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Vasily Smyslov vs David Edward Rumens
"Pipped at the Post" (game of the day Feb-05-2007)
Hastings (1976/77), Hastings ENG, rd 2, Dec-30
Zukertort Opening: Dutch Variation (A04)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  WannaBe: Well, 1...f5 is the Dutch... Or a 'reversed bird'... Ummm...

I'm definitely going back to Monopoly.

Feb-05-07  ksh123: Well, I think is this game is more about black losing rather than white winning. I dont find any advantage with white after move 30.
Also, I dont get the pun either...
Feb-05-07  abstraction: 'pipped at the post' is a racing term (any kind) meaning just beaten right at the finish line, and according his CG bio Rumens was <UK Grand Prix Champion in 1976 and 1978>
Feb-05-07  lentil: I think White has a clear advantage at move 30. Turn the board around. Pieces and pawns are even, but White's are much better, particularly the Knight. Both of Black's pieces are severely constrained by their own pawns, which in turn offer several holes for penetration.

White's N maneuvers are instructive.

Granted, I doubt that I could win it, but then, I'm no Vassily...

Premium Chessgames Member
  ajk68: I agree with lentil. White has a dominant position after 30. Black's light square bishop is terrible and his knight has a long way to go to get into the game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  ajk68: The sequence starting with 50. b5+ was a good find by Smyslov.

I think many people would have been trying to hold on to the passed b pawn. My guess is that Smyslov decided that pawn would fall and he might as well convert to a modest material advantage.

Feb-05-07  TigerPawns: smyslov's games are elegant like bach's music.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: I don't get the pun at all. If this was a last round game then I could see it - but this is from round 2.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: I think <abstraction>'s point about Rumens' success in the UK Grand Prix in the 1970s explains the pun. I remember reading about him at the time. He was rarely the strongest player competing, but got his Grand Prix points simply by playing everywhere.

Come to think of it, wasn't the Grand Prix Attack against the Sicilian (2.Nc3 and 3.f4) named in part because of his success with it in those events?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: <al wazir: Nothing will convince me that white had a won game on move 30 (after the exchange of Queens). Equal material, balanced pawns...Smyslov must have continued the game only because he expected his opponent to make a mistake.

So what was black's mistake? My guess is 36...fxg4, followed by 37...Bd3. If he had played 36...h6 and maintained the pawn at f5, white would not have broken through.>

Although I substantially disagree, I think this is an excellent comment because it is very thought–provoking. I would offer these observations: (1) After move 30, the position looks to me to be one in which White does not yet have a won game, but does have good winning chances primarily due to the superiority of his Bishop and White’s better prospects to activate his King utilizing Black’s weakness on the central dark squares; (2) Accordingly, it made perfect sense for White to continue playing (and would have done so even if the two opponents had been of a class comparable to one another); (3) if the position after move 30 had arisen, for example, in a game between Kramnik and Leko and been agreed drawn at that point, the kibitzers with howls of protest about "Drawnik" and "Drawko" would have been legion; and (4) finally and obviously, Smyslov had every reason to expect he would have good chances decisively to outplay a “mere” 2300 player in an endgame (even if the position at move 30 had been equal).

