280. 23 March 2005: Van Dongen's Zugzwang (+PS 24 January 2008 to item 267)

As an organiser, writer, editor and tireless propagandist of scholastic chess and chess in general, Huub van Dongen is a well-known and much-appreciated figure in Holland. He is also a strong (2106) player and in this capacity he had the chance of a lifetime last Saturday - and seized it.

Black to play
Van Dongen - Wijsman
Eindhoven, tt Netherlands, 19 March 2005

After an "abominable game", Van Dongen was completely lost, and in fact he had been contemplating resignation for a long time. Almost every black move wins, but strongest is 73...b3 74.Rb2 Rc8 75.Rxb3 d4 76.Re1 e3 etc. But when Black chose the most obvious move, 73...d4, this presented Van Dongen with an unheard of opportunity: 74.Rdd3!! (see diagram)

Black to play

A unique situation has arisen. With a whole bunch of lively-looking pieces, Black is in Zugzwang. The two adjacent pawns on d4 and e4 are blocked and pinned (a bizarre sight in itself); the Knight is bound to the defense of e4; the Rook is bound to the defense of d4; and Pawn b4 is bound to the defense of the Knight. With 74...b3, Black could have escaped with a draw, e.g.: 75.Rxd4 Rxd4 76.Rxc3 Rd8 77.Rxb3 Re8 78.Re3 Re5 79.Rc3 (and not 79.Kxf6 Rxa5 82.Kg6 Ra1 83.f6 Rg1+ and Black wins) 79...Re8 80.Re3 Re5 etc.
After 75...Nb5 however, Black was lost, which would also have been the case after 74...Rc8 75.Rxd4 Rb8 (or 75...Ra8 76.Rxb4 Nd5 77.Rbxe4 Nxe3 78.Rxe3 and wins) 76.Rxb4 Rxb4 77.Rxc3 Rb8 78.Rc6 etc.
There followed 75.Rxe4 Nd6 76.Re6 Rc6 Better was 76...Rc1, when White still had to find the unlikely 77.Rh3! Rc6 and now 78.Kh5 is the easiest, but other moves (not 78.Rxf6? Nf7!) win, too.
77.Rxd4 Rxh6+ More tenacious was 77...Rc1, but after 78.Rdxd6 Rg1+ 79.Kxf6 Rxh6+ 80.Ke5 White should not have much trouble winning. 78.Kxh6 Nxf5+ 79.Kg6 and Black resigned.

279. 11 March 2005: Abdication

That is a more appropriate heading than retirement - Kasparov was a king. I've met him, and talked with him, but I never had a chat with him; I think very few people ever had. I've often watched him analyse after games; I once had a walk with him in Amsterdam (the 'with' is debatable, read the story) and I had two interviews with him, in 1981 and 1995, during both of which he was cooperative but surly - except when it came to ideas in chess. When he described how wonderful it is when new chess-ideas occur to you, he seemed like a man in love. And he did have fantastic ideas, which often even baffled his colleagues. I vividly remember his childish artist's joy when during one post mortem, ten years ago, he showed a crazy, beautiful possibility that nobody had thought of.

Kasparov - Piket, VSB Tournament, Amsterdam, 1995
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4 Bb6 5.a4 a5 6.b5 Nd4 7.Nxd4 Bxd4 8.c3 Bb6 9.d4 exd4 10.O-O Ne7 11.Bg5 h6 12.Bxe7 Qxe7 13.cxd4 Qd6 14.Nc3 (see diagram)
Piket played 14...Bxd4 here, but an interesting alternative was: 14...Qxd4, after which Kasparov showed this: 15.Nd5 Qxc4 16.Nxb6 cxb6 17.Qd6 Qe6 18.e5 Qxd6 19.exd6
I had no idea what he had in mind with this sacrifice - but neither had Piket. "Well, I just swap a pair of rooks," he said: 19...Kd8 20.Rfe1 Re8 21.Rxe8+ Kxe8 (see analysis diagram) and then we all saw: Black is a piece up in an endgame, but all of his pieces are locked away, and in fact White is a piece up. Later, it was discovered that 18...f6 refutes this idea, but that does not diminish its genius.
The game ended: 15.Nd5 Bxa1 16.Qxa1 O-O 17.e5 Qc5 18.Rc1 c6 19.Ba2 Qa3 20.Nb6 d5 21.Nxa8 Kh8 22.Nb6 Be6 23.h3 Rd8 24.bxc6 bxc6 25.Rc3 Qb4 26.Rxc6 Rb8 27.Nxd5 Qxa4 28.Rc1 Qa3 29.Bc4 and Black resigned.

278. 1 March 2005: Triplets galore

The 155-move game Cheparinov - Stefanova, from this year's Corus B tournament (see item 274 below), has sparked a world-wide interest in tripled pawns - or so it seems, judging from my mailbox.

In that game, Stefanova first had triplets on the d-file, and later on the g-file. The question was obvious: had such a thing ever happened before? With a little CQL-help, especially from Gady Costeff (one of the authors, with Lewis Stiller, of that language) and Dadi Jonsson, I found 51 games where two different tripled pawns of the same color had occurred during a game.
    There were surprises in that harvest. In only four games of the two million in my database, had a player sported two triplets at the same time - and one of them was me. I hadn't noticed at the time. Just once, an entire triplet had shifted files - in a game by, of all people, Stefanova.

Stefanova - Repkova, Olympiade Jerevan 1996
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Bf4 Bg7 4.Nc3 d6 5.e4 Nc6 6.Qd2 Bg4 7.Be2 Bxf3 8.Bxf3 e5 9.d5 Nd4 10.Be3 Nxf3+ 11.gxf3 Nh5 12.Bg5 Qd7 13.O-O-O a6 14.Ne2 h6 15.Be3 Qh3 16.Ng3 O-O-O 17.Rdg1 Rde8 18.c4 Nf4 19.Bxf4 exf4 20.Qxf4 f5 21.exf5 h5 22.Kb1 Be5 23.Qg5 h4 (see diagram)
24.fxg6 hxg3 25.fxg3 Rh5 26.Qg4+ Qxg4 27.fxg4 (see diagram) and in a matter of four moves, the f-triplets have moved to the g-file.27...Rh3 28.Rf1 Rg8 29.Rf5 Rxg6 30.Rf8+ Kd7 31.Rf7+ Kd8 32.Rf8+ Ke7 33.Rhf1 Rf6 34.R8xf6 Bxf6 35.Rf2 Bd4 36.Rg2 Kf6 37.Kc2 Kg5 38.Kd3 Be5 39.Ke4 Kxg4 40.Rf2 Rh7 41.b4 Re7 42.Kd3 Kh3 43.c5 Rg7 44.c6 bxc6 45.dxc6 Re7 46.a4 Rg7 47.b5 a5 48.Kc4 Rg4+ 49.Kd5 Rg5 50.Rf7 Kxh2 51.Rxc7 Kxg3 52.Rd7 Kf4 53.Kc4 Kg3 54.Rf7 Kh2 55.c7 Rg1 56.Kd3 Rc1 57.Re7 and in this completely winning position, White agreed to a draw.

