Nf7) 20. g4 (what else?) Qf3+ 21. Kh2 (21. Kh4 g5+ etc) 21. -Nf6 and now I don't see how white can defend against the different mating threats.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: Cyphelium, 18...Qf4+ seems to be a right solution. If 18.Bf1 Qf4+ 19.g3, then a silent move 19...Qe4!, which indirectly protects Bishop by attacking white Rook on h1 and which threatens with 20...Rf2+ or 20...Rxf1 or 20...Bxf1, seems to break white defence immediately. But in your line I think black should play 21...Qxg4 instead of 21...Nf6 (After that white can play 22.Qe8+ Nxe8 23.gxf5), which forces mate in several moves.
May-16-03  Cyphelium: Honza Cervenka> My analysis of this game certainly fails to impress. You are right of course. 21. -Nf6 can't be played due to 22. Qe8+ etc, but on the other hand your move 21.- Qxg4 must be some kind of misunderstanding, because there is no mate after 22. Kxg4.

So either black has to settle for a draw (NO NO arrrrggggggghhhh) or find something else.

Of course I stubbornly refuse to settle for the draw, and now I suggest 18. Bf1 Qf4+ 19. Kxh3 Qh6+ instead. 20. Kg3 Qxh1.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: Cyphelium, 22.Kxg4 is not possible as King is on h2. The line is 18.Bf1 Qf4+ 19.Kxh3 Rf5 20.g4 Qf3+ 21. Kh2 Qxg4.
May-19-03  Cyphelium: Honza Cervenka> It looks like I've acquired some sort of brain damage lately. You're correct again and I have no idea what my earlier kibitz meant. What is good though, is that you saved my 18. Qf4+ suggestion, which means that white is losing after 18. Bf1.
May-19-03  Elrathia Kingi: 11.Kxf2 looks like the move that killed white. Would 11.cxd4 instead of that move have saved his game?
May-19-03  AgentRgent: 11. cxd4 Qf6 looks very bad for white...
Dec-19-04  morphy234: This could have been a draw after 18. Bf1.

19. Bxg2 Qh4+
20. Kg1 Qf2+
21. Kh2 Qf4+

and it is drawn by perpetual check.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: Here is a summary of the <Honza Cervenka - Cyphelium> solution to the <18.Bf1> defense: <18...Qf4+ 19.Kxh3 Rf5> (or 19.g3 Qe4!) <20.g4 Qf3+ 21.Kh2 Qxg4 ...>. For completion, if 20.g3, then 20...Rh5+ 21.Kg2 Qe4+ 22.Kf2 Rxh1 23.Bg2 Rh2 ...

In adition, <18...Rf5 19.Qa3 Rh5 ... > also looks unstopable.

Apr-17-06  Paintbucket: 5.Nxf7 is no good. It allows for these kind of attacks as Traxler, Shirov and Belyavsky have demonstrated. 5.Bxf7+ is the better play. If you don't like that, then 5.d4 is the only other move.
Apr-17-06  Saruman: Although 8.-Nd4 is the most common move, see Opening Explorer, 8.-Bg4 leads to two of my favorite traxler games; J Cesena vs J Dyke, 1979 and another one not found in the database:

8.-Bg4 9.Be2 Bxe2+ 10.Qxe2 Nd4 11.Qxf2 0-0-0 12.Na3 Rf8 13.Ke1 Ne4 14.Qe3 Qh4+ 15.g3 (see Braun vs E Walther, 1969) Qg4 16.h3 Nf3+ 17.Kd1 Ng1+ 18.Ke1 Qd1+ 19.Kxd1 Rf1+ 20.Qe1 Nf2#. See diagram below:

click for larger view

Dec-14-16  S4NKT: After 9. c3, white loses the queen by force, believe it or not.

Theoretically correct to keep the queen is 9. d6.

The continuation after 9. c3 is - Bg4, 10. Qa5 - Nd7, 11. Kxf2 - Qh5, 12. Ke3 - Qg5, 13. Qf4.

