The Dependable Irving Chernev

In his Twelve Great Chess Players and Their Best Games, Irving Chernev writes another Dover Publications chess book in paperback of highest merit picking his top select players and what he deems as their best in chess.  Truly, this book is a rich collection of games that will whet the appetite of beginner and grandmaster alike.  This book appeared when the price was very reasonable for $11.95.  Any book by Irving Chernev is a historic must have for a collector’s library.

One of the games I found deeply interesting was one of 3-games played simultaneously against teams of consulting masters in New  York, 1929. The artistry seen is best described by the German word–ideenreich.

White: Kevitz and Pinkus   vs.  Black:  Alexander Alekhine  / Reti Opening

  1. N-KB3  N-KB3  2. P-B4  P-QN3  3. P-KN3  B-N2  4. B-N2  P-K4  5. N-B3  B-N5  6. O-O  B:N  7. NP:B P-Q3

Both are gaining from the  moves to date.  White has the bishop-pair and Black has saddled White with doubled pawns.

8. P-Q4  P-K5  9. N-R4  O-O  10. P-B3  P:P  11. B:P

Another choice decision. White activates his pieces but renders the KP backward.

11. … N-K5  12. Q-Q3  R-K1  13. P-Q5?! N-B4  14. Q-Q4  QN-Q2

In this sequence of moves, White cuts off the Bishop diagonal influence but gives Black the outpost QB4 where it cannot be chased away by a pawn.

15. B-R5  N-K4  16. B-KB4  Q-Q2

Here we see the thinking of Alekhine–control over the diagonal while adding protection to the BP.  His current position would be a mistake if trying to win a piece by 16. … P-N3 17. B-B3  P-KN4  18. B:N  P:B 19. Q-N4 P-KR4  20. Q:RP P:N  21. B-K4!  N:B  22. Q:BP+ K-R1  23. Q-R5+ K-N1  24. R-B7 and White wins.

17. N-B3  B-N3  18. N-Q2  Q-R6  19. B:N RP:B  20. P-K4  P-KB3!  21. QR-K1 P-KN4

Black puts his pawns on dark squares so his Bishop will have greater freedom of movement.  His plan now is to double Rooks on the King-file increasing the pressure on the KP.

22. B-K3  R-K2  23. K-R1  QR-K1  24. B-N1  B-B1!

Patience is a valuable learning experience in chess. He ignores the pawn capture, instead eyeing a more productive attack.

25. R-B3  B-N5  26. R/B3-K3  Q-R4  27. K-N2  B-R6+ 28. K-R1  Q-N5  29. B-B2 P-QR4  30. B-N1  P-R5  31. B-B2  R-K4  32. B-N1  R/K-K2 33. B-B3  K-B2!

Who but Alekhine would reason that a King walk across the board was necessary prior to launching the final assault?

34. B-N1 K-K1 35. B-B2  K-Q1  36. B-N1  K-B1  37. B-B2  K-N2  38. B-N1 B-N5  39. B-B2  Q-R4!!

A brilliant move and understanding of the position. The Bishop and Queen must change places.

40. B-N1  B-N5  41. K-N2  Q-R6  42. K-R1 P-N3  43. B-B2

Alekhine has now configured the board situation to launch the final assault.

43. … P-B4!  44. P:P  P:P  45. R:R  P:R

Now on 46. R:P  R:R 47. Q:R B-B6+! 48. N:B  Q-B8+ 49. N-N1 N-Q6! and mate follows.

46. Q-K3  P-K5  47. P-Q6!

A brave attempt to salvage it with a bit of inspiring play.

47. … P:P  48. B-N1!

Very ingenious!!  If Black now continues to play to win the Rook, he gets mated cleverly.  48. … B-B6+ 49. N:B  P:N  50. Q:BP  R:R  51. Q-R8 mate!

48. … P-B5! 49. Resigns.

After 49. P:P  B-B6+ 50. N:B P:N  51. Q-B2  R:R and White must yield.                                                                                ***

It is said that Jose R. Capablanca was the greatest chess player; a prodigy, genius who handled all phases of the chess struggle with imagination and creative skill, sometimes employing such simple looking ideas yet visualizing the deep combinations that he saw in a flash and with an elegant technique that was flawless, his style graceful and elegant as to make chess play appear easy.  Perhaps, if he had any shortcomings, it might be the appearance of easy come, easy go.  He possessed total command of general principles from which I derived in my own study–  the idea of square count.

In a rare consultation game where Reti and Capablanca teamed up, Reti thought that their position was good but Capablanca played a different idea on the board that only became clear some moves later as to the superiority of the move chosen by Capablanca.

Ossip S. Bernstein was the first to earn the new title of Grandmaster.  Dr. Bernstein met Capablanca three times.  At San Sebastian in 1911, the Cuban was awarded the First Brillancy Prize; at St. Petersburg, 1914, he won again from Bernstein, again winning the First Brilliancy Prize.  It is also one of my favorite games ever.

White: Dr. O. S. Bernstein  vs. Black:  J. R. Capablanca   QG Declined

  1. P-Q4  P-Q4  2. P-QB4  P-K3  3. N-QB3  N-KB3  4. N-B3 B-K2  5. B-N5  O-O  6. P-K3     QN-Q2  7. R-B1  P-QN3  8. P:P  P:P  9. Q-R4  B-N2  10. B-QR6  B:B  11. Q:B  P-B4  12. B:N N:B  13. P:P  P:P

The famous “hanging pawns” make their appearance. The trade-off is that such pawns can be useful in their threats to advance and spearhead a counterattack and leading to more square count.

14. O-O  Q-N3  15. Q-K2  P-B5!

This fine move gives the bishop more  air space and can now take an active role in the battle. Furthermore, the QNP now gets put under the gun.  While true that the square Q4 is  posted  now by the Knight, that piece will act as a blockade defense for the black  Q-pawn so black has time to assume the offensive.  Students should study this position and game carefully specifically for the elements of time and space.

16. KR-Q1  KR-Q1  17. N-Q4  B-N5!

This bishop now becomes a part of the attack from it’s previous purely defensive role.

18. P-QN3

On the surface this seems strong because the aim is to  give black a weak isolani-pawn.

18. …QR-B1  19. P:P  P:P

Objective achieved.  But as pointed out by Nimsowitsch in MY SYSTEM it must be restrained or it can be dangerous.

20. R-B2  B:N  21. R:B  N-Q4!  22. R-B2  P-B6  23. R/Q1-QB1  R-B4  24. M-N3  R-B3  25. N-Q4  R-B2  26. N-N5  R-B4

White is winning the pawn attacked 3/times and defended only 2/times.  The unsuspecting Bernstein must have been overjoyed.

27. N:BP  N:N  28. R:N  R:R  29. R:R  Q-N7!!!

With this move, Bernstein graciously resigned realizing the thunderbolt strike was unanswerable.  A hearty congratulations to the mighty Cuban followed by all present.  So many times I have warned about a back row mate threat.  Here, White is either mated or loses his Rook.























































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