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Anthony Miles vs Mikhail Vladislavovich Nedobora
Seville op (1994), Seville ESP, rd 8, Jan-28
Formation: King's Indian Attack (A07)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  swordfish: Totally sizzled me. I kept looking for a way for White to mate. There was a "mating attack" all right, but it was stalemate. As in play, I need to look for the best move(s) in the position.
Dec-23-09  Samagonka: How about coitus interruptus for a pun???
Dec-23-09  Buttinsky: Once you realize the puzzles are all tactics, the solutions become more obvious. I studied the position for about half a beer, and became convinced there was no win, so that leaves stalemate. Once I hit on that idea, the rest was easy.
Dec-23-09  Buttinsky: Then I finished the beer
Dec-23-09  TheaN: Wednesday 23 December 2009


Target: 2:10;000
Taken: 0:53;789

Material: Black up, ♗+2♙(!)

Candidates: Qxg7, <[Rxg7]>??, <[Rf8!]>

Argh. In fact, I decided on 41.Rxg7 when checking the game as a White, noticing the DRAW and 41.Rf8! in the collections display. In fact, I was opting for 41.Rxg7 Bxg7 42.Nf6 winning, due to 43.Nxd5 and 44.Nxb4 . If... it wasn't for 42.Nf6x. The move is as illegal as can be. In fact, after I did see that there are indeed no winning lines for White:

<41.Rf8! Rxf8 42.Rxf8 Kxf8 43.Qf7! 1/2> and officially Black cannot play 43....Kxf7 stalemate. A neat combination, IF you see White's intention. Time to check what others had to say.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: A question we keep on coming back to ... are puzzles artificially easy because we know there is a solution? In a real game, there is no flashing light to say that there is a combination to be found.

I must admit I am undecided on this one. The puzzles are easier than an OTB game because we know that there is normally a solution to be found. But they are sometimes harder than an OTB position because we have not lived through all the preceding moves. In today's puzzle, Miles knew that his knight was pinned, because he had just used it to block a queen check. He also knew that he was losing, because he had given up material for an attack which was now not going to break through.

In other words, Miles had an advantage over us because he knew that he was looking for a draw ... a point that confused many today.

I detect a shift in's puzzles. In recent weeks, we seem to have had a larger than usual number of spoilers, trappy lines and draws. I think that have responded to our cries of "tweazy" by giving us more realistic positions to work on. I really enjoyed the recent spoilers, although my weekly score took a severe battering.

I suppose that can't get too clever with the puzzles. A few days ago, <dzechiel> made the very good point that we need to the easy puzzles to bring new players into the game and new members into the site.

Of course, there are ways to turn even Monday tweazy puzzles into more realistic training aids. Instead of just solving the puzzle position, rewind the game to the point where you think that one side won or lost the game. And that gets you into all sorts of quiet moves and positional play that don't work well as a puzzle of the day but do improve your chess.

Dec-23-09  TheaN: 1.75/3

A terrible week thus far, seeing this combination after knowing that 41.Rf8! is the key move is no feat.

One thing I'm interested about, somewhat in the style of <Once> and others trying to make metaphoric comparisons, why would one opt for 43.Qf7, or for 43.Qe8, both drawing on the spot as <any forced sequence leading to stalemate or mate is respectively a draw or win> as in the FIDE rules.

I'd like to use this as example.

White to move.

click for larger view

As open as a Queen ending can be. White cannot win this, at least not forced, and is faced with the threat of at least Qb1. Were this to have been, lets say, the 43th move for White in this game, 43.Qf7 1/2 draws instantly based on the above mentioned rule. However, after 43.Qe8?! Kg7, White is not yet stalemated, and nothing is forced about a draw here. White IS drawing this due to the open board, but it's the principle.

The difference is that in the game's position, the g7-pawn blocks of the Black King in case of Qe8, instead of Qf7 taking away all the squares by the Queen. If we remove the g7-pawn..... the starting position is illegal :) (no, I wasn't going to say the combination wouldn't work). It's about the idea, and for some reason, Qe8 didn't even come up for me, because Qf7 looks way more natural.

