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Theodor von Scheve vs Mikhail Chigorin
Monte Carlo (1902), Monte Carlo MNC, rd 5, Feb-10
Formation: Queen Pawn Game: London System (D02)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Apr-17-09  Sem: Sem was here.
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: Me too.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: Black could have played 25...Rb2, which would have suggested a draw after: 26.Rab1 Ra2, or 26.Rc1b1 Rc2.

After 25...Rb2, White could have tried: 26.Kd3 Rxb4 27.a5 Na4 28.Rab1 Rxb1 29.Rxb1, (.20) (22 ply) 29...b6 30.Kd4 bxa5 31.Rb5 Nb6 32.Rxa5 Rf7, with only a very small edge for White.

After starting the tournament with a win over Tarrasch, and then losses to Popiel and Marshall, Chigorin may not have been in a mood to suggest a draw with 25...Rb2.

Instead, Chigorin selected 25...Rxc1. Fritz indicates this move was also playable: (.24) (24 ply) 25...Rxc1 26.Rxc1 Nxa4 27.Kd3 Nb6 28.Kd4 Nc4 29.Nxc4 dxc4 30.Rxc4 Rd8+ 31.Kc3 Rd7.

We are now near the decisive moment in this instructive ending.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: As indicated, after 25...Rxc1 26.Rxc1 Nxa4, White should have played 27.Kd3, keeping a small advantage.

Instead he played 27.Rc7, and after 27...Rf7 28.Rc8+, the game was equal.

Chigorin now made a fateful decision. He could have played 28...Rf8 with an equal position. White may then play 29.Rc7, but Black has an equal position by repeating the position with 29...Rf7.

White could also try 29.Rc1 or 29.Rc2. However, in that case Black can keep an equal position with 29...Nb6.

Instead of playing the logical, but drawish 28...Rf8, Chigorin made a huge gamble with the ill-judged move 28...Kh7?.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: To avoid drawing lines, Chigorin played 28...Kh7?. However, this was a serious error. A review of the position indicates White has strong winning chances after 28...Kh7?. The King is clearly misplaced for the ending.

click for larger view

In "The Field" Leopold Hoffer wrote, <His error on move 28 results in a lost game although the ending is instructive.> After the move 28...Kh7?, Hoffer wrote, <The beginning of the end.>

Fritz confirms that the ending is probably lost for Black after 28...Kh7?: 29.Kd3 (.57) (24 ply) 29...g6 30.Nb3 Kg7 31.Rd8 Re7 32.Rxd5 Nb2+, (.72) (25 ply) 33.Kc3 Na4+ 34.Kd2 Nb6 35.Rd8, (.84) (28 ply) 35...Rd7+ 36.Rxd7+ Nxd7 37.Na5 b6 38.Nc6 a6, (1.00) (.26) 39.Kd3 Kf7 40.Kc4 Ke6 41.Nd4+ Ke7 42.Kd5 Nf8, (1.76) (26 ply) 43.e6 Nh7 44.Nc6+ Ke8 45.Ke5 h5 46.g3 Kf8 47.e7+ Kf7 48.Kd6 Nf6 49.Kc7 Ke8 50.Kxb6, and White is winning.

In this variation Black can avoid the Rook trade at move 35 with: (1.09) (28 ply) 35...Kf7 36.Nc5 a5 37.bxa5 Nc4+ 38.Kd3 Nxa5 39.Rd6 Rc7 40.Ne6 Rc1 41.Nd4, (2.08) (24 ply) 41...Kg7 42.Rd7+ Kf8 43.Rd8+ Kf7 44.e6+ Ke7 45.Rd7+ Ke8 46.Rg7 Nc6 47.Rxg6 Nxd4 48.Kxd4, but White is also winning in this line.

Also winning for White is: (1.12) (28 ply) 35...Nc4+ 36.Kd3 Nb2+ 37.Kc3 Na4+ 38.Kd2 Nb2 39.Nc5 b6 40.Nd7 Kf7 41.Nf6 b5 43.Nd5 Rb7, (1.91) (21 ply) 44.Kd4 a5 45.Rh8 Rd7 46.bxa5 Nxa5 47.Kc5 Ke6 48.Re8+ Kf7 49.Ra8 Nc4 50.Ra6 Rd8 51.Ra7+ Kf8 52.e6.

