Domtian: 1 d4 …
From his two world championship debacles as the “hand-picked” opponent of Alekhine, many chess players associate the name “Bogoljubov” with a punching bag. In fact, Efim was phenomenally strong, and very dangerous.
1 … d5
We’ll get the Neo-Grunfeld by transposition…
2 Nf3 c6
3 c4 …
But not yet. This is a Slav.
3 … Nf6
4 Nc3 g6
In principle, pawns are stronger as a duo (on the same rank). Duos control the four squares immediately to their front and support the advance of one or the other, according to attacking or defending circumstances. So be wary, aspiring Grunfeld players, advancing g7-g6 [theoretically] weakens the already weak f7-pawn!
Most Slav players capture 4 dxc4 here (consistent with c7-c6, as in 5 e3?! b5 to protect the extra pawn.)
5 Bf4 …
Taking advantage of still another drawback to g7-g6— its relative slowness— by getting ahead by developing a third piece.
5 … Bg7
6 e3 …
6 … 0-0
With a share of the center, and his King safely castled, Black is solving his opening problems… Think again! Black is at [significant?] disadvantage from the loss of time from c7-c6 and g7-g6/Bf8-Bg7.
7 Qb3 …
Now 8 cxd5 Nxd5 9 Nxd5 cxd5 10 Rc1 and White gets a rook on the open c-file. Black’s next prevents this pawn capture…
7 … Qa5
8 Bd3 …
Book is 8 Nd2, breaking the Qa5-Nf3-pin, and gaining a tempo on Black’s queen (after 8 … dxc4 9 Nxc4 Qd8).
8 … Nbd7
9 0-0 dxc4
Unforced. What better alternatives may an annotator offer? None I can see.
10 Bxc4 b6
An online critic savagely abuses poor Carls for this move: “I’m no expert, but to my eyes 10...b6 was a horrificly [sic] bad move. I’m suprized [sic] he didn’t see the oncoming attack…”
Better is 10 … Nb6, and White’s next move fails: 11 Bxf7+ Rxf7 12 Ng5 e6! (protected by Black’s light-squared bishop.) With the text move, Carls takes his eye off that f7-pawn.
11 Bxf7+ Rxf7
12 Ng5 Nd5
Black has nothing better. (12 … e6 13 Qxe6)
13 Nxf7 Kxf7
14 e4 e6
My preference, given Black’s hopeless position: temporarily give White double-doubled pawns with 14 … Qb4 15 exd5 Qxb3 16 axb3. It’s about as good (or bad) as the text. If one may not create art with the strength of one’s moves, then create art with the absurdity of them!
15 exd5 exd5
16 Ne4 …
16 Rfd1 “consolidates” White’s winning advantage. Efim is not that type of player. The text move is characteristically vigorous.
16 … Bxd4
17 Nd6+ Kg8
The e-file is off limits. For example: 17 … Ke7 18 Rae1+ Kd8? 19 Nf7 mate!
18 Qh3 Qa6
With his queen on the a6-square, Black may play the defensive move Nd7-Nf8 without losing material to Nxc8. The drawback to the text move is that it loses to mate in five.
19 Qe6+ Kh8
20 Nf7+ resigns
The full denouement:
20 … Kg8
21 Nh6+ Kg7
22 Qf7+ Kh8
23 Qg8 mate.
Despite the apparent weakness of Carl Carls’s play in this game, he went on to a successful chess career: Twenty years later, he became German Champion (1934).
“A wise man loses nothing, if he but save himself.”