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Vasily Smyslov vs Cenek Kottnauer
Groningen (1946), Groningen NED, rd 14, Aug-30
Sicilian Defense: Scheveningen. Classical Variation (B84)  ·  1-0



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Given 20 times; par: 21 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 4 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Oct-22-06  aw1988: Once upon a time I looked at this game and for the longest time I could not understand why Black did not play the obvious 18...Nxc5.

Don't ask how much sleep I had the night before.

Sep-11-09  King.Arthur.Brazil: After 15.Qa6, the Black colud answer Qc7, 16.f4 Ra7,trying to suvive. After 15.Qb8 the white attack is decisive. After 18.Nc5: (Qc7?? Qxb7!) Rc7 19.Nxd7! Rxc6 20.Nxb8 win a N. Rxd7 21.Ra8 wins the Q. White could also play 20. Rxd6 when Rb6 is impossible by Qxd7+ followed by Rxb6 and win. Smyslov just plaued Bxd6 cause he already foresee the brilliance Qxd7 answer.
Premium Chessgames Member
  wordfunph: <Benzol: I saw 18.Nc5 but missed the follow up 19.Bf4 :(>

same with me...i also entertained 18.Nb6 intending Ra8 but still down in material.

19.Bf4! watta move..

Apr-02-10  zooter: Ok, the first move is obvious enough

18.Nc5 (using all the development advantage of white) dxc5 (there is no other option to save both the rook and knight) and now comes the shocker

19.Ra8 this surely fixes black as

19...Qxa8 20.Rxd7 and the discovered check is too much to handle. Note that 20...Rxd7 is not possible as the rook is pinned to the undefended queen on a8.

Time to check if the sequence is right

Apr-02-10  zooter: well, yes my variation probably wins too

as 18.Nc5 dxc5 19.Ra8 Qxa8 20.Rxd7 Rxd7 21.Qxa8+ leaves white with Q+B vs 2R+B. Not sure if this is winning too or if there is some defense in my line that i missed.

Anybody can help here?

Apr-02-10  Bozantium: I was looking at 20. Rxd6 and then either O-O or Rc7 for Black, but O-O looks really bad, although 20...Rc7 leads to something like 21. Rxe6+! fxe6 22.Bxc7 and wins. Anyone check these lines with an engine?
Apr-02-10  Shah Mat: this is the first thurday puzzle that i feel i mostly solved, ie, i found the two key moves: 18.Nc5! forking the rook and exploiting the pin on Black's king, saw black's only reply was to capture, and then found 19. Bf4! winning due to the threat of nastiness of the back rank
Premium Chessgames Member
  al wazir: I was expecting 19...Qxf4, whereupon white has 20. Qc8+ Ke2 21. Qxb7, and the ♘ is dead meat. But after 19...Bd6 I think I would have found Smyslov's winning line OTB.
Apr-02-10  starkidaway: <zooter> That was the same combination that I calculated. It also wins.
Apr-02-10  dzechiel: White to move (18?). Material even. "Difficult."

The pinned knight is clearly the key to this problem. Black's lack of development (the bishop and rook still on the home squares) is too much for the second player to overcome.

At first I wanted to play 18 Nb6 thinking that after 18...Rxb6 I could play 19 Ra8, but, of course, black simply takes the white queen and ends up two pieces ahead.

I still didn't want to abandon the idea of Ra8, and it didn't take long to see that

18 Nc5

is a winner. This attacks the rook and the pinned knight. If black plays



19 Nxd7 Rxc6 20 Nxb8

leaves white up a piece. And

18 Rb6 Qxd7+

is also unacceptable. No, black will have to take the proffered knight.

18...dxc5 19 Rxd7

The threatened discovered check is very powerful. But black can't take the knight with 19...Rxd7 because of 20 Ra8 (the move I first wanted to play). It looks as if black will have to try


Now moving the rook with discovered check will be met with 20...Rxc6.

I'm less sure about this move, but it seems to work, so I'm going with

20 Qa4

The discovered check is on again.


Blocking the diagonal. Black would have liked to have played 20...Rb4, but after 21 Rb7+ Rxa4 22 Rxb8+ Kd7 23 Rxa4 black has lost a rook.

21 Ra7

Pinning the rook and threatening 22 Ra8 pinning the queen.

21...Qb6 22 c4

attacking the pinned rook and winning it next move.

That's all I got tonight, time to check.


Totally different. I hope my line was sound.

