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Erich Cohn vs Mikhail Chigorin
Karlsbad (1907), Karlsbad (Karlovy Vary) AUH, rd 15, Sep-09
Old Indian Defense: General (A53)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Sep-24-03  northernsoul: Is this is the game for which Cohn won the Brilliancy Prize for 'an extraordinary deep pawn sacrifice' (I presume 14 ... Q x b4) which Cohn later admitted had been an unintended loss that had forced him to more energetic play? Does anyone know?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Chessical: This game won the second brilliancy prize in the tournament.

A slightly later game Bernstein - Burn St Petersburg, 1909 continued 9...c6 10.d5 c5 11.f4 exf4 12.gxf4 Nh5 13.Kh2 f5! 14.Bf3 Ndf6 15.e5 dxe5 16.fxe5 Rxe5 and Black went onto win. Burn has a reputation for being a dry positional player, but he contributed to early twentienth century Indian theory,e.g. using Nc6 in the King's Indian.

Having played 10.Qxd4 the c4 pawn is weak, but to protect it by say 11.Nf4 is passive, so White sacs it for a great deal of space. Chigorin was a powerful gambit player with a taste of the initiative, long term defence would have been less to his taste. Alternatively this line was an inspired finger slip by Cohn! 11.Nf4 g6 12.b3 Bg7 13.Qe3 in unimpressive

15... Qa5 He does not like the threat of e5. Thus after15...g6 16.e5 Nd7 17.Ne4 Qa5 18.N2c3 Rd8 19.Nxd6 and White dominates the board.

16...Rb8 may have been a better porcatical chance: 17.e5 dxe5 18.Bxc6 bxc6 19.fxe5 Rxe5 20.Na4 Rd5 21.Bxf6 gxf6 22.Qxf6 Qc7 with a messy position.

21...Qxa2? is a blunder. He cannot ignore the theat to c7 and take the a pawn. 22.Nc7 d5 23.Nxe8 22.h4 Nb6 23.f5 White gets more space

23...Nd7 which is Marco's defensive suggestion does not seem to improve matters. 24.Rc1 Nc5 25.f6 g6 26.e5 Ne6 27.Ne7+ Bxe7 28.fxe7 Rxe7 29.exd6 Rd7 30.Rd3 f5 31.gxf6 Kf7 32.Qe3 with a winning position.

27...Re7!? is an interesting alternative for Black. One rough line is: 28.Rd4 Bxg2 29.Kxg2 Qc8 30.Re4 Qc6 31.Qf5 Qc5 32.Bf6 gxf6 33.gxf6 Qxf5 34.Rxf5 Rc7 35.Rg5+ Kh8 36.Kf3 Rac8. White has sacrificed a bishop but I cannot see a clear winning plan. Anyone got an improvement?

Taking the bishop is, however, too dangerous. White then mates using both bishops trained on the Black King and pressure down the f file. One example being 28.Bxd5 Kh8 29.Bd4 Be7 30.Bxg7+ Kxg7 31.Qf7+ Kh8 32.Be4 Qb6+ 33.Kh1 Bf8 34.Qxh7 mate

"A boldly contested game" - Tartakower

Sep-22-05  psmith: <Chessical> It seems to me after 27... Re7 White does not have to move his Rook. For example, how about continuing the attack with 28. h5!? (my idea) I looked into this a bit with's computer plus my own thoughts and came up with the following quite fanciful variation (leading to drawing chances for White with best play, I think):

28... Bxd5 29. Bxd5 (pressure for the exchange) 29... Qa5 ('s move; I suppose 29... Qb6 30. Bd4) 30. Qf3 Qb4 31. Bf6! (my move; chooses Bc1; but my inspiration came from first trying 31. Bc3 after which gave 31... Qh4 32. Bf6) 31... gxf6 32. gxf6 Rc7 33. f7+ Kh8 34. Qf6+ Bg7 35. e7 Qg4+ 36. Bg2 Rcc8 37. Qf4 (37. f8=Q+ Rxf8 38. exf8=Q+ Rxf8 39. Qxd6 Bd4+ and it is Black on the attack) and now:

37... Qxf4 38. Qxf4 Bf8 39. e8=Q Rxe8 40. fxe8=Q Rxe8 41. Bxb7 with drawing chances for White?

