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Anatoly Karpov vs Jan Timman
"A Win, But Not a Safety Win" (game of the day Mar-03-2023)
SWIFT Tournament 1st (1986), Brussels BEL, rd 2, Mar-24
English Opening: Anglo-Indian Defense. Queen's Indian Formation (A15)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Jul-06-12  David2009: Karpov vs Timman, 1986 White 88?

Here's the position one move after the N promotion

click for larger view

(Karpov vs Timman 1986 88?) with an interactive link to play White against Crafty End Game Trainer: Can you pilot the white side to victory without silicon help?

I was feeling lazy and perhaps gave up the search too soon.

Premium Chessgames Member
  scormus: I've decided the task this week is not really to get the entire winning sequence, but to get the right promotion. That way I've got a chance of 7/7 for the week. This is a tough puzzle otherwise, with 4 alternatives for B on the just first move after d8=N+ and a tricky strategy for W to find after that. But I didn't even pick the same as 87 move as Timman.
Jul-06-12  Patriot: 87.d8=N+ -- The rest, I have no idea!
Jul-06-12  Castleinthesky: The move itself was easy, because, if white promoted to anything but a knight, the game would have been a draw by perpetual check. Consequently, it was an easy one for a Friday.
Jul-06-12  Crispy Seagull: Yup, like others, I say underpromote to a knight and figure it out from there. Being technically up material and having the initiative should just work itself out ;)
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Just think:this win would be impossible if white had a black square bishop!
Jul-06-12  sfm: Absolutely fabulous endgame, all the way. 77.Rxg7!! (whatever Fritz would say) is played with an iron-will to win.
Jul-06-12  gambler: I thought this puzzle was rather easy, especially for a friday one. What is the scoop?

Looking at the position you know, white is clearly playing for a win here and black merely wants to get away with it with continuous checks. It is obvious that, as long as the King has no proper flight square, there is nothing white can do about Queen checks. So the Queen promotion is no option.

The single one piece which is prohibiting the King from escaping is his rook, so in the course of events, the rook has to move and the white King will eventually get out of these nasty checks. however, if one would simply play the natural looking Rc8, The queen will eventually deliver continuous checks, because there is not really a way the king can hide. The king would like to find a cozy spot behind its own pieces, but with Rc8, there is no way, because the black king stops any infiltration and the king has to play on the open e-h files. If there was some safe spot, I cannot find it.

So what to do? Underpromote (yeah, theme of the weak). this comes with tempo, not only adding another piece to the attack, but also adding another piece to the defense as well. It does not really matter in detail, where the king goes. with 3 attacking pieces and the king in the corner, you should not have any problems to coordinate your pieces. The key element once again is involving your rook. Once this is done, there will alway be a hiding place for the king behind the rook+knight. Just enough to stop a continuous check and win the game.

I do not think that this is really a "calculate it all out"-type of position. Of course, the first 4-6 moves need to be calculated, so you do not run into a draw or lose a piece. But once you figure that the underpromotion is the only way to go, you just do it and use your majority to not only attack the king, but also provide king safety.

I think this is rather logical so I did not think this was too difficult. If someone calculated every variation through, I do not know if I should admire you or feel sorry. I think this is more a "prove of principle" position.

Just for fun, with these ideas in mind, I played the position against my computer and had little problems beating it.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sneaky: <gambler: I thought this puzzle was rather easy, especially for a friday one. What is the scoop?> It's not so much a question of seeing the first move but rather of the technique that follows. If I had White I'm sure I would have played c8=N+ and then proceeded to botch it all up.
Jul-06-12  Patriot: <gambler> Nicely put! The only thing a player would have to decide is whether black can win a piece or something. If not, then white needs to play for a win and under-promote to a knight. Otherwise, white can promote to a queen and allow the draw to take place.

<If someone calculated every variation through, I do not know if I should admire you or feel sorry. I think this is more a "prove of principle" position.> I understand your point completely. During a game you only need to find the best move within a reasonable time--not calculate everything out like a machine. I always felt that a player needs to practice this logic (even for puzzles) in order to become better analysts OTB. Otherwise, you're becoming a better puzzle analyst, not a better player. But this isn't completely true. Some choose to analyze in more detail to improve their visualization or to learn more about positions in general. There are kibitzer's on this site that usually go into a lot of detail. I tend to admire their abilities. But I do think that can be harmful to their game unless they can overcome the tendency to over-calculate OTB.

<Just for fun, with these ideas in mind, I played the position against my computer and had little problems beating it.> Good job!!

