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Peter Romanovsky vs Abram Rabinovich
USSR Championship (1920), Moscow RUS, rd 5, Oct-10
Italian Game: Scotch Gambit. Anderssen Attack (C56)  ·  1-0

ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Jul-09-20
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Through four rounds, Abram Rabinovich had won all four of his games, was in first place, and seemed to be on the way to the tournament of his life. Indeed, his final finish here (a tie for 5th-7th out of 16) was the best result he ever achieved. But this game against Romanovsky (the eventual second-prize winner who won the 2nd USSR Championship three years later) was the turning point.

Romanovsky played aggressively and sought complications. Rabinovitch was plainly not up to this sharp play and was pretty much blown off the board. In fact, had Romanovsky found the strongest reply on move 9, Rabinovitch might have been down for the count even earlier. As it was, Romanovsky was back on top by move 11 after Rabinovitch's awful 11...Qa6? and then won a piece after 14...Ba3? In his subsequent efforts to find compensation for his lost piece, Rabinovitch walked into a mating net. Rabinovitch might have spared himself the resulting massacre after 23...c5?

As a result of this win, Romanovsky moved into a tie for 2nd place with a score of 4-1 (tying Rabinovitch), while Alekhine, who had been 3.5 and 0.5 before the fifth round, won again and took sole possession of first place on his way to winning this inaugural Soviet Championship tournament.

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bc4 Nf6

A Two Knights' Defense anybody?

4. d4

4. Ng5, sometimes called a "duffer's move," might actually be best here for White. But Romanovsky wanted to be the one doing the attacking (rather than winning a pawn after 4. Ng5 d5 5. exd5 Na5 and trying to fend off Black's attack. Hence the text. The solid 4. d3 was also apparently not to Romanovsky's taste.

4... exd4
5. 0-0

Playing for something at least akin to the Max Lange Attack. 5. e5 was another aggressive option.

5... Nxe4
6. Re1 d5
7. Bxd5 QxB
8. Nc3

A double pin!


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A frightfully difficult and unclear position has been reached in which the better tactician is likely to prevail. 8...Qh5; 8...Qa5; and 8...Qd7 (and probably 8...Qd8 as well) are all decent options. But Rabinovitch badly misjudged and played:

8... Qc4?


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Not surprisingly, there is no recorded instance of the text being played again after this game. It is neatly refuted by 9. Nd2! Black would have to fight hard to stay in the game after that, e.g. 9...Qb4 10. Nd5 Qa5 11. c4 Bf5 12. Nb3 and Black would have to sacrifice his Queen for Rook and Knight to have any chance of survival.

But Romanovsky missed this chance and let Rabinovitch off the hook with:

9.. NxN Be6


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With (at least temporarily) a pawn in hand, Black is better here. Romanovsky might have clawed his way into contention with 10. b3, but he erred again with:

10. Bg5

This Bishop sortie does little to improve White's prospects. It could have been driven away with 10....h6. But Rabinovitch had illusions of going on the attack, and played:

10... Bb4
11. b3

Best. The position was now:


click for larger view

Thus far, Romanovsky's play had been spotty at best. But here Rabinvoitch blundered and Romanovsky played well for the balance of the game and cruised to victory.

Jul-09-20
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

11... Qa6?

After this, Black's game collapses. Rabinovitch would have had somewhat the better chances after 11...Qd5, e.g., 12. c3 f5 13. Nf6 [better than 13. Nd6+ BxN 14. c4 Qc5) gxN 14. cxB fxB 15. Nxg5 0-0-0 16. NxB Rde8 17. Nf4 Qd6.

Now, after the text, Romanovsky took charge and gave Rabinovitch now real chances to recover.

12. Nxd4 0-0

The only way to avoid immediate catastrophe.

13. NxB fxN

Black would be sunk after 13...BxR 14. NxN Bxf2+ 15. NxB RxN leaving Black a piece down.

14. c3


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Black is almost certainly strategically lost here, but Rabinovitch could nonetheless have made at least a fight of it with 14...Bd6 or 14...Be7. But here he blundered a piece with:

14... Ba3?

Romanovsky knew what to do here:

15. b4


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Now the Bishop is lost, and so is the game.

Rabinovitch now went desperado, and made matters even worse for himself:

15... Rf5?

If Rabinovitch wanted to play on, he had to try 15...Qc4 or maybe try wild (but ultimately losing) 15...Nxb4 16. bxN Bxb4 leaving Black two pawns for the list piece and a tad of counterplay. Now, White had a simple path to finish off the game:

16. Qb3 Ne5


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17. b5

This didn't blow the win, but 17. Be7 or 17. Be3 were simpler. The text allowed Rabinovitch to pull a neat trick that messed up Romanovsky's hair a bit:

17... Nf3+!
18. gxN Rxb5


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With Romanovsky's King-side shattered, Black perhaps had some practical chances to make a fight of the contest. But Rabinovitch again went astray, and this time it left him simply dead:

19. Qd1 Bb2?

This targeting of the c-Pawn was a fatal miscalculation. Rabinovitch might have made White's task harder with 19...Rd5 or 19...Rf8.

20. Rb1

20. c4 was also a winner for White. The text, however, was probably even better.

20... Bxc3?

20...Rd5 was the only prayer left for Black. After Rabinovitch's actual 20...Bxc3, Black was doomed:


click for larger view

Jul-10-20
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

21. RxR

This was certainly good enough to win. The truly brutal move was 21. Qd7 (e.g., 21...Rf5 [if 21...BxR 22. RxR Qc6 23. QxQ bxQ 24. Rb7 Ba5 25. Bf4] 22. NxB RxB+ 23. Kh1).

21... QxR
22. Re3 Ba5
23. Rd3


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23... c5?

Black is lost anyway, but he now leaves his King unprotected, allowing Romanovsky to build up an immediate crushing attack. The only chance to prolong the game lay in taking some steps to protect the King's side, perhaps 23...f5 or 23...h6. The text not only ignores the King-side, it actually blocks Black's Queen from going to the defense on f5. It also allows White's next move, which (among other things) prevented Black's Queen from getting back to its first rank.

24. Rd7!


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24... c4?

Leaving his King to its fate. In fairness to Rabinovitch, however, moves such as 24...Rf8 or 24...Qc6 would not have delayed his demise very long.

After the text, White can mate Black quickly beginning with 25. Bf6! Bc3 (if 25...gxB 26. Nxf6+ and mate next move) 26. Rg7+ Kh8 [26...Kf8 27. Qd6+ and mate next move) 27. NxB and Black is down two pieces with mate to follow soon.

25. Bh6


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This, though not as quick as 25. Bf6, also leaves Black without resource.

25... Qh5

25...gxB 26. Nf6+ and mate next move. The text also allows White to close the mating net tight. The only move to keep the game going even a little while was 25...Bc3, but that too gets crushed: 26. Rxg7+ Kh8 (26...Kf8 27. Qd6+ and mate next move) 27. NxB.

26. Bxg7

26. Rxg7+ also wins.

26... Qg6+
27. Kf1 Bd8
28. Bc3 Bh4
29. Qd4


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1-0

Mate can only be delayed for a few moves by pointless sacrifices of material.

A nice finish by Romanovsky.

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