Alpinemaster: What an outstanding tactical shootout for Game of the Day, indeed! Both players combine the old and the new in a Modern style, rife with Tactical complications and Romantic attacks. The opening speaks volumes to this Mutual Hybrid Mastery of Chess:
1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 c5 4. Bg2 Nc6
-Very typical style of the day, playing for a classical English - Symmetrical Variation with the White Fienchetto and Black approaching a solid, albeit immobile center.
5. 0-0 Be7 6. Nc3 d5 7. cxd5 Nxd5
-Entering a Semi-Terrasch Defense, superior to an Orthodox Terrasch in that White would have already adopted the Rubinstein Variation, proven to leave White with the better endgame and major pressure against the Isolated pawn on d5 after 8. d4.
8. Nxd5 exd5 9.d4 c4!
-Alas, Black's point is clear: in not playing with classical precision and instead eschewing the Hypermodern approach (advocated first by Zukertort in the late 1890's and elaborated thoroughly upon by Reti) of retaining pawn moves until nearer the Middle game with 1. Nf3 and an early Fienchetto vs. the immediate 1.d4 with the potential Bd3 being more likely than Bg2, White has deprived himself of precision in favor of power and thus shown his hand all too soon! Here, after the exchange of Knights, the Rubinstein variation seems to have lost its 'teeth' and the d5 strong-point will hold out.
10. b3!? 0-0 11. bxc4 dxc4
-In light of the permanent d5 menace, White elects to use 2 tempo removing the central blockade. White gains a major central pawn advantage, retaining both the e and d pawns. However, in exchange, White has isolated his a-pawn, burned up 2 tempo, given up a Q-side 3-1 pawn majority to black, allowed a passed c-pawn, and given Black free completion of development, as well as total equalization: this is the threat of White electing to play a slow, Hypermodern attack vs taking the natural liberty of direct classical occupation of the center... which naturally cascades from beginning a tempo up.
12. d5 Nb4 13. Ne5 Qc7 14. f4 Bf5! 15. e4 f6!
-In concluding the opening and transitioning to the middle game, both Masters have played for initiative. Black completes development first and White dominates the center for a massive mobility advantage. However, Black's amazing resource, 15...f6! offering the trade of minor pieces which would simplify to a better endgame for Black and decimate White's center. Indeed, White would maintain the Bishop pair, but that is poor compensation for lack of general Strategic principle.
16. a3 Bc5+ 17. Kh1 fxe5!
-Tactical and precise! It seems to hang two Bishops, but in actuality this is Black's most decisive way of forcing a solid, drawn endgame.
18. axb4 Bd4 19. exf5 Bxa1 20. d6 Qd7
-A super complex position arises where material is unbalanced and difficult to assess! However, White's powerful advanced pawns and ability to rapidly simplify the position will prove more than enough to hold off Black's exchange edge.
21. fxe5 Rxf5 22. Rxf5 Qxf5
-The Bishop pair + the advanced connected central pawn assault more than compensates for the exchange as things wind down.
23. Bf4 Bxe5 24. Bxb7 Bxf4!
-Saving the Rook by any means allowed major initiative for instance via 24...Re8 25. Qd5+ Kf8 26. d7! and embarrassment is all but unavoidable.
25. Bxa8 Bxd6
-Opposite colour Bishops guarantee a draw here without blunder; note that 26. Qxd6 Qf1++ is simply below any Master.
-Reti has evidently resigned himself to a draw, despite an intense, bloody battle-royale, which would leave a lesser man yearning for a win. His calm understanding prevents the first true 'Modern Master' from overextending himself in search of a non-existent win, and rather, he elects to get the Queen's off the board (thus, eliminating risk of a boomerang blunder) and calls it a night.
26...Qxd5 27. Bxd5+ Kf8 28. Bxc4 Bxb4 29. Kg2 Ke7
-And the truce is agreed as neither Master feels it necessary to test the other's basic drawing skills after such a display of Tactical prowess.
This game is truly an example of how the greatest studies are often draws! At the amateur level, it is easy to overlook such a game as a boring display of basic pre-Soviet era understanding, leading to a standard drawn Opp-Colour Bishops ending. However, when subjected to analysis by the same player, years later after Mastership has been attained (or at least Expert proficiency), the beauty and artistic genius of both Master's middle-and-end-game play shines through.