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Vera Menchik vs Sonja Graf-Stevenson
Women's World Championship (1939), Buenos Aires ARG, rd 12, Aug-??
Nimzo-Indian Defense: Normal Variation. Gligoric System (E53)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
Oct-02-04  tacticsjokerxxx: Quote: Sonja Graf

<"When you play chess, your whole body works," observed Miss Graf. "Your feet tremble. My God, I can hear my heart pound two tables away! Against Menchik, when she was world champion, I had a won game, but I found the three stupidest moves you could think of and lost.">

I can't find those moves at first glance... but black is certainly winning at some point.

Premium Chessgames Member
  meloncio: According to Alekhine, in his book about the 1939 Olimp., the three black "stupid" moves were:

59... ♕c2+? (better 59... g5)
60... ♕xe2+?? (much better and decisive 60... ♕b2)
61... ♗f5? (better 61... g5 again).
Of course, all notes by Alekhine.

Premium Chessgames Member
  PhilFeeley: From Nigel Short comes another one of Menchik's games, played in 1937:

Menchik, V - Graf, S Semering, 1937

1.c4 e6 2.Nc3 d5 3.d4 Nf6 4.Nf3 Nbd7 5.e3 c6 6.Bd3 Be7 7.0-0 0-0 8.e4 dxe4 9.Nxe4 Nxe4 10.Bxe4 Nf6 11.Bc2 c5 12.dxc5 Qa5 13.Be3 Bxc5 14.Bd2 Qc7 15.Bc3 Be7 16.Qe2 b6 17.Ng5 g6 18.Qf3 Bb7 19.Qh3 h5 20.Rad1 Ng4? DIAGRAM (the cold-blooded 20...Qxc4! was a more resilient defence) was 21.Rd7!! 1-0 Black resigns. If 21...Qxd7 22.Qxh5! gxh5 23.Bh7mate! Incidentally, the immediate 21.Qxh5 would have been met by 22...Qxh2+! , keeping the game alive.

Jul-13-06  sleepkid: the final blunder is 62. ...Kxg6. A draw was still possible with 62. ...Be4.

Also, in the end it seems that 70. ...Bb5 creates certain problems for white. Much more so than the move actually played.

A possible line being 70. ...Bb5 71. Bc8 Ba4!! (If PxB then black wins) 72. Kc2 Bb5 and then I think the position becomes theoretically drawn, though it's tricky.

I might be wrong, because once again I don't have a board, and am just playing this out in my head. Seems like there are several tricky moves that white can play to try and gain a tempo, but it looks like black can maintain the position, and either force a position where the King is able to move back and forth on the dark squares, or enter a stalemate.

Now someone with an engine tell me I'm wrong. ;-)

Jul-14-06  sleepkid: Can we get Crafty's opinion on the line posted above?
Premium Chessgames Member
  crafty: 70...♗b5 71. ♔c2 ♗e2 72. ♗c6 ♗f1 73. ♗d7 ♔d8 74. d6   (eval 4.09; depth 18 ply; 500M nodes)
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: <sleepkid> That's pretty idea but I don't think that it can work. How black will defend the position after 70...Bb5 71.Bc8 Ba4 72.Kc2 Bb5 73.d6+ Kd8 74.Bb7 with intention 75.Be4?
Jul-14-06  sleepkid: <chessgames> Thanks for getting Crafty out on this one. the end of the line given by crafty, black has the last gasp try 75. ...Bc4! which would probably work in a blitz game, but not here.

...but your line <Honza> is much better, and leaves black facing inevitable doom.

Still, I liked the Ba4 idea. It almost looks like a correspondence chess move.

Really Black should have done much better at earlier points in the game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Caissanist: This game is not from the "Buenos Aires Olympiad olw", of 1939, because there was no such event. It is from the 1939 women's world championship, which was played concurrently with the "men's" olympiad. Had this been a team event then Graf would not have been able to play; her strongly anti-Nazi views meant that she was no longer allowed to play under the German flag by this time (she competed in the tournament with a flag that said "liberty").

Menchik far outclassed any other woman for most of the 1930s, but by 1939 Graf seems to have narrowed the gap considerably; if she had won this game then she and Menchik would have tied for first.

Mar-04-17  kereru: Alekhine's notes are reproduced in "107 Great Chess Battles" (edited by Edward Winter, 1980). Alekhine misses what the engines spot quickly - that on moves 54 and 55 ... Qh4! wins quickly. His analysis of the "3 stupidest moves" is mostly correct, but he omits to mention that 62...Be6 or 62...Be4 would still draw.
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