The man who won the Moscow Championship is little known to New Zealanders. He was second in the same event last year when he played excellent chess throughout. He lost only one game and showed his fighting spirit by collecting 4.5 points from his last 5 games. The following is an excellent exaple of his vigourous style.
Alatortsev, V - Simagin, V - Moscow-ch 1946
Notes by W Winter, from the Soviet Weekly 1.d4 f5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 e6 4.Nf3 Bb4+ This check, followed by the retreat to e7, is a favourite device with the Soviet masters; the object is to interrupt the orderly development of White's Queen side 5.c3 Be7 6.O-O O-O 7.b3 The manoeuvre initiated here is of doubtful utility. Better seems (7.c4 followed by Nc3 and an attempt to advance e2-e4 ) 7...Qe8 8.Ba3 Bxa3 9.Nxa3 d6 10.c4 e5 11.e3 e4 12.Nd2 Nc6 13.Nc2 Bd7 14.f3 The only method of obtaining freedom for his pieces, but it gives Black opportunities of action on the King's file 14...exf3 15.Nxf3 Ng4 16.Qd2 Qh5 17.Rae1 Rae8 18.Qc3 Re7 19.b4 Rfe8 20.b5 Nd8 21.Qa5 This attempt to win a pawn is ably refuted by Black. A better line seems (21.h3 Nf6 22.Nd2 Nf7 23.Rf4 ) 21...Nf7 If 22.h3 (22.Qxa7 Ng5 23.h4 Ne4 with a winning attack ) 22...Nf6 23.Nd2 Qg6 24.Qxa7 f4 This fine move was probably overlooked by White when he captured the a-pawn ( against the obvious 24...Qxg3 White had several methods of defence. ) 25.e4 Qxg3 26.Rf3 Qh4 27.Ref1 Nh5 28.Qxb7 Ng5
Moves are clickable
29.e5 An ingenious defence. If Black replies (29.e5 Nxf3+ 30.Nxf3 Qg3 31.exd6 Re2 ( or 31...Bxh3 32.Qd5+ Kh8 33.Rf2 ) 32.Ne5 with good counter chances ) 29...Bxh3 30.Bxh3 Nxh3+ 31.Rxh3 Now the sacrifice of the exchange is forced ( If 31.Kg2 Qg4+ 32.Kh2 Ng3 is decisive ) 31...Qxh3 32.Qd5+ Kh8 33.Qf3 Ng3 34.Rf2 dxe5 35.dxe5 Rxe5 36.Nf1 The position is hopeless, ( If 36.Nd4 Black wins by 36...Re1+ 37.Nf1 Rd8 A finely conducted attack by Black, which is a good illustration of the power of two Knights in combination ) 36...Ne2+ 37.Rxe2 Qxf3 0-1
Don't Monkey with the Lopez
V. Smyslov, who first won the Moscow Championship when he was seventeen, was not in his best form in last year's contest: but in the following game he took masterly advantage of his opponent's irregular opening play.
