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Max Harmonist vs Siegbert Tarrasch
"Dance Recital" (game of the day May-04-2015)
2-BSB Congress (1888), Nurnberg, rd 4, Aug-08
French Defense: Exchange Variation (C01)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Apr-12-10  wordfunph: Harmonist may be glad to extract a draw but the axe fell on the favored Tarrasch..1-0!
Aug-26-11  Petrosianic: I've never understood the point of writing a comment just to tell us who won the game. I think I could have seen that from the scoresheet.

The key feature in this game seems to be the move 8...Na6. It's a very 19th century kind of move. Quick development, and who cares about pawn structure and things like that. But that starts black off on the wrong path. Letting his Bishop get exchanged off on e6 is another. After that, his pawns are just too weak. Black thinks he's going to get play on the b file after letting his pawns get doubled, but nothing comes of it. There's just nothing to compensate for the chronic weaknesses he's voluntarily accepted, and White knows how to exploit them.

Apr-06-12  Oceanlake: Agree. Black ends up with two weakness.
Apr-06-12  stanleys: I have this game annotated by Tarrasch himself,but have to find the book. If I remember correctly,he was rather unhappy with his moves 8...Na6 and 12...Kh8
Mar-03-14  Sally Simpson: Three Hundred Chess Games by Tarrasch.

Tarrasch writes in the introduction to the Nurmeberg 1888 tournament.

"I deveoped my Q-Knight to R3 (8...Na6) for the sole purpose of avoiding a draw. I detested draws.

I accomplished my aim quite easily - by losing."

He finishes the notes to this game with. "Harmonist played the whole game masterfully."

Mar-03-14  JimNorCal: I set the position to move 32 and pondered how to win it. Harmonist makes it look simple.
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: Harmonist, like chess, like love, has the power to make Tarrasch miserable.
Mar-03-14  Catlan: <Petrosianic> Not all comments need inform; often they express the pure joy of chess.

<JimNorCal> True that. His pieces are everywhere.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: You need to know that Max Harmonist, in addition to being a chess master, was a professional ballet dancer.

OK. Now on to the game. I don't know what gave Tarrasch the idea he would be able to hand such a concept at the DIRP. Being the World's Foremost Positional Player rather disqualifies one for the task.

The game is possibly most notable as an upset, though Harmonist gets ful credit. I like the way he first transfers the French Pawn from e6 to d5, then institutes an new and distinctly unimproved e6 in its place. He then Passes the Deux all over the board until Black collapses.

Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: Harmonist, a "mere" amateur who sometimes walloped world Top Ten players, conducted the major piece ending superbly. If you had shown me the position after 25...Qc5 and the rest of the game, then asked me who played White, I would have immediately guessed Petrosian because of how he exploited Black's three pawn islands whilst shielding his two. This really does resemble one of Iron Tigran's glacial but unstoppable victories.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: To quote the villain Francisco Scaramanga from the film <The Man With the Golden Gun>, after James Bond escaped yet again:

<What do they teach in that school? Ballet dancing?>

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: The fine art of exchanging.

White takes an illustrious scalp by using two variants of the exchange strategy.

First he uses psychology. He teases Tarrasch by choosing the exchange variation of the French. In effect he is saying "I don't mind a draw".

This provokes Tarrasch into the slightly dodgy 8...Na6. He doesn't worry about accepting a pawn weakness because that means he can get his pieces into the action more quickly. He expects to be able to whip up an attack against his less well known opponent.

This is the position after 8...Na6 9. Bxa6 bxa6

click for larger view

Black argues that he has open lines for his pieces. White points to the rubbish black pawns on a7 and a6.

From this point on, White wants to swap nearly all of the pieces off. That will nullify Black's open lines and magnify the weakness of those poor black pawns.

The move I really like is 28. c4

click for larger view

white creates a second weakness by forcing an exchange of pawns in the centre. This will leave Black trying to defend two sets of weak pawns - the conjoined twins on the a file and the solitary black central pawn.

Incidentally, White misses a trick here. He is so intent on his exchange strategy that he does not spot...

28...dxc4 29. Rxe6!

click for larger view

Black can't play 29...Rxe6 because of 30. Qd8+ leading to a back rank mate. He is forced to lose material.