Both White and Black having triplets somewhere during a game is not too uncommon, and there are even a few dozen games in which they have them at the same time - but the following game is unique.

Sevcikova - Blichova, ch girls u12 Slovakia, 1999
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.Bb5 Bb4 5.a3 Bxc3 6.dxc3 Nxe4 7.Bxc6 dxc6 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.Nxe5 Rf8 10.O-O Bf5 11.Be3 Nd6 12.Rac1 Re8 13.Rfe1 f6 14.Nd3 Nc4 15.Rcd1 Ke7 16.Bxa7+ Kf7 17.Bc5 Rxe1+ 18.Rxe1 Re8 19.Rxe8 Kxe8 20.b3 b6 21.bxc4 bxc5 (see diagram)
22.a4 Bxd3 23.cxd3 Kd7 24.a5 Kc8 25.f4 Kb7 26.g4 Ka6 27.Kf2 g5 28.fxg5 fxg5 29.Kf3 Kxa5 30.d4 Kb6 31.d5 cxd5 32.cxd5 c6 33.d6 Kb7 34.Ke4 Kc8 35.Kf5 Kd7 36.Kxg5 Kxd6 37.Kh6 Kd5 38.Kxh7 Kc4 39.g5 Kxc3 40.g6 c4 41.g7 Kb2 42.g8Q c3 43.Qb8+ Kc2 44.Kg6 Kd2 45.Qd6+ Kc2 46.Qxc6 Kd2 47.Qd5+ Kc2 48.h4 Kb2 49.Qb5+ Ka1 50.h5 c2 51.Qc5 Kb1 52.h6 c1Q 53.Qxc1+ and Black resigned.

277. 21 February 2005: Some famous players and their operators

The Turk was operated by William Schlumberger, Mephisto was operated by Isidore Gunsberg, Ajeeb was operated by Harry Pillsbury and Joop van Oosterom, the Dutch billionaire / new World Correspondence Chess Champion, is operated by Jeroen Piket.

276. 20 February 2005: Humor

The Humor Study Composing Tournament, sponsored by Hans Böhm, was won by Sergiy Didukh from the Ukrain with a very witty creation, which I will show here later. Second Prize went to the young Dutch composer Martin van Essen.

White to play and win
Martin van Essen
2nd Prize, Humor Tournament 2005

1.Bxc5+ The introduction is a bit loud, but that is part of the joke. After 1.Re8, Van Essen gives Nd6+ 2.Kb6 d4 3.Rb8 dxe3 4.a6 Bxc4 5.a3+ Kxa3 6.a7 gxf3 7.Nxc4+ Nxc4+ 8.dxc4 Rxb8+ 9.axb8Q f2 10.Nb5+ cxb5 11.Qf4 exd2 12.Qe3+ Ka4 13.Qd3 Rxh4 and White does not win. 1...Kxc5 Or 1...Kxa5 2.a3, and mate soon. 2.d4+ Kxd4 Again, 2...Kb4 3.Re3! leads to mate. 3.Nb5+ Kxe5 Black must flee; after 3...Kc5 4.d4+ Kb4 5.Re3 he is mated quickly. 4.Nd3+ Kxf5 5.Nd4+ Kg6 6.Nf4+ Kg7 7.Nf5+ Kf8 8.Ng6+ Ke8 and after all the turmoil of this Knight's chase à la Petrov, we find ourselves in the dead eye of a hurricane. (See next diagram)

9.Kc8! 9.a6? Ne5 10.Nd6+ Kd8 11.a7 Nxg6 12.a8Q+ Ke7 13.Nf5+ Kf7 14.Bxg4 Nxh4 certainly doesn't win. But now, Black is in Zugzwang. None of his pieces can move in view of Nd6 or Ng7 mate. So: 9...gxf3 10.a6 f2 11.a7 f1Q 12.a8N! 12.a8Q Qxf5 13.Kc7+ Nd8 loses. 12...Qf4 13.Nc7+ After 9.Kc7, this would not have been possible. 13...Qxc7+ 14.Kxc7 And a second pawn race starts. 14...dxc4 15.a4 d5 16.Kc8! The Nf7 must not get a discovered check. 16...d4 17.a5 c3 18.a6 cxd2 18...c2 makes no difference. 19.a7 d1Q And the fourth knight appears. 20.a8N Ne5 All moves allow mate in 1. 21.Nd6 mate.

Left: Martin van Essen at work.
Right: The jury at work. Clockwise: Harold van der Heijden, Tim Krabbé, Jan Timman, Hans Böhm.

275. 13 February 2005: Relief

The Iraq elections have been won by the Shiite alliance, backed by the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, although only with 48 % and not with an absolute majority. On his website, al-Sistani answers many questions about what in his view is permitted or halal (cricket, anal sex, oral sex (provided that no liquid gets into the mouth)) and what is not permitted, or haram. Among the latter, as has already been widely noted in the chess world, is chess.
    Answering two questions about this subject, al-Sistani is clear:

No: 1
Question: Is playing a chess allowed?
Answer: It is absolutely unlawful.
No: 2
Question: Chess is Halal or Haram?
Answer: Chess is absolutely forbidden.

It should be remarked that the French part of the site is clearer still. There, the question is:

I would like to ask you on the subject of chess. Is it permissible to play it to augment to the intelligence, knowing that I do not bet on it and that I have no bad intentions playing it?

And the answer:

It is not permissible to play chess.

However, irked that chess was once again equated with playing chess, and noticing it was possible to ask further questions, I sent in this question:

It is absolutely forbidden to play chess. But is it permissible to compose and solve chess problems? This is more like inventing riddles and creating poetry.

In a few days, I had my answer.

274. 25 January 2005: Double triple

Several readers pointed out that in that terrible 155-move game Cheparinov - Stefanova, in Corus-B 8th round, Black had two different tripled pawns.

