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Mikhail Chigorin vs Siegbert Tarrasch
Chigorin - Tarrasch (1893), St. Petersburg RUE, rd 2, Oct-10
French Defense: Chigorin Variation (C00)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Pawn and Two>,<gypsy> <Black has the advantage in this difficult ending. However, can you provide a clear winning line for Black after 52.Rxg8+?>

Here's the position in the line we're discussing.

click for larger view

I of course saw 52. Rxg8+ is forced and thought it looked winning, but of course 52. Rxg8+ Kxg8 53. Nxa4 Rb4 54. Nc3! Rc4 55. Nd5, and the e-pawn is held because of the fork after 55...Rxe4? 56. Nf6+.

So White gets a pawn for the exchange, which is why I said <very good winning chances> instead of <winning outright>.

After 52. Rxg8+ Kxg8 53. Nxa4 Kf7 54. Nc5 Rb5 55. Nd3 Kf6, White doesn't want to touch his pawns. He can try neutral moves like 56. Kf3 Rb3 57. Ke2 Rb1 58. Kf3 Rd1, etc. and I think Black can gradually infiltrate and tie White up. But of course it's a long process and very hard to give an exact "winning line" here.

Along with <Gypsy>, I also suspected that the other line with ...Rxf2+ might be winning but couldn't work it out conclusively.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: <Gypsy> Dr. Tarrasch is starting to wonder whose side you are on!

After 47...Rxf2+ 48.Kg3, I cannot find any winning lines for Black. Do you have any additional variations that you wish to test? If not, we can let Tarrasch and Chigorin continue their debate.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <Pawn and Two> Ok, you had to rub it in. :-) (Of course, there was a good reason why the rook went to the d2 the first time.)

Btw, I would have gone with the <47...a5>. But since <beatgiant> was already on the case and since I put lots of trust in his endgame skill, I decided to be useful exploring something else 'winning'.

(And now I am licking my wounds. And I have a headache.)


Great game, great endgame, and a great story!

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Well, the three of you (and Harmonist) put together a very good lesson on engame tactics. <The wars of truth are the only good wars.>
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: BTW, those looking for round numbers-Akavall has the whole match in his collection Game Collection: Chigorin - Tarrasch (match)

I at first thought Black had to win after 40...Bd2, but is it too much to imagine Chigorin foresaw the heroic knight tour starting some 9 moves later! with 49 Ne3-c4xb2xa4-c5-d3-g4) winning both pawns, and returning to set up a fortress?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <tamar> Chigorin definitely had a phenomenal intuition for what his knights were capable of. (Maybe Navara is like that today.) While I did not post any variation on the 47...a5 topic, I tried hard, from the <beatgiant/P+2> endpoint: Tried to either coral the horse, or at least to shoo it it away so it would graze somewhere in the NW teritory and not get in the way. But there always was one open gate I could not close in time -- the safe point on d5, a fork from f6, a fork from e5, a fork from f8 ...

<keypusher> A heart-felt thanks for propping my ego!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: <beatgiant, Gypsy, keypusher & Tamar> Thanks for participating in analyzing this interesting endgame.

As <Tamar> point out, it appears White's best chance of holding the draw in the 47...a5 line is heroic knight tour starting with 49.Ne3.

Tarrasch, however, was not through with this ending. In the 47...a5 line, he came up with an improvement for Black which is at first sight surprising, but then appears to be quite convincing. ( be continued).

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <47...a5 48.Kg2 a4 49.Ne3> Rc8 50.Rxb2 a3 51.Rb1 a2 ....; eg, 52.Ra1 Rc3 53.Nc4 Rxd3 54.Nxe5 Rd4 56.f3 Rb4 ...
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: Making the "a" pawn the passer of choice might put Black over the top. I am looking at <Gypsy>'s idea, and a parallel idea found by Shredder 8.

