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LCB, Issue #046 --, Turn the Tables with Tactical Counters
March 01, 2019

Turn the Tables with Tactics

Lapoc Chess Board, Issue #046 -- GOTM #15

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Everyone wants to improve their attack techniques. Building pressure, annexing space, positional gains and putting together mating nets are just some of the aspects people work on.

But defense is just as important as attack. The ability to absorb the pressure of incrementally increasing aggression or survive an all-out assault against the King and then hit back.

Always picking the right response when we're under the hammer, while remaining alive to the possibilities of lifting the siege with correctly timed counter-play. That's the trick to turning the tables. Today we see a good example of this taken from the 1953 Candidates Tournament between up and coming Master Efim Geller and former World Champion Max Euwe.

Turn the Tables with Tactics

Geller, Efim P - Euwe, Max [E28]

GotM #15 - Zurich, 1953
[Connaughton, Ken]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4

Nimzo-Indian Defense

4.e3 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3

White chooses a Saemisch set-up.

6...b6 7.Bd3 Bb7 8.f3 Nc6 9.Ne2 0-0 10.0-0 Na5 11.e4

Game position after 11.e4

White is banking on a big center to give him the platform to launch an attack.

11...Ne8 12.Ng3 cxd4 13.cxd4 Rc8 14.f4

Content to let c4 go. The open c-file will be significant later.

14...Nxc4 15.f5

White plays for a Kingside attack.

15...f6 16.Rf4

Using a Rook Lift White gets his Rook on the way to the h-file and it looks dangerous for Black.


Black continues with his Queenside ambitions.

17.Rh4 Qb6 18.e5

Game position after 18.e5

Things are getting sharp.

18...Nxe5 19.fxe6 Nxd3 20.Qxd3 Qxe6 21.Qxh7+

Game position after 21.Qxh7+

Looks like White has the initiative with his heavy pieces breaking through on the h-file. Will it be worth the loss of his big center?

21...Kf7 22.Bh6

White's pieces are aggressive but the Knight on e8 is holding Black's position together for now. It's only a matter of time with White preparing to bring two more pieces into the attack. And then...


Game position after 22...Rh8!!

Sacrificing the Rook to take the Queen off the light diagonal. This will allow the other Black Rook into the 7th Rank.

(22...Rg8= , a somewhat less flashy continuation was also possible. Players with less vision than Euwe would probably have chosen this route and finished with a draw.)


White must take or lose material. The center looks secure against the Queen but she can get in by means of a detour.

(White must take of course because otherwise he is losing material. 23.Qd3 Rxh6 24.Rxh6 gxh6 25.Rf1 Qd5-+ with a decisive advantage for Black.)


White's up a Rook for a pawn but Black is suddenly closing in on his King and his own pieces are poorly placed to repel the coming attack.


White misses his last chance to save the game.

(White had only one defense and an extremely difficult one to find: 24.d5 blocks the Black Queen's path to b3 which is crucial to the counter-attack as you will see in the game. 24...Bxd5 (24...Qxd5 leaves the e-file undefended and the tables would turn, 25.Re4 Rxg2+ 26.Kxg2 Qe6 27.Qh7 f5 (If 27...Bxe4+ then 28.Nxe4 Qg4+ 29.Ng3 Qe6 30.Rf1+- is easy for White.) 28.Rae1 Bxe4+ 29.Nxe4 fxe4 30.Rf1+ Ke7 31.Bg5+ Kd6 32.Qh5 Nf6 33.Bf4+ Ke7 34.Qxb5+- with White eventually winning.) 25.Rd1 Rxg2+ 26.Kf1 Ra2 27.Bd2 locks the a2-Rook out of the Kingside. 27...Bc4+ 28.Kf2 Qb6+ 29.Kf3 Bd5+ 30.Ke2 Bc4+ 31.Kf3 Bd5+= with a draw. Black doesn't quite have enough attackers to finish it.)


Game position after 24...Rxg2+

and it's over pretty quickly.

25.Kf1 Qb3

White had the e-file pretty well covered so the Black Queen must infiltrate via b3.


(26.Re4 doesn't work this late into the attack, the Black pieces will # the White King before White's attack can continue: 26...Qf3+ 27.Ke1 Qf2+ 28.Kd1 Rg1+ 29.Nf1 Rxf1+ 30.Re1 Rxe1#)


Game position after 26...Qf3

White resigns as none of his forces can save his exposed King. What a turn around by Black with his fearless Rook sacrifice.

(26...Qf3 27.Qxe8+ (27.Rf4 seems like the most energetic defense but now the Bishops defense of e3 and d2 has been interrupted. 27...Qe3+ 28.Kd1 Rd2#) 27...Kxe8 28.Rc8+ Kf7 29.Rf8+ Kxf8 30.Bxg7+ Kf7 31.Bh6 Qf2+ 32.Kd1 Rg1+ 33.Nf1 Rxf1#)


Geller - Euwe (Zurich, 1953)

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