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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Lucky Their Heads Didn't Explode

    In the previous post I referred to the Pachman-Fischer game played at Santiago, 1959 and playing over it I found it just plain fascinating, so in this post we will take a look at it and the story behind it. 
    Tal-like sacrifices weren't Fischer's style, but in his game against Pachman he threw caution to the wind and the result was a game where both players were lucky their heads didn't explode trying to figure things out.
    When letting the engine annotate this game it listed the opening as the Nimzo-Indian, Rubinstein Variation, but I think the QGD Ragozin Variation (1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 Bb4) is probably more accurate.
     Ragozin was a well-known GM and a world correspondence champion. Ukrainian IM Isaac Lipnitsky published a 430-page book in which he seriously analyzed the variation back in 1956. The book was published in English in a couple of different formats and updated, but Lipnitsky’s book was studied by Fischer in its original Russian and the defense became one of his favorite openings in the late 1950s. In fact, it was Lipnitsky's book that caused Fischer to learn Russian just so he could read it. His game against Pachman was probably the most exciting he ever played with the defense even though he was the loser. 
    Pachman was rightly proud of the game and upon returning to Prague, he took great delight in showing everybody how his K-walk enabled him to escape Fischer's clutches. The complications in this game are simply amazing...you just gotta see them!!
    It was a remark by Alekhine in the New York, 1924 tournament book that sparked Ragozin's interest in the defense. Alekhine didn't think too highly of black's development of the B to b4 on move four as happened in the game between Capablanca and Marshall. Alekhine wrote that with the reply 5.Qa4+! white forces 5...Nc6, which makes it significantly more difficult for black to achieve the important task of opening lines in the center. Alekhine added that it was remarkable that Capablanca didn't exploit the opportunity. 
     Apparently Alekhine changed his mind because he also played the variation against Colle at Hastings 1925/26. In that game he wrote, “Although, strictly speaking, this defense is not fully correct, it is not easy to refute. I chose it specifically in order to convince myself of the practical chances which can arise in the event of inaccurate play by white, and of those dangers which he faces, if white plays correctly.”

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