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Erich Cohn vs Akiba Rubinstein
"Cohn Err" (game of the day Jan-24-2011)
St. Petersburg (1909), St. Petersburg RUE, rd 10, Feb-28
Queen's Gambit Accepted: Gunsberg Defense (D21)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 4 OF 4 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jan-25-11  azax: This is a very charming GOTD. A small weakness in White's pawn structure leads to instant death in the endgame.
Feb-07-11  splatty: < chrisowen: Times endgame?!

Molten steal black wedge compact machine rise evaluation sky high netting the premise born out it jip c-file rook needed.

Cohn's alchemy scratch ET off little melee Rubinsteins apparant king hiding aim ammass whitecoat pawns ado get taken away levelling Erichs corona off.> Hehe, great words.

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  chrisowen: <splatty> Hi pus doxic for id enrol call knights tour d6 c4 ive really made the grade hook led ram space hatrick pawn movement lie landbouwbelang le g3 it feeds in. Dead cleric opening knight mutton why alfie rook c1 arrivederci.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: [from Aug-24-05]
<RookFile: Yeah, you want to dope slap Cohn for playing 24. Rc1. As the saying goes: "All rook endings are drawn", which is what he can get with something reasonable like 24. f4>

[from Dec-08-06]
<RookFile: *** Something that not enough people talk about is 24. Rc1. That was a mistake. <The moral of the story is: if you want a draw, keep the rooks on the board. It's by far the safest way to draw.>>

Chess is not so simple that it can be reduced to the application of reliable maxims (such as “all rook endings are drawn”). There are exceptions, such as this game: Alekhine vs Reti, 1922 In which Reti realized that exchanging rooks (with <57. … Rxg4!>) would assure him of a draw from this position (black to move):

click for larger view

Keeping rooks on the board with <57. ... Rc4> (from the position in the diagram above) would probably have left black with a lost position after <58. g5>.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: As several kibitzers have already noted, Cohn was probably lost after his dubious <24. Rc1?!> (which possibly should be given simply "?"), and it was inevitable he would lose the resulting position with Rubinstein across the board. Nevertheless, the remaining phase of the game holds much interest.

For example, extremely interesting is the position in the second diagram below (which did not occur in the game but could have arisen if Cohn had played <35. fxg4!?> instead of his actual <35. e4?!>, which was routinely losing) in this position:

click for larger view

After the further hypothetical continuation <35...hxg4?!> (Better here - and more likely to have been played by Rubinstein - is <35. ... fxg4!>, but players of less-than-immortal stature would probably find the capture "towards the centre" more natural. The position after <35. ... hxg4?!> is still theoretically winning for Black, by the way, but the technical burden is much greater than after <35. ... fxg4!>.) ... <36.Kg1 f4 37.exf4 exf4 38.Kh1 g3?> (Correct is <38. ... f3! >, the only move that wins by force, as demonstated in analysis by IM Steve Giddins presented in the source cited infra.) <39.fxg3 fxg3 40.hxg3>, the resulting position would have been:

click for larger view

The position in the diagram above appears to be winning for Black due to the much stronger position of his King. Averbakh, among others, gave the line reaching this position as “ ”. Nevertheless, White surprisingly can hold, as follows: <40. ... Kxg3 41.Kg1 Kf3 42.Kf1 Ke3 43.Ke1 Kd3 44.Kd1 Kc3 45.a4! a6> (No better are either (A) <45...bxa4 46.Kc1=>; or (B) <45...Kxb4 46.axb5 Kxb5 47.Kc1=>) <46.axb5 axb5 47.Kc1 Kxb4 48.Kb2=> producing the following drawn position (with Black to move):

click for larger view

The foregoing analysis is taken from the recently published book, <The Greatest Ever Chess Endgames>, by Giddins, Steve, Everyman Chess ©2012, at pp. 16-17.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: [from May-16-09]
<Gypsy: *** My point is this: While the Mestel lines> (*) <are perceptive and correct, they became relevant only because Rubinstein sort of misplayed the endgame when he played the <34...g4(?)>. This move brought the position into a realm of study-like, tempo-based drawing resources and study-like tempo wins. In contrast, Black win is relatively simple after <34...e4(!)>. *** >

(*) - <Note by PP: - The referenced "Mestel lines" demonstrate a draw after a hypothetical <35. fxg4 hxg4 36. Kg1 f4 37. exf4 exf4 38. Kh1 g3?> [In this line, only the "study-like" <38. ... f3!> wins.>

Although <34. … e4!> is unquestionably the simplest win and therefore objectively better than Rubinstein’s <34. … g4>, the above comment exaggerates the defects of Rubinstein’s choice at move 34.