After 28...Kh7? 29.Kd3, Chigorin varied from the line indicated by Fritz (29...g6) and played 29...Nb6.

Apr-19-09  Sem: Aha, suddenly we get comments. Thanks, Kilroy!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: At move 30, Fritz recommends 30.Re8: (.79) (26 ply) 30.Re8 Rc7 31.Nf3 g6 32.Nd4 Nc4 33.Rd8 Nb6 34.Nb5 Rc8 35.Rxc8 Nxc8 36.Nd6 Ne7 37.Nxb7, (2.06) (23 ply) 37...Kg8 38.Kd4 Kf8 39.e6 Kg7 40.Ke5, and White is winning.

White also had strong winning chances after Scheve's 30.Rd8: (.75) (27 ply) 30...Rc7 31.Nf3 Rc8 32.Rd6 g6 33.Nd4 Rc7 34.Nb5 Rc4, (2.14) (25 ply) 35.Rf6 Nc8 36.Rf7+ Kg8 37.Rxb7 Rxb4 38.e6, (2.80) (20 ply) 38...Ne7 39.Rxe7 Rxb5 40.Rxa7 Kf8 41.Kd4, and White is winning. In this line, (1.92) (25 ply) 35.e6 Re4 36.Nxa7 Nc4 37.Rd7+ Kg8 38.e7 Kf7 39.Nc8 b6 40.Rxd5 Nxe3 41.Rd7 Kf6, (3.96) (21 ply) 42.Nxb6 g5 43.fxg5+, is also winning for White.

Instead of 31...Rc8, as indicated by Fritz, Chigorin played 31...g6: (.76) (24 ply) 31...g6 32.Nd4 Rc8. Fritz indicates White is winning in this line also: (1.21) (25 ply) 33.Rd6 Rc7 34.g3 Nc4 35.Ne6 Rf7 36. Rxd5 Nb2+, (1.83) (24 ply) 37.Kd4 Re7 38.Rd6 Kg8 39.Nc5 b6 40.Ne6 a5 41.Rxb6 axb4 42.Nc5 Kg7 43.Rxb4.

At move 33, Scheve varied from Fritz's recommendation and played 33.Ne6: (.92) (25 ply) 33.Ne6 h5 34.Rxc8 Nxc8 35.Kd4, (2.03) (27 ply) 35...b6 36.b5 Kg8 37.Kxd5 Kf7 38.Nd4 Ke7 39.Kc6 Ke8 40.Kc7, (3.03) (21 ply) 40...Ne7 41.Kd6 Ng8 42.Ke6. Analysis shows White is winning in this line also.

Chigorin also varied from Fritz's recommendation at move 33, and played 33...Rxd8: (1.32) (24 ply) 33...Rxd8 34.Nxd8 Nc4 35.Nxb7 Kg7 36.Kd4, (2.01) (23 ply) 36...Na3 37.Kxd5. Analysis shows that White is winning in this variation also.

After 34.Nxd8, Black is clearly lost. Additional material loss is imminent, and the Black King still remains out of action on the h-file. Leopold Hoffer was right, the move 28...Kh7 proved to be Chigorin's undoing. Scheve played the ending well, taking advantage of the misplaced King.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: The opening in this game was closely contested. At move 14, Chigorin had an interesting choice, should he capture on d2 or g3?

click for larger view

Leopold Hoffer in "The Field", strongly preferred the capture on d2. Hoffer noted that after 14...Nxg3 hxg3, Black would be obliged to play 15...h6, allowing White the natural follow-up 18.g4, after which 18...g6 19.gxf5 gxf5, would lose the h-pawn.

Hoffer also noted the recapture 19...exf5, weakened the d-pawn, leaving White with a strong protected passed pawn on e5, and a very difficult ending for White after the queen exchange on move 22.

This are all good points by Hoffer and would have convinced many to play 14...Nxd2. Chigorin, however, decided to play 14...Nxg3.

In this game, Chigorin at several points, (moves 14, 25 & 28), decided against moves that were more likely to draw. A review by Fritz indicates his choices at move 14 and 25 were playable, but his move 28...Kh7?, gave him a lost position.

At move 14, Fritz indicates that either: (-.12) (21 ply) 14...Nxg3 15.hxg3 h6 16.f4 f6, or (-.09) (21 ply) 14...Nxd2 15.Qxd2 h5 16.0-0-0 b6 are playable.

