Chess Messages from the Multiverse

Chess Messages from the Multiverse

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I am finding difficulty defining this post, and that is the main reason for the title.

My first intention was to center the post around the Geller-Mikadze game, and its comparison to its predecessor, the Keres-Smyslov game. But then, as I was busy and mulling over the subject, I found the similarity in the White formation (a3) against the King's Indian Defense, and decided to include the comparison between Botvinnik and Petrosian playing a similar system. It is my belief now that:

1) Botvinnik was inspired to use this formation by Petrosian's wonderful win against Kotov, and

2) Petrosian was much more dynamic with the White pieces in that system, while Botvinnik had a more static or passive approach. Not to be understated is the fact that Geller did understand and play the King's Indian Defense much better than Kotov.

Everything in my life right now feels like a possible goodbye, and although I am aware of the fact that nobody has a guaranteed tomorrow, as I approach my 68th year the finality of things becomes more palpable; more visible, as it were.

I love chess to a fault and chess, like any art, has a hidden, inner value that is common to any artistic or sports activity: the opportunity to transcend oneself in the process of trying to become better at something, whether it is chess, or archery, or any other skill. This motif of self-transcendence is applicable to any human endeavor, whether we are talking about someone trying to become a better mother, or a better co-worker, or just a better person overall.

Another value of chess is that it enables us to interact with others and be inspired by others on our journey to perfection. By the law of affinity, we resonate more with certain people, and in this case with certain chess players, whether they are from this generation or from other generations.

Not only the moves that they make, but the spirit behind the moves- the soul and heart of the person has an impact on my self. Again, a resonance through affinity. The more virtuous the player is as a person, the more he/she will be able to inspire me. 

I am aware that this might sound strange to players who relate mostly to "engines", which are really chess programs....

We are inherently human, inevitably human, and the need to feel empathy and compassion, love and companionship will always be true, in any age or time period. Our basic humanity is the common thread among centuries and aeons.

Every artist has a different vibration; every soul is unique. Certain chess players inspire me a lot, not only increasing my love for chess, but by feeling a part of their sensibility, their heart, their soul. Courage, nobility, self-sacrifice, humor, love, compassion, are qualities that somehow permeate the books written by Bronstein and Keres, for example. I cannot prove it, but I can feel the nobility of their soul, their brilliance, poise and courage, and in the case of Tal, his bubbly sense of humor and sense of adventure combined with his genius talent for this game we all love.

My wishes for happiness, peace and love for all, above all.


So on we go to some chess themes for this post:

On Jan. 11, 2021 I published a post about a particular positional pattern which became known in Soviet times in the games of Botvinnik, but which could be traced back to Rubinstein, and before that, to Chigorin. 

The pattern occurs with the Black pieces on the Black side of the English Opening.....

Black eventually lands a piece on d4, forces White to take, which opens the e-file and exposes the e-2 pawn to pressure.

Black has, with reversed colors, a Maroczy Bind!

In Wikipedia's page about the Maroczy Bind, there's a list of openings from which this kind of formation can arise:


Common opening lines[edit]

"Common opening lines that reach a Maróczy Bind position include:

  • The Accelerated Dragon variation of the Sicilian Defence: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.c4 (diagram)
  • The Kalashnikov Variation of the Sicilian Defence: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e5 5.Nb5 d6 6.c4
  • The Prins Variation of the Sicilian Defence: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.f3 e5 6.Nb3 Be7 7.c4
  • The Chekhover Variation of the Sicilian Defence: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Qxd4 Nc6 5.Bb5 Bd7 6.Bxc6 Bxc6 7.c4
  • The Taimanov Variation of the Sicilian Defence: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nb5 d6 6.c4
  • The Kramnik Variation of the Sicilian Defence: 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. c4 Nc6 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4
  • The Kan Variation of the Sicilian Defence: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.c4
  • The Moscow Variation of the Sicilian Defence: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Bd7 4.Bxd7 Qxd7 5.c4 Nc6 6.d4 cxd4 7.Nxd4
  • The Advance Variation of the Smith–Morra Gambit Declined: 1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 d3 4.c4
  • The Sämisch Variation of the King's Indian Defence: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3 0-0 6.Be3 c5 7.Nge2 cxd4 8.Nxd4
  • The Orthodox Variation of the King's Indian Defence: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 c5 7.0-0 cxd4 8.Nxd4
  • The Averbakh Variation of the King's Indian Defence: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Be2 0-0 6.Bg5 c5 7.dxc5 Qa5 8.Bd2 Qxc5
  • The Four Pawns Attack of the King's Indian Defence: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f4 0-0 6.Nf3 c5 7.dxc5 Qa5 8.Bd2 Qxc5
  • The Petrosian Variation of the Queen's Indian Defence: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.a3 Ba6 5.Qc2 Bb7 6.Nc3 c5 7.e4 cxd4 8.Nxd4
  • The Classical Variation of the Nimzo-Indian Defence: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 c5 5.dxc5, later followed by e4
  • In the Hedgehog formation, the opponent (typically White) has a type of Maróczy Bind, for example: 1.c4 c5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.g3 b6 4.Bg2 Bb7 5.Nc3 e6 6.0-0 a6 7.d4 cxd4 8.Qxd4 d6 9.e4 Be7 10.b3 Nbd7"


