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Mark Taimanov vs Leonid Shamkovich
URS-ch sf Leningrad (1954), Leningrad URS, rd 8
English Opening: King's English. Two Knights' Variation Keres Variation (A23)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Jan-30-09  ounos: Now imagine someone playing a serious and lengthy game, and suddenly the diagram position results. Then he stands up, exclaiming to the puzzled arbiter: "the board has the wrong position!! I needed the pawn to be on a5, not a4!! Can you fix that??"
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <ounos> LOL!

Or crying out: "You can't beat me with a simple one move combination! Today is Thursday, so the winning move must be at least four lines deep."

Jan-30-09  whiteshark: Afterwards it looks all so logical...
Jan-30-09  TCS: <Once>...Kobyashi Maru?

Goodness - now I'll have to watch the Wrath of Khan again! I use this term often but unsurprisingly receive blank faces in return!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Machado: Sometimes after we find the idea of a difficult puzzle we are so happy that we don't pay attention to some easy details. I got the first 2 moves but I was negligent with the move order. Playing Bb7 before a5 obviously doesn't work because any pawn move in the kingside wins the game for black.
Jan-30-09  dukesterdog2: Seeing that the black rook must stay on the back rank, I got white's first three moves. The pawn moves to a5 first so it can get to a6 to support the bishop which will block the rook from supporting black's advanced pawn.
Jan-30-09  JG27Pyth: <Kobayashi Maru>... now that's a Sunday puzzle.

So, today I inadvertently gave myself an interesting problem.

Sometimes I print the diagram to work on away from the computer. However, when I print just the diagram I lose all supporting details such as whose game it is, what move number it is, and who actually is on the move. Today, I printed the diagram without paying attention to who had the move... resulting in a -- "whose puzzle is it, anyway?" puzzle.

I muffed today's solution, but I am awarding myself the fuzzy-lollipop consolation prize for successfully figuring out it was White to move and draw.

Jan-30-09  nateinstein: Oops, I feel dumb. I was looking at the wrong move in the game log :).
Jan-30-09  Alphastar: <ounos> The best solution seems to be to move the pawn to a5.5 and a7 the next move.
Jan-30-09  Knight101: A canidate move for White may be 29.Bh3... with intent of 30.Bf5... stopping Black's b-pawn from queening. The position is (+ -).
Jan-30-09  Terry McCracken: <dzechiel <Terry McCracken: Taimanov missed the win on move 25.. with Qxf2?? Simply 25..b2! wins.> Terry! Taimanov was WHITE in this game.>

Opps! Ok Shamkovich blew the win. *sigh*

Premium Chessgames Member
  playground player: Does anybody really care that I solved this puzzle toot-sweet?
Jan-30-09  agb2002: White seems to face a lost endgame with B vs N+P. Black's passed pawn is just two steps away from its promotion square which is controlled by the knight. The obvious 29.Be4 losses to 29... Nxe4 30.Rxe4 b2. This suggests going around the pawn with 29.Bd5 but after 29... b2 30.Ba2 b1=Q 31.Bxb1 Rxb1 32.Rxb1 Nxb1 33.a5 Nc3 34.a6 Nb5 35.Kg2 Kf8 36.Kf3 Ke7 37.Ke4 Kd6 White is lost.

White’s position looks so desperate that I suddenly imagined Taimanov mocking Shamkovich after playing 29.Bb7 and saying ‘You don’t catch me, you don’t catch me’ and then Shamkovich taking furiously the bishop just to see 30.Re8#. So, what about 29.Bb7?

A) 29... b2 30.a5 b1=Q 31.Rxb1 Nxb1 32.a6 followed by 33.a7 with a possibly drawn endgame B+2P vs N+3P.

However, after

B) 29... g6 30.a5 Rxb7 31.a6 Ra7 White is lost.

The problem with 29.Bb7 is that it gives much election to Black. Therefore, let’s change the move order to force line A) above with 29.a5:

A) 29... b2 30.Bb7

A.1) 30... b1=Q 31.Rxb1 as the previous A) line.

A.2) 30... g6 31.a6 followed by a7.

B) 29... g6 30.a6 as in line A.2).

