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Mikhail Chigorin vs James Mortimer
"James Mortified" (game of the day Jul-07-2005)
Paris (1900), Paris FRA, rd 12, Jun-08
Vienna Game: Vienna Gambit. Steinitz Gambit Zukertort Defense (C25)  ·  1-0



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Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: The pieces fly in this one-sacs,forks,etc. White wins this with the help of a very active king.
Jul-07-05  Knight13: Terrible opening for White, yet still wins.
Jul-07-05  farrooj: If a computer surprises a GM with this kind of opening, will it win?
Jul-07-05  mark1800: surely white just stumbled out of an initially horrible position. Not as great game on exclusively one players behalf.
Jul-07-05  InspiredByMorphy: So many people including Adams have a mistaken mentality on what to play against a computer. If a computer could hope, it would hope to see the main lines of the most common openings played. Taking the computer out of its "book" and into something where it doesent have so many fine examples to draw its play off is key. For example if Adams played the Kings gambit or Vienna gambit, how many recent master level games in its database would it have to reference? Kasparov knew this when he played 1.d3 against Deep blue. Just my two cents.
Jul-07-05  RSD770: In "The mammoth book of chess" by Burgess, he quotes Seirawan as saying that actually trying to get the comp. out of the book is a bad idea, because in it's opening book there might be mistakes which it will be forced to make, but if it is out of the book, it won't make those kinds of mistakes. I don't think Kasparov's strategy of the mid-ninetyes would work today.
Jul-08-05  fgh: <offramp>: Many people here are acting like this game is super difficult and you cannot analyse it, but in fact, it's a very clear game. Does anyone here agree with me?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: <fgh> I agree. White was perfectly in control of things on the board almost all game. Mortimer's 8...Nf6 was not probably the best option (it looks too slow) and Zukertort's 8...Bc5 played against Steinitz is objectively a little bit better, although it's difficult to say if the idea of sac of piece 7...0-0-0 is sound. Instead of Chigorin's 9.Qe1 white can play 9.g3 with intention 9...fxg3 10.Bg2 Bxf3+ 11.Bxf3 gxh2 12.Qd3 Rxd4 13.Qf5+ Kb8 14.Be3 etc. Chigorin's 9.Qe1 allowed 9...Bxf3+ 10.gxf3 Re8+ 11.Ne4 Qh5 12.Kf2 (the only move) 12...Qh4+ (12...Nxe4+ 13.fxe4 Qh4+ 14.Kf3 Qh5+ 15.Kf2 Qh4+ =) 13.Ke2 Qh5 = etc., but Mortimer missed this chance to equalize. 14.Ne5!! is excellent winning shot. Following course of game is almost forced.

<Capafan9> If 12...Ne4+ 13.Bxe4 Rxe4 14.cxb7+ Kb8, then white can play 15.Kd3!? (real Steinitzian move, active King is attacking the Rook unpinning the Knight and covering e3) 15...Bxc3 16.Kxc3 with advantage of white. Also 15.Re1 looks well for white.

Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: White's 20. Nf7+! is a neat clearance move, setting up 21. Bxf4+! to deflect the Queen for the decisive Knight Fork 22. Nd5+!
Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: Black's piece sacrifice with 7...0-0-0?! appears to be unsound. Better, I think, is 7...Nce7 8. Bxf4 0-0-0 =. White's defensive technique in withering Black's storm is impressive. However, he lets Black off the hook with 9. Qe1!?, when, instead, he should have played 9. cxb7+! Kb8 10. g3! fxg3 11. Bg2 with decisive advantage. Black could have equalized and forced a draw by repetition with 9...Bxf3! 10. gxf3 Re8+ 11. Ne4 Qh5 12. Kf2 Qh4+ 13. Ke2 Qh5 14. Kf2 Qh4+ 15. Ke2 = 1/2 - 1/2.
Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: White's 14. Ne5!! invites and 15. Qxe2!! initiates an impressive double attack combination. After 15...Bxe2 16. Bxe2!, White threatens to win a third piece for the Queen on any Black Queen move (e.g. 16...Qh4 17. Nc6+ Kxb7 18. Nxb4 ).

