As a chess player and a prolific dreamer,
I've often had chess dreams. Mostly, they are about vague and syrupy positions,
boards overgrown with dense forests of quadrupled pawns in which nothing
will ever happen, passed pawns which have to pull themselves forward with
hands and feet to get to the next rank.
Really good chess dreams do not happen very often.
Once my pawns, upon reaching the eighth rank, promoted to cowboys who galloped
away on their horses, under a red evening sky. Another time Jan Timman
was a master puppeteer (he sang a beautiful song, too); the old Queen Juliana
gave a simul; Van der Wiel castled at move 80; Zsusza Polgar resigned because
she had too much headwind; I sent the widow of a deceased chessplayer a
telegram of condolence, adding: 'By the way, your late husband could have
won his game against Polugayevski in Milan 1971 by playing Rf4 on the 31st
move,' followed by a lengthy analysis. Even while still dreaming I had
to laugh: this was surely the funniest telegram of condolences ever sent.
Another time I witnessed Kasparov recording an educational
movie about chess-emotions. For one scene his head was made up all red,
to show how you should turn beet-red after playing a stupid move. In another
scene he demonstrated 'crying'; which was what you had to do when you lost
a game. He was on a stage in a theatre; a trick made oceans of water pour
from his eyes, and stream over the spectators. Everybody got wet. It was
a truly fantastic effect, and Kasparov was laughing uncontrollably.
My most memorable chessdream however, was when I
found myself on the Dutch team, with Euwe and others - apparently against
the old Soviet Union, because I was to play Smyslov (we had already shaken
hands), and Botvinnik was there too. Before the match was to begin, we
all looked at an endgame position set up on one of the boards: Black to
play and win. Nobody saw the solution. Euwe was drawing arrows and circles
on the board with yellow chalk. 'Typically Euwe,' I thought, 'the scientific
I was trying very hard, but I didn't see how Black
could win either. Suddenly I discovered a vague acquaintance sitting at
the board, not a chess player at all, and he saw it. Black sacrifices
his queen: Qh3+!! White has to take it, and now after Nf4+ the King has
to go back, and with Nxe2+ and Nxc3 Blacks wins the Bishop and the Queen.
The strange thing is that in my dream, I admired
this as a brilliancy by somebody else. It took me a while after
waking up to realize that not only had I seen it myself, I had invented
the whole position.
PS 7 February 2006: Inspired by my dream combination, Christoph Fieberg sent me this study he composed, in which the idea is extended a little bit.
White to play and win
1.Nd6+ Bxd6 2.Rc4+ dxc4 3.Qd4+ Kxd4 4.Ne2+ Ke4 5.Nxg3+ Kd4 6.Ne2+ Ke4 7.Nxc3+ Kd4 8.Nxb5+ Ke4 9.Nxd6+ Kd4 10.Nb5+ Ke4 11.Nc3+ Kd4 12.Ne2+ Ke4 13.Ng3+ Kd4 14.Nxh1 and wins.
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