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Siegbert Tarrasch vs Alexander Alekhine
Semmering (1926), Semmering AUT, rd 12, Mar-22
Reti Opening: Advance Variation. Michel Gambit (A09)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Jun-30-05  ILoveThisSite: Does anyone know the story behing Tarrasch playing the Reti Opening when he despised the Hypermodern School? Was it the element of surprise? Did he play it and lose on purpose to make the hypermoderns look bad? Does anyone know?
Oct-31-08  Xeroxx: <ILoveThisSite>I like your username.

Oh and no I don't know why he played the Reti seems strange.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: <ILoveThisSite: > The reason is simply that he was not as dogmatic as portrayed by the so-called Soviet school and by Aron Nimzowitsch. E.g. in Tarrasch's book on St. Petersburg (1914), where he annotated the game Rubinstein vs Alekhine, 1914 where the opening later called the Nimzo-Indian was played, he criticized White for allowing the doubled ♙s, the point of Black's play. Rubinstein vs Alekhine, 1914 In his last game with Lasker Lasker vs Tarrasch, 1923, Tarrasch played Alekhine's defence and gained a winning position only to lose the game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: In retrospect, reading <The Soviet School of Chess> and their portrayal of the classical school as utterly dogmatic, whilst casting top players of their own as the epitome of <Soviet Man>, made for rich theatre but had its share of inaccuracies, to put it mildly.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: Yes indeed. Bent Larsen asked how Mikhail Tal and Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian could be part of the same school.

I attended a chess lecture by Yuri Averbakh during a chess school in Sukhumi in 1988 on the history of chess styles. He tried to explain this away by claiming that Soviet "school" meant a method of preparation not a style. But previously, he had been using "school" to mean "style" (Italian school of gambits and attacks, Steinitz school of defence and accumulation of small advantages, the Hypermodern school). Not coming down on Averbakh, now the world's oldest living GM, because he is a great teacher as well as being friendly.

Oct-21-19  SChesshevsky: < Does anyone know the story behing Tarrasch playing the Reti Opening when he despised the Hypermodern School?...>

A couple of reasons Tarrasch might've experimented with the hypermodern is that you really couldn't argue with the results by 1926. Also, the best way to understand the strengths and weaknesses behind these openings is to play them.

Interestingly, in the March 1974 edition of Chess Life and Review, known American Master Edward Lasker wrote about the beginnings of some of the hypermodern ideas. He heard this from Master Janowski who probably should know.

To sum it up, Lasker writes that Janowski and other top European Masters were invited to play in Mannheim 1914 when World War I broke out. Em. Lasker and Maroczy did not participate but players Janowski, Alekhine, Bogolyubov and Flambard were imprisoned but not mistreated. Other non-German players whose countries were associated with Germany were just detained in a camp nearby. This included Reti, Breyer, Vidmar and Duras.

Later, all were held in the detention camp where they did nothing but play chess all day and analyze a new defense against 1. d4 which Nimzovich is said to have "invented". (Quotation marks from the article.) Which they called the Indian Defense. Now called the KID. After the war the detention group was very successful with this new defense so Reti decided to investigate if the ideas would be as effective for White against 1...d5. After Reti beat Rubinstein in 1923 it caught on quickly and in the 1924 New York tourney (of which this article was written) the KB fianchetto was seen very often. Lasker writes that was not very surprising since most of the players, excepting Lasker and Maroczy, were "post-graduates" of the detention camp fianchetto analysis center.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: <SChesshevsky: > Ed Lasker said much the same in his great book Chess Secrets I Learned from the Masters

But the St Petersburg tourney was just before Mannheim and WW1, and as I said, he approved of the basic idea of what later became known as the Nimzo-Indian: doubling White's Ps even at the cost of the B-pair. Or at least, he criticized White for allowing the doubled Ps.

Even back in the 19th century, there are plenty of non-dogmatic and even proto-hypermodern ideas in his book 300 Chess Games.

Certainly Tarrasch was an epitome of classical chess, but so was Capablanca who nevertheless won many fine games with hypermodern openings.

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