Premium Chessgames Member
  chrisowen: Kin dutifuls in knightd8 gastronomic height in ka7 binding rookc7+

in kb8 and rd7 er manic in finish as far as i got winch qb1+ in

glesson it sllide against it dog in dig for chain fetching good game

it is up pin effect it you in straight it another in e1 chagrin for

Jan double trouble gas knight i pick of the bunch again three pieces

should beat queen evermore in thrash a metal queen b1 and island

queen in edifice it her on i kit alive in h7 ever castling in c8

little feint knight devious in d8 principle edge is ha demonstrate a

minute as eli every opening hurt in rich again b1 gateway it open in

c4 o king arrange it or angel in ka7 whole in came it her b1 no good

in hammer sigh cul enter b1 undulate a king frees c4 open for

heading off in crick queen backer mitigate am it learn in lest queen

each in's welcome i toil in d8 get a job won force the king aside in

ty o lit a bug a7 to b8 hanger d7 covers a knight to why it alone in

theory mate lean in dumping rook and d4 c6+ at ruck alive white a5

pick off i deliver e4 in flag on a dilemma again be effective a

knightd8 king c7 i think again depart ar quf5 in true sideline very

direct play from in Anatoli nearly cheating him c4+ low drip in qh4

aint it he in d5 d6 a nuts and bolts approach in look it fly in

lighter d7 fledge knight check in deregulate ether it zany in

communicate a kingc8 gets walowed Anatoli doing driven bear on I

mind daying around in crazy it's ointment free the bishopb5 ar gain

clomping of course wind b6 see it is king hunt queen equivalent work

heading off it pawnd6d7?

Jul-06-12  James D Flynn: Black threatens Qb1+ with perpetual check., there is no king escape squares with the White pieces in their present positions , therefore a rook move is needed to provide the c4 square for his king. In addition Black threatens to play Qd1+ and Qxd8 if White promotes his d7 pawn to B or N without a check. Candidates Rc8, Rc6, Nd8+. 87.Rc8(the most logical Providing an escape square for his K and threatening to queen on d8) Qb1+ 88.Kc4 Qe4+ 89.Kc5 Qe3+ 90.Kd6 Qh6+ and White cannot avoid the perpetual. 87.Rc6 Qb8+ 88.Kc4 Qe4+ 89.Kc5 Qe3+ 89.Kd6 Qh6+ and again Black has a perpetual. Hence Nd8+ is the only move to avoid a perpetual by providing escape squares for the K via b4 and a5. 87.Nd8+ Kb8(other moves allow a R check. ) 88.Nc6+ Kc7 89.Nxa5+ Kd6 90.Rc6+ Kd5 91.Bc4+ Ke4 92.Kb4 and the White K can safely advance and shepherd the Q side pawns home and his pieces will make it impossible for the Black Kp to advance beyond e3, However there are many possible K moves in this line. Now for the game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  paulalbert: Under promotion to N with check and then avoiding the perpetual check from black Q the obvious theme: Working out the details from there beyond my pay grade.
Jul-06-12  hrobert5: Yeah, I got d8=n+ to avoid perpetual check, then Rb7 this morning then went to work; too tired to hammer out all the details.
Jul-06-12  PhilFeeley: The knight promotion was kind of obvious, but the real task was to avoid perpetual check, which isn't very easy. The game should have ended in a draw 40 moves ago!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: < Sneaky: <gambler: I thought this puzzle was rather easy, especially for a friday one. What is the scoop?> It's not so much a question of seeing the first move but rather of the technique that follows. If I had White I'm sure I would have played c8=N+ and then proceeded to botch it all up. >

Why? Karpov is a great player of course...but this isn't especially hard (for a stong club & tourney player or an FM IM or a GM, and if it was one of us there, we know that we at least had a draw in hand. (Which is one criteria, Yuspov, I think it is, points out, when deciding on a combo!)

Karpov as I say shows some wonderful games in his book "Chess at the Top" ("tactical" and attacking as well as positional - although these things go together of course): but his technique is (usually) excellent at all parts of the game. The hardest things are not combinations or even ending calculations (though these can be excruciating) but finding good plans.

Premium Chessgames Member
  sleepyirv: <Not to the SWIFT>

Ecclesiastes: I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

Timman won the pawning race, but not the game. It being the SWIFT tournament, it reminded me of this bible verse.

Dec-13-20  fisayo123: An awesome game and grandiose battle. A hidden Karpov gem!
Jul-30-21  Cheapo by the Dozen: After what looked like a slow/steady/grindy Karpov game most of the way through, things got lively at the end.

And so, considering who the players were:

A Win, But Not a Safety Win

Jul-30-21  Cheapo by the Dozen: Obviously, this groaner is a reference to the frequent appearance as GoTD of Karpov vs Timman, 1988 [analysis]
Jul-31-21  Omnipotent00001: "Without the sun there wouldn't be any seasons." "There are these machines and I bring them to life."
Premium Chessgames Member
  Check It Out: Funny inside-joke pun.

The game itself exhausted me.

Mar-03-23  stone free or die: <Cheapo by the Dozen> earned the name here.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Teyss: Groahaha.

Granted, not exactly a swift win but some interesting moments as pointed out by <Jimfromprovidence>: Karpov vs Timman, 1986 (kibitz #28)
Also the Rook ballet between moves 69 and 76 is an amusing pas de deux.
87.d8=N+!! was a Friday puzzle in 2012.

After promoting the Pawn, Black missed an opportunity to draw by perpetual e.g. 78...Qe2+ 79.Kb3 a4+ 80.Ka2 (not 80.Kxa4? Qc2+ [not Qxc4+? 81.Bb4 cxb4? 82.Bb7+ Kb6 83.Rxc4] 81.b3 Qxc3) Qxc4+ 81.Kb1 Qf1+ etc.

Premium Chessgames Member
  eternaloptimist: Oh no not this pun motif again lol. 🤦‍♂️ The game is very interesting tho & a marathon game at that. I really enjoy playing over Karpov’s & Timman’s games!
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