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Sami Salihu vs Frode Olav Olsen Urkedal
XXIV European Club Cup (2008), Kallithea GRE, rd 4, Oct-20
Sicilian Defense: Scheveningen. Classical Variation (B84)  ·  1-0


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Premium Chessgames Member
  rilkefan: At first look this game seems well played by white yet poorly played by black, which is probably contradictory. Maybe it's just that Kd2 and Ra1 surprised me.

Allowing Nb6 seems to have been pretty bad - I wonder about BxNd5 instead earlier.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: No-one would dare say it to his face, but the white king is a little ... how shall we say? ... vertically challenged. Somewhat lacking in the height department. Closer to hell than to heaven. Diminuitive. A short-a*se.

So his majesty needs to stand on a small hill on d2 from which to survey the battlefield and to issue his orders. Picture him, if you can, jumping up and down on his pudgy little legs as he bellows commands to his troops.

And right now, his little lordship is getting rather excited. The regal b-b-bouncing becomes even more frenetic than normal. He senses that victory is close at hand.

The first two moves are easy. "Sire rook!" he shouts. "I command thee to give up thy life on h7 for the greater glory of my kingdom!"

Sir Rook, a burly bloke with bricks on his head, shrugs at the sheer unfairness of it all. But "orders is orders", so he complies, muttering and grumbling under his breath.

37. Rh7+ Kxh7

"Splendid, splendid!" squeaks the miniscule monarch. "Now, my queen, light of my life, cuddle-consort, mother of my children, amazon of my bedchamber, go forth and smite f7 with righteous fury and anger!"

38. Qxf7+ Kh8

click for larger view

"Oh I say! It's all going swimmingly!" enthuses the pint-sized princeling. "Now, er... er..."

"If I might interject, your majesty," oils the well-spoken bishop on g4 in a voice that could sell Grecian 2000 to the bald. "There is a most elegant boden's mate in the offing. If her majesty would consent to 39. Qf8+ Kh7 40. Qh6+ Kg8, then I could deliver the coup de grace with Be6#"

click for larger view

"Now just 'ang on a mo there!" retorts her gracious majesty in a deep rolling voice that booms across the battlefield. The queen is, as I am sure you will have noticed, a rather larger and more vigorous specimen than her husband. Unkind souls might recall that her majesty was the comely and strapping daughter of a fishmonger, which meant that the king simultanously married above himself and below himself.

"Yes, my sweet?" asks the King in a pained voice.

"I've been rushing around this battlefield all day and my feet are killing me. You try runnin' in these 'eels! If you fink I am gonna run around f8 and h6 just so that some jumped up vicar with a big 'at on 'is 'ead can give mate, then you've got annuvver fing coming!"

"What would you prefer, my sweet?"

"Oi! Bishy!" she yells with a market-stall voice that could sell mackerel from fifty paces away. "Come stand on e6! Then I'll clobber 'im to death on g8."

"Anything you say, my precious one!" calls back the king. "Either way is a forced mate, but yours has a certain ... brutality about it. It's very ... er ... you."

"Oh, I do wish you'd get on with it," glumped the black king, anxious to be put out of his misery.

In other words - does it matter whether we play 38. Be6 or 38. Qf8+? Both are a forced mate in exactly the same number of moves. 38. Qf8+ does have the merit of being completely forcing, but 38. Be6 could get black to resign one move earlier as it is perfectly obvious how he is going to get mated.

And anyway, I am not going to argue with the white queen...

Premium Chessgames Member
  Murphyman: Seems like we all (with few exceptions) have a human bias towards 39.Be6.

I agree with Dzechiel that move 39 was the toughest one to find.

I had a sense that the king could wriggle around and the queen fail to pin him down and indeed that proved the case as its Be6 which mates later in the other line so the queen did need help.

Maybe the queen zig zag is a pattern we all need to learn for those times when Nc4+ (or ANOther move) is more than just a spite check.

