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Akiba Rubinstein vs Aron Nimzowitsch
San Sebastian (1912), San Sebastian ESP, rd 22, Mar-19
Old Indian Defense: Normal Variation (A55)  ·  1-0



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Given 22 times; par: 92 [what's this?]

Annotations by Emanuel Lasker.      [80 more games annotated by Lasker]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Dec-08-02  pawntificator: Nimzovich makes a horrible blunder on move 25, and Rubinstein makes one on move 26.
Oct-19-03  Green Bishop: That was mate in two. Incredible blunders for such great players in the same game!
Nov-25-03  Kandelabr: Mieses` comment after 25. Black`s move: "Both players were in a huge time trouble". This should explain these horrible blunders, I think.
Nov-25-03  Dick Brain: My theory: blunders come in bunches. Once Nimzo realized that he had lost a piece he became only interested in looking for a attacking shot rather than worry about counterattack. Then Rubenstein, being a piece up, was more concerned about defending black's initiative.
Feb-24-04  meloncio: In "My System" Nimzovich comment on his defeat, but finishes the game in move 24. He writes "24. Rd2, and black resigns". Was he ashamed about the rest of the game?
Feb-24-04  meloncio: Of course, I mean 24. Rf2 ...
Sep-12-04  sneaky pete: <meloncio> The original German edition reads (translated) <24.Rf2 .. and white won>, so not Nimzovich but the translator of your edition is responsible. I can well imagine AN considered the rest of the game unfit as instructional material.
Nov-20-06  syracrophy: Now I see it: 26.♕xf7+ ♔h8 27.♗xg7# or 27.♕xg7#. What a disgraceful miss!
Dec-17-06  Archives: This is from the last round of the San Sebastian tournament in 1912.

Nimzowitsch had the chance to win his first grandmaster tournament here. He failed and lost the game ending only on a second shared prize.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: Something of an anticlimax after Rubinstein's masterful play earlier, undermining the N on f4.
Apr-16-07  BadTemper: almost as bad as kramnik's selfmate in 1
Apr-25-07  Archives: Heading into the last round Nimzovitch was leading Rubinstein by half a point. <The Field> of March 23 describes the action:

"Rubinstein v. Nimzovitch. - The most important game of the tournament, highly so to the two players, and particularly to Rubinstein. The difference between winning and losing was at least 3500fr. - a fair stake for a game of chess. If he won he gained the first prize, 5000fr., and if he lost he might have obtained fourth place, 1500fr., or even divided that amount with Dr Tarrasch, who still had an ending to finish with Dr Perlis. To gain the first prize he had to beat Nimzovitch - no easy task even though he had the first move.

"Nimzovitch, who had only to play for a draw, avoided his opponent's favourite Queen's pawn variation with an irregular defense; but after five moves the opening became a Philidor Defense [Sic. actually an Old Indian], which Rubinstein developed steadily, retaining the advantage of the first move, while Nimzovitch kept a cramped position. A quiet defensive attitude would have only increased the first player's advantage, so Nimzovitch boldy resolved upon a counter attack, which he conducted with great vigor, and in so complicated a manner that it was difficult to judge who had the better game. In these trying circumstances, Rubinstein, keeping cool and collected, emerged from the attack with a piece ahead; but even then Nimzovitch stuck to his guns, still trying for a draw, and only gave in when the last hope was gone. It is to be regretted that this interesting game should be marred by Rubinstein overlooking a mate in two moves - and Nizmovitch as well - which every one of the spectators saw."

Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: Nimzovich in My system made a convincing case as though White was winning after Nxe5, because of the d-file central control vs the supposedly easily to refute flank crude king attack.

But instead of 18..Bxf1, would Nimzovich have been able to hold with Bg4 :

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Rybka thinks Bg4 and black might be okay


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Rubinstein,A - Nimzowitsch,A, Blitz:3'

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Analysis by Rybka 2.2n2 mp 32-bit :

