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Aron Nimzowitsch vs Jacob Bernstein
"Queen Side Story" (game of the day Mar-18-2011)
Karlsbad (1923), Karlsbad CSR, rd 10, May-10
Queen's Gambit Declined: Three Knights Variation. General (D37)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: If the normal position is behind the white pieces-and North is the normal direction on a map for the top. Then the queen side can be called the West side.

So my totally original title for this piece can only be:

West Side Story

Leonard who?

Mar-18-11  brainzugzwang: One can find Nimzowitch's own comments on this game in "Blockade"; it's also in Fred Reinfeld's "Chess Masters on Winning Chess" (the third chess book I owned), with Reinfeld reproducing Nimzo's annotations and adding his own as well, usually to clarify or expand upon the original notes.
Mar-18-11  redcircle: chess 100 years ago was so different...i don't think that a grandmaster game nowdays would have so many(and big)strategical mistakes...Black did not even know a plan to get some counterplay in this position.Nimzowitsch's plan was effective with a3-b4 an then a4-b5 a kind of minority attack creating some weaknesses on Black's camp and undermining d5 which was in pressure that's why Black forced to give up his dark squared bishop with 21..Bxf4.

The blunder was 29..Nb3+
I believe with 29..Nc4+ Black would have hold the position.

And in the end a brilliant combination by Nimzowitsch finishing off Black

Mar-18-11  Gilmoy: It's not a Q sac, just an exchange. Black's <29..Nb3+> is a double-edged idea that falls under what I loosely call a <right of refusal> trade. Black has just hung his own Ra8 with check, so White is seeing N+R for Q right away, and that's only a "pawn sac".

Here's the kicker: White gets to deep-think and weigh two lines, take vs. don't-take, to answer the question: "Is there 1+ pawns of further compensation?" Meanwhile, Black stews in his own juices, and kicks himself at leisure.

It's not too tough to see that Black actually has a mess on the back rank: after <31..Ne8[] 32.Bd1> White has Ba4 winning yet another piece. So Black must lose more material regardless; <32..Rxc3> minimizes the cost. When the dust clears, White traded Q+B for RR+N. That's not a "sac", it's a profit. RR vs Q might still be weak due to positional factors, but that's where the <right of refusal> think-time keeps paying off: White already saw that far, and assessed (correctly) that it's the no-weakness case that utterly favors the RR.

For two clear(er) <right of refusal> sacs, see:

Nielsen vs F Englund, 1899: Q for BN+P

Steintorsson vs M Conroy, 1972: Q+P for RN

Mar-18-11  Bdellovibrio: fantastic pun - well done!
Mar-18-11  Bdellovibrio: <Karlsbad is a German placename meaning "Charles's spa", named after Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor (1316–1378>

These days it's in the Czech Republic, and has a Czech name, Karlovy Vary.

Mar-18-11  DarthStapler: Were there any good alternatives to black's 32nd move?
Mar-18-11  erimiro1: <DarthStapler: Were there any good alternatives to black's 32nd move?> Don't think. White is about to play 33.Ba4 and black has to defend somehow the pinned knight on e8. So the alternative could be 32.-Rb7 33.Ba4 Re7 34.Rb1 and then Rb-b8 etc.
Mar-18-11  David2009: <DarthStapler: Were there any good alternatives to black's 32nd move?> Nimzowitsch vs J Bernstein, 1923 White 32?

click for larger view

Crafty End Game Trainer link After the game line 32 Bd1, the EGT continues as in the game with 32...Rxc3 33.Kxc3 Qc7+ 34.Kd2 but varies with 34...Qc6! instead of 34 Kf7? which allows Niwzowitsch's mini-combination 35 Bh5+! g6 37 Rha1 linking his Rooks with gain of tempo.

Once White has forced 34...g6 the ending becomes more difficult for Black because White will break with h5 and threaten to exchange B for N. Here's a further link to Crafty EGT, this time at move 35 when white plays 35 Bg6+!. The EGT centralises its King and finding the White win is a challenge I have not solved.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: With the move 13.g3, White positioned all of his pawns on the dark squares. It would seem that this position should favor black.

click for larger view

Fritz actually does prefer black, but in this closed type of position, I did not find any line that appears to give black any real winning chances: (-1.42) (21 ply) 13...b5 14.Be2 a5 15.h3 Na6 16.Qb3, (-1.40) (21 ply) 16...Bd7 17.Kd2 h6 18.Ra1 Rfe8 19.Ng2 Qb7, (-1.28) (21 ply) 20.Nf4 Nc7 21.g4 axb4 22.axb4 Ne6 23.Nxe6 Bxe6, (-1.22) (20 ply) 24.Qd1 Nh7.

