Learn From The Masters: Tarrasch's Crystal Ball

Learn From The Masters: Tarrasch's Crystal Ball

May 12, 2018, 5:05 PM |

Full disclaimer: As much as I would like to give myself credit for this artwork you are about to read, I got this game as well as the storyline from another resource, which will be mentioned at the end of the article. Also, I may end up utilizing some of the notes from the source, though I will choose my own words to provide this content, as well as adding my own notes.

I'm back!!! Where have I been? Shortly after I released my most recent post on a game of Lasker's, I came down with the flu.  On top of bodily weakness, high fever, I also must have temporarily lost my blogging motivation. I've recovered awhile ago, but I am still trying to find that passion for writing about chess to you guys again. I think that will turn up again. 

I came across this game as well as an interesting story that went with it. The game was played by Dr. Tarrasch playing against three players in a consultation! I'm not sure how strong these players were, though they didn't seem half bad at chess. We will skim through the first few moves to the critical moment of the game:

It's first worth noting that 12... fxe6! was a useful move to open the Rook up on the f-file. It was in this position that Tarrasch told spectators (seems kind of odd at first. I guess this is equal to going into the confessional booth in today's day) that if White played 13. f4, then Black would deliver a checkmate on the g2-square! 
Huh? Checkmate on g2? Black's pieces do not nearly have an immediate impact on White's King safety! How did Tarrasch come to this conclusion? A magic crystal ball? Let's see how he decided matters, as White did indeed play the move Dr. Tarrasch was anticipating!
I'm sure White was hoping for 24... Bxd6 25. exd6, Rxd6, which would relieve some of Black's pressure at the price of a pawn... but no!
I could write a whole post on these Rxd6 sacrifices... they're so thematic! Why does Black commit to such a combination? What does White lose after this? A Knight, and his strong central pawn formation dissolves. All for the price of... a Rook that is doing nothing? And Black simply gains a much more active position as a result of the sacrifice. Let's see how this plays out:
Simply impressive, that on move thirteen, Tarrasch was able to look at the position and predict a mate! I hope you enjoyed this instructive game and neat story like I did! Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a good day!
PS. The game and story came from the book, Chess Strategy for the Tournament Player, by former US Champion GM Lev Alburt and GM Sam Palatnik.