Cheparinov - Stefanova, Corus B (8), 24 January 2005
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O b5 6.Bb3 Bc5 7.a4 Bb7 8.Nc3 b4 9.Nd5 Nd4 10.Nxd4 Bxd4 11.c3 bxc3 12.bxc3 Ba7 13.d4 Nxd5 14.exd5 exd4 15.Re1+ Kf8 16.d6 cxd6 (see diagram) 17.Qh5 Qf6 18.Bg5 Qg6 19.Qxg6 hxg6 20.Re7 d5 21.Rxd7 Bc6 22.Rc7 Be8 23.g3 Bb6 24.Rb7 Ba5 25.Bxd5 Bxc3 26.Rab1 Rh5 27.h4 Rxg5 28.hxg5 Rd8 29.Bc4 d3 30.Rb8 Rxb8 31.Rxb8 d2 32.Bb3 Ke7 33.Rb7+ Bd7 34.Kf1 a5 35.Ke2 Kd6 36.f3 f6 37.Bc2 fxg5 (see diagram right)
The question evidently was: had anything like that happened before? I'm afraid my CQL is a bit rusty, in any case: I do not manage a script for this phenomenon. Any CQL-wizard who can do it? With a crude approximation however, searching a sample of 40000 games, I found one other example; Löwenthal - Harrwitz, match London 1853, which you can play over on the Palview board. But Harrwitz's tripled pawns only existed half a move each, when Stefanova's live from move 16-21 and 37-58 respectively.

That was not all in this game. In today's Chess Today, Don Aldrich chastises Cheparinov (to the point of brilliantly calling him Cheapinov) for playing on in a drawn position, trying to exploit Stefanova's time trouble.
    I'm not sure that's justified. It's true that for a very long time nothing really happened, with Stefanova effectively offering a draw with repetitions, but in the end she had a practically winning position until she blundered two half points in consecutive moves.
38.g4 Bc6 39.Rb8 Kc5 40.Rc8 Kd6 41.Bd1 Kd7 42.Rh8 Ke7 43.Kd3 Bb4 44.Rg8 Kf6 45.Rc8 Bd7 46.Rb8 Be6 47.Rb7 Bf7 48.Rb6+ Ke7 49.Ra6 Be6 50.Kd4 Bf7 51.Ra7+ Kf6 52.Rc7 Ba3 53.Rc2 Bb4 54.Rc6+ Ke7 55.Ke4 Ba3 56.Rb6 Bb4 57.Rb5 Kf6 58.f4 gxf4 59.g5+ Ke7 60.Rb7+ Kf8 61.Kxf4 Bd5 62.Rb6 Bf7 63.Ke5 Ke7 64.Rb7+ Kf8 65.Rc7 Ba2 66.Rb7 Bf7 67.Ke4 Be6 68.Kd4 Bf7 69.Kd3 Be6 70.Ke3 Bd5 71.Rd7 Be6 72.Rd8+ Ke7 73.Rh8 Ba2 74.Rh7 Kf8 75.Rh1 Ke7 76.Rh7 Kf8 77.Kd3 Be6 78.Rh4 Ke7 79.Ke2 Bf5 80.Ke3 Kd6 81.Rh8 Be6 82.Rh7 Bf5 83.Rxg7 Ke5 84.Rc7 Bb1 85.Rb7 Bf5 86.Rb5+ Ke6 87.Kd4 Bb1 88.Bb3+ Kd6 89.Rb6+ Kc7 90.Ra6 Bf5 91.Bd1 Bb1 92.Re6 Kd7 93.Rf6 Kc7 94.Kc4 Kd7 95.Kb3 Bf5 96.Kc4 Bb1 97.Rf1 Bf5 98.Kd5 Be7 99.Rg1 Be6+ 100.Ke5 Bf5 101.Rg2 Bb4 102.Kd5 Ke7 103.Re2+ Kd7 104.Rh2 Be6+ 105.Kd4 Bf5 106.Rh1 Kd6 107.Rh8 Bc5+ 108.Kc3 Bb4+ 109.Kd4 Bc5+ 110.Kc4 Bb4 111.Re8 Bd7 112.Ra8 Ke5 113.Kd3 Kf4 114.Rd8 Bf5+ 115.Kc4 Kxg5 116.Kd4 Kf4 117.Rh8 Kg5 118.Rh1 Kf4 119.Rf1+ Kg5 120.Ke3 Kf6 121.Kd4 Kg5 122.Ke3 Kf6 123.Kd4 Ke6 124.Bb3+ Kd6 125.Bd1 Bc5+ 126.Kc4 Bb4 127.Kd4 Bc5+ 128.Kc4 Bb4 129.Rh1 Be4 130.Rf1 Bd5+ 131.Kd4 Be6 132.Kd3 Ke5 133.Ke3 Bf5 134.Rh1 Bc3 135.Rh8 g5 136.Re8+ Kd6 137.Rd8+ Ke6 138.Re8+ Kf6 139.Rf8+ Kg6 140.Rg8+ Kf6 141.Rf8+ Kg6 142.Kf3 Bb4 143.Rg8+ Kf6 144.Ra8 g4+ 145.Kg3 Bd6+ 146.Kh4 Bb4 147.Ra6+ Ke5 148.Kg3 Kd4 149.Ra8 Be6 150.Rd8+ (see diagram) 150...Ke4? After Kc3 Black has good winning chances 151.Re8 Kf5? and here Ke5 152.Bxg4 d1Q offered good drawing chances. 152.Bxg4+ Kg5 153.Rxe6 Bc3 154.Rc6 Bb4 155.Bd1 and Black resigned.

Of course, for the last 50 moves or so, they must both have been in terrible time trouble - this game cries out against FIDE's "classical" time controls, which preclude proper thinking in any longer endgame. With all of today's opening's knowledge, a more sensible time control would be something like: 30 minutes for the first 20 moves, 2 hours for the next 30; one hour for the rest.

PS 26 January: In the following round, Cheparinov played a 150-move draw against Onischuk. He had to defend R vs. R+B from move 76 to 150, but he survived.

273. 24 January 2005: Kramnik's disappointment

Black to play
Kramnik - Sokolov
Corus Tournament 2005 (4)

In the fourth round of the Corus tournament, Kramnik was disappointed when Sokolov resigned in the position of the diagram. He had hoped for the nice mate after 36...Nd4 37.Ng3+ Rxg3 38.fxg3 Nxf5 39.Rh4+ Nxh4 40.g4 mate.

This mate, first shown by Del Rio in 1750, is perhaps best known for a problem by Adolf Anderssen.

Mate in 5
Adolf Anderssen
Illustrated London News, 1846

1.Qe1 A spectacular but obvious key which stops e1Q+ and threatens mate in 1. 1...dxe1Q 2.Rd4 f1Q (or any other move) 3.Ra4+ Bxa4 4.b4+ Qxb4+ 5.axb4 mate.

