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Veselin Topalov vs Anatoly Karpov
Hoogovens (1998), Wijk aan Zee NED, rd 9, Jan-26
Queen's Gambit Declined: Charousek (Petrosian) Variation (D31)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
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Jun-22-11  LIFE Master AJ: Sometimes I just plain forget ...

I just got a text message from a former student, he is in a summer program at the University of Illinois.

Wants to know the whole combo.

Topalov,Veselin (2740) - Karpov,Anatoly (2735) [D31]
Hoogovens Wijk aan Zee (9), 26.01.1998

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50.Rh8+ Bxh8 51.Rxh8+ Kxh8 52.Qh2+ Kg7 53.Qh7#. 1-0

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Or Black could go for: 50.Rh8+ Bxh8 51.Rxh8+ Kxh8 52.Qh2+ Kg8 53.Qh7# 1-0

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Or Black could bail out like this: 50.Rh8+ Bxh8 51.Rxh8+ Kxh8 52.Qh2+ Qh6 53.Qxh6+ Kg8 54.Qh7+ Kf8 55.Qf7# 1-0

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Jun-22-11  LIFE Master AJ: Pattern for today:


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White plays 1.Qe6#.

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This is the mate of the Topalov - Karpov game, but I have taken the liberty of removing non-essential components, so that you can see the pattern at work.

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The pattern has been turned 90 degrees, but remains essentially the same. (If you remove the White Pawn on e5 and instead put a Black Pawn on f6, you can see the pattern a little better. So for the sake of clarity - and to get your mind on the pattern - I have also swapped the Knight for a Bishop.)

click for larger view

This is one of the most common mates in chess ... and usually you will have one (or more) flight squares blocked by the defender's pieces, and sometimes the attacker's piece(s) will also cut off one of the flight squares; such as the e5-Pawn in Topalov - Karpov.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Patriot: <Once> Thanks for your input and another excellent post.

For sure, I agree that 52.Rxf8 is a mistake if that's the move white is currently on. It's still winning but that's where Lasker's advice really applies about finding a better move. Unless I'm mistaken, he was referring to the move you are on--not calculating the best future moves. For example, all you need to do is prove that 50.Rh8+ is winning or better than any other move (within a reasonable time). So if you're on move 50 and you know that 52.Rxf8 is "at least" winning, there's no need to find the much better 52.Qd7+ unless 52.Rxf8 could be a draw (or loss) as you pointed out. Finding 52.Qd7+ is what you should do after reaching the 52nd move. This is the main point of "OTB logic". It's about testing the critical variations to determine if the main candidate holds up and approximately how good it is when compared with other possible main candidates.

I agree that puzzle solving is different from the way we should think OTB and offers a way of exercising different areas in our thought process. There are benefits to finding the most accurate lines for puzzles. But like I said earlier, most of us use a hybrid of the two approaches.

Jun-22-11  AccDrag: <LifeMasterAJ> You are confusing the epaulette checkmate with the swallow's tail checkmate.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Colonel Mortimer: <Life Master AJ> It's all explained on

Jun-22-11  SimonWebbsTiger: @Col. Mortimer

hehehe. nice :o)

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: This place is getting more and more like a playground. Give it a rest, eh?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Bureaucrat: I guess many of you have seen the game that earned Magnus Carlsen the nickname "Mozart of chess". It ends with an epaulette mate:

Carlsen vs S Ernst, 2004

Nice game, I´d say :-).

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <patriot> Yes, but are we sure that 52. Rxf8 is winning? It gets queen for rook, but is that enough? I bear the scars of at least one game where that was not enough to win.

K+Q ought to win versus K+R, but throw some pawns on the board and the rook can build a fortress. Muller and Lamprecht show this position in Fundamental Chess Endings:

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This is drawn because the rook just shuttles between g3 and e3.

So the hypothetical situation which was worrying me first thing this morning was this - am I sure that I can win the position after 51...Kg7? Can black weasel out with a fortress draw?

If he can, then the whole line becomes suspect. After all, white starts the puzzle with a great position. With 50. Rh8+ he is sacrificing a fair amount of wood. If the best he can obtain from that is a draw then we would want to think again and look for something better.

That is why I didn't stop calculating at 52. Rxf8 and looked for something more decisive. 52. Rxf8 ought to be enough to win, but I wasn't sure.

Lasker's rule "when you see a good move, look for a better one" I think needs to apply to a series of moves when the first move in the sequence is a sacrifice. If 52. Rxf8 is the best that white has and if black gets drawing chances from it, then we may need to rethink the whole 50. Rh8+ line.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: To clear up this epaulette mate thing...

Wikipedia says this:

"Epaulette or epaulet mate is, in its broadest definition, a checkmate where two parallel retreat squares for a checked king are occupied by his own pieces, preventing his escape. The most common Epaulette mate involves the king on his back rank, trapped between two rooks."

The diagram given by wikipedia is this:

click for larger view

Then under swallowtail mate the mighty wikipedia says this:

"Swallow's tail mate also known as the Guéridon mate is a common method of checkmating. It works by attacking the enemy king with a queen that is protected by a rook. The enemy kings own rooks block its means of escape. It resembles the Epaulette mate."

click for larger view

However, some older sources don't make the same distinction. The Oxford Companion to Chess defines epaulet mate as: "a mate with two self blocks on the same file, rank or diagonal". It does not offer a definition for swallow tail mate.

It's another case of chess terminology being imprecise I'm afraid. In some books a swallow tail mate is a form of epaulette mate. In others its not. Even Wikipedia's first definition could be held to describe a swallowtail mate.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Colonel Mortimer: <To clear up this epaulette mate thing...>

Hardly - <AJ> got it wrong.