It starts with the line provided by <beatgiant> 40...Bd2! 41.Rf6 Bh6 42.Rh6 b3 43.Bd1 b2 44.Bc2 Rc8 45.Rd6 Rc2 46.Rd8+ Bg8 47. Rb8

47...a5 48 Kg2

but now

48...Rd2 (instead of the immediate 48...a4)

The idea is to hold back the a pawn until the knight has passed it by on its tour!

The other peculiarity is that Black can activate his King via g7, as the threat to the g8 bishop may not be real given the connected passed pawns that survive if White goes after that piece.

I have a few questions about the line, so I'll check first and post in a while.

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: From the above starting point

48 Kg2 Rd2

49 Ne3 Kg7 (To free the bishop to capture if 50 Nc4)

50 Nf1 Re2

51 Ng3 Rc2

52 Nf5+ Kf6

53 Rb6+ Be6

54 Ne3 Rd2

55 Nc4 Rxd3

56 Nxb2 Rb3!

click for larger view

Rooks are exchanged, and the knight does not have enough room to stop the a pawn.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: <tamar> I now see your point. After 47...a5 and 48...Rd2, it appears White has to play 49.Ne3. He cannot afford to win the piece.
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: <Pawn and Two> That is the question I had as well. After 48...Rd2 49 Ne7 Kg7 50 Nxg8 a4 51 Ne7 a3 52 Nf5+ Kf7 53 Nd6+ Ke6 54 Rb6 a2 55 Nc4+ the pawns win

click for larger view

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: <tamar> I deleted my one message as I had the pieces set up incorrectly.

Very well done. Your latest analysis shows that Black wins this ending.

I liked how the White rook was played, first 48...Rd2, and then it returned to clinch the game with 54...Rd2.

There are other variations in this ending that are favorable for Black, including some by Tarrasch, but none as convincing as yours. So I think the debate is over regarding this ending.

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: What did Tarrasch say?
Apr-12-07  chessamateur: <tamar: What did Tarrasch say?>

Why must I be enemies with this idiot?! (to Nimzo). Sorry I couldn't help myself.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: <tamar> Tarrasch noted the variation given by Harmonist: 40...Bd2 41.Rxf6 Bxh6 42.Rxh6 b3 43.Bd1 b2 44.Bc2 Rc8 45.Rxd6 Rxc2 46.Rd8+ Bg8 47.Ne7 Kg7 48.Rxg8+ Kf7 and Black wins.

Tarrasch then indicated that Chigorin had improved on this line with the move 47.Rb8.

However, Tarrasch believed Black could still win by 47...a5 48.Kg2 a4 49.Ne3 Rc1 50.Rxb2 a3 51.Rc2 Ra1.

Black has given up his passed Pawn on b2, and placed his Rook in front of his passed Pawn on a3! However, the passed Pawn on a3 will now cost White a rook.

Here is a diagram of this unusual position after Black's move 51...Ra1:

click for larger view

Tarrasch gave the following variations after 51...Ra1:

52.Nd5 a2 53.Kf3 Bf7 54.Rc8+ Kg7 55.Ra8 Rg1 56.Rxa2 Bh5+ 57.Ke3 Re1+ 58.Kd2 Re2+ 59.Kc3 Rxa2 and Black wins.

52.Nc4 a2 53.Kf3 Kg7 54.Rb2? Bf7?(54...Kf6! 55.Rb6+ Be6 56.Ra6 Rd1!) 55.Nxe5 Rb1 and Black wins.

White can improve on this last variation with 52.Nc4 a2 53.Kf3 Kg7 54.Rxa2 Rxa2 55.Nxe5 Bb3 56.Ke3 Bd1, but Black is still winning.

Other variations not given by Tarrasch that are winning for Black:

52.Ng4 a2 53.Rxa2 Bxa2 54.Nxe5 Rd1 55.Kf3 Kg7 56.Ke3 Rh1.

52.Rc8 a2 53.Ra8 Rc1 54.Nc4 a1(Q) 55.Rxa1 Rxa1 56.Nxe5 Bb3.

