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Peter Romanovsky vs August Mundt
USSR Championship (1920), Moscow RUS, rd 14, Oct-22
Caro-Kann Defense: Advance Variation (B12)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Going into the penultimate round at this 1st USSR Championship, the top scores were:

Alekhine--- 10.5 -- 2.5
Romanovsky-- 9.0 -- 4.0
A. Rabinovich-- 8.5 -- 4.5
I. Rabinovich-- 8.0 -- 5.0
Levenfish -- 8.0 -- 5.0

Only Romanovsky and A. Rabinovich had any chance of catching Alekhine. Since A. Rabinovich was scheduled to play Alekhine in this round, and since he had once defeated Alekhine (against four loses and a draw), Alekhine had not clinched the title. Meanwhile, Romanovsky, in addition to having a long-shot chance to catch Alekhine, was in a battle for second prize even if Alekhine ended up winning the tournament.

This round clarified matters. Alekhine defeated A. Rabinovich, and Romanovsky--in the game at hand--defeated 13th place Mundt.. Thus Alekhine clinched the title (and did not need his 15th round draw) while Romanovsky clinched no worse than a tie for second (which he won after prevailing in his final round game).

Romanovsky proved this was no fluke by winning the 2nd USSR Championship the next year, again finishing a point ahead of Levenfish (with neither Alekhine nor Bogoljubow competing).

The instant game was a closely fought battle until Mundt's questionable 14th and 15th moves followed by his blunder on move 17. From that point on, Romanovsky finished off Mundt with dispatch.

1. e4 c6
2. d4 d5
3. e5

The Advance Variation of the Caro-Kann, which by the time of this game had been played on multiple occasions by Schlechter, Teichmann, and Spielmann among others.

3... Bf5

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4. Bd3

4. Nf3 and 4. Be2 were more usual and probably best for White. The text allows a Bishop exchange that minimizes White's edge.

Romanovsky, however, may have had a specific reason for playing this move. It had been employed by Abram Rabinovich against Alekhine at Karlsbad 1911 in the one game in which A. Rabinovich had defeated Alekhine. By coincidence, A. Rabinovich and Alekhine were paired in this very round in this tournament (though here, Alekhine had White). Although Alekhine's loss in the earlier game had nothing to do with the opening, Romanovsky--as we shall see--decided to follow the line employed by A. Rabinovich in the 1911 A. Rabinovich-Alekhine encounter.

4... BxB
5. QxB e6
6. f4?!

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The move played by A. Rabinovich in the above-mentioned game in 1911. It had previously been tried by Mieses in 1885 and by Tartakover in 1907, both times in games won by Black. But Romanovsky, who was no doubt keeping an eye on the Alekhine--A. Rabinovich game, decided that what had worked nine years ago against Alekhine was worth trying against the far less formidable Munst. He may also have liked his chances in the sharp play 6. f4 can create.

6... c5!

A definite improvement over 6...Qb6 as played in 1911 by Alekhine. But, as will be seen, Romanovsky managed to transpose the current game into that earlier A. Rabinovich--Alekhine game.

7. c3 Nc6
8. Nf3 Qb6

Perhaps unwittingly allowing Romanovsky to transpose into the line played in A. Rabinovich--Alekhine, Karlsbad, 1911. While the text is hardly bad, best for Black was probably either 8...Nh6 or 8...Rc8, both of which seem to give Black a small edge. But 8...Nh6 looks awkward, and so Romanovsky, after 8...Qb6, likely got the position at which he was aiming:

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To be sure, White's advantage here, if indeed White can be said to be better, was minimal at best, But my guess is that Romanovsky was prepared for the sorts of sharp unbalanced positions that can arise. Indeed, the game mirrored the earlier A. Rabinovich--Alekhine game through move 12.

9. dxc5 Bxc5
10. b4!

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Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

If Romanovsky wanted complications, he had gotten them. And the fact that Mundt soon lost his way seemingly justified his strategy.

10... Be7
11. Ne3 Qc7
12. Na6 a6

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13. 0-0

A. Rabinovich had played 13. Nc2 against Alekhine. The game could still easily have transposed to the 1911 game (especially since Romanovsky played Nc2 on his next turn), but that did not happen, and the game quickly went on its own course.

13... Nh6
14. Nc2

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Thus far, the game was a close contest, and Mundt had held his own. Beginning here, however, he lost his bearings and was lost within a few moves:

14... Nf5?

Objectively, this move (though probably inferior to 14. 0-0 or 14...Rc8), was not all that bad. I assign a "?" because the move reflects Mundt's failure to see the power of g4 by White, a move 14...Nf5 practically invites.

15. Bf2 Rc8

Mundt could have taken steps to anticipate g4 by White; e.g., 15...h5 or 15...g6 or maybe 15...Bd8.

Mundt's position was still viable after the text, but he was beginning to dig his own grave.

16. g4!

As should have been expected

16... Nh6
17. Ne3

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White's threats are none too subtle, and the need for 17...g6 (or maybe 17...f6 or 17...Bd8) should have been apparent to Mundt. But here he engaged in a Queen-side demonstration that led to immediate disaster:

17... d4?

Romanovsky never allowed Mundt to recover from this mistake:

18. Nxd4 NxN

18...g6 was perhaps better, but Black was likely lost anyway.

19. cxN

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19... Bxb4

Obviously not cognizant of what was happening on the board. In fairness to Mundt, however, alternatives such as 19...Qc3 were not much better.

20. g5

20. Rab1 was probably White's strongest move. But the text proved more than sufficient to keep Mundt reeling.

The position after 20. g5 was:

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Mundt was likely lost whatever he did. But starting here he collapsed entirely and offered no serious further resistance. I will discuss the resulting massacre in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

20... Ng8?

20...Nf5 would probably not have saved the game, but the text was just awful.

Black's position was now a horror show:

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21. d5

21. Rab1 also wins easily.

21... exd5?

This only added fuel to Romanovsky's attack. But not even the "better" 21...Qd7 or 21...Ne7 held much hope to save the game.

22. Nxd5

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22... Qc4

This allows Romanovsky to crush any remaining life in the Black position. But I see nothing better.

23. NxB QxN

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Given his wretchedly undeveloped King-side, Mundt was effectively now playing down a Rook and a Knight. A sure recipe for disaster, as it proved to be.

24. Rab1

24. Rfd1 is a killer, but over-the board one can hardly fault Romanovsky for playing the simple winning text.

24... Qxf4

Given the state of the Black position, why not grab a pawn en route to what was now virtually certain defeat.

25. Rxb7

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To call Mundt's position a disaster would be to understate the situation.

25... Qxg5?

25...Qg4+ might have prolonged the game a few moves.

26. Bg3

26. Kh1 is the pretty winning move. But the text also did the trick.

26... Rd8

The fastest way to lose.

27. Qb3


27. Qc4 was even more brutal, but the text was more than adequate, leaving the position as follows:

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