7 December 2000 - 9 March 2001

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100. 9 March: After an old Dutch nursery rhyme

We loved his Jew-controlled chutzpah
and his Jew-controlled moves
And his Jew-controlled antics
gave us Jew-controlled grooves

Worldwide Jew-controlled plotting
caused his Jew-controlled bind
and an uncontrollable Jew-controlled hatred
filled his Jew-controlled mind

He's now in Jew-controlled hiding
said the Jew-controlled news
to the Jew-controlled pleasure
of the Jew-controlled Jews

99. 8 March: Banging their heads together

I remember a gloomy tournament in 1980, where Donner (53), Ligterink (30) and Van der Sterren (24) played for one place on the Dutch Olympiad team. I can still see Euwe at a demonstration board in the noisy lobby of the hotel where the last game was played, commenting for 5 or 6 spectators. Nobody seemed to have been assigned to pick up the pieces that dropped to the floor, but being Euwe, the 79-year old great man picked them up himself, without a word.
    I don't remember which game that last one was, but the result was that Ligterink and Donner tied for first, and there still had to be some tie-break. Then word came that Donner had yielded the place to Ligterink. "When I can't bang their heads together anymore, it is time for me to go," he said.
    Banging their heads together - these words forced themselves upon me at the sight of the final standings of Linares:

1. Kasparov, 7½ out of 10
2/6. Grischuk, Karpov, Leko, Polgar and Shirov, 4½

98. 7 March: The Birchbeer cross

The crosspins in item 94 inspired reader Brian Karen to send me this ICC game:
Birchbeer - ADOLF, ICC 2 14, 1995
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bb5 Bc5 5.O-O Nge7 6.Ng5 Bb6 7.Qh5 Ne5 8.Ne6 (see diagram on the left) and Black resigned. An entirely different sort of crosspin if you want to call it that - in any case: a picturesque position.
    Birchbeer remains the most enigmatic strong player on ICC. He was a very early member (in their database there are games from 1994 by him), and in the early years, he was continually among the best 10 or 20. He played a very imaginative, often brilliant chess. His preferred time control was 2 14, only varying to 2 19 and 4 15 and the like. In his notes, he complained about his bad connection, and the fact that he couldn't use timestamp. (I think at one time he even said he couldn't use an interface and had to make his moves on a real board.)
    He doesn't play anymore; his last games are from August 1998. The last time he logged on was in April 1999. But the account still exists. Nobody, outside ICC, knows who he is. In the last line of his notes, which are still there, he says: Sorry, I prefer to be anonymous.

Compare these two correspondence games:

Sochor - Van Damme, cr 1974
1.b4 Nf6 2.Bb2 d5 3.e3 e6 4.c4 Bxb4 5.Qa4+ Nc6 6.cxd5 Nxd5 7.Bxg7 Rg8 8.Bb2 Qh4 9.Qd1 Nxe3 and White resigned.

Hjortstam - Genestier, cr 1995
1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Nxc3 Nc6 5.Nf3 g6 6.h4 Nf6 7.h5 Nxh5 8.Rxh5 gxh5 9.Ng5 h6 10.Qxh5 Ne5 11.Bb5 a6 (see diagram) 12.Ne6 Nd3+ 13.Kd1 Nxf2+ 14.Kc2 Qb6 15.Nd5 Qxe6 16.Nc7+ Kd8 17.Nxe6+ dxe6 18.Qe5 f6 19.Be3 (with a unique two-Bishop mate after fxe5) axb5 20.Bb6+ Ke8 21. Qh5+ and Black resigned.

