24 June 2007

The Silence of the Annotators

Returning to Smyslov's Sparklers, the next game is the third in this series played between Smyslov and Reshevsky. Once again, the search for the cause of Reshevsky's loss is not trivial. Was it the opening, was it an inaccuracy on Black's 12th move, or was it something else?

The diagrammed position looks suspicious. Black played 20...Red8, but 20...Rad8 looks more natural. Neither Smyslov nor Kasparov comments on the move, leading me to wonder, 'Is there a tactical or positional problem with 20...Rad8?' In his book on the tournament, Golombek noted

As later becomes apparent, it is the Q-Rook that should go here. Though the correct choice as to which Rook should be moved to the center is one of the most difficult problems in chess technique, and one that sometimes baffles the greatest masters, it is rather surprising that Reshevsky should err here, as he has already centralized the K-Rook. Probably he has in mind the eventual maneuver 21...Qe8, followed by 22...Ne7, but he never manages to achieve it.

In his book, Euwe gave 20...Red8 a '?', and also recommended 20...Rad8. It's not certain that Black can hold the game, but it's better than the move played.

Moscow 1948 (Rd.11)
Reshevsky, Samuel

Smyslov, Vasily
(After 20.Ra1-d1)
[FEN "r3r1k1/1pp1qpp1/p1n1n2p/3RpQ2/4P3/1BP1B3/PP3PPP/3R2K1 b - - 0 20"]

The game continued 21.g3 Rd6 22.Rxd6 cxd6 23.Qg4 Kh8 24.Bb6 Nb8, burying the Rook on a8 and weakening the back rank. Smyslov used this to play a nice positional combination that eventually gave him a win.

To play through the complete game see...

Vasily Smyslov vs Samuel Reshevsky, World Championship Match Tournament 1948

...on Chessgames.com.

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