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Mikhail Botvinnik vs Reuben Fine
AVRO (1938), The Netherlands, rd 8, Nov-17
Four Knights Game: Spanish. Rubinstein Variation (C48)  ·  1/2-1/2

ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 1 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Sep-17-09  Ulhumbrus: With 11...Ne8 the Knight heads for e6 via c7.

15 Bxe6 concedes the bishop pair for nothing.

An alternative to 16...d5 is 16...f6 fortifying the centre further

After 19...Qxe6 Black seems to have much the better of it, with the superior minor piece and a better pawn structure. For whatever reason, Fine agrees to a draw.

Sep-17-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Ulhumbrus>
White could play <20. Qf4>. Then if Black trades queens, it straightens White's pawn structure, but if Black retreats queen to ...Qb8 or ...Qg7, White plays 21. e5 and Black has a big hole on the f6 square. I don't believe Black has <much the better of it> in either case.

What say you?

Sep-18-09  Ulhumbrus: <beatgiant>

On 20 Qf4 one alternative to 20...Qxf4 ( undoubling White's pawns) or to 20...Qg7 21 e5 ( putting pressure on the hole at f6) is 20...f6.

However does White in fact stand well after either 20...Qxf4 or after 20...Qg7 21 e5?

On 20...Qxf4 21 exf4 dxe4 22 Nxe4 Rfd8 Black has the stronger minor piece in the coming ending.

On 20...Qg7 21 e5 White's N is unable to go to either e4 or to h5, and so gain swift access to the point f6. What about slow access via g4? On 21...Rae8 22 Nh1 ( intending Nh1-f2-g4-f6 if permitted) 22...Bc8 23 Nf2 Qxe5 Black's QB covers g4 if needed, and Black has won a pawn already.

If White can't do better than this, it suggests that Black has much the better of it, if not an eventual win.

So why did Fine agree to a draw? It is possible that Fine had suffered a collapse in form during the second half of the tournament, and so was unwilling to risk playing for a win. Had he done so, he might have won the tournament, but he might also have risked losing this game.

Sep-18-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Ulhumbrus>
After 20. Qf4 f6 21. Qxe5 fxe5 22. a3, soon all the rooks come off and I really doubt Black has any serious advantage in the resulting ending.

After 20. Qf4 Qxf4 21. exf4 dxe4 22. Nxe4 Rfd8, again I really doubt Black has any serious advantage. The pawn structure is totally balanced with no real weak points for either player, and White's knight is in an active position.

Finally, after 20. Qf4 Qg7 21. e5 Rae8, White would play 22. e4. If then 22...dxe4 23. Nxe4 and the knight can jump to f6, but if 22...Bc8 23. exd5 and now the other rook can defend the e-pawn. Again, I don't see a real winning chance for Black here.

Sep-18-09  Ulhumbrus: <beatgiant> In the first two cases Black has the superior minor piece in the ending. On 20 Qf4 Qg7 21 e5 Rae8 22 e4 an alternative to 22...Bc8 is 22..Bd7 covering the c6 pawn. Then on 23 exd5 Qxe5 24 dxc6 can be answered by 24..Bxc6. This suggests that in all three cases- and Black can take his pick out of them - Black ends up with the superior minor piece in the ending. If his pawn structure is better that increases his advantage, and if it is no more than asymmetrical in some way, that helps the Black bishop.

My explanation for the draw is that this game was played in the second half of the tournament. In the first half Fine won one game after another and stormed into the lead. In the second half Fine collapsed. Fine may have thought during this game that on his playing form as it was then, he would risk losing the game if he attempted to win it.

Sep-20-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Ulhumbrus>
<Black ends up with the superior minor piece in the ending.>

I could post lines ending in what I consider dead drawn positions, but there's no point because you could still claim that <Black has the superior minor piece>.

So, could you post some more detailed plan of how you think Black could demonstrate the superiority of his minor piece in these positions? I really don't see it.

Sep-20-09  Ulhumbrus: <beatgiant> Black's plan will, I suspect, consist of the normal technique for this type of B v N ending. Taking one of the options, after 20...f6 21 Qxe5 fxe5 one plan folowing exchanges of the Rooks, is to threaten to displace White's N by ...h5 and ..h4. Black has in fact an advantage in space as well as the better minor piece.
Sep-20-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Ulhumbrus>
Thanks.