97. 3 March: A soul brother on the radio

Yesterday, I went to the cremation of an old friend of the house, who had died at 77.
    Somewhere in the fifties, when I was 12, and had just become addicted to chess, my mother drew my attention to a popular radio serial. It was about a family with four or five children, the youngest of which, a boy my age named Pim, was a chess fanatic. I liked those series, seemed to get to know that whole family, but of course it was especially thrilling to follow this soul brother on the radio, who almost had the same name, too.
    Around this time, my mother challenged me to a correspondence game - each day, we'd tell each other our new move. As the game started to go bad for me pretty quickly, I wondered how she could have become that good. She had shown some interest in the game when I started to play, but I never saw her analyze our game, and she never wanted to play me a normal game. I had my suspicions, and these were confirmed when not too long after my parent's separation, a man started coming to our house, who admitted he had been my mysterious opponent. He was also the writer of those radio-plays, and I discovered Pim hadn't so much been my soul-brother on the radio - he had been me.
    The man turned out to be a fanatic player himself and, now unmasked, he became one of my early chess partners, and probably the most exciting one. We were both relentless attackers, sacrificers and hangers of pieces, we never seemed to play a dull game, and sometimes I had the impression that playing chess with me was what he came to the house for.
    Jan, may your ashes blow about happily, and thx for the games.

96. 27 February: Inspirational trap

A reader, Erik Van Eijndhoven, sent me this interesting position that occurred in a game of his. In the position on the left, from Segers - Van Eijndhoven, Rotterdam 1997, Black played 42...Qxc5, which is a cunning trap. Because after 43.Qd8+ Kh7 44.Qd3+ which seemingly won a Rook, there followed 44...f5+! and instead of White, it was Black who won a Rook; 45.exf6+ Qf5+ 46.Qxf5+ exf5+ followed by Rxb4.
    Van Eijndhoven thought it was a pity White didn't go for this series of six consecutive checks (playing 45.Kh5 Qe7 0-1 instead), and wondered whether anything like that had happened before. As far as I know, it hasn't; five is the record.
White to play and win

Fiddling around a bit with that position, I found that with a few alterations, and a reversal of colors, this could almost be turned into a study. (See diagram on the right.)
    1.f4+ Kf6 2.Rxb4 Qxc4 3.Rxc4 Rxb2 4.Rd4 Rb8 very likely doesn't win, so: 1.Rxb4 Now Qxc4 2.Rxc4 Rxb2 3.d7! and White promotes. As 1...Rxb4 2.Qxb4 is a technical win for White, and 1...Rd7 2.f4+ Kf6 (Kh6 3.Qc3) 3.Qc8 is a quick attacking win, Black has nothing better than to fall for the trap: 1...Qd1+ 2.Kh2 Qxd6+ 3.f4+ exf3+ 4.Qf4+ Qxf4+ 5.exf4+ Kh6 6.Rxb7 But this time, it seems to have been his trap: 6...f2! This pawn is unstoppable. But with 7.g4! (that would have been check after 5...Kh5), it turns out to have been White's trap after all. Kg2 is threatened, so 7...f1Q is forced. And now: 8.g5+ (that would have been mate after 5...Kf6) 8...Kh5 9.Rh7 mate.

PS: The simple 1.Qxd5 exd5 2.d7 Rxd7 3.Rxb4 (Rik van der Heiden) offers too much of a chance of winning for this to be called a study. Add a black pawn on a6, and 1...Rxb4 offers Black too big a chance to draw.

95. 26 February: The Grandmother of all Forks

At the end of a story, elsewhere on this site, I gave a famous study by Kasparyan, calling it (and the whole article) The Mother of all Forks. It ends in the position on the left where Black is mate next move.
    Browsing a problem book recently, I found this problem by the two Urhebers of the "New German Logical School" (see diagram on the right.)
Mate in 4
J. Kohtz & C. Kockelkorn
Deutsches Wochenschach, 1894
The key is: 1.Rc4, which threatens 2.Rf- followed by 3.Nf6 mate. There are several variations:
- 1...Bh7 2.Rg6 Ng8 (Rdxc4 3.Nb5 Nxg6 4.Nf6 mate) 3.Nc8 and 4.Nb6 mate.
- 1...Rxd3 2.Rf2(3) Rxc4 3.Nf6+ Kd4 4.Nb5 mate
- 1...Rdxc4 2.Nb5 Nf5 3.Rd6+ Nxd6 4.Nf6 mate
- 1...Ng6 2.Nc8 Nf8+ 3.Ke8 Ne6 4.Ne7 mate or 3...Rxd3 4.Nb6 mate
    But the main variation is:
1...Rcxc4 2.Rf1 Rxe4 3.Rd1 (see diagram on the leftand the same configuration as in the Kasparyan study has arisen; it is mate next move by 4.dxc4 or dxe4.
    It is interesting that in 1911 one of the composers, Kohtz, wrote about this problem: "Unfortunately, the finish is quite unelastic; more than just this one problem could hardly be made out of it, or it would be plagiarism. (...) In my opinion, a beautiful, characteristic finish belongs only to the composer who has invented it."
    I cannot judge whether a better problem can be based upon this finish, but Kasparyan's study is infinitely more elegant, while it is not very likely that he knew the Kohtz & Kockelkorn problem. But that problem is an anticipation of his study.

