25 January 2009

1893 Tarrasch - Chigorin (Long Struggles)

Taking another look at the match table I developed for 1893 Tarrasch - Chigorin (Anatomy), the games marked 'long struggle' are candidates for closer inspection. There are seven:-

4: C-T, C00, 62, 0-1, =0, long struggle
6: C-T, C00, 59, 0-1, +2, long struggle
9: T-C, C67, 63, 1-0, +1, long struggle, misplayed with 28...Rf6 & 43...Ra2 [MGP1 no.28, 'C82']
12: C-T, C00, 51, 1/2, +2, long struggle, drawn with Black somewhat better
18: C-T, C00, 62, 1-0, +2, long struggle; blundered with 54...Rc1, overlooking draw [MGP1 no.30]
20: C-T, C00, 66, 1-0, =0, long struggle; outplayed in endgame
22: C-T, C00, 58, 1-0, =0, long struggle; outplayed in endgame

A few points emerge from this abbreviated table. The first is that six of the games started with the opening classified by ECO as C00, i.e. Chigorin's favorite 1.e4 e6 2.Qe2. Is this why Chigorin found it so appealing, because it leads to an unclear struggle where both players are forced to think over the board rather than rely on preparation?

Another point is the pattern of victories. The first three games in the table were won by Tarrasch, the next was drawn, and the last three were won by Chigorin. Does this mean that Chigorin had better stamina? Or that he developed a better appreciation of the C00 lines during the match?

Another point is the detail attached to games 9 and 18. This came, of course, directly from Kasparov's analysis in Predecessors I (MGP1) and indicates that he also finds long, tense games to be worthy of particular attention.


I looked at game four, the first game in the list, in more depth, and was attracted to the position shown in the following diagram.

1893 St.Petersburg Match (game 4)
Tarrasch, Siegbert

Chigorin, Mikhail
(After 47...Qa6-d6)
[FEN "3b1kn1/6p1/3q1p2/4pPP1/pP1pP1N1/3P1NQ1/1rr5/5RRK w - - 0 48"]

The game continued 48.gxf6 Bxf6 49.Qh3 a3 50.Nxf6 Qxf6 (50...gxf6 51.Qh7) 51.Rg6 a2!. Black's last move is a Queen sacrifice. It is practically forced, because after 51...Qf7, White has 52.Ra6 or 52.Nxe5. After 52.Rxf6+ gxf6 53.Rd1 Rb1 54.Qf1 Rcb2, Black regained the material and won quickly. To play through the complete game see...

Mikhail Chigorin vs Siegbert Tarrasch, Petersburg (Match) 1893

...on Chessgames.com. It turns out that I'm far from being the only person attracted to the diagrammed position. The kibitzers on Chessgames.com analyzed 48.Qh3, with variations by Chigorin (via Reinfeld) and Seirawan, and showed that the move appears to win by force.

That discovery leads to the further question: where could Black have improved in the moves leading up to the diagram? Was it 47...Qd6, or was it something earlier? That answer will certainly lead to more questions, and those answers will lead to even more. This is, after all, chess we're talking about.

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