It’s only speed chess…

by admin on February 5, 2014

… But some speed chess games stick with you more than others. I just found out via Facebook that there’s a video on YouTube of a 5-minute game that Vinay Bhat played against Magnus Carlsen during the latter’s visit to the Bay Area on January 14. Check it out:

I especially like the way that the room (which had been party-like at the beginning, with lots of talking and other games going on) suddenly gets quiet about 5 minutes into the video.

Vinay gives some great commentary on the game in his blog, but the key moment is this position:

Position after 42. ... Be6? White to move.

FEN: 8/5pk1/2Ppb1p1/3r2r1/1R6/1P1BR3/4PK2/8 w – - 0 43

At this point, both Vinay and Magnus are down to half a minute (32 seconds for Vinay, 30 for Magnus), and Vinay writes, “I didn’t want to take a couple seconds to find a way forward.” So even though White has not one but two winning moves here, Vinay played the routine 43. Rc4? and resigned a few moves later (down on both time and on the board).

And with that, Vinay set himself up for a lifetime of “coulda woulda shoulda.” He’ll be telling his grandchildren, “Did I ever tell you about the time that I missed a winning move against a World Champion?” And they will roll their eyes and so, “Oh, no, grandfather! Please tell us again. Er, um, please tell us again for the first time!”

Did you find one of the winning moves? Vinay said that after the game, he found 43. Rb7 almost immediately, threatening 44. Rxe6. But he could have played the even more sensational 43. Rxe6! fe 44. Rb7+ followed by 45. b4. Easy-peasy. The Black rooks are no match for the connected passed pawns.

I had spoken with Vinay about a week before this game at the Bay Area International. He has been semi-retired from tournament chess. He plays in the U.S. Chess League but hasn’t played a “regular” tournament game since 2010. He’s not ruling out a comeback in the future, though. I have to think that this game against Magnus, even though it was just a casual game, might whet his appetite for more competition. I hope so!

If you’re interested, you can play through the game in the PGN viewer below. Actually this only goes up to move 46, the point where Vinay stops in his blog entry because he is busted. (The game actually went 11 more moves. I guess I could have figured them out from the video, but there’s not much point.)

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