Members · Prefs · Laboratory · Collections · Openings · Endgames · Sacrifices · History · Search Kibitzing · Kibitzer's Café · Chessforums · Tournament Index · Players · Kibitzing

Chessgames premium membership fee will increase to $39 per year effective June 15, 2023. Enroll Now!

Alexander Kotov vs Efim Geller
USSR Championship (1949), Moscow URS, rd 16, Nov-12
King's Indian Defense: Fianchetto Variation. Classical Fianchetto (E67)  ·  0-1



Click Here to play Guess-the-Move
Given 24 times; par: 53 [what's this?]

explore this opening
find similar games 10 more Kotov/Geller games
sac: 15...axb3 PGN: download | view | print Help: general | java-troubleshooting

TIP: If you register a free account you will be able to create game collections and add games and notes to them. For more information on game collections, see our Help Page.

PGN Viewer:  What is this?
For help with this chess viewer, please see the Olga Chess Viewer Quickstart Guide.


Kibitzer's Corner
Mar-09-03  ughaibu: In Geller's first appearance in the Soviet championship he finished 2nd. This game was awarded a brilliancy prize.
Aug-09-05  Rama: 18 ... Qa5 is very nice.
Mar-24-06  zev22407: Anothe masterpiece by geller.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Geller reckoned this as one of his best-ever games. Every black move seems to be an attack.

Bronstein thought that 27...b2 was stronger than bxa2.

Jul-21-08  notyetagm: <ughaibu: In Geller's first appearance in the Soviet championship he finished 2nd. This game was awarded a brilliancy prize.>

Indeed. A -STUPENDOUS- game by Geller.

Makes me want to learn how to play the KID. :-)

Jul-21-08  Petrosianic: <ughaibu> <In Geller's first appearance in the Soviet championship he finished 2nd.>

Yes, and this was also Petrosian's Soviet Championship debut, where he started off with a terminal case of stagefright and dropped his first 5 games.

Vasiliev's book on Petrosian, in discussing Geller's great result here, makes the cryptic comment that if Geller in his last round game had practiced one iota of the caution that Petrosian always did, that he'd have finished 1st. However, I haven't bothered to track down Geller's last round game to see how true that is.

Maybe that's something to do right now. I infer from the comment that Geller lost the game. And Geller lost four games in this tournament, while finishing a half point out of first: to Keres, Aronin, Sokolsky, and Lilienthal. Think I'll track down which it was and see how close Geller came to becoming Soviet Champion on his first attempt.

Jul-21-08  notyetagm: <Petrosianic: ... Maybe that's something to do right now. I infer from the comment that Geller lost the game. And he lost three games in this tournament: to Keres, Sokolsky, and Lilienthal. Think I'll track down which it was and see how close Geller came to becoming Soviet Champion on his first attempt.>

Geller's three 1949 USSR Championship losses that you mentioned:

Geller vs Keres, 1949
Geller vs Sokolsky, 1949
Lilienthal vs Geller, 1949

Jul-21-08  Petrosianic: He also lost to Kholmov (I misremembered, and said Aronin).

In fact, it looks like this might be the game in question:

Geller vs Kholmov, 1949

...judging from this comment:

<Kangaroo> <What a game! If Geller won it, he would have become the champion.>

It's also labeled Round 19, which would be the final one. Geller scored +10-4=5 in this tournament to finish a half point behind Smyslov and Bronstein. I'll have to have a closer look at this game.

Jul-21-08  notyetagm: Position after 37 ♗e4xg6?

click for larger view

With his last two moves (35 ... h7-h5, 36 ... h5-h4) Geller (Black) has setup a nasty little tactical surprise for White, which 37 ♗e4xg6? did nothing to prevent.

<<<Geller has noticed that the lineup of dark-squared Black e5-bishop and White e1-queen means that the g3-square is a <TACTICAL BASE> from which the Black e5-bishop would strike at the White e1-queen. So the g3-square is a <TACTICAL BASE> and the White e1-queen a <TACTICAL TARGET>.>>>

Geller knows that he must gain control of this g3-tactical base. So first he <COORDINATES HIS FORCES> on the crucial g3-square with 35 ... h7-h5 and 36 ... h5-h4.

