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Mikhail Chigorin vs Siegbert Tarrasch
Monte Carlo (1902), Monte Carlo MNC, rd 1, Feb-03
Italian Game: Giuoco Pianissimo. Italian Four Knights Variation (C50)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Apr-06-08  Ulhumbrus: An alternative to 11...Qb8 is 11...Ng4 12 Bd2 f6 13 h3 Nh6 14 Bxh6 gxh6.

Another alternative is 11....exd4 12 Nxd4 Bd7

After 15...Bc4 Tchigorin ignores the attack on his Rook for no less than six moves in succession, making threats of his own, after which Tarrasch finally withdraws his QB from c4.

Nov-28-11  Ulhumbrus: Suppose that instead of 41 Rf2 Tchigorin plays 41 Re3 to be followed by 42 Rh3 and 43 Ng6+. On 41 Re3 Rfg7 42 Rh3 the R on e3 is pinned to the B on d2, so that in a manner of speaking it does not really defend the pawn on e4 at all, and this invites 42..Bxe4
Premium Chessgames Member
  Retireborn: <Ulhumbrus> If we extend your line 41.Re3 Rfg7 42.Rh3 Bxe4 43.Rxe4 Qxd2 44.Ng6+ Nxg6 45.fxg6 Qd1+ 46.Kf2 Qxc2+ and Black has perpetual check, which would have been a worthy finish to this fine game.

As played, 42...Rg4 was a blunder, whereas 42...Qg4 would have kept it unclear.

Nov-29-11  Ulhumbrus: <Retireborn: <Ulhumbrus> If we extend your line 41.Re3 Rfg7 42.Rh3 Bxe4 43.Rxe4 Qxd2 44.Ng6+ Nxg6 45.fxg6 Qd1+ 46.Kf2 Qxc2+ and Black has perpetual check, which would have been a worthy finish to this fine game. As played, 42...Rg4 was a blunder, whereas 42...Qg4 would have kept it unclear.> This suggests 41 Re3 Rgg7 so that on 42 Rh3 Bxe4 43 Rxe4 Qxd2 44 Ng6+ Nxg6 45 fxg6 Qd1+ 46 Kf2 Qxc2+ 47 Kg1 Black has 47..Qxe4 as h7 is covered by both of the black rooks
Premium Chessgames Member
  Retireborn: <Ulhumbrus> Thanks for your response. My Fritz program reacts to 41.Re3 Rgg7 42.Rh3 Bxe4 with 43.g3 (instead of 43.Rxe4) when the Bd2 and the Rf4 are nicely protected and it assesses that as clearly better for White.

So it looks to me as if Black has to defend actively (pressure on g2) rather than passively (piling up on h7).

Nov-29-11  Ulhumbrus: <Retireborn> What does Fritz have to say after 41 Re3 Rfg7 42 Rh3 Bxg2 43 g3?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Retireborn: <Ulhumbrus> It likes 43...Bxc2 in that case, giving 44.Rc4 Qxg3+ 45.Rxg3 Rxg3+ 46.Kf2 Bxf5 47.Nxf5 Nxf5 which it calls "equal" (not sure if it really is!)

In the other line 41.Re3 Rgg7 42.Rh3 Bxe4 43.g3 then 43...Bxc2 44.Rc4 wins for White, because 44...Qxg3+ doesn't work with the black rook on f7 instead of g8.

