Abdel Irada: <<•>Nothing to sneeze at<•>
(Part 1 of 2)>
Examining this position, one is struck by the sense that Black must be lost thanks to the vulnerability of his king. But how to exploit it before the king runs off to safety on d8?
The first move is obvious:
<<•>18. Qh5†, Ke7>
Black's choices are limited: (a) 18. ...Ke6?; 19. Qxg4† loses a piece, while (b) 18. ...Kg8??; 19. Rh8# loses the king.
Here would have been the logical place to start the puzzle, for this move is not so obvious. At first glance, I thought White had to continue with 19. Bxg5, until calculations showed that this won only a pawn after the retreat 19. ...Kd8.
This move is counterintuitive because h8 is defended twice. This apparent strength, however, proves illusory. Black has two options:
<(1) 19. ...Qxh8?
20. Nd5†, Ke6>
Not 20. ...Kd8/Kf8; 21. Qxh8† .
<21. Nxc7†, Ke7
22. Nd5†, Ke6>
As before, 22. ...Kd8/Kf8 loses a queen. Meanwhile, White has won an important pawn, for reasons that will soon appear.
<23. Qxg4†, Kf7>
Fatal is 23. ...f5??; 22. Qxf5#.
<24. Qxd7†, Kf8>
Worse for Black is 24. ...Kg8; 25. Nxf6†, Kf8; 26. Qxd6†, Kf7; 27. Bxc6, bxc6; 28. Ng4, when White's material advantage and continuing attack are too much.
Still worse is 24. ...Kg6; 25. Qf5†, Kf7 (25. ...Kh5/Kh6?; 27. Rh1† ); 26. Qxf6†, Kg8 (26. ...Ke8; 27. Nc7† ); 27. Bxc6, bxc6 (relatively best); 28. Ne7†, Rxe7 (28. ...Kh7??; 29. Rh1#); 29. Qxe7, and White is a piece two pawns ahead with the attack.
<25. Qxd6† >
Even here, however, White's advantages are overwhelming, with this final time-gaining pawn capture made possible by the finesse on moves 21 and 22.
But what if Black prudently refuses the rook?
<<•> (2) 19. ...Rg8
With this move, White threatens to win a rook should the king retreat to the eighth rank. This leaves three alternatives:
<(2.1) 20. ...Rg7
21. Nd5†, Ke6>
Not 21. ...Kf7/Ke8/Kd8?; 22. Rxf8†, when White picks up the queen with check before retreating his own.
<22. Qf5†, Kf7
This is stronger than 24. Rxf8†, Kxf8, when White will have to retreat his queen to f3.
Other moves lose the queen immediately.
<25. Qf5†, Kf7
26. Rxf8†, Rxf8
27. Qxg4 >
With queen, two bishops and a continuing attack for a rook, White has a forthright win in prospect.
(Continued in next post.)