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Rafael Vaganian vs Johann Hjartarson
8th ECC round of 16 (1991), Munich GER, rd 1, Sep-15
English Opening: Agincourt Defense. Catalan Defense (A14)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 3 OF 3 ·  Later Kibitzing>
May-24-08  jovack: this is what i played out
exd5, rook takes queen
pawn takes knight (obvi), queen takes pawn
rook takes queen, then trade rooks

or if his rook takes first, you make a queen, and you're up a bishop on him

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: I like this sequence a little better than the text, just because it has the potential to get all of the major pieces off of the board.

36 Rxe2 Rxe2 37 Rxh6+ gxh6 38 Qd3+ Qe4 39 Qxe4+ Rxe4 40 Bxe4 Kg7.

click for larger view

I know, neither 37… gxh6 nor 38….Qe4 are forced.

May-24-08  Marmot PFL: For a weekend puzzle this wasn't bad, and I found de6 quickly and worked out the tactics except for missing Rxh6+ at the end (which is best but not necessary to win). Vaganian may or may not have seen that at the beginning of the combination, depending on how much time he spent on the move and what alternatives if any he considered.
May-24-08  cydmd: <wouldpusher> brought us why Black resigned. Just a minor fix in one of his lines.

36... Kxh6 37.Qg5+! Kh7 38.Qh5 Kg8 39.Rd8+ and mate follows easily.

In the original line, White queen goes first to h4 and then to g5.

May-24-08  DavidD: An incredibly complicated position that requires good calculating abilities to solve. It's not possible (or at best, highly unlikely) to come to any type of conclusion based on general principles or a positional assessment. One has to simply calculate lines as far as possible. There are at least 4 candidate moves to consider: 1) 33. Qxb3, 2) 33. Rxc2, 3) 33. Rxd7, and 4) 33. de (the game move). Only after looking at each move could you really come to the conclusion that 33. de and exd7 with the threat of queening is the most promising line. Even if calcuated first, the other lines have to be calculated as well. The ability to calculate lines accurately such as those in today's puzzle is one of the biggest differences between masters and non-masters.
May-24-08  A.G. Argent: <johnlspouge> Dr. John, you got another link to proffer inre the Arabian mate? Unfortunately, the one you posted is defuncto.
Premium Chessgames Member
  johnlspouge: <<A.G. Argent> wrote: <johnlspouge> Dr. John, you got another link to proffer inre the Arabian mate? Unfortunately, the one you posted is defuncto.>

Hi, <A.G.>. The problem is temporary, and with the site. In any case, here is another link: I have found having names for the mates quite useful. Like Adam in Genesis naming the animals, naming the mates gives you that little extra bit of control.

In any case, thanks for letting me know my link was unzipped.

Premium Chessgames Member
  johnlspouge: <<DavidD> wrote: [snip] the other lines have to be calculated as well>

Hi, <DavidD>. I agree completely, but you might be surprised at how provocative your statement is. I included a losing line to Arabian mate to show that miscalculation in today's position can be disastrous. I also posted a lengthy losing line for Black in last Sunday's position

Portisch vs Zsuzsa Polgar, 1991

to reinforce the necessity of calculation, too late to provoke discussion there.

May-24-08  Jesspatrick: This whole game is a great example of a Hedgehog. 30 moves of maneuvering and cautious space grabs and then... Tactics!
May-24-08  Marmot PFL: <DavidD> 33.dxe6 was chosen by intuition for me and fortunately the calculations for once were fairly simple. Anyway two of your moves, 33.Qxb3 Rxd2 and 33.Rxd7 Qxd7, are obviously bad, but the other move 33.Rxc2 Rxe3 34.de6 Rxe6 35.Rxe6 seems like a good alternative for white if the main line failed for some reason.
May-24-08  JG27Pyth: <Solskytz: Only after writing this I saw that actually 36...Kxh6 is also possible, and ho!! no deadly check on d3... but a rook exchange on e2 and then queen checks on h4 and g4 should settle the matter in our favour.>

I couldn't see all you said you saw, but I do see mate in four after 36...Kxh6 (no rook exchange necessary.) ... unless I missed something, which happens rather often.