Then at this point, white has two options, either, 13 - Kg1, followed by - Ne2 check, Bxe2 forced followed by - Queen takes Queen at a4.

The other alternative is 13 - Ke1, followed by - 0-0-0, Rf1, - Qe4 check, Kf2, - Be2, after Be2 white must prevent the mate in 2, for example if Nf7 then - Qf4, followed by - Qxf1, thus, 17. Qd1 is the best move for white, since it protects the Rook on f1 and dislocates the Bishop if the Queen is taken, nonetheless, on the 17th move black plays Bishop takes Queen, this is a forced variation all starting with the error 9. c3.

If 17. Bxe2 then 19. - Queen takes Queen at a4.

The Kg1 line is better for white, however, my analysis shows that it led to 15. - Queen takes Queen at a4, furthermore the knight at h8 can not be saved.

With perfect play in this line, it seems like black will eventually enter an endgame with a material advantage.

Case in point, if you know your theory in the Traxler while white doesn't and slips up with 9. c3, then you can play all the various forced lines which all lead to white losing the white queen.

What I love in this particular Karel Traxler game is the theoretical significance, the high quality of play, together with that white has all pieces left on the board while black has lost the Rook at h8, the Bishop at f2, the Knight at d4, then finally black executes a forced mate in 11 with Bxh3.

It continues like this - 17. Kh2 Bxh3 18. Bf1 Rf5 19. Qd1 Nf6 20. Ng6 hxg6 21. d3 Bg4 22. Qxg4 Nxg4+ 23. Kh3 Rh5+ 24. Kxg4 Rxh1 25. Bg5 Rh5 26. a4 Rxg5+ 27. Kxg5 Qg3#

Dec-14-16  S4NKT: "9. c3 loses the white queen by force"

I am re-checking

10. Qa4 is forced, unless white wants to lose the queen immediately.

11. Kxf2 is forced, the other line continues as 11. cxd4 Qf6 12. dxe5 Qf4, then 13. Be2 as the only move to prevent a quick checkmate.

12. Ke3 is forced, Kg1 is mate in 2, Kf1 leads to 0-0-0 with an approximate mate in 14, g3 leads to 12. g3 Qf6+ 13. Ke1 Qf5 14. cxd4 Qe4+ 15. Kf2 Qxh1 16. Bf1 O-O-O 17. Qa3 Rf8+ 18. Qxf8+, with white giving up the queen to avoid a quick checkmate and more material loss soon to follow.

13. Kf2 is forced, as Ke3 leads to Bf5 checkmate.

At move 13 in this game Traxler plays Qf5, the analysis in my previous comment is Qf4.

13. Nf7 loses the queen to 13. Nf7 Nf5+
14. Kd3 Nc5+ 15. Kc2 Nxa4, however you can play 15. - Qf2 and aim directly for checkmate.

13. Qxa7 continues with a mate in 8.

It does look like at 9. c3, with correct play from black white can not avoid losing the queen or falling into a checkmate trap.

Dec-18-16  S4NKT: Let me correct "12. Kf1", it doesn't seem like a mate in 14, with best play white can survive until move 33 or longer, I think, for example "11. Kxf2 Qh4+ 12. Kf1 O-O-O 13. Qb4 Nc2 14. Kg1 Qe1+ 15. Bf1 Be2 16. h3 Nxb4 17. Kh2 Bxf1 18. Na3 Rf8 19. d3 Rf3 20. Bf4 Qxa1 21. Bg3 Qxb2 22. Rg1 Nxd5 23. Nc4 Qe2 24. d4 Rxg3 25. Kxg3 Qxc4 26. Nf7 Nxc3 27. Nxe5 Nxe5 28. Kh2 Qf7 29. dxe5 Ne2 30. a4 Qf2"

Nonetheless, the critical line is not 9. c3, which is clearly an error.

