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Robert Henry Steinmeyer vs Hans Berliner
Golden knight championship playoff (1959) (correspondence), U.S.
King's Indian Defense: Saemisch Variation (E80)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  tpstar: Black to Play and Win after 34. Qb4:

click for larger view

This is Puzzle #6 for the Andy Soltis "Chess to Enjoy" Quiz in the May 2017 "Chess Life" and the full game is provided by Alex Dunne on Page 45 in his tribute ("Hans Berliner, 1929-2017").

For the game continuation, those connected passed Pawns on the second rank remind me of McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais, 1834

Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: A little easy for Sunday (i.e., solved it), but amazing position! And the means by which the four Queen side pawns dodged each other also impressed. Finished 5/6 with one previously known for the week. Sadly, flubbed Tuesday. Yes, Tuesday.
Sep-15-19  newzild: My first thought was 34...Bxf4, with the idea:

35. Bxc5 Qxc5!
36. Qxc5 Be3+
37. Qxe3 Rxe3

and it looks like Black's pawns will be faster.

However, the simple 35. gxf4 either breaks the blockade on c5 or wins the pawn on a3.

Sep-15-19  landshark: Hats off to Hans Berliner, one of the greatest correspondence players of all time - Gorgeous old-school win!
Sep-15-19  1stboard: Who says a queen is worth more than a pawn(s) .....

Depends on the situation.

After black's 36th move - there is nothing more beautiful than what is pictured , two pawn's side by side on the 7th rank and white's queen is worth nothing.

Lovely finish.

Sep-15-19  alshatranji: I had 35 ... b2, which seems to win also. But qc5 is more effective of course. Very nice overall.
Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: I find it easier to solve a Black to move puzzle by actually looking at it from the Black side. So after going to settings and flipping the board, I picked 32...a3!! as my solution to today's Sunday puzzle.

I correctly guessed the first five moves of the combination (i.e. 32...a3!! 33. Qd2 b3 34. Qb4 a2 35. Bxc5 Qxc5+ 36. Qxc5 b2 -+).

However, after 37. Qf2 I couldn't decide which pawn to promote. I went with 37...a8(Q) -+ (-3.97 @ 35 ply, Stockfish 10), which wins with difficulty after 38. Qf1 Qa3 -+.

Stronger, however, is the game continuation 37...b8(Q) -+ (-6.94 @ 34 ply, Stockfish 10), which simplifies to a easier win after 38. Qf1 Qxf1 39. Qxd1 Ra8 -+.

P.S.: So where did White go wrong?

White's game took a bad turn with 22. Qf2?, allowing the strong, surprise move 22...Nce4! ∓ to -+ (-1.20 @ 34 ply, Stockfish 10).

Instead, 22. Rcd1 = (0.00 @ 31 ply, Stockfish 10) appears to hold it level.

Earlier, instead of 11. a3 exd4 = (+0.00 @ 32 ply, Stockfish 10), our Opening Explorer indicates the first player has had more success with 11. Rad1 ⩲ to ± (+0.64 @ 31 ply, Stockfish 10) as in White's wins in Portisch vs S Kagan, 1973 and G Flum vs J Konikowski, 1978.

Sep-15-19  alshatranji: Do Black must have seen 38... Qxd1 in advance. Really beautiful.
Sep-15-19  poachedeggs: Instead of engine thinks 37.Qb4 is better...what is the response?
Sep-15-19  Hercdon: <poachedeggs> Something like 37...a1=Q 38.Rf1 Bxf4 39.gxf4 Re2 40.h3 Qa2 41.Bh1 Rc2 42.Qd6 Qxc4 43.Qd8+ Kg7 44.Qe7+ Qf7 45.Qa3 Kh6 46.Bg2 Qe8 47.Qd3 Rc1 48.Kf2 b1=Q 49.Qxb1 Rxb1 50.Rxb1 and white is down quite a bit according to Stockfish
Sep-15-19  erniecohen: <newsild>: 34...bxf4 wins just fine (35. Bxc5 Be3+). So the problem is indeed sort of cooked. (Sort of because after the exchange on f4 you still need to play a2.)
Sep-15-19  RKnight: <erniecohen> 34...bxf4 seems more like a transposition that a cook.

I'd like to pay tribute to Hans Berliner, as <landshark> said, one of the greatest correspondence players. Hans and I were colleagues at the university in the 1980's and 1990's, while he built Hitech, the then best computer chess program. For this reason, I tried extra hard to solve this puzzle, but didn't see the game continuation all the way to the end.

Premium Chessgames Member
  agb2002: White threatens B(Q)xc5 and Qxa3.

After 34... a2 35.B(Q)xc5 Qxc5+ 36.Q(B)xc5 b2 Black seems to win decisive material.

Sep-15-19  TheaN: <patzer2> did you get the puzzle at move 32 or something? 'cause that's indeed a3, but the puzzle's 34 (a2).

I did not really attempt this, but I probably would have seen it with proper time. The combination plays relatively straightforward: after 35....Qxc5+! White's queen can't return to the first rank in one move, essentially 'threatening' to go up a full queen with 36....b2; therefore 37.Qf2 and 38.Qf1, rather than taking on b1, but the coup de grace is 38....Qxd1!! which forces White's hand after 39.Qxd1 Ra8 40.c5 (Qa1 Bg7 -+) a1=Q 41.Qxa1 (Qf1 Qc3 -+) Rxa1+ 42.Kf2 Bxf4 -+, with probably the practical (mind that giving back the piece isn't even required): 43.gxf4 Rc1 44.c6 Bxc6 45.bxc6 Rxc6 and White has a hopeless endgame.

Sep-16-19  newzild: <erniecohen> Yes, good point.
Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: <TheaN> Thanks! In between working on a bathroom flooring project and looking at chess puzzles, I was fatigued and got confused going back over this puzzle.

I actually picked 34...a2 and correctly guessed the next two moves 35. Bxc5 Qxc5+ 36. Qxc5 b2 -+.

After 37. Qf2 I couldn't decide which pawn to promote, and picked the second best move 37...a8(Q) -+. Best of course is the game continuation 38...b8(Q) -+, because it simplifies to an easier win.

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