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Ilya Rabinovich vs Mikhail Botvinnik
USSR Championship (1927), Moscow URS, rd 2, Sep-27
Dutch Defense: Classical. Stonewall Variation (A95)  ·  0-1



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sac: 21...Rxf4 PGN: download | view | print Help: general | java-troubleshooting

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Jul-25-08  fred lennox: 12...Ng5 "Possibly Bf6 is better, but in compensation for his restricted position Black wants to keep the two Bishops or force a weakening of White's K side." Botvinnik Botvinnik, was a true connaissure of the bishop pair. Perhaps because his all round mastery is taken for granted, it does not get much notice, yet it's often a gravitational force to his strategy. In this move, he hints at his bias towards the bishop pair. He does not do so obviously, that would be out of charactor even at this early age, yet to keep the BP at the expense of a restricted position is quite unusual, for the time at least. He does prefer gradual transition and build up to swift development and sudden attacks. So he's in his element. A forceful personality is clear from the 16 year old, he will soon learn to "objectify" his playing more, to play according to position.
Apr-16-16  nalinw: First?? I got most of it - though I didn't see the defense attempted in the game.
Apr-16-16  scholes: 24.. E3 fails because white replies 25 Rxg7
Apr-16-16  patfoley: 23 ... Bh3ch is pretty good.
Premium Chessgames Member
  agb2002: Black has the bishop pair for a bishop, a knight and a pawn.

The position of the white king suggests 21... Rxf4:

A) 22.gxf4 Qg3

A.1) 23.Rg1 Bh3+ 24.Rg2 Bxg2+ 25.Kg1 Bh3+ 26.Kh1 Qg2#.

A.2) 23.Qd2 exf3 24.exf3 (due to 24... Qg2+) 24... Qxf3+ 25.Kg1 (25.Kd1 Bxc3 wins the queen; 25.Qf2 Qxh1+ wins a piece) 25... Bxc3 - + [2B vs R].

A.3) 23.fxe4 Bh3+ 24.Rxh3 Qxh3+ 25.Kf2 (25.Kg1 Bc5+ wins; 26.Kd1 Bxc3+ 25.Kf2 Qxh4+ wins decisive material and keeps the attack) 25... Bxc3 - + [B vs 2P] and attack (26.Rd3 Qxh4+ followed by 27... Be1).

A.4) 23.e3 Qxf3+ (23... Bh3+ probably wins also) 24.Kg1 Qxe3+ followed by Bxc3 wins decisive material.

A.5) 23.cxd5 e3 24.Ne4 Bh3+ 25.Rxh3 Qxh3+ 26.Kg1 (26.Ke1 Qh1#) 26... cxd5 27.Rxd5 Be1 with the threat 28... Bf2+ 29.Nxf2 Qg3+ 30.Kh1 (30.Kf1 Qxf2#) 30... exf2. The only defense I can find is 28.Qc4, threatening 29.Rd8#, but 28... b5 (28... Kh8 29.Qd3 wins the pawn on e3) 29.Rxb5+ Kh8, perhaps followed by h6, looks bad for White.

B) 22.cxd5 Qxg3 and White doesn't seem to have enough compensation for the piece (23.Ne4 Bh3+).

Apr-16-16  mel gibson: I saw this one straight away - at least the first few moves.
Apr-16-16  morfishine: <21...Rxf4>
Apr-16-16  gofer: Sorry, don't see this as "Very Difficult". The first two moves simply have to be played, at the very least they trap the king in the centre of the board, and win at least one pawn. But really they are going to give us, much, much more... ...I was wondering whether <21 ... Bxc3> was necessary first, but in quite a lot of the variations Bc5 or Bc5+ is devastating, so I think we play the rook sacrifice first...

<21 ... Rxf4>
<22 gxf4 Qg3>

Black threatens <23 ... e3!> mating, so most of white's defensive moves can be discounted as simply losing; a3, any knight move (except sacrifices which lose to Bh3+), any rook move.

23 Qd2 Bc5
24 e3 Qxf3+

23 fxe4 Bh3+
24 Rxh3+ Qxh3+

The only interesting defence seems to be...

<23 e3 Qxf3+>

24 Qf2 Qxh1+

<24 Kg1 Qxe3+>

White is already losing pawns with every single king move, but any king move from this point loses instantly!