Smyslov, V - Alatortsev, V - Moscow-ch 1946
Notes by W Winter, from the Soviet Weekly 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nd4 Bird's Defence, which has been revived in the Soviet Union, although it has been completely abandoned elsewhere. 4.Nxd4 exd4 5.O-O c6 Bird played (5...Bc5 here and this move has also been adopted in the Soviet Union ) 6.Bc4 Black has development difficulties 6...Nf6 ( he cannot play 6...Bc5 because 7.Bxf7+ ) 7.Qe2 A fine move, the result of which prevents Black castling 7...d6 8.e5 dxe5 9.Qxe5+ Be7 10.Re1 Kf8 11.c3 c5 12.cxd4 Bd6 In spite of the poor position of Black's King, White is faced with some difficulties. His Queen's side is undeveloped, and Black's pieces are well placed for a King's side attack. 13.Qe2 cxd4 14.b3 An excellent manoevre which forces the exchange of Black's best piece - his King's Bishop. 14...g6 15.Ba3 a6 ( If 15...Kg7 16.Bxd6 Qxd6 17.Qe7 with a great advantage ) 16.Qe5 Bxa3 17.Nxa3 b5 18.Bf1 Kg7 19.Nc2 Ra7
Moves are clickable
An ingenious way of avoiding material loss, but Black is still in difficulties on account of the poor position of his King. 20.Nxd4 Rd7 21.Nf3 Bb7 22.Re3 Bxf3 23.Rxf3 Rxd2 24.a4 bxa4 25.bxa4 a5 ( Slightly better seems 25...Re8 26.Qc3 Rd6 in order to relieve the pin; but White still obtains the better game by 27.Rb1 Kg8 28.Rb7 to which Black cannot reply 28...Re7 because of 29.Rxf6 Rxb7 30.Rxd6 Qxd6 31.Qc8+ and wins ) 26.Qc3 Rd4 27.Rb1 Rf8 ( If 27...Ne4 28.Qa1 threatening both Rd3 and Nb7. The text move is played in order to answer Rb7 by ...Ne4 but White has an unexpected resource which decides the issue. The remaining moves are forced and easy to understand. ) 28.Rb8 Qxb8 29.Qxd4 Qd8 30.Qc3 Re8 31.g4 h6 32.h4 g5 33.hxg5 hxg5 34.Rf5 Kg6 35.Bd3 Ne4 36.Qc4 Nd6 37.Rxf7+ 1-0
He Got the Bird
The defence to the Ruy Lopez, invented by the English chess master H E Bird., was completely abandoned after his death; but quite recently its merits have been recognised in the Soviet Union. The following game, from the Moscow championship, would have delighted the old master. (Digital editor's note - this section, titled "He Got the Bird" seems a little incongruous next to the previous game titled "Don't Monkey with the Lopez" which disparages the same opening variation!
Baturinsky, V - Solntsev, Y - Moscow-ch 1946
Notes again by W Winter, from the Soviet Weekly. 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nd4 This constitutes Bird's defence. 4.Nxd4 exd4 5.O-O c6 6.Bc4 d6 7.d3 (7.Qe2 is a good alternative. If Black then plays 7...Nf6 8.e5 as played in Smyslov v Alatorsev gives White the advantage. Black however, can continue 7...g6 ) 7...Nf6 8.c3 dxc3 9.bxc3 Be7 10.Bb3 In order to answer ...d5 by e5 10...O-O 11.f4 This move foreshadows a King's side attack ( A more conservative line of play 11.Re1 followed by Nb1-d2-f1 would probably be better ) 11...Be6 12.Kh1 c5 A good counter. Black threatens c5-c4, an idea which he succeeds in carrying out by the sacrifice of a pawn. 13.c4 b5 14.cxb5 c4 15.dxc4 Nxe4 16.Bb2 Bh4
Moves are clickable
17.f5 Not surprisingly White overlooks his opponent's beautiful reply to this move ( Even after 17.Qf3 (best) 17...f5 White's position is difficult ash he cannot develop his Queen's Knight, and Black has many attacking possibilities. ) 17...Qg5 18.Qf3 ( After 18.fxe6 fxe6 White is helpless against the attack of the four Black pieces. For instance 19.Nc3 Ng3+ 20.hxg3 Bxg3 21.Rf3 Qh4+ 22.Kg1 Qh2+ 23.Kf1 Qh1+ 24.Ke2 Qxg2+ 25.Ke3 Bf2+ and wins. Against the move played Black finds a fine sacrifice ) 18...Ng3+ 19.hxg3 Bxg3 20.Rd1 Bxf5 21.Kg1 Rae8 22.Bd4 ( If 22.Nd2 Re3 23.Qb7 ( if 23.Qd5 Rd3 ) 23...Qh6 24.Nf1 Be4 25.Qxa7 (or Qd7) 25...Re2 and wins ) 22...Be4 23.Qe2 Qh4 24.Nc3 Re5 Decisive. Black threatens ...Rh5 25.Nxe4 ( if 25.Bxe5 Qh2+ and mates next move ) 25...Rxe4 26.Qxe4 If the Queen moves ...Rf4 is decisive. A brilliant attack by Black 26...Qxe4 27.Bxa7 Re8 28.Rf1 Qh4 29.Rf3 Re2 30.Kf1 Rb2 31.Rc1 Qh1+ 0-1