Sunday, September 18, 2005

Torre Plays the Torre at Moscow 1925

diagram White to play and win after 24...Qb5?

In anticipation of NM Scott Massey's annual lecture, which is now set for October 6th at the Kenilworth Chess Club, I have been looking at some games from the Moscow 1925 tournament that will be his subject. Scott is most interested in seeing Moscow as the site where Soviet chess domination began. As with any great tournament, though, there are a number of lessons to be drawn from it. I prefer to focus on the story of Carlos Torre, one of the many lost American chess talents, which I touched on in a previous post. Here I want to look at his rather simple opening system, which has practically as great a following among amateurs as the Colle.

Torre achieved an impressive 3.5-.5 score with his patented Torre Attack (with d4, Nf3, and Bg5) at the Moscow 1925 tournament. But it is clear that it was not the opening but rather his imaginative tactical play that won his games. The famous game below against Lasker is a case in point. If Lasker had found the right moves from move 20 to the fateful moment following move 24, there was little chance that Torre would have won this game. You can play over the game and notes online (which includes all of Torre's games with the Torre at Moscow 1925) or download the PGN or get it as text below.

[Event "Moscow International Tournament"]
[Site "Moscow"]
[Date "1925.??.??"]
[Round "12"]
[White "Torre, Carlos"]
[Black "Lasker, Em"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A46"]
[Annotator "Goeller"]
[PlyCount "85"]
[EventDate "1925.??.??"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 (2... b6 3. Bg5 Bb7 4. Nbd2 d5 (4... c5 $1) 5. e3 Nbd7 6. Bd3 e6 $6 7. Ne5 $1 a6 $6 8. f4 $1 Be7 9. O-O c5 10. c3 O-O 11. Qf3 Nxe5 $2 12. fxe5 Nd7 $2 13. Qh3 $1 g6 (13... h6 $2 14. Bxh6) 14. Bh6 c4 $6 15. Bc2 b5 16. Rf2 Qb6 17. Raf1 f5 18. exf6 Rxf6 19. Nf3 Re8 20. Qg3 Nf8 21. Ne5 Qd8 22. h4 ( 22. Ng4 $1) 22... Rf5 23. Bxf5 Bxh4 24. Bxg6 $3 Bxg3 25. Bf7+ Kh8 26. Bxe8 Bxf2+ 27. Rxf2 Qxe8 28. Rxf8+ {1-0 Torre-Verlinsky/Moscow 1925 (28)}) 3. Bg5 { I had never been a great believer in the Torre Attack and the openingpositions that Torre achieved with it were rarely impressive (with the exception of the game with Verlinsky above) at Moscow 1925. At the same time, though, he achieved a 3.5-.5 score with it!} c5 4. e3 cxd4 $5 (4... Nc6 5. Nbd2 b6 6. c3 Bb7 7. Bd3 cxd4 8. exd4 Be7 9. Nc4 Qc7 10. Qd2 Rc8 11. O-O h6 12. Bf4 d6 13. Rfe1 Nd8 14. Qd1 Nd5 15. Bg3 O-O 16. Nh4 g5 17. Qh5 Kg7 18. Rxe6 Nxe6 19. Nf5+ Kg8 20. Nxh6+ {1-0 Torre,C-Saemisch,F/Moscow 1925 (20)}) (4... Qb6 $5) 5. exd4 Be7 6. Nbd2 d6 7. c3 Nbd7 8. Bd3 b6 9. Nc4 (9. O-O Bb7 10. Re1 O-O 11. Nf1 $6 Re8 12. Ng3 Qc7 13. Bc2 Nf8 14. Qd3 Rac8 15. Rad1 Nd5 16. Nh5 $6 (16. Bxe7 $11) 16... Nb4 17. cxb4 Qxc2 18. Bxe7 Qxd3 19. Rxd3 Rxe7 20. d5 Ng6 $6 21. dxe6 Rxe6 22. Red1 Bxf3 23. gxf3 Nh4 24. Kf1 Nf5 $6 25. Ng3 Nxg3+ 26. hxg3 Rd8 27. Rc1 Kf8 28. f4 Rd7 29. Rc8+ Re8 30. Rc4 { 1/2-1/2 Torre,C-Gruenfeld,E/Moscow 1925 (30)}) 9... Bb7 10. Qe2 Qc7 11. O-O O-O 12. Rfe1 Rfe8 13. Rad1 Nf8 14. Bc1 $5 {This is the beginning of a very imaginative if somewhat artificial plan to bring his pieces to the kingside for an attack. Better perhaps to contest the d5 square with something like} ( 14. Ne3 h6 15. Bxf6 Bxf6 16. d5 $5) 14... Nd5 15. Ng5 $5 b5 $1 16. Na3 b4 17. cxb4 Nxb4 18. Qh5 Bxg5 19. Bxg5 Nxd3 20. Rxd3 {One can only assume that Torre has here achieved his goal as conceived on move 14. But Lasker has seen further, at least up to this point!