After the followup 16...Ne4+ 17. Kd3!,
White creates a second double attack, threatening both the Knight and the Queen. Following 17...Nf2+ 18. Kc4!, White threatens both the Queen and the Bishop. Then following 19. Bf3! White threatens both mate with 20. Nf7# or a winning discovered check combination to win the unprotected Bishop with 20. Nc6+ Kxb7 21. Nxb4+ Kc1 22. Re1 .

Black's attempt to stop the mate with 19...c5! meets White's winning clearance, double attack and Knight Fork combination, as described in my first post here, for a decisive material gain.

Aug-07-05  who: RSD770 look at Topalov vs Hydra, 2004 where Topalov leaves the book early and comes out the better for it.
Jan-23-06  DeepBlade: Everytime I see this game, I think about Fisher. He would never play this gambit!
Feb-10-06  McCool: It's such a crazy opening, Mortimer doesn't now how to defend against it!
Feb-11-06  Akavall: <InspiredByMorphy>< Taking the computer out of its "book" and into something where it doesent have so many fine examples to draw its play off is key.>

Yeah, this. Also, I don't know why people never play anything like Traxler against a program. I know it sounds crazy, but Fritz 8 at least on my computer completly misevaluates the position, couldn't GM like Adams make a use of that? Just my thoughts.

Btw, the opening Chigorin played here looks crazy, but I don't think he was worse at any point of the game.

Dec-26-06  Atking: Totally agree with Honza Cervenka 9. ...BxNf3+ is equal 10.gxBf3 Re8+ 11.Ne4 Qh5. 9.Qe1!? is simply tricky probably inspired by Steinitz's style. Latter a symetrical BxN3+, this time Nc3,is suggested as better in some book with 16. ...BxNc3+ 17.bxNc3 Ne4+ But now 18.Kd1! (18.Kd3 Nf2+ with the idea of a perpetual) 18. ...Nf2+ 19.Ke1 NxRh1 20.Rb1 is very strong 20. ...c5 21.Bxf4...
Jan-17-09  WhiteRook48: how is this a "terrible opening" for White?
Premium Chessgames Member
  wwall: After 14.Ne5!, perhaps best for Black is 14...Rxe5 15.dxe5 Qxe5 16.Re1 Qd6.

if 14...Bxc3+ first, then 15.bxc3 Re2+ 16.Bxe2 Ne4+ 17.Ke1 Nxf2 18.Rb1, threatening 19.Nc6 mate. If 18...Qh6 to stop 19.Nc6, then 19.Bxg4, threatening 20.Nd7 mate.

Dec-01-16  The Kings Domain: "Chigorin's Immortal".

It's funny how Chigorin likes to get into dangerous positions like the opening of this game and yet comes up with a beaut like this. A "Creative Genius" indeed.

Jun-06-17  TheFocus: Second Brilliancy Prize and 300 francs went to Chigorin for his game against Mortimer.
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: A wild and often zany game of attack and counterattack. Tchigorin played the Steinitz Gambit, marching his king off into the center, and Mortimer sacrificed a piece for a speculative attack. Tchigorin's found himself in the unfamiliar role of defender for a while, but soon turned the tables with a brilliant Queen sacrifice (for a few minor pieces) that brought him a well-deserved victory and a brilliancy prize.

1. e4 e5
2. Nc3

Yet another Vienna Game in this tournament. Mieses played it repeatedly at Paris 1900, and Mason had just played it in the prior (11th) round against Showalter.

2... Nc6
3. f4!?

Instead of the more solid 3. Nf3 or 3. Bc3, Tchigorin opts for the Vienna Gambit.

3... exf4
4. d4!?

