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Efim Geller vs Salomon Flohr
URS-ch21 (1954), Kiev URS, rd 3, Jan-11
English Opening: King's English. Two Knights' Variation Reversed Dragon (A22)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Dec-16-09  ughaibu: Is the final position zugzwang? For example, consider the situation in which a player isn't in zugzwang, but only has one move, and that one move will result in zugzwang after that opponent's reply, does this lead to a kind of surprise examination paradox effect whereby any game that ends in zugzwang was zugzwang at move one?
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  Fusilli: <ughaibu> Not quite zugzwang, but hopeless for Black anyway. Black can't move the king or the rook. 39...Nc6 meets 40.Rd7+ Ke8 41.Rd6. And moves like 39...Ng6 or 39...Nf5 are hopeless anyway. White can start marching the h-pawn pretty soon. Or getting the king closer. Black can't free himself up.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: In this position:

click for larger view

Geller played 11.e4.

What a nice move! Initially, one could think that this weakens the d3. But it prepares d4 while also taking over the center with e4, and there is nothing effective that Black can do to exploit the d3 weakness, which will disappear once White plays d4.

I think this game is a positional and strategic beauty. Go Geller!

Aug-30-15  thomastonk: <Fusilli> I tried to learn something and analysed the position in the diagram for a while. After all I would say I like Black. Also, Geller's 11.e4 is in my view not a particular good move. Flohr's game was equal for many moves that followed, but he had already a good alternative in the very next move: 11.. ♘b4. There are now two threats: ♘xd3 and c6. What do you think?
Premium Chessgames Member
  NeverAgain: In the algebraic edition of Alekhine's Best Games John Nunn (the editor) speaks of Alekhine's annotations often suffering from the "I won, so I must have been winning all the way" syndrome.

<Geller played 11.e4.

What a nice move! Initially, one could think that this weakens the d3. But it prepares d4 while also taking over the center with e4, and there is nothing effective that Black can do to exploit the d3 weakness, which will disappear once White plays d4.>

And this comment is an example of it from the kibitzer side. <thomastonk>'s simple <11...Nb4> demonstrates how harmless <11.e4> really is. Now <12.d4> is met with <12...c6> and whatever White plays Black has the advantage, e.g.

<11...Nb4 12.d4 c6 13.Na3 Bg4 >

<11...Nb4 12.d4 c6 13.Nc3 exd4 14.Nxd4 Bc4 >

<11...Nb4 12.d4 c6 13.d5 Bg4 >

White's best course appears to be go on developing with <12.Be3>, not fearing <12...Nxd3> - <13.Nxd7 Qxd7 14.Qxd3>. But that hardly promises more than equality.

Moral: beware judging individual moves merely by the result of the game. The winner can make bad moves too.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: <NeverAgain> I didn't say 11.e4 is a crushing move. I didn't even say it gives white objective advantage. I said it's a <nice> move, with a good plan, and that the d3 weakness is not a problem.

Making surprise, enterprising moves with a workable plan has its own value in competitive chess. The computer may say equality, but the psychology at work during the game counts.

Speaking of the computer, I now set it up and checked and what the computer says reassures me. 11.e4 is one of the possibilities among various moves that objectively offer no more than equality in the calculations of the computer that go far beyond what Geller or Flohr could foresee. Indeed, the response to 11...Nb4 should be 12.Be3, which is not just a developing move, but another move that prepares d4. If black takes 12...Nxd3, the computer seems to like 13.Qe2 and it gets devilishly complicated, the type of position that Geller loved and Flohr did not, even though objectively, that is about equal--as all alternatives at move 11 roughly are.

11.e4 is definitely a nice move as I said, and it is also a correct, enterprising, playable move with a plan. I'm sure you'll find a better example for your parable somewhere else. I didn't even say that White was <winning all the way>, let alone at move 11.

<Thomastonk> 11...Nb4 looks good... if you are willing to engage in tactical, complicated play as noted above. The position was objectively equal with or without 11.e4, but pure evaluation isn't the only thing that matters. I love your Churchill quote, btw. :)

Aug-30-15  thomastonk: <NeverAgain,Fusilli> Many thanks for your comments.

<Fussili> I saw that 12.♗e3 ♘xd3 becomes complicated, but I thought that Black has once again 12.. c6 (Black is not forced to take on d3, neither now nor later). My impression was that it is White who has to solve problems. Okay, it was interesting and fun, so thank you again!

Premium Chessgames Member
  NeverAgain: <Fussili>: I think you are right that psychology may have been the deciding factor in Geller's choice. He was not averse to playing dubious lines as long as there was an interesting idea.
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