94. 25 February: A selfcrosspin

Recently on ICC, I fell victim to a very rare tactic - a crosspin. In a game against kunifax, who had Black, we reached the position on the left. After 1.Qxf2? he played Rxc3+ 2.Rf3 and now the devilish 2...Rf7! won a full Rook. (I had nothing better on my second move; 2.Kg2 Rxg4+ 3.Kf1 Rc1+, would have cost me my Queen.)

The crosspin is a striking and well-known phenomenon, but it is extremely rare in games. In fact, I wondered whether this couldn't have been the first time it had happened in any game of mine. Then I remembered this (see diagram on the right), from a game TK - Chess Genius 2 (C), Aegon Tournament, The Hague 1994. Black had pseudo-sacrificed a piece, and to win it back he had to play 14...g5, which is an unusual selfcrosspin by that pawn. After 15.Rfe1, the Pg5 is pinned along two diagonals, making both gxf4 and gxh4 not so good - White's threat is 16.Qd2 gxh4 17.Qxh6. 15...Kg7 16.Qg3 Now threatening f4 16...Kf8 Threatening gxh4 again. A very strange repetitive crosspin could now arise after 17.Qf4?! Kg7 18.Qg3 Kg7 19.Qf4 etc. But 17.Bxg5 was better; the game (after some extremely strange happenings, about which I should write one day), ended in a draw.

93. 20 February: Confucius say: Irina be great writer

In, there was a discussion about a new world simul record, at 1004 games, set by the Chinese player Ye Jiangchun. Ye won 912 games, lost 16, and drew 76. When one poster assumed Ye was a woman, Irina Krush replied:

ye be he

92. 18 February: Educational drive

Driving back from a chess day, my friend the Russian-born grandmaster told me two jokes:

1980, a batallion of Russian soldiers leaves for Kabul, Afghanistan. The major says: "Men, for every cut off Afghan head, you will be paid ten rubles." The plane lands, soldier Ivan goes into town, comes back, proudly showing a big sack. "Got twelve heads!"
    Major: "You stupid idiot, this is a stopover, we're in Tashkent!"

Old woman goes to doctor: "Doctor, I'm getting so deaf, I can't hear my own farts anymore."
    Doctor: "Here, babuschka, take these pills."
    Woman: "Will they make me hear better?"
    Doctor: "No, they will make you fart louder!"

91. 14 February: Ernst Grünfeld and Holland's Myanmar days

A reader, Yakov Zusmanovich, pointed out the curious fact to me that there have been two prominent Ernst Grünfelds in chess; Ernst Grünfeld, the Austrian grandmaster (1893 - 1962) and the Hungarian-Swiss International Master Ernö Gereben (1907 - 1988) who was also born as Ernst Grünfeld, but changed his name in 1935. They played each other a few times (never as Grünfeld vs. Grünfeld, though), always drawing, the last time in the Hoogovens Tournament, Beverwijk 1961.
    At 67, that was Grünfeld's last tournament, and he died a year later. His playing at Beverwijk was part of a shameful period in Dutch chess. When I laugh about the Myanmar ratings scam, I should not forget that in the early sixties, something vaguely like this was happening in Holland. In those pre-rating years, title norms were defined by the number of GMs and IMs playing in a tournament, regardless of their actual playing strength. And therefore, to create new Dutch title holders, the organizers of our two annual tournaments in those years, Hoogovens (Beverwijk) and IBM (Amsterdam), hunted the Homes of the Aged all around Europe for, as they say in boxing, warmed-up corpses.
    Apart from Grünfeld, our tournaments starred Ossip Bernstein (78), Hans Johner (73), Hans Müller (70), Georg Kieninger (63) and Fritz Sämisch (66), not to mention senior citizens like Enevoldsen, Pirc, Dunkelblum and Rellstab. I know about Korchnoi, Lasker, Smyslov, but these masters were invited because they were supposed to be weak.
    The practice was stopped when first, the 'passive' grandmaster title was invented and, shortly after, ratings started to decide matters.