No half-measures for Tchigorin. Instead of 4. Nf3 (which would likely turn into the Pierce Gambit or the Hamppe-Algaier Gambit), Tchigorin tries the Steinitz Gambit, which allows his opponent to force his King to march forward.

Steinitz did not play at Paris 1900 (the first major tournament without him in decades). Steinitz by this time was sick, poverty-stricken, and going mad. He would die just over two months after this game was played. Was this game an homage by Tchigorin to the great rival with whom he had contested two marathon world championship matches?

There is, of course, another more prosaic explanation. 4. d4, for all its wild appearance, just might be best play here for White--a least for those with the courage to take on its incredible complexities. It is definitely not for the faint-hearted!

4... Qh4+
5. Ke2 d5

The alternative given in MOC-13 is 5...d6, the move recommended by Rosenthal in the Tournament Book. Both moves are reasonable and the choice is probably one of style. The best chance to try to exploit White's bizarre set-up and play for an advantage is 5...b6.

6. exd5 Bg4+

A logical way to continue the attack. 6..Qe7+ recommended by Schlechter in his commentary on this game is a reasonable if less flashy alternative.

7. Nf3

The position--which had appeared in a few earlier games--was now:

click for larger view

Mortimer, fearless of his celebrated opponent, now decided to sacrifice a piece for a do-or-die attack.

7... 0-0-0!?

Sound or crazy? Believe it or not, MCO-13 gives only the text. patzer2 on this site calls the move unsound, and Honza Cervenka says "it's difficult to say if the sound." patzer2 recommends 7...Nce7, which is clearly a safer continuation. There is no doubt that Mortimer gets a powerful attack for the sacrificed piece. I wouldn't want to play 7...0-0-0!? against a computer, but it seems to be a good shot over-the-board.

As a theoretical matter, 7...Nb4 is probably best for Black here.

We now get to see Tchigorin in the unfamiliar role of hunted instead of hunter in a gambit opening.

8. dxN

Tchigorin accepts the challenge. Under the circumstances, he had no real choice.

8... Nf6

As Honza Cervenka along with Rosenthal in the Tournament Book note, the more usual 8...Bc5 (Zukertort's move) is probably best. MCO-13 gives only 8...Bc5 here. Schlechter, however, said at the time that "The text ove has been analyzed by American masters and declared to be a stronger continuation."

Honza Cervenka and Rosenthal appear to have the better or this argument, and it is doubtful that Black can survive with 8...Nf6 assuming best play by White.

The position was now:

click for larger view

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

How should Tchigorin have continued after Mortimer's 8...Nf6. A variety of ideas have been proposed.

9. Qe1?!

patzer 2 says that the text "...lets Black off the hook when instead he should have played 9. cxb7+ Kb8 10. g3." But this does not seem to give White much if anything after 10...fxg3 11. Be3 Bc5! A better chance in this line is 10. Bxf4, but once again White has little or no advantage.

Honza Cervenka suggests 9. g3, but after 9...Re8+ 10. Kf2 fxg3+ 11. Kg2 Qh3+ 12. Kg1 gxh2+ 13. Kf2 White's chance of getting an advantage seems doubtful.

Also conferring no advantage for White (as shown by Schechter) is 9. Bxf4 BxN+ 11. KxB Qg4+ 11. Ke3 Re8+.

Atking states that Tchigorin's unusual choice (9. Qe1!?) was "probably inspired by Steinitz' style." patzer2 and Honza Cervenka are unquestionably correct, however, that the move gives White no real advantage.

The best way for White to play for a win here is a move that so far as I can see has never been suggested: 9. Qd3. I have not explored all the variations, but I do not see how Black can justify the sacrificed piece after 9. Qd3. If 9...Re8+ 10. Kd2 Qf2+ 11. Be2 Re3 12. Qc4 Qxg2 [maybe 12...Bd6 is best] 13. Rg1 (or alternatively 13. cxb7+) it is unclear whether Black can justify the lost piece.

In any case, after 9. Qe1, the position was:

click for larger view

How should Mortimer continue the attack?

