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Van Essen vs Charles Woskoff
L. A. vs San Francisco (1931), San Luis Obispo, Mar-??
Italian Game: Classical. Center Holding Variation (C53)  ·  1-0

ANALYSIS [x]

FEN COPIED

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Nov-12-09  VincentL: Well ! I didn't consider Qg4, although it is obvious once you see it.

This puzzle is a good lesson. One must consider unusual moves, which at first glance one would reject out of hand.

Nov-12-09  Autoreparaturwerkbau: In my view this is probably the coolest puzzle i've in my 5+ years here. It really felt like, easy, once you see the result, yet sooo unlikely to really spot it alone. Congrats to the puzzle inventor, whoever it was! ;)
Nov-12-09  NBZ: <RandomVisitor>
The more I look at the position, the more it seems as though Rybka is right and white's two-pawn advantage is compensated for by black's activity. In the line you showed, 23. Nxg4 f3! 24. Rc2 h5 25. Nge3 fxg2! 26. Nxg2 Rdf8 and black has strong k-side threats- the most direct of course being Rf3. I have looked at a few sample lines and it seems to me white generally loses at least a pawn while black retains good activity.

For example, Rybka's 27. Nfe3 Bxe3 28. fxe3 Rf3 and with white's k-side pawns in such tattered shape, it's difficult for white to claim a real edge.

If 27. Nh2 (preventing Rf3) Rg3! is a bone in the threat for white, threatening both Rxh3 and Rfg8.

27. c4!? (with the idea of c5) Bd4 28. Rd1 c5 followed by Nc6-e5 with good compensation, although white can now play Nh2 or Rd3 to try to untangle.

Also possible after 27. c4 is 27. ... Nc6 27. c5 Nd4!? 28. Rc4 Nf3+ 29. Kh1 Rf4!? with the threat of Rh4.

It's a rich position worth analyzing further, but at this stage I have to say that if white does have any advantage, it's probably of the minimal sort, certainly not anything close to the kind of advantage suggested by a two-pawn superiority.

Nov-12-09  Patriot: <VincentL> On 21.Qb5, how about 21...Qxf3? For example, 22.Qc5+ Kf6 (maintaining the pin--22...Kf8? 23.Qxg8+ followed by 24.gxf3)
Nov-12-09  YouRang: I'm a bit slow on the uptake today. I spent time looking for a winning attack, when the position is clearly crying out for some way to survive.

Black threatens both ...Rxd7 and ...Qxf3 (thanks to pin on Pg2). Any move that gets out of that jam is worth finding. Today is an example of a puzzle where the 'best move' is simply to 'be okay'.

The solution (which I didn't find) is very resourceful, deflecting the black queen (one way or another) from its defense of Pe5, and thus setting up the K+Q knight fork.

Great puzzle. :-)

Nov-12-09  BOSTER: Today move Qg4 was behind of my horizon, maybe because I tried to find the solution without chess, or maybe because I didn't follow <remolino> advice and didn't have coffee before looking at the puzzle, or maybe because I followed A.Soltis' law " if you don't spot a winning shot in the first moments you look at a position, you are not going to find it" I gave up very soon. Maybe this is only coincidence, but about couple month ago ( puzzle from 09/09/09) we had the puzzle with the same idea: to decoy the queen into knight fork. It looks very strange, but solution was Qg4!
Nov-12-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: It looks like our theme for the week is "unlikely combos". White looks busted here, but the saving grace is that the black queen is short of moves. That allows us to wriggle our queen out of her precarious position and defend against Qxf3 by playing Qg4. Everyone else has analysed this to death, so no point in me adding to the story.

To paraphrase <Dzechiel> I found it, but it took a looong time. The only redeeming feature is that it is the only move that saves the game, so hopefully we would have all invested the time in a real OTB game. That for me puts it into a different category to the winning combos which we can fail to spot because we have tempting alternatives, or even just relatively safe moves. Here, everything else loses so we keep on looking until we run out of time or find the answer.

Shaping up to be an enjoyable week...

Nov-12-09  estrick: I wonder how others feel about playing through the game up to the point of the puzzle (in this case through Black's 20th move) before trying to figure out the best continuation?

I don't usually need to do this on Mondays and Tuesdays, but as the week progresses and the level of difficulty increases, it doesn't seem unfair to first get a feel for the flow of the game, which the original players, of course, had. Many say they could solve this or that puzzle but express doubt as to whether they would be able to find the continuation OTB. Doesn't having the context of what led to the position at hand more closely simulate OTB conditions?

