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Jonathan Speelman vs Gyula Sax
Chess Olympiad (1988), Thessaloniki GRE, rd 12, Nov-26
English Opening: Symmetrical. Four Knights Variation (A35)  ·  1-0


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Given 4 times; par: 142 [what's this?]

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sac: 58.bxc6 PGN: download | view | print Help: general | java-troubleshooting

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Jul-11-08  Marmot PFL: This was tougher than I thought, 1st thought was Re7-e8 threatening Rh8, the problem is tis is not threatening mate so more work is needed. Re7 Kg6 Re8 Kh6 Rh8+ Kg6. Black is in zugzwang but how can white win? Setting up the position I found Ke4 Ra8 Kf3 Rb8 Kf4 Ra8 Bb7 Ra4+ Be4+, but would not find this from the starting position.
Premium Chessgames Member
  playground player: Difficult, but not impossible, once you realize that Black's men have nowhere to go. One also sees at once that the only man with any mobility is the White Rook; so the question becomes, where to move it? After it moves, Black still has nowhere to go and it will be White's turn to move the Rook again. Therefore we need to find TWO productive moves for the Rook: and the best two (starting with Re7, the only good choice) are those that land it in Black's back rank, threatening Black's now indefensible h-pawn.
Jul-11-08  Marmot PFL: Thanks for clarifying, I think is was the "1." preceding Bb7 that confused me.
Jul-11-08  tatarch: The 'zig-zag' ending is cute, but I feel like most players recognizing the stalemate threat would play the more straightforward 62.Bxe6 and 63.Ke4-- as others have pointed out.

LKor-- Note that 62.Ke4 would be an unfortunate blunder, as it allows the black king to reach f5.

Jul-11-08  Magic Castle: The question is what if black did not make the suicidal move 57. Nc6, and just shuttled the Rook from Ra8 to Rb8. How should white win? Consider that if bishop attacks the rook by Bb7, the black rook checks the white King by Ra4 and wins. Hence, the white King simply marches to b4 negating the rook check and only then attacks the Rook at a8 by Bb7. Take note that the black king cannot attack e5 because of Rxh4. Of course if black refuses to capture the bishop by Nxb7 by moving away his rook, white moves Be4# and black is mated.
Premium Chessgames Member
  johnlspouge: <<tatarch> wrote: The 'zig-zag' ending is cute, but I feel like most players recognizing the stalemate threat would play the more straightforward 62.Bxe6 and 63.Ke4-- as others have pointed out.>

Hi, <tatarch>. I was answering <JLDATE>'s question about the game continuation, which ended at 62.Ba6, not 62.Bxe6. The move 62.Ba6 indicates that "Most players" do not include Speelman, who presumably couples his desire to win with a desire to win artistically.

Jul-11-08  jovack: easiest friday i can remember
Premium Chessgames Member
  YouRang: I got it, but got kinda tripped up on a subtlety:

Observations: White has a bad bishop and black has a bad knight. However, black's king and and rook aren't so good either. The most mobile piece is the white rook.

With these considerations in mind, it started to smell like a zugzwang problem. The white rook has nothing better to do than head for e8, where it ties the black rook to the defense of the knight, and threatens to freeze up the black king.

So, after 54.Re7, black can only shuffle with either 54...Kg6 or 54...Ra8 (not Kh7 since it surrenders the h-pawn to 55.Kg5). Probably 54...Kg6 is better since it leaves the rook on a dark square where it can be defended by the knight at c6.

So, we continue 55.Re8 Kh6, and here I was a tiny bit inaccurate by going with the immediate 56.Rh8+ Kg6 57.Ke4.

Here, I figured that black had to play 57...Ra8 (diagram:white to move)

click for larger view

Now what? 58.Bb7 loses to 58...Ra4+. For a while I thought I was stuck shuffling my king between e4-f4 while black shuffled his rook between a8-b8.

Finally, I got the brilliant idea to triangulate with: 58.Kf3!

If 58...Rb8 59.Kf4 Ra8 and now 60.Bb7 works because 60...Ra4+ is blocked by 61.Be4+, forcing 61...Rxe4 62.Kxe4

Or, if 58...Kf5, then 59.Rxh4 Kg6 60.Rh8, and I'm threatening Kf4 & h5#

These complications could have been avoided by playing the clever waiting move: 56.Rf8. Of course, one must also notice that ...Nc6 fails since cxc6 gives us a passed pawn whose promotion square is guarded by our bishop.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: This puzzle wasn't that complicated,but had quite a few snags along the way.Black is rerally crippled by lack of mobility (is that a redundancy?)-and zugzwang will soon rear its ugly head.
Premium Chessgames Member
  YouRang: <TheaN><56.Rf8!! The waiting move needed to put the full zugzwang is on, and the only possible square for the Rook to do this, AND so the only move to win.>

Actually, it's not the only move to win. 56.Rh8+ also wins, but (as explained in my post above), it permits some timing complications with regard to the black rook's ability to avoid zugzwang by shuffling.

