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Miklos Brody vs Mikhail Chigorin
Paris (1900), Paris FRA, rd 7, May-29
Spanish Game: Berlin Defense. Improved Steinitz Defense (C66)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Tchigorin crushes Brody in his patented version of the Berlin Defence to the Ruy Lopez.

The commentators, old and modern, extol the virtues of Tchigorin's opening play but I must dissent. Tchigorin's opening had nothing to do with his victory here. He won because his tactical mastery allowed him to see a possibility that eluded Brody on moves 16-19. Tchigorin had no edge before then.

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bb5 Nf6
4. 0-0 d6

4...Nxe4 is undoubtedly better, as was demonstrated by Vladimir Kramnik in his match against Kasparov. But Tchigorin has his own ideas about this opening.

5. d5 Nd7

As Steinitz once remarked, Tchigorin's unique genius defies most forms of commentary. But this--(his favorite)-- move just looks bad. 5...exd4 is surely best. But Tchigorin is aiming for his favorite position against the Ruy Lopez, and is not to be deterred.

6. Nc3

Rosenthal in the Tournament Book claims that 6. c3 was the right move, but the text is certainly better than that. Schlechter argues convincingly that 6. d5 is best. The text is also fine and appears to yield White by far the better game.

6... Be7

This is Tchigorin's line, which he introduced in 1893 in his match against Tarrasch. After 6...Be7, the position was as follows:

click for larger view

Tchigorin would disagree, but I fail to see how or why this is a good set-up for Black. 6...exd4 or 6...Nxd4 would have been better, but Black would still have a cramped and bad game.

7. Ne2

Schlechter says that the text allows Black to obtain an equal game and claims that 7. Nd5 was best. But Schlechter's move gives White only a small advantage after 7...a6.

Best for White here is 7. d5 which ties Black in knots.

7... Nxd4.

According to Vasyukov and Nikitin in their book on Tchigorin, Tchigorin usually played 7...0-0 here. The text definitely looks better. As Vasyukov and Nikitin point out, 7...Nxd4 eliminates the threat of BxN messing up Black's pawn structure. After White's 7. Ne2, Nd5 is not now in the cards.

8. NfxN exN
9. Nxd4 0-0

The position was now as follows:

click for larger view

As compared with the prior diagram, Black's position--though still slightly inferior, has improved.

In the next phase of the game, which I will discuss in my next post, Brody makes some questionable decisions, but still has at least an even position at the end of move 15.

Sorry to beat a dead horse, but Tchigorin's opening play had nothing to do with his victory in this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

After 9...0-0, Brody had a reasonable position and probably a slight advantage. But he then tried a little too hard to muster an attack.

10. Nf5

Vasyukov and Nikitin call this a "rash move," and recommend 10. Bf4. I agree that 10. Nf5 gets White little or nothing, but it certainly is not anything approaching a losing move. While 10. Bf4 is better than the text, perhaps 10. c3 immediately was best.

10... Bf6
11. c3 Nc5

"!" (Rosenthal). "White begins to experience his first difficulties with his e pawn. The threat is not only Nxe4 but also d5" (Vasyukov/Nikitin).

I agree that 11...Nc5 is best, but it is hardly a true Tchigorin brilliancy or very hard to find, and the "threats" it presents are not hard for White to handle. The position is still about even despire White's precipitous 10. Nf5.

12. Ng3

Effectively conceding that his 10th move was not best.

12... a6
13. Be2

Again not best. 13. Bc4 seems clearly superior.

13... Re8
14. f3

"Through the pressure on the e4 pawn, Black takes the initiative." (Vasyukov/Nikitin).

The commentators continue to overstate what Tchigorin has done and what advantage (if any) he enjoys.

14... Qe7

"!" (Rosenthal).

"A cunning move" (Vasyukov/Nikitin).

I see nothing especially brilliant or "cunning" about this move. If anything, 14...g6 was better. The commentators "Bravos" notwithstanding, the position is about even.

15. Be3 Bh4

"!" (Rosenthal).

Black has obtained a fine game.

The position in fact was now as follows:

click for larger view

Despite all the cheers from the gallery, Tchigorin has not achieved very much. At best from his perspective, chances are equal. I would have preferred 15...g6 to the text.

In fact, it was only after Tchigorin's 15...Bh4 that the game began to slide downhill for Brody, as I will discuss in my next text.