However, if white captures the b-pawn, black would obtain winning chances: 13...b5 14.cxb6? Qxb6, (-1.63) (21 ply) 15.Na4 Qa7 16.Bc3 g5 17.Ng2 Bh3 18.Nc5 a5 19.bxa5 Nbd7 20.Nxd7 Bxa3+ 21.Kd2 Qxd7, with a very strong position for black.

Mar-18-11  WhiteRook48: nice pun
Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: 22...Bd7??, was a very serious error, giving black a lost position. Best, with good drawing chances was: (.10) 21 ply) 22...Bb7! 23.Kd2 Nbd7 24.Na4 cxb5 25.Bxb5 Ba6 26.Bxa6 Rxa6, (.07) (21 ply) 27.Ba3, (.08) (21 ply) 27...Nxb6 28.Bxf3 Nc4+, (.32) (22 ply) 29.Ke1 Qxf8.

On his 25th move, white had a clearly winning position: (2.74) (20 ply) 25.Nxb5! Rab8 26.Qc5 Nd8 27.Nd6 Qe6 28.Ba3 Nb7 29.Nxb7 Rfc8 30.Qd6 Nxb7 31.Qxe6+, winning for white.

Instead of playing the winning 25.Nxb5!, white made a very serious error with 25.Bxb5??: (-.46) (20 ply) 25.Bxb5? Na5 26.Be2 Rfb8, and after 27.Na4, black's best was: (-.41) (22 ply) 27...Bc6 28.Nc5 Rxb6 29.Bc3 Nc4+ 30.Bxc4, (-.29) (22 ply) 30...dxc4 31.Rxa8+ Bxa8 32.Rb1 Rxb1 33.Qxb1, (-.15) (23 ply) 33...Qe8 34.Qb4 Bd5, with an approximately equal position.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: In this position, as noted above, Nimzowitsch missed the winning move, 25.Nxb5!:

click for larger view

Instead, Nimowitsch played 25.Bxb5??, and the position was then approximately equal. In their book, "Hypermodern Chess", Nimzowitsch & Reinfeld do not make any mention of the missed opportunity (25.Nxb5!), and the subsequent error (25.Bxb5??).

After 27.Na4, Fritz prefers 27...Bc6, but Bernstein's move 27...Bxa4, was also good enough for equality.

At move 28, Bernstein had three moves that would have given him an approximately equal position: (-.04) (26 ply) 28...Qe6 29.Rha1 Qxb6 30.Ke1 Qxb2 31.Qxb2 Rxb2 32.Rxa5 Rxa5 33.Rxa5, (.00) (26 ply) 33...Rb1+, or (.00) (26 ply) 33...Rb3.

Black's 2nd option for equality was: (.00) (26 ply) 28...Qb7 29.Rb4 Nd7 30.Rc1 Rc8 31.Qc7 Rxc7 32.Rxc7 Qxb6 33.Rxb6 Nxb6, (.00) (26 ply) 34.Bc1 Nac4+, or (.00) (26 ply) 34.Kd1 Nac4.

Bernstein's 3rd option was the move he actually played. The game then followed Fritz's analysis for several moves: (.00) (26 ply) 28...Rxb6 29.Bc3 Nb3+ 30.Qxb3 Rxb3 31.Rxa8+ Ne8 32.Bd1 Rxc3 33.Kxc3.

In the book, "Hypermodern Chess", Nimzowitsch & Reinfeld made no mention of the moves, 28...Qe6 or 28...Qb7, they only indicated that 28...Nc4+ would be inferior.

At move 33, Bernstein missed a move that would have given him a clear draw:

click for larger view

Bernstein could draw with: (.00) (27 ply) 33...Qd7! 34.Ba4 Qc7+ 35.Kd2 Qb7 36.Rxe8+ Kf7 37.Kc3 Qc7+ 38.Kb2 Qb6+ 39.Ka2 Qa6 40.Kb3 Qb6+ 41.Kc3 Qc7+, forcing the draw.

After 33...Qd7!, White could also try: (.00) (21 ply) 34.Kd2 Qb5 30.Bc2 Qb4+ 36.Ke2 Qb5+, or (.00) (21 ply) 34.Ra5 Qc6+ 35.Rc5 Qa6 36.Rxd5 Qd3+ 37.Kb4 Qd2+, but both lines lead to a draw.

Instead of obtaining the draw with 33...Qd7!, Bernstein played (.32) (27 ply) 33...Qc7+ 34.Kd2.

In "Hypermodern Chess", Nimzowitsch and Reinfeld made no mention of the drawing move 33...Qd7!.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: In addition to being able to force a draw with 33...Qd7!, Bernstein could have obtained an equal game with 33...h6!: (.14) (27 ply) 33...h6! 34.Be2 Kh7, (.00) (26 ply) 35.Rha1 Nf6 36.R8a7 Qg6 37.Rb7 Qg2 38.Raa7, (.00) (24 ply) 38...Qxf2 39.Rxg7+ Kh8 40.Kd2 Ng4, or 38...Kh8 39.Kd2 Qxf2 40.Rxg7 Ng4.