I suspect I’m missing something but after watching L Dominguez vs Aronian, 2009 I don’t feel like scratching my head any longer.

Jan-30-09  Woody Wood Pusher: I saw the draw on this quickly. There isn't a win here is there, right?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <playground player: Does anybody really care that I solved this puzzle toot-sweet?>

Yes, you do! And surely that is all that matters.

But have a huge metaphorical pat on the back from me. I missed this one.

Jan-30-09  solskytz: (to Life Master AJ) still, your honesty is impressive...

I vaguely, kind of, got the Bb7 + a5 idea but didn't find the correct move order, was slightly overwhelmed by the advanced b-pawn supported by the Kt and gave it up after less than a minute... :-) didn't happen in my game, so what should I care ? :-)

Jan-30-09  YouRang: Well, I correctly figured out that the best I was going to get was a draw.

Then I correctly figured out that I would somehow take advantage of black's back-rank vulnerability (probably by putting my bishop on the b-file at some point).

I'm feeling pretty generous today, so I'll give myself half credit. :-p

Jan-30-09  njchess: This seems a bit too easy for a Friday. Given the position, White's only hope is for a draw, or a blunder by Black (extremely unlikely).

White has the initiative and a move in hand since Black must protect his king. White will play a5! and eventually, the pawns and the rooks will leave the table (barring a blunder) leaving a drawn position.

Time to check.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MichaelJHuman: Forgive my (probably silly question,) but how were the players able to realize it was a draw with so much material left on the board, with one side ahead a pawn?

I would guess high level players are good at analyzing these endings on an intuitive level, but do you think they were actually able to see enough moves to be sure it was a draw?

Jan-30-09  dzechiel: <MichaelJHuman: Forgive my (probably silly question,) but how were the players able to realize it was a draw with so much material left on the board, with one side ahead a pawn?>

These kinds of positions have been heavily analyzed in the past. With each side having only one minor piece and the pawns facing each other, the strategy of the player with fewer pawns is to exchange them off, and then finally give up his piece for the last pawn.

If there were pawns on both sides of the board, then the position would be much less clear, and play would continue.

Jan-30-09  SmotheredKing: I found Bb7, but only because its just about the only playable move for white. Since Black must guard the back rank, white can then march his a-pawn up quickly enough (while sacrificing his rook for black´s passer)to force black to sac his rook for it, after which white seems to have drawing chances... however I did not calculate this out, I only though Bb7 seemed to be the only playable move because it bars black from recapturing at b1 with the rook.
Premium Chessgames Member
  MichaelJHuman: Thanks Dz - your answer completely answered my question in a way I could understand!
Jan-30-09  SamAtoms1980: <Once: At first I thought this must be the easiest Friday ever. White should now do the gentlemanly thing and resign.>

That is, in fact, exactly what I eventually did. Needless to say, I was well aware that this was not the solution to the problem. I saw the possibility of Bb7 (Black cannot, of course, take the bishop) and figured that White was probably playing for a draw, but I was not aware of the following:

* That after 29 Bb7 b2, White can get out for only one pawn down with 30 a5 b1=Q 31 Rxb1 Nxb1 32 a6 Nc3 33 a7 Rd8 34 a8=Q Rxa8 35 Bxa8, a successful outcome given the bleak outlook.

* That after 29 Bb7? Black does not push the pawn but simply plays 29 ... h6 and wins

* That White can enforce the above idea by starting with 29 a5! (if 29 ... h6 30 a6 and White has tied up the score)

* That after the combination, i.e., 29 a5 b2 30 Bb7 b1=Q 31 Rxb1 Nxb1 32 a6 Nc3 33 a7 Rd8 34 a8=Q Rxa8 35 Bxa8, despite being a pawn behind, White has a theoretical draw (the actual game reaches this setup by a more roundabout course).

Until I become well-versed in these kind of details, I will be indefinitely relegated to the Workweek League.

Jan-30-09  waustad: For me getting a Friday puzzle is rare enough that I'll post a brief gloat.
Premium Chessgames Member
  LIFE Master AJ: This is a theoretical draw ... the GM's here - of course - knew this. However, if I were playing anyone but a strong master, I think I would have to continue to play on as Black.
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