KindredSpirit Kaleidoscope: Gufeld’s Immortal Game

Every chess player dreams of sitting down at the board that begins the battle that is long remembered for its fight and spirited play. The aesthetic beauty of chess might be compared to painting a picture where the artist is never certain but always hopeful of producing a gem, a personal Mona Lisa. So it is with chess where the board is the canvas and with each stroke of the brush begins the slow development of the imagination and creativity of the artist. In chess such artists often are Grandmasters.

Such a Grandmaster is the Ukrainian Eduard Gufeld (born 1936). Today, GM Gufeld lives in the United States and has been one of the top players who has contributed much to the development of the game on the American scene as has many former USSR stars who have immigrated to the United States.  He is known for his fighting chess and has produced many gems to be proud of, even if occasional such a result falls to his opponent. 

The 1973 USSR Championship held at Kirovabad, having the black pieces, the opening system builds on the famous Samisch Variation against the King’s Indian Defense. His opponent, Vladimir Bagirov, (born 1936), a Georgian, is one of many very strong players developed in the Soviet School of Chess methods that have produced a host of extremely strong players who have enriched the game.  Never quite the member of the elite who were given rights to travel and play abroad, he has since been very successful in European tournaments.

1.d4  g6  2.c4  Bg7  3.Nc3  d6  4.e4  Nf6  5.f3  O-O  6.Be3  Nc6

A popular method that exerts pressure on the d4 square and limits choices for White.

7.Nge2  Rb8  8.Qd2  a6  9.Bh6

At the time this game was played, this move was popular but 9.h4 has replaced it as one of the favorite methods at White’s disposal. This obvious plan to attack on the Kingside is now met with counter action on the Queenside or by 9…Bxh6  10.Qxh6 e5. Gelpke vs Lane 1986, Heidelberg went: 11.d5  Nd4  12.O-O-O  c5  13.dxc6e.p. bxc6 14.Nxd4 exd4 15.Rxd4 Rxb2 16.e5 Nh5 17.Kxb2 Qb6+ 18.Nb5 axb5 19.Rxd6 bxc4+ won by Black.

9…b5  10.h4  e5

Striking at the center to get clarification of its pawn structure. It makes sense since the fianchetto bishop will be exchanged.

11.Bxg7  Kxg7  12.h5  Kh8!

The idea behind this move is to free up the 7th rank for defense of the King by the Q by planning to recapture with the f-pawn clearing the line to h7.  On 13.Qh6 Ng8 > g5. Another idea 12…bxc4, John Watson gives 13.O-O-O Ng8 14.Kb1  a5  15.d5  Nb4  16.Nc1  Ba6 17.g3 Rb7 18.a3  c5 19.dxc6  Nxc6 20.h6+ Kh8 21.Qxd6 Qa8.

13.Nd5  bxc4  14.hxg6  fxg6 15.Qh6  Nh5  16.g4

White continues his attack plan but possible alternative ideas have been advanced by Petrosian and others for 16.Ng3 or 16.O-O-O. The unbalanced position after the 15th turn affords room to analyze.

16…Rxb2  17.gxh5  g5!

Using the pawn as here to block the file is a common tactic.

18. Rg1  g4!  19.O-O-O  Rxa2  20.Nef4?!

Best according to Gufeld was 20.Bh3!  Rxe2  21.Bxg4  Rf7 22.Bxc8 Qxc8 23.Nf6 and gives long analysis of various tries by Black that seem to all lead to drawing positions.

20…exf4  21.Nxf4?

Perhaps surrendering his last chance to try to draw by 21.Bxc4.

21…Rxf4!  22.Qxf4  c3!  23.Bc4

After 23.Qf7 Nb4  24.Bd3 Ra1+ 25.Bb1 Be6  26.Qxe6  Qg5+ forces mate.


“The most difficult move of the game and perhaps my whole life.”–Gufeld.  Now, if 24.Kb1  Be6! threatening …Qb8+ wins.

24.fxg4 Nb4  25.Kb1!

White is close to winning and the question is how does Black find a way to attack the White monarch?  The answer is a Gufeld brush stroke of the first order. Every move is a work of creative art. On the try 25..c2+ 26.Kb2  cxd1(Q) 27.Rxd1 with the threat of 28.Rf1.

25…Be6!!  26.Bxe6  Nd3!

After 26…Nd5 27.exd5 Qb8+ 28.Ke2 Qb2+ 29.Kd3  c2+ 30.Ke4 and it is Black who will be mated.

27.Qf7  Qb8+  28.Bb3  Rxb3+ 29.Kc2

A glance seems to suggest White surviving but Gufeld now puts the finishing touch on his masterpiece.

29…Nb4+!! 30.Kxb3  Nd5+

Discovered check eliminates the enemy Queen having access and control over the key squares c4, b3 and a2.

31.Kc2  Qb2+  32.Kd3  Qb5+(0-1) Pending 33.Kc2 Qe2+ 34.Kb3  Qb2+ 35.Kc4 Qb5# mate.

One Response to “KindredSpirit Kaleidoscope: Gufeld’s Immortal Game”

  1. hermes app Says:

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