Dear Pitt Chess Club,

First of all, let me thank you for what you do for chess. All those files, all those games for free downloading, those ratings lists from South Dakota to Afghanistan... I must seem an ungrateful idiot if between all those hundreds of thousands of games, those millions of moves on your great site, I'm complaining about just one tiny little mistake that no one else would ever notice, that no one but me would ever bother about.
    But it's there, that mistake. And it hurts my pride. So please, please dear University of Pittsburgh Chess Club, correct it. Maybe I'm not much of a chess player, (although a few of my games made it into the databases, and you still credit me with 2275 which seems a bit inflated, but thanks anyway) and yes, I had to turn to chess writing to express my love for the game - but you can't take from me what is rightfully mine. I did play a few good games, I did beat a few masters. Oh, long ago, but the older the treasure, the more cherished it is, and the less you want to see it blemished.

Your terrible, your unforgivable mistake concerns the summer of 1967. I had just, without much success, played my first Dutch championship, and now I played the 'IBM Masters Reserves'. Tough customers there; Hartoch, Piket sr., Crabbendam, Van Baarle (I know, I know, unknowns to you, most of them) and a 15-year old I had already heard much about: Jan Timman. He was the national junior champion, recognized as one of the most gifted players ever in Holland; clearly a future grandmaster. It was the first time I actually met him and, in the third round, I played him.
    It was quite a struggle.

Jan Timman - Tim Krabbé, Amsterdam 1967

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Bg5 e6 4.Nbd2 Be7 5.e3 b6 6.c3 Bb7 7.Ne5 O-O 8.Bd3 Nbd7 9.f4 h6 10.h4 c5 11.Qe2 Nxe5 12.fxe5 Ne4 13.Bxe7 Qxe7 14.Rh3 a5 15.g4 g6 16.Qg2 Nxd2 17.Kxd2 Ba6 18.Bc2 Kg7 19.g5 h5


20.Qf2 Rfc8 21.Qf6+ Qxf6 22.gxf6+ Kh6 23.Rg3 Rg8 24.Rag1 Rac8 25.Rg5 Rc7 26.Bd1 Rf8 27.Bf3 Bb7 28.Be2 Ba8 29.Bd3 Rg8 30.Ke2 Bb7 31.Kf3 Ba8 32.Kf4 Rcc8 33.Ba6 Rcd8 34.Be2 Rh8 35.b3 Bb7 36.a3 Ra8 37.c4 Rhd8 38.cxd5 Bxd5 39.Bd3 Rg8 40.Be4 Rad8 41.Rc1 cxd4 42.exd4 Bxe4 43.Kxe4 Rc8 44.Rgg1 Rxc1 45.Rxc1 g5 46.Rg1 g4 47.d5 exd5+ 48.Kf5 Rc8 49.Rf1 Rc6 50.a4 d4 51.Ke4 Rc3 52.Rf5 Rxb3 53.Kxd4 Rf3 54.Rg5 Rf1 55.Rg7 Rd1+ 56.Ke4 Re1+ 57.Kd5 Rd1+ 58.Kc6 b5 59.Rxf7 bxa4 60.Rd7 Rc1+ 61.Kd6 a3 62.Ke7 a2 63.f7 Rc8 64.Rd1 Kg7 65.e6 Ra8 66.Ra1 Ra7+ 67.Kd6 Kf8 68.Rxa2 Ra6+ 69.Kd5 Ke7 70.Rf2 Ra8 71.Rb2 a4 72.Ke5 Ra5+ 73.Kf4 Ra8 74.Kf5 Ra5+ 75.Kg6 Ra8 76.Kg7 Kxe6 77.Re2+ Kf5 78.f8Q+ Rxf8 79.Kxf8 Kf4 80.Kf7 Kg3 81.Kg6 Kxh4 82.Rh2+ Kg3 83.Rxh5 a3 84.Ra5 Kf2 85.Rf5+ Ke2 86.Re5+ Kf2
and finally, finally, after 3 sessions and over 10 hours of play, and I don't know how many hours of nightly analysing, I had my draw.
    A draw, Pitt Chess Club. A draw. Not a win for White, but a draw.
    But what do we find, in 1999, in the Timman file at the University of Pittsburgh Chess Club?
    Timman - Krabbe, 1967, 86 moves, 1-0
    Look at the position, Pitt. Is that a win for White? When he already repeated moves? Have you ever seen a game where a player resigned in a position that had occurred before? Which is only a few moves from where two bare Kings will remain?
    Let me guess what happened. You saw this game Timman - Unknown, 1967, 86 moves, draw, and you thought: draw? Timman, against Unknown? Isn't that the patzer who writes about castlings at move 48, endgames of 4 Knights against Queen, record series of checks, and who thinks 16...Nc6 by Spassky was the greatest move ever played? There must be a mistake. Of course he lost that game.
    Well, I did not lose. I fought for ten hours, and I drew.
    I want my draw.

Dear Pitt Chess Club, I just know you are going to correct this mistake, and I will reward you with a little story.
    This was my first game against Timman. From 1967 to 1971, by which time he had become too strong for me to ever again meet him over the board, we played 6 official games. My score, even when you realise Timman was between 15 and 19, and I was between 24 and 28, was not that bad: three draws, and three losses.
    Later, we became good friends, and even composed an endgame study together. One time, many years after we had last played each other, maybe around 1990, I mentioned our six games to him. I knew the results, but when I wanted to describe the games, I found I could only remember five. Timman then immediately described the sixth - opening, type of play, type of tactics, length.
    I was baffled. For him, that game had only been one of the many he played before his real career started, while for me, any game against an obvious future champion like him was something of an event. And he remembered it.

© Tim Krabbé, 1999

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