Following your idea, 20. Qf4 f6 21. Qxe5 fxe5 22. a3 Rxf1+ 23. Rxf1 Rf8 24. Rxf8+ Kxf8 25. Kf2 h5, White can simply defend with 26. h4. Now it is not possible to play ...h4, and Black's kingside pawns are locked on squares of the same color as the bishop, reducing its effectiveness.

In that case, I don't see either an advantage in space or a better minor piece for Black.

Sep-23-09  Ulhumbrus: <beatgiant> One potential Black threat is ...g5 while another is ...c5 and ...d4. Black may also play for zugzwang. On 25...Ke7 26 Ke2 Kd6 28 Kd3 Kc5 if the White King gives way, Black's King will get in. Suppose White tries to move his N back and forth. Then one way for White to lose is 29 Nf1 b6 30 Ng3 Bc8 31 Nf1 Ba6+ skewering the White K and N. So we know at any rate that in this one respect White can't do as he likes.
Sep-23-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Ulhumbrus>
On ...c5, White would respond exd5 leveling the pawn structure, with a drawish situation. On an eventual ...g5, White can parry with g3 and I don't see any further threat.

I think it's a stretch for Black to play for zugzwang here. White's knight has enough activity to avoid getting cornered.

For example, in your line
20. Qf4 f6 21. Qxe5 fxe5 22. a3 Rxf1+ 23. Rxf1 Rf8 24. Rxf8+ Kxf8 25. Kf2 h5 26. h4 Ke7 27. Ke2 Kd6 28. Kd3 Kc5, White might play 29. Ne2 b6 30. Ng1 Bc8 31. Nf3 Ba6+ 32. Kd2. White's knight counterattacks Black's pawns, so Black's king needs to retreat and White is easily holding the balance.

Sep-23-09  AnalyzeThis: In his prime years, Fine was very strong in the openings. This made him close to unbeatable.
Sep-24-09  Ulhumbrus: <beatgiant> In the variation you give on 29 Ne2 b6 30 Nf1 Black is not compelled to play ..Ba6 but can choose 30...dxe4+ 31 Kxe4 Bd5+ 32 K xe5 Bxg2 and White is definitely not holding the balance.
Sep-25-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Ulhumbrus>
I don't think White has any need to fear the situation you posted recently, since his king is more active and he is the first to create a passed pawn. What's the basis of your claim that <White is definitely not holding the balance>? In fact I can't find any advantage for Black after 33. b3.

I could post a long line ending in a draw, but more importantly I'd like to understand what you think Black is playing for here. Clearly we're not talking about a space advantage or a zugzwang.

Sep-27-09  Ulhumbrus: <beatgiant > On 31...Bxg2 Black not only has a powerful B for a N but the B ties the N to the h3 pawn. On 32 b3 a5 threatens ...a4 gaining the point c4 for the Black King followed by a Queen side invasion. On 33 a4 b5 threatens again to gain c4 for the Black King by ...bxa4.
Sep-28-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Ulhumbrus>
To review, the line we were discussing is:
20. Qf4 f6 21. Qxe5 fxe5 22. a3 Rxf1+ 23. Rxf1 Rf8 24. Rxf8+ Kxf8 25. Kf2 h5 26. h4 Ke7 27. Ke2 Kd6 28. Kd3 Kc5 29. Ne2 b6 30. Ng1 dxe4+ 31. Kxe4 Bd5+ 32. Kxe5 Bxg2


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White's king has an excellent centralized position, White's a few moves ahead in the passed pawn race, Black's kingside pawns are blockaded and vulnerable, and Black may lose another move soon when White's knight reaches f4. It will take much time for Black to invade the queenside, and meanwhile White can attack Black's pawns.

It probably continues 33. b3 a5 34. Ne2 a4 35. bxa4 Kc4 36. e4, and again I don't really see what Black is playing for here.

