by National Life Master Loal Davis
There was an important chess match played in 1893 between Dr. Sigbert Tarrasch and Mikhail Tchigorin when both were very close if not at the very top of their game and World Champion contenders. The fifth game from that series, played in St. Petersburg, is one of my favorite games of all time. By the way – Tchigorin preferred the English spelling of his name as I have given, but you may see it spelled “Chigorin” in other references.
Tarrasch,S – Tchigorin,M
St Petersburg 1893
Match Game #5
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.Nc3
This is “simply” out of fashion, although it was a favorite of Tarrasch and later Alekhine who both had great success with it. [“Usual” is 5.0–0 with White eventually playing c3/d4 and a “Steinitz Knight Tour” of Nd2/Nf1/Ne3/Nd5 or the Knight goes into f5; instead of the Knight going via e3 it often goes to g3 and then into f5. Assuming the destination of the Knight is d5, then there is a lot to be said for playing Nc3/Nd5. White saves time and there is certainly little wrong, if anything, in playing Nc3 on move 5.]
With threats. If allowed, White intends to play Bxc6 (removal of the guard) and Nxb4. Consequently White’s e Pawn is poison.
Yes this maintains the pin on the d Pawn, but the Bishop itself appears to be relatively out of play. As the Bishop could become a target on c5 (White’s d Pawn), perhaps the best place for this Bishop is e7.
Capturing White’s e Pawn now would run into Re1, Qe2, or simply advancing with d4 as the relationship of the Knight on e4 and the King on e8 is not a happy one.
8.Bb3 d6 9.d3
Both c3 and d4 are also good alternatives.
9…Bg4 10.c3 Ne7
A tactical slip, but how many players today would find the flaw and with it the following continuation?
[11…Bxd1 12.Nxf6+ gxf6 (12…Kf8 13.Ned7+) 13.Bxf7+ Kf8 14.Bh6#]
12.Nxf6+ gxf6 13.Qxg4 Ng6
[13…Qxd3 is a major OOPS because 14.Rd1 is a major snare.]
14.Bd5 Rb8 15.f4
Strategically this game is over. Not only is White is up a Pawn, but is beginning to crack open lines against the weaknesses on the f file. Combine this with a latent focus of White energy on the f7 Pawn (Bishop and Rook), Black’s poorly placed King, and his Bishop out of play on a5 and we have all the makings of a nightmare for Tchigorin.
He doesn’t have time for Qb6+ as c6 is captured with check, but Black felt he had to try something.
16.Bxc6+ Ke7 17.Bd5 b4
Black says, “Maybe something will turn up.”
18.fxe5 Qb6+ 19.Kh1 Nxe5 20.Qh5 Ng6
You might have thought that Black could have captured on c3, but Tchigorin was trying to avoid the following tactical blowout.
[22…Ke5 23.Be7+ Of course winning the Queen (Bd8+ or Be3+) was an option as well, but it’s best to put Black out of his misery. 23…f5 24.Qxf5#]
23.Qh6+ Kg8 24.Rf1 Rf8 25.Bf6 Qxf6 26.Rxf6
See Comments For The Complete PGN File.