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Vasily Smyslov vs Anatoly Karpov
"Vasillage" (game of the day Oct-09-2012)
USSR Championship (1971), Leningrad URS, rd 9, Sep-27
Queen's Gambit Declined: Semi-Tarrasch Defense. Pillsbury Variation (D41)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  al wazir: So why didn't white play 27. Qxf8+ (or 27. Qe8)? Yesterday I asked a similar question and someone answered, "Because he's only a 2000 player." That can't be the right answer here.
Oct-09-12  RookFile: Well, he was probably a little short on time. Black is already dead and can't do anything. The one microscopic hope he has is to shatter the pawns with .....Bxf3. Re3 says that isn't going to happen. True, white passed up some immediate wins, but didn't spoil anything.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <al wazir> Because he's only a 2600 player?
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <Blunderdome: Any other games where a player pushes a pawn in his opponent's territory on three consecutive moves, endgames excluded?>

White played 2.e4, 3.e5, and 4.e6 in J M Bellon Lopez vs V Kovacevic, 1979, but I guess that doesn't count because 2.e4 wasn't "in his opponent's territory."

Oct-09-12  Abdel Irada: Passed pawns must be pushed ... and pushed ... and pushed.
Oct-09-12  Olavi: <Blunderdome: Any other games where a player pushes a pawn in his opponent's territory on three consecutive moves, endgames excluded?>

Marshall vs Alekhine, 1924

There's also a famous Kotov game with a similar pawn walk, I'll try to find that one.

Oct-09-12  Olavi: This isn't exactly the same, but have a look at moves 35-37.

Euwe vs Keres, 1938

Oct-09-12  Olavi: Yes this one Kotov vs Ragozin, 1949

It didn't happen in the game, but read the kibitzing.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: 20...Qh5 was a grave mistake but Smyslov did not find the most crushing continuation after 21.d5 Nd8, i. e. 22.Bg5! Of course, Smyslov's continuation was not bad but after that Karpov could have put up more stubborn resistence playing 23...Rf8!? 24.Rd6 Bxf3 25.Qxf3 Qxf3! 26.gxf3 Rb5 etc. The win seems to be far from sure here, and it is definitely harder task to win such an ending with bad Pawn structure.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: From a dim and dusty corner of what passes for a brain these days, I recall the term "excelsior pawn". The precise definition seems to vary from source to source, but the guts of it are a pawn that makes several successive moves.

More often seen in compositions than OTBs. There's a famous Sam Lloyd puzzle:

But I have also seen authors use it when it doesn't refer to all six/ seven moves from starting square to promotion.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <al wazir: So why didn't white play 27. Qxf8+ (or 27. Qe8)?>

I think white had reached that happy stage in the game where he had a multitude of ways to win. By move 27, Black was tied up and could only wait for the axe to fall. In cases like that, it is often pointless trying to sift through many winning moves to find the best. Far better to play a line that you know wins rather than burn time looking for the best amongst (almost) equals.

Fritzie finds no fewer than seven moves which give white an advantage of +2 or more. The strongest move is the surprising 27. Rxe6 (+4.5), but after that we get three moves all clustered around 3.8-3.99 - 27. Re3, 27. Nd4 and 27. Qb8.

27. Qxf8 comes in at +2.25 and 27. Qe8 gets an eval of +1.2.

In human mode, the move that appeals to me is 27. Re3 as played. There's one simple reason for this. White is winning but we mustn't give black any counterplay. One black move that I don't like the look of is Bxf3, wrecking the pawn cover around my king.

I'm also a little nervous about the loose bishop on b3. So Re3-Red3 makes a lot of practical sense. It secures the third rank and both minor bits sitting there. It doubles majors on the half open file.

But if Qxf8 works on move 28, why isn't it so strong on move 27? Fritzie gives this: 27. Qxf8+ Qxf8 28. d8=Q Bxf3

click for larger view

White is still winning, but black is getting a bit too frisky for my liking. The obvious 29. gxf3 leaves the white kingside full of holes.

By contrast, the game line brings us to here:

click for larger view

Now Bxf3 does not have the same annoyance factor because we can recapture with the Re3.

Fritzie doesn't give much eval difference between the two positions. But I know which one I would rather play as white.

