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 possibleor 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 verticallyand 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.
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