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Elizabeth Harmon vs Vasily Borgov

Netflix's The Queens Gambit

Elizabeth Harmon takes on Vasily Borgov on the last episode of Netflix’s series Queen’s Gambit.

Cinematic Video

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jQuery(document).ready(function($) { var selector = '#' + "rpbchessboard-63e0e22865509-1" + ' .rpbchessboard-chessgameAnchor'; RPBChessboard.renderPGN($(selector), {"pgn":"[Event \"?\"][Round \"?\"] [White \"Elizabeth Harmon\"] [Black \"Vasily Borgov\"] [Result \"1-0\"] [ECO \"D20\"] [PlyCount \"105\"] [EventDate \"2020.??.??\"] [SourceDate \"2014.01.17\"] {Can this be called the most famous game ever played? Maybe. With the netlfix shows popularity this may actually the most massively seen chess game in history. It’s certainly a great game and finale to the show.} 1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. e4 Nc6 4. Be3 Nf6 5. Nc3 e5 6. d5 Ne7 (6... Na5 $1 {[%csl Ra5,Re8]} 7. Qa4+ $1 {[%cal Gd8a5,Ra4a5,Ra4e8]} (7. Nf3 $2 Bd6 8. Qa4+ Bd7 $1 {This spectacular move nearly buries the white queenside on the queenside.} 9. Qxa5 a6 $1 {[%cal Rb7b6]} 10. Na4 $1 {[%csl Ra5,Re1]} Qe7 {[%csl Ra5,Re1][%cal Re7b4]} 11. a3 Nxe4 12. Bxc4 O-O 13. O-O b5 {Black has the better game here.}) 7... c6 $1 (7... Bd7 {Although this works after 7. Nf3 and 8. Qa4+, it is not as good of an option now.} 8. Qxa5 a6 9. Nb1 $14) 8. dxc6 Nxc6 9. Bxc4 Bb4 10. Nf3 Bd7 11. O-O {With an equal position.}) 7. Bxc4 Ng6 8. f3 Bd6 {White has a solid space advantage but black is not too cramped and has a relatively comfortable position.} 9. Qd2 Bd7 10. Nge2 a6 11. Bb3 b5 12. a4 {[#][%cal Ga4b5, Ga1a8] This is a common pawn lever against the a6+b5 pawn structure. White controls when the a-file opens up.} O-O $1 (12... bxa4 $2 13. Bxa4 $16 { Black’s a-pawn in particular would be extremely weak here.}) 13. O-O Qe7 (13... Nh5 {[%cal Yh5f4,Yd8g5] This plan was played on the next move but it’s already a good time for it here. If the knight makes it to f4, black may even consider Qg5 after that.}) 14. Rac1 Nh5 15. g3 {[#][%csl Yg3][%cal Yg3f4]} h6 16. Bc2 Rab8 {It’s hard for either side to make meaningful improvements at this point, so there is a bit of a waiting game taking place now.} 17. axb5 axb5 18. Ra1 Ra8 ( 18... Bh3 $5 19. Rf2 $1) 19. Bd3 Bb4 $6 {The bishop is not helpful here. The pin is inconsequential.} (19... Rxa1 $1 20. Rxa1 {[%csl Gf3]} Qf6 {[%csl Rf3] [%cal Rf6f3] The computer recommends this idea with pressure against the f-pawn. A person would hesitate to do this because it blocks black’s f-pawn, preventing a natural pawn break that black may want to use.}) 20. Rxa8 Rxa8 21. Qc2 {[#][%csl Gc7][%cal Gc2c7]} (21. Nc1 $1 {[%csl Yc5][%cal Yc1b3,Yd2f2]}) 21... Bc5 {[%cal Rc5e3,Re3g1]} 22. Nd1 $1 {[%csl Gc5][%cal Ge3c5,Gc2c5]} Bd6 $1 ( 22... Bxe3+ 23. Nxe3 {[%csl Rc7][%cal Gf1c1,Gc1c7]}) 23. Nf2 $2 (23. Nc1 $1) 23... Nhf4 $1 {[%cal Gf4h3,Gf4g2,Gf4e2,Gf4d3]} 24. Rc1 $6 (24. gxf4 exf4 25. Bc1 Nh4 $1 $13 {[%cal Rh4f3]}) 24... Qg5 25. Kh1 Qh5 {[%cal Rh5f3,Rf3g2]} 26. Ng1 {[%cal Yg1f3]} Nxd3 27. Nxd3 f5 $1 {Softening up white’s central grip and preparing to open the file or even expand further with f5-f4 at the right moment.} 28. Nc5 Bc8 29. Rf1 $2 {[#][%cal Yg6f4,Yg6h4,Yg3f4,Yg3h4]} (29. Qe2 Rb8) 29... Ne7 (29... Nf8 $1 {[%cal Gf8h7,Gh7f6] Black would like to bring the knight to f6 in order to pressure the e4 pawn and set up moves like Ng4 at an ideal moment.}) 30. Qd3 fxe4 31. fxe4 Qg6 $6 (31... Kh7 $1 {[%cal Ge7g8,Gg8f6] Once again the idea of preparing the knight to go to f6 was powerful. We can see here that without white’s pawn on f3, black’s knight on f6 will be a great piece. It threatens e4 but also Nf6-g4 with pressure against h2 and e3.}) 32. Kg2 Kh7 33. Nf3 Ng8 34. Nh4 (34. h3 $5 Bxc5 35. Bxc5 Nf6 $15) 34... Qg4 35. Nf5 Nf6 $2 {Mistake. Ra2 was best.} (35... Ra2 $1 {[%cal Ra2g2] This would have been strong. The rook certainly belongs on the second rank. It’s a natural move with plenty of targets.