As far as where Black’s position went from “difficult” to “lost”, my sense is that he gradually lost ground for the next 16 moves (after 30. … Kf7) until he seriously blundered with 47. … b6?, which practically forced White to create an outside passed pawn on the b-file. After that, White’s King was able to charge through the center and to exploit the awkward placement of Black’s minor pieces on f8 and f7.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Black's knight gets horsewhipped and horsecollared amnd black is unable to hold on with a knight down.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jack Kerouac: "Charlie Parker.
Who looked like Buddah."
Premium Chessgames Member
  WannaBe: <abstraction>, <Phony Benoni> Thanks for the explanation, now I can sleep easier now. =)
Premium Chessgames Member
  al wazir: <Peligroso Patzer>: Thanks. I agree that 47...b6 was bad. After black's ♔ recaptures on b6, white's ♔ is finally able to penetrate to e5 (--Nd2+ is no longer sufficient to drive it back). But black's position had already deteriorated in the 16 moves following the exchange of ♕s.
Feb-05-07  twin phoenix: ok, white is clearly better @ move 30. compare blacks Bishop who has no scope at all to whites. black trys to find a job for his B the rest of the game...(unsuccessfully) b6 is bad but what else is there. whites king invading is so bleak for black he was desperate. besides all everyone ever does at chess is sit around waiting for their opponent to make a mistake... if noone ever made a mistake noone would ever win!
Premium Chessgames Member
  al wazir: I meant --Nd7.
Feb-05-07  Themofro: Great endgame by Smyslov.
Feb-05-07  IMDONE4: Smyslov has amazing technique in the endgame. He patiently maneuvres his pieces to their best positions, then pushes forward. I think at some point before the endgame black should have pushed e5 to open up the game and allow his bishop some scope. He traded down into a bad endgame where the terms "bad bishop" and "backward pawns" really come into play.
Feb-05-07  Dr.Lecter: The pawn sacrifice to lure the king away was very nice.
Feb-05-07  ALEXIN: I agree that white is quite better than black.
Pieces activity is really superior.
Example: what are strong squares for black knight ?
White knight has e5, d6, b6, etc
Feb-05-07  padraic: Why not 15.Nxe6?
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: 15 Nxe6 looks good <padraic>

At first I thought 15...Ng4 was a trap, but
after 15...Ng4 16 h3 Nxe3 17 fxe3 Qxe6 18 cxd5 gives back the initiative to White.

click for larger view

Or even 18 Nxd5 is possible acc to Shredder.

Feb-06-07  black knight c6: 15. Nxe6 Ng4 and Black wins with a discovered attack on the knight and a mate threat. padraic if you were lazy and didn't look one move ahead to possibly find out why don't be next time :P If you just couldn't find it, well I advise if you keep on looking hard and find an answer to your own question you can learn much more than having it solved for you!

Back to the game, I would go as far as to say whether this game is a black or white win has nothing to do with move 30. I think black made a horrible error on 19! For the simple reason as has been mentioned before: In a single move he puts yet another pawn on the same colour, and gives up the bishop thats on the opposite colour to his pawns. In endgames especially, it is easy to go as far as saying thing type of thing is suicide! Black's bishop can't attack white's pawns, whereas White's bishop can attack his. Therefore He will always have a weak, continually defending bishop and white will always have a strong, mobile one. As of move 43 for example, the ONLY thing the Black bishop can actually attack is White's bishop! Now you can see how this stupid decision at move 19 wrecks his game 24 moves later.

So now he only has one effective piece on the board (the knight), unfortunately that is forced to defend (from the back of the board!)as well, and black is well and truly stuffed.

So you see how this is a very instructive game on how bishops interact in a locked-pawn game, and try to apply this in your games, e.g Try to trade off your 'bad bishop' (same colour as your pawns, has to defend, and is blocked in by his own pawns) and keep your 'good bishop' (can attack opponents pawns and move freely around his own pawns), and also try to trade off your opponents good bishop and keep his bad one.

I'm not even sure sure this is worthy of GOTD because of this simple ignorance of a principle of chess (where unfortunately in this case, there isn't an exception!). Well played Smyslov for capitalizing on this perfectly, trading down and winning.

Feb-06-07  black knight c6: or 15. Nxe6 Ng4 16. h3 Qxe6 17. hxg4 dxc and White's Kingside is already getting pulled apart, he could be losing his c/b or g pawn very quickly, and Black's two bishops get their scope opened up dramatically (onto the kingside, while White's Queen, Bishop, Knight and Rook are all tucked away on Queenside) I think black is getting alot of play here.
Feb-06-07  padraic: black knight: thanks.
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