In games, the mate itself is extremely rare, probably because like Sokolov, everybody resigns when they see it coming. And the situations that precede it, are hard to define and therefore hard to search for, even with CQL. I only found one worthwhile example.

Black to play
Durao - Catozzi
Dublin, zonal Tournament 1957

After 41...Rf8 or Rf6, Black is hardly worse. But after 41...b5, there followed: 42.Raf7 bxc4 There is nothing against the mate now 43.Rf4+ Kh5 44.Rh4+ gxh4 45.g4 mate.

This mate has always been popular with study-composers. In Harold van der Heijden's database I found 72 studies where it occurs - here is a good one.

White to play and win
M. Klinkov
Shakhmaty v SSSR, 1966

White is a lot of material up but his Rook hangs, and after 1.g5 Bxd5 2.Bf6+ Kh7 3.Bxb2 Black has the nice draw 3...Be6 4.Bg2 Bd5 etc. 1.Bf6+! Kxf6 Kh6 2.Rd7 Ba4 3.Bxb2 2.g5+ Kg7 3.Rd7+ Kg8 or immediately Kh8 4.Be6+ Kh8 Bxe6 5.Rb7 is easier. Now White has to find a very fine move: 5.Bf5! gxf5 6.Kf8 b1Q 7.g6 and Black's new Queen cannot help: 7...Bg8 8.Rh7+ Bxh7 9.g7 mate.

272. 6 January 2005: Create art while playing

If you play the Thinking Machine 4, you will see images like these. As the creators, Martin Wattenberg and Marek Walczak say: "The artwork is an artificial intelligence program, ready to play chess with the viewer. If the viewer confronts the program, the computer's thought process is sketched on screen as it plays. A map is created from the traces of literally thousands of possible futures as the program tries to decide its best move. Those traces become a key to the invisible lines of force in the game as well as a window into the spirit of a thinking machine."

In the left snapshot, Thinking Machine 4 is thinking after 1.e4 Nc6 2.Nf3 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.Nc3 Qd8 5.d4 Bg4 6.d5 Ne5 7.Nxe5 Bxd1 8.Bb5+ c6 9.dxc6 a6 10.c7+ Right is the position after 10...axb5 11.cxd8Q+ The program is better at creating art than at chess, but: "The goal [...] is not to make an expert chess playing program but to lay bare the complex thinking that underlies all strategic thought."

It's very nice to watch for a while - thanks to Tony Saidy for this tip.

271. 28 December 2004: Korchnoi's century

Recently on the Chessbase site, Korchnoi made an interesting remark about the game he will play next week against Magnus Carlsen in the Drammen Tournament. He will then have played serious games with two players who were born over a century apart. In a Soviet team championship in 1953, he played Levenfish, who was born in 1889. And Carlsen was born in 1990.
    I doubt whether this was ever surpassed. The next best I could come up with after some thinking and checking was Mieses, who played Louis Paulsen (b. 1833) and Martin Christoffel (b. 1922). But a century?
    About that game against Levenfish, Korchnoi said: "It was an exciting game, which my opponent in fact won, and was very proud of." He did not mention that they played two games in that team match, and that he won the other one. He also didn't mention that in the game he lost, he made a terrible blunder in a better position.

Korchnoi - Levenfish, Leningrad 1953
1.c4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Bg2 Be7 5.O-O O-O 6.d4 Nbd7 7.Qb3 c6 8.Nc3 b6 9.cxd5 exd5 10.Bf4 Bb7 11.Rad1 Re8 12.Rfe1 a5 13.a3 Bf8 14.Ne5 Nxe5 15.Bxe5 b5 16.Bxf6 Qxf6 17.e4 b4 18.axb4 axb4 19.Na4 dxe4 20.Nc5 Bxc5 21. dxc5 Bc8 22.Bxe4 Bh3 (see diagram)
Now with the normal 23.Qxb4 White would be better, but after 23.Rd6 he was surprised by 23...Rxe4 24.Rxe4 Qxd6! The crux of the blow. 25.Qxb4 Qxc5 26.Qe1 g6 and White resigned.

This game seems to have escaped authors of tactic's textbooks - it is a very nice example of the back rank mate.

PS 29 December: The omnipresent Harold van der Heijden jumps to 109. Reshevsky played tournament games against Mieses in 1935 and Tsemekhman in 1990, and they were born in 1865 and 1974 respectively.

PS 6 January: David Moody writes: "Arnold Denker (who died at 90 on January 2nd - TK) might push the record up to at least 115 years. He also played Jacques Mieses (Hastings, 1945/46), and at the 1998 U.S. Open played Jennie Frenklakh, who was born in 1980. She was only rated about 2150 at the time, so this might not qualify as a "serious" game in the sense Korchnoi meant. Denker was active in Swiss tournaments as late as 2003, so he may have pushed this record even further."

PS 24 March: John Saunders mentions the English player Frank Parr (1918 - 2003), who played Mackenzie (b. 1871) at Hastings 1939/40 and Thomas Sharp (b. 1988), also at Hastings (2002/3) - two players who were born 117 years apart. And if we stick to famous players, Saunders says, Maroczy ties Korchnoi's 101 years. He played Bird (b.1830) in 1899, and Pomar (b. 1931) in 1947.

PS 17 April: If we stick to titled players, Bent Larsen might have the record with. 103. He played Bernstein (b. 1882) in the 1954 Amsterdam Olympiad, and IM Lafuente (b. 1985) in Pinamar 2004. (Pointed out by John Schonholtz.) (Larsen only became an IM in 1955, but who cares.)

270. 22 December 2004: The Zwickmühle that never was

In the interview with me in this week's Chessville, I give my 22-move Zwickmühle problem. That inspired me to browse through my Zwickmühle collection of some 200 games, studies and problems.

Burn (without Nb1) - Whitehead, Liverpool 1896
This odd's game, which I found in Richard Forster's behemoth Burn biography, is one of the oldest examples from practical play.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Be7 4.d4 exd4 5.c3 d6 6.Qb3 Ne5 7.Nxe5 dxe5 8. Bxf7+ Kf8 9.O-O Nf6 10.f4 Qd6 11.fxe5 Qxe5 12.Bf4 Qxe4 13.Rae1 Qc6 14.Bg5 Qb6 15.Rxf6 Qxb3 16.Bh5+ gxf6 After 16...Kg8 Forster brings on the Zwickmühle for its first appearance: 17.Rxe7! Qb5 18.Rxg7+! Kxg7 19.Rf7+ Kg8 20.Bh6 Be6 21.Rg7+ Kf8 22.Rxc7+ Kg8 23.Rg7+ Kf8 24.Rxb7+ Kg8 25.Rg7+ Kf8 26.Rxa7+ Kg8 27.Rxa8+ and mate. 17.Bh6+ Kg8 (see diagram)
18.Rxe7! A wonderful non-recapture. Quoting British Chess Magazine, Forster now gives 18...Qe6 19.Rg7+ Kf8 20.Rd7+ Kg8 21.Rd8+ "and mates next move" as the finish of the game. One of my databases however, gives this finish: 18...Be6 and the Zwickmühle is used as in the variation above: 19.Rg7+ Kf8 20.Rxc7+ Kg8 21.Rg7+ Kf8 22.Rxb7+ Kg8 23.Rg7+ Kf8 24.Rxa7+ Kg8 25.Rxa8+ Qb8 26.Rxb8+ Bc8 27.Rxc8 mate.