Nov-30-11  Ulhumbrus: <Retireborn: <Ulhumbrus> It likes 43...Bxc2 in that case, giving 44.Rc4 Qxg3+ 45.Rxg3 Rxg3+ 46.Kf2 Bxf5 47.Nxf5 Nxf5 which it calls "equal" (not sure if it really is!) In the other line 41.Re3 Rgg7 42.Rh3 Bxe4 43.g3 then 43...Bxc2 44.Rc4 wins for White, because 44...Qxg3+ doesn't work with the black rook on f7 instead of g8.> This looks as if it can't be right. On 41 Re3 Rfg7 42 Rh3 Bxg2 43 g3 White is threatening, amongst other things, to trap Black's Queen by 44 Nf3. On 44.Rc4 Qxg3+ 45.Rxg3 Rxg3+ 46.Kf2 Bxf5 White has a queen for a rook, as he does after 43...Bxc2 44 Nf3 Qxg3+ 45 Rxg3 Rxg3+
Premium Chessgames Member
  Retireborn: <Ulhumbrus> I see your point. After 41.Re3 Rfg7 42.Rh3 Bxe4 (I assume this is what you mean by Bxg2) 43.g3 Bxc2 44.Nf3 then 44...Qxg3+ 45.Rxg3 Rxg3+ 46.Kf2 Fritz thinks that 46...Nxf5 is playable, but it may well be that eg 47.Bc3 Rg2+ 48.Qxg2 Rxg2+ 49.Kxg2 does give White real winning chances. I can well believe that Fritz was being too optimistic here!
Nov-30-11  Ulhumbrus: <Retireborn> How about this: 41 Re3 Rfg7 42 Rh3 Bxe4 43 g3 and now 43...Bc6 putting the bishop in a safe place. Can White make then any good discovered attacks with the rook on f4?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Retireborn: <Ulhumbrus> if 43...Bc6 Fritz still likes 44.Rc4 - attacks the black Q - 44...Qxg3+ (44...Qh5 loses to 45.Ng6+) 45.Rxg3 Rxg3+ 46.Kf2 with the same sort of advantage as before.

Fritz does suggest 43...Nxf5 as an alternative defence; but I suspect that too is rather good for White in the end.

Dec-01-11  Ulhumbrus: <Retireborn: <Ulhumbrus> if 43...Bc6 Fritz still likes 44.Rc4 - attacks the black Q ...44...Qh5 loses to 45.Ng6+...> I missed the sequel to this before. On 45 ...hxg6 White does not take the black Queen at once by 46 Rxh5+? gxh5 47 Qxh5+ Rh7 but plays instead 46 fxg6! removing the g6 pawn which defends the black Queen so that she is now en prise as well as pinned and on 46...Qxh3+ 47 Qxh3+ Black has to lose one of his Rooks in addition to the Queen after 47...Rh7 48 gxh7.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Retireborn: <Ulhumbrus> Yes, 46.fxg6 is a fine killing move, which I didn't see myself, although Fritz presumably did!

Many thanks for your contributions.

Sep-15-15  Mr. V: How about 38... Rg5? Sure, Black will lose the exchange, but maybe it defuses White's threats. After the capture Black will attack the night on h4 using his pawn.
Sep-15-15  Mr. V: is it viable?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Mateo: 42...Rg4?? was a blunder. Now the Black Queen is trapped as Chigorin showed with the very nice 43.Rh3!. 43...Bxe4 or 43...Rxe4, 44.Ng6+. 43...Kg7 or 43...Kg8, 44.Nf3.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Mateo: 45.fxg6! was nice too. Very accurate tactical variation from Chigorin.
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Tarrasch had not played a tournament game since July 1898 when he sat down to play this first-round game at Monte Carlo 1902. Understandably, he was rusty. As a result, he got off to a horrendous start at this tournament, losing three of his games in the first four rounds and then drawing the fourth (and losing the replay). While he eventually recovered and tied for 5th-7th prizes, these first few games doomed his chances for one of the top prizes. But he played some interesting chess even in these early round games.

Tchigorin and Tarrasch were long-time rivals with entirely contrasting styles and diametrically opposed notions on how to play chess. Prior to this game, they had played 27 times, each having won 11 games with only 5 draws (this includes their 1893 match (9 wins apiece with 4 draws).

This game, for all Tarrasch's rustiness, was one of their mos exciting. Tchigorin boldly sacrificed a pawn on his 12th move, and Tarrasch accepted the challenge, knowing he would face a blistering King-side attack. Tchigorin played most of the game a pawn down, and much of the contest was incredibly difficult. Even when I consulted Fritz and Stockfish while analyzing the game, the complexities often stymied clear evaluations from my silicon friends.

A wonderful game to play over. It is a shame that the game ended abruptly following Tarrasch's blunder on move 42.

Please note that the comments from the "Tournament Book" concerning this game (as in many of the first 140 games from Monte Carlo 1902) in fact came from Marco's Wiener Schachzeitung. I am not certain of the author of these notes (probably Marco himself I would guess).

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bc4 Bc5
4. Nc3

Remarkably, Tchigorin never once played the Evans Gambit in any of his games against Tarrasch. While he frequently resorted to this gambit opening in his two world championship matches against Steinitz, Tchigorin generally either played the Ruy Lopez in his games with Tarrasch, and even when he played 3. Bc4, he settled for either the Giuoco Piano or, as here, a form of Four Knights' Game.