A deeper search of the 14...Nxg3 variation indicates that 15...h6 is not required: (-.13) (23 ply) 14...Nxg3 15.hxg3 g6 16.f4 h5, with an approximately equal position.

After 20.Qb3, Black has a difficult choice in defending his d-pawn. Hoffer in "The Field wrote regarding 20...Nb6: <Relatively best but, even so, a poor square for the knight.>

A review by Fritz indicates that considerably better than 20...Nb6 was: (.16) (21 ply) 20...c4 21.Qd1 Nxe5 22.fxe5 Qxe5 23.Qc2 a5; or (.31) (21 ply) 20...Qf7 21.0-0 Rfc8 22.Rfd1 c4 23.Qc2 Nf8; or (.37) (21 ply) 20...Qe6 21.Nf3 a5 22.Kf2 axb4 23.axb4 Qf7.

After (.40) (21 ply) 20...Nb6? 21.a4 cxb4, (.54) (24 ply) 22.cxb4 Rac8 23.0-0 g6 24.a5 Nc4 25.Rfc1 Rc7 26.Rc2 Rfc8 27.Rac1, White has a small advantage.

Scheve did not play 22.cxb4, and after (.00) (24 ply) 22.Qxb4? Qxb4 23.cxb4 Rac8 24.Ke2 Rc2 25.Rhc1, the game was equal.

See previous posts for the game continuation after 25.Rhc1.

A very interesting game. Chigorin's attempts to avoid a draw finally led to his downfall. However, it took some strong play by Scheve, including a fine ending to score the point.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: The 3rd paragraph of my last post (04/21/09) should read:

Hoffer also noted the recapture 19...exf5 weakened the d-pawn, leaving White with a strong protected passed pawn on e5, and a very difficult ending for Black after the queen exchange on move 22.

May-05-16  bachiller: Scheve method!
May-05-16  lentil: Nice mate after 43. b7 fe 44. b8Q e2 45. Qe8.
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Trying to create complications in what should have been a drawn endgame, Tchigorin overreached and lost, landing himself in next to last place after five rounds. He eventually recovered, but only to the extent of taking 8th place (out of twenty), but still finishing out of the money. Had Tchigorin defeated von Scheve in this game--as he had in their game at Monte Carlo 1901 in which the same opening had been employed--Tchigorin would have taken 5th prize. Meanwhile, von Scheve, who had tied for third with Tchigorin at Monte Carlo 1901, collapsed after this win and ended up in 17th place.

Most of the salient points in this game were identified by <Pawn and Two> in his superb commentary on this game on this site over a decade ago. I will indicated in the following commentary the few places in which I disagree with the analysis of <Pawn and Two>

1. d4

vion Scheve had been very successful at Monte Carlo 1901 playing 1. d4, and so tried the same type of d4 opening here (albeit the one with which he had lost to Tchigorin at Monte Carlo 1901).

1... d5
2. Nf3 Bg4

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A Tchigorin favorite throughout his career. It had previously been a line used by Blackburne, and was later championed by Nigel Short.

3. Bf4

The same line von Scheve had adopted against Tchigorin at Monte Carlo 1901. It was also played against Tchigorin by Janowski here at Monte Carlo 1902 in a game that ended in a draw. Better are probably 3. c4 or 3. Ne5.

3... e6

As at Monte Carlo 1901, it is surprising to see Tchigorin by-pass his usual 3...BxN (which may be objectively best here), especially given Tchigorin's oft-expressed preference for Knights over Bishops. 3...Nc6 ay also be better than the text.

4. e3

4. Ne5 is a good alternative.

4... Nf6
5. c3

von Scheve at Monte Carlo 1901. had success with this sort of development as White.

5... Bd6
6. Bg3

Very tentative play by von Scheve. 6/ Nbd2 or 6, Bd3 ir 6, Be2 all look better. But von Scheve was seemingly afraid of allowing Tchigorin to saddle him with doubled f-pawns.

6... Nbd7

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For the next several moves, it is surprising that neither player chose to mess up the other's hair with BxB.

7. Nbd2

In addition to 7. BxB, 7. Qb3 of 7. c4 seem to be improvelements over the text.

7... 0-0
8. Qc2

Weak. Apart from 8. BxB (that was probably best, von Scheve could have played 8. h3 (challenging the Black g4 Bishop) or 8. Be2.