Great Tuesday problem and we are getting lots of instruction from it

Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: 37.Rh7 Kxh7 38.Qxf7+ Kh8 39.Be6 and mate on <g8> cannot be prevented:

click for larger view

Black can try to give away most of his pieces with 39...Nc4+ (If now 40.bxc4 b3+ 41.Ke2 Bxc4+ 42.Bxc4 Qe1+ 43.Kxe1 Ba5+ 44.Ke2 and mate next move) but white avoids all of this with 40.Ke1 and mate next move

Premium Chessgames Member
  TheaN: Tuesday 22 March 2011


Material: White up, ♖ vs ♘+♙

Candidates: <[Rh7]>

This is probably one of most wellknown deflections in chess. When it comes to mating, making the square for the king smaller is vital. Here the rook check will make sure black finds his penalty corner just fine.

<27.Rh7 Kxh7 (Kf8/g8 28.Qxf7 1-0) 28.Qxf7 Kh8> of course mate is still off the hook with h8 undefended. This is the only true calculation white needs to do, does:

<29.Be6> win? Defending against mate on g8 is impossible, so black can only try:

<29....Nc4> and the easiest path to win is to ignore the knight and just run out of checks, one that got to me is:

<30.Ke1 Nxe3 31.Qg8 1-0>

Mar-22-11  joupajou: I saw h7 screaming "hey, you, yes, you there in h1! Come over here asap!".

I'd play 39.Be6. To me it's more "mind over matter", or something like that.

Premium Chessgames Member
  TheaN: Hm. Interesting discussion about the 39th move. I should say that I actually missed the, in all fairness straightforward Qf8.

There is a certain form of perception needed for both moves.

The Be6 player continues the 'smaller square' theory I approach in my main post. This does need the calculation 29....Nc4 30.Kc1/Ke1, but with all the black pieces so far away, it seems obvious the check will not accomplish anything.

On the other hand, the Qf8 player takes a different viewpoint during the combination by bringing in pieces forced. That this wins on the spot is in a way, irrelevant.

I concur with those saying Qf8 is the best move. At least in this position. All black moves are forced and mate on 41.

However, there is a characteristic I noticed. What is the 'smallest' mate? I pretty much give this away by sticking with the 'smaller square' theory.

White always uses f7 and e6 for the mate. g8 is a bit more tricky but is also used in both mates: directly on g8 in the Be6 line, from f8 to h8 in the Qf8 line. However, which line uses f8 and h6? Does this matter: not necessarily in positions where f8 and h6 are uncovered, but it states that saying <we learn for a position where Nc4 is not just a spite check> for Qf8 is identical to say <we learn for a position where our free space is much more limited> for Be6.

Mar-22-11  gmalino: Forced mate after:

37.Rh7+ Kxh7
38.Qg7+ Kh8
39.Qf8+ Kh7
40.Qh6+ Kg8

Quite pretty....

You just have to see the Bishop-check on e6 after the f7-pawn falls, then it's clear there is a mate.

Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: It would be easy to dismiss this discussion over the merits of 39.Qf8+ or 39.Be6 as pointless, since both mate on move <41>. One allows a black 'spite-check' and doesn't, so what?

The interesting observation is that some players saw one move but not the other (and vice-versa). This is a clue as to what type of chess player one is and could be useful if one desired to improve their analytical capabilities.

I for one saw 39.Be6 instantly and settled on it. Even after checking for blunders and seeing 40...Nc4+, I stuck with 39.Be6. (The point here is I never saw 39.Qf8+ as being any kind of "improvement"). This information could be very useful going forward.

Mar-22-11  stacase: 37. Rh7+ is obvious it just took a little bit of time to see if it actually works out. White's Bishop at g4 tips the scales to make it a winner.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: Sorry, but I am going to have to disagree with many of m'learned colleagues today. Always a dangerous thing to do, but a fellow has to be true to his beliefs. I see no distinction between 38. Be6 and 38. Qf8+. They are equally good.

Starting from the puzzle position, both 38. Be6 and 38. Qf8+ are mate in 3. They both get the job done. Black is toast. Game over. Finis. The end.