4... Nf6

"This can be called the Italian Four Knights' Game." (Tartakower/ Du Mont).

5. d3 d6
6. Be3

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Tchigorin came to favor this variation. it hardly looks best, and seems inferior to 6. Na4; 6. Bg5; and even 6. Nd5. But Tchigorin had his own ideas about how to handle and evaluation minor pieces, and--as Steinitz once noted--Tchigorin's success in this regard defies commentary by lesser mortals.

6... Bb6

"Better than 6...BxB 7. fxB because then the doubling of White's e-pawn is more than compensated by the compactness of his center and his prospects on the f-file." (Tartakiwer/Du Mont).

6...BxB certainly looks much better than the text to me, but I can't say I'm surprised by Tarrasch's move. He played 6. Bb6 here in his opening round game against Mason at Hastings 1895. Tarrasch got much the better game there, and lost only because he over-stepped the time limit when he thought he had made 30 moves but in fact had written his name at move one.

7. Qd2 Be6

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8. Bb5

As played by Mason in the above-mentioned game against Tarrasch at Hastings 1895. I completely agree with Teichmann's assessment in his commentary on this earlier game:

"Entirely against the spirit of the Giuoco Piano; the exchange of the King's Bishop for the Black Queen's Knight [on the next move--KEG] is itselfill-judged, and besides strengthens the Black center pawns."

Teichmann's comments obviously made no impression on Tchigorin, who played Mason's 8. Bb5 both here and in at least four subsequent games in this opening.

8... 0-0
9. BxN

Tchigorin played this move as well on two later occasions, yet again ignoring Teichmann's admonitions. Of course, Tchigorin preferred Knights to Bishops, so we probably should not be surprised.

9... bxB

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Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

10. d4!?

Mason played the awful 10. Bg5 in his Hastings game against Tarrasch. 10. 0-0 (as played by Tchigorin himself in a game at Hanover 1902) or 10. h3 look better. But Tchigorin was courting complications here, and he certainly got them.

10... Ba5!

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By any reckoning, Black is better. But that is all theoretical. Tchigorin has wild plans.

11. Qd3 Qb8

"Black plays to win a pawn, but White gets an excellent attacking game." (Tournament Book)

<Ulhumbros> gives 11...Ng4 as an alternative. This move is not bad in itself, but his proposed follow-up line is flawed: 12. Bd2 (White would be nearly equal with the better 12. dxe5 Qb8 13. 0-0-0 dxe5 14. Ng5 NxB 15. fxN Bg4) 12...f6 (this hands the edge to White, Black is still for choice with 12...exd4 or 12...Bb6) 13. h3 Nh6 (awful, Black would not be so bad with 13...exd4 14. Nxd4 Ne5) 14. BxN gxB after which Black, despite his two Bishops against White's two Knights, is clearly worse because of his busted pawn structure.

11...exd4 12. Nxd4, also given by <Ulhumbros> is better than 11...Ng4.

Best for Black, however, is 11...Bd5! after which Black has the better chances no matter how White responds (e.g., 12. Nd2 exd4 13. Qxd4 Be6; or 12. exB e4).

After Tarrasch's daring 11...Qb8, the position was:

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The key question now is which way Tchigorin should castle.

12. 0-0

Leaving the b-pawn unguarded and leading to the themes that were to dominate the rest of the game.

If instead 12. 0-0-0, Black would have bad several options:

A) 12...BxN. Though condemned by Tartakower-Du Mont, this move is reasonable but leaves Black only a small advantage: 13. Qxc3 c5 (and not 13...Nxe4? 14. Qxc6 as given by Tartakower-Du Mont);

B) 12...Qb4 13. dxe5 R(either)b8 with an unclear position;

C) 12...Qb7 (given as best by Tartakower-Du Mont) 13. dxe5 dxe5 (very weak, instead, Black should play 13...BxN 14. QxB Nxe4 15. Qa3 c5; the move suggested leads to a bad game for Black) 14. Nxe5 Rab8 (14...Bb4 or 14...Rfe8 are slightly better) After 14...Rab8, the claim by Tartakower-Du Mont that Black has "the initiative" is absurd. White is up a pawn with definite winning chances,e.g., 15. Na4 Bb4 16. b3.

D) 12...c5. This move, not mentioned by any of the commentators, looks best and seems to give Black a clear edge: e.g., 13. dxc5 BxN 14. QxB Nxe4 15. Qa5 Qb7 16. Rhe1 Rab8 17. b3 Qc6 18. c4 Rfe8.

