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Mikhail Chigorin vs Amos Burn
Paris (1900), Paris FRA, rd 8, May-31
French Defense: Chigorin Variation (C00)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Tchigorin tried the 2. Qe2 line against the French with which he was spectacularly unsuccessful the year before (at London 1899)

Both sides miss chances at the end. This was most serious for Burn, who lost the replay two days later (draws were replayed at Paris 1900).

1. e4 e6
2. Qe2

Despite his failure with this line at London 1899 (he defeated Showalter, drew with Blackburne, and lost to Lasker, Lee, and Cohen), Tchigorin tries 2. Qe2 again. Perhaps Burn played the French in this game, looking forward to playing against the line with which Tchigorin had just recently had such difficulties.

2... Nc6

As Burn doubtless knew, Tchigorin had lost all three games (against Lasker, Lee, and Cohen) in which Black played this response to 2. Qe2.

3. Nc3

The move Tchigorin had tired unsuccessfully against Lasker, Lee, and Cohen. MCO-13 attaches "?!" to the move, and recommends 3. Nf3 or 3. f4. The former appears to be the most logical option.

3... e5

"Very well played. This move at least equalizes the game." (Rosenthal in the Tournament Book). "...the fact of the second player being able with impunity to move the KP twice in the first three moves must condemn Tchigorin's variation with 2. Qe2." (Hoffer in the London 1899 Tournament Book). This move was played by Lasker, Lee, and Cohen in their wins over Tchigorin at London 1899. MCO-13 prefers 3...d5. 3...Bc5 seems to be a reasonable alternative, but---the loss of time notwithstanding--I see nothing wrong with the text.

4. g3.

The move he played in his loss to Lasker at London 1899. Tchigorin played 4. d3 in his losses to Lee and Cohen at London 1899. 4. Nf3 seems best.

4... Bc5

Burn varies from Lasker's 4...Nf6. Both the text and Lasker's move seem fine. Another possibility is 4...Nd4 driving the Queen either to d3 or back to d1.

5. d3

Having played 4. g3, 5. Bg2 seems more logical. 5. Nf3 is another reasonable option.

5... Nf6

5...Nd4 was more enterprising, but the text is certainly solid, and Burn still has the advantage after this move.

6. Bg5

Since this doesn't lead to much, Tchigorin might have tried 6. Nf3.

6... h6

As on the last move, Burn might have considered playing Nd4. Perhaps he preferred to avoid a tactical shootout with Tchigorin.

7. BxN QxB
8. Nd5

Burn declined to play the equivalent of this move (4...Nd4 or 5...Nd5), but Tchigorin jumps at the first opportunity to harass his opponent's queen.

8... Qd8
9. c3 d6

Rosenthal in the Tournament Book says that 9...a6 was better, focusing on providing a haven for his Bishop. Probably best is to ignore White's "threat" of b4 and simply play 9...Ne7, getting rid of the noxious White Knight on d5.

10. b4 Bb6
11. a4 a6

11...a4 looks best.

12. NxB

Surprising to see Tchigorin (who usually preferred Knights to Bishops) make this exchange. 12. Bg2 seems best.

12... cxN
13. g2 0-0
14. Nf3

So the opening here has yielded the following position:

click for larger view

It is here that the battle truly began, as I will discuss in my next post on this game

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

After 14. Nf3, chances were about even. But Burn now decides to press play on the King-side.

14... f5?!

14...Bg4 seems more solid. What is mysterious about this game is that Burn plays this and 15...f4 but then ignores opportunities that present themselves later in the game to follow-up on the King's side and instead worries about defending his other wing. I don't know whether a player such as Kasparov would have played 14...Bg4, but I am fairly confident that had he played the move he would not have ignored the chances that arose later to break through on the King's side.

15. 0-0

15. exf5 or 15. Qa2+ definitely seem better. Instead, Tchigorin courageously (and perhaps recklessly) castled into the teeth of Burn's threatened attack.

15... f4

Burn marches on.

16. Nd2

A surprisingly placid move by the usually super-aggressive Tchigorin. 16. d4 was best.

16... Qf6

This does not do much for Burn's attacking chances. 16...Be6 immediately bringing all the troops to the party was much better.

