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Akiba Rubinstein vs Aron Nimzowitsch
"Of Cabbages and Kings" (game of the day Nov-07-2009)
Berlin (1928), Berlin GER, rd 4, Oct-15
Nimzo-Indian Defense: Classical Variation (E32)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Feb-05-05  Calli: Mr Nimzowitstch, h6 is a very odd place for your Queen. I don't think she enjoyed watching the rest of the game. ;-)

Seriously, where did Nimzo go wrong?

Apr-15-05  Karpova: An outstanding game!

18....b4? nimzovich's queen's side attack was verybeautiful but now he stops it without a good reason. white's 18.rab1 stopped 18...a4. black should have played reb8 and qd8 to prepare a5. white starts his well prepared king's side attack now.

22.qf2! black tried to swindle him (22.bb2? ng4+ 23.hg (forced) qr4+ 24.kg1 qg3: 25.g5 re6 and black has an advantage)

25.ra7 the a-file offers no prospects for black as will be seen.

27....nf8 (27...ra8 was a bit better though black is already lost)

28.bf6:!! a brilliant move putting the black queen out of play.

29....qh6 obviously the only move.

32.g4! threatens g5 and be2 so 32...f6 is forced

34...bb7 (34....nd7 35.nd6: ne5 36.qc5:!)

36.nd6:! decisive

41.qf6:+ (not 41.rd8:? and 41...qe3+ leads to perpetual check)

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: I got a Russian chess book by Razuvaev and Murakhvery (?) that has notes by Rubinstein to this game. If I ever learn Russian properly I will post them here.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Part I

OK, it only took a year and a half, and I am far from learning Russian properly, but...

This game features Rubinstein's notes, as reprinted in <Akiba Rubinstein> by Yuri Razuvaev and V. I. Murakhveri (?), published in Moscow in 1980. I don't know where Rubinstein's notes were originally published (it would be funny if they were originally written in German...). Rubinstein's comments are in plain text; comments by Razuvaev or me are in brackets. My translation from the Russian is almost certainly worse than my translations from Tarrasch's German in the Lasker-Tarrasch match games, mostly because I can't make use of online translation services, but also because Russian has much less in common with English than German does. But I figure even a poor translation is better than nothing, since most of us have never seen Rubinstein's notes to his own games before.

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 d6(?)

The currently popular, similar variation with the fianchetto of the bishop to b7 is inappropriate here because White can occupy the center by e2-e4, gaining a clear advantage. Black therefore [prishlos] declines the advantageous development of the bishop to b7, which represents the principal idea of the West Indian variation <such was the exotic name of the Nimzowitsch Defense in the 1920s (Razuvaev)>. Insofar as black queen bishop (which, occupying the b7 square, forces White to develop passively) is compelled to occupy a more modest and less active post, the system Black has selected to play weakens/loses its sharpness.

<The move 4...d6 by Black sometimes is encountered in contemporary praxis, but, theory recommends that Black continue with 4...c5 or 4...d5, striving to develop active piece play in the center. (Razuvaev)>

5. e3 <5. e4 does not score very well according to the database> 5....c5

<Nimzowitsch developed this system and successfully employed it against a white knight on f3 (here it is impossible not to recall the brilliant game P F Johner vs Nimzowitsch, 1926). Interestingly, this variation sometimes in current publications bears the name of R. Huebner(!). With the knight on e2 this system of development loses effectiveness. The present game, notwithstanding that Rubinstein was exploring this variation for the first time, appears as a classic model of play for White against the Nimzowitsch Defense. (Razuvaev)>

6. Bd3 Nc6 7. Ne2 e5

This closing of the center, which in similar positions frequently is striven for, here seems strategically mistaken, since the black position turns out to be very constrained for his pieces and -- as a consequence of the shortage of space for maneuvering -- immobilized. On the kingside Black is condemned to almost total inactivity, and his chances on the queenside [are] minimal.

