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Monday, June 28, 2021

Queen Handling

     My post of June 23rd featured a classic Capablanca game in which he brilliantly defeated Tartakower in an instructive ending. Then in my last post we looked at a Pachman game on Rook handling that was taken from his Modern Chess Strategy.
     In the post on Capablanca's game I mentioned that in the New York 1924 tournament he suffered his first defeat in eight years when Reti defeated him. In the chapter on the Queen in Pachman's Modern Chess Strategy he gave Reti's win as an example of how to handle Queens, so let's take a look at that instructive game. 
     But, before we look at the game, let's talk about Queens. Its main characteristic, both in the middlegame and in the ending, is its mobility and the way it can smoothly and quickly switch from one side of the board to the other. 
     If you want to see a classic example of the Q switching operations from the Q-side to deliver a decisive attack against the King on the other side check out Bogoljubow-Mieses, Baden-Baden, 1925 HERE
     Note how at move 21 Bogoljubow's Queen lands on a6 and on move 24 it delivers a devastating check on f6 even though it took the sacrifice of a Bishop and a Rook to deliver the check! 
     The following game is pretty famous, but it's still worth looking at even if you have seen it before. Besides the clever play with his Queen, Reti opened with the Reti Opening, 1.Nf3. In 1923 Reti published his famous Modern Ideas in Chess in which he discussed this new openings and the new strategic approaches of what was known as the Hypermodern School. 
     The book and Reti's 1.Nf3 were not accepted by everybody. Ernst Gruenfeld called 1.Nf3 a terrific weapon and Aron Nimzovich thought it was an opening of the future. On the other hand, Richard Teichmann called it an "opening of the dull" and Siegbert Tarrasch described it as the "introduction to a profound, but in my opinion also completely mistaken system." 
     When Reti opened with 1.Nf3 Capablanca equalized without much trouble, but soon lost his way. It's interesting to note that in the March 23, 1924 issue of The Brooklyn Daily Eagle the opening was called the Zukertort and that Capablanca chose what was at the time considered an irregular defense. 
     According to the paper "the game drifted into a double fianchetto" and was fairly even. Then shortly before adjournment Capablanca opened the position and brought his Queen active into play, but Reti succeeded in surrounding it. Reti sealed his 31st move in a winning position. Upon resumption in the evening session it was announced that Capablanca would resign if Reti had sealed a correct move. He had and so Capablanca lost his first game since St. Petersburg in 1914. Reti's win boosted him to a 2-2 (one game adjourned) while Capablanca dropped to 2-3.

