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Alexander Kotov vs Mikhail Botvinnik
USSR Championship (1939), Leningrad URS, rd 17, May-15
Nimzo-Indian Defense: Classical. Zurich Variation (E33)  ·  0-1



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Given 21 times; par: 70 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Jan-08-06  syracrophy: I suggest this game as a puzzle (37...? Black to play) This game is just amazing!
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: This game was played in the last round, with both players on 11.5 points. All of the tickets for the playing hall had been sold out, and demonstration boards were set up outside for those spectators who could not get a ticket. The crowds milling around the tournament hall were so large that traffic had to be diverted.

Source: Bernard Cafferty and Mark Taimanov "The Soviet Championships", Cadogan 1998

Aug-07-10  notyetagm: See 20 ♗c3xg7! in <Salgado Lopez vs Dimitrov World Junior Championship (1) 2010> for another example of the 37 ... ♕g6xg2+! <EXCHANGE ON THE PINNING SQUARE> tactic.
Jan-11-11  notyetagm: Game Collection: EXCHANGE ON THE PINNING SQUARE
Jan-11-11  notyetagm: <notyetagm: See 20 c3xg7! in <Salgado Lopez vs Dimitrov World Junior Championship (1) 2010> for another example of the 37 ... Qg6xg2+! <EXCHANGE ON THE PINNING SQUARE> tactic.>

I Salgado Lopez vs P Dimitrov, 2010

Feb-20-11  notyetagm: Game Collection: EXCHANGE ON THE PINNING SQUARE: NOT A DEFENDER
Aug-28-13  notyetagm: Kotov vs Botvinnik, 1939

37 ... ? <pinned: g2-pawn>

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37 ... ♕g6xg2+! <exchange on the g2-pinning sq>

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38 ♕f2x♕g2 <pinned g2-queen>

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38 ... ♖e8x♖e2! 0-1 <sneaky pin>

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A textbook perfect example of <GC: THE EXCHANGE ON THE PINNING SQUARE>: transforming a <PINNED PIECE> (White g2-pawn) that you -cannot- exploit into a <PINNED PIECE> (White g2-queen) that you -can- exploit (38 ... ♖e8x♖e2).

Aug-19-14  Cheapo by the Dozen: There's no quick mate, but ... Qxg2+ creates a pin that leaves the rook hanging, and Black winds up ahead the exchange plus pawns.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: Hmm, another pseudo-queen sac on KN2, but this one just leaves White an exchange up rather than mating, as yesterday's did.
Aug-19-14  Cheapo by the Dozen: I wanted 20 Rf3 to be a good move, but 20 ... Bc6 seems like an excellent response.
Aug-19-14  MountainMatt: Despite the g2 square <seeming> to be doubly covered, black can (and should!) play 37...Qxg2+ 38. Qxg2 Rxe2 with a nice pin to wrap it up.
Aug-19-14  M.Hassan: "Black is a pawn up

38.Qxg2(forced) Rxe2
The pinned Queen can not take the Rook but can take Bishop 39.Qxc6 bxc6

Aug-19-14  patzer2: From a defensive perspective, finding the best alternative to White's 37. Qf2? is instructive.

Instead of 37. Qf2? allowing 37...Qxg2!! , best is 37. Qd2! to (diagram below)

click for larger view

The computers indicate Black with strong play eventually wins, but it's difficult to execute even with the best line 37...Rxe2! 38. Qxe2 b5! to .

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: There is a fantastic piece of Botvinnik magic earlier in the game. He prepares for this material winning combination more than 20 moves in advance.

This is the position after 16...Nxc4

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Black offers either of his knights, but in return white has to part with his light squared bishop. White can't really refuse as otherwise he would go a pawn down and have to suffer a strongly outposted black knight on c4.

After the exchanges, black plays the aggressive 18...Qg5

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The c7 pawn is safe because black is threatening Bh3. White feels compelled to neutralise the long diagonal with 19. f4. Black than drops the queen back to the wonderful g6 square.

click for larger view

She will stay on this square for nearly all the game. It's a reasonably safe place to sit because the white light squared bishop is off the board. But from here she can glare down at g2 and e4. She also incidentally protects against any tricks on g7.

Now comes an exquisite little dance. Black wants to park his light squared bishop on c6, but does not want the queens to be exchanged. So we have Nd6-Bf5-Be4-Bc6-Nf5

click for larger view

Mission accomplished. The black queen and bishop have parked themselves on ideal squares - two light squares to accentuate the loss of white's LSB. They will stay on those squares for almost the rest of the game, waiting for white to make a mistake and allow something awful to happen on g2.

Because white has to be constantly on guard against Qxg2# his own winning options are drastically reduced. His king's rook spends the latter half of the game nursemaiding g2. Until the rook is chopped off at the end.

Honourable mention should also be made of the pawn on b7. This little foot soldier does absolutely nothing all game, apart from protect the Bc6 and make the final tactic possible.

None of this guarantees black's win, of course. But it's a constant needle in white's skin, an ever-present threat.

Very clever play by Botvinnik.

Aug-19-14  diagonalley: hmmmm...yes, 37...QxP+ wins ... but it's not quite so "easy" to visualise at first sight
Aug-19-14  kevinatcausa: I think I may have managed to pin down what this week's theme is.
Aug-19-14  morfishine: 37...Qxg2+ 38.Qxg2 Rxe2
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: D'oh!!
Aug-19-14  scormus: Most unlike Kotov, or any other seriously strong player for that matter. I wonder what sort of time pressure he might have been in.
Premium Chessgames Member
  agb2002: Black is one pawn ahead.

Black can pin the white queen against the king with 37... Qxg2+ 38.Qxg2, leaving the white rook undefended so that 38... Rxe2 increases Black's material advantage to an exchange and two pawns after 39.Qxc6 bxc6.

A very overworked puzzle.

Aug-19-14  zb2cr: 37. ... Qxg2+!; 38. Qxg2, and now the White Queen is pinned. 38. ... Rxe2 exploits this. White has nothing better than 39. Qc6, bxc6 which leaves Black ahead by the exchange and 2 Pawns.
Aug-19-14  Ratt Boy: Holy Kau, that took me forEVER to solve. Not a difficult Tues puzzle, butt my brain was blocked.
Aug-19-14  Ratt Boy: Thank you, Once, for another enjoyable description of some key strategic and tactical elements of this game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kbob: What would be wrong with 16. Bxe4 , dxe4; 17. f4, exf3; 18. Rxf3, f6; 19. Rg3 etc.? Am I the only one who likes white's attacking chances?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Bubo bubo: Luring a piece into a pin again: 37...Qxg2+ 38.Qxg2 Rxe2 wins a pawn and the exchange.
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