How do we decide on a move anyway? If we follow Kotov, then we should list candidate moves and examine each until we are sure about it. Only then should we examine a second candidate move.

Here is the position after 38... Kh8 with white to move:

click for larger view

From here, I think the "obvious" candidate move is 39. Be6. Why "obvious"? Because it threatens mate in one - the goal of the game, a quick Elvisish "thank you, ma'am" and chalk up 1-0 to the good guys.

So we follow our Kotovian principles and analyse 39. Be6 to a conclusion. And it doesn't take more than a moment to spot that black cannot cover g8 with any of his pieces. He has one spite check with 39...Nc4+. to which we reply 40. Kc1 or 40. Ke1 and he has no more checks. Mate is unavoidable.

Okay, so black does get a free move. But should that scare us? We have to learn to have faith in our calculations and not switch to analysing a different variation just because the analysis becomes a little tricky. It doesn't take a genius to spot that black cannot do anything with his spare move. He can't land another check and he can't stop Qg8#

Analysis over and we have established 39. Be6 is undoubtedly mate in 3. Do we now turn to our second candidate move and start analysing 39. Qf8+? Maybe it is a shorter, more elegant or more forcing mate.

What the heck for? We have found a forced mate in 3. That is all we need. Our opponent is sitting there like a quivering mound of jelly waiting for the spoon of deliverance to scoop him up. We've found a sure win - do we really make him wobble a bit longer by looking for another?

Of course we don't. We play the first sure mate that we see to finish the thing off.

But rewind to our diagram position and imagine that your list of candidate moves starts with 38. Qf8+. I think this is less likely because the threatened mate threat is less obvious, but everyone thinks differently. Then you analyse 38. Qf8+ and find that it leads to mate in 3.

Do you then go back to Be6 and analyse that to see if it is mate in 2? Again, no - you have found a mate, so play it, despatch the other guy and let's head off to the pub for a well deserved pint of something that destroys brain cells whilst making you feel happy about the process.

Premium Chessgames Member
  agb2002: From a Sicilian Defense, perhaps.

White has a rook for a knight and a pawn.

Black is trying to create counterplay against the white king with 37... axb3.

The black forces have left their king miserably alone, which invites to play 37.Rh7+ Kxh7 (37... Kg8 38.Qxf7#) 38.Qxf7+ Kh8 39.Qf8+ (39.Be6 also mates in two: 39... Nc4+ 40.Kc1 (40.bxc4 b3+) followed by 41.Qg8#) Kh7 40.Qh6+ Kg8 41.Be6#.

Premium Chessgames Member
  gofer: <37 Rh7 Kxh7 (Kf8/Kg8 38 Qxf7#) 38 Qxf7+ Kh8 39 Be6 Nb4+ 40 Ke1/Kc1 any move 41 Qg8#> The only question is where did black go wrong? Time to check...
Mar-22-11  sevenseaman: <let's head off to the pub for a well deserved pint of something that destroys brain cells whilst making you feel happy about the process.>

'Destroys braincells'? Now <Once> how do you know that? If your brain cells did get destroyed you aren't left clever enough to know what did it. And if you knew this 'cause and effect' all along why were you not smart enough to avoid it.

So I've some valid suspicions there; you don't sound like a nut already.

I am never one for 'platitudinous pontification' as it has never proved adequate whenever I took up the argument with my son.

Maybe I'm a poor preacher! Ha ha!

Mar-22-11  zb2cr: <sevenseaman>--<Once> is right. There's classic research out there that shows drinking alcohol kills brain cells. However, it does so only in batches of a few hundred. Since the typical human starts out with 15 billion brain cells, <Once> would be in for quite a few drinking bouts if he wished to destroy more than a trifling fraction of his 'little gray cells'.
Premium Chessgames Member
  CHESSTTCAMPS: White has a rook for a knight and pawn, while black has an a-pawn that could be in position to make trouble. The excess concentration of black pieces on the queenside leaves the black king with only two pawns for shelter. Therefore, white should seek mate and should find it quickly:

