Sunday, March 22, 2009

Rotlewi - Rubinstein, Lodz 1907

In contrast to his great rival, Lasker, Akiba Rubinstein was a player of calmness and simplicity; his victories seem as inevitable as the rising tide. Here he demonstrates the value of time in a symmetrical position. White’s first loss of tempo permits Black equality; the second invites a brilliant, devastating – and logical – mating attack.

Rotlewi – Rubinstein
Lodz, 1907


1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 e6 3. e3 c5 4. c4 Nc6 5. Nc3 Nf6 6. dxc5

Not exactly a mistake, but by making this capture before Black’s Bishop has moved from f8, White risks a loss of tempo if a later Bf1-d3 is answered by ... d5xc4.

6. ... Bxc5 7. a3 a6 8. b4 Bd6 9. Bb2 0-0 10. Qd2

Another inaccuracy; it is clear that Black will soon open the d-file and place a Rook on d8, forcing the White Queen to move again.

10. ... Qe7 11. Bd3 dxc4 12. Bxc4 b5 13. Bd3 Rd8 14. Qe2 Bb7 15. 0-0

Time to take stock. The pieces of both sides are posted symmetrically, but Black has the useful extra move ... Rf8-d8, and it is still his move. Rubinstein begins by exchanging off one of the Kingside defenders.

15. ... Ne5 16. Nxe5 Bxe5 17. f4 Bc7 18. e4

White’s undeveloped position can’t stand this; he had to try Rfd1, though Black still stands better with his active Bishops.

18. ... Rac8 19. e5 Bb6+ 20. Kh1 Ng4 21. Be4

Black is well on top after 21. Qxg4 Rxd3, and 21. Ne4 runs into 21. ... Rxd3 22. Qxd3 Bxe4 23. Qxe4 Qh4 24. h3 Qg3 25. hxg4 Qh4 mate.

21. ... Qh4 22. g3

Also insufficient was 22. h3 Rxc3, e.g. 23. Qxg4 Rxh3+ 24. Qxh3 Qxh3+ 25. gxh3 Bxe4+ 26. Kh2 Rd2+ 27. Kg3 Rg2+ followed by mate, or 23. Bxc3 Bxe4 24. Qxg4 Qxg4 25. hxg4 Rd3, and White must lose the Bishop on c3 in view of the threat of 26. ... Rxh3 mate.


22. ... Rxc3!

A wonderful combination, which includes the motifs of overloading and removing the guard.

23. gxh4

Other moves are no better: 23. Bxc3 Bxe4+ 24. Qxe4 Qxh2 mate, or 23. Bxb7 Rxg3 24. Rf3 (Black threatened ... Nxh2 and ... Rh3) 24. ... Rxf3 25. Bxf3 Nf2+ 26. Kg1 Ne4+ 27. Kf1 Nd2+ 28. Kg2 Nxf3 29. Qxf3 Rd2+ and wins.

23. ... Rd2!

The final point. Hopeless now are a) 24. Qxg4 Bxe4+ 25. Rf3 Rxf3, b) 24. Bxc3 Rxe2 threatening both ... Rxh2+ and ... Bxe4+, and c) 24 Bxb7 Rxe2 25. Bg2 Rh3!

24. Qxd2 Bxe4+ 25. Qg2 Rh3!, White resigns

For White must soon be mated.

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