Apr-02-10  hulkweazel: I came up with 18.Nc5 dxc5 19. Rxd7 Rxd7 20. Ra8 Qxa8 21. Qxa8+

same line as zooter but moves 19 and 20 reversed. I'm not sure it wins though, I've seen quite a few endgames where two rooks were much stronger than a queen.

Apr-02-10  sethoflagos: 18 Nc5 dxc5
19 Rxd7 Rxd7
20 Ra8 Qxa8
21 Qxa8+

... I don't think this it.

Try again in the morning!

Apr-02-10  dzechiel: <zooter: well, yes my variation probably wins too

as 18.Nc5 dxc5 19.Ra8 Qxa8 20.Rxd7 Rxd7 21.Qxa8+ leaves white with Q+B vs 2R+B. Not sure if this is winning too or if there is some defense in my line that i missed.

Anybody can help here?>

It looks like my own line was cooked. But your line is so close I wanted to look at it.

Is it possible for black to play 20...Rc7 instead? So the line would go

18 Nc5 dxc5 19 Ra8 Qxa8 20 Rxd7 Rc7

and now it looks like black will get two rooks for the queen.

Is this playable?

Apr-02-10  zooter: <dzechiel:>

I'm not sure what difference does 20...Rc7 instead of 20...Rxd7 does? In both cases black gets 2 rooks for the knight...

But i'm thinking that development of the h8 rook is going to be difficult and so will the bishop on f8.

Additionally white can create a passed pawn on the queen side, but I'm not sure. The game line wins cleanly no doubt, but is this an alternative?

Apr-02-10  SamAtoms1980: 18 Nc5! dxc5 19 Bf4! Bd6 20 Rxd6 and Kottnauer is bratwurst.

A brilliancy for Smyslov as he pounds Black's flimsy Scheveningen into borscht.

Apr-02-10  DarthStapler: I didn't get it
Apr-02-10  nuwanda: Hi <dzechiel> and <zooter>

your line 18.Nc5 dxc5 19.Rxd7 Rxd7 20.Ra8 Qxa8 21.Qxa8+ Ke7, with Queen against the 2 rooks, would surely be good for white (due to the lead in development and the lousy position of the black king).

But there is the nasty threat of bankrankmate by black, which forces White to give up his bishop. After that, white has only a perpetual...

Apr-02-10  tarek1: In this position White has a huge development advantage. As usual in these situations, he has to strike now, if possible, because othyerwise, Black will play Be7 and O-O and be more or less OK. And also as usual, the first thing to do is open lines

<18.Nc5 !>

This a knight fork. The rook on b7 is attacked and we threaten something like 19.Nxd7 Rxd7 20.Ra8 <18...Rc7> doesn't work because of <20.Nxd7 Rxc6 21.Nxb8> both queens dropped off but we took the d7 knight free of charge.

So <18...dxc5> is forced.

Now, we might be tempted by <19.Rxd7? Rxd7 20.Ra8> and it looks like we win the queen... but Black has a little surprise for us : <20...Ke7!> unpinning two pieces. And we can't take the queen because of Rd1# thank-you-very-much.

So... <18...dxc5 19.Bf4>

Another sacrifice to distract the queen from the defense. It cannot be declined because d8 is the only square and <19...Qd8 20.Qxb7> with Ra8 coming is worse.

<19...Qxf4 20.Qxb7> threatening simply Qxd7#. This is more accurate than Ra8+ which helps Black. Now we got a rook for two minor pieces but the knight on d7 is dropping off.

-if <20...Nb8 21.Qc8+ Ke7 22.Qd8#> -if <20...Nb6 21.Ra8+ Nxa8 22.Qc8+ Ke7 23.Qd8#> Any other knight move is answered by Ra8+ mating.

So... <20...Ke7 21.Rxd7+ Kf6 22.Rxf7+ Kg5 23.Rxf4> winning. Let's see.

Apr-02-10  zooter: <nuwanda But there is the nasty threat of bankrankmate by black, which forces White to give up his bishop. After that, white has only a perpetual...>

I doubt that white has to give up his bishop to prevent back rank. A simple Qf3 would guard d1

Apr-02-10  Prudov: Just for the record, this game was played on August 30.
Apr-02-10  zooter: <tarek1:> seems to have shown us that the sequence

18.Nc5 dxc5 19.Rxd7 Rxd7 20.Qa8 Ke7 and white cannot continue his attack

21.Qxc5+ Qd6 (only move as 21...Kf6 Qg5#, 21...Rd6 22.Rxb8 and the black rook is pinned to give mate, 21...Kd8/Ke8 22.Rxb8+ wins the rook with check)

However, I think still my sequence is ok:

18.Nc5 dxc5 19.Ra8 Qxa8 20.Rxd7 Rxd7 21.Qxa8+ Ke7 22.Qf3 with a good advantage for white

Apr-02-10  gofer: This is a position where after the initial move it is very clear but the rest white can get wrong! So seeing the correct second move is far more of a challenge than the first!