25 Kg2? Qf3+
26 Kh2 Qh3+ (Kg1 Bc5+ mating)
27 Kg1 Bc5+
28 Qf2 Qg3+
29 Kg1 Qxf2#

25 Kf1 Qf3+

26 Kg1 Bc5+ mating
26 Ke1 Qxh1+
26 Qf2 Qxh1+

<25 Qf2 Qxc3>

click for larger view

White has survived, but has lost control B+N+2P for its rook! But worse than that it has lost control of most of the squares around its king. The moves that it can play now are severely limited. This is a win for black without a doubt...


Hmmm, I looked at <23 Nxe4>, but thought the continuation was simpler...

23 Nxe4 Bh3+
24 Rxh3+ Qxh3+
25 Kg1 dxe4

click for larger view

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <gofer> I agree that the first two moves are obvious, but after that it gets a little trickier. At least it did for me: I missed that White has 25.Rxg7+ after 24....e3.

Your (and PatFoley's) 23....Bh3+ looks quite decisive; in <Selected Games> Botvinnik wrote that it was less good than the game continuation <because then White can still resist>. I think Botvinnik is mistaken.

Apr-16-16  RandomVisitor: After 13...Ne4 white has a strong position

click for larger view


<+0.59/37 14.Nxe4 fxe4 15.Qd2> Nxe5 16.Bxe5 Bf6 17.Bxf6 gxf6 18.f3 exf3 19.exf3 Kh8 20.f4 Rg8 21.Kh2 Qf7 22.Rde1 Bd7 23.Re3 b6 24.Qc3 Qf8 25.Rfe1 f5 26.R1e2 b5 27.c5 a5 28.a3 Qg7 29.Re1 Rab8 30.Qd2 Qf6 31.b4 axb4 32.axb4 Qg7 33.Qb2 Ra8 34.Kg1

Apr-16-16  Aleman: Rf4 surely breaks through, followed by mostly likely Qg3. White should struggle after that.
Apr-16-16  kevin86: I got the first few moves right, but the position was far too involved for me. Black does gain a piece and is able to execute a win.
Apr-16-16  The Kings Domain: Good puzzle and good game. Nice sacrifice by black. Rabinovich shouldn't have overextended his kingside pawns early into the game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: I got it in three hours.

...Bh3+, ...Qxg3, ...Bxc3, ...Rxf4 and ...exe3 .

A tough one.

Apr-16-16  devere: A famous game I remembered from Botvinnik's classic book "100 selected games". Botvinnik's 27...Qh3 was good enough to win, but 27...Be7! would have been slightly better

click for larger view

Of course if White takes the bishop 28...Rd8 is devastating.

Apr-16-16  alphee: ... dxe5 ♖f4 22. gxf4 ♕g3 23. ♘e4 , this I could see but I could not see the next moves. 21... ♗h3+ 22. ♖xh3 ♖xf4 23. g4 ♖xg4 24. fxg4 ♖f8+ 25. ♔g1 ♗c5+ 26. ♔h1 ♕xg4 was also an option but nothing convincing. Not sure what I would have palyed ...
Apr-16-16  Steve.Patzer: I got the first two moves, does that count?
Apr-16-16  Steve.Patzer: I would have continued 23....Bh3+ 24. Rxh3 Qxh3 before capturing the Knight.
Apr-16-16  saturn2: After 30 th march another puzzle from the 16 year teenager Botvinnik. The first two moves and whites weakness on the diagonal c5 f2 where quickly seen. I did not have the time to calculate further, so I dont demand a point or half point for this. Let me speculate a bit on Smyslov and Botvinnik. I would say Smyslov said he admired Aljechin but in reality his true and secret admiration was Capablanca. Botvinnik said he admired Capablanca but his secret and true admiration was Aljechin. At least those two games of the young Botvinnik suggest this.
Apr-16-16  CHESSTTCAMPS: Black has excellent play for a pawn deficit, with major pieces lined up on semi-open files that point to the white king. Furthermore, the dark squares near the white king are weak, which suggests that the invasion can be facilitated by eliminating the white DSB.

21... Rxf4! 22.gxf4 Qg3! (not 22.....exf3?? 23.Qxg6) immobilizes both the WK and the Rh1, with black threatening 23... e3.

