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Viktor Korchnoi vs Grigory Levenfish
Minsk (1953)
Catalan Opening: Closed Variation (E07)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 3 OF 3 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Apr-22-10  wordfunph: i got 23...Rxe4 24.Rxe4 but i was looking at f3 square for black's queen but not possible huh! better luck tomorrow..
Apr-22-10  Cibator: Reminiscent of the famous Adams-Torre "game", with those successive unacceptable offers of the queen. Love that quiet little move (... g6) that caps it all off.
Apr-22-10  David2009: Thursday 22/04/2010 Korchnoi vs Levenfish, 1953 Black 23...?

23 ...Rxe4 and if 24 Rxe4 Qxd6 ending a B ahead. Time to check: ====
25 Qxb4 Qxc5! was a neat finishing touch, but even without it Black won comfortably. Easier than yesterday where I blundered (in distinguished company) with ...Qxd1??

Apr-22-10  awfulhangover: Yesterday it took me 10 min to get the correct move, today one minute (didn't see 24. Qxd6 at once). I guess I'm not the only one to think that today was an easier puzzle.
Apr-22-10  tratra: Korchnoi vs Levenfish

Black to play:

Material is even: 2R + 1B + Q + 5 pawns. White has a defensive position. Although white's bishop influences some of the kingside light squares black has a back rank mate. White's rooks have fair control over the central files but Black's rooks also controls important files on the e file and a file. White's rook on e1 square is burdened to protect the back rank and the bishop on the center.

Candidate move: 23...(Rxe4) taking advantage of the over burdened Rook on e file.

24 Rxe4 (24. Rxf6?? Rxe1#) Qxd6! (24...Ra1+? 25. Rd1 Rxd1 26. Qxd1) 25. cxd6 (25. Re8+ Rxe8 26. cxd6 Re1#) Ra1+ and after 27. Re1 or 27. Qd1 mate follows.

Apr-22-10  sethoflagos: After yesterday's debacle (Qxd1?) any Q for R trades will be subject to close scrutiny!

However, today's spotlight falls instantly on the move Ra1 which mates if the Re1 can be deflected and the Q+R defence of d1 broken up.

With only the Ra8 and Bh3 being required to deliver the final blow, all other resources are expendable.

First bash

23. ... Qxd6
24. cxd6 Rxe4
25. Rxe4 Ra1+
26. Qd1 Rxd1+
27. Re1 Rxe1#

After 25. Rxe4, white is dead nailed and buried, so does he have an alternative?

25. Rd1 looks a good reposte. So QxR is once again incorrect and we need a rethink.

Second bash

23. ... Rxe4
24. Rxe4 Qxd6
25. cxd6 Ra1+
26. Qd1 Rxd1+
27. Re1 Rxe1#

Now if white refuses the capture at move 25, he's lost R+B for R.

25. Rd8+ Rxd8 26. cxd6 Rd1#
25. Re1 Qd2 26. Qe3 Qxe3 27. fxe3 Be6
25. Re1 Qd2 26. Rb1 Rd1
25. Qxd4 Qd5 26. Qe1 Qxe4

Maybe black should just accept the bishop loss with 24. R6d1

Apr-22-10  johnlspouge: Thursday (Medium)

Korchnoi vs Levenfish, 1953 (23...?)

Black to play and win.

Material: Even. The White Kg1 has 1 legal move, h1 on the back rank. The White Re1 bears the burden of protecting Be4, which Re8 attacks. It also shares the burden of preventing Ra8-a1# with Qb3 and Rd6, so all three White pieces have an absolute burden. The only question is the order of captures. The general rule is capture least expensive pieces first, to make refusal progressively more expensive. The Black Kg8 is vulnerable to back-rank mates.

Candidates (23...): Rxe4

23.Rxe4 Rxe4 [else, drop Be4]

24.Qxd6 cxd6 [else, drop a B]

25.Ra1+ Qd1 26.Rxd1+ Re1 27.Rxe1#

Apr-22-10  jsheedy: I'm going for 23...Rxe4, 24. Rxe4, Qxd6, 25. cxd6, Ra1+ and mate in two. Time to check...
Apr-22-10  JG27Pyth: Rxe4 was screaming to be played but how to finish without getting back rank mated oneself... I kept trying to make Qf3 ideas work, but the White Queen guarding the third rank foiled me. And in other variations I initially examined White's tenacious control of d1 caused problems... but when I saw the Qxd6 follow up -- I knew I'd found the way.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: The game seems like a tamer version of the game (study) of Adams-Torre,which had six successive queen sacs.
Premium Chessgames Member
  chrisowen: Viktor tries 3.g3 gory Catalan, dont able players pounce like Levenfish claw back the advantage? Revolving around the fe line Rd6 does divert queen yet it is a terrible mistake. Out of bowl reach Rxe4 rxe4 then cream off the tower Qxd6. It's transparent angry white's glass defence is shattered. 25.Qxb4 is pause for thought scratching a pawn but the king, Fish makes sure, is out of air.
Apr-22-10  YouRang: Fairly easy to see once you notice white's back rank vulnerability and black's threat to exploit it on the a-file.