The position only would have become “study-like” if

<A> Cohn had played <35. fxg4> (instead of his actual <35. e4?> – played one move too late; although inadequate even there, at move 34, the advance of the e-pawn would have been White’s best defensive try);


<B> Rubinstein had played the second-best (but still winning) <35. … hxg4>. In that case, at move <38>, Rubinstein would have been required to find the “study-like” <38. … f3!> instead of the obvious (but inadequate) <38. … g3?>.

It is impossible to be certain whether, when Rubinstein played <34. … g4(?!)>, he had worked out that after <35. fxg4>, the correct reply would have been <35. … fxg4!>. It seems unlikely that at move 34 anyone (even Rubinstein) would have worked out and been relying on the "Mestel line" with <38. ... f3!>, but it is not too difficult to believe he had worked out that <35. ... fxg4> was best in response to <35. fxg4>; if so, then the great Akiva had analyzed a continuation that was winning without significant difficulty and had the endgame fully under control. If he might actually have played <35. … hxg4?!> in response to a hypothetical <35. fxg4>, then he was a bit off-form (for him) that day and was perhaps fortunate that Cohn erred (again; cf. <24. Rc1>) with <35. e4?>.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: Of the final position:

click for larger view

IM Steve Giddins (op. cit. [supra, in separate post from earlier today]) writes simply, “White clearly loses the e4-pawn.” (at p. 17)

This is a bit oversimplified. White could have tried <39. f4!?>, but it would have been to no avail, as these lines demonstrate:

<39.f4!?> [or 39.f3 g2 40.f4 exf4 41.e5 Kg3 42.e6 f3 43.e7 f2#] <39...exf4 40.e5 f3 41.e6> [or 41.Kf1 g2+ 42.Kf2 (42.Kg1 Kg3 43.e6 f2#) 42...Kh2 43.e6 g1Q+ 44.Kxf3 Qe1–+] <41...g2 42.e7 Kg3 43.e8Q f2#>, with this final position resulting:

click for larger view

Jul-18-13  Albion 1959: This ending is instructive and also interesting. Gypsy has done a lot of extensive analysis, I like the idea of a4 to liquidate the pawn on b5, this needs to be looked at in more detail. The game itself is certainly not one of Rubinstein's "Best" games, the win against the same opponent in a 56 move rook & pawn ending was a better effort from Rubinstein.
Apr-27-15  Howard: When I get a couple days' time, I'm gonna look at this endgame more closely.
Dec-10-16  Albion 1959: Had another look at this ending. The variation instead of 35. e4 35. fxg fxg!
36. Kg1 e4!
Squashes any hope for white. I'm not yet sure about move 30 b5 instead of Kh1. Does b5 really save the game foe white? Apart from b5 was in order or better, there is nothing else here to support this. An interesting line that needs further analysis. I am still of the belief that Cohn went wrong on 24 with Rc1?? He should have played f4 to keep Rubinstein's rook out of the kingside, this should be sufficient to hold the position. This game features in Chervev's The Golden Dozen page 32 - Game 14. Though the notes on this ending are light:
Dec-13-16  karrer1: continuation that Rubinstein did use:
<34...g4> If now ...35.fxg4! hxg4 36.Kg1 f4 37.exf4 exf4 38.Kh1...

we get the position M1:

click for larger view
Mestel shows that, after some study-like play, the 'natural' <1...g3?> only draws, while the 'contra-intuitive' <1...f3!> wins. No. (B2) ... 3.<Kh1> Kg5 4.h3(!) gxh3 5.Kh2 Kg4 6.Kg1 Kf4 7.Kh2 Ke4! 8.Kxh3 Kd3 (8.Kg3 h2 9.Kxh2 Kd3) 9.Kg4 Ke2 10.Kg4! .

May-12-17  User not found: No one spotted 29..b5! immediately instead of the pointless e5?

click for larger view

White is left without a single move, complete zugzwang and time to tip the king. I saw this before I ran it through the engine.


click for larger view

23.c1? was a blunder of 1600 5min blitz levels because all you need to do is count, you don't really have to work out variations and lines or be a Grandmaster or even an expert, if you know the rules and understand chess it's just obvious. If you can count to 8 you <should see> you lose by playing Rc1 and offering the exchange, this is when playing for a draw backfires..

I thought Rg1 to look after the hanging h pawn but the engine prefers f4 and I guess it does a similar job by stopping blacks c4 rook swinging over to the g or h file. Either way very bad middle/end game from white after an accurate and even opening.

May-19-18  boringplayer: Thank you to all the players who took the time for such in-depth analysis of the K+P ending!
Jul-02-19  SaitamaSeason2: What is the meaning of this annotation symbol "+0.44 (23 ply)" or is this "-0.59 (28 ply)"?
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <SaitamaSeason2> Those are computer evaluations.