After Tchigorin's actual 12. 0-0, Tarrasch--rightly in my view--accepted the challenge and played:

12... Qxb2

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The question now is: will Black be able to survive the coming King-side assault. Tarrasch undoubtedly knew what he was doing. If properly followed-up, the move seems to give Black the edge. But:

13. Bd2 BxN?

Hard to believe from Tarrasch. With either 13...Rfb8 or 13...exd4, Black seems to come out with the better chances. But now, Tchigorin got some serious fuel to add to his attacking prospects.

14. BxB Qb5

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This sort of unbalanced position would have played into the strengths of both players had they been at the top of their respective games. The resulting complications proved fascinating, even if neither of the contestants here always displayed their best chess.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

15. dxe5?!

"!"--(Tournament Book).

In for a penny; in for a pound. Tchigorin doubles down on his pawn sacrifice and now offers the exchange to fuel his attack. This was very much in Tchigorin's style. Viewed objectively, however, this swashbuckling attitude here could have led to grief. Sounder was 15. R(either)b1. But I cannot imagine Tchgorin following my advice on this point.

15... Bc4

'This hankering after worldly possessions will lead to no good." (Tartakower/Du Mont). In fact, Tarrasch never did take the offered Rook, so this criticism of his play here is wide of the mark. As I will attempt to show, Tarrasch could--at the appropriate time--have gobbled up the f1 Rook and obtained excellent winning chances.

Even worse than the criticism of Tarrasch's 15...Bc4 is the alternative offered by Tartakower/Du Mont (whose commentary on this game is not up to their usually excellent standard). If 15...QxQ (Tartakower/Du Mont's suggested move) 16. cxQ Nd7 17. Nd4 Tchigorin would have enjoyed--despite the trade of Queens--the better chances, including attacking chances.

By any reckoning, Tarrasch's move was best.

16. Qe3

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16... Ng4!

Again well-played by Tarrasch. 16...BxR? would have led to loss, but not for the reasons given in the Tournament Book. If 16...BxR 17. exN White does indeed have a win. But the Tournament Book's line from this point is bonkers. The suggested 17...Bc4 is awful (17...Qc5 or 17...Rfe8 or even 17...Bxg2 would be better, though Black would still be lost). But after 17...Bc4 the Tournament Book's 18. Qg5 would turn a win into a loss after the fairly obvious 18...QxQ 19. NxQ Rfe8 since Black now emerges at least a pawn plus the exchange to the good. By contrast, White wins easily after 17...Bc4? with 18. Nxe5!! (a move I am sure Tchigorin would find in a nano-second).

Quite apart from the Tournament Book's foibles, Tarrasch's 16...Ng4! demonstrates that he was alive to the risks of snatching the exchange prematurely (contrary to what Tartakower-DuMont suggested).

17. Qg5

Either this or 17. Qf4 keeps White's attack alive. The question now presented was whether Tarrasch could have taken the f1 White Rook at this point:

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17... Nxe5

Playing for safety. With Tchigorin sitting on the other side of the board, most players would likewise have been reluctant to play 17...BxR. But with all the time in the world (not to mention all the computer assistance I need at my fingertips), I conclude that Black can safely take the Rook and thus obtain good winning chances: 17...BxR 18. QxN Qc4! (the only way for Black to survive and stay on top--if instead 18...Bc4? Black would be in big trouble:19. exd6 f6 20. Nd4 h5 21. Qg6 Bf7 22. NxQ BxQ 23. Nxc7 Rad8 24. Ne6 Bxe4 25. NxR(f8) KxR 26. Ba5 Rd7 [the d-pawn being immune] 27. c3 Bd5 28. Bc7 leaving White with an extra pawn and good winning chances despite the Bishops of opposite colors) 19. Bd2 Be2 20. Bh6 g6 21. BxR RxB 22. exd6 cxd6 23. Qf4 BxN 24. gxB (24. QxB Re8 would be tempting fate) d5! 25. Qe5 dxe4 26. Qxe4 QxQ 27. fxQ Rb8 with much the better chances in the Rook and pawn ending.

Needless to say, Tarrasch could hardly have seen all this over the board,so his choice of 17...Nxe5 is entirely understandable.