8. d5 Bxc3+ 9. Qxc3

<After 9. Nxc3 Nb4 Black can advantageously simplify the position. (Razuvaev) The only other game in the database from this position is Doroshkievich vs Romanishin, 1975. St. Drukenknight forbid that I should say that Black is already lost here, but his position is quite bad.>

9.....Ne7 10. Qc2 <presumably to prevent ...Nf5 or ...Bf5> 10....0-0 11. 0-0 Ng6

After the move d4-d5 closing the center, the main counterchance of Black now seems to be counterattack by ...f7-f5, and thus here Black should have selected the move ...Ne8, so as to play ...f7-f5 later. In the present case White can successfully fight against this plan with the linked moves f2-f4 and e3-e4.

12. Ng3 Rfe8 13. f3

f2-f4 immediately would be premature, because after 13....exf4 14. exf4 Ng4 (with the threat ...Nxh2) the black pieces succeed in obtaining freedom.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Part II

13....Bd7 14. Bd2 a6 15. h3 b5 16. b3 Qb6 17. Kh2 a5 18. Rab1 b4

Now Black [chooses] to attack on a very narrow path -- the a-file, and this promises little. It is difficult, however, to suggest <ukazat> something better for Black.

<After ...b5-b4, Black was exposed to severe criticism by several commentators. By closing the queenside, Black made White's attack on the kingside easier. It was better to open the b-file, which would give Black greater chances of counterplay than the move played in the game. (Razuvaev)>

19. f4 exf4 20. exf4 Nf8 21. Bc1 Qd8 22. Qf2

A gross blunder would be at once 22. Bb2, since Black would respond with 22...Ng4+!.

22....a4 23. Bb2 Ng6 24. Rbd1 axb3 25. axb3 Ra7 26. Rde1 Rxe1 27. Rxe1 Nf8

click for larger view

28. Bxf6!

White correctly exchanges his well-placed bishop in order to drive the queen to a bad square to defend the pawn at d6. The point of White's play will be seen at the 30th move.

28....Qxf6 29. Ne4 Qh6 30. f5! Ra3 31. Rb1 Ra6 32. g4

The badly positioned black queen takes its toll: White already threatened to win it by the moves g4-g5 and Be2.

32....f6 <Chess players of a systematizing bent will recognize this ominous antecedent: Tarrasch vs G Marco, 1898.

click for larger view

(Position after 20...Nh7).> 33. Kg3 Bc8

Making way for the knight so that it may be moved via d7 to e5.

34. Re1!

Preparing a counterplan: after 34...Nd7 would follow 35. Nxd6!

34....Bb7 35. Qe2!

A strong move, which pursues two goals: White prepares the sortie of the knight and threatens to win the queen via the moves h3-h4 and g4-g5.


Black, [evidently], underestimates the significance of the foregoing [prophylactic] move, however, on the whole it is hard to recommend an active defense for him. Now the following pretty combination decides.

click for larger view

36. Nxd6! Rxd6 37. Qe8+ Nf8 38. Re7 g6 39. Qf7+ Kh8 40. Re8 Rd8 41. Qxf6+

A blunder would be 41. Rxd8 in view of 41....Qe3+ and perpetual check.

41....Kg8 42. Qe6+ Kg7 43. f6+ 1-0

Apr-30-08  KingG: <keypusher> Thanks for taking the time to translate the notes and post them here.
Nov-07-09  improperchess: i'm guessing nimzowitsch was the cabbage
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: "The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."

Lewis Carroll

We have a strange situation here, where the black queen gets trapped on the queenside. The whole game revolves around attacks on opposite wings. Black's queenside attack fizzles to nought, because he only really has his rook to support it. Sure, the rook has an open a file to play with, but no real targets or entry points along that file. The black bishop and knight get stuck behind the pawn barricade. That just leaves the black queen to help the rook make mischief on the queenside. But Rubinstein (arguably the best player never to be world champion) cleverly shunts the black queen out of play.

For me, this is the crunch position:

click for larger view

With 28. Bxf6, white gives up one of his beatiful bishops on adjacent diagonals for a mere knight. Black has to recapture with the queen as gf leaves him with a shattered pawn structure in front of his king. Then comes 28...Qxf4 29. Ne4

click for larger view

The black queen has to go to h6, like a dunce being sent to sit in the corner, where she will sit for the rest of the game. What else is there? 29...Qd8 drops the d pawn, 29...Qe7 or Qg6 or Qf5 all allow 30. Nxc5, when the discovered attack on the queen wins a pawn for white.

