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Richard Reti vs Oscar Tenner
Mlada Boleslav (1913), Mlada Boleslav AUH, rd 7
Philidor Defense: General (C41)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  markbstephenson: Black plays right into Reti's Q-side attack with 14...b6. Would 14...Ng4 hoping for a later f5 be a better plan?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: <mark> An interesting question, and thanks for bringing this game to my attention. I love Reti's later games, but have never really got round to checking out his earlier ones, especially in classical openings.

I think ...Ng4 is a good idea, but Black missed a golden opportunity to play it three moves earlier. 11...Ng4! is very good for Black -- he'll get in ...f5 without problem, and probably exchange the Knight for the Be3, which has nowhere good to go. After 12.Bd2 f5 Black is on top.

But it's subtly different on move 14. The retreat ...Bf8 has given White's Bishop a square on g5, and he can use it. He can also attack Black's Queen with Nb5, which is awkward. So something like 14...Ng4 15.Bg5 f5 16.Nb5 Qb8 is in White's favour. 15.Nb5 at once may be even stronger, and in this line the White Bishop can even drop back to d2. And a5 can be nasty, even without a target on b6.

But Black *does* have an interesting Knight move on move 14. With the other Knight. 14...Nf4!? is a nice trick: 15.gxf4 exf4 wins the piece back, and if Nb5 then ...Qd8 is fine. Plus, it justifies the earlier moves ...Re8 and ...Bf8.

I don't think 14...b6 is *very* bad, although Reti makes the White win look inevitable. Perhaps it is: I can't find any real improvements for Black later on. But it would take a great player to recognize it as a losing move - or a winning opportunity.

Black had drifted over the previous few moves. 14...Nf4 still leads to dynamic equality, your 14...Ng4 is a better try too, although White has an edge.

Reti exploits 14...b6 with great dynamism. It shows how an innocent-looking move, superficially sensible, just out of the opening ... can lead to total disaster. I've had this done to me by GMs a couple of times, so I have some sympathy for Mr Tenner.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: The opening is interesting too. The 'Lion Variation' or 'Black Lion' is the new name for Philidor lines where Black gives White the option of playing dxe5, exchanging Queens, and preventing Black from castling.

The whole line went out of favour at the start of the 20th century. Nimzowitsch revitalized the Hanham Variation, where Black plays ...Nbd7 before ...Ngf6, avoiding the Queen exchange.

That became the Philidor mainline for almost a century, until the ...Nf6 line was rediscovered (and renamed) in recent years. In the spirit of other Kramnik-style openings, it's now thought that White gets nothing special by exchanging Queens.

Ironically, this game probably helped to kill the variation off for 90+ years. Yet Black was quite OK around move 10-11.

Feb-01-11  Lennonfan: <dumbdaniel> plz dont insinuate on your forum that i may be homosexual then put me on ignore so i cannot actually said you were going to have fun with me and "bat me around"(in the verbal sense of course!......i bloody hope so anyway!)....if you have anything to say you may address me wherever you like on whoevers forum or whichever game i happen to comment on,just dont do cowardly things like that....your an intellectual art yer mate?
Feb-01-11  markwell: Guys, guys, guys. Get a room and leave if off chessgames.
Feb-01-11  Lennonfan: <markwell>...sorry but he's just so goddam cute!!
Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: This game is in another world for that era!! (The classical style was in it's zenith with Tarrasch, Mieses, Maroczy, Janowski, Schlechter, Lasker, Rubinstein, Capablanca, Marshall, Spielmann, etc. although hypermodernists Savielly Tartakower and Aron Nimzowitsch were also prominent then.)

The game starts out in classical style, with a Philidor's Defense to the double king pawn opening. Black promptly transfers his queen's knight to the kingside and castles short in just eight moves.

Richard Reti seizes on such an early commitment and does just the opposite with his knights and fianchettoes his king's bishop on the long diagonal. Then Reti turns loose both knights (Nc3 & Nc4?!) and pawns (10.a4!?) supported by both bishops to terrorize Black on the queenside.

Reti shows keen tactical foresight (the exchange sacrifice 17.RxBa6 relieves the pin and allows the discovered attack 18.Nxd6! to remove a critical Black center pawn allowing future White expansion) to maneuver threats and exchanges that reduces material. This generates two safe, connected passed pawns on the queenside ready to march forward. Meanwhile, the cozy pair of Black knights and king sit peacefully as defeat is eminent on their distant border.

This was certainly an impressive performance by Richard Reti. With the castled Black king surrounded by four pieces, Reti was prepared for battle on the queenside in ten moves from a double king pawn open game. His tactical acumen uses each piece, makes threats, and simplifies into an easily won endgame.

Reti wrote his classic book "Modern Ideas in Chess" in 1923. Oh what the other grandmasters must have said when they read it!?! No doubt, he had already earned their respect well prior to it's printing.

Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: Reti apparently had the tactical solution worked out when he allowed the pin 15...Ba6. Many would have responded with the routine defense 16.b3 which leaves the Nc3 undefended and White will have further problems on the c-file. Reti wisely made his own counterattack 16.axb6!

If instead 16...QxNc4 17.RxBa6 regains the minor piece with x-ray defense (the White Q protects the loose White R) and eliminates the Black battery.

If instead 16...BxNc4 17.bxQc7 BxQe2 18.NxBe2 restores the piece count and yields an extra pawn for White on the 7th while saddling Black w/an isolated a-pawn under fire.

Thereafter, the White minor pieces come to life after the exchange sacrifice. Reti plays a nice tactical sequence on the queenside that was anything but ordinary. The attacker has to be ready for all replies, and White certainly has the answers in this game.

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