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Theoretical vs Practical

Posted by Paul Anderson on July 17, 2018 at 5:30 PM

Game Of The Week

By Matt Grinberg

You probably think the title is a reference to theoretical chess versus practical chess.  Actually, I mean the theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein, developer of the theories of special and general relativity, versus the more practical physicist, Robert Oppenheimer, who was the scientist who directed the development of the atomic bomb with the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos, New Mexico.

There is a chess game they played against each other in 1933 at Princeton University where Einstein had taken a position after leaving Germany.  It is known that Einstein played chess.  In fact, he was friends with Emanuel Lasker. 

It is not known for sure whether or not Oppenheimer had an interest in chess.   The following is one of only two games known played by Einstein, and it is the only game known played by Oppenheimer.  There is some question as to the authenticity of this game.  Some claim that White was actually Hans Einstein, Albert's son, and the location was the University of California, Berkeley, where he and Oppenheimer were both professors in the late 1940's.   Others claim that Black was really Max Oppenheimer, the artist.

On the other hand, nobody has proved that the game was not played by Albert Einstein against Robert Oppenheimer.  So, here it is - the theoretical physicist versus the practical physicist.

Einstein, Albert vs Oppenheimer, Robert – 1-0

Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, 1933

Ruy Lopez

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4

Einstein is definitely following theory. 4... b5 This is not bad, but it is a bit unusual. Perhaps Oppenheimer is taking a practical approach by avoiding theory?

[The theoretical line is the Closed Ruy Lopez. 4... Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3 O-O 9. h3 White has a small edge]

5. Bb3 Nf6 6. O-O

[White could also try 6. Ng5 like a Two Knights Defense. 6... d5 7. exd5 Nd4! (Not 7... Nxd5? 8. Nxf7! like the Fried Liver Variation of the Two Knights, but better. 8... Kxf7 9. Qf3 Ke6 10. Nc3 Nce7 (10... Ncb4?! as in the Fried Liver Variation is useless here because White's bishop defends c2. 11. a3 Black is forced to return the knight) 11. d4 Bb7 12. Bg5 c6 13. O-O-O Black's king will die before it ever finds an escape) 8. O-O Nxb3 9. axb3 h6 10. Nf3 Bg4 11. d3 Qxd5=]

6... Nxe4!?

This definitely takes the game out of theoretical lines. Taking the pawn with Black's king uncastled and White ready to play Re1 is risky.

[6... Be7 7. Re1 d6 8. c3 O-O 9. h3 transposes again to the Closed Ruy Lopez]

7. Re1

[7. d4 d5 8. dxe5 Be6 9. c3 transposes to the Open Defense of the Ruy Lopez]

7... d5 8. a4N?

A novelty and Einstein's only bad move of the game.

[8. Nc3 worked nicely in the following game. 8... Nxc3 9. dxc3 Be6 10. a4 Rb8? (10... b4 11. Nxe5 Nxe5 12. Rxe5 White is better) 11. axb5 axb5 12. Ra6 Qd7 13. Rxc6 Qxc6 14. Nxe5 Qc5 15. Nxf7 Kxf7 16. Qf3 Ke7 17. Bxd5 Rb6 18. Bg5 Kd7 19. Bxe6 Rxe6 20. Qf7 Re7 21. Bxe7 Bxe7 22. Qe6 1-0, Esserman, Marc (USA) 2394 - Simpson, Ronald (USA) 2304 , Internet 9/ 8/2009 US Chess League]

8... b4?

Oppenheimer is so worried about what Einstein is up to with a4, that he misses his one chance of the game.

[White is embarrassed after 8... Bc5! 9. Re2 Nxf2 10. Rxf2 Bxf2 11. Kxf2 e4 12. Qe2 O-O 13. Ne1 Material is even, but White's pieces are bottled up and his king is exposed. Black should win]

9. d3 Nc5?

Oppenheimer begins his slide into oblivion.

[The knight is needed for defense. 9... Nf6 10. Bf4 Be7 11. Nxe5 Nxe5 12. Bxe5 O-O 13. Nd2 Be6=]

10. Nxe5 Ne7

[Or 10... Nxe5 11. Rxe5 Be6 12. Bxd5 when White is a pawn up]

11. Qf3 f6??

It is tempting to stop mate and at the same time counter attack against White's knight, but this is very bad because it exposes Black's king on the h5-e8 diagonal.

