Kindred’s Special: Square Count Shines As Tempi Thoughts Come Ala Alekhine

In 1923 the world of chess saw a great tournament take place at Karlsbad.  Earlier I examined the Grunfeld Defence.  The author in the following game was GM Ernst Grunfeld who, in the 1920s, was at his peak powers.  Likewise, his opponent  was the rising star Alexander Alekhine who seated himself on the blackside and Grunfeld opened the game with 1. d4  Nf6  2. c4  e6 3. Nf3  d5  4. Nc3  Be7 5. Bg5  Nbd7  6. e3  O-O  7. Rc1 c6 which sets up the classical Queen’s Gambit Declined and popular at the time due in part to Capablanca and others who deemed it safe and sound.  Today, GM Karpov favored the Tartakower Variation (5…O-O 6. e3  h6  7. Bh4 b6); white often essayed the Exchange Variation, especially in the hands of Mikhail Botvinnik.  So, the stage is set for two different classical strategies.

White:  Ernst Grunfeld   vs   Black:  Alexander Alekhine   Opening:  Classical Queen’s Gambit Declined

8. Qc2  a6  9. a3  A clever attempt to gain a tempo should Black now play 9…dxc4 as White simply recaptures with the Bishop from its home on f1. In the 1920s, this plan was executed in a number of games.  However, probably strongest is to enter into 9. cxd5  exd5  10. Bd3–a line that opens the diagonal for Bishop influence increasing square count.

9. …  h6  This is a good move and fits in with my defensive idea using square count (protecting g5 from being an attack square for white).   Removing the pawn from the long diagonal is another purpose.

10. Bh4  Re8  Aiming possibly for a later central action while freeing f8 possibly for a Knight maneuver.  See the similarity with the Schlechter-Lasker game. Also frees a square for the King to escape.

11. Bd3  dxc4  12. Bxc4  b5  13. Ba2  c5  Hitting the central pawn formation.

14. Rd1? This move seems weak  although Grunfeld cannot be blamed entirely because he probably had an attack in mind starting at move 17.   Chess is such treasure house of ideas!!

14. … cxd4  15. Nxd4  Avoiding the isolani d-pawn.

15. … Qb6!  I think Fischer would have played this way, too.

16. Bb1  Bb7!  Now, the enticing 17. N4xb5  Qc6! was probably overlooked by Grunfeld. I can imagine Grunfeld thinking he could kick himself for losing another tempo.

17. O-O  Rac8  Increasing square count;  White is now under pressure and experiencing such shocking  attack makes another questionable turn.  One mistake often leads to other concessions.

18.  Qd2? This cannot be better than the more logical 18. Qe2.

18. … Ne5! The point to this sharp move is another tempo! due to the misplacement of the Queen.  This again is a big asset resulting often with a growing square count.

19. Bxf6  Bxf6  20. Qc2 !  Grunfeld’s atttacking skill is always dangerous and he wants to force Alekhine to play g6 which loosens the pawns around the Black King.

20. …g6  21. Qe2  Nc4  22. Be4  Bg7  But not 22…Nxa3 23. Qf3  Bxe4  24. Nxe4  Bxd4  25. Rxd4  With White recovering.  Who says chess is not a sport.  You see the same thing in the current basketball tournament every game!

23. Bxb7  Qxb7  24. Rc1  Alekhine now builds up pressure again utilizing my square count theory to dominate the center.  Bringing about my theory if you remember was a study of Alekhine era players.

24. …e5!  25. Nb3  e4  This pawn march has led to making a hole for the Knight at d3.

26. Nd4  Red8  27. Rfd1  Ne5  28. Na2  A Knight on the rim looks grim because it loses potential influence on squares.  Examine Knights on the rim.The potential attack squares are cut in half.

28. … Nd3  29. Rxc8  Qxc8  30. f3 Probably the right general idea for defense but best  was to return the Knight to c3.

30. …Rxd4!!  31. fxe4  Nf4  32.  exf4  Qc4!!  What a spectacular finish where again the squares play a major influence on the outcome.  The White Queen finds herself overtaxed with defensive chores.

33. Qxc4  Rxd1+  34. Qf1  Bd4+ White resigns.  0-1.

One lesson to learn from this battle is to never give up the ship! Various little crisis positions occur and you must stay alert to remedy mistakes made or to keep pressure once the advantage is attained. I have noticed that every game there comes a critical position where exact and correct play is vital to success.

The product of square count is not to boast but to reenforce this important element of my training.  Study of this game has a potential of great learning.  Enjoy!!


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