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Nikolay Tselikov vs Peter Arsenievich Romanovsky
USSR Championship (1920), Moscow RUS, rd 4, Oct-08
Queen's Gambit Declined: Orthodox Defense. Main Line (D63)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Romanovsky was struggling to hang on for much of the game, but then Tselikov tanked and fell apart and erred badly on moves 23, 25, 26, 27, and 28, turning a game in which he was close to winning to a catastrophe. As so often is the case, the superior tactician turned the tables.

1. d4 d5
2. Nf3 Nf6
3. c3 e6
4. Nc3 Nbd7
5. Bg5 Be7
6. e3 0-0
7. Rc1

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A standard QGD opening position.

7... b6

I have never been fond of b6 in such positions (I prefer h6 or c6), but b6 it is certainly playable, though it got Romanovsky into trouble in this game.

8. cxd5 exd5

Here's the rub. Playing 7...b6 allows White to play 8. cxd5 thereby blocking the diagonal for the Bishop when it goes to b7. Of course, 8...Nxd5? falls to 9. Nxd5!

9. Qa4

Later played by Capablanca in Game 5 of his 1921 World Championship match against Lasker. Developing the f1 Bishop to e2, d3, or b5 looks better. But the text can lead to exciting possibilities, as both the Capablanca-Lasker game and this one showed.

9... Bb7

The crucial (and to my mind better) move is 9...c5. This can entail loss of a pawn, but 9...Bb7 10. Ba^ (which Lasker said he didn't want to face) also presents challenges for Black. Capablanca played in response 10. Qc6 and claimed he had found--over the board--a refutation of 9...c5. For a good discussion of the merits of this line and for a better assessment of the position, see Kasparov's analysis of the Capablanca--Lasker game. As I believe Kasparov has demonstrated, Lasker's loss was the result of a later error and not because of 9...c5 (Capablanca's claim notwithstanding).

10. Ba6

The move Lasker did not want to face.

10... BxB
11. QxB

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While Black's position is defensible, it is easy to see why Lasker didn't fancy this line.

11... c5?!

Less convincing now than two moves earlier. 11...h6 or 11...c6 or 11...Re8 were better.

12. 0-0 Qb8

This attempt to obtain counter-play on the Queen-side was misjudged and the beginnings of Romanovsky's real problems in this game. 12...h6 was simpler and better.

13. Rfd1

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13... Bd6?

This could have lost the game for Romanovsky. He had many decent alternatives: e.g., 13...h6; 13...c4; 13...Rd8. White is better in all such cases, but the text should probably lose against best play, the position now being:

click for larger view

But here, as I will discuss in my next post on this game, Tselikov missed his chance.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

14. BxN?

The winning line was 14. dxc5 Nxc5 15. Qe2 Nce4 (15...Nfe4) 16. Nxd5 NxB 17. NxN) 16. BxN NxB 17. Nxd5 NxN 18. BxN leaving White a pawn ahead in either variation.

In making the text move, Tselikov apparently overlooked the fact that his b2 pawn is loose. Black now need not lose a pawn:

14... NxB
15. dxc5 bxc5
16. Nxd5 NxN
17. RxN Qxb2

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Romanovsky still had a difficult game with his isolated c-pawn. But material was even (unlike what would have been the case with 14. dxc5) and Black's position was probably holdable.

18. Rcd1 Be7
19. Ne5 Qb6

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20. Qd3

20. Qa4 or 20. Qc4 were slightly better.

20... Rfc8

20...Qe6 was somewhat better.

21. Nc4 Qa6
22. a3

22. Rd7 was much stronger.

22... Rab8

Romanovsky probably should have played 22...g6 here.

The position was now:

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Tselikov obviously had the much better chances here, especially with his isolated c-pawn.

23. e4

23. Rd7! was the best way to press Black and try to exploit his edge. But beginning on this move, Tselikov began to fall apart.

23... h6
24. f4

24. g3 or 24. h3 were better. 24. e5 was another interesting possibility.

24... Qa4

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25. Rd7?

What was so strong two or three moves earlier now creates tactical problems for White and gives up all of his edge.

25. Rd2 was best.

25... Rd8!

The x-ray move that Tselikov apparently overlooked.

click for larger view

White now needs to play with great care to hold his own. But Tselikov made two sloppy moves and was dead lost in a jiffy.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

26. Ne5?

Getting into hot water. He should have played 26. Rd5. But Tselikov was not necessarily lost yet.

26... Bf6!

click for larger view

27. Qd6??

This should have been immediately fatal. Best was 27. g3. Even 27. Qd5 was better than the text, the position now being:

click for larger view

27... Kh7

A useful prophylactic move, since it avoids back-rank checks. But 27...Qxe4 was simpler.

But Romanovsky's slip hardly matter, since Tselikov now committed chess suicide with:

28. Qc6??

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Black to move and win.

This is not very hard when presented as a problem:

28... QxR+
29. RxQ RxR+
30. Kf2 Rb2+

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31. Kf3

The worst of the three moves available to him. It cannot be faulted all that much, however, since everything else loses too. This way had the merit of ending the game quickly.

31... BxN!

Other moves also win, but this was the fastest way to end the game.

32. fxB

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Not it's mate in 5. But the alternatives were also gruesome.

32... Rd3+


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