Also equal is: 33...h6 34.Be2 Kh7, (.00) (26 ply) 35.Ra5 Nf6 36.Rb1 Qg6 37.Ra7 Qg2 38.Rbb7.

Another line giving equality is: 33...h6 34.Be2 Kh7, (.00) (26 ply) 35.Kd2 Nf6 36.Rha1 Ng4 37.R1a7 Qf6 38.Rb8 Qxh4 39.Rbb7 Qxf2 40.Rxg7+ Kh8.

Apr-12-11  Ulhumbrus: <Gilmoy: ... Black has just hung his own Ra8 with check, so White is seeing N+R for Q right away, and that's only a "pawn sac"... ...It's not too tough to see that Black actually has a mess on the back rank: after <31..Ne8[] 32.Bd1> White has Ba4 winning yet another piece. So Black must lose more material regardless; <32..Rxc3> minimizes the cost.>

A brilliant explanation! My compliments. Your explanation makes comprehensible the move 32 Bd1!! as well as the preceding Queen offer.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: <Ulhumbrus> After Nimzowitsch missed the win at move 25, he had no advantage in position until Bernstein erred at move 33.

At move 25: (3.04) (21 ply) 25.Nxb5! Rab8 26.Qc5 Ng4 27.Ke1 Nd8, (3.50) (21 ply) 28.Ra7 (28.Nd6 is also winning) Ne6 29.Qxd5 Nf6 30.Qd6 Rfd8 31.d5 Bxb5 32.Qe5 Bd7 33.dxe6 Qxe6 34.Qxe6+ bxe6 35.Rg1, and White is winning.

After Nimzowitsch played 25.Bxb5??, all of his advantage was gone. At move 27, Fritz even slightly preferred Black, if 27...Bc6 was played, and indicated the position was equal after 27...Bxa4 28.Rxa4, (see Fritz's analysis in my posting of March 26th).

On his 28th move, Bernstein had a choice of three moves that would have maintained equality: 28...Qe6, 28...Qb7, and the move he played, 28...Rxb6.

At move 33, Bernstein could have forced a draw with 33...Qd7!, or kept an equal position with 33...h6, (see Fritz's analysis in my posting on March 26th). Instead, Bernstein played 33...Qc7+?, giving the advantage to White. Additional analysis is needed after the move 33...Qc7+, to determine if Black had any further drawing chances.

Nimzowitsch and Reinfeld in "Hypermodern Chess", applied exclamation marks to 29.Bc3 & 30.Qxb3, and they applied two exclamation marks to the move 32.Bd1. Fritz agrees these are White's best moves, but these moves did not give White a winning position.

Nimzowitsch and Reinfeld made no note of Nimzowitsch's error at move 25, nor of Bernstein's drawing opportunities at move 33.

Nimzowitsch's final moves in this game were strong, he won this game, and the 2nd brilliancy prize. However, Bernstein had at least equality after White's 25th move, and he could have forced a draw at move 33 with 33...Qd7!.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: <In "Hypermodern Chess", Nimzowitsch and Reinfeld made no mention of ...> Well, they wouldn't, would they? Nimzowitsch had been dead for several years when Reinfeld wrote 'Hypermodern Chess'. While he does draw from Nimzo's own analysis in places, the overall tone is much simplified.

Probably over-simplified. Reinfeld genuinely admired Nimzo's ideas, but he went too far in trying to simplify his games for a wide audience. Much better is Keene's 'Aron Nimzowitsch - a Reappraisal' or Nielsen's 1946 book in Danish.

Apr-13-11  Ulhumbrus: <Pawn and Two> On 33...Qd7 an alternative to either 34 Ba4 or 34 Kd2 is 24 Ra5 after which the Rook may go to c5
Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: <Ulhumbrus: On 33...Qd7 an alternative to either 34.Ba4 or 34.Kd2 is 34.Ra5 after which the Rook may go to c5.>

34.Ra5 is an alternative, but it is not an improvement. Please see my posting of March 26th, for Fritz's analysis of both 33...Qd7 34.Ra5 and 33...Qd7 34.Kd2. Both of these lines will give White no more than a draw.

Apr-14-11  Ulhumbrus: <Pawn and Two> I did not notice that 34 Ra5 was mentioned in the variation after 34 Kd2. Anyway, after 34 Ra5 Qc6+ 35 Rc5 Qa6 an alternative to 36 Rxd5 is 36 Kd2 Qd3+ 37 Ke1 and the Black Queen has run out of checks. Now what is Black going to do?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: <Ulhumbrus> After 33...Qd7 34.Ra5 Qc6+ 35.Rc5 Qa6 36.Kd2, Fritz indicates a small advantage for Black after 36...Qd3+.

