With the history of organized tournament play dating back to the mid-19th century, we’re hitting some pretty significant milestones in the history of the game this year.
It was 150 years ago that the great German master Louis Paulsen defeated compatriot Gustav Neumann in a 10-game match in Berlin. Paulsen, who spent four years in the United States as a businessman, is unfairly remembered for his defeat at the hands of a young Paul Morphy in the famous 1857 U.S. championship tournament, one of the first great triumphs of Morphy’s brief but amazing career.
But as Morphy withdrew from international play, Paulsen went on to become one of the strongest players of his era. He drew a match with former world champion Adolph Anderssen in 1862 and contributed a slew of ideas on opening theory, pawn structure and the importance of defense.
He had little trouble with Neumann, considered one of the top players of the day, winning by a score of 6½-3½. Today’s first game, a Berlin Defense actually played in Berlin, is a fine example of Paulsen’s defensive prowess, as Black fights off a promising attack with a well-timed counterpunch.
White misses a chance for early complications after 11. Bd3 d5 12. dxc3 (Black has the better pawn structure, but the open central lines gives White a slight edge) Be6, when 13. Qh5!? (threatening the simple 14. Rxe6) Qd7 (g6 14. Bxg6 fxg6 15. Qe5) 14. a4! leaves Black with no safe place to put his king.
White eyes a classic kingside storm, but Paulsen proves equal to the defensive task on 20. Rf3 Kh8 21. Rh3 Bg8 22. Be2 Qxf5! (a move requiring very precise calculation) 23. Bd3 Qf2 24. Qh5 f5?! (both players missed that Black can accept the sacrifice with the computerlike 24…Qxd2 25. Bxh7 Be3! [Qh6? 26. Bg6 Be6? 27. Bf5 Bxf5 28. Qxf5 and wins] 26. Rd1 Qf2 27. Rf3 Bxh7 28. Rxf2 Bxf2, with plenty of material for the lost queen) 25. Rd1 Bb6 26. b4! (see diagram), seemingly closing off the escape route for the Black queen.
But Black finds a brilliant resource in 26…Rae8! 27. Rf3 Re1+!! 28. Rxe1 (Bxe1 Qg1 mate) Qxd2 29. Rfe1 g6 30. Qh4 Qxc3, and Black has a bishop and two pawns for the rook. Still playing for the attack, Neumann loses another pawn as Black slowly takes over the play: 37. Rh3 h5 38. c4 Ba5 39. Rf1 Re7 40. Qf8 Kh7 41. Rhf3 (Bxf5 gxf5 42. Qxf5+ [Rxf5 Re1+] Qg6 holds) Bc7 42. g3 dxc4 43. Rxf5 dxc3, and White resigns a lost cause facing 44. Rf7+ Bxf7 45. Rxf7+ Rxf7 46. Qxf7+ Kh6 48. Qg8 Qd5+ and wins.
And it was exactly 100 years ago that one of the greatest tournaments of all time was held on the eve of World War I in St. Petersburg. The event is best remembered for world champion Emanuel Lasker’s stunning defeat of rising Cuban challenger Jose Raoul Capablanca in the finals to take first place, one of the most famous and replayed games of all time.
But the brilliancy prize for the tournament was an equally memorable pairing — the classical German theorist Siegbert Tarrasch defeating the stormy young “hypermodernist” Aron Nimzovich with a beautiful double-bishop sacrificial motif that, ironically, Lasker himself first made famous.
The win for the old-school Tarrasch over his theoretical nemesis must have been supremely satisfying.
After a Berlin in Berlin, we have a Tarrasch Defense from Tarrasch in this Queen’s Gambit Declined. White violates a basic principle of the Tarrasch canon — don’t waste tempi — with his knight sortie on Move 12, and makes a dubious trade of bishop for knight four moves later.
Black’s follow-up is textbook chess: 17 Qc2 (b4 Bb5 18. bxc5 Nxc5 is better for Black, too) Nxd2! 18. Nxd2 (White would prefer to keep his knight at its defensive post, but did not like the looks of 18. Qxd2 d4! 19. Qe2 [dxe4 Bxf3 20. gxf3 Qh4 and wins] Rfe8 20. Nxd4 Bxg2 21. Kxg2 cxd4 22. Qg4 dxe3, winning material) d4! (opening lines for the bishop pair) 19. exd4? (losing brilliantly; White can at least fight on after 19. e4 Rfe8 20. Rfe1 [Bxd4 Bb5] Qg5 21. g3 Rc8) Bxh2+! (Bxg2! also wins), cracking open the White king’s defenses.