Anyone else thought about this?

Dec-23-09  SufferingBruin: 1000 rating, trying to get better.
Look, I have to ask: am I alone in being totally blown away by this?

No way did I get this. No way. I'm always looking for the win but I gotta say, if I pulled this off, I'm counting it as a victory. Great find by Miles.

In chess and boxing, I find that I have enormous empathy for the loser unless said loser is, shall we say, a rhymes with "wick." There's no evidence that Mikhail Nedobora did anything to deserve this, other than push a piece against Tony Miles when asked. Tell me that Tony Miles wasn't patting himself on the back after this one. Tell me that he didn't have help. And tell me that Nedobora didn't look longingly at a bottle of Grey Goose. Hell, after this, he might have gone for the Ripple.

Dec-23-09  triangulation: Okay I think I finally got this one after racking my brains for five minutes and coming up with zero candidate moves let alone a solution.

I think there is no way white can win and its best chance is to aim for a draw. That was when I noticed that its knight, pawns and king can't move. After that it was easy.

1.Rf1+ Rxf1 2. Rfx1+ Kxf1 3. Qf2+ Kxf2 1/2-1/2

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <TheaN>

I suppose I ought to chip in some thoughts here ...

click for larger view

From this position, either 43. Qe8+ or 43. Qf7+ draws on the spot. Yet both you and I only saw 43. Qf7+, so why didn't we see the alternative ending?

1. Qf7+ is the simpler finish, as it doesn't need the assistance of any black pieces. As a general rule, we tend to default to the simplest solution when given a choice.

2. Our pattern recognition memory probably has stronger links to the more common Qf7/ Kf8 mating pattern than the rarer Qe8/ Kf8/ pg7 pattern.

3. The whole combination has been about the f file, with a double rook sac on f8. So Miles and we are more focussed on the f file than on any other part of the board.

4. Once we spot that Qf7+ draws, there is no need to look for further finishes.

5. Miles has been trying to put a piece on f7 for several moves, so it is poetic justice that he finally manages it ... even if only to salvage a lucky draw.

Dec-23-09  Quentinc: <Once,> that was an excellent post. I've also wondered about the value of puzzles, because in OTB there is no one there to tell you that your very next move can decide the game. I probably get about 75% of the puzzles (although I'm not going to admit how long it takes me!), but I'd guess I would get fewer than 25% of them OTB.

I've gotten the most out of this site by reading others' analysis of where one of the sides went wrong earlier in the game. I really appreciate the thoughtful analysis (and the folks who have Rybka!). But the puzzles themselves are a heck of a lot of fun, whether they improve one's game or not.

Dec-23-09  MiCrooks: I too spent more time than usual on this one. I suspected that I might be playing for a draw early on as I noted that the King was stalemated, and there were no pawn moves available. That and the fact that Black to move had crushing threats, and any non-check from White was likely to lead to mate FOR Black.

Still, I spent a good 5 minutes looking for a win for White. Once I convinced myself that nothing worked finding the stalemate was I guess that is why this was deemed worthy of a Wednesday.

I am torn...White to move and draw is probably at best a Tuesday puzzle, white to move you figure it out? I think that is Thursday at least.

Dec-23-09  mrsaturdaypants: I thought about it a little <TheaN>, mainly because I seem to be the only poster today who suggested Qe8+ instead of Qf7+. Not sure why I saw the one move rather than the other. I did see that without the g7 pawn, my move did not ensure the draw. But I was blind to Qf7+.

I think that e8 felt "safer" to me -- I could sense that the queen couldn't be taken there, which was the only way the stalemate would slip away. Of course, it could only be taken by the king on f7 too, but I think that's a good reconstruction of why I saw e8.