Sep-28-09  Ulhumbrus: <beatgiant> After 36....c5 Black is playing to advance his c pawn after driving the N away from its defence of the c3 pawn. If some tiny little detail somewhere can transform the conclusion, Black may have to find more exact play which will consist then of more intricate play.
Sep-29-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Ulhumbrus>
From the diagram above, after 33. b3 a5 34. Ne2 a4 35. bxa4 Kc4 36. e4 c5 37. Nf4 Bh1 38.Nd5, how can Black carry out the plan you suggest? Then 38...Kd3 39. Nxb6 Kxc3 40. Kd5 catches the c pawn.

Do you still believe <White is definitely not holding the balance> in the diagram position?

Sep-30-09  Ulhumbrus: <beatgiant> In the variation which you give 37...Bf3 instead of 37...Bh1 avoids obstructing Black's h pawn. Then after 38 Nd5 Kd3 39 Nxb6 Kxc3 40 Kd5 g5 41 hxg5 h4 threatens to run with the h pawn
Sep-30-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Ulhumbrus>
I agree that 37...Bh1 in this line is an error.

Against your 37...Bf3 38. Nd5 Kd3 39. Nxb6 Kxc3, White has <40. a5> Be2 41. Na4+, and I certainly don't see Black winning it.

Oct-01-09  Ulhumbrus: <beatgiant> Instead of 40...Be2 suppose Black tries 40..Kd3. On 41 a6 Bxe4 42 a7 c4 ( advancing now the c pawn instead of trying to advance the h pawn by ....g5) 43 a8/Q Bxa8 44 Nxa8 c3 and the N seems unable to stop the c pawn.
Oct-01-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Ulhumbrus>
How to stop the a pawn after 40...Kd3 41. a6 Bxe4 <42. Nd5>?

In all these lines, note the value of having a centralized king and being several moves ahead in the pawn race.

Oct-01-09  chillowack: This game ended on move 20, and these two guys are analyzing move 44. :)
Oct-02-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <chillowack>
My impression is that this game was a typical grandmaster draw. The players chose drawish lines, quickly reached a lifeless position, and agreed a draw.

But <Ulhumbrus> claimed <After 19...Qxe6 Black seems to have much the better of it>, and he won't give up that idea without a comprehensive demonstration of the lack of any possible winning chances for Black. Hence the interminable lines above.

We're reaching the end of this branch, and there are only two more branches to go. Or maybe we should agree to disagree, since we don't seem to be able to convince each other.

Oct-02-09  AnalyzeThis: It looks really ugly for white, but apparently 19.....Qxe5 20. Qf4! holds.

Fine would have known what he was doing, he was very strong at the endgame and the author of Basic Chess Endings.

Oct-02-09  Ulhumbrus: <beatgiant> After 36 e4 Bf1 may save Black time <My impression is that this game was a typical grandmaster draw. The players chose drawish lines, quickly reached a lifeless position, and agreed a draw.>

My impression is that this was not a tyoical draw at all. The players agreed a draw where White looks close to a loss if he is not in fact lost.

<But <Ulhumbrus> claimed <After 19...Qxe6 Black seems to have much the better of it>, and he won't give up that idea without a comprehensive demonstration of the lack of any possible winning chances for Black. Hence the interminable lines above.>

It is you who seem unwilling to give up the idea that White can draw without a comprehensive demonstration of the lack of any drawing chances for White, and you have even indicated so earlier. It was not I who asked for variations, but you.

<We're reaching the end of this branch, and there are only two more branches to go. Or maybe we should agree to disagree, since we don't seem to be able to convince each other.>> These variations are by no means conclusive. Perhaps we should agree to disagree if you don't wish to continue the analysis.

<AnalyzeThis: It looks really ugly for white, but apparently 19.....Qxe5 20. Qf4! holds. Fine would have known what he was doing, he was very strong at the endgame and the author of Basic Chess Endings.>

My belief is that Fine did know what he was doing when he agreed to a draw, but not in the way which you suggest. Fine had done very well in the first half of the tournament. Then in the second half he collapsed. Fine was probably worried that in his playing form as it was then, he would risk losing this game if he attempted to win it. White can after all win this ending in at least some variations if Black misplays it. I believe that this is why Fine agreed to a draw.

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