} 36. Qb1 {Perhaps black was concerned about this.} Qe2+ $1 37. Rf2 Qc4 $15 {This keeps black’s pieced connected and white’s pieces tied down.}) 36. h3 {In the show the game was adjourned here and had actually been following a game played in 1993 at the Biel Interzonal between Ivanchuk and Wolff. Interestingly Ivanchuk’s first name is Vassily and Wolff is an American GM, so the roles have been reversed!} Qg6 37. Ne6 Ra4 38. b3 Rxe4 39. Nxd6 Bxe6 40. dxe6 cxd6 41. e7 d5 {At this point in the show it is clear that this is not a move that Beth anticipated in her home analysis. She’s caught off guard but it sets up the situation in a way that both players are able to play freely from here with no preparation, letting the best player win.} 42. Bc5 {[#][%cal Gc5e7,Gb3b4]} Qe8 43. Qf3 Qc6 44. b4 Qe8 $4 {Upon playing this move, Borgov says “Draw?” The commentators of the game point out that if Beth accepts, she will be tying the World Champion and that it would be a great result. They also remak that Borgov is deadly in endgames, however Beth correctly decides to play on. As it turns out, Qe8 is actually a losing move. Now Beth finds the accurate continuation…} (44... Kh8 {Something not too committal like this would have been a better option. There isn’t much black can do to improve their position, but in any case it would be helpful to avoid checks on the f5 square.}) 45. Qf5+ Kh8 {[%csl Rf8]} (45... Kg8 46. Qe6+ Qf7 47. e8=Q+ {wins immediately.} (47. Rxf6 {This also wins immediately.})) 46. Qxf6 $1 gxf6 47. Rxf6 {[%csl Rf8][%cal Rf6f8,Rf8e8,Rf8h8] The queen on e8 is very misplaced. It’s now a target for Rf8+. Borgov tries to create some complications but Beth has everything covered.} Qh5 48. Rf8+ Kg7 49. e8=Q { Commentator: “That check has been the whole point of the sequence. Beginning with the bishop, cutting down the scope of the rook by forcing it to a less threatening rank. The question is: what will she do now?”} Re2+ {Inaccuracy. Qxe8 was best.} 50. Kf1 Qxh3+ {Checkmate is now unavoidable. Qxe8 was best.} ( 50... Qxe8 51. Rxe8 $18 {White will win the endgame.}) 51. Kxe2 Qg2+ 52. Rf2 Qe4+ 53. Kd2 {[#][%csl Yd4,Ye3,Yf4][%cal Yf2f4,Yc5e3,Yg3f4] Out of checks and out of luck, Borgov picks up his king and graciously says “It’s your game” holds the king out farther and says “Take it”. Needless to say Beth is quite the hero after winning the game.} 1-0","nboSquareSize":50,"idoSquareSize":50,"nboCoordinateVisible":true,"idoCoordinateVisible":true,"nboColorset":"greenvintage","idoColorset":"greenvintage","nboPieceset":"new-set-mac","idoPieceset":"new-set-mac","nboAnimated":true,"nboMoveArrowVisible":false,"nboMoveArrowColor":"b","pieceSymbols":"native","navigationBoard":"frame","withFlipButton":true,"withDownloadButton":true}); });

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Elizabeth Harmon vs Vasily Borgov

Netflix's The Queens Gambit

There has never been a better time to be a chess player and part of that is due to Netflix’ “Queen’s Gambit” spiking the popularity of chess. The show and chess featured in it is top notch. Elizabeth Harmon is the center of the show and her path towards the top of the chess world in many ways mirrors the path of Bobby Fischer. In the ultimate game of the show she faces off against the World Champion Vasily Borgov. Vasily Borgov has beaten her before and has generally been on another level compared to all other players. The game between Elizabeth Harmon and Vasily Borgov follows an encounter between Vassily Ivanchuk and Patrick Wolff from 1993 up until move 36 when the game in the show is adjourned. Play from then on out is a creation by Gary Kasparov who advised play on the show. The finish of the game is beautiful and well played. See the whole game and the great finish in our article.

Harmon Vs Borgov Online Chess Course
The Queen’s Gambit
Elizabeth Harmon
Vasili Borgov
NOV, 2020
Moscow, USSR

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