} Qa5 $1 {A powerful move that points up the awkward placement of White's pieces. The Queen here attacks the Rook at e1, pins the Bishop at g5 (threatening ...f6) and even keeps the wayward Knight at a3 from getting back in the game easily. Torre is forced to sacrifice a pawn to keep from losing more material.} 21. b4 Qf5 $6 {According t o a story told by Lasker biographer Hannak and repeated by Torre biographer Velasco, Lasker here had opened a telegram informing him that a play he had written was to be produced. He was therefore distracted from his game and made the following series of compounding errors that basically handed the game to Torre. It is not widely known, by the way, that Lasker was a creative writer. In fact, the Cleveland Library has an unfinished novel of Lasker's in their collection.} ({Best according to Nimzovich in "My System" is} 21... Qd5 $1 22. Rg3 (22. Qg4 e5 $17) 22... h6 $1 23. Bf6 Ng6 24. Rxg6 fxg6 25. Qxg6 Qxg2+ $1 26. Qxg2 Bxg2 $17) ({ Accepting the pawn only helps White coordinate his forces after} 21... Qxb4 $6 22. Rb1 Qa5 23. Nc4 $44) 22. Rg3 h6 $2 (22... f6 $1 23. Nc4 Re7 24. Nxd6 Qd5 25. Ne4 fxg5 $17) 23. Nc4 $1 Qd5 $2 ({A likely draw follows} 23... hxg5 24. Nxd6 Qg6 25. Qxg6 Nxg6 26. Nxb7 Reb8 27. Nc5 Rxb4 28. Rxg5 Rxd4 $11) 24. Ne3 Qb5 $2 ({Relatively better was} 24... Qxd4 25. Rd1 Qe4 26. Bxh6 Ng6 27. Bg5 $16 {though White has a clear advantage due to the open h-file.}) 25. Bf6 $3 { The beginning of Torre's famous "windmill sacrifice"! All other moves hand Black the edge.} Qxh5 26. Rxg7+ Kh8 27. Rxf7+ Kg8 28. Rg7+ Kh8 29. Rxb7+ Kg8 30. Rg7+ Kh8 31. Rg5+ (31. Rxa7+) 31... Kh7 32. Rxh5 Kg6 33. Rh3 (33. g4 $1) 33... Kxf6 34. Rxh6+ Kg5 35. Rh3 { and the win is easy as White is up three pawns.} Reb8 36. Rg3+ Kf6 37. Rf3+ Kg6 38. a3 a5 39. bxa5 Rxa5 40. Nc4 Rd5 41. Rf4 Nd7 42. Rxe6+ Kg5 43. g3 1-0


Anonymous said...

hello. like your site.

- total novice here, but i go to local club to watch once in a while
- was given Guide to Torre Attack from one of the members
- concept of opening system etc is still beyond me.
- guy keeps encouraging me to keep reading it (even if only 1 page a day)
- and yet here i am, surfing the net finding more and more sites, posts etc to help my improvement (rather than read what i have... said book, plus other books, plus cm10th ed etc)

could you expound more on why you don't like the Torre?

thanks again for such a polished, helpful site.

Michael Goeller said...

Thanks for the note. Took me a minute to find it -- this is such an old posting!

Basically, I think Black does well against the Torre with a hedgehog formation. That's not to say the Torre is bad at the amateur level -- and you could learn a lot from Torre's games with it. But in every game, Torre's opponents were fine or even better out of the opening and blundered later....

Glad you enjoy the site!