[11... Be6 12. Nd2 White is better, but Black still has good chances]

White to move

See the diagram and answer here:

12. Qh5! g6

Evidently Oppenheimer thought this would refute Einstein's attack because now he is threatening two of Einstein's pieces. But he overlooked that the knight on e7 and the h-pawn are both pinned.

13. Nxg6! hxg6 14. Qxh8 Nxb3 15. cxb3 Qd6??

A second horrific blunder, effectively ending the game.

[After 15... Kf7 16. Qh7 Bg7 17. Bh6 Nf5 Black is down an exchange for nothing, but still has some chances]

16. Bh6 Kd7

There is no way to save the bishop.

17. Bxf8 Bb7 18. Qg7 Re8 19. Nd2 c5 20. Rad1 a5

21. Nc4!

A nice way to wind up the game. Black has no way to hold e7 and save his queen. His position falls apart. 21... dxc4 22. dxc4 Qxd1 23. Rxd1 Kc8 24. Bxe7 Black resigns. [1:0]

Theoretical vs Practical

[Event "Princeton University"]

[Site ""]

[Date "1933.??.??"]

[Round "?"]

[White "Einstein, Albert"]

[Black "Oppenheimer, Robert"]

[Result "1-0"]

[ECO "C78"]

[PlyCount "47"]

[EventDate "1933.??.??"]

[TimeControl "0"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 b5 5. Bb3

Nf6 6. O-O Nxe4 7. Re1 d5 8. a4 b4 9. d3 Nc5 10. Nxe5 Ne7 11. Qf3 f6 12. Qh5+

g6 13. Nxg6 hxg6 14. Qxh8 Nxb3 15. cxb3 Qd6 16. Bh6 Kd7 17. Bxf8 Bb7 18. Qg7

Re8 19. Nd2 c5 20. Rad1 a5 21. Nc4 dxc4 22. dxc4 Qxd1 23. Rxd1+ Kc8 24. Bxe7


This Week In Chess

On July 10th, the Colorado Springs Chess Club finished the July Quick Six event (6SS, G/24+5).

Standings. July Quick Six

# Name Rtng Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Rd 6 Tot Prize

1 Aleksand Bozhenov 1789 W10 L4 W7 W2 W8 W9 5.0 $43.00 1st

2 Earle P Wikle 1933 W16 W13 W6 L1 W10 L3 4.0 $14.00 2nd

3 Paul D Anderson 1893 H--- W12 H--- U--- W7 W2 4.0 $14.00 2nd

4 Josh S Bloomer 2209 W7 W1 W11 U--- U--- U--- 3.0

5 Sara Herman 1848 W12 W17 W16 U--- U--- U--- 3.0

6 Jeffrey Fox 1813 W8 L11 L2 L7 W12 W10 3.0

7 Brian Jo Rountree 1703 L4 W8 L1 W6 L3 W14 3.0 $16.00 U1750

8 Gerardo Cruz 1113 L6 L7 W18 W12 L1 W15 3.0 $16.00 U1750

9 Mark McGough 1713 H--- U--- U--- W15 W14 L1 2.5

10 Tristan Cruz 708 L1 D15 W17 X13 L2 L6 2.5

11 Daniel Herman 1969 W15 W6 L4 U--- U--- U--- 2.0

12 Derek Eskeldson 1221 L5 L3 W15 L8 L6 W17 2.0

13 Laurence Rob Wutt 1769 W18 L2 H--- F10 U--- U--- 1.5

14 Michael Smith II 1567 H--- U--- U--- W17 L9 L7 1.5

15 Dean W Brown 1400 L11 D10 L12 L9 W17 L8 1.5

16 Joey Arispe 1279 L2 W18 L5 U--- U--- U--- 1.0

17 Lawrence R Osborn 961 H--- L5 L10 L14 L15 L12 0.5

18 Shaun Pat Creamer 559 L13 L16 L8 U--- U--- U--- 0.0

Categories: 2018

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