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Milan Matulovic vs Alexandar Tsvetkov
Varna (1965)  ·  French Defense: McCutcheon. Lasker Variation (C12)  ·  1-0
To move:
Last move:

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 4 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jan-12-11  gmalino: O.k. that's easy in the beginning.
If white doesn't do anything forced he looses this game due to the centralized black pieces and the majority of pawns.

35. Qh8+ Kh8
36. Nxf7+ Kg7
37. Nxe5 Nf3

Now it becomes a little bit more complicated, black still has one pawn more nad threatens 38.......Nxh5

Hmm.

38. Nc6 a6
39. Nb4 a5
40. ???

That leads to nothing.
Maybe the initial move is a different one? Some idea to catch the Knight?

35. Qb7 could be a try, but I fear that black just grabbs all pawns, 35........Qf4
36. ????

I give up.

Jan-12-11  gmalino: ok, i see what I missed....
Jan-12-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  jahhaj: <nariga> How about 35: Qc3?

I reckon 35.Qc3 f6 and Black is winning. e.g 36.Qxd4 Qxd4+ 37.Kxd4 fxg5 with a winning pawn ending, or 36.Nh3 Qe4+ 37.Kd2 Qe2+ 38.Kc1 Qxg4 which looks winning.

If you're going to play Qc3 then 34 Qc3 seems better as 34...f6 only draws.

But White had seen all the way to the win, so probably hardly considered Qc3 at all.

Jan-12-11  gofer: Well things don't look very promising for white. Black has a strong pawn phallanx in the centre and reasonable safety for its king. White's king is out in the open and what's worse is that white is a pawn down. In a game would I miss this one? I would hope not, but I have no faith in that statement...

<35 Qh8+ Kxh8>
<36 Nxf7+ Kg7>
<37 Nxe5 ...> winning

Why is this winning!!?? Well Nd4 is en-prise and has no where to go! Ne5 is covering its only two escape squares! But what happens if black ignores the knight and goes for glory?

37 ... g5 38 hxg5 winning
37 ... a5 38 Kxd4 winning

<37 ... Nf5>
<38 gxf5 gxf5>

Now we reach this position


click for larger view

Is this a quick win for white? Probably! But white does need to be careful! Time to check...

Jan-12-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  scormus: <Once: If you can ....>

Lovely take on the motto of SW15 ;)

Jan-12-11  gofer: I saw < 39 Nc6 a6 40 Kd4 ...>, but thought black would play for <40 ... Kh6> and try to attack white's remaining pawns rather than contest the centre, so the kill was much quicker than I had imagined it would be!
Jan-12-11  zooter: This is nasty. 35.Qh8+ Kxh8 36.Nxf7+ K-moves 37.Nxe5

and suddenly the black knight is trapped!

Time to check

Jan-12-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  sevenseaman: Most Blacks could fall into the trap on White's 32. Qc1. That Matulovic had 35. Qh8+ on mind is not easy to divine.
Jan-12-11  Ratt Boy: I love this one. Knights are supposed to be dim when on the rim. Who'd have thought this one would lose his shirt in the middle of the board, where all of his 8 squares would be either occupied or attacked?

Well, Matulovic, that's who. And my hat's off to him. "A thing of beauty is a joy forever." And this bit of immortality is certainly a thing of beauty.

Jan-12-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: FWIW, 32. Qc1 is not a trap. It's plainly the best move on the board. The theme is the overburdened defender, in this case the Black Queen.
Jan-12-11  5hrsolver: great write up <once>.
Jan-12-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  wordfunph: forced..

1.Qh8+ Kxh8
2.Nxf7+ Kg7
3.Nxe5

Jan-12-11  zb2cr: The key to considering this puzzle solved is seeing that Black's Knight will be trapped after White's Knight lands on e5. As <dzechiel> points out, the puzzle begins with Black 2 Pawns up, so just winning a Pawn and getting back the sacrificed Queen is not good enough!
Jan-12-11  TheaN: 3/3

<Me <35.Qh8†!> is of course a lightning strike at a clear sky for Black, whom otherwise never had played 32....Nxd4† with 33....Qxe5.>

Seeing that 32.Qc1 pretty much wins by force even if Black ignores the d-pawn Black has the choice between a dull and losing endgame, playing till the combination finishes or resign. Considering Black did not resign even after losing the Knight we should conclude Black did not see this.