Try 1: 18 Nc5 dxc5 19 Rxd7 Rxd7 20 Ra8 Ke7 Suddenly white is on the back foot as black threats Rd1# and just after he has sacrificed a rook!

Try 2: 18 Nc5 dxc5 19 Ra8 Qxa8 20 Rxd7 ( Now it is white that is threatening mate! 21 Rxb7+ Kd8 22 Qd7#, so white has to give up its queen!) Rxd7 21 Qxa8+ Ke7 (Again black is trying for the back rank mate with 22 ... Rd1#) 22 Qf3 ... now white has swapped Q for 2 R, but this is not exactly clear, so lets start again...

Try 3: 18 Nc5 dxc5 19 Rxd7 Rxd7 20 Bf4 Qxf4 this doesn't quite work... how about...

Try 4:

18 Nc5 dxc5
19 Bf4!

Now things are looking better! Black has given up a knight and offers up the bishop too, but has opened the lines to black's main defensive pieces and connected his rooks making his own defenses rock solid!

20 ... e5 21 Bxe5 (the knight is pinned)

20 ... Bd6 21 Bxd6 with the same outcome as below, but less a bishop

20 ... Qxf4 21 Qc8+! (forcing the king to block in Bf7 and Rh8) Ke7 22 Qxb7 winning

20 ... Qe8 21 Qxb7 winning

So now I think we have to look at what happens if black refuses the knight sacrifice!

18 Nc5 ...

18 ... Rb6 19 Qxd7#)

18 ... Rc7 19 Nxd7! Rxc6 (Rxd7 20 Ra8 winning) 20 Nxb8 winning a knight

18 ... Ra7 19 Nxd7 Qa8 20 Nf6+ winning (this is quite a fun/silly variation)

18 ... Qc7 19 Qxb7 Qxc5 20 Ra8+ Ke7 21 Ra7 winning a rook!

Time to check...

Apr-02-10  hulkweazel: Okay, so my sequence doesn't work, but you can still get equal material with 21. Qxd7, and after queens get traded it's R+B against R+B, with white still having an advantage because of black's exposed king and potential for a passed pawn.

Zooter, I don't see why black doesn't play 21. ...Rd8 instead of 21. ...Ke7. Rd8 still forces white to move the queen to f3, and it allows the bishop to move out while setting up black to castle, allowing black to bring out both rooks. Personally I'd say black has the advantage here since it's difficult for a queen to deal with two active rooks at once.

Apr-02-10  nuwanda: Hi <zooter>,

you're right, i completely overlooked 22.Qf3, shame on me.

But, however, i dont think i changes the evaluation much. Black can use the time given to play 22...f6 and 23.Kf7, threatening to bring out his pieces. As soon as he can coordinate them, white has to be very carefully, the two rooks might prove stronger than the queen


Premium Chessgames Member
  scormus: Material equal, W has open lines ans active pieces while the BK is vulnerable in the centre. Should be directly winning for W but it looks a bit more difficult and I'm not sure if I have it right. I'm seduced by the elegant line starting 18. Nc5 and I look at the natural replies, starting with the most obvious

If 18... dxc5 19 Rxd7 Rxd7 20 Ra8. BQ and BR are both pinned (remember last week!), If 21... Qxa8 22 Qca8+ and W has an active Q vs a passive R. If 21... Ke7 (22 Rxb8??? Rd1#) 22 Qxc5+ Rd6 (22... Kf6 23 Qg5#) 23 Qxa8 etc

If 18... Ra7 19 Nxd7 Rxd7 20 Ra8 as above

More interesting is 18... Rc7 19 Nxd7 If 19... Rxd6 20 Nxb8 Rxc2. Its N vs p but a bit more work for W to do. An interesting line is 21 Ra8 Ke7 22 Bg5+ f6 23 Rda1 fxg5 24 R1a7+ Kf6 25 Nd7+ Kf5 26 g4+ Kxg4 27 Rxc8 and I suppose W wins

I'm really not sure. Now to see what W really played

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