9... Re8+

9...Qh6 as proposed by Teichmann goes nowhere after 10. Kd1 (if 10...Rxd4+ 11. Bd3).

Best for Black here is 9...BxN+ as suggested by Schlechter and by patzer2, Honza Cervenka and Atking on this site. The line given by patzer 2 and Schlechter appears best: 99...BxN+ 10. gxB Re8+ 11. Ne4 Qh5 with a drawn game.

After the text, Black is almost certainly lost. Mortimer, in any case, was unable to withstand Tchigorin in this position. The brilliant manner in which Tchigorin went about finishing off Mortimer from here will be covered in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

One of the hardest things to do in almost any form of competition is to switch from defense to offense. Tchigorin excelled at this, as demonstrated in this game.

After 9...Re8+ the position was:

click for larger view

At first glance, it appears that White must prepare to hunker down while facing the vicious attack Mortimer has for his sacrificed piece. Tchigorin, however, obviously viewed the game differently, and saw that he had a winning attack--that required him to sacrifice his queen.

Let's see how Tchigorin went about this project.

10. Kd2 Qh5
11. Qf2 Bb4
13. Bd3

The position was now:

click for larger view

What should Mortimer play here to continue his attack?

12... Re3

patzer2 seems clearly correct in concluding that 12...Ne4+ does not work for Black. But I disagree with part of his analysis. At first blush, I thought that 12...Ne4+ was best, but I saw the light with patzers's 13. BxN RxB 14. cxb7+ (14. Re1 is even better). But after 14...Kb8 I do not like patzers's 15. Kd3--which he calls a "real Steinitz move"--since 15...BxN 16. KxB gives White equal chances at best. Best in this line is 15. a3! and Black's attack peters out.

Mortimer's move, 13...Re3 is almost certainly best here, and--once again at first blush--appears to give Black a powerful attack well worth the sacrificed piece. But not with Tchigorin holding the White pieces.

13. cxb7+ Kb8

While some have claimed that 13...Kxb7 would have been better, Black seems sunk after the likely 14. Kd1 BxN(c3) 15. bxc3 or 14...RxN 15. gxN Bxf3+ 16. Be2. Mortimer's move was best and might have permitted him to prevail against a less fearsome opponent.

The position was now:

click for larger view

It still appears that Mortimer was the hunter and Tchigorn the hunted. But Tchigorin changed all that here with one amazing move:

14. Ne5!!

"Introducing what is for White an advantageous exchange of Queen for several minor pieces." (Schlechter).

"White's 14. Ne5!! invites and 15. QxR initiates an impressive double attack combination."

Incidentally, Rosenthal's claim in the Tournament Book that Tchigorin could just as well have played 14. Rf1 is nonsense. Black could then turn the tables with 14...Qa5 ending all possibilities of White assuming the initiative and bolstering Black's own grip on the position. White could at best struggle for a draw here, while after Tchigorin's brilliant 14. Ne5!! I see no escape for Black.

The position after 14. Ne5!! was:

click for larger view

The full consequences of Tchigorin's 14. Ne5!! will be discussed in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IV:

After Tchigorin's 14. Ne5!!, Mortimer played:

14... Re2+

It was certainly tempting to play to win Tchigorin's Queen. The move, however, was a mistake (although in fairness to Mortimer it was hard to see the full brilliance of what Tchigorin had in store for him here.

A better try (though it probably would not have saved the game) was--as noted by Rosenthal in the Tournament Book and by Schlechter in his commentary on this game, was 14...BxN(c3). If then 15. bxB Re8 (Schlechter's 15...Re2+ gets crushed here by 16. BxR [and not Schlechter's much weaker 16. QxR BxQ 17. Rb1] as pointed out by wwall on this site since then after 16...Ne4+ 17. Ke1 NxQ 18. Rb1! Black would have to sacrifice his Queen to stop White's overwhelming attack from finishing him off at once).

