Chess: Tainted curiosity from the past

ONE OF the more unsavoury episodes in chess history was the spate of tournaments organised during the war years in Nazi-occupied countries. Munich, Cracow, Prague, Warsaw and Salzburg all saw top-class events in the early 1940s. For players such as Paul Keres, from Estonia, playing was a question of survival. For others such as Yefim Bogolyubov and even the world champion, Alexander Alekhine, it seemed to indicate approval of what was going on around them.

The games from these events are tainted curiosities, but still worth looking at from a purely chess aspect. The following game, from Cracow 1940, was won by Bogolyubov, the great Russian Master who twice unsuccessfully challenged for the world title. His losses to Alekhine have given him the reputation of being a no-hoper at the top level, yet he was one of the greatest players of his time.

After an unusual opening, Black dithers with 8 . . . Be7? (d5 or Nc6 would be better), then repeats the error with 10 . . . Be7? (10 . . . d6 was necessary), but the punishment is surprising and beautiful. Black must have thought he was freeing his game with 14 . . . d5, but the move lost by force. After 15. exd6 Nxd6, White gets nowhere with 16. Nxd6+ Qxd6 17. Bb5+ Ke7, nor ith 16. Nxd6+ Qxd6 17. Bg6 since after 17 . . . Qxd1 the intended Rxe6+ is illegal.

Bogolyubov found the right way with 16. Bg6]] when Nxc4 loses to Rxe6+, and 16 . . . Ke7 loses to 17. Nxd6 Qxd6 18. Qxd6+ Kxd6 19. Bxf7 Bd5 20. Rad1. White's only error comes in playing 19. Qd5, missing a brilliant finish with 19. Qd4] Qxb7 20. Rxe6+] Kxe6 (fxe6 loses to Qxg7+) 21. Re1+ forcing mate. In the final position Black can no longer stop the knight escaping via c5.

White: Bogolyubov

Black: Rellstab

1 d4 Nf6 12 Bxe7 Nxe7

2 Nf3 b5 13 Nc4 Nc8

3 Bg5 Bb7 14 Re1 d5

4 e3 a6 15 exd6 Nxd6

5 Nbd2 e6 16 Bg6 hxg6

6 a4 b4 17 Nxd6+ Ke7

7 Bd3 c5 18 Nxb7 Qc7

8 0-0 Be7 19 Qd5 Rh5

9 dxc5 Bxc5 20 Qe4 Nc6

10 e4 Be7 21 g4 1-0

11 e5 Nd5