Donner - Grünfeld, Beverwijk 1961, first round
1.c4 Nf6 2.d4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Bg5 h6 5.Bh4 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Qe7 7.f3 d6 8.e4 e5 9.Bf2 Nc6 10.Ne2 b6 11.Ng3 O-O 12.Bd3 Na5 13.O-O c5 14.dxc5 dxc5 15.Nf5 Bxf5 16.exf5 Rad8 17.Qe2 Rd6 18.Be3 Rfd8 19.Bc2 Qb7 20.f4 Re8 21.fxe5 Rxe5 22.Qf3 Qxf3 23.Rxf3 Re8 24.Bf4 Rdd8 25.Bd3 Nc6 26.Bf1 Re4 27.g3 Ne5 28.Re3
(see diagram) 28...Rxe3 29.Bxe3 Nf3+ 30.Kg2 Nxh2 31.Bf4 Nxf1 32.Rxf1 Re8 33.Kf3 Re4 and White resigned.

90. 6 February: The thrilling game of soccer

Sorting out a stack of old unmarked video tapes, and doing some random checks to see what was on them, I saw a soccer commentator say: "Well, let's hope this match is going to be a real soccer game, and not some chess game."
    That was not something new - in the last decade, I've heard at least a dozen Dutch soccer experts refer to chess as the epitome of boringness. I'm just wondering: is this a stereotype that is special to the Dutch soccer world - or are there other specialized worlds in which chess stands for boredom?

89. 20 January: Friends

If it is true that chess unites all men, the story of Eric(h) Zepler (portrait on the right) and Ado Kraemer is an extraordinary example. They were both Germans, both born in 1898, they both became University Professors (Zepler in electronics, Kraemer in agrarian economy), and they were both genius problem composers, working together from the twenties. In 1951 they collected their best work in the classic Im Banne des Schachproblems; in the Introduction they stress their "being joined by close personal bonds."
    Zepler was a Jew, Kraemer became an SA-Mann in the thirties, which did not keep him from visiting, in his brown shirt, Zepler to create problems. (PS 24 August 2004: Anders Thulin notes that in Die Schwalbe of July 1937, it is stated that Kraemer was an SS-Obersturmführer. "If that is correct -- SS! --," Thulin says, "it seems to make his cooperation with Zepler at the time even more remarkable.")
    In 1935 Zepler fled to England, leaving behind all his possessions and the h in his first name. He worked for the British Army; his discoveries in radio electronics were used in bombers of both the Royal Air Force and the Luftwaffe. In 1949, at the University of Southampton, he became one of the world's first professors of electronics. The faculty where he lectured is still housed in the Zepler Building.
    After the war, Kraemer ended up in an internment camp from which he was released early, partly thanks to Zepler's pleas. In Dutch problemist's circles, there is a story that Kraemer, shortly after the war, sent a problem to Probleemblad with the request to receive a possible prize in potatoes. His problem was rejected. But by that time, Zepler and Kraemer were already composing beautiful problems together again.
    For a post-war example, see item 66. Here is a pre-war one.

Mate in 4
A. Kraemer and E. Zepler
1st Prize, Neue Leipziger Zeitung, 1933

If it were Black's move, White would easily mate in time. The black Rook is on a focal square; any move by it allows either Nc1 mate or Nb4 mate, and 1...Rg4+ 2.Kh8 leaves Black the choice between 2...Rc4 3.f8- and mate, or 2...Rg8+ 3.fxg8Q mate.
    But White has no waiting move; he is in Zugzwang. Any move either disturbs the mating net, or robs him of hiding squares for his King, e.g. 1.h8Q Rg4+ 2.Kf8 Rc4 3.Qc3 Rc8+ and White is too late. Only with the unlikely 1.h8N, White reaches his goal. This "remote Knight-promotion" was one of the friends' favorite themes. Now White is in time; 1...Rg4+ 2.Ng6 Rxg6+ (Rc4 3.Ngf4! and mate) 3.Kf8 and now 4.Nc1, Nb4 or fxg8Q mate

Kraemer died in 1972, Zepler in 1980.