37... Bd4+ 38. Kh1 Qxh5+ 39. Qh2 Qxh2+ 40. Kxh2 Kg7 41. Bxb7 Bf6 42. Bxc8 Bxe7 (42... Kxf7 43. Rxf6+ Kxe7 44. Re6+ Kf7 45. Rh6) 43. Be6 probably draws (most of this is me and is probably full of holes)

37... Qxh5 38. Bxb7 Qg6+ 39. Kh1 Qh5+ =

But anyway this is way too complicated for me. There are lots of other moves and many turning points.

Given White's prospects after 27... Re7 28. h5!? maybe there are other improvements as well...

Sep-22-05  psmith: Oh... in one of my lines above 37... Bxd4+ 37... Bd4+ 38. Kh1 Qxh5+ 39. Qh2 Qxh2+ 40. Kxh2 Kg7 41. Bxb7 Bf6 42. Bxc8 Kxf7 43. Rxf6+ Kxe7 44. Bb7 Kxf6 45. Bxa8 is also probably a draw?
Sep-22-05  psmith: Another line:
37...Qe6 38. h6 and
38... Qxh6 39.Qxh6 Bxh6 40. Bxb7 Rg8+ 41. fxg8=Q+ Rxg8+ 42. Kh2 Bg5 43. Rf7 Bxe7 with drawing chances for Black? 38... Bxh6 39. Qd4+ Qe5 40. Qxe5 dxe5 41. Bb7 is similar 38... Qxe7 39. hxg7+ Kxg7 40. Bxb7 seems to lead to drawing chances as well

But this is just too complicated!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Chessical: <psmith> Thank you for your ideas on this great game. I am not sure that

after 27...Re7 <28.h5!?> would have been best, but it is very intricate and dynamic position:

<28...Bxd5> 29.Bxd5 Qa5 30.Qf3 Qb4 31.Bf6 gxf6 32.gxf6 so far as per your analysis, but then <32...Qd4+!?> may be a better try for black:

<33.Kh1> Rc7 34.e7+ Kh8 35.exf8Q+ Rxf8 36.f7 and White has not penetrated Black's defence and remains a B for a R and P down.

As you say "just too complicated"!

Sep-22-05  psmith: <chessical> Right, 32...Qd4+! is an improvement and seems to refute my attempt at being clever.

Another possible try for white is 28. h5!? Bxd5 29. Bxd5 Qa5 30. Qf5 (instead of 30. Qf3). This makes some difference. On the plus side in some positions one can play Be4. On the minus side, the B on d5 is pinned right now (unless white wants to exchange queens). This appears to lead to more unclear complications. May someone else do better at analyzing them all.

Also after all 28. h5!? Bxd5 29. Bxd5 Qa5 30. Qf3 Qb4 31. Bc1 ('s rec) deserves further consideration, trying to hold onto a bind and following 31... Qd4+ with 32. Be3. But I don't know.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Chessical: <psmith> This is a most complicated position. Your <h5> attack after the alternative defence of <Re7> is very interesting. To try to express the dynamics in words: if Black is not quick enough with his counterplay (which seems to be infiltrating with his Q via the dark squares <b4,d4 and e5> to check the exposed white King), the <g> and <h> pawns combined with the <Bb2> mate him due to his lack of safe squares.

(1) - The <Qf5> attack:

<27...Re7 28.h5 Bxd5 29.Bxd5 Qa5 30.Qf5> Qc5+

(1a) 30...Rc8? is illustrative of White's possibilities 31.h6!! Qb4 32.Qf7+ Rxf7 33.exf7+ Kh8 34.hxg7+ Bxg7 35.f8Q+ Rxf8 36.Rxf8 - a pretty mate)

(1b) 31.Kh1 Qb5 (31...Qb4?? 32.Be4) 32.Bf6 Qe2 33.Bxe7 Qxh5+ 34.Kg2 Bxe7 35.Qf7+ Qxf7 36.exf7+ Kf8 37.g6 h6 (37...hxg6? leads to defeat by 38.Rh1)

I believe that white would win this position with his advanced passed pawn duo, especially as he is winning the <b> pawn. Or can we find a defence based on the opposite colured Bishops (I rather doubt it).