White to play and draw
F. Amelung, St. Petersburger Zeitung 1903

The idea behind this study is deeply hidden - a Zwickmühle that never fires, but whose power saves White. 1.Nd8+! 1.Rxb7+ Kc6 and 1.Nxg7+ Kc7 are immediately lost for White. 1...Ke7 1...Kxd8 2.Rxb7 or 1...Kc7 2.Rxb7+ Kd8 3.Kg1 would reveal the idea prematurely. 2.Rxb7+ Kxd8 Or 2...Kf6 3.Rb6+ Ke7 4.Rb7+ with a repetition.
Now White can resign after 3.Rd7+ Kc8 4.Rxg7+ Kb8, but the unlikely 3.Kg1!! creates a unique situation. With only a Rook against Queen and Knight, in an open and almost empty position; without any threats and with Black to move, White achieves a draw by exposing his King to a check. But as it turns out, Black has no moves. Knight moves lose the Queen after Rb8+; Bishop moves lose the Queen after the Zwickmühle Rd7-h7+ and Queen moves also lose the Queen to the Zwickmühle. All Black has is 3...Bd4+ 4.Kg2 but that doesn't change a thing. White threatens the Zwickmühle Rd7-h7+ again, and the Queen has nowhere to hide. 4...Bg7 is the only move. And after 5.Kg1, the position has been repeated: draw.

Mate in 29
M. Kwiatkowski
2nd Honourable Mention, The Problemist 1992

1.Rg4 Even if it threatens two short mates, with Nxb3+ and Ne6+, it is still a nice key. 1...h1Q+ 2.Nf3+ Kb5 Now the Knight and Rook each have chores, but they can only do them if they work as a fine-tuned team - one of them holding the Qh1 at bay, while the other one does its job. 3.Rb4+ Ka5 4.Rbe4+! Now the Knight is free. 4...Kb5 5.Nd4+ Ka4 6.Ne2+ Kb5 7.Nc3+ Ka5 8.Nxa2+ Why this Bishop had to go will become clear later. 8...Kb5 Now it is the Rook's turn, but the Knight must first unpin it. 9.Nc3+ Ka5 10.Ne2+ Kb5 11.Nd4+ Ka4 12.Nf3+! Kb5 13.Rb4+ Ka5 14.Rbxb3+ The reason for removing this pawn will be revealed later too, but at least we understand why the Ba2 had to go - it would have pinned the Rb3. 14...Ka4 15.Rb4+ Ka5 16.Rbe4+! and the Knight is unpinned once more. 16...Kb5 17.Nd4+ Ka4 18.Ne2+ Kb5 19.Nc3+ Ka5 20.Na2+! It is a very nice feature of this problem that the Knight goes back to the empty square a2 where it once captured a Bishop. Now, it has to shield a3 from the Qa1. 20...Kb5 21.Ba6+ Finally, the mating attack. 21...Rxa6 If 21...Kxa6, then 22.Rxa3+ (that is why Pb3 had to go and Qxa3 had to be prevented) 22...Kb5 23.Nc3 mate. 22.Nc3+ Ka5 23.Ne2+ Kb5 24.Nd4+ Ka4 25.Nf3+! One last unpin of the Rook, and it's mate: 25...Kb5 26.Rb4+ Ka5 27.Rb6+ Ka4 28.Rxa6+ Kb5 29.Ra5 mate.

269. 16 December 2004: Chess Today #1500!

My day always begins with my morning paper - Chess Today. I wasn't home to congratulate them with their 4th anniversary last month, but today's 1500th issue is a good excuse to repair that. CT has all the chess news, and in its Annotated Game section, it has a nose for the kind of game that fuels my chess love. I hope Alex Baburin and his team will be able to keep this indispensable electronic paper at least as good as it is - and they're planning to improve it!

Today, GM Ruslan Sherbakov analyzes a game, fresh from New York, which belongs in the class of Immortal Draws. I largely follow his notes.

Ehlvest - Stripunsky, New York (Marshall Chess Club Championship), 14 December 2004
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 e6 5.e3 a6 6.b3 Bb4 7.Bd2 O-O 8.Bd3 Nbd7 9.O-O Qe7 10.Qc2 dxc4 11.bxc4 e5 12.Nh4 g6 13.f4? Ng4! Suddenly facing serious trouble, White launches on a crazy adventure. 14.Nf3 Bxc3 15.Qxc3 e4 16.Bc2 exf3 17.gxf3 Ngf6 18.e4 (see diagram)
White has only one pawn for the piece, but the strong mobile center adds to the compensation. 18...Nh5 19.Kh1 Re8 20.Rg1 Nf8 21.f5 Qh4 22.Bd3 c5 23.d5 Qf6 24.Qc1 Nd7 25.Be2 Qe7 26.a4 "Being a piece down White is just playing normal chess, improving his position, and trying to get more resources into the planned K-side actions." 26...Ne5 Perhaps 26...Ng7 is safer. 27.Ra3 "Probably too creative. 27.f4 looked better with a very unclear play." 27...Ng7 28.f4 Better 28.Rg2 28...Nxc4 (see diagram below)

29.fxg6 Utter disregard for material considerations. After 29.Qxc4 Qxe4+ 30.Qxe4 Rxe4 31.Bf3 Bxf5 32.Rc1 c4 White would have had "reasonable drawing chances". But he probably preferred the turmoil and the unreasonable winning chances that arise now. 29...Nxa3 30.gxh7+ Kh8 The automatic reaction, but 30...Kxh7, to get the King off the long diagonal, was probably stronger. Now, White is a Rook and a Knight down, and also has to make a defensive move 31.Bf3 (see diagram below)

