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Iztok Jelen vs Bent Larsen
Vidmar Memorial 4th (1977), Ljubljana/Portoroz, Jun-??
Zukertort Opening: Queenside Fianchetto Variation (A04)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: <Once> There's actually a final wrinkle to the puzzle. What if white had played 42 Qe8 (with the threat Qxh5+)?

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Assuming best play is 42..Rcc2 43 Qxh5+ Kxg3 44 Rb1 Rxh5 45 gxh5, we are left with the folowing position.

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Is this a forced win for black?

Dec-17-09  YouRang: Well, now that I posted the 'easy' answer, it is obvious that I didn't look deep enough to see that this only draws. What was up with 39...Rc5?
Dec-17-09  YouRang: Thanks <Once> for the explanation. Add me to the ranks of the confused.

Again, today I didn't go deep enough to understand the position because it looked too simple. :-(

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <Jimfromprovidence> After 41...g5, I think white is thoroughly busted. Fritz rates all of white's choices as -3 or worse.

From your diagram, the silicon monster likes 45...Rc6, when the b4 pawn is taboo because of Rc1# and the black king will round up h5.

Not exactly what you would call a forced win ("all rook endings are drawn", right?), but in the realm of "best play" I'd say it's enough to chalk up the point for black.

Dec-17-09  Eduardo Leon: <Jimfromprovidence>, after the sequence you gave...

42.♕e8 ♖cc2 43.♕xh5+ ♔xg3 44.♖b1 ♖xh5 45.gxh5

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... black simply plays...


Black stops the h pawn and defends his own b6 pawn. The b4 pawn is lost anyways.

If white captures the b4 pawn immediately...

46.♖b3+ ♔h4 47.♖xb4+ ♔xh5

... a tablebase winning position for black is reached.

Dec-17-09  Eduardo Leon: <Once>, YaY! I found a computer move without a computer! (Although, frankly, 45...♖c6 wasn't that difficult to find.)
Dec-17-09  awfulhangover: 41.-g5?? Why commit suicide when you have an easy perp?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: <Eduardo Leon> After 45...Rc6, white should not play 46 Rb3+ because it loses a lot quicker to 46...Rc3.

Removing the mate threat with 45...Rf1 is better. Now, for simplicity, if 46 Kh4 Rxb4+ Kxh5 black has a tablebase mate in 47 moves!

click for larger view

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <Eduardo Leon> Good call! A slight improvement would 45... Rc6 46. Rb3+ Rc3 and once again the c4 pawn is immune.
Premium Chessgames Member
  chrisowen: An interesting game, looks difficult though escaping a draw. Qc8+ Qg4 knight in iz token play. I lent thoughts for Rxg5 fxg4 then jousting with the idea of Rg2+ Kh1 Rg2+ perpetual but does black have more? Logically it is drawn but after Rc5 Qd8? black is riding on the crest of a wave with g5! A nice composition almost, the standard has picked up. Glancing through that post of <TheaN> he notices the lady is offside handing over a fantastic lot hear of drawing effort: the queen must remain on the light squares d7, e6 to stand any chances covering g4.
Dec-17-09  Eduardo Leon: <Once>, <Jimfromprovidence>, you are right, after 45...♖c6 46.♖b3, 46...♖c3! is stronger. However, in my original analysis, the rook was "stuck" in c6 to prevent the h pawn from advancing.
Dec-17-09  Eduardo Leon: <Jimfromprovidence>, the position you arrived at after 45...♖c6 46.♔f1 ♔h4 47.♖xb4+ ♔xh5 only differs from the one arrived at by the fact the white king is in f1 and not on g1.
Dec-17-09  WhiteRook48: i had Qc8+
Dec-17-09  CHESSTTCAMPS: A delicious tactical position has been reached: Larsen has advanced his king all the way across the board to participate in a middlegame attack with queens on the board. The winningest tournament player of his era (~1965-1975) is up an exchange plus pawn and threatens to force mate with 36... Qd4+ or Rg2+. But has he paid a price for his aggressive king position? There is only one way to find out, white's only chance in this position:


In view of 36... Rxc8(??) 37.Ng5#, some players might be shocked into resigning - but not very likely in Larsen's case.

37... Qg4!

Forced, but an adequate spoiler. After all, that dominating rook on the 2nd rank can deliver at least a perpetual check - so why worry - be happy.


Necessary, because if 38.fxg4 Rxc8, the mate is gone and black is winning. If 38.Qxg4+ hxg4 39.fxg4 Rg2+ 40.Kh1 Rxh2+ 41.Kg1 Kxg3 also wins for black. Also inadequate is 38.Qxc5 Rg2+ 39.Kh1 Rxh2+ 40.Kg1 Qxg3#.

38... Rxg5 39.fxg4 Rg2+ 40.Kh1 Rxh2+ 41.Kg1 Rg2+ 42.Kh1

Now the essential question is whether or not the enterprising Larsen can still win this with R+3/4 pawns for the Q and white's king trapped in the corner. This is very tricky to visualize and prove a result:

A) 42... hxg4 43.Qh8+ Kxg3 44.Qc6 Rh2+ 45.Kg1 and white seems to survive, e.g. 45... g3 (Kxg3?? 46.Qd6+) 46.Rf2 looks good for white.

B) 42... Rxg4 43.Rf3 seems to hold.

Therefore, I opt for

C) 42...Rh2+ = a boring GM draw!

But there are plenty of opportunities for error by white - time to check.

BTW my record against Larsen is 1-0, disclaimer below.

<70+ board simul by Larsen in Teeside, England in 1972 - he had 4 losses in all and a handful of draws. The rest were Larsen wins. I have no knowledge of the overall strength of the opposition by British grade or other measure.>

Dec-17-09  GreenFacedPatzer: Very good puzzle.
At first, I thought white had an easy mate in two, but then I spotted black's counter mate-threats. The games really continues on a knife-edge for some time, with each player _almost_ checkmating the other, but... not... quite. In the end, I didn't see how white could escape.

Needless to say, I didn't work through all the complications to safely draw for white. (It's some slight consolation that in this game, neither did the white player.)

Dec-17-09  CHESSTTCAMPS: Obviously I wasn't familiar with the game (or had forgotten it) - so my presumption of "attack" (rather than escape) by black in my post was pretty inept. In any case, a great puzzle!
Dec-17-09  Skakalec: I'm looking at the position after 32... Bd2 and trying to figure out how difficult would it be for ME to find winning move 33.Qh8
Premium Chessgames Member
  DarthStapler: I got it but I figured black would take the perpetual check with Rxh2+
Dec-17-09  Loudpipes: White wins this one at 37. Qxg4+

How could white miss that?

Puzzle solved.

Dec-17-09  YouRang: <Loudpipes: White wins this one at 37. Qxg4+ >


Dec-17-09  TheaN: <White wins this one at 37. Qxg4+ >

Er... noooh? ^^

Dec-17-09  ohfluckaduck: Once, ... your right, white erred when he played 40. QD8. QE6 is much better and leads to a draw.
Dec-18-09  muralman: I was rather taken aback by white's divergence from my line where I got a checkmate. I took queen takes queen at move 37. Black has to take my queen with his H pawn. Then I drop down my knight to G5 for checkmate. right?
Dec-18-09  I play the Fred: muralman, your proposal fails to 38...Rxg5.
Dec-18-09  WhiteRook48: 42 Qh8 lasts longest (move 52)
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