Secondly, Geller knows that he must <CLEAR THE TACTICAL BASE> of its defenders. Here the g3-tactical base is defended by the White h2-pawn, which is already attacked by the Black b2-rook and defended only by the White h1-king, a tacitcal situation which screams for <REMOVAL OF THE GUARD> by <ILLUSORY PROTECTION>.

So Geller (Black) <REMOVES THE GUARD> of the g3-tactical base with 37 ... ♖b2xh2+!.

Position after 37 ... ♖b2xh2+! <remove the guard>

click for larger view

And after the forced 38 ♔h1x♖h2 ♗e5xg3+, Geller has realized his fantasy position of a <FORK> on the g3-square involving the Black e5-bishop and White e1-queen.

Position after 38 ♔h1x♖h2 ♗e5xg3+

click for larger view

Note how the Black g3-bishop needs the support of the Black h4-pawn, else White would simply play ♕e1x♗g3 or ♔h2x♗g3 and not lose material. Hence the real reason for the advance of the Black h-pawn is revealed: it did not mindlessly advance to "attack" the White h1-king, it advanced to support a <BISHOP FORK> on g3!

Ingenius tactical play by Geller.

Jul-22-08  notyetagm: <ughaibu: In Geller's first appearance in the Soviet championship he finished 2nd. This game was awarded a brilliancy prize.>

What a beautiful win this is by Geller.

Jul-22-08  notyetagm: Position after 25 ... c4-c3

click for larger view

Geller (Black) has the <BISHOP PAIR (♗♗)> and a pair of advanced <CONNECTED PASSERS> for a piece, clearly a winning position.

This game is so full of beautfiful tactical shots that no wonder it won a brilliancy prize.

Nov-30-10  notyetagm: Kotov vs Geller, 1949,

Nice prelude to a winning tactical shot:

35 ... h7-h5 it's coming

36 ... h5-h4 it's coming

37 ... ♖b2xh2+! bang! it's here!

<IMPORTANT!: notice how the advance of the h-pawn supports the occupation of the <TACTICAL BASE>, just like Fischer's 14 ♕d1-b3 supports the occupation of the d5-tactical base in Fischer vs P Lapiken, 1956 >

Jan-17-11  notyetagm: Game Collection: TACTICAL TARGET DETERMINES TACTICAL BASE!
Jun-18-11  qqdos: <ughaibu> <notyetagm> The Brilliancy Prize was awarded by the Konsomolskaya Pravda newspaper, however Botvinnik one of the judging panel, rather uncharitably, pointed out that the game was not faultless and hence could not be considered as one artistic whole - <source Geller's 1962 Autobiography, translated by Bernard Cafferty (1969)>. At one point during the game, Geller had written off his own chances when to his horror he suddenly saw that Kotov had a simple move 15.f4! (Botvinnik's suggestion) "which would win a pawn and leave me with a hopeless position unless I was prepared to give up a piece." Instead an unsuspecting Kotov made the obvious move 15.Nde2? allowing Geller to pounce "in a flash" with 15...axb3! sacrificing his knight. Later, at move 22. Kotov again missed f4 "essential" which Geller felt would have given White "drawing chances"!
Premium Chessgames Member
  LIFE Master AJ: One of the more brilliant games in the DB.

Hard to believe that its never been featured as a POTD ... or "The Game of The Day."

Jul-12-11  SimonWebbsTiger: @AJ

I agree. I wonder what Kotov thought when Geller played the star move.