However, if Black does not want to play 36...Qd3+, Fritz indicates an equal position after 36...Qa1, 36...Qa2+, 36...Qa3, 36...Nd6, 36...Kf7, 36...h6 or 36...g6.

For instance, if Black wishes to play for the draw, and responds to 36.Kd2 by playing 36...Nd6, how does White avoid the draw?

In your suggested continuation 36.Kd2 Qd3+ 37.Ke1, Fritz indicates the position is equal after 37...Qb1, 37...h6, 37...Kf7, 37...g6 or 37...Nf6, and Fritz indicates Black has a small advantage with 37...Nd6.

A draw seems the likely result after 37...Nd6, and if Black wanted to force a draw after 36.Kd2, he could play 36...Nd6. How would White avoid the draw after 36. Kd2 Nd6?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: <Ulhumbrus> After 33...Qd7 34.Ra5 Qc6+ 35.Rc5 Qa6 36.Kd2, if Black wishes to play for a draw by 36...Nd6, White would not have a good way to avoid it.

Here is Fritz's analysis: (.00) (26 ply) 37.Be2 Qa2+ 38.Rc2 Qa5+ 39.Rc3 Qa2+, with a draw certain.

If White avoids 37.Be2, he gets into trouble: (-1.66) (26 ply) 37.Rc2 Nc4+ 38.Ke1 Qa1 39.h5 h6, (-1.99) (26 ply) 40.Rg1 Nb2 41.Ke2 Qa3 42.Kd2 Kh7 43.Ke1 Qa1 44.Ke2 Qa6+ 45.Ke1 Qa3 46.Rh1 Qa1 47.Ke2 Qa6+, (-2.25) (24 ply) 48.Kd2 Qb5 49.Rg1 Qd3+ 50.Kc1 Nc4 51.Be2 Qa3+ 52.Kd1 Nb2+ 53.Kd2 Qa5+ 54.Rc3 Na4, and Black wins the exchange.

Another choice at move 37 is: (-1.72) (26 ply) 37.Rc1 Nc4+ 38.Ke1 Qa3 39.Rc2 Nb2 40.Rc8+ Kf7 41.Rc2, (-1.70) (23 ply) 41...Qb4+ 42.Ke2 Qb5+ 43.Kd2 Qa5+ 44.Ke2 Qa6+ 45.Kd2 Qd3+ 46.Kc1 Nc4 47.Be2 Qa3+, (-1.65) (23 ply) 48.Kd1, (-1.76) (24 ply) 48...Qa1+ 49.Rc1 Qa2 50.Rc2 Nb2+ 51.Ke1 Nd3+ 52.Bxd3 Qa1+ 53.Kd2 Qxh1 54.Be2 g6, and Black has a strong position.

A third option at move 37 is: (-1.77) (26 ply) 37.Ke1 Qa1 38.Rg1 h6 39.Rc2 Nc4 40.Ke2 Kh7, (-2.03) (26 ply) 41.h5 Nb2 42.Kd2 Qa5+ 43.Ke2 Qb5+ 44.Ke1 Nd3+ 45.Kd2 Nxf2 46.Rc3 Qb1, (-1.88) (23 ply) 47.Rb3 Qa2+ 48.Bc2 Qa5+ 49.Ke2 Ng4 50.Rh1, (-2.54) (25 ply) 50...Qc7 51.Kd2 Nxe3 52.Rxe3 Qxf4 53.Rhe1 Qh4 54.Rf1 Qxh5, and although White has two rooks and a bishop for the queen, the mass of Black pawns indicate strong winning chances for Black.

Additional analysis may find that White can hold a draw after 37.Rc2, 37.Rc1 or 37.Ke1, but they are clearly inferior to the drawing line 37.Be2 Qa2+ 38.Rc2 Qa5+ 39.Rc3 Qa2+.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: Now this is a pun I like -- and, yes, I fully realize it's not a pun. But it piques the interest. What is it about? How does it relate to the game?

If it one of those where there is a choice of mate by sacrificing either the queen or the bishop? Is it a game with the rare choice of promoting to a bishop instead of a queen? Or is it just a duel between the two pieces?

It turns to be the last of these, though perhaps not a great example of the idea. But it's a wonderful game that will quite possibly make you laugh out loud, and I doubt anyone who sees it for the first time will be disappointed.

Jul-30-17  Toribio3: Fantastic game by Nimzowitsch!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Messiah: <Toribio3: Fantastic game by Nimzowitsch!>

Agreed, very enjoyable game.

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