29 June 2006

A lesson in chess logic

This is the third game in Alekhine's annotated brilliancies played at Bad Pistyan 1922. It has two sequences of outstanding moves. The first sequence is in the opening, which I look at for this post.

The diagram shows the position after the moves 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 c5 3.c4 cxd4 4.cxd5 Nf6 5.Nxd4 have been played.

Pistyan 1922
Wolf, Heinrich

Alekhine, Alexander
(After 5.Nf3-d4(xP))
[FEN "rnbqkb1r/pp2pppp/5n2/3P4/3N4/8/PP2PPPP/RNBQKB1R b KQkq - 0 5"]

Now Wolf played 5...a6, and Alekhine commented,

Black wished to avoid the variation 5...Nxd5 6.e4 Nf6 7.Bb5+ Bd7 8.e5 Bxb5 9.Nxb5 Qxd1+ 10.Kxd1 Nd5 11.N1c3, to the advantage of White, mentioned in the latest edition of Colijn's Laerobok. But this variation, like many others indicated in that work, which are indeed interesting but scarcely accurate, can be improved by 6...Nb4!, after which White's advantage would be difficult to demonstrate. The text move does not seem risky, Black intending to capture the d-Pawn on the next move. Its refutation is therefore only the more instructive.

6.e4!!. Alekhine:

Sacrificing the e-Pawn to retain the d-Pawn, which as will be seen in the sequel, exercises a very strong pressure on the opponent's game.

The '!'s attached to the moves are also Alekhine's. 6...Nxe4 7.Qa4+!. Alekhine:

In order to provoke the obstruction of the d-file by a Black piece, which cuts off the attack of Black's Queen on the d-Pawn.

7...Bd7. 'Not 7...Qd7 on account of 8.Bb5'. 8.Qb3 Nc5.

The square is hardly indicated for the Knight, but on the other hand he must secure the defense of his b-Pawn; and 8...Qc7 or 8...Bc8 is scarcely any better, seeing that Black's Queen would soon be dislodged from this file by White's Rook.

9.Qe3!. Alekhine:

Much stronger than the plausible move 9.Qf3 on which Black could have freed himself by 9...e5 10.dxe6 Nxe6 11.Nxe6 Bxe6 12.Qxb7? Bd5 and Black must win. Whereas after the text move, the advance of Black's e-Pawn would give White the opportunity of exercising strong pressure on the e-file. Black therefore resigns himself to the development of his Bf8 in fianchetto, but equally without success.

Since after 9.Qe3, the move 9...e5 is obviously bad, Alekhine must mean 9...e6 followed by 10.Bc4 and 11.O-O. 9...g6 10.Nf3! Alekhine:

This gain of time allows White to prevent 10...Bg7 followed by 11...O-O. Black's King being kept in the center, White's attack will be facilitated, thanks to his superior development.

Continuing this last comment, Alekhine gave an extraordinary lesson in chess logic.

The opening of this game offers some analogies with that of the game played at The Hague against Rubinstein. In the one, as in the other, the advantage won results from the repeated movements of the same pieces (here the first eleven moves contain four displacements of the Queen and three of the King's Knight).

But the possibility of like maneuvers in the opening phase is solely attributable, I must reiterate, to the fact that the opponent has adopted faulty tactics, which must from the first be refuted by an energetic demonstration. It is clear, on the contrary, that in face of correct development, similar anomalous treatment would be disastrous.

It cannot therefore be any question of a "Modern System", but just simply of exploiting in a rational manner the opponent's mistakes. I cannot conceive why there is such an ardent desire to discover in a game of chess anything more subtle than it has to offer, for I am of opinion that the real beauty which it possesses should be more than sufficient for all possible demands.

In other words, if one player fails to adhere to chess logic, the other player can take advantage of this by also neglecting chess logic. For me, this is against all logic!

The game continued 10...Qc7 11.Qc3 Rg8. In a future post I'll look at how Alekhine took advantage of Black's uncastled King. First I'd like to look at the game mentioned in the last note : Alekhine - Rubinstein, The Hague 1921.

To play through the complete game see...

Alexander Alekhine vs Heinrich Wolf, Bad Pistyan 1922

...on Chessgames.com.

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