Richard Reti - Jose Capablanca

Result: 1-0

Site: New York

Date: 1924.03.22

Reti Opening

[...] 1.♘f3 ♘f6 2.c4 In modern times the Reti refers only to the configuration Nf3 and c4 by white with ...d5 by black, where white fianchettos at least one B and does not play an early d4. Here the opening is the English which is the way the auto-annotation performed by Fritz classified it. I am sticking with the name Reti though because of white's unusual 3rd move. 2...g6 3.b4 This gains space on the Q-side. 3...♗g7 4.♗b2 O-O 5.g3 b6 6.♗g2 ♗b7 7.O-O d6 8.d3 ♘bd7 9.♘bd2 e5
9...c5 10.b5 d5 11.cxd5 ♘xd5 12.♗xg7 ♔xg7 13.♕b3 e5 and white stands slightly better. Ajay Krishna,S (2289)-Plat,V (2552)/ Marianske Lazne 2019
10.♕c2 Black can satisfactorily meet 10.a4 with 10... a5 (10.a4 a5 11.bxa5 ♖xa5 12.♘b3 ♖a6 13.a5) 10...♖e8 Apparently Capa is preparing to play ...e5. 11.♖fd1 This cunning move discourages ...e5 and at the same time Reti is already envisioning operations with his Q on the long diagonal. 11...a5
11...e4 12.dxe4 ♘xe4 13.♗xg7 ♔xg7 14.♘d4 ♘df6 15.♕b2 is, according to Komodo, equal, but at least three GMs (Reti, Capa and Pachman) prefer white because of the favorable position of white's Q. I won't argue with them!
12.a3 h6 This was not played to prevent Ng5 which is not a threat anyway so what is its purpose? It's probably a waiting move, but 12... Qe7 would have been safer. 13.♘f1 c5 A P sacrifice of doubtful value. (13...e4 14.dxe4 ♘xe4 15.♗xg7 ♔xg7 is completely equal.) 14.b5 Closing the Q-side and switching operations to the center. If 14.bxa5 black equalizes with 14...e4!
14.♘xe5 This Pawn grab seems playable. 14...♗xg2 15.♘xd7 ♕xd7 16.♔xg2 axb4 17.axb4 ♖xa1 18.♗xa1 cxb4 19.♖b1 and white is a bit better thanks to black's weak Ps.
14...♘f8 15.e3 The plan is to open both the d-file and the long diagonal. 15...♕c7 16.d4 ♗e4 17.♕c3 This is a tactical error that should have cost him any advantage he may have had. He should have played either 17.Qc1 or 17.Qe2 with consequences similar to what happened in the game. 17...exd4 18.exd4 ♘6d7 Returning the initiative to white. (18...♘e6 19.♕c1 ♖ac8 and black has the initiative.) 19.♕d2 cxd4 This releasing of the tension in the center turns oyut to be in white's favor. Better was returning the N to f6. 20.♗xd4 Capa's next move is an error in judgment in that it allows the exchange of his fianchettoed B which weakens the position of his K. It would have been safer to play 20...Nf6 and then play the other N to d7. 20...♕xc4 21.♗xg7 ♔xg7 22.♕b2+ ♔g8 23.♖xd6 At this point Reti's strategy has succeeded. His Q controls the long diagonal and as a result there are potential threats to black's K. On the other hand black's Q is in a precarious position. In the end it is the position of black's Q that ends in his downfall. 23...♕c5
23...♕c7 This was safer because the Q would have at least had an escape. 24.♖ad1 ♖ad8 25.♕d4 ♗b7 and white has a strong bind, but nothing that is immediately decisive.
24.♖ad1 ♖a7 25.♘e3 ♕h5 Apparently this is designed to induce white to weaken his position with 26.g4 and at the same time it prevents white from playing Ng4, but he could have accomplished the same thing with 25...h5. After the text his position is lost. 26.♘d4 Pachman incorrectly gave this move a ! based on his faulty (non-engine assisted) analysis! (26.g4 ♕c5 27.h4 ♖e6 and black has equalized.)
26.♖1d5 Pachman wrote that this is probably what Capa expected after which he would have gotten good defensive prospects. That is totally wrong! 26...♗xd5 27.g4 ♗xf3 Pachman. Actually black has several moves but nothing that is really any better. 28.gxh5 ♗xh5 Pachman ends his analysis here, but black's defensive prospects are bleak rather than good. The conservative Komodo evaluation id that black is ahead 4.00. The optimistic Stockfish put it even higher and easily scored 5-0 in Shootouts. e.g. 29.h4 ♔h7 30.♕c3 ♖e5 31.♘d5 ♖e6 32.♖xe6 ♘xe6 33.♕e3 ♗g4 34.a4 ♗d1 35.♘xb6 ♘xb6 36.♕xb6 ♖c7 37.♕xa5 ♖c1 38.♕a7 ♖c7 39.♕e3 ♗xa4 40.b6 ♖c4 41.h5 ♗c2 42.♕d2 ♖c5 43.b7 ♖b5 44.♕xc2 ♖b6 45.hxg6+ fxg6 46.♕c8 with an easy win.
26...♗xg2 27.♔xg2 ♕e5
27...♖xe3 is not any better. 28.fxe3 ♘e5 This offers the toughest resistance. (28...♕xd1 Pachman 29.♘f5 gxf5 30.♖xd1) 29.♕e2 ♕xe2+ 30.♘xe2 ♘c4 The point! Black has an annoying fork on e3. 31.♔f3 ♘e6
31...♘xd6 32.♖xd6 ♖b7 33.♘c3 ♘d7 34.♔e4 White's K will penetrate and force the win.
32.♖c6 ♘e5+ 33.♔e4 ♘xc6 34.bxc6 ♖e7 35.♘f4 ♔f8 36.♘d5 ♘c5+ 37.♔d4 ♖e4+ 38.♔c3 ♘a4+ 39.♔d2 ♖e6 40.c7
28.♘c4 ♕c5
28...♕h5 Returning from whence it came was no better. 29.♘f3 The threat is R1d5 which can't be met in any reasonable way. 29...♖e6 30.♖1d5 ♕g4 31.♘e3 ♖xe3 32.fxe3 ♕c4 33.♖d4 ♕c8 34.♖c6 ♕e8 35.♕c3 with a crushing position.
29.♘c6 ♖c7 30.♘e3 ♘e5 31.♖1d5 Here the game was adjourned and upon seeing 31.R1d5, Capablanca resigned.
31.♖1d5 ♘c4 32.♖xc5 ♘xb2 33.♖c2 Black loses material. 33...♖xe3 (33...♘a4 34.♘d5 ♖b7 35.♘f6+) 34.fxe3 ♘a4 35.e4 ♔g7 36.e5 ♘e6 37.♘d4 ♖xc2+ 38.♘xc2 ♘ec5 39.♘e3 ♘e4 40.♖d7 ♘ec5 41.♖c7 black is out of useful moves and the b-Pawn will soon be lost.
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