The critical line is 9. d6, which leads to

9. d6 Qxd6 10. Nf7
Qe7 11. ?

See the discussion here -

If 11. d3, then after all the complications it can lead to this

11. d3 Bg4 12. Qd2 Bh4 13. Nc3 b5 14. Nxe5 O-O-O 15. Nf3 Nxf3 16. Qe3 Re8 17. Qxe7 Rxe7 18. Bf4 bxc4 19. h3 Bh5 20. gxf3 cxd3 21. cxd3 g5 22. Bd2 Bxf3 23. Rh2 Bg3 24. Rf2 g4 25. hxg4 Bxf2 26. Kxf2 Bxg4 27. Bg5 Rf7 28. Ke3 h5 29. Rc1 Kb7

Which results in a drawn looking endgame.

Note that their analysis is not complete with the 15. Nxg4 line "11. d3 Bg4 12. Qd2 Bh4 13. Nc3 b5 14. Nxe5 O-O-O 15. Nxg4 Rf8 16. Ne5 Ne4+ 17. Qf4 Rxf4+ 18. Bxf4 Nd2+ 19. Bxd2 Qxe5 20. g3 bxc4 21. Kg2 Bf6 22. Rac1 cxd3 23. cxd3 Qf5 24. Rhf1 Qxd3 25. Rf2 Kb7

This line could be slightly better for black in the endgame, however looks drawn. What they didn't mention is that white can play 21. gxh4 and then the black side is down a minor piece, so a careful perpetual must be forced with 11. d3 Bg4 12. Qd2 Bh4 13. Nc3 b5 14. Nxe5 O-O-O 15. Nxg4 Rf8 16. Ne5 Ne4+ 17. Qf4 Rxf4+ 18. Bxf4 Nd2+ 19. Bxd2 Qxe5 20. g3 bxc4 21. gxh4 Qf6+ 22. Kg2 Qg6+ 23. Kf2 Qf6+ 24. Kg2 Qg6+ 25. Kf2 Qf6+ 26. Kg2 3-fold repetition

The analysis at that page on 11. Ng5 is incorrect, 11. Ng5 is winning for black in all variations with a significant advantage in this line with - Qg6 on the seventeenth move

Note that if 13. Kxf2 then black seems to be winning in all variations after 13. - 0-0-0

11. Ng5 Bg4 12. Nf3 e4 13. h3 exf3 14. hxg4 fxg2+ 15. Kxg2 Qe4+ 16. Kxf2 Nxg4+ 17. Kg1 Qg6

They mention only white moving into a perpetual after 11. Ng5 Bg4 12. Nf3 e4 13. h3 exf3 14. hxg4 fxg2+ 15. Kxg2 Qe4+ 16. Kxf2 Nxg4+ 17. Kg1 Nf3+ 18. Kf1 Ngh2+ 19. Rxh2 Nxh2+ 20. Kg1 Nf3+ 21. Kf2 Qh4+ 22. Ke3 O-O-O 23. Be6+ Kb8 24. Qxf3 Qe1+ 25. Qe2 Qg3+ 26. Qf3 Qe1+ 27. Qe2 Qg3+ 28. Qf3 Qe1+ 3-fold repetition

The 11. Ng5 is interesting since white is up a full rook for a while and starts returning with the knight, however black has far too active pieces and has so many tactical variations.

In 11. h3 I am not sure what the best moves are however I'm quite sure it's the usual that black has many tricks which eventually result in a drawn endgame.

This opening with the Nxf7 line very likely results in a drawn endgame with best play from both sides, however there are complicated and critical moves all over the place in order to arrive there.

With two humans playing of roughly equal skill and one of them has played the Traxler for years or knows all these lines, then the more experienced should win, the trouble is you will play a lot of Ruy Lopez, Scotch and others so you can't play it all the time, unlike the Lopez Counter-Gambit and the Philidor Counter-Gambit which are more direct.

The trouble with chess is that it is a game which results in draws when you find all the best moves.

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