1. = (0.06): 19...Nxe5 20.Qxf4 Nf3+ 21.Kg2 Nxe1+ 22.Rxe1 Qxf4 23.gxf4 Rd8 24.Re3 g6 25.Rd3 Rxd3 26.Bxd3 2. ² (0.30): 19...Qxe5 20.gxf4 Qh5 21.Be2 Bb4 22.Qxb4 Bxe2 23.Rxe2 Qxe2 24.Nc3 Qg4+ 25.Kf1 Qh3+ 3. (1.54): 19...Ne2+ 20.Bxe2 Nxe5 21.Bxg4 Nxg4 22.Qf4 Qe6 23.Qf5 Re8 24.Qxe6 fxe6 25.Rf1 Bc5 4. (1.54): 19...Nh3+ 20.Bxh3 Nxe5 21.Bxg4 Nxg4 22.Qf4 Qe6 23.Qf5 Re8 24.Qxe6 fxe6 25.Rf1 Bc5 5. (3.16): 19...Qe6 20.Bxf4 Bxd1 21.Rxd1 Nc5 22.f3 Qf6 23.Qf2 Rd8 24.e5 6. (3.22): 19...Qe7 20.Bxf4 Bxd1 21.Qxd1 f6 22.Bc1 Nc5 23.Nd2 Rd8 24.Qf3 7. (3.30): 19...Qg6 20.Bxf4 Nc5 21.Rc1 Nxe4 22.Qa5 Qf5 23.Qxf5 Bxf5 24.Be3 8. (3.88): 19...Qd8 20.Bxf4 Qe8 21.Be2 Bxe2 22.Qxe2 Bb4 23.Bd2 Be7 24.Qh5

Could it be that it really does depend on the positoin and even this theory of control of the center being able to generally beat off king-attacks still needs qualification - even in this classic encounter.

May-14-09  WhiteRook48: 25 Bd4???
Sep-29-11  sevenseaman: My first reaction is '<Akiba> has whipped a win out of <Nimzo>.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: There is an oddity about what would be the winning move 26.Qxf7+, in that the only piece preventing the queen from being captured cannot in fact move. It is pinned.

But as we all know actuality precedes potentiality. So even if black could play 26...Kxf7 his king would be captured by the rook before black has time to take the white king with his bishop.

Feb-03-12  RookFile: Games like this make you appreciate what it was said of Lasker:

"He may lose a game, but never his head."

Apr-13-12  lemaire90: I appreciate those notes.
Dec-10-12  pericles of athens: Next time I miss an obvious combination I won't feel quite so bad :)
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Sometimes in time trouble I play a sequence of moves, then freeze, thinking "Hang on, last move I think I could have played Qxf7+...." I reconstruct the position in my head as best I can, "Yeah, I could have done!" Pointlessly thinking about what moves I might have missed earlier while my clock is ticking down.
Jan-01-19  HarryP: This amazing case of "double blindness" is commented on in "The Pleasures of Chess" by Assic in a chapter called "Bad Luck and Missed Opportunities."
Premium Chessgames Member
  nizmo11: Doudle blindness indeed
But even White missed the mate, he was still winning after 26 Bd4.

But it seems Nimzo could have had his tournament victory after 24...Rxf2 25.Kxf2 Qc2+ 26.Qd2 Qf5+! (or 24...Qe4+ 25.Kg1 Rxf2)

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27. Kg1 Bc5+ 28.Bd4? Rd8 is bad for White, so to avoid perpetual he must return the piece with 27.Qf4 (27.Kg2 Qe4+) Dc2+ 28.Rd2 Qxb1, but White does not have advantage here.

Sep-28-20  sudoplatov: Nimzovich played Nh4 (mirror of Nh5) against Tarrasch in 1914. In both cases, the idea seems to have been to provoke g3 (g6) by the opponent to create a weakness. In both cases, the time lost was worth more than the weakness.
Sep-28-20  SChesshevsky: Might have to give Nimzo a pass on missing ...Rxf2 ...Qc2 with a perpetual on the white squares. If there was severe time trouble as noted.

Given that, you either sense the possibility earlier or you don't. Way to much to consider to try to find it and calculate it under the circumstances. After all, your attack blew up in your face. Have some possible back rank issue. And really don't want to exchange pieces without getting something tangible. All with the clock ticking.

Actually given the situation Nimzo appears to make a good try at a good idea. Take off all the pawns and try for the R&N vs. R endgame. Seems he almost did get there.

Might criticize more his idea of attack with ...Nb8 and trying for tricks on the king side. Looks good with the three pieces. And might've worked had they been coordinated. But seems they all hit different targets and get in the way of each other. Still might've worked if white had zero counter play. But...

Jul-26-23  generror: Awesome game! Everybody keeps yapping about the blunders, as if that was all there was to this game. Because nobody ever missed a mate in two in severe time trouble I guessed.

Nimzowitsch should probably have played for a draw instead of going for Rubinstein's king -- but as they say, if you need a draw, play for a win. (In fact, always play for a win!) I do like the simple idea of his attack, it is much too simplistic to fool someone like pre-war Rubinstein. <17.Bf1!> indeed is a key move, because otherwise, the light-squared weaknesses around his king could have been fatal.

Also nice to see how Nimzo fights to the very last breath. He really wanted to win this tournament :)

People seem to think that the blunders "taint" this game. I think they just show that both guys were humans and not machines. A great fighting game by both players.

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