Spool on a few moves and we see the black queen totally imprisoned. None of the black pieces have anything useful to do. White can choose his attack at will.

click for larger view

Delicious, delightful positional chess that deserves to be much better known.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Breunor: I don't know why exactly, but perhaps more so than for any other chessplayer, whan I see one of Rubinstein's best games I feel like standing up and clapping.

Here he is theoretically past his prime, and he demolishes Nimzowitsch in just a beautiful game!

Nov-07-09  Dravus: The Sauerkraut of White's Queen throws plates at Black's King.
Nov-07-09  WhiteRook48: he always beats Nimzo
Nov-07-09  RandomVisitor: 3 minutes per move:

Akiba Rubinstein - Aron Nimzowitsch

Berlin+++ Berlin+++, 1928

[Rybka 3 ]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 d6 5.e3 c5 6.Bd3 Nc6 7.Nge2 last book move

7...e5 0.46/19
8.d5= 0.20/21
[Rybka 3 : 8.dxc5 Bxc5 9.a3 Be6 10.0-0 0-0 11.Rd1 Rc8 12.Ng3 h6 13.b3 a6 14.h3 Ba7 15.Bb2 Na5 16.Nce4 d5 0.46/19 ]

8...Bxc3+ 0.20/21
9.Qxc3 0.15/20 Ne7 0.44/19
[Rybka 3 : 9...Nb4 10.Bb1 b5 11.b3 0-0 12.0-0 Rb8 13.a3 Na6 14.f3 h6 15.Bd2 Bd7 16.Bd3 Qb6 17.Qc2 Nc7 18.Rab1= 0.15/20 ]

10.Qc2= 0.10/20
[Rybka 3 : 10.b4 b6 11.0-0 0-0 12.bxc5 bxc5 13.f3 Rb8 14.Qc2 0.44/19 ]

10...0-0 0.40/20
[Rybka 3 : 10...b5 11.e4 bxc4 12.Bxc4 0-0 13.0-0 Ng6 14.Ng3 h6= 0.10/20 ]

11.0-0= 0.10/20
[Rybka 3 : 11.Nc3 a6 12.a4 Bd7 13.0-0 h6 14.b3 b5 15.axb5 axb5 16.Rxa8 Qxa8 17.f4 exf4 18.exf4 Qa5 19.Bb2 Qb6 0.40/20 ]

11...Ng6 0.54/19
[Rybka 3 : 11...b5 12.e4 bxc4 13.Bxc4 Ng6 14.Ng3 h6 15.f3 a5 16.Be3 Bd7 17.a4 Rb8 18.b3 Qc7 19.Qd2 Rb4 20.Ne2= 0.10/20 ]

12.Ng3 0.34/18
[Rybka 3 : 12.Nc3 Bd7 13.Rb1 b6 14.b4 cxb4 15.Rxb4 Qe7 16.f3 Rac8 17.Bb2 Nh5 18.Nb5 Bxb5 19.Rxb5 Qg5 20.Bc1 Nf6 21.Bf5 Rce8 0.54/19 ]

12...Re8 0.57/18
[Rybka 3 : 12...Bd7 13.a4 b6 14.Bd2 Qc7 15.Bc3 a6 16.Rfd1 a5 17.b3 Rae8 18.Rf1 Bc8 19.Rae1 Qe7 0.34/18 ]

13.f3 0.38/18
[Rybka 3 : 13.Bd2 b6 14.b4 Qc7 15.a4 cxb4 16.Bxb4 a5 17.Ba3 Ba6 18.f3 Nh4 19.Rab1 Rac8 20.Rfc1 g6 21.Qb2 0.57/18 ]

13...Bd7 0.55/20
[Rybka 3 : 13...Nf8 14.Bd2 N8d7 15.Rac1 Qc7 16.b3 a6 17.Bc3 b5 18.a3 g6 19.Qd2 Bb7 20.Ba5 Nb6 0.38/18 ]

14.Bd2 0.33/18
[Rybka 3 : 14.a4 b6 15.b3 a6 16.Bb2 Qe7 17.Qd2 a5 18.Qc2 0.55/20 ]