8... Qe7

Yet again bypassing the superior 8...BxB

9. Ne5

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My quibbles notwithstanding, the position at this point was still about equal, Black perhaps holding a slight edge.

9... Bf5
10. Bd3 BxB
11. QxB BxN
12. dxB

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Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

The position I gave at the end of my last post was in fact the position after 11...BxN. After 12. dxB the position was:

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12... Nc5

Probably better than 12...Ng4

13. Qc2 Nfe4
14. f3 NxB

Both the text and the capture on d2 were entirely playable, as is more fully discussed by <Pawn and Two>.

15. hxN

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15... h6

As <Pawn and Two> correctly notes, this was not required. Indeed, 15...g6 was better.

16. f4 f5
17. b4

17. exf6 e.p. and 17. g4 immediately look more natural.

17... Nd7
18. g4!

"The natural follow-up." (<Pawn and Two>).

click for larger view

18... c5

As <Pawn and Two> notes, 18...g6 would lose the h-pawn after 19. gxf5. But 18...fxg4 looks fine. If then 19. Qg6, Black has a small edge after 19...Kh8 20. Nb3 c5.

18...a5 was also superior to the text.

The text creates a problem Tchigorin never solved: White gets a protected passed e-pawn. Though it didn't have to be the case, this ultimately proved to be Black's undoing.

19. gxf5 exf5

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20. Qb3

As <Pawn and 2> aptly notes, Tchigorin now--in addition to facing the passed White e-pawn--had the problem of trying to defend his own pawn on d5. This proved to be another continuing theme in the game. The d5 pawn only fell on the final move. As will be seen in what follows, Tchigorin had numerous chances to rid himself of this weakness and obtain access on d5 for hi Knight. It is surprising that Tchigoring permitted this weakness to plague him for the balance of the game, particularly since there were tactical solutions to the problem of the type at which Tchigorin usually excelled.

20... Nb6

<Pawn and 2> correctly says that, though b6 was a poor square for the Knight, the text was "relatively best." He goes on to report that Fritz prefers 20...c4. My more recent version of Fritz prefers either the text of 20...Qf7, White having a small advantage in either case.

21. a4 cxb4
22. Qxb4

"?"--(<Pawn and 2>.

22. cxb4 was indeed superior, as noted by <Pawn and 2>.

22... QxQ
23. cxQ

click for larger view

23... Rac8

I was astounded in playing over the game that Tchigorin did not play the clearly indicated 23...d4! after which he would have about even chances. Black has two problems in this position, the passed White e-pawn and the weak Black pawn on d5. 23...d4 would have resolved the latter problem and opened d5 for his Knight. If 23...d4 24. exd4 (best), Black would be fine with 24...Rac8 25. 0-0 Rc2.

24. Ke2

24. a5 was much better. The text gave Tchigorin a second chance to play 24, which now would have given him the better game after 25. exd4 (best) Rfd8 after which White has no good way to defend his pawn on d4 and thus Black would be at least equal (e.g., 26. Nf3 Rc2+; 26. Kd3 Nd5; 26. Ke3 Nd5+).

The position after 24. Ke2 was:

click for larger view

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

24... Rc2

This looks superficially good, but as will be seen left Tchigorin no good alternative to playing for a draw. Much better--if Tchigorin wanted to play for the full point was 24...d4!. Then, after 25. exd4 (best) Rfd8 White would have no good way to defend the White pawn at d4 (i.e., 26. Nf3 Rc2+' 26. Kd3 Nd5; 26. Ke3 Nd5+).

25. Rhc1

"!"--(Tournament Book)

25. Kd3, though disparaged in the Tournament Book, would White with approximate equality after 25...Rfc8 26. a5 R8c3+ 27. Kd4 (Not 27. Ke2? Nc4).

The text, however, was indeed best and pretty much compelled Tchigorin to play for a draw (which would not be so bad since the game would then have been replayed with Tchigorin having White). But under the scoring system used at Monte Carlo 1902, a draw would give both players 1/4th of a point and the replay would decide how the remaining 1/2 of a point would be divided.

The position after 25. Rhc1 was:

click for larger view

25... RxR?