After 17...Nxe5, the position was:

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Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IV

18. Nd4

"!"--(Tournament Book)

"Preserving his forces for the frontal attach which he has prepared." (Tartakower/DuMont

Tartakower/DuMont correctly state that 18. NxN would be a mistake, but erroneously give 18...f6 as the best reply for Black, missing the winning line of 18...BxR 19. a4 Qc5 20. Qd2 dxN 21. Bb4 Rad8! 22. BxQ RxQ 23. BxR KxB 24. KxB Rxc2 with a clearly won Rook and Pawn ending for Black.

But all of the commentators miss the best move: 18. BxN after which Black has at most a tiny edge: 18...f6 19. Bxf6 RxB 20. QxQ cxQ with material equality.

After 18. Nd4, the position was:

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18... f6
19. Qg3 Qa6

Tarrasch's rustiness after a three-and-a half year absence from major tournament play begins to show. 19...Qa4 was much better and would leave Black much better placed.

20. Nf5

Still going all out for his King-side attack and trying to exploit Tarrasch's second-best 19th move. But 20. Rfe1 was sounder.

20... Ng6

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21. h4

"!!"--(Tournament Book)

Yet again leaving his Rook open to capture:

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21... Be6!

Almost certainly best. But contrary to what Tartakower-DuMont claimed, Tarrasch would also have been OK had he taken the White Rook. If he had played 21...BxR, then 22. RxB as given by Tartakower-DuMont would have been a big mistake, since Tarrasch would not have responded 22...Rf7 as they postulate but instead would very likely have found 22...Qe2! and after 23. Re1 Qh5 have easily weathered the storm and prevailed with his material plus. Even had Tarrasch played 22...Rf7, 23. h5 Ne7 would not have left him in danger of losing: 24. Nh6+ Kf8 25. NxR KxN 26. h6 g6 with about equal chances after 27. Qf4 Ng8 e5 dxe5 29. Bxe5 Re8 30. Bc3 Re7 31. Bb4 Re5.

The problem with 21...BxR is that Tchigorin would undoubtedly have responded 22. h5! with fascinating play: 22...Kf7 (anything else loses) 23. RxB Qc4 and now 24. f4 ! (A tough move to find over the board to be sure, but I am confident that Tchigorin would not have fallen into 24. hxN+? hxg6 25. Nh4 Qxe4 leaving Black with a Rook and three pawns for two minor pieces and a won game) Rae8 25. e5! (not 25. hxN+ hxg6 26. Nh4 Qxe4 and Black should win) Ne7 26. Qxg7+ Ke6 27. NxN Rf7 28. Qg4+ f5 29. Nxf5 RxN 30. Qh3 Ref8 31. exd6 Qc5+ 32. Kh2 cxd6 with unclear and difficult play to follow.


After 21...Be6, the position in this terribly difficult game was:

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Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post V

22. Nd4

A difficult decision. Two other moves seem reasonable: (A) 22. Rae1; and the really interesting (B) 22. Nxg7 KxN 23. h5 Qc4 24. hxN hxg6 leaving Black a pawn up with a decent chance of surviving anything remaining of White's attack.

The text was the best way to keep up the pressure:

22... Bd7
23. h5 Ne7

A solid choice, but 23...Ne5 looks a bit stronger and enterprising.

The position was now:

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24. f4

The best way to continue the attack was with 24. h6. For reasons I cannot explain, Tchigorin delayed playing this indicated advance until move 28. This could have cost him.

24... c5

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25. Nf3?

An incredibly wimpy move from an attacking wizard such as Tchigorin. I would have wagered that he would have jumped at the chance to play 25. h6!, which looks like the only way to remain competitive in the game. The text gave Tarrasch an opportunity I expect he would have seized had he been tournament tough at the beginning of this event.

25... Qc4?

Tarrasch could have pretty much put and end to Tchigorin's attacking prospects with 25...h6. Although not quite as strong, Tarrasch could also have played 25...d5 or 25...Rf7. The text gave Tchigorin another chance to get back in the game, the position now being:

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26. Nh4?

"Defending directly the Bishop and indirectly the threatened e-pawn, (for if 26...Qxe5 27. Rae1 wins a piece)." (Tartakower-DuMont)

The above analysis is wrong in every particular. For once thing it overlooks White's best move: 26. h6, which leaves the game very much up for grabs. Second, it overlooks the response Tarrasch should have played. Finally, it mistakenly assessed 26...Qxe4, since if 27. Rae1? (as proposed by Tartakower/DuMont) Black not only doesn't lose a piece--he actually wins with 27...Nf5! In this line, White should play 27. h6, which may not save the day but would give him at least a fighting chance.

