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Mikhail Chigorin vs Wilhelm Cohn
London (1899), London ENG, rd 10, Jun-12
French Defense: Chigorin Variation (C00)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  Chessical: <25.Bf3> does not seem to work, and actually allows Cohn to improve his K-position and link his Rooks. <23.Rab1> to push <b4> seems better as then Cohn cannot attack with <f5>:

<25. b4> fxg4?! 26. Bxg4 Bxg4 27.Qxg4 winning; instead <25...Ng5> continues the complex battle.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: Cohn rarely played the French --- 1...e5 was his usual response to e4 --- yet he scored 3 out of 3 with 1...e6 against Chigorin, by transposing into an e4/e5 position with the white queen awkwardly placed on e2.

For the time, this is excellent opening preparation.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Cohn had an interesting way to combat Tchigorin's 2. Qe2 variation against the French Defense.

Instead of 2...c5, Cohn played 2...Nc6, and when Tchigorin continued with 3. Nc3 (which MCO-13 gives a ?!), played 3...e5 (instead of the recommended 3..d5), reaching the following remarkable position:

click for larger view

Effectively, Cohn was saying that Qe2 was a weakness rather than serving any useful purpose. Note that what we have here is a Vienna Game opening with the Queen moved/misplaced to e2. Tchigorin must have been furious to see his beloved 2. Qe2 treated in so disrespectful a fashion.

Notably, after seeing Cohn defeat Tchigorin in this variation, Lasker played the very same line against Tchigorin in Round 17, and inflicted another defeat on the Russian champion. Then Lee (hardly one of the more formidable players in this tournament) repeated the same line in Round 19, and Tchigorin lost again.

Keypusher has commented on the surprisingly poor record of the White pieces at London 1899. Tchigorin's reliance on his 2. Qe2 line against the French Defense and his inability to combat the line Cohn played here is certainly part of the explanation.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Another offbeat line, which I tried at least once long ago, was 2....Be7, featured in L Day vs I Kourkounakis, 1980 ;then the play takes a turn for the outre.
Dec-31-16  transpose: I play the Chigorin line against the French, and I would not play 3 Nc3 (i play 3 g3) simply because I prefer a pawn on c3 which is a useful and flexible move. I am kind of surprised that Chigorin repeated this line.
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Like transpose, I am surprised that Tchigorin played 3. Nc3 four times at London 1899 (getting one draw and three loses). In the game against Cohn, he got a bad game despite Cohn's poor opening play. Tchigorin followed his weak 3. Nc3 with the even worse 4. d3 (4. Nf3 was best), but Cohn responded with 4...Nd4 allowing Tchigorin to get his Queen off e2 with 5. Qd1.

Tchigorin had a good game thereafter until his horrible 11. Nd1 (11. Qg3 or 11. 0-0 were obviously better).

Tchigorin most have been out of sorts as a result of Cohn's disrespectful 3...e5. Beginning with 23. a3, Tchigorin unleashed a series of terrible moves that left him hopelessly lost. Almost anything was better than 23. a3 (23. b3; 23. Ne3; or 23. Rab1 for instance). Even with this weak move, Tchigorin was not yet lost. Cohn's equally weak response (23...f5 instead of something sensible like 23...Ng5 or 23...0-0) got Tchigorin back in the hunt, and even left him with a small edge. But then Tchigorin went loony.

25. Bf3 forfeited any even small advantage Tchigorin had (Chessical's 25. b4 is far better). 26. Kh1 (instead of the indicated 26. Bc6) gave Tchigorin a lost or nearly lost position, 27. Bc6 (one move too late!) was a blunder (27. Bxg4 was necessary).

After 28. Rg1 (28. Bd5 was Tchigorin's last possible chance to get back in the game) it was all over but the shouting.

29. Ba4 shows that Tchigorin must have given up. Although Cohn somehow missed the crushing 29...g3, the game was definitely over.

After 32. Bb7 Rc7, Tchigorin got annihilated.

Whether it was Cohn's presumptuous 3...e5 or something else that got Tchigorin off track, the game record is not characteristic of this very talented player.

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