"+0.44 (23 ply)" means the computer searched 23 half moves deep "(23 ply)" and the optimal final position is advantage to White ("+") of 44 centipawns or a little less than half a pawn ("0.44").

Similarly, "-0.59 (28 ply)" means 28 half moves deep, advantage to Black of 59 centipawns.

By the way, where did you see those?

Jul-03-19  seneca16: I don't get the pun. Cohn err = Cohn air.
What does "Cohn air" mean?
Jul-03-19  SaitamaSeason2: Oh Thanks <beatgiant>, I always find it difficult to understand it.

<By the way, where did you see those?>.

Well actually it appears itself on the game, <cg> provide computer annotations in each particular game, check that on your preferences at homepage

Jul-03-19  SaitamaSeason2: <seneca16> As already pointed out above. But maybe I had an answer from your questions

In the "Bent Larsen's Good Move Guide" this is said that:

<The position was reached after an error of judgement by white 24.Rc1?? Rxc1 25.Kxc1. Rubinstein had foreseen that this pawn endgame was won. In this position the winning procedure can be worked out exactly. It starts with 25... Kf6!!, and the plan is to attack the isolated h-pawn and thereby force the white king to g1. After that some pawns are played forward for exchange and then the board is 'cleaned' so that the black king can go 'west' from h3, and take a pawn, perhaps on e3 or e4 or perhaps right over on the queen's wing.

...... However this is a very simple calculation. We continue with the game: 25... Kf6 26.Kd2 Kg5 27.Ke2 (A simple analysis of the white counter attack is: 27.Kd3 Kh4 28.Kd4 Kh3 29.Kc5 Kxh2 30.b5 Kg2 31.Kd6 h5 32.Ke7 h4 33.Kxb7 h3 34.Kxa7 h2 35.b6 h1=Q 36.b7 Qa1 with the exchange of the new queens and an easy win.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <seneca>
I believe the basis for the pun is "Cohn Err" = "Con Air," a well-known US movie. The puns here often assume familiarity with US popular culture.
Jul-29-19  Chesgambit: 25 Rxc1 endgame
Jul-31-19  Straclonoor: Pawn endgame won for black

Analysis by Stockfish 120719 64 POPCNT:

1. -+ (-4.52): 25...Kf6 26.Kd2 Kg5 27.Ke1 Kh4 28.Kf1 Kh3 29.Kg1 g5 30.b5 f5 31.Kh1 h5 32.Kg1 e5 33.Kh1 e4 34.fxe4 fxe4 35.Kg1 h4 36.Kh1 Kg4 37.Kg1 h3 38.f4 gxf4 39.Kf2 fxe3+ 40.Kxe3 Kf5 41.Ke2 Kf4 42.Kf2 e3+ 43.Ke2 Ke4 44.a4 b6 45.Ke1 Kd3 46.Kd1 Kc3 47.Ke2 Kb3 48.Kxe3 Kxa4 49.Kd3 Kxb5 50.Kc2 a5 51.Kb2 Kb4 52.Kb1 a4 53.Kb2 b5

2. -+ (-3.25): 25...h5 26.Kd2 Kf6 27.f4 e5 28.Ke2 exf4 29.exf4 Ke6 30.a4 Kd5 31.Kd3 h4 32.f5 f6 33.h3 Ke5 34.Ke3 Kxf5 35.f4 a6 36.Kf3 g5 37.fxg5 fxg5 38.a5 Ke5 39.Kg4 Kf6 40.Kf3 Kf5 41.Ke3 g4 42.hxg4+ Kxg4 43.Kf2 Kf4

Premium Chessgames Member
  Hasurami: Bent Larsen uses this game as the first example in his book "Find the Plan".
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: Cohn must have felt so helpless, just shuffling his king between g1 and h1 while Rubinstein slowly and remorsefully increased the pressure before the final decisive pawn advances.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <GrahamClayton: Cohn must have felt so helpless, just shuffling his king between g1 and h1 while Rubinstein slowly and remorsefully increased the pressure before the final decisive pawn advances.>

Rubinstein was sensitive of course, but I hope he did not feel too sorry while winning the game. :-)

Mar-08-23  Art2000F: FIND THE PLAN
Bent Larsen:

1.Black to move. Last: 25.Kxc1 ~ Puzzle: p30 / Solution: p38

the plan is to attack the isolated h-pawn and thereby force the white king to g1. After that some pawns are played forward for exchange and then the board is 'cleaned' so that the black king can go 'west' from h3, and take a pawn, perhaps on e3 or e4 or perhaps right over on the queen's wing.

The question is whether White can manage to take the pawns on a7 and b7 and to queen on b8 just as fast as Black can get to h1

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