Sunday, December 9, 2007

The wandering king 1

Games where one side's king makes a successful mid-game journey into enemy territory are rare but always fascinating. Perhaps the most well-known example is the offhand encounter between Carl Hamppe and Philipp Meitner at Vienna in 1872, which featured a cascade of sacrifices ending in perpetual check. In more recent times Nigel Short (as White against Jan Timman at Tilburg 1991) marched his king to g5 with a board full of pieces and set up an unstoppable threat of Kh6 followed by mate to the Black monarch.

The following game is remarkable not only because of the White king's incursion into no-man's land through the crossfire of enemy pieces, but also because of the identities of the combatants. Viktor Korchnoi had defeated Boris Shashin in their only previous encounter but on this occasion it was the little-known master who triumphed over his more famous opponent.

Shashin B – Korchnoi V
Leningrad (ch) 1973
Nimzo-Indian Defence E57

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 0–0 5.Bd3 c5 6.Nf3 d5 7.0–0 Nc6 8.a3 cxd4 9.exd4 Bxc3 10.bxc3 dxc4 11.Bxc4 Qa5 12.Bb2 e5 13.Re1 Bg4!?
Korchnoi has already given up one minor exchange and now decides to give up the other one. This leaves him with two knights against two bishops and some defensive obligations. Another way of handling the position was 13...e4 14.Nd2 Bf5.
14.h3 Bxf3 15.Qxf3 Rad8 16.Ba2
In Informant 15 Korchnoi gave the variation 16.Rad1 Rd6 17.d5 e4 18.Qg3 Rfd8 19.Ba2 Nxd5 20.Bxd5 Rxd5 21.c4 Rg5 as better for Black, but here 22.Qf4! Rg6 23.Rxd8+ Qxd8 24.Rxe4 looks quite equal.
Black could avoid complications with 16...exd4 17.cxd4 Nxd4 18.Bxd4 Rxd4 19.Re7 Rd2! 20.Bb3 (otherwise 20...Qc3 follows) 20...Rd7 21.Rxd7 Nxd7 22.Qxb7 Nc5 23.Qf3 Nxb3 24.Qxb3 and the draw is just around the corner.
17.Re2 Rfd8
Now 17...exd4 18.cxd4 Nxd4 19.Bxd4 Rxd4 20.Qxb7 Rd7 leaves White with a slight edge after 21.Qb3.
18.Rae1 exd4 19.cxd4 Qb6 20.Qc3 Nxd4 21.Re7 Rxe7?!
In playing this move Korchnoi appears to have seen much of the play that follows. He has either decided that it is not dangerous for him, or that he will likely outclass his somewhat weaker opponent. The alternative defence 21...Kf8 22.Rxd7 Rxd7 23.Qc8+ Rd8 24.Qc4 Ne6 25.Bxf6 gxf6 26.Rb1 Qc6 27.Qb4+ Kg7 28.Bxe6 Qxe6 29.Qxb7 does not leave either side much to play for.
22.Rxe7 Nf5!
There is no turning back. Both 22...Ne6 23.Qb3! and 22...Qd6 23.Qe1! are better for White.
23.Rxf7 Rd1+ 24.Kh2 (first diagram) 24...Qd6+?
Analysis shows this to be a mistake, but it was very difficult to see this in advance. Instead Black can practically force a draw by repetition with 24...Ng4+! 25.hxg4 Qd6+ 26.Qg3! (certainly not 26.g3? Qh6+ and mates) 26...Nxg3 27.Rd7+ Kf8 28.Bxg7+ Ke8 29.Rxd6 Nf1+ 30.Kg1 (simpler than the overly ambitious 30.Kh3 Rxd6 31.g5 Rd2 32.Bg8 Rxf2 33.Bxh7 Ra2 34.g6 Rxa3+ 35.Kh4 Ra4+ 36.Kg5 Ne3 37.Be5 Rg4+ 38.Kh5 Rxg2 39.g7 Kf7 40.g8Q+ Rxg8 41.Bxg8+ Kxg8 42.Bd4 Nc4 43.Bxa7 and White must still show that he knows how to draw) 30...Nd2+ 31.Kh2 Nf1+, etc.
25.g3 Ng4+ 26.Kg2 Nh4+!
Not 26...Nge3+? 27.Kf3! Nd4+ 28.Ke4! (stronger than 28.Qxd4 Rxd4 29.Rd7+ Kf8 30.Rxd6 Rxd6 31.Kxe3 but White is clearly better here) 28...Nd5 29.Bxd5 Qxd5+ 30.Kxd5 Nb5+ 31.Ke6 Nxc3 32.Bxc3 with a winning position for White.
27.gxh4 Qh2+ 28.Kf3 Qxf2+ 29.Ke4! (second diagram)
Quite wrong, or course, is 29.Kxg4?? Rg1+ 30.Kh5 g6+ 31.Kh6 Qxh4 mate.
The only try was 29...Re1+ 30.Kd5 and now:
a) 30...Qxf7+ 31.Kd6 Rd1+ 32.Kc5 b6+ 33.Kb4 a5+ 34.Ka4 b5+ 35.Kxa5 and White wins (analysis by Korchnoi);
b) 30...Ne3+ 31.Kd6 Nc4+ 32.Qxc4 Qb6+ (32...Rd1+ 33.Kc7 [or 33.Ke7 Qe2+ 34.Qe6] 33...Qb6+ 34.Kb8 Rd8+ 35.Qc8 Qd6+ [or 35...Rxc8+ 36.Kxc8 Qxb2 37.Rf2+ Qxa2 38.Rxa2 and wins] 36.Rc7+ Kf8 37.Bxg7+ Ke8 38.Bf7 mate) 33.Kd7 Rd1+ 34.Bd4 Rxd4+ 35.Qxd4 Qxd4+ 36.Kc8! (third diagram) and Black cannot prevent mate without giving up his queen (analysis by Korchnoi).
c) 30...Rd1+! 31.Kc4 Kxf7 32.hxg4 Ke8 33.Qe5+ Kd8 and Black has avoided immediate disaster although his long-term outlook is still bleak.
30.Kf4 Rf1+ 31.Kg5 h6+ 32.Kg6 Ne5+ 33.Qxe5 Rg1+ 34.Qg5 Qxb2
If Black plays differently he loses differently, as follows: 34...Rxg5+ 35.hxg5 Qe8 36.gxh6 gxh6 37.Kxh6 Qf8+ 38.Rg7+ Kh8 39.Be5 b5 40.Bf7 a5 41.Kg6 and White wins.
35.Rxg7+ 1–0