In such situations, one always looks for ways to deflect the defenders of the back rank. In this case, white's back rank has two defenders: (1) Re1 and (2) less directly, Rd6 which can block on d1 while supported by the queen on b3. Complicating things is the fact that black's queen is in take by the Rd6 (and of course, the rook can be taken by the queen).

Clearly white's back rank defense is a bit tenuous. The obvious deflection tactic appears to be <23...Rxe4>, which is easily seen to be safe with regard to losing our queen (24.Rxf6?? Re1#).

But is it safe against losing the exchange? If <24.Rxe4>, then 24...Ra1+ doesn't work due to 25.Rd1!. However, we can remove that last back rank defender with <24...Qxd6!> and white needs 25.Re1 to stave off mate (25.cxd6?? Ra1~#), and being down a piece, may as well resign.

Apr-22-10  VincentL: In this "medium" position, the move I see immediately is 23... Rxe4 threatening mate on the first rank.

If 24. Rxf6 24....Rxe1 mate
If 24. Rxe4 24....Qxd6 and black is a bishop up and threatening mate (so 25. cxd6 cannot be played).

Other moves are no better. For example 24. Qd1 Rxe1+ 25. Qxd1 Qxe6 leaving black a rook and bishop up.

Time to check.

Apr-22-10  dkinla: I would still like to see the game played out. Even up a piece I would still lose to Korchnoi.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Tabanus: <englishdave250: A little too easy today, took a couple of seconds>

About 10 seconds here. Rxe4 Rxe4 Ra1 oops Rd1 so Qxd6

Apr-22-10  wals: Rybka 3 1-cpu: 3071mb hash: depth 18:

25.Qxb4 blunder -#5. and Black missed it.

25.Qxb4 Qd3 26.Re1 Qf3 27.Qe4 Qxe4

28.Rxe4 Ra1 29.Re1 Rxe1#

Apr-22-10  Marmot PFL: Looked at this for a few minutes this morning and couldn't get past 23...Rxe4 (which could almost be played on intuition). Then returned this afternoon and found 24...Qxd6 within a second or two. Maybe the brain just takes longer to wake up with age.
Apr-22-10  YouRang: Being bored, I decided to play out the remainder of the game (as black) vs. Little Chess Partner, and came across an amusing <sadistic chess> ending:

27.b4 Qf5 28.Re8+ Rxe8 29.Qxe8+ Kg7 30.Qe1 Qf3 <threaten ...Qg2#> 31.Qe5+ Kh6 32.Qe3+ Qxe3 33.fxe3 Kg5 34.Kf2 Kf5 35.Kf3 Bg4+ 36.Kg2 Ke4 37.h3 Be6 38.g4 Kxe3 39.Kh2 Kf2 40.Kh1 Bd5+ 41.Kh2 Bg2! [diagram]

click for larger view

White's K is now immobilized, so he is forced to push his pawns, and slowly await his fate...

42.h4 f6! <better than h6 for getting passed pawn on g-file> 43.b5 cxb5 44.g5 fxg5 45.hxg5 h5!! [diagram]

click for larger view

Technically, 45...h5 is no different than ...h6, but it gets extra credit in sadistic chess for style: it *looks* like stalemate, but of course the e.p. capture is forced.

46.gxh6 g5 47.h7 g4 48.h8=Q <oh oh, white got a queen> [diagram]

click for larger view

48...g3# <heh>

Apr-22-10  randomsac: free bishop because of a bank rank threat. Letting black post the bishop on h3 really brought a lot of pain.
Apr-22-10  WhiteRook48: 23...Rxe4 pretty obvious
Apr-22-10  PeterB: 23...Rxe4 is trivially obvious. I can't understand how a great tactician like Korchnoi missed this!
Jan-15-15  Poisonpawns: Levenfish was 42 years older than Korchnoi when this was played
Jan-15-15  Petrosianic: Impossible, nobody's older than Korchnoi.
Jan-15-15  john barleycorn: Right, Korchnoi was already born old.
Jan-05-16  Caissanist: There are many players who have played opponents more than 100 years apart, but so far as I know Korchnoi is the only one whose opponents were both GMs at the time they were played. Of course, that is partly because the GM title wasn't formalized until 1950.
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