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Thursday, October 21, 2021

USSR Championship Semifinal, Leningrad 1938

     1938...it was the year that saw the first use of a seeing eye dog; the minimum hourly wage was 25 cents per hour, or about $4.86 in today's dollars. Stamps were 3 cents, gas 10 cents a gallon and it cost 25 cents to get into a movie. 
     If you went to Harvard it would cost you $420 a year...not bad because the average wage in those days was $1,732 a year. These days, depending on where you live, the median household income is about $56,000 per year and Harvard cost around $72,000 per year. 

     You didn't want to be living in New England in 1938. A tropical storm near the Cape Verde Islands in early September turned into a hurricane and was expected to hit Florida, but on September 19th it made an unexpected change of course and headed parallel to the Atlantic Coast. 
    Then with little or no warning it made landfall as a Category 3 storm near Long Island, New York at about 2:30pm on September 21st with sustained winds of 120 MPH, 15 ft. storm surges and 40-50 foot waves...waves equal to a three story building! The storm battered New England, southern Connecticut, New York City, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Jersey, dissipating when it reached Canada by September 23rd. 
     Over in Russia they had established a qualification system for its national championship and the semi-final tournaments for the 1939 championship were played in 1938 in Leningrad and Kiev (won by Vasily Panov). 
     In Leningrad the two-time champion Mikhail Botvinnik romped to victory by a two-and-a-half point margin. In 100 Selected Games he explained that the reason he was playing was because he had hardly played in 1937 because he had been pursuing his academic degree, and wanted to get some practice. 
     Igor Bondarevsky challenged him for six rounds or so, but then faded and thereafter Botvinnik lead by at least 1.5 points, finishing with 3.5 points in his last four games. Botvinnik's feat left the real battle for second place. Bondarevsky held it for about 12 rounds, but then lost three of his four games in rounds 13-16. That opened the door for Alexander Tolush and Vladimir Makogonov, but after they lost to Botvinnik in the last two rounds Peter Romanovsky sneaked into second. 
     GM Alexander Tolush (1910-1969) was Spassky’s trainer and it was he who enhanced Spassky’s attacking play. Tolush was the Leningrad Championship in 1937, 1938, 1946, and 1947 and played in the USSR Championship ten times. His best result was second place (+8=6−3 shared with Aronin and Lipnitsky) in 1950. His best international result was first place at Bucharest 1953, where he finished ahead of Petrosian,Smyslov, Boleslavsky and Spassky. 
     Tolush was an imaginative master of attack, but his play was never sound enough to enable him to reach the highest levels. His opponent in the following game was Alexander S. Budo (1909-1982), a Candidate Master who held high posts in management of city buildings and conducted chess classes.

Alexander Tolush - Alexander Budo

Result: 1-0

Site: USSR Chp Semi-Finals, Leningrad

Date: 1938


[...] 1.e4 c6 2.♘f3 A rare move that isn't bad, but it's not very flexible. There does not seem to be much analysis on it. 2...d5 3.e5 This is even more rare as white usually plays the Two Knights Variation with 3.Nc3.
3.♘c3 ♗g4 4.h3 ♗xf3 5.♕xf3 e6 and white has a considerable choice of moves.
3...c5 Both 3...Bg4 and 3...Bf5 are more usual in this rare variation. 4.d4 ♘c6 5.dxc5 e6 Black usually plays 5...Bg4, but in practice it has not worked out well at all. In my database white has won nearly half of the games and black is struggling for a draw. 6.♗e3 ♘ge7
6...♘h6 This is somewhat better. 7.c3 ♘f5 8.♗d4 ♗d7 9.a3 a5 10.♗e2 ♗e7 11.O-O With an equal position. In the game Naiditsch,A (2684)-Dragnev,V (2385)/ Baden-Baden 2015 black played the enterprising (and actually the best move here.. 11...g5 with an interesting position.
7.c3 ♘g6 8.♗d4 It's important to keep the e-Pawn!
8.♗b5 ♕c7 9.♕d4 ♗e7 10.O-O O-O 11.♗xc6 bxc6 and now with 12.b4 white would have had a slightl advantage. Jordan Arenas,M (2124)-Fos Santacreu,J (2279)/Valencia 2014
8...f6 It's hard to suggest a really good plan for black seeing that his position is quite cramped, but this move weakens his K. Perhaps 8...Bd7 was best, but how he should continue after that is hard to say. 9.♗b5 fxe5 Probably 9...Be7 followed by castling was his best chance. 10.♗xe5 ♔f7 This can only be described as awful. 10...Bxc5 was obviously correct. 11.♗xc6 bxc6 12.♕d4 Strategically black is already lost, but it's instructive to watch how Tolush mops up. 12...♘xe5 13.♘xe5+
13.♕xe5 would be an awful counter-mistake by white! 13...♗xc5 14.♕f4+ ♕f6 15.♕c7+ ♕e7 16.♘e5+ ♔f6 and white has to take a draw with 17.♘g4+ ♔f7 18.♘e5+ etc.
13...♔g8 Black's position can only be described as miserable! 14.O-O ♕c7 15.♖e1 ♗e7 16.♘d2 ♗f6 17.f4 ♗d7 18.♘df3 ♗e8 19.♕e3 Vacating d4 for the N. 19...♖b8 20.b4 h6 21.♘d4 ♕c8 22.♘g4 ♗h4
22...♗xd4 Eliminates the powerful N, but even then black's position is hopeless in the long run. For example 23.♕xd4 h5 24.♘e5 ♖h6 25.♖e3 a5 26.♖g3 and white holds all the cards.
23.g3 h5 24.♘e5
24.gxh4 hxg4 25.♕xe6+ ♕xe6 26.♖xe6 ♗d7 27.♖e7 leaves white with a won ending.
24...♗f6 25.♖e2 ♖b7 26.♖ae1 ♖e7 At first glance it appears that black has manages to defend himself, but white's position remains too strong. Tolush now concludes the game with a vigorous attack. 27.♕d3 h4 28.g4 h3 29.g5 ♗xe5 30.♖xe5 ♖f7 31.f5 This concludes the game. 31...♖h5 32.♕g3 ♕a6 33.♘xe6 ♗d7 34.♘f4 ♖h8 White has a mate in 9 moves. He missed it, but it doesn't matter because the move he played mates in 11. 35.♘g6
35.♖e8+ ♖f8 36.♖xf8+ ♔xf8 37.♘g6+ ♔g8 38.♖e7 ♗xf5 39.♕c7 ♕f1+ 40.♔xf1 ♗d3+ 41.♔f2 ♗xg6 42.♖xg7+ ♔f8 43.♕e7#
35...♕c8 prolongs the game a bit. 36.♘xh8 ♖xf5 37.♖e7 d4 38.♕h4 ♗e6 39.♘g6 ♖xg5+ 40.♕xg5 ♗f7 41.♕h5 ♕g4+ 42.♕xg4 d3 43.♖e8+ ♗xe8 44.♖xe8+ ♔f7 45.♕e6#
36.♘e7+ Facing mate, Budo resigned.
36.♘e7+ ♔f8 37.♖xf5+ ♗xf5 38.♘xf5 ♕f1+ 39.♖xf1 ♖h5 40.♕d6+ ♔g8 41.♘e7+ ♔h8 42.♖f8+ ♔h7 43.♕g6#
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