Wednesday, February 24, 2016

My favourite moves XVII


Karlsbad, 1923

15. Qa1!

This is a an obvious move, isn't it? It's obvious to you. It's obvious to me, now. But it wasn't obvious to me when I was shown it as a child, and the thing we all knew was that we had to centralise our pieces.

I've gone over this ground before, when we were looking at Nimzowitsch's Nh1, which I notice now was also played against Rubinstein. Ray's remark in Nimzowitsch: A Reappraisal makes sense here too:
When I first read My System I was so impressed by this game that I deliberately created situations in my next few games where the move Ng3-h1 was possible
or at least, when I had a long period playing the Reti Opening in the nineties I was always particularly keen to get the queen to a1, behind the bishop on b2.

Easier said than done, since you have to get round the queenside rook, but Reti himself managed it again the following year against Yates

which may go some way to explain Kmoch's comment, quoted by Fine (in The World's Great Chess Games) when annotating the Rubinstein game:

Golombek, annotating the same encounter in his collection of Reti's best games

describes the queen move as
beautiful play that increases the pressure on Black's position both diagonally and vertically
and in Flank Openings Ray gives 15. Qa1 an exclamation mark, as it merits.

In the Times (paywall) for 27 August 2011 he was more forthcoming, if slightly more careless:

Strong and typical, but perhaps a little obvious, today: I'm sure most readers would play it almost without thinking. But it still has the same, simple, geometric beauty, in the combination of rank and diagonal,as it must have had in 1923, or as it had when I first saw it, half a century later. One should not confuse what is complex with what is attractive. Not in art, not in music, not even in chess.

[My favourite moves index]


Anonymous said...

I'm less convinced by Qa1 or Qa8 in the reverse positions. I would now only be inclined to play it when I have too, because the Queen needed to get out of the way. The problem is that if the game opens up a bit and the minor pieces are exchanged, you need the powerful Queen creating threats, not hiding on Rook One. There was a famous game where Reti played Qa1 and then followed it up with Qh1 the next move. Both were with threat though.

It is a problem to be solved when playing the Reti or for that matter defending as Black against London and Torre systems. Assuming no tactical action, you've played in no particular order Nf3, g3, Bg2, O-O, d3, c4, b3, Bb2, Nbd2. The minor pieces are where you want them with little scope for regrouping, so where do you put the Rooks and Queen?


AngusF said...

There's also a queen into the corner, behind a bishop, in the Hedgehog defence. Don't think it's as elegant (in arrival and effect) as Reti's version.

Anonymous said...

That Qa1-h1 game referred to was against Em Lasker.

Reti lost, of course ;)

Jonathan B said...

I was always rather fond of the ... Qa8 that sometimes crops up in the QGD