As <Pawn and 2> has explained, 25...Rb2 was best and the only way to stay out of trouble. White could then play for a draw with 26. Rab1 (followed by 27. Ra1). White can play for an edge after 25...Rb2 with 26. Kd3 after which Black does best to play 26...d4! rather than 26...Rxb4 as suggested by <Pawn and 2>. Play then becomes exciting--and obviously difficult to access over the board: 26...d4 27. exd4 Rxb4 28. a5 Rd8! 29. axN Rbxd4+ 30. Kc3 Rd3+ 31. Kb4 a5+ 32. Rxa5 RxN after which Black should be able to hold the double-Rook ending.

After the text, Tchigorin faced a tough task to hold the game. But he was determined to play for a win, and this ended up costing him the game.

26. RxR Nxa4

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27. Rc7?

As <Pawn and 2> has discussed, 27. Kd3 was White's best chance to play for a win here. The text gave Tchigorin an opportunity to save the game (had he been willing to split the point).

27... Rf7
28. Rc8+

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This proved to be the key position of the game. As previously noted by <Pawn and 2>, Tchigorin should have played 28...Rf8. Instead, to quote <Pawn and 2>, Tchigoring tried a huge gamble that proved fatal:

28... Kh7?

29. Kd3!

click for larger view

29... Nb6?

Tchigorin was probably lost anyway, but after the text he was pretty much dead in the water. <Pawn and 2> reports that Fritz preferred 29...g6, but that looks hopeless following 30. Kd4.

The only chance for Black lay in 29...Re7 (abandoning the d-pawn). But Tchigorin was still looking for a win and avoided drawing lines. Perhaps Tchigorin was misled by the fact that he was (nominally) a pawn ahead in this ending.

30. Rd8

White also wins with 30. Re8 (as per <Pawn and 2>) and with 30. Rb8.

click for larger view

As will be seen, Tchigorin's play during the balance of the game became increasingly desperate and only hastened his demise.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IV

30... Rc7

30...Re7 or 30...g6 were slightly better, but Black is doomed.

31. Nf3 g6

31...Rc8, which <Pawn and 2> reports is preferred by Fritz, is probably the best at Black's disposal, but that fails to 32. Rd6.

32. Nd4!

click for larger view

The White Knight dominates Black, who is hindered rather than helped by the d-pawn he could have pushed earlier.

32... Rc8
33. Ne6

Both this and 33. Rd6 (which <Pawn and 2> says is recommended by Fritz and also wins, e.g., 33. Rd6 Na4 34. Rd7+ Kg8 39. Rxd5).

33... RxR

This leads to a completely lost Knight and Pawn ending, but Tchigorin had nothing better.

34. NxR

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Tchigorin's extra pawn here was worse than useless, and now the b-pawn falls.

34... Kg8
35. Kd4 Kf8
36. Nxb7 Ke7
37. Na5

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37... Ke6?

Only 37...Kd7 would give Black anything approaching a fighting chance.

38. Nc6 Nc8
39. Kc5

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Zugzwang was clearly approaching. Tchigorin now made a desperate attempt at counter-play which went no where.

39... Nb6

39...g5 would only put off the fatal day and would likewise lose a pawn after 40. Nd4+.

40. Nxa7 Nc4

40...Nd7+ or 40...Na4+ lose after 41. Kc6.

41. b5

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The game was now over, though Tchigorin struggled on for another ten moves.

41... g5
42. b6

42. Nc6 was faster, but the text is more than good enough.

42... gxf4
43. exf4

<lentl> has pointed out a cute mate after 43. b7 if Black responds 43...fxe3 via 44. b8(Q), but Black can prolong--but not save--the game with 43...Nxe5.

After 43. exf4 the position was:

click for larger view

Believe it or not, Tchigorin played on. I will discuss the end of the massacre in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post

43... Na5
44. Nc6 Nb7+
45. Kb5

45. Kd4 was perhaps a little faster, but the text also gets the job done.

click for larger view

45... Kd7

If Tchigorin still wanted to continue he might have decided to chuck his d-pawn (which had long been the bane of his game) with 45...d4. But nothing really works here for Black.

46. Nd4 Nd8
47. Ka6 Kc8
48. Ka7

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The move 45 time control had passed, so it is hard to understand what Tchigorin was doing here.

48... Nb7
49. Nxf5 Na5
50. Ne7+ Kd7
51. Nxd5

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The d-pawn falls at last.


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