Monokroussos on Lilienthal vs Ragozin

by ChessBase
10/21/2009 – Viacheslav Ragozin, who passed away in 1962, was one of the trainers of Mikhail Botvinnik. He became famous for blowing smoke into the legendary World Champion's face in order to steel the non-smoker for opponents who did the same. In his Wednesday night Playchess lecture Dennis Monokroussos shows us Ragozin at his best against Andor Lilienthal. Be there at 9 p.m. ET or 3 a.m. CEST.

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Dennis Monokroussos writes:

Last week, we took a look at the famous Mikhail Botvinnik-Jose Capablanca game from AVRO 1938. That game is famous not only because of the concluding combination starting with 30.Ba3, but for Botvinnik's powerful strategy. The "pawn roller" he used to push through the center and create a kingside attack is not unique to that game, but has been used many times over the generations to steamroll helpless opponents in the Nimzo-Indian and certain Exchange Queen's Gambit lines. It is a very simple but powerful plan.

But despite this, it's not unstoppable and not an automatic win. This week, we'll have a look at a 1935 game between Andor Lilienthal (the world's oldest living grandmaster – he's 98!) and Viacheslav Ragozin (also a grandmaster, but no longer with us, having passed away in 1962). Ragozin, ironically one of Botvinnik's sometime trainers, perhaps best-known for the following story: Botvinnik, as a non-smoker, had a difficult time when his opponents smoked at the board. So he set up some training games with Ragozin where the latter not only smoked, but blew the smoke in Botvinnik's face as well. (Now that's training!)

Anyway, in the game against Lilienthal Ragozin demonstrated Black's defensive resources in this poorly known gem. It required patience, and for quite a while all he did was prevent Lilienthal from achieving the e4 break. Finally, when it seemed as if it would finally happen, a timely exchange sacrifice reversed the initiative, and now it was White's turn to defend. He didn't manage to do so, however, and Ragozin finished the game in style.

Just like last week's game, the game was a battle between opposing strategies, and the triumphant strategy was crowned with accurate tactical play. In short, both were complete games with both instructional and aesthetic value.

To watch, go to the Playchess server at 9 p.m. ET Wednesday night (= 3 a.m. CET Thursday morning), enter the Broadcast room and find Lilienthal-Ragozin in the games list. Note: Only premium members can watch for free; other viewers will have to pay 50 ducats (about five euros). ChessBase will make further announcements about premium memberships soon, but at the moment premium members are those with an activated copy of Fritz 12.

Dennis Monokroussos' Radio ChessBase lectures begin on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. EST, which translates to 02:00h GMT, 03:00 Paris/Berlin, 13:00h Sydney (on Thursday). Other time zones can be found at the bottom of this page. You can use Fritz or any Fritz-compatible program (Shredder, Junior, Tiger, Hiarcs) to follow the lectures, or download a free trial client.

You can find the exact times for different locations in the world at World Time and Date. Exact times for most larger cities are here. And you can watch older lectures by Dennis Monokroussos offline in the Chess Media System room of Playchess:

Enter the above archive room and click on "Games" to see the lectures. The lectures, which can go for an hour or more, will cost you between one and two ducats. That is the equivalent of 10-20 Euro cents (14-28 US cents).

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Dennis Monokroussos is 41, lives in South Bend, IN, where he teaches chess and occasionally works as an adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University-South Bend.

At one time he was one of the strongest juniors in the U.S. and has reached a peak rating of 2434 USCF, but several long breaks from tournament play have made him rusty. He is now resuming tournament chess in earnest, hoping to reach new heights.

Dennis has been working as a chess teacher for ten years now, giving lessons to adults and kids both in person and on the internet, worked for a number of years for New York’s Chess In The Schools program, where he was one of the coaches of the 1997-8 US K-8 championship team from the Bronx, and was very active in working with many of CITS’s most talented juniors.

When Dennis Monokroussos presents a game, there are usually two main areas of focus: the opening-to-middlegame transition and the key moments of the middlegame (or endgame, when applicable). With respect to the latter, he attempts to present some serious analysis culled from his best sources (both text and database), which he has checked with his own efforts and then double-checked with his chess software.

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