Then again, one might be easily tempted to play 56.Rh8+ unless he sees the complications ahead of time.

It's kind of a "pay me know or pay me later" situation. :-)

Jul-11-08  Kasputin: I didn't get this one. Black is in bad shape here in terms of mobility. But what can white do concretely in order to win?

I looked at 54 Re7 with the idea of moving the rook to e8, but I have to admit that all I thought about in this line was checking the black king with the rook. I thought about how it wasn't possible to get the black king away from protection of the h5 pawn, and I didn't see the essential zugzwang ideas expounded by other kibitzers.

Jul-11-08  Kasputin: Just played over the game moves - what a beautiful ending.
Premium Chessgames Member
  DarthStapler: I didn't get it
Jul-11-08  littlefermat: Neither did I!
Premium Chessgames Member
  johnlspouge: Forgive me, but parity arguments fascinate me. (See A Acevedo vs Fischer, 1970, if you don't believe me.) The following is the most concrete explanation I found of what I was fumbling to express.

Candidates (54.): Re7

Assume Black does not commit suicide and shuffles Rb8-a8-b8 or Kh6-g6-h6.

54.Re7 55.Re8 56.Rf8 57.Rh8

Because the Black K and R have made 4 moves, and the K is now at g6, the R must be at a8. Voilà: the game position!

Jul-11-08  beginner64: So, how does white win even from the last game position? Sure, it can pocket the b pawn, but one false move, and it will be stalemate.

For example:

62.. b3
63. Bd3+ Kh6
64. Bb1 b2
65 ?

How does white stop the b pawn from queening and not cover g6, h7 squares at same time?

Jul-11-08  stacase: cyclon wrote, "... Now, when you have been given a puzzle (whatsoever the position is) you ALSO have been given SIMULTANEOUSLY (whether you realize it or not) a possibility and an advantage "TO KNOW" that there actually IS "something special" going on in THIS PARTICULAR position NOW, making YOUR task CONSIDERABLY EASIER compared to that of, for example J. Speelman`s situation here in his game OVER THE BOARD!"

I think most people realize this. Often you see comments that start out, "Because it's a puzzle ..." Sometimes I think I might see some of this stuff over the board, and other times I know darn good & well I'd never consider some of these winning moves."

Jul-11-08  Vicao: That not played "zig-zag-manoeuvre" is pretty pretty....

However, I would have played 62. Bxe6 fxe6 63. Ke4 getting inside the square while black can't leave the square of the f6-pawn, leaving a prosaic easy win.

Jul-11-08  TheaN: <YouRang: Actually, it's not the only move to win. 56.Rh8+ also wins, but (as explained in my post above), it permits some timing complications with regard to the black rook's ability to avoid zugzwang by shuffling.

<Finally, I got the brilliant idea to triangulate with: 58.Kf3!>>

Hm. Looks like you're right. The King seems more free along f3 f4 and e4 than I thought (and probably others with me). Although Kf5 seems dangerous it just allows Rxh5+ with mate threats afterwards. As you've said yourself, a tad bit longer but nice find.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Swapmeet: The rook maneuver with subsequent zugzwang is pretty clear when you realize in the initial position black has nothing but king moves.
Jul-11-08  beginner64: Does anyone know how to win after 62. Ba6

The end game as given looks unclear to me. For example, see my previous post.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Swapmeet: <beginner>
not sure if its best but one possible variation I see is

62...b3 63.Bc4 b2 64.Ba2 Kh6 65.Ke4 Kg6 66.Kd4 Kf5 67.Bb1+ Kg4 69.Kc3 Kxh4 70.Kxb2 Kg4 71.Kc3 Kf4 72.Kd4 h4 73.Be4, followed By Bh1 and black will have to allow Kc5-d6-e7 winning

Premium Chessgames Member
  Swapmeet: even cuter

62...b3 63.Bd3+ Kh6 64.Bb1 b2 65.Ke4 Kg6 66.Ke3+ Kh6 67.Kd3 Kg6 68.Kd2+ Kh6 69.Kc2 Kg6 70.Kxb2+, and the white king marches back up the same route to e4 and the rest is simple

Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: For the Friday July 11, 2008 puzzle solution, White's 54. Re7!! sets up a winning Zugzwang combination, incorporating the Pin and Trapped Piece tactical themes.
Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: Note that 57...Ra8 is met with the winning double attack 58. Bb7!, which threatens both 59. Bxa8 and 59. Be4#.

After 57...Ra8 58. Bb7! Nxb7 59. Rxa8 , Black material advantage gives him an easy win.

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