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Samuel Reshevsky vs Vladimir Savon
Petropolis Interzonal (1973), Petropolis BRA, rd 16, Aug-16
Benoni Defense: Classical Variation. Czerniak Defense Tal Line (A77)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Jan-27-03  refutor: from Leonard Barden's "Play Better Chess"

"with only a few seconds to make his fortieth and final move before the time control, Reshevsky played 40.Qxg6?? and announced 'Mate!'. A fellow grandmaster described Reshevsky's move as the 'blunder of five centuries' as Savon's bishop too the queen. The tragedy for Reshevsky was accentuated because White has a real mate by 40.g5+ Kxg5 (1. ...Bxg5 41.Rh8#) 41.h4+ Kxh4 42.Qf4#"

that's gotta hurt at an interzonal :(

Dec-28-03  Bears092: something similar happened to me:

[Event "IL State '03"]
[Site "Peoria"]
[Date "2003.3.8"]
[Round "6"]
[White "Andrey Gusev (STV)"]
[Black "Dan Laurila (LF)"]
[TimeControl "55/5"]
[Result "0-1"]

1.e4 e6 2.Nf3 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.d4 Bd6 5.c4 Nf6 6.Bg5 Qe7+ 7.Be3 Bb4+ 8.Nc3 c6 9.Qb3 Be6 10.c5 Bxc3+ 11.Qxc3 Nbd7 12.Bd3 Bg4 13.Ne5 Nxe5 14.dxe5 Nd7 15.h3 Bh5 16.O-O Nxe5 17.Bd4 Nxd3 18.Rfe1 Nxe1 19.Rxe1 f6 20.Rxe7+ Kxe7 21.Qg3 Rhg8 22.Qd6+ Kf7 23.Qc7+ Kg6 24.Qxb7 Rgc8 25.g4 Kh6 26.gxh5 Rab8 27.Qxa7 Ra8 28.Qf7 Rf8 29.Be3+ g5 30.hxg6ep+ Kh5 31.g7+ Rxf7 0-1

I was black here.
31. Qxh7 is mate.

He simply missed it.
He wasn't even in time pressure.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: Actually, Vesely writes that Reshevsky was not in a time pressure here. Alegedly, Reshevsky had 18 minutes left! The speculation is that had Reshewsky been in his usual time pressure he would not have blundered like this.
Jun-07-04  ughaibu: This kind of mistake is easy to make and comes from leaning too far over the board.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: Which brings up a point Botvinnik often made: tall grandmasters (in particular he ment Euwe) see long moves better!
Nov-03-04  aw1988: Kotov must have been an 8 foot giant in that case.
Dec-09-04  Greginctw: 40. Rh8+ Kg5
41. h4+ Kxh4
42. Rxh5+ gxh5
43. Qxh5 mate

Just for those who are curious.

Oct-21-05  EmperorAtahualpa: oh my goodness!
Dec-19-05  chessworm: Its a pretty win for white. Yet I am not getting why it has been put as one of the notable games of Savon.
Dec-24-05  ArturoRivera: anywat, before black allowed a storm in a glass of water, black was much better
Dec-24-05  RookFile: Yes, 28... Qa3 can't be the right idea.
Dec-24-05  likestofork: <ArturoR><RookF> I agree. Your Queen's centralized, your opponent's Queen is hidden somewhere in the Outer Reaches of Oblivion, or the Kuiper Belt, whichever is further away. 28... Bxe4 29 Rxe4 Qc5, and white can either give up a rook for a bishop or a bishop for a pawn (the lesser of the two evils, I think). Of course then, we'd merely have had a run-of-the-mill finish/resignation to the game instead of Reshevsky's phantom mate.

Phantom mate?!? Oh, my....was it an incubus or a succubus?

Dec-24-05  RookFile: Well, it's too bad, I give an aging Reshevsky credit for hanging in there, and if he had 30 seconds more on his clock, I'm sure he would have played 40. g5+ , leading to a real mate.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: Burt Hochberg, who was in the press room at the time, offers a vivid accouunt of the the reaction to Reshevsky's oversight:

Werner Hug, the Swiss International master, came tearing into the room like a bull elephant, yelling; "Reshevsky blundered! My God, what a blunder! He had a mate and sacrificed his Queen!" Bronstein later told me it was "the blunder of five centuries." Anyway, a few minutes later, Reshevsky was pacing the press room looking absolutely distraught. In that atmosphere of general excitement at the approaching end of the tournament, Reshevsky stood alone - God only knows what was in his mind. No one dared speak to him.

Savon, looking sheepish, his blond hair carelessly draped over one eye, followed his compartriots around as they examined the other positions on the demonstration boards. No one was speaking to him either; he looked like the little boy who had done something bad and was sure to be punished later, but at the moment was on his best behavior.

[Chess Life and Review, November 1973]

Dec-28-05  TopaLove: I think before blundering Reshevsky was looking at a pretty girl wearing a short skirt. It spoiled his concentration.
Dec-28-05  HannibalSchlecter: Reminds me of a tournament game I saw between two 1300 players. One of them made a similar move and announced mate, but the other guy believed him, and the blunder was rewarded with the full point. About 15 minutes later after going over the game, the guy who got swindled realized it wasn't mate and filed a protest with the director, but the director said according to the USCF rules, the result stands.
Dec-28-05  notsodeepthought: <HannibalSchlecter> Thanks for the info - I'll have to remember to try that sort of thing the next time I have a losing position against an inexperienced player. If I give check and yell "mate" loudly enough he might believe me...
Dec-28-05  syracrophy: The mating combination was simple: 40.Rh8+ Kg5 41.h4+! Kxh4 42.Rxh5+!! gxh5 43.Qxh5++
Feb-17-06  Stelling: @ <syracrophy> and <Greginctw>. The mating combination is even simpler, as you can see from <refutor>'s comment: 40.g5+ Kxg5 (1. ...Bxg5 41.Rh8#) 41.h4+ Kxh4 42.Qf4#
Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: <chessworm: Its a pretty win for white. Yet I am not getting why it has been put as one of the notable games of Savon.> I believe that the Notable Games selections are made on the basis of the number of visits ("hits") to a particular game. Apparently, this game has more hits than any other of Savon's games.
Sep-08-06  whatthefat: I don't think hits have anything to do with it - it's down to how many games collections it appears in. Unfotunately, they all seem to be rather dubious honours...
Sep-08-06  RookFile: Boy, the hits keep on coming against Reshevsky. This game ranks right up there with getting smacked by Vaganian (which we looked at yesterday) as among Reshevsky's least favorite games.

He won a few games of his own, though...

Premium Chessgames Member
  chancho: This is one memorable blunder. Sammy announces checkmate to his opponent by moving his Queen, and suddenly Savon's Bishop snaps the Queen from the board. Ouch! At the time Bronstein called it "the blunder of five centuries." Guess that distinction no longer applies.
Dec-02-06  thegoodanarchist: Well, I am not even an expert, let alone a master, and the first thing I noticed is that g5+ leads to a quick mate. Poor Sammy - it is bad enough to blunder, but to announce mate and then lose is humiliating.
Jan-26-07  Tactic101: To be honest, the bishop is somewhat easy to forget. Had it been closer to the kingside, Reshevsky wouldn't have dared taken on g6 with the queen. I remember a story in which Anand and his trainer Patrick Wolff were playing a game. Wolff was wondering whether to put his bishop on b2 or a1. Anand advised him to put it on a1 because black might forget it later on. A few moves later, Wolff took a rook with the bishop Anand has forgotten about!
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