The best try for Black after 14. Ne5!! is the move spotted by wwall on this site: 14... RxN! Black can then perhaps hang in for a while after 15. dxR Qxe5 16. Re1 Qd6 17. g3, though White would be up a Rook and White need only untangle his pieces to achieve a win.

After Mortimer's 14...Re2+, however, Tchigorin seized firm control of the game.

The position after 14...Re2+ was:

click for larger view

Tchigorin here played:

15. QxR

15. BxR? does not lose as Rosenthal claims in the Tournament Book, but it does allow Black to escape with a draw after 15...Ne4+ 16. Ke1 NxQ 17. KxN BxB 18. NxB Qh4+ 19. Kf3 Qh5+.

Tchigorin's move gives White no chance.

15... BxQ?

Although not pointed out in any commentary I have found, Mortimer had better chances with 15...BxN+ since after 16. bxB BxQ 17. BxB Ne4+ Black can draw. Tchigorin could have done much better in this line. He seems to maintain a winning edge with 16. Kd1, and even after 16. bxB BxQ he apparently has a problem-like win with 17. Rb1! c5 18. Re1 BxB 19. cxB, though even here with Rook and Knight plus a fearsome attack White almost certainly still has a win.

After Mortimer's move, however, Tchigorin makes short work of his overmatched opponent

16. BxB

The position was now:

click for larger view

Mortimer's only chance of putting up any real resistance at this point lay with 16...BxN+. But, as Tchigorin pointed out after the game, even this would have lost to 17. Kd1! Qh4 18. bxB Ne4 (18...Re8 looks slightly better to me, but still loses) 19. Bf3! leaving White with two Bishops and Rook for the sacrificed Queen--more than enough to win.

Mortimer's actual move, however, was:

16... Ne4+

And now Tchigorin played the lovely:

17. Kd3!

To quote patzer2 yet again: "White creates a second double attack, threatening both the Knight and the Queen."

The position was now:

click for larger view

Black now has no defense, as will be discussed in my next post.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post V

Mortimer (whether he knew it or not) was a dead duck after Tchigorin's 17. Kd3. Mortimer only made things worse for himself with his next move:

17... Nf2+

17...Nc5+ was "best" here, though I wouldn't have held out any hopes for Mortimer even then.

18. Kc4!

"White threatens both the Knight and the Queen." (patzer2).

18... Qh6

Rosenthal in the Tournament Book called this "weak" and suggested 18...Qf5. But this was even worse than the text, since after 19. Bf3 c6 (Rosenthal's move, 19...QxN or 19...Qe6 check--though also hopeless, were slightly better) 20. Nxc6+ Black is quite dead.

Mortimer's 18...Qh6 was as good as anything.

19. Bf3!

Another gorgeous move by Tchigorin.

"This move ensures the immediate win of the game." (Teichmann).

"White threatens both mate with 20. Nd7+ or a winning discovered check combination to win the unprotected Bishop." (patzer2).

The position was now:

click for larger view

Given White's threats, Black is helpless.

19... c5

patzer2 likes this move by Mortimer, stating that it "...meets White's winning clearance, double attack, and Knight fork." The move is, however, entirely hopeless, as Tchigorin quickly demonstrated.

The "best" I can find for Black here is 19...Rd8. but this would still be gruesome after 20. Nc6+

20. Nd7+

20. Bxf4 would also have been crushing.

20... Kc7

21. Bxf4+

This wins back the Queen and leaves White a piece up.

21... QxB
22. Nd5+ KxN
23. NxQ NxR
24. dxc5 Ba5

The dust has settled and the game is now clearly over:

click for larger view

Tchigorin could have simply taken Mortimer's h1 Knight and been a piece and a number of pawns up. But he found something even better than 25. RxN

25. b4

25. Kb5 would also have devastated what is left of Black's position.

25... Bc7
26. Rd1+ Ke8
27. Bc6+


BRAVO Tchigorin!!

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