PS 30 January, 26 February: Gerard Bouma drew my attention to two problems in which the maximum distance in this kind of Knight promotion was achieved, each with different motivations.

Mate in 3
Sam Loyd
2nd Prize, Paris Tourney, 1867

1.bxa8N! Ra6 2.Nb6! and 3.Qxh6 or Qa1 mate.

Loyd was not abashed by his capturing key: "The Knight promotion attacks nothing, and seems entirely out of play; the move, therefore, is both pleasing and difficult."

Mate in 4
T. Siers and H. Wittwer
British Chess Federation, 1935/36

Black is stalemate except for his Knight, but this Knight is a nasty defender. After Rook moves, it has just enough checks, e.g. 1.Rc8 Nc5+ 2.Kb5 Nb3 And after 1.a8Q Nc5+ White must obstruct the b-line, allow another check (2.Ka5 Nb7+ 3.Ka4 Nc5+) or discover, after 2.Ka7 Nb7!, that he has no waiting move. Therefore: 1.a8N! Nc5+ 2.Ka7 Nb7(!) (Nb3 3.Rb4 and mate next move) 3.Nc7! and 4.Rb1 mate.

88. 16 January: Kasparov makes same mistake twice and lives

Went to round 3 of the Corus Tournament today, the strongest tournament ever played. Tournament director Jeroen van den Berg told me that after the FIDE January rating list, he still has the world's top nine: Kasparov, Anand, Kramnik, Adams, Leko, Morozevich, Shirov, Topalov and Ivanchuk. They've shuffled some places since he contracted them, but they're still the best nine. (Gelfand was number 10 in July and is number 10 now.)
    It was a good day to go.
    First, there was the unusual long-distance epaulette mate in Van Wely - Morozevich (see diagram). After 21...Rg8+ it was mate next move; White resigned.

Jan Timman was not unlucky in an interesting game against Topalov. (See diagram) With 28.Re1, Timman had to sacrifice a piece (certainly not 28.Bg5 or Bg3 Nxh3+) Kxh6 29.Bg3 and the Nf4 is doubly pinned; one of Timman's favorite themes as an endgame composer. 29...g5 30.h4 Re8 31.e7 Be4 32.hxg5+ Kxg5 33.Kh1 Rxe7 34.f3 Re6 35.Bh2 Rh6 36.fxe4 Kg6? With Rxh2+ 37.Kxh2 Qd6 Black gets winning chances. 37.g3 Nh5 38.exf5+ and Black resigned; he loses a Rook.

In the postmortem with Anand, Kasparov seemed in a very good mood. Small wonder: to make the same mistake twice in a row against Anand and get away with a draw isn't bad.
Kasparov - Anand, Corus 2001, round 3
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Bc5 6.c3 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.a4 Bg4 9.h3 Bxf3 10.Qxf3 O-O 11.a5 Rb8 12.d3 Nd7 13.Be3 Kh8 14.Nd2 Ne7 15.Bc2 Bxe3 16.fxe3 c5 17.Bb3 c4 18.dxc4 Nc5 19.cxb5 Nxb3 20.Nxb3 Rxb5 21.Qd1 Qc7 22.Ra4 Nc6 23.Nd2 Nxa5 24.b4 Nb7 25.Qc2 h6 26.Qd3 Rb6 27.Rfa1 Rc6 28.R1a3 a5 (see diagram) White might have a minimal advantage here, but with 29.Kh2, stepping into the shadow of Qc7, he allowed 29...d5 And with 30.Qb5 (30.Qxd5 Rd8 31.Qa2 Rxc3) he allowed 30...d4, based on the same little trick. 31.bxa5 dxc3 32.Nb3 Nc5 33.Rc4 Rb8 34.Qxc6 I was amazed at how self-evident it was to both players during the post mortem, and later to Anand when he explained this game to the press, that this forced Queen sacrifice secures the draw. 34...Qxc6 35.Nxc5 Qb5 36.Rcxc3 Qe2 37.Nd7 Rb2 draw agreed; White has a perpetual.

