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Carl Schlechter vs Mikhail Chigorin
London (1899), London ENG, rd 9, Jun-10
Queen's Gambit Accepted: Classical Defense. Normal Lines (D26)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: A fabulous performance by Schlechter, who outplayed the always dangerous Tchigorin from beginning to end.

While Schlechter held the advantage in this Queens Gambit from the outset, playing the Pillsbury-like 13. Ne5 to pressure Black's position, it was only after Tchigorin's "doubtful" (to quote the Tournament Book) 13...NxN that Schechter obtained a strategically won game--an edge he never relinquished despite Tchigorin's many tactical efforts to free himself from Schlechter's vise-like grip.

Although this game had many wonderful moments, my favorite was Schlechter's positional sacrifice beginning with 22. a5. The position before this remarkable sacrifice was:

click for larger view

Tchigorin could perhaps have avoided this blow with 21...Ng6 or 21...Qc8 (instead of his 21...b6), but as the Tournament Book notes, "few players" would have seen this pawn sacrifice coming.

Once 22. a5 was played, Tchigorin should probably have declined the offer with 22...b5 (instead of his 22...bxa5), and Schlechter should perhaps have followed 22...bxa5 with 23. c6 (instead of his actual 23. Ba4). But in any case Schechter's bind on the position would have been unquestionable.

Tchigorin's 26...g5 was a desperate shot to change the dynamics of the game, but it is hard to fault him for trying avoid being strangled by Schechter (Fritz recommends 26...Ng6 but still gives Schlechter a substantial winning advantage even with that tepid move).

The Tournament Book correctly describes Schlechter's 29. Bb3 as "pretty," but 29. c6 would have been a faster route to victory.

Schlechter should perhaps also have hastened the end with 35. Bxa5 instead of his actual 35. Rb6. But I am quibbling. Schlechter still had the game well in hand.

Beginning with 36...Qh3, Tchigorin, recognizing his plight, began a last-ditch assault with his Queen. Schlechter defended calmly, and soon had Tchigorin's Queen walking the plank back to doom on h6.

With both his King and Queen in jeopardy, and facing the following horrific position after Schlechter's 41. Bd2, Tchigorin went for broke:

click for larger view

Tchigorin here played 41... Rxf2+ ?! While flawed, this line was the best available to Tchigorin.

Once again, Schlechter defended calmly, and after Tchigorin's 52...Qb5+ the following position was reached:

click for larger view

Schlechter could here have played the pretty 53. Kf2, but his 53.QxQ was obviously more than sufficient to bring Tchigorin to his knees.

A very impressive performance by Schlechter. It was not often that Tchigorin was reduced to such helplessness.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <KEG> I was just flicking through the moves and thinking to myself <I wonder what KEG would say about this game?> And lo and behold, you've already commented. I look forward to reviewing it more carefully with your notes.

Seems reminiscent of this encounter: Lasker vs Steinitz, 1894

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: And I am eagerly looking forward to keypusher's comments upon his review of this wonderful game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <KEG> Not sure I'll have much to add, you seem to have been pretty thorough. :-) I also have to look again at the Bird-Lasker endgame you commented on.

Also now that I have Keres' book I have some kibitzes to write on Keres vs Botvinnik, 1948 and other games from the tournament. Maybe when I am on vacation in a few weeks.

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