Do you know the Russian for: "oh, crap" :o)

Dec-22-12  notyetagm: Game Collection: GELLER'S BEST GAMES
Dec-22-12  rilkefan: 22.e5 is equal or a bit better for white per stockfish. Black doesn't have time to take on e5 because his queenside pawns fall, and soon f4 holds it. Thus 17...b2 with a half-pawn edge was better.
Jul-06-15  saturn2: Does 37 Rg1 instead of Bxg6 hold for white? At least blacks blow Rxh2 seems not to work then. I played against Geller a simultan in 1983 or 1984 during which he won all the games.
Apr-25-18  Toribio3: Geller is truly a master of attack!
Apr-25-18  Olavi: Against 15.f4, mentioned by <qqdos> a while ago, Geller later suggested 15...axb3 also.
Jan-03-21  Gaito: The following diagram depicts perhaps a critical moment of the game:

click for larger view

White has an extra piece but Black has two pawns for the piece and a mass of dangerous passed pawns on the queen's wing threatening to advance at the first opportunity. This is the moment where White has to play actively, trying to bring his passive bishop into the game. Therefore, the move 22.e5! suggests itself. By sacrificing this pawn White would win a tempo to play f4, thereby freeing the square e4 for his knight and opening the long white diagonal for his bishop. For example: 22.e5! Bxe5 23.f4 Bg7 24.Bxc6 Rab8, reaching the following position:

click for larger view

White has activated his pieces and gained control of the squares e4 and d5. Maybe Black still has the advantage, but his task would not be so easy as in the actual game. There could follow 25.Nd5 or 25.Qe3, and White has an active position, and still holds an extra piece.

NOTE: Create an account today to post replies and access other powerful features which are available only to registered users. Becoming a member is free, anonymous, and takes less than 1 minute! If you already have a username, then simply login login under your username now to join the discussion.

Please observe our posting guidelines:

  1. No obscene, racist, sexist, or profane language.
  2. No spamming, advertising, duplicate, or gibberish posts.
  3. No vitriolic or systematic personal attacks against other members.
  4. Nothing in violation of United States law.
  5. No cyberstalking or malicious posting of negative or private information (doxing/doxxing) of members.
  6. No trolling.
  7. The use of "sock puppet" accounts to circumvent disciplinary action taken by moderators, create a false impression of consensus or support, or stage conversations, is prohibited.
  8. Do not degrade Chessgames or any of it's staff/volunteers.

Please try to maintain a semblance of civility at all times.

Blow the Whistle

See something that violates our rules? Blow the whistle and inform a moderator.

NOTE: Please keep all discussion on-topic. This forum is for this specific game only. To discuss chess or this site in general, visit the Kibitzer's Café.

Messages posted by Chessgames members do not necessarily represent the views of, its employees, or sponsors.
All moderator actions taken are ultimately at the sole discretion of the administration.

This game is type: CLASSICAL. Please report incorrect or missing information by submitting a correction slip to help us improve the quality of our content.

Featured in the Following Game Collections[what is this?]
Geller beats the world champions and pretenders
by ughaibu
A brilliancy prize for Geller
from Honza Cervenka's favorite games by Honza Cervenka
Geller wins a brilliancy prize in his first USSR championship!
from KID rules by notyetagm
Grandmaster Geller: The First Quarter Century
by Resignation Trap
37 ... Rb2xh2+! destroys White h2-pawn defender of g3-tact base
Game #5
from King's Indian pioneers by keywiz84
King's Indian
by KingG
chazini's favorite games
by chazini
Efim's efilms
by chocobonbon
Stunners in King's Indian, Dutch & Grunfeld
by mmzkr
G80 '100 Master Games of Modern Chess' by Tartakower & du Mont
from Pubs by Year & Unconfirmed Source 19 Great Ts by fredthebear
Game 52
from Application of Chess Theory (Geller) by skisuitof12
from howlwolf's favorite games by howlwolf
USSR Championship 1949
by suenteus po 147
estrategias 2 de suetin

Home | About | Login | Logout | F.A.Q. | Profile | Preferences | Premium Membership | Kibitzer's Café | Biographer's Bistro | New Kibitzing | Chessforums | Tournament Index | Player Directory | Notable Games | World Chess Championships | Opening Explorer | Guess the Move | Game Collections | ChessBookie Game | Chessgames Challenge | Store | Privacy Notice | Contact Us

Copyright 2001-2023, Chessgames Services LLC