A. 23.Rg1? Bh3+ 24.Rg2 Bxg2+ forces mate.

B. 23.e3 Qxf3+ 24.Kg1 (otherwise Qxh1+) Qxe3+ 25.Qf2 (Kh2? Qh3+ 26.Kg1 Bc5+ wins) Qxc3 with 2Bs for a rook looks winning (e.g. 26.cxd5 Bc5 wins immediately)

B.1 25.Kf1 Qf3+ 26.Kg1 Bc5+ 27.Kh2 Qh3#

C. 23.fe Bh3+ 24.Rxh3 Qxh3+ 25.Kf2 Bc5+! 26.Ke1 Qg3+ 27.Kd2 Be3+ 28.Kd3 Bc1+ 29.Kd4 Qe3#

D. 23.Nxe4 Bh3+ (not dxe4?? 24.Rxd7 e3 27.Rxg7+! Kxg7 28.Rg1) 24.Rxh3 Qxh3+ 25.Kg1 dxe4 26.Qxe4 Bc5+ 27.e3 Re8 (threatening the rook lift) 28.f5 Qg3+ 29.Kf1 Qxe5 and white does not appear to have compensation for a piece.

E. e3 wins.

Time for review...

Apr-16-16  CHESSTTCAMPS: So my first parenthesized variation in note D is wrong (certainly the placement of the "??") because 24... Be3 is not forced. 24... Bc5 crossed my mind but I didn't analyze it.
Apr-16-16  Lambda: Saw the first two moves, convinced myself that against any white response black can at least get material equality, and decided it could then be played on intuition, let white decide what his defence is going to be then look at the position on the board.
Apr-17-16  RandomVisitor: After 21.dxe5

click for larger view


<-9.52/41 21...Rxf4 22.gxf4 Qg3 23.Nxe4 dxe4 24.Rxd7> Bc5 25.e3 Qxf3+ 26.Qf2 Qxh1+ 27.Ke2 Qh3 28.f5 Rf8 29.e6 Qg4+ 30.Kd2 h5 31.Qf4 Bb4+ 32.Kc1 Rxf5 33.Qxg4 hxg4 34.e7 Rf1+ 35.Kb2 Bxe7 36.Rxe7 g3 37.Rxe4 g2 38.Rg4 g1Q 39.Rxg1 Rxg1 40.Kc3 Kf7 41.Kd4 Ke6 42.h5 Rd1+ 43.Ke4 Ra1 44.a4 Ra3 45.Kf4 Rxb3 46.e4 Rc3 47.Kg5 Kf7 48.Kf4 Rxc4 49.a5 Kf6 50.a6 bxa6 51.Kf3 Ke5 52.Kg4 Rxe4+

Apr-18-16  patzer2: Playing catch up on last Saturday's puzzle, which I missed due to having to stand in and coach my Grandson's soccer team while his dad/coach was away on business that day.

Got the first move 21...Rxf4 gxf4, but had to flip the board to see the obvious strong follow-up 22...Qg3!

After 23. Nxe4 dxe4 24. Rxd7, I found 24...Bc5 easy enough. And following 25. e3, the reply 25...Qxf3+ is clearly Black's best option.

If instead of 26. Qf2, White tries 26. Kg1 (diagram below),

click for larger view

Black wins with 26... Bxe3+ 27. Kh2 Qxf4+ as play might continue 28. Kh3 Qf3+ 29. Kh2 Bf2 30. Rg1 Qf4+ (30... Bxg1+ 31. Kxg1 Qg4+ 32. Kh2 Qxh4+ 33. Kg1 Qg4+ 34. Kh2 Qxd7 ) 31. Kh3 Qxh4+ 32. Kg2 Qg3+ 33. Kf1 Qxg1+ 34. Ke2 Qe1#.

For a White improvement, I like <RV>'s 14. Nxe4 to .

Also, instead of <18. Rh1> allowing 18...Qh5 , the computer suggestion 18. Be5 = looks good, as Deep Fritz 15 indicates play might go 18. Be5 Qg6 19. c5 Rf5 20. Bd6 Ba5 21. Qd2 Bd8 22. f3 exf3+ 23. exf3 Bxh4 24. Ne2 b6 25. b4 Bf6 26. Nf4 Qg5 27. g4 e5 28. Nh3 Qg6 29. Kh2 Bh4 30. Qd3 bxc5 31. bxc5 Re8 32. Bxe5 Rf7 33. Qxg6 = (0.00 @ 20 depth).

Earlier, instead of the awkward appearing <16. Kg2>, I like more conventional development with 16. Bg2 = to .

May-31-22  tbontb: A famous tactical victory by the young Botvinnik with Black. The thematic exchange sacrifice 21....Rxf4 is immediately winning with precise play, as Botvinnik demonstrates. In fact, analysis shows even one move earlier 20....Rxf4 21.gxf4 Qg3 22.Nxe4 dxe4 Qxe4 Rf8 is enough to leave Black clearly better and effectively end the game. 19.f3 (better Qc1) looks to be the losing move.
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