14...a6 0.56/20
[Rybka 3 : 14...Qc7 15.a4 b6 16.b4 cxb4 17.Bxb4 a5 18.Ba3 Rac8 19.Qb3 Rb8 20.Rab1 Ne7 21.Rfe1 h6 22.Rbd1 0.33/18 ]

15.h3 0.27/17
[Rybka 3 : 15.a4 a5 16.Bc3 b6 17.b3 Qe7 18.Rae1 Rad8 19.f4 Bc8 20.h3 Bd7 21.Bxg6 hxg6 22.fxe5 dxe5 23.Rf2 Qd6 24.Ref1 0.56/20 ]

15...b5 0.27/17
16.b3 0.26/17 Qb6 0.42/17
[Rybka 3 : 16...Rb8 17.Bc3 Rb7 18.a3 Qe7 19.Rac1 Nh4 20.Rce1 Rbb8 21.f4 Ng6 22.Qd2 0.26/17 ]

17.Kh2= 0.19/18
[Rybka 3 : 17.Bc3 a5 18.a4 b4 19.Bb2 Qd8 20.Qf2 Qe7 21.Rad1 Rad8 22.f4 Bc8 23.Bxg6 hxg6 24.fxe5 dxe5 25.Qf3 Qc7 26.Rde1 0.42/17 ]

Nov-07-09  RandomVisitor: continued:

17...a5 0.53/18
[Rybka 3 : 17...Rab8 18.a4 b4 19.Bc1 Qd8 20.Bb2 Bc8 21.Kg1 Rb7 22.Rae1 Rbe7 23.Qf2 Qc7 24.Rd1 h6= 0.19/18 ]

18.Rab1 0.35/19
[Rybka 3 : 18.cxb5 Bxb5 19.Bxb5 Qxb5 20.Nf5 Qd7 21.e4 Nf4 22.Rfe1 Ng6 23.g3 Reb8 24.Rab1 Rc8 25.Bg5 Ne8 26.Re2 h6 27.Bd2 0.53/18 ]

18...b4 0.35/20
19.f4= -0.03/18
[Rybka 3 : 19.a4 Re7 20.Bc1 Rae8 21.Bb2 Qd8 22.Kg1 Nh4 23.Qf2 Ng6 24.Rbd1 Bc8 25.Qd2 Qc7 0.35/20 ]

19...exf4 0.32/21
[Rybka 3 : 19...Qd8 20.f5 Nf8 21.a4 h6 22.Kg1 Qe7 23.Be2 Bc8 24.e4 N8d7 25.Be3 Ba6 26.Rbe1 Bb7= -0.03/18 ]

20.exf4 0.16/19 Nf8 0.50/22
[Rybka 3 : 20...Qd8 21.Rbe1 Rxe1 22.Rxe1 a4 23.Nf5 axb3 24.axb3 Bc8 25.g3 Ra7 26.Kg2 h6 27.Qb2 Bxf5 28.Bxf5 Ne7 29.Bd3 Qa8 30.Bb1= 0.16/19 ]

21.Bc1 0.50/20 Qd8 0.70/21
22.Qf2 0.50/18 a4 0.73/21
[Rybka 3 : 22...h6 23.Bb2 N8h7 24.Rbe1 a4 25.Rxe8+ Qxe8 26.Re1 Qf8 27.Bf5 Qd8 28.Qc2 a3 29.Ba1 Rb8 30.Kg1 Ra8 31.Re2 0.50/18 ]

23.Bb2 0.57/19 Ng6 0.73/19
24.Rbd1 0.51/19
[Rybka 3 : 24.Rbe1 Rxe1 25.Rxe1 Ra6 26.f5 Nf8 27.Qf4 h6 28.Qh4 N8h7 29.Ne4 Kf8 30.Kg1 Kg8 31.Re2 Kf8 32.Re3 axb3 33.axb3 Bc8 34.Re1 0.73/19 ]

24...axb3 0.88/21
[Rybka 3 : 24...Ra7 25.Rde1 Rxe1 26.Rxe1 h6 27.Bb1 Ra6 28.Qe2 Ra7 29.Qe3 Ra6 30.Bd3 0.51/19 ]