In Shirov - Fedorov, it was admirable how Black got away with a draw from this position: (see diagram). 33...Qf4+ 34.Kb1 Bxc2+ 35.Kxc2 axb3+ 36.Kc3 Raxe8 37.Rxe8 Qxf3+ 38.Kb4 Qf4+ 39.Kxb3 Qf3+ 40.Kb4 c5+ 41.Kb5 Qd3+ 42.Kb6 Qb1+ 43.Kc6 White's problem is that 43.Kc7 Qh7! is a draw. 43...Qh1+ 44.Kc7 Qh2+ draw.

87. 13 January: timmy

In a thread in, I saw this totally off-topic post by Samantha C:

"hello peoples my name is timmy and I am the best chess player ever"

RSHaas answered:

"Quickly... let's see if we can arrange a 4 way multi-round robin involving Anand, Kasparov, Kramnik, and timmy."

86. 6 January: The handicap of sight (Amsterdam Random Chess)

How do we know Neanderthal Man played blindfold chess? In excavations of their sites, no chessboards and pieces have been found.
    There is an element of truth in this old joke. If you think chess with sight of the board is easier than blindfold chess, try what Amsterdam players around Lodewijk Prins seem to have done occasionally half a century ago.
    The pieces would be distributed over the first two ranks randomly, as in the diagram. They kept the functions defined by their starting squares - the game was the normal game of chess, only with unusual pieces. I don't know if they sometimes went so far as to mix the pieces of both colors, but even without that, it will be clear that in this type of chess, it is easier not to look at the board at all, and to play blindfold.
    There are some illustrious players who apparently think that in regular chess too, the pieces sometimes stand in the way of the thoughts; Shirov and Ivanchuk have a habit of staring into space for minutes, instead of looking at the board. Logical; the mental pieces are often on different squares than their wooden counterparts.

How sight can be a handicap in chess, is nicely illustrated in Tal - Rossetto, Interzonal Tournament, Amsterdam 1964 (see diagram), an example I found in Psychology in Chess by Nikolai Krogius. White is in check. He had counted on 25.f4, because on 25...e5 he could play 26.Bxc6+ Kxc6 27.Rxe5 Rxf4 28.gxf4 Bxf4+ 29.Rg5?! Bxg5+ 30.hxg5 and White remains a piece up. However, 29.Rg5 is illegal, as the Bishop isn't on h6 anymore, but on f4. Tal still seeing it on h6 must have been caused by its being there on the board. That wouldn't have happened to him in blindfold chess. Now, he had to settle for 25.Bd2, and the game ended in a draw.
    Rereading Vladimir Nabokov's The Defence (1930), I found that he knew enough about chess to be aware of the handicap of sight. Luzhin, the hero, likes blindfold chess:

He found therein deep enjoyment: one did not have to deal with visible, audible, palpable pieces whose quaint shape and wooden materiality always disturbed him and always seemed to him but the crude, mortal shell of the exquisite, invisible chess forces. When playing blind he was able to sense these diverse forces in their original purity.