17. f3 Be6

Better late than never.

The position was now as follows:

click for larger view

18. Rfb1

Another surprising (and inconsistent) choice by Tchigorin. Having played 16. Nd2, it is hard to understand why Tchigorin did not play the logical 18. Nc4 here.

18... Ne7

In light of Tchigorin's obvious intention to advance on the Queen-side, 18...b5 seems most logical.

19. Qf2 Rac8

Indirectly defending the threatened Black pawn on b6. But rather than worry about Queen-side defense Burn could and probably should have gone for the gold on the other side of the board with 19...h5?!

20. Ra3

Now it is Tchigorin's turn to turn hyper-defensive (and defend the c3 pawn) rather than 20. c4 seems much better and more enterprising.

20... Rc6

Burn follows suit and worries about defense instead of playing the more promising 20...fxg3 or 20...h5.

21. b5!

The preliminaries are over and Tchigorin is at last prepared to advance on the Queen-side.

21... axb5
22. axb5

Rosenthal in the Tournament Book claims that 22. Rxb5 was "correct," but his analysis is quite flawed and the text is best. After 22. Rxb5 Nc8 (Rosenthal's move, 22...h5 would be better) 23. a5 bxa5 24. Rxb7 White's advantage is nonexistent, whereas after the text he has somewhat the better of the struggle.

22... Rc5
23. c4 Nc8
24. Qf1 Rc7

The position was now:

click for larger view

25. Ra8

This apparently was the invasion Tchigorin was banking on, but 25. Bh3 immediately was better. The threat from the text is easily met by Burn.

25... Rcf7
26. Rb2

Too slow. Better was 26. g4 to slow down Burn on the other wing.

26... Qe7

Still focused on the wrong plan. Better chances were offered by the more logical 26...fxg3 or the more forcing 26...h5.

27. Bh3 fxg3
28. hxg3 BxB

But this is bad, and Burn now has the worst of the contest. Best was 28...h5 (the move Burn seems unwilling to play).

29. QxB Qc7
30. Kf1 Kh7
31. Ke2 Ne7

The position was now:

click for larger view

The dust has settled and Tchgorin has much the better game. But now Tchigorin began to play weakly and soon had a dead-lost position and came very close to losing as I will explain in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

Tchigorin had the better game after 31...Ne7, but he ruined his position within just a few moves.

32. Rba2

32. RxR (followed by 33. Ra2)was the only way to maintain his edge. The text gives Burn time to reorganize his defense.

32... Ng6
33. Qg4 Qc5
34. R2a7 Qg1
35. Qh3 Rf6

The position was now:

click for larger view

As is apparent, Burn's attack is every bit as dangerous as Tchigorin's. Had Tchigorin now played 36. RxR? he would lose after 36...NxR and now if 37. Rxb7? (best, though insufficient in the long run, would be 37. Nb3) Ne6 38. Nb3 (38. Qf1 would allow White to hang on a bit longer) Rxf3 (even stronger, though less glitzy, was 38...Qb1 39. KxR Ng4+ followed by NxQ.

36. Ra1 Qd4
37. Qh5?

A serious overeach, after which Tchigorin was probably lost. Best was 37. R1a7.

37... Qc5?

Missing his chance. With 37...RxR 38. RxR Nf8 Tchigorin's attack is at an end and Burn will soon penetrate his position with fatal effect. Burn's actual move, by contrast, gives Tchigorin new life.

38. R1a7 RxR
39. RxR Ngf8
40. Qe8?

Another "fatal" mistake. 40. f4 would allow Tchigorin to hold the game easily. But now...

40... Ne6

Not as good as 40...Qg1, but more than adequate.

41. Nb3?

Only making things worse. He had to try 41. Qg8+ or 41. Qh8+. The position was now:

click for larger view

Had Burn here played 41...Qg1, it is doubtful that Tchigorin could have held on very long. But...

41... Qc7?

Now, all of a sudden, Tchigorin has a likely win with 42. Rc8. But...

42. Ra1?

Now, after all the twists and turns, the game is even once again.

42... Ng5
43. Nd2 Ne6
44. Nb3 Ng5

1/2 - 1/2

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