This analysis looks convincing, but Chigorin thought that a different move by White, might still enable him to draw. I will give Chigorin's reply to Tarrasch's analysis in my next message.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: <Gypsy> The variation you provided on 04/11/07, I believe is winning for Black. Good work! Your moves were: 47...a5 48.Kg2 a4 49.Ne3 Rc8 50.Rxb2 a3 51.Rb1 a2 52.Ra1 Rc3 53.Nc4 Rxd3 54.Nxe5 Rd4 55.f3 Rb4. All variations from this point on appear to be winning for Black.

However, at move 54, old Fritz discovered an improvement for White. After 54.Rxa2 Bxc4 55.Ra5 Be6 56.f3 Kg7 57.Rxe5, I could not find a way for Black to win. Do you have any analysis after 54.Rxa2?

In the meantime, <tamar> has discovered a nice win for Black. See his message of 04/11/07.

Also, I have provided Tarrasch's analysis and will next provide Chigorin's response.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Gypsy>,<keypusher> Very kinds words acknowledged, although usually (this case included) I end up learning much more from the others' posts.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: After Tarrasch's analysis, 40...Bd2 41.Rxf6 Bxh6 42.Rxh6 b3 43.Bd1 b2 44.Bc2 Rc8 45.Rxd6 Rxc2 46.Rd8+ Bg8 47.Rb8 a5 48.Kg2 a4 49.Ne3 Rc1 50.Rxb2 a3 51.Rc2 Ra1, we reach the position in the above diagram.

Chigorin now recommended 52.Nf5. Both players agreed on the following moves: 52...a2 53.Rc8 Rg1+ 54.Kxg1 a1(Q)+ 55.Kg2 Qa7 56.Re8 Qd7 57.Rxe5 Qxd3.

We now have the following position:

click for larger view

Chigorin thought this ending should be drawn. Tarrasch disagreed and stated: <Chigorin thinks that this ending of Queen and Bishop versus Rook and Knight will be drawn. I do not share this opinion. This large material advantage should be winning. Black only needs to bring his pieces, possibily including his King, into the game, and then advance his h-pawn.>

I do not know if Chigorin or Tarrasch ever provided any additional analysis of this position. Tarrasch may be correct, but it is a difficult position as White will try to set up a fortress position.

<tamar> has already provided a winning line in this ending, but can anyone prove a win for Black or a draw for White in the above diagrammed position after move 57...Qxd3?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <Pawn and Two> Regarding the variation <47...a5 48.Kg2 a4 49.Ne3 Rc8 50.Rxb2 a3 51.Rb1 a2 52.Ra1 Rc3 53.Nc4 Rxd3>:

I do not recall giving <54.Rxa2> much more thought than just automatically rejecting it on the account of the <54...Bxc4>. It clearly is one of those mental 'shortcut tricks' of us humans that works most of the times, but still betray us often enough. As it was, ever since <tamar>'s engine highstepped its own path around my line, I was wordering, 'what in the world am I missing here'?! But I did not see it till I read your post.

(I analyse sans engines, do not have one; and I make plenty of goofs because of that.)

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: <Pawn and Two> I haven't found any draws for White after 57...Qd3 shown in the diagram 2 posts ago.

If White could achieve this position,

click for larger view

it would be a draw after Kg1 or Kh1, with Kg3 losing.

However one rank higher

click for larger view

White loses no matter where he moves.

But I can find no way to keep the pawn on h3 without losing it.

This is Shredder's best play, ending in
the losing ending.

58 Re8 h5 59 h4 Kh7 60 Ng3 Bb3 61 Re7+
Kh6 62 Kh2 Bd1 63 Re5 Bg4 64 Rd5 Qf3 65 Kg1 Bh3 66 Rh5+ Kg7 67 Rg5+ Kf8 68 Nh5 Qxe4 69 Rg8+ Kf7 70 Rg7+ Ke6 71 Rg3 Qe1+ 72 Kh2 Qxf2+ 73 Kxh3 Qf5+ 74 Rg4 Qxh5

click for larger view

The tablebases give a mate in 28.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: <tamar> Thanks for reviewing the position after Chigorin's suggested line of 52.Nf5 a2 53.Rc8 Rg1+ 54.Kxg1 a1(Q)+ 55.Kg2 Qa7 56.Re8 Qd7 57.Rxe5 Qxd3.