Jan-12-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: It's worth emphasizing that this game was played a year <before> the "classic" Petrosian vs Spassky, 1966. Does anyone know of an earlier example of this Qh8+/Nxf7+ (or Qh1+/Nxf2+) pattern? I once looked it up in the Sacrifice Explorer and this one was the earliest that came up. Here are other examples:

G Agzamov vs Chekhov, 1985
Sveshnikov vs Dreev, 1993
R Vera vs M Ripari, 2001
D Valerga vs C Lujan, 2004
S Kosmo vs P Tregubov, 2006
G Welling vs P Wells, 2007
A Deviatkin vs A Klimov, 2008
Anand vs Leko, 2009
Igor Duben vs Krasenkow, 2010

Note that the forked queen can be on different squares - d6/d3, e5/e4, g5/g4 or d8/d1; btw, I also searched for symmetrical Qa8/a1 - Nxc7/c2+ patterns, but interestingly didn't find any.

Jan-12-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: <Eyal> There's an earlier one from Mr. Petrosian himself: Petrosian vs Simagin, 1956
Jan-12-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: The earliest example I could find:

M Judd vs J A Congdon, 1874

And an infamous case of the combination being missed in a World Championship match:

Alekhine vs Euwe, 1937

Jan-12-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: <Phony Benoni> Thanks, for some reason that game isn't listed in the SE under Qh8+.

Also, it suddenly occurred to me that I looked only for Qh8(1)+ and not Qxh8(1)+; in the latter type (with a rook on h1/h8), I now found two older examples:

M Judd vs J A Congdon, 1874
A Burns vs Blackburne, 1885

Jan-12-11  BwanaVa: Good call, Eyal...I was thinking the same thing regarding its similarity to Petrosian/Spassky.
Jan-12-11  CHESSTTCAMPS: White, on the move, is down two pawns but has has a forced win. It is an oddity of this position that black's centralized Q & N are not advantageous here, but white's centralized king is. White wins with a forcing queen swap:

35.Qh8+! Kxh8 36.Nxf7+ K-moves 37.Nxe5 and black's knight is trapped in the center, with a simple win for white.

It is interesting to note how this "pure" trap (no squares controlled redundantly) is achieved: 2 flight squares are controlled by white pawns, 2 are controlled by the white knight, 2 are controlled by the white king, and two would-be flight squares are occupied by black.

The plausible alternative 35.Qc3?? is refuted by 35... f6.

Jan-12-11  SpoiltVictorianChild: Usually with this tactic I'm happy just winning a pawn, but here the stars align, and the knight's trapped after the queen trade!
Jan-12-11  Fuegoverde: White needed a miracle to save this game... and then the miracle ocurred ! That was what I thought when I saw it, but probably Matulovic has seen all this much earlier and maked it happened. That's the diference between a master like Matulovic and a patzer like me. I found quite easily the combination 35 Qh8+ Kxh8, 36 Nxf7+ Kg7, 37 Nxe5 but I only found that the black knight was trapped because I knew that this was a problem.
Jan-12-11  1.e4effort: I've seen this theme before, but I like
35. Qh8+...Kxh8
36. Nxf7+ forking the Royals.

After that there are probably a lot of moves - looks a little like a draw but i think White has a chance.

Jan-12-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: The win of a pawn is an obvious feature in this version of the sham sacrifice, but the pleasurable part is how Black's knight is trapped on an open board.
Jan-12-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  Patriot: It didn't take long to spot 35.Qh8+ Kxh8 36.Nxf7+ Kg7 37.Nxe5 and that the black knight is trapped.

I like white's technique after 37...Nf5 38.gxf5 gxf5 39.Nc6 a6. Instead of continuing to harass the queenside pawns, 40.Kd4! Kf6 41.f4! firms up control over e5 and convinces black to resign.

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