"[Black] is spoilt for choice but there is a danger everywhere..." 31...c4 Sherbakov suggests giving back the Knight with 31...Nb5 32.axb5 axb5 or 31...b5 32.Qxa3 b4 when the Bishop cannot reach the diagonal. 32.Bc3 Now this Bishop is the strongest piece on the board. 32...f6 33.e5 Rf8? Better 33...Nf5 34.d6 Qf7? Now White is even winning. After 34...Qe6, Sherbakov gives this fantastic variation: 35.exf6 Rxf6 36.Rxg7 Kxg7 37.f5 Qxf5 38.Qh6+!! Kf7 39.Bh5+ Ke6 40.Qe3+ Kxd6 41.Qb6+ Kd5 42.Qd4+ Kc6 43.h8Q Qf1+ 44.Qg1 Qxg1+ 45.Kxg1 Rf1+!! 46.Kxf1 Bh3+ 47.Ke2 Rxh8 48.Bxh8 with good drawing chances for White. In any case, that was Black's last chance to win - now he's even lost. 35.exf6 Nf5 36.Rg7! Nxg7 37.fxg7+ Kxh7 (see diagram below)

38.Qe1? But now he's exaggerating. With the simple 38.gxf8Q Qxf8 39.Qe1 (or Qg1) he could have mated Black soon. The idea was probably 38...Qxg7 39.Qh4+ Qh6 40.Qe7+ Kg6 41.d7 Bxd7 42.Qd6+ and mate, but: 38...Bg4! He must have overlooked that. 39.gxf8N+! A Knight promotion, too! Without that check (which could also come in the form of 39.Qh4+ Qh5 40.Qxg4 Qxg4 41.gxf8N+) White would be lost. Now, he's still better. 39...Rxf8 40.Bxg4 Qd5+ 41.Kg1 Qc5+ 42.Kg2 Qd5+ 43.Kg1? 43.Bf3 was still winning: 43...Rg8+ 44.Kf2 Qc5+ 45.Qe3 Qxe3+ 46.Kxe3 and the d-pawn decides. 43...Qc5+ 44.Kg2 Qd5+ with the same possibility - but here, in time trouble most likely, a draw was agreed.

268. 30 November 2004: The drawing championship

Aidan McGee called my attention to what he calls the Recidivist Variation. Its premiere was:

Adorjan - Karpov, Groningen 1967
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.O-O Bg4 6.h3 h5 7.c3 Qd3 8.hxg4 hxg4 9.Nxe5 (see diagram) 9...Bd6 10.Nxd3 Bh2+ draw; a little joke that was first shown by Fischer in an analysis in My 60 Memorable Games. This game is an argument against the sometimes proposed rule that would forbid draw offers before move 30 or 40; it can hardly be demanded that the Bishop goes to h2 twenty times more.

As McGee discovered, it is a very popular draw. In my database, I found ninety-two draws of 16 moves and less that began with these moves. Sometimes a draw is agreed immediately; sometimes the moves are repeated a few times. There are a few recidivists. Grandmaster Donchev played this draw three times; twice (with different colours) in the Bulgarian championship of 1981. Gufeld played the Recidivist Draw four times, but one figure stands out here; Russian grandmaster Shtyrenkov with six; two with Black and four with White; and one time two in consecutive rounds.

I discovered another wildly popular draw:

Flohr - Kostro, Polanica Zdroj 1967
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.cxd5 cxd5 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bf4 Bf5 7.e3 e6 8.Bd3 Bxd3 9.Qxd3 Bd6 10.Bxd6 Qxd6 draw. (see diagram)

This was copied exactly in 142 tournament games. Among the copyists, we find luminaries like Vaganian, Adorjan, Ivkov, Portisch, Shirov, Kramnik and Andersson. Here, the great addict is grandmaster Cvitan from Croatia, (see picture) who played this draw nine times. He did it twice twice in one tournament, and three times against grandmaster I. Nemet. (One time, they got no further than 10.Bxd6, but we'll turn a blind eye to that.) He is bested however by IM E. Kahn from Hungary with ten of these 10-move draws, two of which he managed against one and the same grandmaster L. Seres within a month. We're happy to chance upon the great Shtyrenkov here too, with three of these draws, two with Black and one with White.
    Allowing two extra moves (usually 11.0-0 0-0 12.Rac1 Rac8), we find 845 tournament draws. Kahn now scores fifteen, but the amazing Cvitan has played it twenty-two times, including a fourth one against Nemet. Who does it with others too; his total is nine.
    Shtyrenkov has played this draw seven times.

I suggest a tournament for the World Drawing Championship. Participants: Cvitan, Nemet, Kahn and Shtyrenkov. Format: 1000-round match-tournament. Location: a deserted oil rig.

267. 16 November 2004: No-brainers

Korolkov's "just-press-the-button" study (see item 265), prompted several readers to mention this well-known little joke.

Mate in 6
V. Röpke
Skakbladet, 1942

A button is not even needed here.

Richard Stanley sent me two records in the "no-brainer" class, as he and the composer, Noam Elkies, call these problems: mates in n where neither player gets around to thinking.

Mate in 7
Noam Elkies
original, 2004

White has choices, but no matter what he chooses, he mates Black at move 7. This is probably the record-nobrainer without promoted pieces.

And with promoted pieces (but in a legal position):

Mate in 10
Noam Elkies
original, 2004

White and Black have choices all the time, but the machine runs its course until it is mate at move 10.

Of course, other than in Röpke's pioneering no-brainer, one could imagine either of the players overstepping the time limit here, because they might not see that their choices make no difference.

Elkies' problems will appear in a book "Chess and Mathematics" that he and Stanley are preparing.

PS 23 November: Some readers wondered (I did, too) whether the position of the 10-move no-brainer is legal. It is, says Elkies: "One pawn capture on a side yields three promotable pawns (a6xb7 and c3xd2, with White promoting bbc and Black add); and two piece captures on a side give four more promoting pawns (e6xf7, g6xh7, promote ffhh; f3xe2, h3xg2, promote eegg)." (See PS 24 January 2008 below.)

PS 17 November: The no-brainers reminded Michael McDowell of the story Mr. Brown done Brown by Jacon Elson, from Lasker's Chess Magazine, november 1904. It has this position.

Mate in 2
Jacob Elson
Lasker's Chess Magazine, 1904

White has choices, but he will always find himself mating Black on move 2.

PS 24 January 2008: Alexey Khanyan constructed a no-brainer mate in 22 ply (vs. Elkies' 19 ply.)

Black to play
Alexey Khanyan
Original, 2008

As it is a no-brainer, I feel free not to give the moves.

266. 2 November 2004: Fischer was right in 1975

- in a way.

When Kramnik retained his 'classical world title' by drawing a match 7-7 against Leko, there were discussions about the fairness of the 'Tie Clause' favouring him. But I've not seen many serious calculations of how large his odds actually were.