After 26. Nh4, the position was:

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26... Qe6

"The defense is very difficult. [Agreed!--KEG]. 26...d5 would be answered by 27. h6!" (Tournament Book).

Tartakower-DuMont claimed that Tarrasch played the text in order to continue with 27...Qe6. This would only be true if Tarrasch had somehow overlooked Tchigorin's next move (which I doubt).

Best for Black here was (sorry to sound like a broken record) 26...h6, which probably wins. Also much better than the text was 26...Qxe4. After the text, the advantage in the game swung from Black to White.

27. f5!

Suddenly, Tchigorin's attack found new life and Tarrasch's position had become extremely difficult.

27... Qf7
28. h6

At last someone played h6!

28... Kh8

The text certainly looks horrible. But I see nothing much better. The real problem was his poor 26th move.

29. hxg7+ Qxg7
30. Qh2

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The amazing complexities to this point notwithstanding, the real and decisive excitement was still to come. Black's position was critical. Can Black save himself?

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post VI

30... Rf7?

Tarrasch may already have been theoretically lost, but this mistake should have allowed Tchigorin to win straight-away.

The best chance for Black here lay in 30...Bc6 or perhaps 30...h5.

31. Rf3!

The necessary first step in what should have been the winning combination.

31... Rg8

Hopeless, but there was nothing better.

The position was now:

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White to move and win.

32. Raf1?

Too slow, and missing his opportunity. The winning move--and I am astonished that Tchigorin (not to mention all of the commentators on this game) overlooked this--was 32. Ng6+! Play would then continue 32...NxN 33. fxN Qxg6 34. Raf1 (only now is this move in order) Kg7 35. Rxf6 RxR 36. RxR QxR 37. BxQ+ KxB 38. Qxh7 and White should win the Queen versus Rook and Bishop ending (e.g., 38...Rg7 39. Qh6+ Kf7 [not 39...Rg6? 40. Qf8+ Ke5 41. Qf7 and wins] 40. e5! dxe5 41. Qe3 Kf6 42. Qxc5 etc.).

After the text (32. Raf1) Tarrasch was right back in the game.

32... Qg5?

Black would be safe with 32...Qg4. But Tarrasch's move gave Tchigorin another opportunity.

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33. Bb2?

"!"--(Tournament Book)

"Making for more fertile fields." (Tartakower/DuMont).

Once again, the commentators (and the players) overlooked a winning chance for White. True, 33. Ng6+ no longer wins (e.g., 33...NxN 34. Rg3 Qh4 35. Rh3 Qg5 36. Rg3 and draws by repetition).

But White now had a different method that would have afforded him good winning chances: 33. Rh3! Best play from here seems to be 33...d5 34. Nf3 Qe3+ 35. Kh1 QxB 36. Ng5 RxN 37. RxQ dxe4 38. Qxc7 Nxf5 39. Qxa7 and White with Queen for pawn and two minor pieces should be able to win.

By contrast, after Tchigorin's much heralded 33. Bb2, chances were approximately equal.

33... Bb5
34. Bc1 Qg4
35. Re1

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35... Rgg7

"Black being in difficulties, his choice of moves is restricted, whilst White is able to improve his position. Better would have been 35...Bc6." (Tartakower/DuMont).

White 35...Bc6 (or 35...Ba6 or 35...Ba4 for that matter) were OK, so was the text.

36. Bh6 Rg8
37. Bf4 Rfg7
38. Bh6 Rf7

38...Rg5 as suggested by <Mr. V> appears unsound: 39. BxR and now all three ways to capture the Bishop lose for Black: (A) 39...RxB loses to 40. Rf4; (B) 39...QxB loses to 40. Rh3 Qg7 41. Ree3 Qf7 42. Reg3 Ba4 43. c3 Be8 44. RxR+ QxR 45. Qf4; and (C) 39...fxN loses to 40. Ng6+! NxN 41. fxN Rxg6 42. Rf7 h6 43. Rxc7 after which Black's extra pawn does not provide compensation for the lost exchange.

After 38...Rf7, the position was:

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Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post VII

39. Bd2

39. Kf2 looks more promising. After the text, Tarrasch appeared to be completely out of danger. Always a dangerous feeling when playing Tchigorin!

