KindredSpirit’s Kaleidoscope Special: GM Isaac Kashdan

I first became familiar with Isaac Kashdan by the match he played against Samuel Reshevsky, New York, 1942. I was most impressed by his 2nd and 4th games, both wins, and despite losing to the former Boy Prodigy in total his results and skill shown in both games impressed me greatly. Years later I was privileged to work with Isaac when he assumed the editorship of THE CHESS CORRESPONDENT, the Correspondence Chess League of America (CCLA) magazine. He asked me to write a column and I accepted. Later on I challenged him to play me a two game match by post where we would as editor and former editor would meet to do battle and provide notes by each of us on the game play as it progressed. Unfortunately, Isaac said he would not risk his prestige playing me as he knew I was a strong club and cc player (I had sent him a few of my otb games as well as cc games). I certainly doubt I would have defeated him, maybe draw one but I think we missed the boat to entertain the CCLA membership had we played.

GM Isaac Kashdan was world famous and had been one of the top players, achieving considerable success in various menus. I present here the 2nd and 4th match games and hope my analysis and commentary does the battles justice.

White: Isaac Kashdan
Black: Samuel Reshevsky
Opening: Ruy Lopez
Match: 2nd Game

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 d6.

This is called Steinitz Defense Deferred and part of the idea is to avoid the usual …b5 that some players feel actually weakens the Q-side Pawn Structure.

5. c3

As you will see, in the 4th game, Kashdan essays 5. c4 which is called the Duras variation. The object of the text is to build and support a strong pawn center.

5…Bd7 6.d4 Nge7

The main difficulty for Black is to face a White force that can mobilize without too much of a counteraction early on by Black, his task being to slowly develop with some mobility problems.

7. Bb3! h6 8. Be3 Ng6

Varying from a Rubinstein game from 1930 that went 8…g5? 9.Bxg5!! hxg5 10.Nxg5, or; 8..g6 9.Na3 Bg7 10. Qd2 making Black’s solution for his King’s safety to be a worry.

9. Nbd2 Qf6!

A good square count decision because the Queen seems well placed here. In fact, as the next sequence shows, he begans to outplay Kashdan with a sharp and clear plan of operations.

10. Qe2 Be7 11. O-O-O?

Rarely would I give castles a ? but he needs to stop the Knight infiltration by 11.g3 no matter what happens thereafter.

11…Nf4! 12. Bxf4 Qxf4 13.Kb1 Na5

A deeply thought out maneuver that seems to be meant to counter such White jump moves as Bc2, Nf1, Ne3 eying d5.

14. Bc2 O-O 15.Nf1 Bb5 16. Bd3 f5!

This counterattack on the White e4 and Pawn assures equality at least with the idea of meeting 17.dxe5 Bxd3+18.Qxd3 with Qxe4 protecting the d5 square.

17. dxe5 Bxd3+ 18.Qxd3 fxe4??

Wowser! Anything can happen in chess and here is a perfect example. The former child wizzard inexplicably loses his way. Most likely he considered only the Queen capturing the Knight on a5 whereby ..exf3 would leave White likely losing. Best was…Qxe4 and after 19.Ng3 Qxd3+ 20.Rxd3 Nc6 is about=.

19. Qd5+ Kh8

The King here is quite safe for the time being.

20. Rd4 dxe4?

This loses a valuable tempo that is desperately needed and again square count value is shown here by retreating the Knight to c6 where it can provide chances for an active role in the game.

21. Nxe5 Rf6 22.Rxe4 Qxf2 23.Qxa5 Rb6 24. Nd3 Qxg2 25.Ng3 Bd6 26. Re2 Qc6 27.Ne5 Qe8 28. Qd5

Centralization of the Queen increases Black’s problems and later on White begins the King walk up the board that forces Black to resign on the 47th turn.

White: Isaac Kashdan
Black: Samuel Reshevsky
Opening: Ruy Lopez/Steinitz DD featuring the Duras variation.

5. c4 Bd7 6. Nc3 Nf6 7. d4 exd4 8.Nxd4 Nxd4?

Nimzowitsch gave excellent conditions for exchanges and this desire to exchange is counterproductive as it gives White a spacial edge and increases his square count. I think a good computer program would concentrate on developing by …Be7 and O-O.

9. Bxd7+ Qxd7 10. Qxd4 Be7 11. O-O O-O 12. b3

The Bishop fianchetto is going to pressure the King position from afar as well as the center dark squares. Here is another point about use of square count. Had Black thought wisely he would see by use of square count that now 12…c6 was more correct than the choice Reshevsky makes. It protects d5 against Nd5 and despite its appearance of weakening d6 and Pawn, can White readily take advantage of that at least for the moment, if ever?

12. … Rfe8 13.Bb2 Bf8 14. Rad1 Re6?!

I never understood this because again square count suggests use of defense on d6 by Rad8 and Black can still consider …c6.

15. Rfe1 Rae8 16. f3 Kh8

Black has gotten himself in hot water (why can’t GMs play like this against me? is a thought I bet a lot of you think here abouts!) Obviously no good is ..g6 because of 17.Nd5! Bg7 18.Qa7 Qc8 19.Nf4 pointing to the flaw in Re6 so White gains tempi and gets his Knight closer to the enemy position!

17. Ne2 Qc8

As an afterthought this might have been tried instead of Kh8.

18. Qf2 Nd7

Earlier I suggested combinations can be visualized frequently by what is called jump moves to attain a desired position. A perfect example shows itself I believe here with thoughts of Nd4, Qg3, Nf5, h4 with a King hunt in the offering. That is what happens.

19. Nd4 R6e7 20. Qg3 f6 21. Nf5 Re6 22. h4!

This secures the Knight on f5 and adds flavor towards participation in a coming Kingside operation.

22. …b5

This attempt at counteraction on the Queenside often seen as an offset of a Kingside demonstration lacks real purpose because of the poor placement of the Rooks.

23. cxb5 axb5 24. h5 Qa6 25, a3 c5 26. Rd5 Ne5 27. Red1

Having the simple Rxd6 threat forces Black to defend.

27. … Nf7 28. Qh4 Ne5

This allows the Pawn storm but on 28…h6 29.Qg4 is not pleasant.

29. f4 Nf7 30. h6 g6 31. Bxf6+ Kg8 32. Ng3 Bxh6 33. Bb2 Bg7 34. f5 Bxb2

Kashdan aims to meet 34…gxf5 35.Bxg7 Kxg7 36.Nh5+ winning.

35. fxe6 Rxe6 36. Qg4! Re8 37. Qd7 Rd8 38. Qe7 Rf8 39. Rf1 Be5 40. Rd3 Qc8 41. Rdf3 Qe8 42. Rxf7 Qxe7 43. Rxe7 Bxg3 44. Rxf8+ Kxf8 45. Rb7 c4 46. bxc4 Resigns (1-0).

These two games illustrate what John Nunn had to say in his excellent treatise, UNDERSTANDING CHESS MOVE BY MOVE: “The modern outlook on the game is far more flexible than that which persisted for the bulk of the 20th Century. General principles have their place, but their limitations are more clearly recognized. Much greater emphasis is placed on the concrete requirements of a given position than on obeying abstract principles.”


One Response to “KindredSpirit’s Kaleidoscope Special: GM Isaac Kashdan”

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