(1) Samsonov - Nezhmetdinov,R [C29]
Kazan Tbilisi, 1929
[Nezhmetdinov R.]

1.e4 e5 2.Nc3

The Vienna game. In this opening White tries to open the f-file by f2-f4 in order to develop an attack on the black king (on f7). In case of an exchange at f4, besides the open file White gets a pawn superiority in the centre (d- and e- pawns vs a d-pawn.) In several variations White intends to storm the castled king by f2-f4-f5 and g2-g4-g5. Black in turn tries to hinder White's flank attack by a counter-thrust in the centre (d6-d5)


One of the best responses, preparing the advance d7-d5. also possible is 2...Bc5 in order to take control of the centre square d4 and the diagonal a7-g1.


The brilliant Russian player Alekhine preferred the continuation 3.Bc4 followed by d3 to prepare f2-f4. however by 3...Nxe4 Black gets sufficient counterplay. After 3. ...Nxe4 4.Qh5 Nd6 5.Bb3 ( if 5.Qxe5+ Qe7 6.Qxe7+ Bxe7 7.Bb3 and after c6 and d5 Black has a solid position 7...Nf5 ) 5...Nc6 6.Nb5 g6 7.Qf3 f5 8.Qd5 Qe7 9.Nxc7+ Kd8 10.Nxa8 b6 the fight is very sharp. Black, in spite of his sizable loss of material has, apparently, the better chances since his attack is very dangerous. The following example shows how a player unfamiliar with opening variations gets into difficulties. In a 1940 game against the Kazan Caregory 1 player Ingenol, I fell into this line for the second time (the first was against Saigin in the 1939 Kazan championship where I drew with difficulty) After long consideration, White found the following fantastic plan of mobilising his forces: Qd5-d3, Qd3-f1, Qf1-g1, h2-h4, Qg1-h2, 0-0. White ultimately won this game, exploiting poor play by Black. But now I would on no account want to repeat this artificial manouevre.


A counter-thrust in the centre is the best reply to a flank attack.

4.fxe5 Nxe4 5.Nf3

 5.Qf3 and; 5.Qe2 are often played here.


 I played the opening without having any real idea of opening theory. Unfortunately, I learned the strength of many theoretical variations by my own bitter experience ...... As is generally known, 5...Be7 and; 5...Nc6 are good continuations. In the latter case, the interesting variation 6.Qe2 Bf5 7.Qb5 a6 8.Qxb7 ( 8.Qxd5 Nb4 ) 8...Nb4 9.Nxe4 dxe4 10.Nd4 Rb8 11.Qa7 Bc5 12.Qxc5 Qxd4! 13.Qxd4 Nxc2+ 14.Kf2 Nxd4 gives Black the advantage.


Stronger here is 6.Be2 with a good game for White.

6...Bxc3 7.bxc3 Bg4?!

Activity at all costs! This is the way I generally played at the beginning of my chess career. The move is the beginning of a combination by Black which, if White plays correctly, leads to a draw. Black should castle, to put his king in a safe position. Then a position with about equal chances would arise.


This inexact move gives Black tactical counterplay. Correct was 8.Ba3 and White gets significant chances for an attack on Black's king which is caught in the centre. I will cite one possible variation: 8...Nc6 9.0-0-0 Nxe5 10.Qb5+ c6 11.Nxe5 cxb5 ( Here the zwischenzug 11...Qc7 foils White's line: e.g. 12.Qb4 Bxd1 13.Bd3 0-0-0 14.Nxc6 Qxc6 15.Rxd1 Kb8 and Black remains the exchange ahead. - WAF) 12.Bxb5+ Bd7 13.Bxd7+ Qxd7 14.Nxd7 Kxd7 15.Rhf1 with a marked advantage for White in the endgame.


......is more active; then 8...Nc6 9.Qxb7 is risky because of 9...0-0! and if 10.Qxc6? Bxf3 11.gxf3 ( Instead White should play 11.h4! though after 11...Bg4 Black still has the better position.) 11...Qh4+ and White loses material.; In this case better is 8...Nc6 9.Be2 Bxf3 10.Bxf3 ( 10.Qxb7? 0-0 ) 10...0-0 with chances for both sides.

9.Qxb7 Bxf3 10.Qxa8

Instead of such a straightforward attempt to win material, White should make a deep appraisal of the specific features of the position. Then he would probably have found this promising sacrifice of the exchange: 10.gxf3! Qh4+ 11.Kd1 Nf2+ 12.Ke2 Nxh1 13.Qc8+ Qd8 ( 13...Ke7?? leads to mate after 14.Ba3+ ) 14.Qxd8+ Kxd8 15.Bg2 In this position, Black's small material advantage is outweighed by White's large positional advantage; a strong pawn centre, two active bishops, and the lack of co-ordination of black's pieces are grounds for evaluating this line in White's favour.

10...Bxg2 11.Be2

 Suicide. 11.Bxg2 is correct and after 11...Qh4+ 12.Ke2 ( worse is 12.Kd1 since after 12...Qg4+ 13.Ke1 0-0! 14.Rg1 Qh4+ 15.Kd1 Qf2 16.Rf1 Qxg2 Black has a strong attack, for example: 17.Ke1 Qxh2 18.a3 Ng3 winning.) 12...Qf2+ 13.Kd1 0-0! 14.Bxe4 dxe4 15.Re1 Black should force a draw by perpetual check 15...Qf3+ 16.Re2 Qf1+

11...Qh4+ 12.Kd1 Nf2+ 13.Ke1 Nd3+ 14.Kd1 Qe1+ 15.Rxe1 Nf2#

The first and only "smothered mate" in my career. It was only many years later that I noticed the final attack in this game recalls the ending of a game by the famed Italian master Gioacchino Greco (1600 -c 1634). 0-1