Sunday, October 17, 2010

Bird vs Chigorin, Vienna 1882, Part Two

Last time we presented the game Bird – Chigorin, Vienna 1882, with analysis by Solomon Lipschutz and supplemental comments by Mikhail Chigorin. Today we present the same game with annotations from the modern era by the Soviet grandmaster Evgeny Vasyukov, extracted from his 1973 book Mikhail Chigorin, co-authored with Alexander Narkevich and Alexander Nikitin.

Bird – Chigorin, Vienna 1882 Two Knights Defence C59

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Na5 6.Bb5+ c6 7.dxc6 bxc6 8.Be2 h6 9.Nf3 e4 10.Ne5 Qc7 11.Ng4

This retreat is not considered the strongest. Instead of making the useful developing move 11.d4 or reinforcing his central position with 11.f4, White trades off his only active piece.

11...Bxg4 12.Bxg4 Bd6

A standard move in this system, and strong enough here because it stops White from castling. But 70 years after this game was played, one of our best masters of attack Rashid Nezhmetdinov suggested an even stronger plan in which both h2 and f2 are subjected to attack: 12...Bc5! 13.Be2 Rd8 14.c3 Nb7 15.0-0 h5! 16.d4 exd3 17.Bxd3 Ng4! The game Ciocaltea – Nezhmetdinov, Bucharest 1954, continued 18.Qe2+ Kf8 19.g3 Qd7 20.Be4 h4 21.Bf4 Nxh2! and Black won shortly.


In a 1953 training game against Smyslov, Bronstein retreated his bishop to h3 with the idea of relocating it to g2. However this manoeuvre requires a lot of time and allows Black to increase the pressure: 13.Bh3 0-0 14.g3 Nd5 15.0-0 Rae8 16.d3 e3.

13...O-O 14.Nc3

Steinitz considered that 14.b3 was necessary here, hindering the transfer of Black's knight to the centre. But this move, which does nothing to aid White's development, can hardly change the nature of the struggle. Black would develop strong pressure on the central files, for example: 14...Be5 15.Nc3 Rad8 16.Bb2 e3! 17.fxe3 Bxc3 18.Bxc3 Ne4!

14...Nc4 15.b3?
White is playing the opening rather carelessly. Developing the bishop on b2 is a mistaken idea. The main events are bound to take place over on the kingside, where Black has directed all of his pieces. Therefore the following plan of development deserved attention: 15.Be2 Ne5 16.d3! (16.d4 Ng6 17.0-0 Nh4) 16...exd3 17.cxd3 Rad8 18.0-0. Of course, even here Black's edge in development would guarantee him the initiative, but it would be far easier for White to defend than in the game.

15...Ne5 16.Bb2 Rfe8 17.O-O

It is too late for White to retreat his bishop (17.Be2 Nf3+! 18.Kf1 Nh4) so he hurries to get his king out of the centre. However, this loses a pawn.

17...Nexg4 18.hxg4 Qd7 19.Qe2

Defending the pawn on g4 would lead to the creation of other weaknesses: 19.f3 Bc5+ 20.Kh1 Rad8 21.Na4 Bd4!



A critical moment. With material being equal White can hardly count upon a successful defence. But can he capture the pawn on e4? This makes use of the fact that after 20.Nxe4 Black cannot play 20...f5 because of 21.Qc4+. The risk appears to be substantial. The pin on the knight is very unpleasant and enables Black to obtain the advantage in two ways: 20.Nxe4 Bh2+ 21.Kh1 Bc7 22.f3 f5 23.Qc4+ Kh8 24.Nf2! Qd6 (for example, 25.Nxg4 fxg4 26.f4 Qg6) or 20...Qf5 21.f3 (sacrificing the queen does not work: 21.Nxd6 Qh5 22.Qxg4 Qxg4 23.Nxe8 Rxe8 24.Rfe1 Rxe1+ 25.Rxe1 Qf5 26.d3 Qa5!) 21...Qh5! 22.fxg4 Qh2+ 23.Kf2 Qf4+ 24.Kg1 Rxe4 25.Rxf4 Rxe2 26.Rf2 Re4 (Chigorin). Nevertheless, if White wants to choose the least of evils, he should try to find salvation in this endgame. In declining to take the pawn he dooms himself to a prospectless defence.

20.g3 Qf5 21.Kg2 Re6 22.Rae1

Exchanging the e-pawn with 22.f3 exf3+ (22...Qe5 23.f4!) 23.Qxf3 does not save White from the attack after 23...Qg6!

22...Rae8 23.Rh1 h5!

Winning the exchange with 23...Qxf3+ 24.Qxf3 exf3+ 25.Kxf3 Rxe1 26.Rxe1 Rxe1 27.Kxg4 Be5 would also guarantee Black victory, but it would take much longer. He still has ways of strengthening the attack, and Chigorin decides to press on with them. The threat now is 24...Qf3+, winning a rook since the knight on g4 is defended.

24.Ref1 Qg6! 25.Nd1


Black has apparently retreated his queen in order to make way for his f-pawn, and here in fact 25...f5 26.Ne3 f4 would also give him an irresistible attack. But Chigorin demonstrates an unexpected combinative possibility.


Now it becomes clear that the square g3 cannot be defended against intrusion by the Black queen, since after 26.Nxe3 Nxe3+ 27.dxe3 there follows 27...Rxe3 28.Qxh5 Rxg3+ and mate on the following move.

26.Bd4 Nxf2 27.Rxf2 Qxg3+ 28.Kf1 exf2 29.Ne3 c5 30.Bc3 Rxe3! 31.dxe3 Rxe3 32.Qd1 h4 33.Bd2 h3!

White resigned (0-1).

Here we conclude our extract from Vasyukov's 1973 analysis as well as our two-part excursion into master chess of the late 19th century.

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National master (Canada) since 1984. B.C. Champion 1977 and 1984. Runner-up 1991 and 2002. B.C. Open Champion 1972 and 1982. B.C. U/14 Champion 1964-65-66. Mikhail Botvinnik once wrote that publishing your analytical work forces you to be accurate because it exposes you to criticism. Hence this blog.