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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Moscow 1935 – Lessons in Tactics (Part 1)

    For opening day over 5,000 tickets were sold and for subsequent rounds it was necessary to limit the number of spectators.
     Botvinnik wrote that for the first 12 rounds in this tournament he played extremely well, but then tired and Flohr caught up with him and they tied for first ahead of Lasker, Capablanca, Spielmann, Kan and fourteen other famous players.
     At the time, Botvinnik was a postgraduate student at the Leningrad Polytechnical Institute and his success warranted his being given a car and the title of Soviet Grandmaster. In spite of his success Botvinnik wrote that he did not consider it a real test because there were a few (in his opinion) “relatively weak players.” He therefore wrote a letter to Nikolai Krylenko suggesting a 10-player double-round tournament and his suggestion was accepted.  The result was Moscow, 1936.

The final results were:
1-2) Botvinnik and Flohr 13.0
3) Lasker 12.5
4) Capablanca 12.0
5) Spielmann 11.0
6-7) Kan and Levenfish 10.5 
8-10) Lilienthal, Ragozin and Romanovsky 10.0
11-14) Alatortsev. Goglidze, I. Rabinovich and Riumin 9.5
15) Lisitsin 9.0
16-17) Bohatirchuk and Stahlberg 8.0
18) Pirc 7.5
19) Chekhover 5.5
20) Menchik 1.5

     In his book Strategy and Tactics, Euwe included six game from this tournament as examples of different kinds of tactics. In breaking down tactics into types, Euwe adds that it seldom happens that all tactics occur in pure form and that often there will be compound tactics that contain elements of two or more of the situations listed below.

Material gain - based on limited mobility, or the unprotected position of a piece
Focal point – based on weakness of several pieces and their connection to one another
Pins – based on a pinned piece
Unmasking – based on a piece that can be attacked by moving an intervening piece
Overload – based on a piece that is performing too many functions simultaneously
Obstruction – two pieces belonging to the same player are standing in each other's way
Desperado – based on a piece which is certain to be lost, but in exchange the player tries to get as much as possible for it
Cumulative – all the above tactics are characterized by a quick and forceful continuation with a clearly visible purpose. Cumulative tactics need preparation in that they consist of forcing the opponent into making certain moves where he is kept busy answering threats until the finishing blow is delivered.

     Everybody knows there are dangers in capturing the b-Pawn with the Q (aka a Poisoned Pawn), but at some point everybody has done it. Sometimes it's safe, sometimes it isn't. The best known example is probably the Poisoned Pawn Variation of the Sicilian: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qb6 8.Qd2 Qxb2. A video on the Poisoned Pawn Variation GM Denes Boros can be watched on Youtube HERE.
     The decision as to whether or not to take the b-Pawn is always a difficult one and because even Grandmasters have erred badly in making the decision, probably the best advice is, “Just say, No!” For a story behind this game which took place in the very first round and what “really” happened see the comments at Chessgames.com HERE

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