My comments are by no means intended to disparage Tchigorin's play. He was not responsible for the commentary on this game. After his weird opening variation, Tchigorin's play here was always reasonable, and in the closing stages truly excellent. But much of the commentary seems lazy and result-driven.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

Tchigorin's 15...Bh4 ignored Brody's "threat" to double the Black c-pawns. Tchigorin obviously concluded that this would be bad for White. Brody decided otherwise. Thus:

16. BxN

"The tempting exchange has led not only to a doubled Black pawn but also to a weakening of the dark squares in the White camp [as a result of the disappearance of White's dark-square Bishop], and it is particularly this which is exploited by Tchigorin." (Vasyukov/Nikitin).

The exchange here definitely seems to favor Black, but it is not all that bad.

Schlechter recommends 16. Bf2, but that does not accomplish much. Perhaps Brody should have tried 16. b4.

16... dxB
17. Bd3

"White goes over to passive defense too soon. He should play 17. Bc4." (Vasyukov/Nikitin).

Whilte 17. Bd3 is not a very good move, 17. Bc4 is not much of an improvement. Best is probably 17. Qd2.

Even after the text, however, Brody has a playable game and is far from lost.

17... Qd6

Not best. He should have played 17...Be6.

18. f4

Rosenthal in the Tournament Book states that Brody had a chance to get a draw here with 18. Nf5, but his analysis is faulty. After 18. Nf5 BxN 19. exB White would indeed achieve equality after 19...Qb6? 20. Qb3!, but surely Tchigorin would have found a better 19th move, probably 19...Rad8.

In fact, Brody's 18. f4 was best.

18... Rd8

The position was now as follows:

click for larger view

While I would rather have Tchigorin's position here than that of Brody, White is not in any dire trouble.

It was only after 18...Rd8 that Brody fell apart here, blundering on his 19th, and 20th moves. Had Brody played solid chess from the diagrammed position, there is no reason he need have lost the game, as I will discuss in my next post.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IV

After Tchigorin's 18...Rd8, Brody had to decide what to do about his threatened Bishop. Although not a peep about this appears in any of the commentary I have seen about this game, it is clear that Brody's 19th move was a howler that allowed Tchigorin to clean up quickly.

19. Bc2?

Brody obviously did not see what was coming, and is now dead lost.

But with 19. Bc4, his position is fine. Had Tchigorin then played 19...Qb6, he would have been crushed by 20. Qh5. Thus, 19. Bc4 seems to hold the game for Brody. After the text, however...

19... Qb6

"!" "Very well played."--(Rosenthal).

The move is clearly a killer, and White has no defense. Brody's response only makes matters worse:

20. Qc1?

20. Qe1 was the only chance (and not much a chance).

20... c4+

How quickly Brody's game has collapsed. Of course, had he played 19. Bc4, Tchigorin's c-pawn could not have advanced as it now has done.

21. Rf2

As Vasyukov/Nikitin have correctly pointed out, 21. Kh1? would have lost immediately to 21...BxN! 22. hxB Rd6!.

Even after the text, it seems about time for Brody to resign.

The position was now:

click for larger view

Things look bad for Brody, but...

21... Bg4?

None of the commentators seem to have recognized that this move was a mistake. Tchigorin should have put the game away with 21...Be7!

22. f5?

Now the game is gone for good. Vasyukov /Nikitin suggest 22. Kf1, but White is still cannon fodder after 22...Rd6. Brody, did, however, have a chance now to make a fight of it with 22. e5! If now 22...Be7 he could play 23. Ne4 with a decent chance to hold the game. Of course, Tchigorin had better options than 22...Be7 after my suggested 22. e5, but nothing immediately crushing that I can find.

After the text, however, the game ends very suddenly.

22... Be7!

"White is defenseless against the threat of Bc5" (Vasyukov/Nikitin).

23. h3?

This hastens his demise, but the game was gone in any case. Schlechter points out that after 23. Kf1 Bc5 24. Rd2 saves the exchange but loses the game after 24...Be3! 25. RxR+ Rxr 26. Qb1 Qh6 with mate to follow soon. In Schlechter's line, 24. Nh1 is "better," but who would want to try to hold that position against the likes of Tchigorin!

Probably "best" for White after 22...Be7! was 23. b4, but I doubt Brody would have survived long even after that.

23... Bc5


24. Qf4

24. Nh1 was the only move to extend the game, but it would not have changed the outcome.


More than sufficient to win. Had Tchigorin been in a sadistic frame of mind, he could have played the diabolical 24...Be3! after which Black wins even more material.


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