Friday, January 12, 2007

The kibitzer

About ten years ago I was playing some 5-minute blitz chess on one of the free servers -- I think it was Chess.Net -- and in one of those games I ended up with this position as White. I think I had around a minute left on my clock. My opponent had just banged out the move 1...Qf5-f3! (well, it felt like he banged it out... that's what an OTB opponent would have done...)

What to do, what to do? Mate is threatened, as well as the rook. 2.Qxh7+ perhaps? Followed by a knight fork? No good -- he just takes the knight and I'm in the same leaky boat. No time left to even think about resigning... down went my flag and the game was over.

In those days, and on that server, there was no automatic game saving function. The moves were sent to my inbox via email. I got them on screen and started entering them into ChessBase with the analysis module running.

I got to the final position, entered my name, my opponent's name, and the venue, and just before clicking the Save tab, I happened to glance at the evaluation window. +11.69! Pardon? For a moment I was transported back to one of those post-mortems at the chess club, trying in vain to stop a kibitzer from reaching in, moving a man, and saying, "Why not this?" So annoying.

Back to the current position. Someone's winning all right, but from where I'm sitting, it can't be White! What's the killer move, Mr. Bucket of Bolts? Oh. That.

I'm rambling on here in order to put some space between the position and the key move. You see, I'd like you to find White's defensive shot for yourself.

I've shown this position to a dozen or so players of all categories and asked for an assessment. No one has spotted the winning defence.
Enough already. Take another look at the diagram, and try the move 2.Qg7+!

Simple chess. White breaks the pin on the g-pawn by force and captures Black's queen, winning easily. There are two variations: 2...Kxg7 3.gxf3; and 2...Rxg7 3.Rd8+ Rg8 4.Rxg8+ Kxg8 5.gxf3.

Computers are NOT killing chess! They're killing BAD chess!

1 comment:

Jonathan Berry said...

Helped no doubt by the existence of a quiz using the same motif (though your example is purer), I got it in about 5 seconds. "Give a fish a cheapo, and he'll dine out for a lifetime."

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Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada
National master (Canada) since 1984. B.C. Champion 1977 and 1984. Runner-up 1991 and 2002. B.C. Open Champion 1972 and 1982. B.C. U/14 Champion 1964-65-66. Mikhail Botvinnik once wrote that publishing your analytical work forces you to be accurate because it exposes you to criticism. Hence this blog.