Amazing finish

by admin on January 13, 2009

Hello! I’m back again from my trip to Washington, DC, for the math meeting. It was two weeks before Barack Obama’s inauguration, and the stores were already full of touristy souvenirs, so that one could pretend to have been present at this historic occasion even if one wasn’t. I seriously debated coming home with an Obama button or an overpriced Obama pen, and maybe I should have (in order to stimulate the economy, you know), but I finally decided not to. The button would just gather dust, and the pen would probably run dry in a week. Instead of filling me with happy thoughts about Obama, it would just remind me what a sucker I was for buying an overpriced and poorly made souvenir.

However, I did get to see a lot of friends again, as well as my mother and father (who live in Virginia), and I came home with some ideas for math articles. So the trip served its purpose, pen or no pen.

But now, let’s get back to chess.

On Sunday night I got together with some friends — Gjon Feinstein, Rich Flacco, and Dan Burkhard — who are all masters or strong experts. We went over some nice attacking games. Gjon showed us a game by Shirov where he smashes the Kan Sicilian (with the help of some dubious moves by his opponent). I showed them the game by Irina Krush that I annotated last month in this blog and plan to record a ChessLecture on later this week. Dan showed us a game between Gufeld and Tal in 1959, right when Tal was at his peak, in which Gufeld out-attacked the master of attack. It was quite a sensational game. Rich didn’t bring any games, but he told us that he once saw Gufeld at a tournament in Las Vegas, and said, “You’re Eduard Gufeld, aren’t you?” The inimitable Gufeld, probably sensing an autograph request coming up, said, “No, he is my brother.”

After this educational interlude, we played three games of team chess — seven minutes to a side, partners alternate moves, no talking between partners. This is often frustrating but always entertaining, as you end up playing openings that you would never choose, and you have to try to figure out not only what your opponents are doing but what your partner is trying to do! As a result, the play is usually pretty ragged, and sometimes downright schizophrenic.

So it was pretty amazing when our third game ended with a brilliant, and sound, queen sacrifice! Maybe it was all the beautiful attacks we had just seen that inspired Gjon and Rich to unprecedented heights.

I was paired with Dan in this game, which I felt to be a particularly awkward partnership because we have very different approaches to chess. Dan loves strategic chess and would much rather out-maneuver his opponent than out-tactic him. I’m pretty much the opposite. However, in this game I tried to play more or less in his style. And he played a little bit in my style! In the position shown below, Dan has just moved our knight from f6 to e4, an excellent move that shows he is not afraid of the tactics after Nxd5 or Nxe4. It’s now Gjon to move for the White team. After each move I’ll indicate who made it.

1. Qg4! (Gjon)

Of course, White does not want to trade queens. Not only that, he correctly sees that 1. Nxd5 Qxh4 2. Nxh4 Rc2 leads to no advantage for White, as Black’s rook on the seventh rank will win back the pawn.

1. … Qg5! (Dana)

White’s threat was 2. Nh6+ followed by 3. Nxf7+, so this move was forced. I am proud to say that I played it instantly.

2. Nxe4!! (Rich)

Although partners weren’t supposed to help each other, Dan asked, “What is going on here?” I said, “Apparently they’re playing a brilliancy.” It was clear from my tone of voice that I thought Rich had lost his mind, and Dan thought so too, so he immediately accepted the queen sacrifice. Instead, Black simply had to keep cool and decline the queen with 2. … de!, and there is no reason why he should be worse.

2. … Qxg4? (Dan) 3. Nh6+ (Gjon) Kh8 (Dana) 4. Nxf7+ (Rich) Kg8 (Dan) 5. Nh6+ (Gjon) Kh8? (Dan?)

You have to realize that it’s total chaos on the Black side of the board. We were playing in blitz mode, although there was no reason for it — I think we had at least a minute and a half left on the clock. So not only did we play a blunder, but we apparently lost track of whose turn to move it was! I think that Dan made two moves in a row. Anyway, whoever made this move failed to realize that the king now has a flight square on f7, so 5. … gh 6. Nf6+ Kf7 7. Nxg4 Rc2 is playable for Black. Not great, but playable.

6. Nf6?? (Rich)

Now Rich goes completely off the deep end! Perhaps Eduard Gufeld is whispering into his ear from beyond the grave. Now after the simple 6. … Qg6, Black remains a queen ahead with an easy win. But I didn’t even bother to look at what White’s threat was, and I played the outrageously bad move

6. … Qxe2??? (Dana)

and Gjon finished the game with

7. Nf7 mate!

I think that this is the first time in my life that I have ever been checkmated by two knights.

If Rich had played the simple and obvious 6. Nxg4 I think that the White team could feel justifiably proud of their combination. As for the way that the game really ended, I have a favorite saying that covers situations like this: “It’s only speed chess.”

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Chessperado January 13, 2009 at 8:15 pm



chesstiger January 14, 2009 at 1:38 am

Wooh, wonderfull game.


RaiulBaztepo March 28, 2009 at 3:18 pm

Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
See you!
Your, Raiul Baztepo


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