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Michael Steadman vs Brett Rider
North Shore Open (1995), Auckland NZL, rd 3, Sep-23
Spanish Game: Morphy Defense. Archangelsk Variation (C78)  ·  1-0



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  Phony Benoni: Naturally looked at 21.Nxh6+. That seems OK, but I got to wondering if there might be more damage available. So 21.Nxg7 Kxg7 22.Bxh6+ Kxh6 23.Qxf6, with 24.Nf5 coming seemed possible.

Doesn't look like declining either minor piece helps much; White reaps too much material. Nor does the queen sack-back by 24...Qxf5 promise much; after 25.exf5 White already has two pawns extra, and can pick up more or play for f5-f6 getting the ♗c2 into the attack.

Black would probably decline the knight after 21.Nxh6+. This limits the immediate damage to a pawn, and his kingside remains intact for the moment.

Nov-02-12  C4gambit: I knew it was time for the f6 night to jump on it's target, just didn't know which one was the target!!
Nov-02-12  Razgriz: Oh wow. So close yet so far. I was thinking of something like Nxh6+.
Nov-02-12  The Last Straw: This appears to have a similar theme compared with another puzzle we had during the summer.
Nov-02-12  M.Hassan: "Difficult"
White to play 21.?
No exchangs has taken place

21.Nxh6+ gxf6
22.Qxf6 Qe7
23.Nh5 Qxf6
24.Nxf6+ Kg7
25.Nxe8+ Rxe8
White has gained more materials

On move 22, Black could defend by Bishop:

22.Qxf6 Bd8
23.Nh5 Bxf6
24.Nxf6+ Kg7
White has gained a Bishop and a pawn so far

Time to check and if this is the solution, not difficult at all.

Nov-02-12  LoveThatJoker: <21. Nxg7! Kxg7 22. Bxh6+! Kxh6>

(22...Kh7 is probably best for White but after 23. Qxf6 Rg8 24. Bd2, White is up two clear pawns)

<23. Qxf6 Rg8>

[23...Bd8 24. Nf5+ Kh5 (24...Qxf5 25. Qxf5 ) 25. Bd1#]

<24. Nf5+ Kh7>

(24...Qxf5 25. Qxf5 )

<25. Qg5> 1-0


Nov-02-12  thegoldenband: This is a perfect example of the maxim attributed to Tarrasch -- that when you see a good move, you should sit on your hands and see if you can find a better one. In this case, 21. Nxh6+ looked pretty good, but Black's ability to stop the worst of the attack with 22. Qxf6 Qe7 made me figure there had to be something better -- and in particular, something that would allow for the second Knight to come to f5 with check.

And thus, 21. Nxg7, followed by the forceful 22. Bxh6+, which has the virtue of making Black dance to White's tune for an extra move's worth of mayhem. Total thinking time? About 90 seconds, which I cite not as self-praise (if anything it evinces my laziness!) but to say that it's really a fairly routine position as long as you check the most forcing, momentum-creating moves.

Nov-02-12  TheBish: M Steadman vs B Thompson, 1995

White to play (21.?) "Difficult"

White can win a pawn with 21. Nxh6+ (gxh6 22. Qxf6), but there is a stronger move.

21. Nxg7! Kxg7

Not accepting the knight is certain death (21...Rb8 22. Qxf6 Bd8 23. Qf5!, emerging a piece ahead), so this is pretty forced.

22. Bxh6+! Kxh6

And this is a no-brainer, since if 22...Kg8 23. Qxf6 will mate on g7; also 22...Kh7 23. Bxf8 Rxf8 24. Qxf6 wins an Exchange and two pawns.

23. Qxf6 Kh7

The threat was 24. Nf5+ Kh7 25. Qg7#, or if 24...Kh5 25. g4#. Transposing is 23...Rg8 24. Nf5+ Kh7.

24. Nf5 Rg8 (forced) 25. Qg5 and now Black can choose between resigning and surrendering the queen with 25...Qxf5, since the threat of 26. Qh6# cannot otherwise be met -- 25...Rh8 26. Qh6+ Kg8 27. Qg7#. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Nov-02-12  stst: Initial:
IF (A).....gxh6, good for W: 22.Qxf6 Bd8
IF (B).....Kh7,...
to be continued later...
Nov-02-12  Rravshan: what about following line?
21. Bxh6 gxh6 22.Nxh6 Kg7 23. Nh5 Nxh5 24. Qxh5
I think it is not far from check mate. only potential obstacle is Rh8 from black. but if white brings his rooks the game is over.
Nov-02-12  diagonalley: nice... but sadly i didn't even consider Nxg7... DOH! 0/10
Nov-02-12  Abdel Irada: <The art of blackmail<<<>>>>

Chess, it has been said, is a game of extortion: One wrests concessions by threatening worse exactions. Today's puzzle perfectly illustrates this maxim.

