Kindred’s Special: 1942 Chess Match Between Reshevsky and Kashdan, Game 2

Leading 1-0, Reshevsky decides to defend with a rather unusual defence to the Ruy Lopez which was a favorite White opening of Kashdan. He chooses the Steinitz Defence Deferred that is complex, requires exceptionally precise and circumspect play. Also, I believe Reshevsky often played this defensive line 1. e4  e5  2. Nf3  Nc6  3. Bb5  a6  4. Bh4  Nf6.  Opening books were much less detailed with many variations and published lines so players had to do more personal work and often chose plans that fit their personal styles and preferences. There was room therefore for experimentation, personal analysis and preparation for a game which often was played in Round Robin Tournaments seen with a game a day or a game a week. Published materials were usually from actual game play with light or no notes of alternatives. There was a psychological war in the opening stage with a weapon in the pocket often of the defender who had the benefit of home analysis or discussion with that of an assistant.

White:  Isaac Kashdan    vs.   Black:  Samuel Reshevsky   Opening:  Ruy Lopez– Steinitz Defence Deferred

1. e4  e5  2. Nf3  Nc6  3. Bb5  a6  4. Ba4  d6 5. c3  Often played was 5. Bxc6 bxc6  6. d4 f6, or; 5. c4 which is the Duras Variation which Kashdan chose in Game 4. With the text move, Kashdan wants to set up a strong center and potential open lines.

5. … Bd7  6. d4  Nge7  Reshevsky had an alternative of 6. … g6 as sometimes played but tends to weaken the K-side squares. Instead he chooses to proceed slowly with development but which has a drawback of giving White the chance to establish a strong mobilization without fear of much counteraction.  Reshevsky often played his openings from move 1 much the way I do where we share the idea of reaching positions with more understanding of their intricacies due to planning instead rote play.

7. Bb3!  This neat move is strong because White threatens Ng5 so Black must reply…

7. … h6  8. Be3  Ng6 Varying from a 1930 game, Ahues-Rubinstein, San Remo Tournament that continued with  8. … g5? falling into a shocker 9. Bxg5! hxg5  10. Nxg5 with a strong attack for the piece.  If on the other hand he tries 8. … g6 the problem of his King safety remains due to something like  9. Na3  Bg7  10. Qd2.

9. Nbd2  Qf6! Probably the improvement discovered by Reshevsky either at the board or in his preparation for the match. It offers a good chance to achieve equal chances with play for both sides.

10. Qe2  Be7  11. O-O-O. Brave soul but I do not like the square f4 being open for Knight to attack as it allows for the needed exchanges to free up the black units. Better as Alekhine pointed out on the game is 11. g3  Bh3  12. O-O-O > Rdg1. The consequence here is that Black gets to have a fair edge of the Bishop pair.

11. … Nf4!  12. Bxf4  Qxf4  13. Kb1  Na5! Heads up chess.  Reshevsky realizes that White has a strong continuation looking at jump move threats of Nf1 > Bc2 > Ne3 and prepares his forces for counterattack.

14. Bc2  O-O  15. Nf1  Bb5!  16. Bd3  f5!   This strike at the center assures Reshevsky a good game having equal chances with chances to achieve some advantage.  Unfortunately there is no stopping at this point to congratulate himself (how often does this feeling touch each chessplayer who experiences such bliss) so the enthusiasm of achievement causes like mistakes that was experienced by the adversary. Often it comes down to tit for tat.

17. dxe5  Bxd3+  18. Qxd3  fxe4?  Of course it is hard to see the end result of this folly which could have been avoided by simply going for a draw with 18. … Qxe4 19. Ng3  Qxd3+ 20. Rxd3  Nc6 with good drawing chances.

19. Qd5+  Kh8 20. Rd4  dxe5?  One mistake often leads to another.  One unknown is the time remaining on Reshevsky’s clock who was notorious for time problems.  I say this because he still had the practical chances to create some counterplay with a rather unclear position and some chances for survival. Best is probably getting the Knight back into the game. 20. … Nc6 21. Rxe4  Qf5  22. Ng3  Qg6 or go for the ending with 20. …c6  21. Qxe4 Qxe4  22. Rxe4  d5.

21. Nxe5!  Leaving Black with an impossible defence.

And I leave you with this position; the game lasted to 47 which seems a clue that time pressure played a role in this middle game with Kashdan wiping up the board.

You may of course wonder why I would choose to show this match so long ago contested.  Historical battles hold many valuable lessons and this game is a great example of tension in chess and how human nature and thought process in tense situations can do strange things on the board. For chess is a game where human thought and planning is unveiled in picture form of combat and the struggle experienced by the contestants.

I also turn your attention to my coverage of the match between Staunton and St. Amant, the conditions under which it was fought probably would not be tolerated by modern day players.

Enjoy. Your comments are welcome!

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