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Arnold Denker vs Reuben Fine
USA-ch (1944), New York, NY USA, rd 7, Apr-22
Nimzo-Indian Defense: St. Petersburg Variation (E43)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Nov-09-04  aw1988: <iron maiden> 22. Bxc5 is an illegal move.
Nov-09-04  aw1988: And the rook is on b1, not a1.
Nov-09-04  iron maiden: <aw1988> Sorry about that; of course I meant 22. Bxe8 Qxb1+.
Nov-09-04  aw1988: Ok, hold on a minute. :P
Nov-09-04  aw1988: Well, it looks to me white has a decisive advantage in either case.
Nov-09-04  iron maiden: Yeah, White should still win, but not without a good fight: 22...Qxb1+ 23. Rc1 Qf5.
Nov-13-04  kostich in time: In some ways, a very sad game..Denkers upset of Fine in this game won the US championship for him, and may have been the reason Fine retired from chess. This is a pity, because though Denker was a fine attacking player, he was only a master of the second or third rank, and Fine was a potential world champion
Jan-11-05  Max Lange: is analysis by Kavalek on this famous game
Jan-19-05  LIFE Master AJ: A very good game by my friend, Arnold S. Denker. (I almost cannot believe that he is gone.)
Jan-19-05  aw1988: Yes, a very tragic loss. An extremely nice fellow, who has left us quite a legacy.
Feb-08-05  LIFE Master AJ: <everyone>
I have gotten many e-mails over the news item (on my website) about Denker's passing. Floridians deeply feel this loss ... to know Denker was truly to like him.

I have put together a file of Denker's games. Many of these games are NOT in any database. Quite a few, I entered by hand. (Various sources, like the huge, black, hard-back book on Reshevesky has several Denker-Reshevsky games that were previously unpublished.)

ANYONE who wants this file - sorry, I only do ChessBase format - and sends me an e-mail, I will gladly send it to you. Free, no conditions, no questions asked.

Apr-21-08  Petrosianic: <kostich in time> <In some ways, a very sad game..Denkers upset of Fine in this game won the US championship for him, and may have been the reason Fine retired from chess.>

His inability to beat Reshevsky may have had more to do with it. Fine had already gone up against Reshevsky in three previous US Championships, and fallen short each time. His chance of getting a title shot was almost nil, simply because he wasn't even the top player in his own country.

Fine was a great player, there's no doubt about that. But so much of his reputation is based on one half of one tournament that he didn't even win. He hit an incredibly hot streak in the first 6 rounds of AVRO, and he certainly had the potential to be world champion, but was never an active enough player to have really fulfilled the potential.

The real pity is that this one game virtually decided the tournament. The 1944 championship was so weak that Denker, Fine, Horowitz, Steiner, and maybe Pinkus were the only real contenders. Reshevsky, Kashdan and Santasiere were out.

If Fine had really wanted the US title, he might have challenged Denker to a title match. Denker DID accept a challenge 2 years later, but against the far less deserving Herman Steiner.

<Denker was a fine attacking player>

In more ways than one! (pun intended).

But don't sell Denker short. He was a far more talented player than he gets credit for, and he won a brilliant attacking game here. Fine didn't give him this game, he took it.

Dec-31-08  YoungEd: This week on, there's an "annotated video" of this game. Worth checking out.
Jul-24-15  Dionysius1: <"One moment that I will never forget" wrote Arnold in The Bobby Fischer I Knew "is when ...[Reuben Fine and I]drove home after I won the 1944 U.S. Championship - in large part because of beating Ruby in our individual game. "You know" he said without bitterness, "you've always stood in my way." He was right, and the thought saddened me."> Obituary of Arnold Denker by Larry Parr, in The Bobby Fischer I Knew And Other Stories pp 5-36. Quotation from p23-24
Jul-24-15  Petrosianic: Heard the story, but I can't think of any time other than the 1944 US Championship where Denker specifically stood in Fine's way. The other instances must have been pretty minor.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <Petrosianic: Heard the story, but I can't think of any time other than the 1944 US Championship where Denker specifically stood in Fine's way. The other instances must have been pretty minor.>

Perhaps Denker was standing in the road at the time.

Jun-07-20  Predrag3141: The losing move was baffling at first. In this position,

click for larger view

Black played 18 … b5? instead of 18 … Na6 19 Bb5 Qd5 20 Bc6 Bxc6 21 Nxc6, recommended by Stockfish. The explanation is almost certainly that Black "saw a ghost" and thought he had to sacrifice a pawn to stay in the game.

Kavalek, in this article,

explains that the ghost was 18 ... Na6 19 Qxa5, and in fact Kavelek himself believes in it. He says: "18...Na6 19.Qxa5!! bxa5 20.Rxb7, for example 20...Nb4 21.Bxb4 axb4 22.Nxf7 Qxd4 23.Nh6+ Kh8 24.Rcc7 mating soon; or 20...Qxd4 21.Bb2 Qd5 22.Bxa6 with three pieces plus a winning attack for the queen."

Stockfish and Kavalek agree on the second line Kavalek gives: 18 ... Na6 19 Qxa5 bxa5 20 Rxb7 Qxd4 21 Bb2 Qd5 22 Bxa6, reaching this position.

click for larger view

Stockfish resolutely declares this position equal (+0.00), whereas Kavalek says White has "three pieces plus a winning attack for the queen."

The problem with Kavalek's (and Black's) assessment seems to be that White has a wonderful edge in material that perpetual check evenually erases. If you feed Stockfish the above position, it predicts:

22 ... Reb8 23 Rcc7 Rxb7 24 Bxb7 Qxa2 25 Bc1 Rb8 26 Nd7 Rxb7 27 Rxb7 Qa1 28 Rc7 Kg7 29 Kg2 Qd4 30 Bf4 Qe4+ 31 Kg1 Qe1+ 32 Kg2 Qe4+

click for larger view

Here, Stockfish predicts draw by repetition: 33.Kg1 Qe1+ 34.Kg2 Qe4+ 35.Kg1

White could play differently of course, but does anyone doubt that the rook and two pieces can only stave off perpetual check by remaining passive around White's king, ceding a draw or worse?

Premium Chessgames Member
  sachistu: <Predrag3141> The line cited by Kavalek is also given by Denker in his notes to the game (see Chess Review, 1944) e.g. 18...Na6 19.Qxa5 bxa5 20.Rxb7 Nb4 21.Bxb4 axb4 22.Nf7.

However, instead of 22...Qxd4 (given by Denker and Kavalek) what about 22..Rc8!?. I don't see more than a draw for White as 23.Nxd8 Rxc1 24.Kg2 Rxd8 is clearly insufficient. Does White have anything better than perpetual check e.g. Nh6+ etc?

Also, in the other line given by Kavalek (also given by Denker) with 20...Qxd4, the assessment "and a winning attack" seems open to question despite the strong position of the White pieces.

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