- The Washington Times - Friday, April 6, 2007

Aside from being really, really good, hitching your name to a popular opening may be the surest path to chess immortality.

Neither British player Horatio Caro nor Austrian Marcus Kann ever won a tournament of note, but an 1886 article they co-authored in a German journal on a certain Black defensive scheme (1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5) has indelibly linked them as the pioneers of the Caro-Kann Defense.

German Max Lange was a decent player, writer and problem composer in the late 1800s, but he is remembered for the eponymous attacking line he formulated in the Giuoco Piano. Pittsburgh amateur John Lindsay McCutcheon punched his ticket to fame when he used his pet French Defense line to defeat world champion Wilhelm Steinitz in an 1885 simultaneous exhibition.

With opening theory having become such a developed science, it is harder and harder to attach your name to a full-blown opening system. Hungarian-born U.S. GM Pal Benko may be one of the last to stake such a claim with his investigations into the gambit line in the Benoni Defense that popularly bears his name.

However, GM Alexander Morozevich, who is both good and original, may be making a name for himself with his revival of a lightly regarded Queen’s Gambit line once favored by his great Russian predecessor, Mikhail Chigorin.

In his new book, “The Chigorin Defense, According to Morozevich” (New in Chess, 236 pp., $28.95), co-written by IM Vladimir Barskij, Morozevich recounts his adventures in the line (1. d4 d5 2. c4 Nc6!?) against some of the world’s top players when he revived the Chigorin in the early 1990s.

The book’s best feature: Morozevich’s modesty. Unlike some opening manuals, Morozevich makes no outlandish claims for his pet variation, and the book’s 74 games include a healthy dose of Black losses. He gives both the line’s pluses — open piece play, surprise value — and its drawbacks — lack of central control and, often, the loss of at least one bishop.

The book’s main drawback: Too many of the games are drawn from rapid and blitz play, with a correspondingly high number of time-induced oversights. A slimmer selection of well-played games might have improved the overall production.

We have one game each from the pioneer and the pupil today, both with annotations based heavily on the book.

Chigorin was known as a Romantic swashbuckler, favoring bold tactics to the “scientific” ideas of Steinitz and other moderns. However, his win over German master Richard Teichmann at the great 1904 Cambridge Springs tournament is a model of subtle positional play, highly praised by Soviet world champion Mikhail Botvinnik.

Morozevich is not a big fan of White’s line here (4. cxd5 Bxf3 5. dxc6 Bxc6), as Black gets good piece play and preserves his bishop. The star move is Black’s 14. 0-0-0 Bxc3 15. bxc3 (see diagram) b5!, preserving the knight’s post on d5 and preparing a lightning redeployment to the queen-side. Botvinnik notes that White’s biggest headache is his “strong” bishop on e5, which is rendered irrelevant by Chigorin’s strategy.

White fumbles the defense, and Black’s concluding play is flawless: 17. Rdf1? (tougher was 17. Kb2 Rb8 18. e4!, with some counterplay) Qa3+ 18. Kd2 b4! 19. c4?! (Qb3 was better) Ba4!, and the queenside penetration is irresistible.

The finale: 23…Nc5! 24. Qb1 (Bb1 Nb3! wins the queen) Nxd3 25. Qxd3 Qxa2+ 26. Kf3 Bc2!, and the White queen has no place to hide from the coming 27…Be5+; Teichmann resigned.

Morozevich’s own win with the Chigorin over Russian GM Vladimir Malaniuk, from a 1994 tournament, shows the very different ways this variation can develop. As in the first game, Morozevich gets good piece pressure against the White center, but this time, he has to surrender both bishops in the first eight moves.