As is so often true in this sort of position (which arises with some frequency in closed variations of the Ruy Lopez), one is tempted to "sacrifice" knight or bishop on h6, but one does still better to play

<21. Nxg7!...<>>.

This sets Black a problem. He can't really decline the offer, since this means losing not only the g-pawn (with its concomitant impairment of pawn structure and king safety, but also either the exchange (on e8) or his now undefended knight (on f6).

He may briefly entertain the thought of a counterattack with 21. ...Nh4?, but this idea is soon discouraged by 22. Qxf6, Bd8; 23. N7h5!. This threatens mate on g7, forcing 23. ...Bxf6; 24. Nxf6†, Kg7; 25. Nxd7, Rh8; 26. Nh5†, Kg6; 27. Ndf6, Rd8; 28. Bd1!, when White is two pieces ahead — and that may seem like the least of Black's problems, since his rooks are paralyzed and his knight in danger of being trapped.

This means Black must accept the sacrifice:

<21. ...Kxg7
22. Bxh6†!...<>>

Now Black has to decide again.

<(1) 22. ...Kxh6
23. Qxf6...>

This threatens mate in two. If, for example, 23. ...Bd8?; 24. Nf5†, and Black will have to give up queen for knight to avoid immediate defeat: If 24. ...Kh7??; 25. Qg7#, and if 24. ...Kh5??; 25. g4#.

<23. ...Rg8
24. Nf5†, Kh7
25. Qg5! >

After this quiet move, which some here have dubbed a "GOOT," White threatens mate with 26. Qh6 or 26. Qh5, and 25. ...Rg7 only delays this by a move. By this fatal threat, White exacts his price: Black must give up his queen.

But what if Black declines the second sac?

<(2) 22. ...Kh7<>>

Not 22. ...Kg8/Kh8??; 23. Qxf6/Qxf6†, when mate cannot be avoided.

<23. Qxf6, Rg8
24. Nf5...<>>

Black reaches another crossroads. He can defend with

<(2.1) 24. ...Rd8<>>,

at the cost of leaving White two pawns ahead and with the advantage of continuing pressure against an insecure kingside, which, alas, is probably his best choice. Or he can try to get frisky:

<(2.2) 24. ...Bd8?
25. Qxd6, Qxd6
26. Nxd6, Kxh6
27. Nxb7, Bb6
28. Nd6, Ref8
29. Nf5† >

Now White is three solid pawns ahead, and the rest is what we in Santa Cruz used to call "a matter of tek-nee-QUAY."

But then, "blackmail" is such an ugly word.

Nov-02-12  Moonwalker: Very nice! I examined Bxh6 and Nxh6, Nxg7 never occurred to me! I wish I could see moves like that, but then I'd be a much better chess player! Signing off for the week; bring on Monday!
Nov-02-12  gofer: Well first we look at Nxh6, then Bxh6, then finally we look at Nxg7! Nxg7 looks about right!

<21 Nxg7 ...>

Threatening Nxe8, Qxf6 and Bxh6, at the same time black has to avoid

21 ... Kxg7
22 Bxh6+ Kxh6
23 Qxf6 Bd8
24 Nf5+ Kh5
25 g4#

21 ... Re6
22 Bxh6

21 ... Rb8
22 Bxh6 Bd8
23 Nh4

<21 ... Kg7>
<22 Bxh6 ...>

As shown above black must avoid Kxh6

<22 ... Kh7>
<23 Qxf6 Rg8>
<24 Nf5 ...>

Poor old black... Ng6 is sitting the dumb-struck surrounded by the enemy, black can't play Bd8 because Qxd6 loses yet another pawn, but playing anythin else allows Bf8! creating mating threats with the queen dancing round Ng6 on the dark squares...


So black walked into "the queen dancing round Ng6 on the dark squares" mate. But was there a defence? Just looking at this position at the start, you have to hate where the black bishops are. White's pieces are in a far superior position!

Nov-02-12  Abdel Irada: <Moonwalker>: The great thing about puzzles like this is that they familiarize you with positional themes.

Next time you see a position like this, I can more or less promise that <Nxg7> *will* occur to you quickly.

This will be helpful to you not only in solving future puzzles, but also when (as happens pretty often in the Ruy Lopez) a cognate position comes up in a real game.

Nov-02-12  Djoker: I tried Nxh6 and it was not decisive after Nxh6 Pxh6. Qxf6 Bd8. Qd3.