85. 1 January 2001: Grotesques of the millennium - a contest

Browsing Harold van der Heijden's new CD-ROM Endgame Study Database 2000 (sold at DM 99,90 by ChessBase and containing 58796 endgame studies; some 75 % of all the studies ever made), I chanced upon the diagram below.
    The composer, Erik Pogosyants (1935-1990), is known for his enormous output (studies and problems together he may have come near Dawson's 6500; see item 81 below) and for the elegance of most of his work. But I burst out laughing when I looked at the study in case.
    Its wonderful ugliness made me realize that in chess composition, the class of the grotesque is not generally recognized. But I like them, and I would like to propose a little contest to choose the grotesque of the millennium. Use your own definition of what a grotesque might be; the only requirement is that it must in some way be an insult to good taste.
    Nominations (more than 1 allowed; PGN only) are eagerly awaited .
    This, then, might have been my own nomination.
White to play and win
E. Pogosyants
1st Prize, Buletin Problemistic 1980
The initial position hurts the eyes, as it should in a good grotesque. The boisterousness and loudness of the solution are other helpful elements.
    Black is a piece vs. 5 pawns down, but he threatens Ng4+ and Bg3+ Attempts like 1.Rxf6 Bg3+ 2.Kxg3 Qg5+ or 1.Qxf6+ Bxf6 2.Rxh3 (2.Rh7+ Qxh7 3.gxh7 Bxe5+) 2...Bxe5+ 3.Kg1 Qxh3 or 1.Qh7+ Nxh7 2.Rxh7+ Qxh7 3.gxh7 Rxb8 do not work, so we play: 1.g7+ Kh7 2.exf6 (2.Rxf6 Bg3+) 2...Bg3+ 3.Rxg3 hxg2+ 4.Rh3 (After 4.Kxg2 it's a draw: Qd2+ 5.Kh3 Qh6+ etc.) 4...g1Q+ 5.Kxg1 Qxh3 Now Black is constantly threatening mate, so White must keep giving checks. 6.Qxg8+ Kg6 Obviously not Kxg8 7.Rc8+ etc. 7.Qh7+! Kxh7 And not 7...Qxh7 8.g8Q+ Qxg8 9. Rg7+ And now, with a hilarious repeating double-checking sacrifice of promoting Queens: 8.g8Q++ Kxg8 9.f7+ Kg7 (9...Kf8 10.e7+ hastens things) 10.f8Q++ Kxf8 11.e7+ Kf7 Or 11...Ke8 12.d7+ etc. 12.e8Q++ Kxe8 13.d7+ Qxd7 The only reasonable try. 14.Nxd7 Kd8 Like in that Kramnik - Kasparov matchgame, White, with Rook, Knight and pawn vs. Rook, must be extremely careful to hold on to the win. 15.Ra7 And not 15.Nf6 Re1+ 16.Kf2 Kxc7 17.Kxe1 Kd6 18. Kd2 Ke5 19.Kc3 Kxf6 20.Kc4 Ke7 21.Kc5 Kd7 and Black draws 15...Re7 16.d6 Rxd7 (16...Re6 17.Nc5 Rxd6 18.Nb7+) and now, as if a pompous, idiotic, oversized brass band were suddenly playing chamber music, a sweet little mate: 17.Ra8 mate (see diagram).

PS 7 January: Two readers utterly demolished this contraption.
    Ariel Mazzarelli pointed out that if Black deviates with 11...Kg8!, he wins.
    Even worse, Rik van der Heiden showed that with the simple 1.exf6, White does win; 1...Bg3+ 2.Rxg3 hxg2+ 3.Rh3 g1Q+ 4.Kxg1 Rg4+ 5.Kf2 Rf4+ 6.Ke1 Re4+ 7.Kd1 Rd4+ 8.Kc2 Rd2+ 9.Kc1 and Black is at the end of his checks, and will soon be mated.
    Had I seen that, I wouldn't have nominated it; even grotesques have to be correct.

PS 13 January: I'm turning a deep beet-red over this wonderful piece of junk. It's just as bad as a game! When Rik van der Heiden really got going, he found a few more demolitions, some of which were also seen by another reader, Harish Kini.
    Instead of 7.Qh7+, which comes close to losing (see next remark), White can simply win with 7.Qf7+, or even Qe8+. There follows: 7...Kf5 8.Qg6+! Kxg6 9.g8Q+ Kf5 10.Qh7+ and White wins.
    Kini also points out that instead of 11.e7+, which loses to Mazzerelli's Kg8!, White may still have a chance to draw in 11.Nd7+ Kg7 12.Nc5+ - I don't see how Black can win after Kg6 13.Nxe4 Qg4+ 14.Kf2 Qxe4 15.Rf7 etc.
    Then, Van der Heiden's 14.Rxd7 does win: 14...Rb4 15.Rd8+! or 14...Re1+ 15.Kf2 Rb1 16.Rh7 Rd1 17.Nd7 and White has finally saved his pawn.
    But the most amazing thing is that even one move before the mate, as both Van der Heiden and Kini pointed out, Black can draw; after 16...Rf7! White has nothing against Ke8, e.g.: 17.Rb7 Ke8 18.Nc5 Rxb7 19.Nxb7 Kd7 20.Kf2 Kc6 and Black draws.
    If this can't be the Grotesque of the Millennium, it can least be a candidate for Worst Study Ever to Win a First Prize.

