23 July 2006

Tarrasch's attack on the hypermodern school

From The Game of Chess by Dr. Siegbert Tarrasch (p.237):

In the last few years there has arisen a School that preaches the holding back of the center Pawns. It is very significant that the strongest players -- the present World's Champion, Dr. Alekhine, the former champions, Capablanca and Dr. Lasker, and also Bogoljubow -- do not belong to this school.

Quite a century ago, this idea, now proclaimed as new, was tried in the "Fianchetto", as it is called, but was soon dropped because the opponent's Pawns were too harassing. Supposing that the opponent also adopts the same petty and cowardly strategy and holds back the center Pawns, what then? Then there can be no question of a struggle at all, since the two armies do not meet.

Let the following absolutely horrible game, played in the Maehrisch-Ostrau tournament of 1923, serve as an example. The names of the players I will keep secret. [Tarrasch gave 15 moves and continued:] After 16 more moves this caricature of a game was abandoned as a draw.

In our age of chess databases, it is impossible to keep the names of players secret. Here is the game...

[Event "?"]
[Site "Maehrisch-Ostrau"]
[Date "1923.??.??"]
[Round "13"]
[White "Reti,Richard"]
[Black "Gruenfeld,Ernst"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "A05"]

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.d3 O-O 7.Be3 d6 8.Qc1 Re8 9.h3 Bd7 10.O-O Rc8 11.a3 a6 12.Rb1 Rb8 13.b4 cxb4 14.axb4 b5 15.cxb5 axb5 16.Nd4 Nd5 17.Nxc6 Nxc3 18.Qxc3 Bxc3 19.Nxd8 Rbxd8 20.Rfc1 Rc8 21.Bb7 Rb8 22.Bg2 Rbc8 23.Bb7 Rb8 24.Bg2 Rbc8 25.g4 e6 26.Bb7 Rb8 27.Rxc3 Rxb7 28.Rbc1 Kf8 29.Rc7 Reb8 30.Ba7 Rxc7 31.Rxc7 Rd8 1/2-1/2

...Nowadays no one would find the opening the least bit unusual.

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