And thanks, <WhenHarryMetSally>. I'm of course only trying to follow the lead of <dzechiel>, <johnlspouge>, <jimfromprovidence>, <Once> and others whose posts have taught me so much about how to think about chess puzzles, and to recognize the messy ways I actually do think about them. Great fun.

Dec-23-09  Quentinc: Qe8+ was also the (only) move I saw. I think it had to do with the fact that the Black king is hemmed in by the pawn on g7. It is curious how people visualize differently.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <Aristarchos: After 40. .. Ra1 41. Rxg7+ Bxg7 42. Rxa1 Qf5! White has no threats left, and Black will win. What do you think Once?>

Here's the crunch position:

click for larger view

The problem for Nedobora is that his position is too good. His Ra2 and Bd4 combine to stalemate the white king. To win the game, Nedobora needs to undevelop these pieces. Your line wins handily, but black could also have brought home the point with the more prosaic 40...Ra3 or 40...Be5. I guess that it is hard to spot these moves because our natural instinct is to improve the position of our pieces, not make them worse.

But I have to say that I really like your final flourish with Qf5...

click for larger view

Dec-23-09  TheaN: <Once>

As always, you out-reason me.... :) excellent suggestions, especially the focus of f7 or the f-file in the position. Of course I was pointing to the checkmate with the Queen covering all the squares as I've shown in my example; but still...

Dec-23-09  TheaN: Well, at least the half-naked women didn't show up.... oh, wait. I supposed they have something to do with the f-file....... argh it is STILL valid.
Dec-23-09  thegoldenband: I looked for a win for several minutes, and kept getting stuck on the fact that the knight was pinned, with no reasonable way to unpin it. Surely White (aka the mighty Tony Miles) would be lucky to even draw here?

Then the lightbulb went on, and I quickly saw the stalemate combination ending in Qf7+. It wasn't tough to find once I was on the right wavelength: since perpetual check isn't available, and White can't do anything on g7 (...Bxg7 breaks the stalemate), then it had to be the f8-square, followed by a queen sac on whichever square(s) would force KxQ.

I have to credit Pal Benko's terrific endgame columns in Chess Life, which taught me to always be alert for stalemate traps. In fact, the stalemate traps are one of the few things in that column I can usually understand without great effort! The Irving Chernev book of endgame compositions also helps to tune one's brain into this sort of thing.

Dec-23-09  ohfluckaduck: When I eventually discovered that white was totally busted, I found the draw.
Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: Odd. This is about the easiest Wednesday I've ever seen. I'm really surprised so many had trouble with it. I guess sometimes when your thought process starts out wrong, ie, looking for a win, it's hard to get back on the right track.
Dec-23-09  BOSTER: <Domdaniel> <but missed the stalemate idea completely>. Only for you. If you knew one of greatest saves in chess history, where Evans with a "devious trap" stalemate the great Reshevsky you wouldn't miss it.
Dec-23-09  turbo231: I haven't read this kibitz yet, but all I can see is a perpetual check. Rf7c7 threatening checkmate, c8xc7,Qg6e8+ kg8h7,Qe8xh5+, but that,s just me. Time to watch the actual game. Stalemate! I saw that perpetual check but not stalemate. It's a draw either way.
Premium Chessgames Member
  al wazir: <OCF>: Who has time for silly chess games? Serious solvers hunt for fresh holiday presents, not stale mates.

Strange, I haven't seen your name lighting up the charts there. (Nor have you seen mine.)

Dec-23-09  benjinathan: <SufferingBruin> I think you would have had a much better chance of solving the puzzle had you:a) as suggested by <once> played the moves to the point of the puzzle. You would have known that you were cooked and needed to either resign or find a way to draw or 2) use the <dzechiel> approach of taking serious stock of the position on the board befroe trying to solve.
Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: <aw: Strange, I haven't seen your name lighting up the charts there. (Nor have you seen mine.) >

I ummmmmm have been too busy wrapping Christmas presents. I am glad I don't feel as miserable as anyone else who might have spent hours and hours trying to win.

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