37.Rh7+! Kxh7 (Kg8/f8 38.Qxf7#) 38.Qxf7+ Kh8 39.Be6 Nc4+ 40.Kc1 and black has no more moves that can postpose 41.Qg8#.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Willber G: I'm of a mind to take the "keep checking" route. Giving the opposition the opportunity to distract by seemingly harmless spite checks opens the door for blunders - and we've all made them!
Mar-22-11  knight knight: 37. Rh7+ Kxh7 (37...Kf8/g8 38. Qxf7#) 38. Qxf7+ Kh8 39. Qf8+ Kh7 40. Qh6+ Kg8 41. Be6#
Mar-22-11  Raffaello71: What about 37 Be6?
I believe it wins in a complicated but elegant way
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: <Once> Ah, but 39.Be6 has one distinct defect as far as the white king is concerned. 39...Nc4+ forces it back to the first rank from where it cannot observe the White queen mating the Black king.

Or perhaps that's for the best.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <Phony Benoni> Now there's a horrible thought. In the Be6 line, the white king doesn't have to watch his queen mate the enemy king, but he knows it's happening. Just imagine the noises from off-stage!

But with the Qf8+ line, the white king does get to watch his bishop mate the black king.

I don't know which I would prefer...

Premium Chessgames Member
  desiobu: I'd probably play Be6 OTB because it's the first move I found that worked, but Qf8+ is definitely more aesthetically pleasing.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Patriot: For a player (like myself) who typically gets into time trouble, this is one of the best positions you can ask for. Why? Because 37.Rh7+ guarantees at least a draw. This means that I could take almost all the remaining time on the clock to determine if there is a win in that line or search for a better move. Of course I wouldn't want to find a move that wins the exchange, for example, but have no time left to play it out. I'm sure there are other reasons for not playing this way. Another reason is that the player is much lower-rated, in which case I wouldn't want to be forced into playing for a draw because I left myself with no time remaining to play a 'winning' move. But positions like this leave you with more flexibility.

I spent a little more time on this in light of the above argument and really went into the less accurate line: 37.Rh7+ Kxh7 38.Qxf7+ Kh8 39.Be6. Then I had to calculate what happens after 39...Nc4+ 40.bxc4 b3+ 41.c3. I also wasted a short amount of time on 39.Qf8+ Kh7 40.Qxd8?? Nc4+, winning the queen. But really the whole thing is avoided if I considered CHECKS first. 39.Qf8+ Kh7 40.Qh6+ Kg8 41.Be6#. The pattern with the battery of queen and bishop over-rode the "checks, captures, and threats" approach as well as the other bishop and queen mate.

Sometimes it's not easy to know which principle is more likely the best or the most successful. But here 39.Qf8+ forces the only move, 39...Kh7, and 40.Qh6+ forces the only reply 40...Kg8. Then it only takes one more check, 41.Be6+, which is mate.

If there's a lesson to be learned here, it is that whenever you have a check and your opponent has only one reply then follow it! And if it leads to another check which has one reply, follow that! And don't keep checking you way into a perpetual but instead try to get other pieces in the attack. The perpetual should only be considered as a last resort if you are otherwise lost.

Mar-22-11  stephanurus: OT: I have switched to Google Chrome as my web browser and now I can't play thru the games or puzzles. I get the message that the "required plugin is not installed", but I have downloaded their Java several times. It works in IE but not chrome. An email to chess@ did not elicit a reply. Help appreciated.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Patriot: <<stephanurus>: OT: I have switched to Google Chrome as my web browser and now I can't play thru the games or puzzles. I get the message that the "required plugin is not installed", but I have downloaded their Java several times. It works in IE but not chrome. An email to chess@ did not elicit a reply. Help appreciated.>

I had the same problem. A separate plugin has to be installed for Google Chrome. Did you click "install plugin" within Google Chrome? If you go thru the installation under IE it may not be using the right plugin. Make sure you're using Google Chrome for the installation and go all the way thru the installation. It may ask something about scanning with McAfee or installing it. I unchecked that option and clicked 'Next'. After installation is complete, close your web browsers and re-open them. It 'should' function now.

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