If we use the outcome of Kramnik - Leko for a prediction of that outcome, we have the convenient facts that the players were equally strong, each winning two games, and that White and Black were equally strong too, with two wins each. The chance of a draw being 5/7 and the match consisting of 14 games, that leads to an expectation (calculated for me by Joshua Green) of 60.1 % that Kramnik would retain the title.
    This was confirmed by a little numerical simulation program that I wrote - see below.

Surprisingly, a slightly altered version of this program shows that the much criticized odds Fischer demanded in 1975 for his 'wins-required' match against Karpov (Fischer would retain the title with 9-9; Karpov had to win 10-8), were smaller than the odds Kramnik had against Leko. Again assuming both players had equal chances to win a game, Fischer would have had a 59.2 % chance to keep his title.

Here's a table showing the tie-clause advantage for various match lengths and drawing percentages in a 'points-required' match, as shown by my simulation program. If some numbers do not seem to be completely consistent, that is because I limited my samples to 10,000 matches for each combination. (If the deviation was too great, I ordered Kramnik and Leko to play their match a million times instead of a mere ten thousand.)

22 55.456.356.757.659.464.0
20 55.956.556.958.259.664.3
18 56.156.657.558.961.166.0
16 56.357.057.860.462.066.7
14 56.957.358.959.962.968.7
10 57.758.760.061.964.572.4
 40%50%60%70% 80%90%

Here's a list of odds from my simulator that Fischer would have had with different numbers of wins to be played for:

10 59.2 %
  9 59.8 %
  8 60.5 %
  7 61.3 %
  6 62.3 %

PS 16 November: Thomas Beuman gave me the exact calculations for 'points-required' matches:

24 55.255.856.457.459.263.6
22 55.456.056.757.859.664.2
20 55.756.
18 56.056.657.458.660.766.0
16 56.457.057.859.261.467.2
14 56.857.458.459.862.268.6
12 57.458.059.060.663.270.3
10 58.058.859.961.664.672.5
 8 58.959.861.063.066.675.4
 40%50%60%70% 80%90%

Both Beuman and Joshua Green calculated the 'wins-required' percentages, finding just one difference with the percentages of my simulations: playing for 10 wins, Fischer would have had a 59.3 % advantage.

Some of the above simulations and calculations have been done earlier by Charles Kalme and William Hyde. See this 1999 posting by Hyde on rec.games.chess.misc.

265. 23 October 2004: Just press the button

A recent(ly found) record on my records page was a series of six consecutive mutual checks in a game Zarrouati - Brauckmann, Toulouse 1990. In a construction, a series of 37 has been achieved by G. Ponzetto, 1993. For discovered checks, the record is 11 by O. Stocchi - see item 125 in this Diary. These constructions just aim at this one effect, but such series sometimes arise in more or less normal studies. More or less, because if the series are really long, they are record attempts, too.

L.M. González
White to play and draw
Humour Tourney, 2004

1.Qf2+ Qxf2+ 2.Bxf2+ Rxf2+ 3.Nef3+ Rbxf3+ 4.Nxf3+ Rxf3+ 5.Kxf3+ Ncd4+ 6.Rdxd4+ Nxd4+ 7.Rxd4+ Be4+ 8.Rxe4+ fxe4+ 9.Kxe4 draw.

Sixteen checks in a row! It takes some lengthy analysis (in an article by Harold van der Heijden in the Dutch studies magazine EBUR of September 2004) to prove that all of them are the best move, but it seems they are.

The study is a contender in Hans Böhm's Humour Tourney which still accepts studies until 31 December 2004. Original studies can be sent to HUMOUR Tourney, Harold van der Heijden, Michel de Klerkstraat 28, 7425 DG Deventer, THE NETHERLANDS.

I must say I'm surprised (but see the PS) that entries in a current tourney can be published, but Harold is the endgames studies expert, and EBUR's editor-in-chief, and he should know. As a jury member in that tourney (with Hans Böhm and Jan Timman), I would have thought I'm not supposed to know who composed what, but as a chess-loving citizen, I'm free to comment on what I see in public sources. Sixteen is quite a feat, but it's a rather cumbersome thing, and it doesn't tickle my sense of humour. Here is one with only seven consecutive checks, that does.

V. Korolkov, 1940
White to play and win

1.Nd8+ Re6+ 2.f6+ Ne5+ 3.Bxe3+ Nbd3+ 4.b4 mate.

All the moves in the solution are discovered checks, but the really funny thing is that apart from White's first move (which is practically forced), both sides always play their only legal move. The perfect chess riddle - just press the button, and sit back.

PS 24 October: I now see, maybe even remember, that these publications in EBUR were intended all along. It's an informal tourney.

PS 16 November: Noam Elkies sent me a game with 7 consecutive checks, be it only in the (published) analysis of an actual game.

Kavalek - Zuckerman, Student's Olympiad, Krakow 1964
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qb6 8.Qd2 Qxb2 9.Rb1 Qa3 10.Bxf6 gxf6 11.Be2 Nc6 12.Nxc6 bxc6 13.O-O Bg7 14.Rfd1 O-O 15.Rb3 Qc5+ 16.Kh1 d5 17.f5 Ra7 18.Na4 Qd6 19.c4 Qe5 20.fxe6 dxe4 21.Qe3 Re7 22.exf7+ Rexf7 23.c5 f5 24.Rb4 a5 25.Rbd4 Be6 26.Rd6 f4 27.Qf2 Bd5 28.Nb6 f3 29.gxf3 exf3 30.Bf1 Qe2 31.Rd2 (see diagram)
Black now won comfortably with 31...Qxf2 but in his 1970 (Hebrew) book about this student's Olympiad, Shaul Hon gave this possibility: 31...Bd4 32.Qxd4 and now: 32...Qxf1+ 33.Qg1+ Qg2+ 34.Qxg2+ fxg2+ 35.Rxg2+ Bxg2+ 36.Kxg2 Rg7+ 37.Kh3 Rf3+ 38.Kh4 Rf2 and Black wins. Not a very relevant variation however, as 33...Qxg1+ 34 Kxg1 f2+ is an easier win, and so is 32...f2+ and mate next move. The game ended: 32.Rxf2 Bd4 33.Rc2 Be4 34.Rxd4 Bxc2 35.Bc4 f2 36.Rf4 Kh8 and White resigned.

PS 30 November: Thanks to Hauke Reddmann for showing me this helpmate with a record of 16 consecutive checks.

