7. tammikuuta 2011

Ivan Turgenev: the famous novelist invented the Nimzo Indian Defence long before Nimzowitsch´s birth?

Friends of literature and particularly the fans of Russian literature know well the novelist Ivan Turgenev (1818-1883). He was one of the greatest Russian writers of the 19th Century, and his famous novel "Fathers and Sons" (1862) is good reading even today. It is worth mentioning that here in Finland Turgenev was one of the very first "foreign" novelists, whose books were translated in Finnish. (Well, in the 19th Century Finland was an autonomous part of the Russian Empire)

However, it is not so known that Turgenev was a strong amateur chess player and that he was probably the first player to try Nimzoindian Defence in recorded game. Of course it must be admitted that Turgenev played the key move 3.-Bb4 after 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3, whis is a kind of mix of Queen´s Gambit and Nimzoindian Defence. However this "Nimzo Queen´s Gambit" (1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4!?) is still played today. It is called also Accelerated Ragozin variation, of which Nikita Vitiugov has recently written interesting article in SOS-11 (Secrets of Opening Surprises 11, published by New In Chess). GM Viacheslav Ragozin (1908-1962) is better known in opening theory by his Ragozin Variation 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 Bb4, but he played his defence also in accelerated form 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4!? against strong opponents. More recently, in 1990´s and in the 21st Century, Turkish GM Suat Attalik and Cuban GM Jesus Nogueiras have played more or less regularly 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4!?

In our Lauttasaari Chess Club Janne Kauppinen plays often this variation in blitzgames and I personally have tried it two times in rated tournaments and with good result: one win and one draw, which would also have been a win, if I just had spotted one easy combination in clearly superior position for Black...

Let´s now go to the very first Nimzo-Indian or "Accelarated Ragozin" Defence played by the great novelist:

V. Matsuski – I. Turgenev, Paris 1861 (Chesscafé "La Regence”)

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4

Highly original play by Turgenev: playing the Accelerated Ragozin with Nimzoindian flavour before the birth of both Ragozin and Nimzowitsch!


An interesting idea to put up a strong pawn centre. If Black now responds with 4.-Nf6, we would have a "normal" Nimzo position, which is reached by the move order 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.f3 d5 etc. But Turgenev goes his own way and counter-attacks immediately with c-pawn and brings his Queen to game:

4.-c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Qa5!? (or ?!)

Here the move 6.-Nf6 would still have led to "normal" Nimzo position, which is reached by the move order 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.a3 Bxc3+ 5.bxc3 c5 6.f3 d5 etc.

7.Bd2 Nf6 8.Qc2 Bd7 9.e4 dxe4 10.fxe4 cxd4 11.cxd4 Qh5

12.Nf3 Qg6 13.Bd3 Qxg2 14.Rf1 Nc6 15.0-0-0 Ng4 16.Rde1 h6 17.d5 Ne5 18.Nxe5 Nxe5 19.Rg1 Qf3

20.Re3 Qf6 21.Bc3 Nxd3+ 22.Qxd3 Qe7 23.Bxg7

It has been suggested, that 23.d6 was here stronger, but according to CC-IM Pekka Kauppala that is not the case.

23. –Rg8 24.Reg3 0-0-0 25.Qe3 (25.d6!?) 25. –b6 26.Qxh6 Qc5 27.Bd4

27.-Qxc4+! 28.Rc3 Rxg1+ 29.Kd2 Qxc3+ 30.Kxc3 Rg4 31.Qh5 Rf4 32.Qe5 Rf3+ 33.Kb2 Rg8 34.Bc3 Ba4 35.Qd4 Rg2+ 36.Bd2 Bd7 37.h4 R3f2 38.Kc3 Rxd2 39.Qh8+ Kb7 40.h5 exd5 41.exd5 Rxd5 42.h6

White´s last try, but it is not enough. Turgenev finishes the game with style:

42. –Bf5 43.Qf6 Rc2+ 44.Kb4 a5+ 45.Ka4 Rc7 46.Kb3 Rb5+ 47.Ka4 Bd7 and White resigned. 0-1

Your comments and analysis of this game are most welcome!

1 kommentti:

Anonyymi kirjoitti...

Quite many mastergames of the variation 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 can be found from databases:
Troitzky - Ragozin, Soviet Trade Unions 1938
Alatortsev - Ragozin, Leningrad-Moscow match 1939
Forintos - Haag, Hungarian Ch 1963
Tukmakov - Gulko, Elenite 1993
Adorjan - Korchnoi, Chess Classic Master, rapid 1998
Adorjan - Atalik, Maroczy Memorial 1997
Popov- Nogueiras, Cappele Op. 2004
Filippov - Aronian, Aeroflot Open 2005
So perhaps this variation is very playable!

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