How do you choose when you have a database of some 4000 Elista Olympiad
games scrolling down your screen? I was lucky - the very second one that
I played over was one of the most painful tragedies I have ever seen on
a chessboard. I didn't pick blindly, by the way - it was the longest game
in Elista - 127 moves.
It is from the match United Arab Emirates vs. Turkmenistan (what other sport has pairings like that) in Round 5, won by Turkmenistan with 4-0. But it was not a walk-over, as the game that was played on the top board shows. Both players are FIDE masters, White with a rating of 2335, Black of 2475. (The game can be played over on line by PGN-viewer. It is #269 in the curio.pgn file.)
Moussa (UAE) - Kakageldyev (Turkmenistan)
1.d4 g6 2.c4 Bg7 3.e4 d6 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.f3 O-O 6.Be3 a6 7.Qd2 c6 8.Bd3 b5 9.a3 bxc4 10.Bxc4 d5 11.exd5 cxd5 12.Ba2 Nc6 13.Nge2 Na5 14.O-O Nc4 15.Bxc4 dxc4 16.Rac1 Rb8 17.Na4 Nd5 18.Bf2 Nb6 19.Nc5 Qd5 20.Rfd1 Rd8 21.Nc3 Qc6 22.Qe2 Nd5 23.N3a4 Nf4 24.Qxc4 Bb7 25.Nxb7 Qxb7 26.b4 Ra8 27.Kf1 Qb5 28.Nc5 e5 29.g3 Nh3 30.d5 Nxf2 31.Kxf2 Qb6 32.Kg2 a5 33.Rc2 axb4 34.axb4 Bf8 35.Nd3 Re8 36.Re1 Bg7 37.Qc5 Qb7 38.Qc6 Qa7 39.Qc5 Qa3 40.Nf2 Bf8 41.d6 Re6 42.Rd2 Rd8 43.Red1 Qa8 44.b5 Rc8 45.Qd5 Qb8 46.Ne4 Rd8 47.Qc6 Rc8 48.Qd7 Rc4 49.Ra1 Qc8 50.Qxc8 Rxc8 51.b6 Rb8 52.d7 Be7 53.b7 Rb6 54.Ra8 Rxb7 55.d8Q+ Bxd8 56.Rxd8+ Rxd8 57.Rxd8+ Kg7 and we are at diagram 1.
Before playing over this game, I had wondered what had made it so long - now I understood. White is totally winning, but not easily - the technical problems facing him are not trivial. Still, would it have to take all of 70 moves?... and then I noticed that Black had won. That surely was a mistake? 58.Rd2 Rc7 59.Nf2 Rc4 60.Re2 f6 61.Rd2 Rc7 62.Kf1 h5 63.Ke2 Kf7 64.Ne4 Ke7 65.Ra2 g5 66.Ke3 g4 67.fxg4 hxg4 68.Ra5 Rb7 69.Nc5 Rc7 70.Rb5 Kd6 71.Ne4+ Ke7 72.Rb6 f5 73.Nd6 Rc3+ 74.Ke2 Rc2+ 75.Kd3 Rf2 76.Ke3 Rf3+ 77.Ke2 f4 78.Nf5+ Kd7 79.Rd6+ Kc7 80.Re6 Ra3 81.Rxe5 f3+ 82.Kf1 (See diagram 2.) White has made real progress, and has won another pawn. But Black is still clinging to life. 82...Ra2 83.Re4 Ra1+ 84.Kf2 This is good, but the simplest win was perhaps to keep King and Rook on the first rank, and trade the Knight for the two pawns, e.g. 84.Re1 Ra2 85.Rc1+ Kd7 86.Kg1 Rg2+ 87.Kh1 Re2 88.Nh6 Re4 89.Nxg4 and 90.Rf1.White may have been getting a little nervous here - probably all his initial time was gone by now, and he was down to his 30 seconds increment per move. 84...Ra2+ 85.Ke3 Ra3+ (See diagram 3.)
And now Moussa plays a move that he will never forget. 86.Kd4?? Horrible. The win was still easy: 86.Kd2 (or Kf2 for the simple win pointed out at move 84) Ra2+ 87.Kc3 Rxh2 (Ra3+ 88.Kb2 f2 89.Rf4 Rf3 90.Rxf3 gxf3 91.Ne3) 88.Rxg4 f2 89.Rf4. But 86.Kf4 is not possible: f2 87.Rc4+ Kd7 88.Rc1 Rf3+ with a draw. Did he want to win some time by 86...Ra4+ 87.Ke3? Or did he plan 86.Kf4, and panic when he saw 88...Rf3+? 86...f2 Or perhaps he had thought that he could now play 87.Rf4 Rf3 88.Ne3, but this fails to 87...Ra4+. Suddenly White is lost. 87.Ne3 Rxe3 88.Kxe3 f1Q How do you look at each other at such a moment? You're not supposed to look at all - but this is not a moment to keep up appearances. I'd like to see Kasparov at either side of the board in this position. 89.Rxg4 Qg1+ 90.Kf3 Qh1+ 91.Kf4 Qxh2 Part of the tragedy is that White is not immediately lost. That would have been the death of a man, now he has to die slowly like a sick dog. Oh, to have to beg for a crumb when the whole world was yours! White's problem is that he can't get his Rook to f4 and his King to g2 in time. 92.Rh4 Qf2+ 93.Kg4 Kd7 94.Kh3 Qg1 95.Rf4 Ke6 96.Kg4 Qg2 97.Kh4 Ke5 98.Kg4 Qh1 99.Rf2 Kd4 100.Rf5 Ke4 101.Rf2 Ke3 102.Rf4 Qg2 103.Kh4 Qh2+ 104.Kg4 Qh1 105.Rf5 Qc6 106.Rf4 Qd7+ 107.Kh4 Qc8 108.Rf1 Qh8+ 109.Kg4 Qc8+ 110.Kh4 Ke4 111.Rf4+ Ke5 112.Rf2 Qd8+ 113.Kh3 Qd7+ 114.Kh4 Qh7+ 115.Kg4 Qg6+ 116.Kh3 Qh5+ 117.Kg2 If White could only play his Rook to f4 before the black King can cross that rank... 117...Ke4 118.Rf1 Ke3 119.Re1+ Kd3 120.Rf1 Ke2 121.Rf4 Ke3 122.Rh4 Qd5+ 123.Kh2 Qd2+ 124.Kh3 Kf2 125.Rf4+ Kg1 126.Rh4 Qd7+ 127.Rg4 (diagram 4) and as an ultimate insult, White is forced to throw himself into the sword: 127...Qe6. He resigned.
PS 27 November 1999: I wrote this a year ago. Recently a reader,
Paul van Linde, did something I could have done: he checked the endgame
after move 91 against Ken Thompson's databases. And found out the logical
result of the game changes eight times.
After 91...Qxh2, Black is winning, but
after 105...Qc6, it is a draw.
After 106.Rf4, Black is winning again (106.Kg5 draws).
After 110...Ke4, White can draw again, but
after 111.Rf4+, White is lost again (111.g4 draws.)
After 112...Qd8+, White can draw again, but
after 114.Kh4 (114.g4!; 114.Kg2!; 114.Kh2!) Black can win again.
After 115...Qg6+, it is a draw again, and only with
122.Rh4 (122.Rf1! or 122.Rf2! draw) does White make the decisive mistake.
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