This victory must have been a high point in Boris Shashin's relatively modest chess career.


Exclam! online said...

Here's another wandering king.

Mundwiler,L (2003) - Liu,W (1919) [D13]
2007 October TNT University of Winnipeg (4), 23.10.2007

1.c4 c6 2.Nc3 d5 3.cxd5 cxd5 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 e6 6.Bf4 Bd6 7.Bg5 Be7 8.e3 0-0 9.Bd3 h6 10.Bh4 b6 11.Qe2 Nc6 12.Rc1 Nb4 13.Bb1 Ba6 14.Qd1 Rc8 15.Ne5 Ne4 16.Bxe7 Qxe7 17.a3 Nc6 18.Nxc6 Rxc6 19.Bxe4 dxe4 20.Nd5 Qd7 21.Ne7+ Qxe7 22.Rxc6 Qg5 23.Rg1 Qa5+ 24.Qd2 Qh5 25.h3 Qd5 26.Rc1 Qd6 27.f4 Qe7 28.g3 f6 29.Qb4 Qf7 30.Qd6 Re8 31.g4 e5 32.Rc7 Qb3 33.Kf2 Qxb2+ 34.Kg3 Qe2 35.Kh4 Qf2+ 36.Kh5 Bb5 37.Kg6 1-0

It should be noted that 35. Qd7! leads to an inevitable mate that is quicker and arguably more elegant.

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Borislav Kaguvkov

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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.