I have not discovered any detailed analysis of this position by Chigorin or Tarrasch, however, I did provide their respective opinions of the position in my posting of 04/14/07. Your analysis strongly supports Tarrasch's opinion.

Interestingly, I have found one additional move from Chigorin. That move is 58.Ng3. I have not been able to work out a definite conclusion for the position after 58.Ng3. You have indicated that 58.Re8 is White's best choice and Fritz also prefers 58.Re8.

However, in the interest of letting Chigorin have his move tested, I would like if you could provide some Shredder analysis of the position after 58.Ng3. Perhaps then we will have the final word on this interesting game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: <Pawn and Two> This may be a record for far-afield analysis!

After 40...Bd2 41.Rxf6 Bxh6 42.Rxh6 b3 43.Bd1 b2 44.Bc2 Rc8 45.Rxd6 Rxc2 46.Rd8+ Bg8 47.Rb8 a5 48.Kg2 a4 49.Ne3 Rc1 50.Rxb2 a3 51.Rc2 Ra1 52.Nf5 a2 53.Rc8 Rg1+ 54.Kxg1 a1(Q)+ 55.Kg2 Qa7 56.Re8 Qd7 57.Rxe5 Qxd3

Chigorin proposed 58 Ng3 and we get this position

click for larger view

Shredder follows Tarrasch's formula up to a point <Black only needs to bring his pieces, possibily including his King, into the game, and then advance his h-pawn> but does not advance the h pawn.

Here is the analysis.

58...Kg7 59 Nh5+ Kf7 60 Rf5+ Ke7 61 Re5+ Kd6 62 Re8 Qb3 63 Ng3 Be6 64 Ra8 Qb4 65 Rh8 Qb7 66 Rf8 Bf7 67 Rd8+ Ke5 68 Rd3 Qa7 69 Re3 Bg6 70 Kf1 Qd4 71 Kg2 Qa7 72 h4 Qd7 73 h5 -3.78/20

Reading between the lines, White tries to avoid advancing the h pawn, but finally must when the King reaches e5 and Black begins to coordinate his Queen and Bishop.

Avoiding trading down to Queen versus Rook endings with fortress possibilities makes progress very slow for Black, so it is not absolutely certain that Chigorin could have found another resource to keep the battle going.

Oct-09-11  Robeson: An unfortunate game for Tarrasch, who had the better game out of White's (weak) opening and was winning by about move 30.
Sep-26-19  Straclonoor: <Tarrasch noted the variation given by Harmonist: 40...Bd2 41.Rxf6 Bxh6 42.Rxh6 b3 43.Bd1 b2 44.Bc2 Rc8 45.Rxd6 Rxc2 46.Rd8+ Bg8 47.Ne7> Some improvement by Stockfish

Analysis by Stockfish 120919 64 POPCNT:

-+ (-5.00): 40...Bd2 41.Rxf6 Bxh6 42.Rxh6 b3 43.Bd1 b2 44.Bc2 Rc8 45.Rxd6 Rxc2 46.Rd8+ Bg8 47.Rb8 a5 48.Kg2 Rd2 49.Ne3 Kg7 50.Nf1 Re2 51.Ng3 Rc2 52.Nf5+ Kf6 53.Rb6+ Be6 54.Ne3 Rd2 55.Nc4 Rxd3 56.Nxb2 Rb3 57.Ra6 Rxb2 58.Rxa5 Bc4 59.Kg1 Rb3 60.Rc5 Be6 61.h4 Rh3 62.Ra5 Rxh4 63.f3 Rh3 64.Kg2 Rh6 65.Kg3 Rh1 66.Ra8 h5 67.Rf8+ Bf7 68.f4 exf4+ 69.Kf3 Ra1 70.Kxf4 Rf1+ 71.Kg3 Kg5 72.Ra8

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