In a way, it's good for us that White didn't spot that because we get to see the rest of his exchange strategy in action - patiently rounding up the weak black pawns.

Good game to play through.

May-04-15  Swedish Logician: Harmonist exhibit almost Smyslovian harmony and makes it look so easy. The game made me think of another classical e5 dark-square invasion, namley O Bernstein vs Mieses, 1904
May-04-15  morfishine: <Once> Nice shot: 28...dxc4 <29. Rxe6>

Harmonist was no "one-hit-wonder": Gunsberg vs Harmonist, 1887


Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <Once> Yes, 29.Rxe6! ends it immediately.
May-04-15  RookFile: It's possible that a Tarrasch of later years may have favored 4.....c5, not fearing an isolated d5 pawn.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Tarrasch gets steamrolled by the major pieces!
May-04-15  EQUILIBRIUM: Comments to move 12 ... Kh8
"The fallacy with after a hard consequences. Black had intended to play 13 ... Kg8 and f7-f6, but too late to notice that the first of these courses will be followed 14. Qh5, and in response to 14 ... f6 White checkmates 15. Ng6 #. Progress 12.. .Kh8 not only associated with the loss of tempo, but also greatly weakens the position of the black as soon begin emerging threats N(x)f7 and Ng6 (with check). The right thing 12 ... c5, after what a mistake 13. Bf4 due 13 ... cd, Rb4, Rxf4 and Re8, however, or even 13. Be3 13. Nf3 retains the white superior position. " Siegbert Tarrasch

(from the book Siegbert Tarrasch "300 games of chess," the party number 124, page 154).

May-04-15  mruknowwho: These battles of major pieces are always interesting.
May-04-15  RandomVisitor: After 12.Rb1:

click for larger view

Rybka 4.1 x64:

<[-0.04] d=25 12...Bf5> 13.Bg5 Ne4 14.Nxe4 Bxe4 15.Nd3 h6 16.Be3 Qa5 17.b3 Rfe8 18.Bd2 Qb6 19.Bc3 a5 20.a4 c5 21.dxc5 Bxc5 22.Nxc5 Qxc5 23.Qd2 Re6 24.Re3 Rg6 25.g3

May-04-15  RandomVisitor: <EQUILIBRIUM>perhaps you meant 13...<N>g8 instead of 13...<K>g8
May-04-15  Sally Simpson: Tarrasch notes the quicker missed win. (It's game 111 in the English Hays Edition.)

click for larger view

White played 29.Qxc4 and Tarrasch writes:

"Here White overlooks the immediately winning and pretty 29.Rxe6 (as he must have too engrossed in this.)" 'this' being 29.Qxc4.

Tarrasch says he accepted the doubled a-pawns (8...Na6) thinking the open b-file and the two Bishops would compensate saying he was playing in the Steinitz Baroque style.

(I'm thinking this 'Baroque style' means going just that little bit too far to create an unbalanced position when there is no need to.)

I'll tidy up a previous post by a lad who made a typo in notation.

Here after Tarrasch has played 12...Kh8?

click for larger view

He singled out this as the game losing blunder. The plan (which was not carried out, or better still, prevented by White.) was Ng8 and f6.

He gives Harmonist's next two moves 13.Bf4! and 14.Na4! saying they are excellent moves.

In a way Tarrasch was right to take a positional gamble v Harmonist. (8..Na6 The Steinitz Baroque style). But chose the wrong opening.

The year before....

Harmonist vs Tarrasch, 1887

Tarrasch beat Harmonist as Black with a French Defence where Tarrasch easily won the opening and capped his opening advantage off with an exchange sac on f3.

click for larger view

Tarrasch played 13...Rxf3.

Tarrasch then lets the game slide into a difficult ending and Harmonists does miss (according to Tarrasch) a couple of ways to draw.

The following year (back to this game).

Harmonist did not feel inclined to get into a theoretical debate v Tarrasch (I don't suppose a dancer has much chance to keep up to date with theory.) So chose the Exchange Variation.

Tarrasch probably recalling the previous years game wrongly underestimated Harmonist and triggered off an inspired game (apart from that slight blip on move 29) by Harmonist.

Jul-19-15  EQUILIBRIUM: About my previous post, yes I meant 13...<N>g8 (Sorry) May be better was 26... Qxd4 instead 26...Qc6 to the endgame

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