Oct-09-12  newzild: What a superb game. Brilliantly instructive from move 17 onwards.
Oct-09-12  RookFile: <There's one simple reason for this. White is winning but we mustn't give black any counterplay. >

That's exactly right. That's how titled players think.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: White ends up a piece ahead!
Oct-09-12  tatarch: Good late week puzzle at move 20 or 21.
Oct-09-12  Abdel Irada: <Once>: <There's a famous Sam Lloyd puzzle:>

I visited that page, and the problem is definitely enjoyable. But I should add a caveat: The actual page to which the link will take you is:

This is owing to a problem with Wikipedia's system of page naming and its interaction with the <> coding. Any URL containing parentheses will be truncated just ahead of them, so that such links will take one to a general page (usually a disambiguation page) whose URL doesn't contain the parenthetical material.

From there, of course, it is generally easy to find a link to the page you wanted. I'm not sure if there's a solution to this, but it's as well to be aware of it.

Oct-09-12  Moonwalker: I go through these games in a <Guess-the-Move> style. At 27 I was convinced white would play Qxf8+. Thanks to the kibitzing I now understand why Re3 was played instead!
Oct-09-12  Abdel Irada: Once again, I see I'm to be the lone dissenter. I think 27. ♖e3 was more the result of a form of autopilot than a really necessary move. I do understand the rule of thumb regarding stifling counterplay, but here worries about compromised pawn structure on the kingside seem peripheral after the continuation 27. ♕xf8†, ♕xf8; 28. d8=♕, ♗xf3; 29. ♕xf8†, ♔xf8; 30. ♖d8†, ♔g7; 31. gxf3, when Black is in the endgame a piece down and simply hasn't the firepower to make a weakened kingside of any account.

Psychologically, of course, I see why White interpolated the rook lift: that the position was sufficiently dominant that there was no hurry about playing the clearance sacrifice on f8, the desire to squelch all possible counterchances, and the instinctive aversion to allowing the compromising of one's king's position, would combine to urge such a move, and certainly there was nothing wrong with it.

That said, however, I would have been perfectly happy to play either position in <Once>'s diagrams.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <Abdel Irada> The question posed by <al wazir> was why white played 27. Re3.

Several answers are possible:

1. Because he's a 2600 player (FSR, with tongue firmly in cheek)

2. Because it's the better move. Fritzie evals 27. Re3 as +4.05 and 27. Qxf8+ as +2.5

3. Because it is the simplest and easiest way to win without giving black any counterplay.

4. Whilst of the rule of thumb "when you see a good move, look for a better one".

Sure, 27. Qxf8+ also wins (if more slowly). But then that wasn't the question. The question was why was 27. Re3 played, which I think we've answered.

When a much stronger player than us plays a surprising move, it's usually worth trying to work out why.

Jun-06-13  dmvdc: A lot of earlier kibitzing on 27.Re3. Here's what Smyslov himself said about it:

<All the same Black cannot stop the passed d-pawn, and so it is useful for White not to allow the doubling of his pawns by the exchange on f3.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Everett: Instead of 10...Nf6, 10...Bf6 should be played, keeping the well posted knight blockading the square, playing g6 when needed (to prevent any Greek gifts) and expand on the Q-side with a6 and b5 or b6 if a4 from white.>

Used to play 10....Bf6 11.Be4 Nce7 in the early 1980s, though this always arose from the Panov Caro-Kann, not a QGD.

Mar-10-14  LivBlockade: <Blunderdome> <Any other games where a player pushes a pawn in his opponent's territory on three consecutive moves, endgames excluded?>

Here's a game where white played d5-d6-d7-d8=Q+ on four consecutive moves in the middlegame!

A Lein vs J Benjamin, 1986

Premium Chessgames Member
  SpaceRunner: Brilliant game by Smyslov

Karpov reckons 18.- Qxd5 a mistake because the pawn will get dangerous. 18.- exd5 should be better.

Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Hadn't seen this before. Youth definitely wasn't served, here.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <Blunderdome: Any other games where a player pushes a pawn in his opponent's territory on three consecutive moves, endgames excluded>

I'm sure there must be many such games. Here's one of mine. Note that my d-pawn made a majority (five) of my nine moves.

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