Members · Prefs · Laboratory · Collections · Openings · Endgames · Sacrifices · History · Search Kibitzing · Kibitzer's Café · Chessforums · Tournament Index · Players · Kibitzing
Vasily Smyslov vs Andre Lilienthal
USSR Absolute Championship (1941), Leningrad- Moscow URS, rd 16, Apr-21
Spanish Game: Closed Variations. Chigorin Defense (C98)  ·  1/2-1/2



explore this opening
find similar games 20 more Smyslov/Lilienthal games
PGN: download | view | print Help: general | java-troubleshooting

TIP: You can change the color of the light and dark squares by registering a free account then visiting your preferences page. Or, you can change it with the "SETTINGS" link in the lower right.

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

Kibitzer's Corner
Sep-11-04  mjk: It's a draw already after 79.h5 (unless Black commits suicide). 79.♔g2 also draws, but 79.♔h2? is mated in 18. <-- Nalimov Tablebase Server>
Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: "In general, this end-game is a rare occurrence in practical play. However, if my memory does not betray me, Lilienthal had encountered this very end-game (irony of fate!) twice previously, and on neither occasion could he discover the way to victory. - Mikhail Botvinnik in Championship Chess.

If Botvinnik was right, one occassion was against G M Norman in 1934 but what was the other?

Jul-21-05  who: <mjk> white can commit suicide as well. If mjk is right then Botvinnik is wrong for faulting Lilenthal (if that's what he's doing).
Mar-16-06  YouRang: After 95 moves, we have this position (diagram:white to play)

click for larger view

Here, White played 96. Kg1?, giving Black his last shot at forcing a win, according to the Namilov tablebase (96. Kf1 is the only move that saves the draw). But in this game, Black let it slip away for good with 96...Ke3 (Kf3 leads to mate in 26!).

With White's pawn advanced to the 6th rank, Black must be very precise -- He could lose if his timing is off! A likely continuation (with best play on both sides) is presented below. I use "!!" to mark the only winning move (all other moves draw), and ! to mark critcal moves (all other moves draw or lose ground).

96. Kg1? Kf3!!
97. Kf1 Nf2
98. Ke1 Ke3!! The king and a single knight begin to corner the opposing king.

99. Kf1 Nd3
100. Kg2 Kf4!!
101. Kh3 Kf3
102. Kh4 Ne5
103. Kh5 Kf4
104. Kh4 Ng6+
105. Kh5 Ngf8
106. Kh4 Ne6
107. Kh3 Kf3!
108. Kh2 Nf4
109. Kg1 Ke2
110. Kh2 Kf2 (diagram:white to move)

click for larger view

This is the position that black needs (it would be equivalent if the knight were on e3 instead of f4). However, we need it to be Black's move! So, now we do a strange 7-move triangulation such that we will wind up with the equivalent position with Black to move:

111. Kh1 Kg3
112. Kg1 Ng2!
113. Kf1 Kf3!!
114. Kg1 Ne3
115. Kh2 Kg4
116. Kg1 Kg3
117. Kh1 Kf2
118. Kh2 (diagram:black to move)
Here is the position Black was after!

click for larger view

118...Ng5! Now we can commit the other knight!
119. h7 Nf1+
120. Kh1 Ne4
121. h8=Q Ng3#

Mar-18-07  Autoreparaturwerkbau: Very nice analysis, <YouRang>!
Feb-08-09  WhiteRook48: 79. h5 looked more like a desperate attempt to salvage a draw
Mar-04-09  David2009: After 84 moves by White

click for larger view

Botvinnik in his book of the 1941 match-tournament claimed that 84... Nc2 won, giving 85 Kf2 Ne1 with main line 86 Kf3 Ke3 87 Kg4 Ke4 88 Kg3 Nd3 89 Kg4 Nf2+ 90 Kg3 Ke3 91 Kg2 Ne4 and wins by driving the WK into either the h1 or h8 corner (White's choice). The h1 corner lasts longer – see <YouRang>’s analysis (the equivalent was also given by Botvinnik). However the Nalimov Tablebase Server shows that 85 Kg2! draws. White heads for g6 via h3, h4 and h5 while the Nc2 is sufficiently out of play.

I was interested to see from <YouRang>’s analysis that Lilienthal missed a further win at move 96: this possibility is not mentioned by Botvinnik.

May-11-10  Tophie1984: Now they can play on in heaven.

Rest in peace, Vasily and Andor!

Jul-23-19  doash: Can K+N always force the opposing K into a corner?
Jul-23-19  doash: Mega base gives 96. Kf1.
Jul-23-19  doash: It seems like the defending K can walk around all four quadrants before being mated in the one where his pawn is.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: In the tournament book, 'Soviet Chess Championship, 1941' (Dover edition), by M.M. Botvinnik, Black played 96.Kf1 not 96.Kg1.

Other databases, 365Chess, Chess Tempo, and my Houdini program database, all show that Smyslov played 96.Kf1.

In Botvinnik's tournament book, 'Soviet Chess Championship, 1941', he provided a diagram after the move 95...Kf4, and then explained, with move variations, why 96.Kg1 would have lost for White.

In his tournament book, Botvinnik also expressed an opinion regarding the move 96.Kf1; he stated that: 'Probably the text move also should not have led to a draw'. While Botvinnik was mistaken, as 96.Kf1 was White's only drawing move, his statement is additional evidence that White did in fact play 96.Kf1.

Jul-28-19  paul1959: Instead of 30...cxb3 , Qa3 was strong.
If 31 bxc4 Qxc3 32 cxb5 Nd4 wins the Queen
White has to go for 31 Qxe5 cxb3 with a dangerous passed pawn for Black

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?]
NN vs P
from Endgame Studies by FENfiend
USSR Absolute Championship 1941
by Benzol
Two knights v pawn
from Endgames: uneven material by capybara
Two Knights versus Pawn
by Resignation Trap
Match Smyslov!
by amadeus
NN vs WP on h6: too far forward, but the draw hangs by a thread
from NN vs P: unheard melodies by David2009
Two knights v pawn
from Ending: uneven material by Baby Hawk
Match Smyslov!
by docjan
E4, move 87
from Vasily Smyslov, the early years by nizmo11

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