Nov-12-09  Patriot: <estrick> Personally, I don't usually play over the entire game. My only interest is the puzzle itself and sometimes one move prior to see if the other player just blundered or if they were lost anyway. Looking one move prior to the puzzle move is sometimes useful in seeing what options the loser was faced with and what I might do to avoid the combination. That is more realistic because that's what you have to do OTB--use tactics offensively AND defensively.

But I do think you bring up a good point. OTB you know exactly what was played before your own move and so you see how the position has changed since that move. When looking at puzzles, you have to start "fresh" with no prior knowledge so that makes it different. In addition, puzzles have no time limit unless you set limits for yourself and that's a huge difference since analysis and clock time are closely related.

In this position, if you already knew that black played 20...Qh5 it would be much more obvious that 21...Qxf3 is threatened, whereas I didn't notice it immediately. That could potentially make the solution easier to find.

Nov-12-09  Marmot PFL: Black grabs the queen then notices his own is lost. If he had just traded it off he might be OK. White has an extra doubled pawn but this would be very hard to convert to a win.
Nov-12-09  A Karpov Fan: totally blind today
Nov-12-09  WhiteRook48: dang it!
Nov-12-09  OrangeBishop: Sadly, if I were playing White, I might have just resigned.

I do think if I were playing Black, I would have noticed that Qxg4 was the better response, assuming I recovered from the punch in the gut.

Nov-12-09  Quentinc: <OrangeBishop> This is another example of why it's so much easier to find the right move in a puzzle than OTB. I might have resigned too, because it looks absurdly hopeless, but since I knew there had to be a way out for White I found it in a couple of minutes.

Black should played 16...O-O-O.

Nov-12-09  remolino: 16... 0-0-0 would have been quite safe, but 20...Qf6 would have been OK too, with counterplay on g file
Nov-12-09  randomsac: Nice, I almost thought the black queen could escape, but then I saw the knight fork.
Nov-12-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  sfm: White is completely lost, losing at least a piece and can even look forward to a speedy mate. And out of nowhere there's this miracle, looking just like one of the moves some play for fun in a blitz game, just before resigning. Only, here it wins. Best for black is probably 21.-,QxQ 22.NxP+,Ke6 23.NxQ,h5 24.Nh2,Rg6 25.Kh1,Rdg8 26.f3 - but White wins anyway.
Nov-12-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: I think 16...0-0-0! would have been more than safe. It looks to give Black a strong advantage with excellent winning chances.

One possibility is 16...0-0-0! 17. Qf3 Qh4! 18. Bxf7 Rg7 19. Bd5 Bxh3 .

Nov-12-09  BOSTER: <JG27Pyth>. <There is no justice. White should be lost here!> I agree. After 17... Ke7 black position is much better and they have very strong attack.
Nov-12-09  reztap: Took a while to find q-g4. I agree if white takes with the rook black has a difficult win.
Nov-12-09  fred lennox: Long live the fork! It's the devils advocate.
Nov-12-09  RandomVisitor: After 21...Qxg4 22.hxg4:

1: Van Essen - Woskoff, L. A. vs San Francisco 1931


click for larger view

Analysis by Rybka 3 : <23-ply>

<1. (0.56): 22...Ke6> 23.N1h2 Rg7 24.a4 a6 25.Rd2 Rxd2 26.Nxd2 Ng8 27.Nc4 Bc5 28.Nf3 Bd6 29.Nxd6 cxd6 30.Nh2 Nf6 31.f3 d5 32.exd5+ Kxd5 33.a5 Rd7 34.Nf1 Kc5 35.Kf2 Kc4 36.g3

2. (0.71): 22...Nc6 23.Rd2 Ke6 24.Rad1 Rxd2 25.N1xd2 Nd8 26.Kf1 Nf7 27.Nh2 Nd6 28.a4 a5 29.Ra1

Nov-12-09  ComboKal: Van Essen??? Never heard of him. An unknown, unranked player, and this being his only game in the data base.

Yet, he finds this brilliant combo (one that I would never have found if I was unaware it was a puzzle!)

I'm just wondering at what point in the game he saw the fork? Was it before he played <20.Nf3>??? If it was, then this is grandmaster stuff!

I get the feeling here that Nf3 was a desperation move, and the rest just fell into place.

To put it into perspective, how many of us (be honest now!!!) would have found this solution if the puzzle began after <19. ...Rad8>???

Nov-12-09  Youngjin: This is very good puzzle.
but Wouldn't 21...Rg5 be better? just a thought.
Nov-12-09  ComboKal: <Youngjin> better, yes, but still a loss after <22.Nxg5+>.
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