White’s wrongheaded 13. h5!? Qd6 14. h6? g6 fails to open lines on the side of the board where he has the edge, and Black soon enjoys a slight pull. Trying to upset the position’s dynamics, Malaniuk sacrifices the exchange with 19. Rb5 (Rxb7? Na5) Qd6 20. Bg5 Rd7 21. Re1 a6 22. Rxd5!?, since both 22. Rbb1 b5! 23. Qa2 Kh8 and 22. Rc5 Nd8! 23. f4 c6! favor Black.

But Black preserves his edge after 28. axb5 axb5 29. Ra1? (more active, according to the authors, was 29. Re6!) Nb3! 30. Ra7 b4 31. cxb4 Nxd4 32. Ra5 c6 33. Ra6 Rc7 34. Bf6 Rxb4, picking up another pawn. Still needing a breakthrough, Black returns the exchange to remove one of White’s active bishops: 42. Be2 Re4! 43. Bd3 (Bf3 Rxe5 44. fxe5 Na7! 45. Bxc6 Nxc6 46. Rd6+ Kxe5 47. Rxc6 Re6 48. Rc5+ Kf6 49. Kg3 Kg6, followed by 50. Rf6 and 51. Kxh6) Rxe5 44. fxe5 Kxe5.

White defends doggedly, and it takes Black a couple of tries to find the winning idea in the rook-and-pawn ending with 56. Rb6+ (Kg2 Rh3 57. Rb6+ Kh5 58. Rf6 Re3 59. Rxf5+ Kh4, winning) Kh5! 57. Rb7 Rc6 58. Rxh7+ Kg6 59. Ra7 Rc3+ 60. Kg2 Rf3 61. Ra4 Kh5 62. Rb4 Kh4 63. Ra4 Rg3+, and the last White pawn falls. Malaniuk resigned.

Cambridge Springs, Pa., 1904


1. d4d514. 0-0-0Bxc3

2. c4Nc615. bxc3b5

3. Nf3Bg416. Rhg1Qe7

4. cxd5Bxf317. Rdf1Qa3+

5. dxc6Bxc618. Kd2b4

6. Nc3e619. c4Ba4

7. Bf4Nf620. Qb1Nc3

8. e3Bb421. Qa1Rd8

9. Qb3Nd522. g4Ne4+

10. Bg30-023. Ke2Nc5

11. Bd3Qg524. Qb1Nxd3

12. Qc2f525. Qxd3Qxa2+

13. Be5Rf726. Kf3Bc2

White resigns

Alusta, Ukraine, 1994


1. d4d533. Ra6Rc7

2. c4Nc634. Bf6Rxb4

3. Nf3Bg435. Ra8+Kf7

4. Qa4Bxf336. Be5Rd7

5. gxf3e637. Kh2Rc4

6. Nc3Bb438. Rh8Ke6

7. cxd5exd539. Re8+Re7

8. a3Bxc3+40. Rd8Nb5

9. bxc3Nge741. Bf3g5

10. Rb1Rb842. Be2Re4

11. h40-043. Bd3Rxe5

12. h5Qd644. fxe5Kxe5

13. h6g645. Bxb5cxb5

14. e4Qe646. Rb8Re6

15. Bh3f547. Kg3Rxh6

16. 0-0Qf648. Rxb5+Kf6

17. exd5Nxd549. Rb6+Kg7

18. Qc4Rbd850. Rb7+Kg6

19. Rb5Qd651. f4g4

20. Bg5Rd752. Rb6+Kg7

21. Re1a653. Rb7+Kg8

22. Rxd5Qxd554. Rb8+Kf7

23. Bf1b555. Rb7+Kg6

24. Qxd5+Rxd556. Rb6+Kh5

25. f4Rd757. Rb7Rc6

26. a4Rb858. Rxh7+Kg6

27. Bg2Na559. Ra7Rc3+

28. axb5axb560. Kg2Rf3

29. Ra1Nb361. Ra4Kh5

30. Ra7b462. Rb4Kh4

31. cxb4Nxd463. Ra4Rg3+

32. Ra5c6White resigns

David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by e-mail at dsands@washington times.com.

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