25.axb3 0.69/19 Ra7 1.01/20
[Rybka 3 : 25...Ra2 26.Ra1 Rxa1 0.69/19 ]

26.Rde1 1.01/18 Rxe1 1.01/20
27.Rxe1 1.01/20 Nf8 1.85/23
[Rybka 3 : 27...h6 28.f5 Nf8 1.01/20 ]

28.Bxf6 1.45/23 Qxf6 1.85/23
29.Ne4 1.85/21 Qh6 1.85/22
30.f5 1.85/20 Ra3 1.85/20
31.Rb1 1.69/17 Ra6 2.08/22
32.g4 2.08/19 f6 2.08/21
33.Kg3 2.08/18 Bc8 2.08/19
34.Re1 1.29/17
[Rybka 3 : 34.Rf1 Nd7 35.Qe2 Ne5 36.h4 Ra2 37.Qxa2 Qe3+ 38.Kg2 Nxd3 39.Ng3 h5 40.Qe2 Qxe2+ 41.Nxe2 hxg4 42.Kg3 Ne5 43.Kf4 Kf8 44.Ra1 Bd7 45.Ra6 2.08/19 ]

34...Bb7? 4.62/18
[Rybka 3 : 34...Nd7 35.Nxd6 Rxd6 36.Re8+ Kf7 37.Rxc8 Qc1 38.Rc7 Ke8 39.Ra7 Qc3 40.Qc2 Qe1+ 41.Kg2 Ne5 42.Be2 Rd7 43.Ra2 Kf7 44.Qb2 Re7 45.Qa1 Qxa1 46.Rxa1 Ke8 47.Ra5 Nf7 48.Bf1 Re3 1.29/17 ]

35.Qe2 4.42/15 Nd7? 7.87/14
[Rybka 3 : 35...Bc8 36.h4 Bxf5 37.gxf5 Ra3 38.Nxd6 Rxb3 39.Ne4 g5 40.hxg5 fxg5 41.Kg2 Ra3 42.Nxc5 b3 43.Bb1 b2 44.Nd3 Qh4 45.f6 4.42/15 ]

36.Nxd6 7.76/15 Rxd6? 31.20/16
[Rybka 3 : 36...Ne5 37.Nxb7 7.76/15 ]

37.Qe8+ 8.63/10 Nf8 18.98/15
38.Re7 19.90/16 g6? #17/12
[Rybka 3 : 38...Qe3+ 39.Rxe3 19.90/16 ]

39.Qf7+ 20.16/10 Kh8 #16/13
40.Re8 #16/13 Rd8 #15/12
41.Qxf6+ #20/12 Kg8 #19/12
42.Qe6+ #15/13 Kg7 #10/5
43.f6+ #12/7 1-0

Nov-07-09  RandomVisitor: 19...Qd8 seems to be a good move for black to equalize.
Nov-07-09  RandomVisitor: After 19.f4:

1: Akiba Rubinstein - Aron Nimzowitsch, Berlin+++ 1928

click for larger view

Analysis by Rybka 3 :

<[+0.08] d=24 19...Qd8> 20.f5 Nf8 21.a3 h6 22.Ra1 Qb6 23.Qb2 N8h7 24.Kg1 Reb8 25.Rfb1 Bc8 26.Re1 Bd7 27.axb4 axb4 28.Ra2 Bc8 29.Rea1 Bb7 30.Be1 Qc7 31.Qc2 01:21:41 854397kN

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: A fine finish with the final blow from a pawn.
Nov-11-09  arsen387: white's game here can be given as the definition of harmony in chess, very beautiful. 28.Bxf6 is cool, such move could never even pass through my mind
Feb-03-12  RookFile: Beautiful play by Rubinstein.
Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: Thank you for your efforts keypusher!
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: <improperchess: i'm guessing nimzowitsch was the cabbage>

This is hilarious!

However, this is not:

<WhiteRook48: he always beats Nimzo>

Sir, as a fan of "My System" I must protest. Their lifetime score was quite competitive:

Classical games: Akiba Rubinstein beat Aron Nimzowitsch 7 to 6, with 9 draws

search "Rubinstein vs Nimzovitch"

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