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Zandor Nilsson vs Efim Geller
SWE-URS (1954), Stockholm SWE, Jul-??
Sicilian Defense: Richter-Rauzer. Exchange Variation (B62)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Jun-24-14  TheBish: Z Nilsson vs Geller, 1954

Black to play (22...?) "Easy"

22...Rxc2! wins material unless the rook is captured, but capture leads to a fate worse than death. By that I mean checkmate!

If 23. Rxc2 the quickest win is 23...Qb1+! (or Qa1+) and mate in 3.

If 23. Qxc2 Qxc1+! and mate in 2 more.

Jun-24-14  gofer: <22 ... Rxc2>

White has to give up the queen to survive...

23 Rcd1 Rxd2
24 Rfxd2 Rc2

Black is a rook for queen exchange up, game over Player 1.

Jun-24-14  cocker: Having to foresee move 23 made this one tricky for me.
Jun-24-14  Nick46: <WhiteRook48: nice tricks> Yes, Zandor got his spoon bent but good.
Jun-24-14  Nick46: <engmaged: <Morten> there is a White on f6 maybe you've not noticed.> Or perhaps you counted AFTER 22... Rxc2
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: 22...Rxc2! crushes. Black forces mate after either capture of the rook: 23.Rxc2 Qb1+, or 23.Qxc2 Qxc1+!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Oxspawn: I think I have this but it took me time to see beyond a slug-fest on c2 (which white as the defending side would win) to understanding that if black switches the attack from the second to the first rank, white no longer has a coordinated defence, since f1 is under threat from the bishop.

22 Rxc2
23. Rxc2 Qb1+
24. Rc1 Rxc1
25. Rf1 Rxf1++
White can play the moves in a different order and can also interpose the queen, but only as a pointless sacrifice. I also looked at
22. Rxc2
23. Bxb4 but after Rxd2
24. Bxd2 Rxc1+
25. Bxc1 Qxc1+
We end up in the same position with the remaining white rook unable to defend and mate delivered by the queen rather than the rook. Time to checkā€¦.

Jun-24-14  morfishine: <22...Rxc2> wins: 23.Rxc2 Qa1/b1+ or 23.Qxc2 Qxc1+


Jun-24-14  abuzic: <21...Rhc8 22.Rf2?> lead to POD 22...?

22...Rxc2 attacking the Q and the cR and controlling f1 and the 2nd raw; white can choose between losing the Q, getting mated or both: 23.Qd1 Qxc1; 23.Qe1 Rxf2; 23.Rxc2 Qb1+;23.Qxc2 Qxc1+.

<22.Rf2> 22.Rb1 instead makes contiuation possible for white, like 22.Rb1 Qxa2 23.Ra1 Rxc2 24.Rxa2 Rxd2 25.Rxd2 Bxf1 26.Rxf1

<21...Rhc8> 21...Rd4 followed by ...Bxf1 leads to much stronger attack for black

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: There is a leetle trap hidden in this position. No-one seems to have fallen for it yet, but it's there, like a crocodile hiding in the shallows with only its eyes and nostrils above the surface.

Black might be tempted to pile up on the c2 square with 22... Rxc2 23. Rxc2 Rxc2

click for larger view

Yes, yes, I know that 23... Qa1+ and 23... Qb1+ are better, but this line also wins. The point is that 24.Qxc2 is met by Qa1+

click for larger view

White comically has two possible interpositions on the back rank, but neither work.

With that variation in mind, white sets a little trap with the game continuation. After 23. Qxc2 black might be tempted to continue with his plan of takes-takes-takes on c2. But then he would run into this: 23.Qxc2 Rxc2?

click for larger view

Now 24. Rcxc2 would run into the same mating pattern as our first line. Black would win with Qa1+ or Qb1+. But instead white planned 24. Rfxc2

click for larger view

And suddenly black finds that his mating attack has fizzled out.

All in all, I quite like 23. Qxc2. It doesn't save white in the game, but it was a last desperate throw of the dice. A cheeky little trap. A Hail Mary play for the endzone.

Jun-24-14  engmaged: <Nick46> Haha, you are right! :)
Jun-24-14  zb2cr: 22. ... Rxc2 to exploit the back rank. Black's Bishop at a6 makes this one work, by covering f1.
Jun-24-14  geeker: The "X-ray" motif! My favorite.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <Once: ... White comically has two possible interpositions on the back rank, but neither work.>

Actually <four> possible interpositions: Qb1/c1/d1 and Rf1.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: Saw this quickly, though I suspect it's not quite as easy as a typical Tuesday. Two main lines, depending on White's recapture.

I like the verbal explanation of the idea given by <Oxspawn>: "... understanding that if black switches the attack from the second to the first rank, white no longer has a coordinated defence, since f1 is under threat from the bishop."

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: Seemed a little too hard for a Tuesday, but I found 22...Rxc2 (opening the a6-f1 diagonal) 23.Rxc2 Qb1+ with mate to follow (should've calculated for 23.Qxc2).
Jun-24-14  Marmot PFL: White didn't play scared but against a top Soviet player this kind of sharp theoretical battle is nuts. White should have played soundly and positionally, as Mednis recommended in his book on beating the Russians.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Oops, I missed this one! White will be checkmated.
Jun-24-14  BOSTER: Reading today comments I have to admit that I'm only one person who was miles away from 22...Rxc2.

I'd play 22...b3. But who can play such stupid move on Tuesday, and when Geller with black pieces.

Geller who was the best tactiction in the Soviet Era.

Or should I remember what happened one hundred years ago in the game Bernstein vs Capablanca in Moscow .

The strange coincidence. The same "c" file and the black queen on b2.

Jun-24-14  sombreronegro: It would have been harder if it were not a puzzle. Not too many candidate moves for a decisive move. The basic idea is the rook on f2 cannot help on the first rank because of the bishop control of f1. Little harder OTB though.

Looks like Nillson was trying a lot of trappy play Geller was not falling for.9 b5 interference move to unpin the 35 pawn and then 13 Qd2 baiting his knight to open the d file.

And then look, Geller baits on 19. R c4 deliberately allowing white to castle.

Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: <diagonalley: slightly harder than a normal tuesday IMO...>

Agreed, 100%!

Jun-24-14  larsenault: It is realy rare that I comment, but I think that Rd4 is a good move, is it?
Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: ...Rc4, "allowing" White to castle, was a diabolical trap.
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: < larsenault: It is realy rare that I comment, but I think that Rd4 is a good move, is it?>

For the sake of clarity and for the sake of future readers trying to follow your comment (who may only see this game and the comments below it years from now!) please put the move number and show if it is White or Black.

For example, move 57 for Black should be written


Move 114 for White should be written


Premium Chessgames Member
  sea7kenp: Instead of a Chest X-Ray, this was a Chess X-Ray!
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