The difference between the Swallow Tail mate and the Epaulette explained in these 2 links:-

Jun-22-11  Kinghunt: 52. Rxf8 still wins, quite easily. (Fritz tells me it's a mate in 16.) The inferior side can only build a fortress when there's very little material on the board. In this case, white still has three pawns. Without doing any calculation, you can be sure that the advantage will be decisive, due to the pawns. (Plus, as it happens, after Rxf8 Kxf8, white's attack is still strong enough to win black's rook almost immediately, making it a moot point, but that requires calculation to see.)
Premium Chessgames Member
  ajile: Got it. Double rook sac.
The Knight on g5 is too good to move.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Patriot: <Once> I'm seldom 100% sure of anything. It's true that some queen vs. rook endings are draws or at least very difficult to win. I tend to trust that queen vs. rook is winning when the queen has more material on the board, including pawns. After 52.Rxf8 black still has quite a bit of material remaining so I think it's clearly winning. In your diagram, imagine if black had just one pawn that couldn't be taken right away. In most cases that would be enough to win. Also it would seem that most fortress draws are rare but I could be wrong.

<Lasker's rule "when you see a good move, look for a better one" I think needs to apply to a series of moves when the first move in the sequence is a sacrifice.>

I think there is a lot of truth in this. If the first move is a sacrifice or you are down materially, then it depends on how much of a material difference there is AND what kind of counter-play is present. The more material your opponent has, the more likely they can just return it which means you have to be more accurate.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <Colonel Mortimer> Sorry, but I don't agree. It's a topic that we have discussed many many times on this forum. There is no single agreed definition of many chess terms. The definitions change over time and are different from one country to the next.

The internet and the dominance of wikipedia are starting to become accepted as the definitive source for chess terms, as in so many things. But there remains plenty of disagreement. Is it the Spanish or the Ruy Lopez? What is the definition of a combination - does it have to include a sacrifice? And so on.

Even wikipedia has its inconsistencies. For example it says that the swallowtail mate has the queen supported by a rook. But for my money the queen could be supported by any other piece.

Much as I know you get some sort of odd kick out of proving AJ wrong whenever you can, in this case it is not so straightforward. Some of my older books classify the diagram that AJ showed as an epaulette mate and some do not. That at least gives room for doubt.

Premium Chessgames Member
  wals: A little help for those that need it.

Rybka 4 x 64

d 21 : 6 min :

1. (#5): 50...Bxh8 51.Rxh8+ Kxh8 52.Qh2+[] Qh6 53.Qxh6+[] Kg8 54.Qh7+ Kf8 55.Qf7#

2. (#1): 52...Kg7 53.Qh7#[]

3. (#1): 52...Kg8 53.Qh7#[]

Premium Chessgames Member
  Colonel Mortimer: <Much as I know you get some sort of odd kick out of proving AJ wrong whenever you can, in this case it is not so straightforward>

That's like me saying you love to defend him. Your argument barely holds water. The example of the Ruy is silly - it is both the Spanish and the Lopez.

The difference between the 2 mates is the blocking of the flight squares. The Epaulette as per the French, is blocking the flight squares horizontally not on the diagonal as in the swallow tail.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Colonel Mortimer: <Once:> Under the guise of explaining the difference between the 2 mates you rushed to the aid of <AJ> only to obfuscate the matter in an attempt to save face for <AJ>.

Disingenuously comical.

Jun-22-11  solskytz: AJ bashing belongs to the history of this website - and stays there.

I see absolutely no reason to revert to it.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Colonel Mortimer: I see no reason for you to preach scientology here either - that belongs to the history of failed sects.
Jun-22-11  solskytz: I'm certainly not going to start an argument with you. Nice try.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Colonel Mortimer: Laters
Jun-22-11  WhiteRook48: 50 Rh8+ Bxh8 51 Rxh8+ Kxh8 52 Qh2+
I only got it because I've seen it before
Jun-22-11  LIFE Master AJ: I have five bookcases full of books ...

I played my first tournament in 1966.

I am a USCF Original LIFE Master.

Did I get the mate wrong? Not hardly! (As for the "person" claiming that I got it wrong, I can only say that he is always critical of me, but here he is only showing his own ignorance.)

Epaulette mate is ANY mate where the King is restricted (equally) on either side by his own pieces, this is a definition that is OVER 100 years old ... (I could show you hundreds of actual mates that fit this definition.)

Basically, what is an epaulette? Originally, it is a decoration of rank. (Like the little two "brushes" that cartoon characters wear.) Normally, it signifies someone of the officer rank, and was origianlly worn on both shoulders of a military uniform.

This "kid's mate" only exists in this kids imagination ... (anyone can post an Internet page and claim something, to accept everything on the Internet at face value is a fool's errand) ... let's see this mate in a book before we all jump to conclusions.

At best, the mate described would simply be a sub-category of the epaulette mate, and this is the last that I will say on this subject.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Colonel Mortimer: <LIFE Master AJ:> <I have five bookcases full of books ... I played my first tournament in 1966.

I am a USCF Original LIFE Master.>

Totally irrelevant. You have shown yourself to be full of hot air as usual.

To suggest that Gueridon's mate does not exist is silly. The difference between the two mates is a question of flight squares. When the rooks are standing shoulder to shoulder (epaule in French) they block the flight squares either side of the king. In Gueridon's mate (Swallow Tail) the rooks (or any other piece) are standing behind the king on the diagonal flight squares.

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