25 September 2008

Famous Unplayed Moves

Digressing from 18 Memorable Games, while staying on a related topic, a thread from rec.games.chess titled 1971: GM Taimanov vs. GM Fischer, the great Qh3 obsession caught my attention. The first post in the thread used the phrase 'famous chess moves never actually played' on the diagrammed position.

Taimanov played 20.Nf3 after 72 minutes thought. In Great Predecessors IV (p.387), Kasparov wrote,

Fischer later stated that 'Taimanov missed a win with 20.Qh3', but he did not give any concrete variations. That is how myths are born! Let us try to figure out what in fact Taimanov missed.

Taimanov analyzed 20.Qh3 extensively, but Kasparov was not convinced by his analysis. The 13th World Champion wrote, 'The tension Taimanov created that day exceeded his chess capabilities.'

1971 Candidates Match (game 3)
Fischer, Robert

Taimanov, Mark
(After 19...Kg8-h8)
[FEN "r1bq1r1k/2p3b1/1pR4p/3nppN1/8/1Q6/PP1BB1PP/5RK1 w - - 0 20"]

After 20.Qh3, Kasparov gave two long variations:

  • 20...Rf6 21.Bc4 f4 22.Qf3 Bb7 23.Rxf6 Nxf6 24.Nf7+ Kh7 25.Bd3+ Kg8 26.Qxb7 Qd4+ 27.Rf2 Ng4 28.Qxa8+ Kxf7 29.Qc6 Qxd3 30.Qxc7+ Kg6 31.Qxb6+ Kf5, 'regaining the material and easily maintaining the balance'

  • 20...Nf6 21.Bc3 f4 22.Qh4 Bb7 and now either, 23.Rd1 Qe7 24.Re6 Qc5+ 25.Kh1 Rae8!, or 23.Ne6 Qd7 24.Rxc7 Qxe6 25.Rxb7 Rxa2 26.Bf3 Nd5 27.Bxd5 Qxd5 28.Rxb6 Kh7, 'with equality'.

On the first variation (20...Rf6), I found the tactical trick 32.Bc3 Nxf2 33.Qxf2 Qb1+ 34.Qf1 Qxa2 35.Qd3+ Kg5 36.h4+ Kf6 37.Qd6+ Kf5 38.Qd7+ Kf6 39.Bxe5+ Kxe5 40.Qxg7+, when White keeps an extra outside passed Pawn. On the second variation (20...Nf6), the kibitzers at Chessgames.com (link below) found a move not given by Kasparov: 23.Re6, when both 23...Qd5 24.Rf2 Rxa2 25.Rxe5 Ra1+ 26.Bf1 and 23...Kg8 24.Rxe5 hxg5 25.Rxg5 look good for White.

In both variations, White keeps winning chances. Did Kasparov overlook these shots or is there an improvement?

To play through the complete game see...

Mark Taimanov vs Robert James Fischer, ct(1/4) 1971

...on Chessgames.com.

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