37.Qg4+ Kh7 38.Qh5+ Kg8 39Rd8+ Re8 40.Rxe8#

May-24-08  Marmot PFL: <johnlspounge 33…Nc5 34.Bxb7 Rxe3 [else, lose material]

34.Rd8+ Kh7 35.exf7 (threatening 36.f8=Q and 36.Rxc2)>

Here also simply 35.Rxc2 and white is a rook up and avoids your trap, so 33...Rxe3 as in the game was almost certainly black's best chance.

Premium Chessgames Member
  johnlspouge: <<Marmot PFL>: wrote: Here also simply 35.Rxc2 and white is a rook up and avoids your trap>

I agree that Black can avoid the trap and even stated that White's aim in choosing the losing line is (obviously) incorrect. I pointed the trap out simply to show that calculation can be necessary to avoid a lengthy pitfall.

<33...Rxe3 as in the game was almost certainly black's best chance>

I disagree, but the evaluation of a "best practical chance" in a losing position is highly subjective. In my view, although the move 36.Rxh6+ is best, it is unnecessarily brilliant. The move 33...Rxe3 has lots of shock value, but many (if not most) players would find at least the prosaic winning response I indicated.

May-24-08  solskytz: (to JG27 - on finding the mate) - Yes you do!!! Good catch :-) I didn't see that :-)

enjoy your weekend


May-24-08  dzechiel: Hey, John,

Took me a moment to understand your last comment, as I'm sure you mean that white can play 36 Rxe2 Rxe2 37 Rd5 blocking the queen's access to g2.

I found this problem interesting in the sense that finding the best moves for the winning side was much easier than finding the best lines for the defence (garbage though it may be).


May-24-08  DavidD: The puzzles are all of a highly tactical nature. The drawback is that many chess positions do not require a tactical solution-- in those, one needs a strong positional feel for where to put the pieces, strong and weak lines and squares, and what the long-term plans are. Given the highly tactical nature of these positions, normally one has to find the right tactical ideas and then calculate the lines accurately. The difficulty of the puzzles is then reduced to how hidden the ideas are and how much calculation is required. Naturally, there is a lot of variation in how chess players think. Some will rely on intuition (as mentioned here by several players) while others will calculate as far as is possible for their skill. There is great value in looking at the comments of others in the kibitzing to get a feel for how others handle such positions and how their thinking processes differ. Many players will accurately describe their thinking about how they arrive at a solution. (Other comments, such as johnlspouge, are excellent summaries of the position's solution--clear and concise--yet in no way describe how a chess player actually thinks.) Reading the variety of comments can give a chess player many additional tools to use for solving a chess position.
May-24-08  zb2cr: Saw the first move and the major ideas, but I can't really claim credit here. Oh well.
Premium Chessgames Member
  johnlspouge: <<dzechiel> wrote: Took me a moment to understand your last comment, as I'm sure you mean that white can play 36 Rxe2 Rxe2 37 Rd5 blocking the queen's access to g2.>

Hi, <dzechiel>. Yes, your interpretation is correct.

<I found this problem interesting in the sense that finding the best moves for the winning side was much easier than finding the best lines for the defence (garbage though it may be).>

In retrospect, the word "garbage" is unfair to Black, because it is always easy to second-guess how best to lose a game. The defense chosen has psychological shock value. Unless White has a heart attack, however, Black almost forces him to choose a winning line. In view of <Marmot PFL>'s comments, however, it might be difficult to find a better practical choice. I only know that from the puzzle position, I caught myself considering the losing line leading to the Arabian mate.

May-24-08  jheiner: Saturday. White to Play. Very Difficult.

B for N. Black is up a passed P on b5. White's Q is en prise, as is the attacking R on b3. White's R's are stacked on the d-file, separated by the d5 P which can take on e6 to connect the R's vertically. Moving the d5 P discovers an attack on the Black Q via the light squared B. Black would have a back-rank weakness if the Q or B can control h7. The d5 P is overprotected, could become passed, but can be traded.

