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Zsofia Polgar vs Semon Palatnik
"The Sac of Rome" (game of the day Sep-23-2008)
Rome Open (1989), Rome ITA, rd 3, Feb-??
Alekhine Defense: Modern Variation. Main Line (B05)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Oct-19-04  samvega: I can only find three other Polgar games from this tournament on Chessgames.

<mahmoudkubba> "Sack" is a somewhat archaic term for the looting and pillaging of a captured city . . . The Sack of Rome was an historical event.

Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: A brief historical summary of the "Sack of Rome" can be found at If Sam Sloan's notes are accurate, it would seem some GMs, Chess organizations, tournament directors and sponsors tried to discourage the "invasion of the Polgar sisters" to limit opportunities for women at the top levels of Chess as though it were an "invasion of the barbarians." As the father of two daughters, who both played Chess with some success, I for one am happy to see this little "Sac of Rome" by Zsofia Polgar was a success.
Feb-18-05  samvega: Ok here's the real reason:
For this tournament, the young Zsofia hit upon the brilliant tactic of systematically canning each of her male opponents in the groin -- hence "The Sac of Rome". While many annotators gave the move a double exclam, the rules were subsequently revised to prohibit such behaviour.
Feb-19-05  samvega: Except in Australia.
Premium Chessgames Member
  al wazir: The road not taken: 32...Rxd1 33. Rxd1 Qxd1 34. Qxf8+ Ng8 35. f3 (35. Be7?? Qg4+ with a perpetual) Qd2+ 36. Kg3 Qe1+ (36...Qd5 37. Be7 wins) 37. Bf2 Qd2 38. Qxf7 Qd8 (38...Qd5 39. e6 Nh6 40. Qd7 wins) 39. e6 Ne7 (39...Nh6 40. Qd7 wins) 40. Qf6+ Kg8 41. Bd4 wins. If 36...Qd7 37. Qd6 Qe8 (or Qc8 or Qe6) 38. Qc7 wins.
Apr-23-05  PinkPanther: <patzer2>
Oct-22-05  Astardis: "Sac of Rome" is referring to the historical "Sacco di Roma" - when papal Rome for about two weeks was hit and terribly destroyed.
Nov-07-07  sallom89: good end game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: One of the best moves of the game, and one not generally noticed, is 31.Kg2! Removing the King from the first rank eliminates any capture of the Rd1 with check, allowing in return the move QxRf8 mate.
Sep-23-08  jovack: I think Sam had her at one point.
Sep-23-08  Strongest Force: Yes, Zsofia, seemed to be on her way to become the best of the 3 Polgars. In 1989, the oldest Polgar was in her mid-teens and already GM strength, while Judit seemed to have unlimited potential at 12. However after the "sac" of Rome (destruction of male GM egos), the middle sister, for a brief period of time, seemed to be the best Polgar.
Sep-23-08  0817: What happens if black plays 40...Nd7 ? Can't find anything forcing for white.
Sep-23-08  Manic: <0817> 40...Nd7 41.Qxe8 Rxe8 42.Ba3 (or anywhere else along a3-f8 diagonal) wins the knight and the game since if the knight moves white plays Rd8
Sep-23-08  Whitehat1963: A great piece about the Polgars in Psychology Today from a few years ago:

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: This one looks like it is a recycled GOTD.It is a good one-with unusual play leading to an endgame of B+P+P+P vs pppppp.

I especially enjoyed the pins,non pins,and pseudo-pins along the d-file.

Sep-23-08  zb2cr: Okay, Black is pretty much in <zugswang> as far as his Kingside Pawns go in the final position. If he moves the King, the Pawns drop. If he moves 53. ... b5, then White plays 54. Bc5. Black now lacks the time to snap up the last two White Pawns and thus draw, e.g., if 54. ... Kf3; 55. Kxf5, b4; 56. Bxb4, Kxf2; 57. Kxg5, Kg2; 58. h4 etc.

Clever ending play.

Sep-23-08  gauer: In composing circles, a Roman theme is where a defending piece is moved to another square from which it still defends against the primary threat, but the changed defence allows a different mate.

White plays, checkmating in 3 moves (8 men v 8 men):

click for larger view

Johannes Kohtz & Carl Kockelkorn, Nov. 11, 1906

One Try 1. Nfe6 1... Bb4 (threat 1... -- 2. Nf8# (2. Nc5#)) 2. Nf8+ (2. Nc5+ Bxc5) 2... Bxf8 etc;

Another 1. Nd5 1... Rxg6 (threat 1... -- 2. Nf6# (2. Nb6#)) 2. Nf6+ (2. Nb6+ Rxb6+) 2... Rxf6 etc;

both turn out to be slow.

Hint: Recently noticed during a scan of an archived USCF article.

Sep-23-08  kirchhoff: What would happen if black played 41...cxd5? The black queen can now go to c6 and black seems to hold. Playing 41...Rxf8 seems to just be giving up.
Sep-23-08  kirchhoff: Sorry. I missed 42. Qxf6 and Black falls within a few moves. Nice game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Chessmensch: <Whitehat1963: A great piece about the Polgars in Psychology Today from a few years ago:;

If you look closely on the page you will find an icon for a printer-friendly version that is much better than trying to print the individual pages.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: One interesting alternative for black was 38...Nd5?!, likely forcing 39 exf7 Qxd6 40 fxg8Q+ Kxg8.

click for larger view

Now, white has to make a defensive move because of the threat 41Nxf4+ or 41Qxf4.

Black should be able to get a draw out of this position.

Oct-13-08  just a kid: Holy cow!What was that!Sacrifice after sacrifice.Ahhh my brain hurts!
Nov-02-11  lentil: Nice trap at move 32: seems that 32 ..Rxd1 33 Rxd1 Qxd1 34 Qxf8+ Ng8 and B threatens a perp with Qg5+ etc., so 35 f3 Qc2+ and a draw seems unavoidable. But 32 Rxd1 Bxe7!! 33 Qd5+ 34 Kg3 Qd3+ 35 Kh4 and B has no more checks and cannot defend against Bf6+, mating.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sastre: If 32...Rxd1 33.Bxe7, Black is fine after 33...Qxe7.
Feb-14-18  tgyuid: i agree
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