39... Bc6
40. Rf4?!

This leads to complications of the sort Tchigorin relished. Anyone else might have settled for the simpler 40. Ba5 (which might have led to equality after 40...Bb7 41. Bxc7 Nxf5 42. RxN RxB 43. Rxf6 Rcg7 44. Rf2). The positional 40. c4 was another less pugnacious possibility. Tchigorin, however, had other ideas.

After 40. Rf4, the position was:

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40... Qg5

Tartakower-DuMont claimed that 40...Qg3 would have been a mistake. In fact, it looks like the best chance for Black to seek some sort of edge. Following the line appearing in Tartakower-DuMont's analysis: 40...Qg3 41. Ng6+ (the best chance for White) RxN 42. fxR. Tartakower-DuMont simply say here that "White has won the exchange." That is true, but after 42...QxQ+ 43. KxQ hxg6, Black emerges with two Pawns for the exchange while White's four pawns are all isolated and weak. Theoretically, this might still be a draw, but Black would surely have the better chances with his (mainly) connected pawns/

After 40...Qg5, the position was:

click for larger view

41. Rf2

Entirely sound and sufficient for even chances, but its success was due solely to Tarrasch's move 42 blunder. The most interesting try for White is 41. Re3 as suggested by <Ulhumbros>. But <Ulhumbros> only considers two responses: 41...Rfg7 and 41...Rgg7, both of which lead to problems for Black:

If after 41. Re3:

(A) 41...Rfg7 White seems to have excellent winning chances with 42. Rh3! (the idea behind 41. Re3) Bxe4 after which: (i) <Ulhumbros> gives a spectacular line to a draw: 43. RxB QxB 44. Ng6+ (forced) NxN 45. fxN Qd1+ 46. Kf2 Qxc2+ and draws by perpetual check before White can mate him; but: (ii) White can win with 43. g4! Bc6 44. Rc4 Qh5 45. Ng6+ NxN 46. RxQ Ne5 47. Rf4 Nxg4 48. RxN RxR+ 49. Kf1 R8g7 50. Bh6 Re7 51. c4 Bg2+ 52. QxB RxQ 53. KxR Re4 54. Re3! and White has excellent chances of winning with his extra piece for three pawns.

(B) 41...Rgg7 leads Black into trouble on (following the line given by <Ulhumbros> 42. Rh3 Bxe4 43. g3 Bxf5 (the best chance) 44. RxB Qg4 45. Rf3 and White, with a piece for three pawns and a still potent attack, has much the better chances.

(C) The only problem with 41. Re3 is that Black can decline to load up on the g-file (thereby restricting his own King, and just play sound chess with something like 41...a6.

In sum, 41. Re3 is a fascinating idea and might have been productive over the board, but theoretically should not lead to any significant advantage for White.

But now let's return to the actual game following Tchigorin's 41. Rf2:

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Play now continued:

41... Qh5
42. Rf3

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In this exciting position with chances for both sides, Tarrasch miscalculated and--trying to play for a win--blundered away the game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post VIII

Tarrach, who would have been fine with 42...Qg4, got fooled by a mirage and played:

42... Rg4??

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"?"--(Tournament Book)

"An ill-fated attempt at counterattack." (Tartakower-DuMont)

As the Tournament Book pointed out, Tarrasch was undoubtedly hoping for 43. Ng6+ [??] hxN 44. Rh3 Rh7! (a brilliant idea) and now White loses with either 45. RxQ RxR (the line given in the Tournament Book) or the more complex 45. Ree3 Bxe4 46. fxg6 Qxg6 47. RxR+ QxR 48. Rh3 Rxg2+ ! (the key to Tarrasch's clever idea) 49. QxR BxQ 50. RxQ+ KxR 51. KxB after which Black, with three extra pawns, should easily win the minor piece ending.

All quite brilliant by Tarrasch. But there was a fly in the ointment:

43. Rh3!

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Oops! Now Black is lost.

43... Rfg7

If 43...Kg8 44. Nf3 and the Queen is mated." (Tartakower-DuMont)

43...Bxe4 would likewise not have saved the day for Black in light of 44. Ng6+.

44. Ng6+

This move had been in the air for quite a while. Now it was finally played, in this case with devastating effect:

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Black is busted.

44... hxN

If 44...NxN 45. RxQ Ne5 46. Rh3 Bxe4 47. Re2 and the game is over.

45. fxg6



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