(2) The Qf3 attack:

<27...Re7> 28.h5 Bxd5 29.Bxd5 Qa5 30.Qf3 <Qb4>

(2a) <31.Ba3> does not appear to advance White's cause, 31...Qd4+ 32.Kg2 Qe5 33.Qf5 Qxf5 34.Rxf5 Rd8

(2b) <31. Bc1> ('s rec) seems to be a stronger move, 31...Qd4+ 32.Be3 Qd3 33.Be4 Qb5 and now

(2b1) <34.Kh1>. This seems to be a draw after <34...Rd8> 35.h6 Qe5 (the saving manoeuvre in this line) 36.g6 hxg6 37.h7+ Kh8 38.Bxg6 Qf6

So, is there anything better?

(2b2) <34.h6> Qe5 35.Bf4 (realistic but a draw - see 2b2a) Qb2 36.Bc1 Qd4+ 37.Be3 Qe5 =

(2b2a) The storming <35.g6> gxh6 36.gxh7+ Rxh7 37.Bxh7+ Kxh7 38.Qxb7+ Qg7+ 39.Qxg7+ Bxg7 40.Rf7 Kg6 41.Rxa7 Rxa7 42.Bxa7 and Black is better

Further ideas are required to analyse this fascinating position!

Sep-25-12  wordfunph: <northernsoul> from Modern Chess Brilliances by GM Evans..

<At Carlsbad 1907 Cohn was awarded a brilliancy prize against Tchigorin "for a beautiful combination starting from an extraordinary deep pawn sacrifice. "Yet Cohn conceded later (presumably with the award tucked safely in his pocket) that he had not intended to sacrifice the pawn - he had lost it, and the loss had forced him to play energetically to compensate for his material inferiority.>

Nov-27-15  Howard: Evans makes that same point in his The Chess Opening For You.

In other words, this was an "accidental" brilliancy.

Feb-07-16  TheFocus: At Carlsbad, Cohn split the second brilliancy prize of 200 crowns for this game.

See <American Chess Bulletin>, November 1907, pg. 216.

Dec-23-19  Straclonoor: 27....Qe7? serious mistake.
After 27....Re7 white have some advantage, not more.

Analysis by Stockfish 091219 64 BMI2:

1. +- (2.41): 27...Re7 28.Qf5 Bxd5 29.Bxd5 Qe8 30.Qf3 Qa4 31.Be4 Qe8 32.Bxb7 Rb8 33.Bc6 Qc8 34.Rf2 Rxb2 35.Rxb2 g6 36.Kg2 Qd8 37.Bd7 h5 38.Qe4 Kh7 39.Rf2 d5 40.Qxd5 Rg7 41.Bc6 Qe7 42.Qb3 Qd8 43.Qf3 Bc5 44.Re2 Kh8 45.Be4 Qd1 46.Bd3 Be7 47.Rc2 Qxf3+ 48.Kxf3 Kh7 49.Kg3 Bd6+ 50.Kh3 Be7 51.a4

2. +- (5.79): 27...Qe7 28.g6 hxg6 29.Qf7+ Qxf7 30.exf7+ Kh7 31.fxe8R Rxe8 32.Ra5 Bxg2 33.Kxg2 a6 34.Rf7 Re2+ 35.Kf3 Rxb2 36.Rxf8 Rc2 37.Rf7 Rb2 38.Rd7 Rb6 39.Ra4 Kh6 40.Rf4 Rb1 41.Rxd6 Kh7 42.Ra4 Rb5 43.Kg4 Rb1 44.Kg3 Rg1+ 45.Kh2 Re1 46.Rb6 Re5 47.Kg3 Re3+ 48.Kg4 Re7 49.Ra5 Re4+ 50.Kg3 Re3+ 51.Kf4 Rh3 52.Kg4 Rh1 53.Rxb7 Rg1+ 54.Kf4 Rf1+ 55.Ke4

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