Chess Openings

Classic Chess Games: Nimzowitsch vs. Tarrasch

White: Nimzowitsch, Aaron
Black: Tarrasch, Siegbert
Place: St Petersburg
Year: 1914
Opening: Queen's Gambit Declined

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

When the Knight is developed to d2 instead of c3, it is usually expected that other Knight will move on to e5 eventually, accompanied by the move f4 shortly after. After 11 Ne5, Black will be faced with several difficulties. For instance he cannot attempt 11 … cxd4; 12 exd4 Ba3, in an effort to make d4 vulnerable, due to; 13 Bxa3 Qxa3; 14 cxd5 Nxe5; 15 dxe5 Nxd5; 16 Nc4 and Nd6.

11. … exd5

12. Nh4

White tempts Black to move g6. This g6 move in addition to weakening the Black's king-side, offers White an opportunity to penetrate the Black's position through a1- h8 diagonal. However White loses two moves in the process of tempting Black. If Black does not fall for the trap, he would end up with a superior position, as in this game.

12. ... g6

13. Nhf3 Rad8

Black should not play Ne4 at this point, since it will lead to; 14 cxd5 exd5; 15 Bxe5 dxe5; 16 Nxe5.

14. dxc5

White tries to escape his inferior position with no clear prospects by being proactive. He wants to open lines before starting an attack on the queen-side. However given that Black has the better position this can be dangerous especially in the centre. White may have done better by bolstering his defenses, through, Qe2, Rfd1, Nc1, and Ng3.

14. ... bxc5

15. Bb5

This move targets the Knight at c6 in order to take away the protection it offers to expected d4.

15. ... Ne4

16. Bxc6 Bxc6

17. Qc2

The move g3 is a must here. It is clear that White has not noticed the danger because he fails to move g3. However even after g3, Black has a huge advantage over White due to his better poised Queen, Knight, and the two Bishops.

17. ... Nxd2

This move signals the start of a superb combination that will mate White.

18. Nxd2 d4!

Even if White has played 18 Qxd2, this move will not change.

19. exd4

White could have played the relatively better e4. However that will not change the ultimate outcome, since after 19 … f5; play will continue 20 f3 Bf4; etc.

19. ... Bxh2+!!

20. Kxh2 Qh4+

21. Kg1 Bxg2!

This breathtaking sacrifice of both Bishops was not really original, since Emanuel Lasker has already employed a similar tactic in a famous game in 1889. In any case it won the Master Tarrasch the second prize for brilliancy in 1914.

22. f3

If black played Kxg2, play would proceed; Qg4+; 23 Kh1 Rd5; 24 Qxc5 Rh5+; 25 Qxh5 Qxh5+; 26 Kg2 Qg5+.

22. ... Rfe8

It is incorrect to play 22 … Qg6, due to Ne4.

23. Ne4 Qh1+

24. Kf2 Bxf1

25. d5 f5

26. Qc3 Qg2+

27. Ke3 Rxe4+!

28. fxe4 f4+

If Black played Qg6+, he could have won sooner by two moves

29. Kxf4 Rf8+

30. Ke5 Qh2+

31. Ke6 Re8+

White resigns.

If White played Kd7, then Bb5 mate if he played Kf6, then Qh4 mate.