84. 22 December: Dutch celebration

2001 will be the centennial year of a great Dutchman: Max Euwe, who was born 20 May 1901. Guess what: one of the highlights of this Euwe year will be that in August, the Max Euwe Center, a library, museum, research center and meeting place for chessplayers, will be kicked out of their home at, guess where, the Max Euweplein, a beautiful little square in Amsterdam. (Take the main exit of the Vondelpark, cross the Donner Bridge, and you're there.) The rent has been raised 250 %, and the Center's benefactors cannot come up with this.

83. 16 December: Cheerio

A toast to the dark right hand corner square mafia.

Compare items 51 and 30 in this Diary.
(And thanks to Roman Parparov for sending me this picture)

82. 9 December: Salo Landau

There was a thread recently in about the fate of the Dutch chessmaster Salo Landau who died in the war. What I know about him, I know from an article by Hans Ree in 1995 in Schakend Nederland, a communication by Adri Plomp, and mostly from a book Partij verloren... (1947; something like 'Lost games...'), about Dutch chess players who did not survive the war - most of them Jews who were victims of the holocaust.
    Landau was born 1 April 1903 in Bochnia, Poland. In 1914, the Landau family fled the Russians to Vienna; not much later young Salo was sent to friends in Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Later, the family followed. In 1919 Salo was sent to Antwerp to learn the diamond trade. His chess career seems to have started there. In 1922 he went back to his family in Rotterdam; he soon became a top player in Holland, and a full-time chess professional. For some years, he was the Dutch number two; in 1936 he was national champion when Euwe, then world champion, did not defend his title.
    For years, Landau wrote for the Dutch Tijdschrift. In August, 1941 when anti-Jewish measures came into effect, his name disappeared from its columns, although for a while his articles continued to appear under the name of Nieukerke, a fellow editor who lent him his name. (The first article by 'Nieukerke' was about the English Opening - this may have been a typical wartime joke. Somewhere in 1942 a chessclub 'Landau' had to change its name. That it chose De Oppositie for a new name must also have been a wry joke that went unnoticed or, in any case, unpunished.)
    In September 1942, Landau tried to escape to Switzerland with his wife. They sent their young daughter into hiding, and contacted a people-smuggling operation. But they were betrayed or it simply went wrong; on 28 September Landau and his wife were arrested when leaving the railway station in Breda in the south of Holland. In November, he was deported to a forced labour camp in Gräditz, then in Germany, now again in Poland; his wife was sent to the Dutch Durchgangslager Westerbork, where she was later joined by their daughter whose hiding place had been betrayed.
    Salo Landau died somewhere between October 1943 and March 1944, probably in the Gräditz camp; 31 March 1944 being his official dying date means that that is the last day any witness saw him alive. His wife and daughter were sent to Auschwitz where they were gassed on 12 October 1944.

81. 7 December: Missing Rook

Retrograde analysis in its simplest form. In this position, by T.R. Dawson (The Chess Amateur, 1927), it is Black's move. The stipulation is: Indicate a move Black must have played.
    Dawson (1889 - 1951) was the king of Fairy Chess. In 1935 he wrote: "Having composed some 4,000 odd, and often very odd, chess problems in the last thirty years..." At the time of his death, his output was over 6,500, which probably makes him the most prolific composer of all time.
    The solution is not very difficult, so I'll just give it here. It's a matter of parity. Obviously, it can only be Black's move if White and Black have not both made an even or an odd number of moves. As Black has made an even number (whether his Knights have changed places or not), White must have made an odd number of moves. This can only be explained by the missing Rook having made an odd number of moves, the last of which must have been Rh1-g1. That Rook has been captured there, by a black Knight which came from (and must have gone back over) h3, so there are two answers: Nh3xg1, and Ng1-h3.
    I found this, and the stipulation, at the Retrograde Analysis Corner. I wondered if a stipulation with only one solution, "find a move White must have played" (Rh1-g1) would not have made that solution even easier. Then, looking it up in the source, I discovered that Dawson's original stipulation had been: "Point out 18 squares that Black MUST have occupied." Solution: the 16 he occupies now, plus h3 and g1.

© Tim Krabbé, 2000, 2001

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