Helpmate in 8
K. Bachmann, A. Schöneberg & H-P. Reich
Special Prize, Die Schwalbe 1995

Note: the black King is in check in the initial position.
1.dxe6+ Rd7+ 2.Bxd7+ Nc6+ 3.Qxd3+ c4+ 4.Qxc4+ bxc4+ 5.Kd6+ Be5+ 6.Rxe5+ fxe5+ 7.Rxe5+ c5+ 8.Rxc5+ bxc5 mate.

264. 14 October 2004: Hensel and greedle

When the 11th match game between Kramnik and Leko was drawn in 17 moves, and there was nothing to say about the chess, ChessBase interviewed Carsten Hensel, who is the personal manager of both players. It was a remarkable interview. Here are some questions.

Q: Do Kramnik and Leko feel any pressure to play more fighting chess?
Q: Have Kramnik and Leko noticed the fans' disappointment about their short draws?
Q: Could it be that Kramnik and Leko feel intimidated by the title they are playing for?
Q: Do Kramnik and Leko feel an obligation to be creative in their games?
Q: How do Kramnik and Leko justify playing only two moves beyond their home preparation?
Q: Do Kramnik and Leko like chess?
Q: Is it difficult for Kramnik and Leko to look their sponsors in the eye after a 17-move draw?
Q: Are Kramnik and Leko afraid they will not be able to keep a straight face when they collect their fees?
Q: Are Kramnik and Leko concerned that they are turning away this new sponsor from chess?
Q: Would Kramnik and Leko admit to being cowards?
Q: Do the Dannemann representatives in Brissago know so little about chess that they don't know they're being ripped off by Kramnik and Leko?

Not one of these questions was asked. Hensel is a strong pingpong player, and he likes his wife's potato salad.

263. 12 October 2004: RIP

262. 11 October 2004: Plaskett on Major Ingram

Saturday's Daily Mail had a very interesting article by GM James Plaskett on the famous alleged coughing scam of Major Ingram in the British Who wants to be a Millionaire quiz. It is in the form of an interview with Plaskett; Plaskett's own piece can be found on the Portia website which is devoted to perceived miscarriages of justice.

261. 10 October 2004: Two small mysteries

In his simul tour in 1964, Bobby Fischer lost this well-known game.

Fischer - Burger, simul San Francisco, 13 April 1964
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Nd4 6.c3 b5 7.Bf1 Nxd5 8.cxd4 Qxg5 9.Bxb5+ Kd8 10.Qf3 Bb7 11.O-O exd4 (see diagram) 12.Qxf7?? (after d3, Re1 or even Bd3 White's position is perfectly playable) 12...Nf6 and White resigned. Everything hangs; his King, his Bishop and his Queen (Bd5).

A typical simul disaster, but a reader from Brazil, Romario, pointed out that this game was duplicated between grandmasters in a strong tournament: Bronstein - Lengyel, Sarajevo 1971. In my large database however, which is a compilation of several games collections, I found two copies of this Bronstein - Lengyel, both with the same moves, but one tagged "0-1", and one "1/2". Two large online databases, ChessLab and ChessBase's Chesslive, as well as ChessBase's "Mega 2000" all give this game as 0-1. On the other hand, there is no such game in the early Informators, and Informator 11 has a tournament table of Sarajevo 1971, where Bronstein - Lengyel is a draw.

Who knows more?

PS 2 November: Jovan Petronic reminds me that there is another version of this game, ending with 11...e4 12.Qxe4 Bd6 13.d3 Bxh2+ 14.Kxh2 Nf4 (0-1) In 1992, during the rematch with Spassky, Jovan Petronic had a chance to ask Fischer about this game. Fischer said he did not remember playing it, but that he knew Burger, "a very friendly fat man, who liked drinking wine."

PS1, 16 November: Rik van der Heiden points out that according to Donaldson's A Legend On the Road, the 14-move game is not a game, but a variation in:
Fischer - NN, clock simul Montreal, 24 February 1964
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Nd4 6.c3 b5 7.Bf1 Nxd5 8.cxd4 Qxg5 9.Bxb5+ Kd8 10.Qf3 e4 11.Qxe4 Bd6 12.O-O Bb7 13.d3 Nf4? Here, Bxh2+ wins 14.Bxf4 Qxb5 15.d5 Qxb2 16.Bxd6 cxd6 17.Re1 Qf6 18.Nc3 Rc8 19.Qb4 Re8 20.Qa5+ Kd7 21.Qa4+ and Black resigned.

PS2, 16 November: Thanks to Andy Ansel for unearthing the following game, from the original bulletins.
Bronstein - Lengyel, Sarajevo 1971
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4 d5 4.exd5 Nf6 5.d4 Nxd5 6.Nf3 Be7 7.0-0 Be6 8.Bxd5 Bxd5 9.Bxf4 0-0 10.Nc3 c5 11.Nxd5 Qxd5 12.dxc5 Qxc5+ 13.Kh1 Nc6 14.c3 Rad8 15.Qe2 Bd6 draw agreed.
So it was just a normal draw - the mystery is how the Fischer - Burger moves got associated with that game.

Recently, I stumbled upon another remarkable simul game.

Reshevsky - NN, simultaneous Tel Aviv 1950
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 c5 5.Nge2 d5 6.Bd2 Qa5 7.a3 (see diagram)
7...Nc6!? Could that really be possible? 8.axb4 After cxd5 or dxc5 White retains a small advantage. 8...Nxb4 Threatening both Nd3 mate and Qxa1. 9.Qa4+ Qxa4 10.Rxa4 Nd3+ 11.Kd1 Nxf2+ 12.Ke1 Nd3+ and a draw was agreed. Black should have played for a win with 12...Nxh1.

But when I checked whether that funny 7...Nc6 had occurred in other games, I only found this:

Reshevsky - Z. Margolits, simultaneous Haifa 1958
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 c5 5.Nge2 Qa5 6.Bd2 d5 7.a3 Nc6 8.axb4 Nxb4 9.Rxa5 Nd3 mate.

Which of the two versions is true? Could Reshevsky really have overlooked that mate? The first version is more believable, but Reshevsky did not play a tournament in Tel Aviv in 1950 and he did play in Haifa in 1958. ChessLab has Reshevsky - Z. Margolits, Haifa 1958 and Reshevsky - Margolit, Haifa 1968, both ending with 9...Nd3 mate; ChessLive has the Haifa 1958 version; the online database of New in Chess has 'Haifa 1968', 'R.B. Margolit' and 9...Nd3 mate, and Mega 2000 doesn't have this game at all.

Which version was really played? And who was Z. Margolits / R.B. Margolit?

PS, 16 November: Norm Antokol remembers seeing the game in Chess Life in 1958; it ended with 9...Nd3 mate.

© Tim Krabbé, 2004, 2005

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