Another bishop is thrown onto the fire to fuel the final attack: 20. Kxh2 Qh4+ 21. Kg1 Bxg2!, when 22. Kxg2 loses to 22…Qg4+ 23. Kh2 Rd5 24. Qxc5 Rh5+! 25. Qxh5 Qxh5+ 26. Kg2 Qg5+ 27. Kh3 Qxd2 28. Ba3 Re8. But on the game’s 22. f3 Rfe8!, the escape route for Nimzovich’s king is cut off and the mating trap is sprung.
A classic king hunt ensues on 23. Ne4 (Kxg2 Re2+ 24. Rxf2 Rxf2+ 25. Kg1 Qh2 mate; or 23. Rfe1 Rxe1+ 24. Rxe1 Qxe1+ 25. Kxg2 Qe2+ 26. Kg3 Rd5, and the queen-rook tandem can’t be stopped) Qh1+ 24. Kf2 Bxf1 25. d5 (Rxf1 Qh2+) f5 26. Qc3 (desperately seeking counterplay on the long diagonal; 26. Nf6+ loses to 26…Kf7 27. Nxe8 Rxe8 28. Kg3 Qh3+ 29. Kf4 Qh4 mate) Qg2+ 27. Ke3 Rxe4+! (removing the last useful defender) 28. fxe4 f4+ 29. Kxf4 Rf8+ 30. Ke5 Qh2+ 31. Ke6 Re8+ 32. Kd7 (Kf6 Qh4 mate), and the bishop that offered itself up 11 moves ago ends things with 32…Bb5 mate.
Congratulations to the Princeton A squad that won its second consecutive U.S. Amateur Team East championship on tiebreaks last weekend in Parsippany, N.J. It’s only the second repeat champ in the event’s history, which this year attracted a whopping 278 teams. We’ll have more details and some action from the event next week.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.O-O Be7 5.Nc3 Nd4 6.Nxd4 exd4 7.e5 dxc3 8.exf6 Bxf6 9.Re1+ Be7 10.Qe2 c6 11.Bd3 d5 12.dxc3 Be6 13.f4 Bc5+ 14.Kh1 O-O 15.f5 Bd7 16.Qh5 f6 17.Bd2 Be8 18.Qh4 Bf7 19.Rf1 Qd7 20.Rf3 Kh8 21.Rh3 Bg8 22.Be2 Qxf5 23.Bd3 Qf2 24.Qh5 f5 25.Rd1 Bb6 26.b4 Rae8 27.Rf3 Re1+ 28.Rxe1 Qxd2 29.Ref1 g6 30.Qh4 Qxc3 31.Qe7 Rf7 32.Qe8 Qxb4 33.Qe5+ Rg7 34.Qe8 Qe7 35.Re1 Qd6 36.h4 Bc7 37.Rh3 h5 38.c4 Ba5 39.Rf1 Re7 40.Qf8 Kh7 41.Rhf3 Bc7 42.g3 dxc4 43.Rxf5 cxd3 White resigns.
Nimzovich-Tarrasch, St. Petersburg, 1914
1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 c5 3. c4 e6 4. e3 Nf6 5. Bd3 Nc6 6. O-O Bd6 7. b3 O-O 8. Bb2 b6 9. Nbd2 Bb7 10. Rc1 Qe7 11. cxd5.exd5 12. Nh4 g6 13. Nhf3 Rad8 14. dxc5 bxc5 15. Bb5 Ne4 16. Bxc6 Bxc6 17. Qc2 Nxd2 18. Nxd2 d4 19. exd4 Bxh2+ 20. Kxh2 Qh4+ 21. Kg1 Bxg2 Rfe8 23. Ne4 Qh1+ 24. Kf2 Bxf1 25. d5 f5 26. Qc3 Qg2+ 27. Ke3 Rxe4+ 28. fxe4 f4+ 29. Kxf4 Rf8+ 30. Ke5 Qh2+ 31. Ke6 Re8+ 32. Kd7 Bb5 mate.
• David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.