Going back to our subject matter, we go back to the first example given in Lipnitzky's "Questions of Modern Chess Theory".....

First of, it is a wonderful book; I highly recommend it. 

One thing that you will notice is that White had a very passive approach to this opening; it is almost as if White was paralyzed by Black's concept, Black's grip on the position.

The following game is also given:

Again, in this game, also, White failed to find an effective plan with White against Black's "Maroczy Bind" with Black.
As Lipnitsky shows, methods were found to fight against this particular formation.....

On page 33, Lipnistky gives the following position:

Lipnitsky: "White has been permitted to set up a strong centre with his pieces and pawns. Within the boundary of his own camp, however, Black has fortified all the central squares, preventing the white pieces from invading. In the process he has accepted a weak pawn on d6- yet the weakness is not easy for White to get at, despite being located on an open file.

For their own part, Black's pieces are concentrating their fire against the centre. Black attempts to shake and shatter the pillars of White's centre (c4 and e4) through converging attacks from the flanks. Given the opportunity, he will try to destroy that centre by playing d6-d5 or f7-f5."

Then he gives the position after White's 16th move in the following game:

Another example of effective counterplay against the White pawns on c4 and e4 is given with the following game:



"Suming up, we may say that on the chess battlefield, the centre is the main high ground dominating the terrain.If it is in our opponent's possession, we spare no effort to attack it. If we have occupied this high ground ourselves, we do everything to consolidate our positions there, in order to repel the opponent's counter-attacks and prepare to deal powerful blows in various directions."


To summarise a bit, if we look at the game Kirilov-Botvinnik above, if the side (in this case, White) facing the "Maroczy Bind" acts passively, Black will slowly increase his grip on the position, and eventually overwhelm White.

Among the books I have, one of my favorites to peruse is Geller's "The Application of Chess Theory"

It is superbly organized. The first section gives games by opening, and the second section is a selectin of some of Geller's games against World Champions (Euwe, Botvinnik, Spassky, Tal, Petrosian, Fischer).

On page 147, in the section about the English Opening, Geller gives the following game (Geller-Mikadze, Gori 1968)

Take the pawn, please!

" A crucial point of the game was the choice between a positional and a combinational procedure. I made it without hesitation. Of course, a part was played by my constant readiness to engage in open piece play. Nevertheless, the main thing was the strict observance of a chess rule: the player with a lead in development can and should attack, disregarding, if necessary, loss of material. It was another matter that the position permitted a second solution, one that had been approved many years earlier. So it was a matter of taste: to calmly follow the well-trodden path, or to seek complications."

I have placed the phrase "one that had been approved many years earlier" in bold letters for a reason. First, let us look at the Geller-Mikadze game:

Now, going back to the phrase by Geller, "one that had been approved many years earlier"- what does he mean? I believe I found the answer in this wonderful book by Keres:

It is a masterpiece of a book!

So, Geller-Mikadze is from 1968. Who did Geller learn from? Keres. The game in question is Keres-Smyslov, 25th USSR Championship, Leningrad 1947!

Now, Botvinnik has been quoted as saying that "Before Geller, we did not understand how to play the King's Indian Defense", and Bronstein, in his deathbed, was asked if he was the player who best played the King's Indian Defense! His response was honest: it was not him, but Geller who was the best!

I love perusing through chess books, mostly from the Soviet Era, who some have called the "Golden Era:" of chess.

Now, we take a quick glance at the position which Lipnitsky pointed out earlier:

Now, in 1952, Botvinnik (White) played a3,

and Geller, in his book, 

rated this move as a positional mistake. I remember that, upon reading the comment by Geller, my thought was "How could Botvinnik make such a fundamental mistake?" But Botvinnik might have been influenced into making this move by a game played a year earlier, a game in which Petrosian made this same move, and scored an overwhelming win against a strong GM, Alexander Kotov!

Now it all makes sense how Botvinnik, so impressed by Petrosian's victory, decided that this formation was good for White. But Geller handled the position masterfully, much more so than Kotov!

Best wishes of peace and joy to everyone.