The Q is hanging.
33...Qxb3 34.Rxd2 dxe6?? 35.Qxg2#.

Throwing together a few candidates (dxe6, Qxb3, Rxd7) there are not a lot of forcing moves. Black has good counterplay, and may simply be able to find prophylactic moves to keep the position equal. Take a step back and look at the ideas here.

Black almost has a back rank weakness, but not quite. The Black N is poorly placed, while the White B is very strong on the a8-h1 diagonal. The stacked R's could become powerful if activated. The key to this position is the d5 P. That P is extremely powerful and gets more so every step it takes. Don't wait, but be thorough.

34.fxe6? Qxe6+ 35.K moves 36.Bxg7
34.Rxe3 exd7 35.Qxd7 Rxd7 (R+R+B vs. R+R)
34.Rxd3 (threatening Qxg2#) exf7+
35.Kxf7 Qe6+ 36.Kf8 Rxd2 and White should win the d7 N 35.K moves, same as above (check or mate) followed by Rxd2 and White wins d7 N.

Given that this is a Saturday puzzle, i'm sure I missed something. This seemed a little too simple and straightforward. Time to check.

Hmm. I sorta got this one. Didn't think Black would be silly enough to let the P to d8. The d3 idea is clever, but the d8=Q+ is too dangerous. I should have really finished that combination, then I could take full credit. But here is that "almost" back-rank weakness coming through. Black's position was too weak.

Continuation: 36.Rxh6+ Kxh6 37.Qh4+ Kg6 Qg5#

Premium Chessgames Member
  johnlspouge: <<DavidD> wrote: Other comments, such as johnlspouge, are excellent summaries of the position's solution--clear and concise--yet in no way describe how a chess player actually thinks.>

It is how I think ;>)

I am now curious and welcome input on the following statement. Much of chess is positional reasoning - but not all. Although I grant that in tactical situations, some GMs might rely primarily on positional intuition, I would be very surprised if some GMs (Tal foremost among them) did not calculate variations exhaustively.

Last Sunday's puzzle Portisch vs Zsuzsa Polgar, 1991 is the best example I have of a tempting line that requires calculation to a lengthy finish to see that it fails. I will look for other examples in future puzzles.

May-24-08  Marmot PFL: <DavidD> I think you make some very good points. My own lack of ability to concretely visualize complex variations has always frustrated me. In actual games I seem to quickly hit a point of diminishing returns, where additional effort on a position consumes more time and energy than it returns in improved play, so the tendency is to play safe positional ideas, as white does here for most of the game. Still its great to find that occasional pot of gold at rainbow's end and pull off a combination like the one beginning with 28.Bxd6 that leads to 30.Nd5!
May-24-08  DavidD: The final position needs clarification: 36.Rxh6+

A) 36...Kxh6 37.Qg5+ Kh7 38.Qh5+ Kg8 39.Rd8+ Re8 40.Rxe8 mate.

B) 36...gxh6 37.Qd3+ g6 38.Qxe2 (38.Qxc2?? Qxg2 mate) Rxd2 39.Qxd2 wins.

Premium Chessgames Member
  al wazir: <Once: <al wazir> I presume you mean exf7+, not exd7?>

Yes, of course.

That reminds me of the only bridge joke I know. The local hot shot in a small town goes to the big city for the first time and visits the bridge club there. When he gets home, his cronies implore him to share the experience with them: "What was it like?" "How did you do?"

The hot shot says, "Well, nobody criticized my bidding or play. There was only one time anyone said anything. Once I accidentally flipped over a card when I was dealing, and one of the club members said, 'The SOB can't even deal.'"

May-24-08  znprdx: extraordinary...this is a truly elegant study. to go for the promotion was phenomenal.
Jun-28-08  arsen387: 30.Nd5! was a phenomenal move. I think Vaganian already saw that great combination while making this move. He is spectacular as always.

26.Rxh6! Now if gxh6 then Qd3+ decides the game and if Kxh6 then 27.Qh5+ Kg6 28.Qg5+ Kh7 29.Qh6+ Kg8 30.Rd8+ Re8 31.Rxe8#

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