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Vasily Smyslov vs Gideon Stahlberg
Zuerich Candidates (1953), Zuerich SUI, rd 4, Sep-05
French Defense: Classical. Burn Variation (C11)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Jan-09-04  Whitehat1963: I don't understand 20. Ne5 or 22...Qc7. Someone please explain.
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: I dimly remember this game. Looks like accepting the knight with 20. Ne5 fe 21. Qg5+ Kh8 22. Qf6+ Kg8 23. Re5 Rfe8 is winning for white due to 24 Rh5 and Qg5+ then Rh7 with mate threats. 23. Re4 may be even better, not allowing queen takes rook, and setting up the same combo on h4-h7 with the rook.

22... Qc7 parries the threat of 23. Nf5+

Jan-09-04  square dance: i just got zurich 1953 in the mail today!
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: What does it say square dance?
Sep-28-04  PivotalAnorak: OK I'll try this one without a board: 20. Ne5 !! If 20... fxe5 21. Qg5+ Kh8 22. Qf6+ Kg8 23. Rd3 23... Rfe8 24. Qh6 ! and mate follows (Rg3 and Qf6 or Qg7). And if 24... exd4 (idea 25. Rg3+ Qxg3) then 25. f4 ! followed by 26. Rg3+. Am I right... or what did I miss ?
Sep-28-04  PivotalAnorak: So, in the line above, relatively best is 24... e4 !, forcing 25. Rg3+ Qxg3 (because if 25. Rxe4 f5 ! 26. Rg3+ ?? Qxg3 followed by 27... fxe4). Black must be lost after 25... Qxg3, but White still has some work ahead.
Dec-05-04  Backward Development: of interest:
after white's 11th move
"For this game, the chessboard becomes a battle ground of principle between smyslov and stahlberg, who are repeating their game from the budapest 1950 tournament. There, stahlberg continued with 11...Ba4 only to dicover after Nxf6+ that he could not recapture with his queen because of 13.Bxa4 and Qc4 wining a pawn. So here he delays the exchange of light square bishops for two moves, but without achieving any substantial improvement. White has a palpable advantage in space and complete freedom of maneuver, while black's bishop remains under attack by white's knight and requres the queen's protection; the black knight's movements are quite restricted too. Under these circumstances, the slightest misstep could be fatal for black." after black's 19th
"Smyslov's logical play has been making black's defense more and more difficult. He cannot take the c-pawn, of course, because of 20.Qh6, which leaves him no time to defend the f6 pawn." after white's 22nd
"a small concluding combination: the rook cannot escape, due to the threat of 23.Nf5+. in addition to the text, whereby white wins the exchange, and thus renders the remainder of the game a matter of technique, there was also 22.Qh6, a reasonable move which maintains the attack."
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: A good example of the evolution of opening theory. 9..Nb6 is quite illogical as it makes the necessary ..c5 very difficult to achieve. 9..Be7, 9..a6 or 9..c5 at once are more logical. 17..Rd7 would have been better though blacks position remains very passive. Instead Stahlberg allows a kingside weakening similar to their 1950 encounter. Smyslov provided detailed analysis showing that 19..Kg7 was necessary to avoid 20 Qh6 with a powerful attack. After 20 Ne5!, however, he gets the attack anyway. 21..Rg8 lost the exchange immediately but black would still have been worse after 21..Kh8. This game was played in the 4th round. Of the 28 games played in the first 4 rounds this was the only one with 1 e4.
Aug-03-07  amuralid: < Whitehat1963: I don't understand 20. Ne5 or 22...Qc7. Someone please explain. >


20. Ne5 fe5 21. Qg5+ Kh8 22. Qf6+ Kg8 23. Re5 Rfe8 24. Rg5+ Kf8 25. Rh5 and it is hard for black to prevent Rh7 -> Rh8. Eg: 25. ... Kg8 26. Qh6 f6 27. Qf6 Qf7 28. Rg5+ Kf8 29. Qh6+ Ke7 30. Rg7

Material is not so much a factor here because black has no pawns on the king side now.


With 22. Nh6 white threatens Nf5+ forking the king and queen as the e pawn is pinned. If 22. ... Rge8 23. Nf5+ ef5 24. Qg3+ winning the black queen.


You can thank me in my forum for my timely answer.

Premium Chessgames Member
  jbennett: I'm doing a series of videos on the Zurich 1953 tournament. For round 4 I selected this game to cover:
Jul-09-14  RookFile: Well, 20. Ne5 was an excellent move, the take away from this game. Other than that, this game was outright slaughter.
Sep-18-18  Ulhumbrus: In his book on the tournament - perhaps the best tournament book ever written - Bronstein gives a combination after 20...fxe5 in reply to 20 Ne5 which he says is useful to know about. The combination goes 21 Qg5+ Kh8 22 Qf6+ Kg8 23 Re3 Rf8-e8 24 Qh6!! Kh8 25 Rg3 Rg8 26 Qf6+ and mate next move.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: <Ulhumbrus:> Bronstein's book on the 1953 Candidates was indeed a great book. But arguably Najdorf's book on the same event was comparable.

Stockfish 15 shows that Bronstein's line allows Black to resist a bit by giving up the ♕, remaining with ♖+♘ + ♙ for ♕: 20...fxe5 21.♕g5+ ♔h8 22.♕f6+ ♔g8 23.♖e3 ♖fe8 24.♕h6 exd4! 25.♖g3+ ♕xg3 26.hxg3 e5 (evaluation +1.5).

Najdorf gave 23.♖e4 as winning, and rightly so:

23.♖e4 ♖fe8 24.♖h4! exd4 (nothing better; 24...♕e7 25.♕h6#) 25.♕g5+ ♔f8 26.♖xh7. Mate on h8 can be postponed only by giving up a whole ♕ with 26...♕e5.

Jan-10-23  Sally Simpson: Hi Jonathan,

I have heard some good reports about the Najdorf book. It's one I decided not to bother with as I already had the Veinstein/Bronstein book. (Christmas present 1980)

A while back I read John Watson's review comparing both copies and he is strongly in favour of the Najdorf book.

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