So, next was 21.Nxg7 Kxg7 22.Bxh6 Kxh6(can't decline this one)23.Qxf6 with mate threat after Nf5+ 21...Bd8/Qe7 is probably the only variation. It may follow 22.Nxe8 Rxe8 23.Bxh6..with a significant advantage. Though I guess I am missing something in this line. Any takers?

Nov-02-12  gofer: After...

21 Nxg7 Kxg7
22 Bxh6+ Kh7
23 Qxf6 Rg8
24 Nf5 Bd8
25 Qxd6 Qxd6
26 Nxd6 Kxh6
27 Bxb7 Bb6
28 Nd6 Ref8
29 Nf5+ ...

We reach this position...

click for larger view

...where white is three pawns up, two of which are passed pawns.

Its not over, but black's fans are already leaving the stadium to avoid the traffic.

Nov-02-12  Abdel Irada: Before this game, the player with Black was heard correcting the spelling of his name on the pairing chart: "That's Thompson with a 'p,' as in "pterodactyl."

Afterward, he tried to pass off the game as having been played by the other "twin," Thomson.


On a serious note, I think Thompson's "spider sense" must have failed to warn him of deadly danger. Not only did he surrender all chances of queenside counterplay with 14. ...b4, but he then allowed his opponent to post a knight on f5 without resistance; at the least, he should have exchanged off a pair of knights with 19. ...Nxf5. As the old aphorism has it, "Comes in, comes off."

And what was the purpose of 16. ...Nh7 except to station the knight on g5? Black missed his last chance to defend (such as it was) when he played the inconsistent 19. ...Nf6?!; 20. Qf3, Ng6?, completely failing to anticipate the real weakness of his kingside. (Of course, it should be borne in mind that White already had a crushing preponderance on that wing.)

Nov-02-12  morfishine: A powerful attacking formation for White with minor pieces aimed at <h6> & <g7>. Black seems secure enough with both Knights parked nearby; and he can cutoff one attacker with <Nf4> (albeit at the cost of a pawn) Three candidates come to mind: (1) Bxh6 (2) Nxh6 (3) Nxg7 All must be looked at:

(1) <21.Bxh6> Has the advantage of passing thru <f4> before Black can block the diagonal. However, after, <21...gxh6 22.Nxh6+ Kg7 23.Ngf5+ Kh7> Black appears safe for the moment

click for larger view

(2) <21.Nxh6+ gxh6 22.Bxh6 (If 22.Qxf6 Bd8)...Bd8 23.Bxf8 (if 23.Bg5 Nh7) ... Kxf8> Here, White has given up two-minors for Rook + 2-pawns, and I don't see anything immediately decisive:

click for larger view

(3) <21.Nxg7> If Black accepts the Knight: <21...Kxg7 22.Bxh6+ Kxh6 23.Qxf6> and here <23...Bd8> fails to <24.Nf5+> and Black is forced to surrender the Queen with <24...Qxf5> (bad for Black is 24...Kh5 25.g4 mate and 24...Kh7 25.Qg7 mate). And White wins after <25.Qxf5> (25...Bc8 being impossible due to 26.Qxc8 [after 23...Bd8, the WSB is no longer protected by the rooks)

click for larger view

In the above line, does Black have better than 23...Bd8? If 23...Bc8, then 24.Nf5+ Qxf5 25.exf5 Bd8 26.Qxd6 and the White Queen escapes holding the pin on Black's Knight:

click for larger view

Time to check the game score:
Well, I was on the right track with <21.Nxg7> until Black improves with <23...Rg8> vs <23...Bd8>

A very nice technical finish by White!

Nov-02-12  Al2009: I don't want to seem a "spoil-sport", but Black's position is so bad, that even without a sac, after 21. Nh5! Nxh5 (forced) 22. Qxh5, Black is lost (now White's threat is 23. Bxh6) if 22...Ne7. 23. Nxg7 Kxg7 24. Bxh6+ Kg8 25. Qg5+ Ng6 26. Qf6 and then #
Nov-02-12  francis2012: I'm also thinking this line 1. ♘xh6+ gxh6 2. ♕xf6 but never been coming out from my mind the stronger move ♘xg7.
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: Must be my happy day, today.
Nov-02-12  morfishine: Hi <Al2009> In your line starting with 21.Nh5 (which is another interesting try), Instead of 22...Ne7, Black plays <22...Bd8> and is able to defend after 23.Bxh6 gxh6 24.Qxh6 <24...Bf6>

Perhaps there is a different move-order allowing White to break thru since you are for-the-most-part right: White's Knight on <f5> is so powerful, that it seems superior to both Black Knights combined!

Nov-02-12  Cibator: This is a fairly standard attacking procedure, sac' ing a N at g7 to lure the K forward, then a second sac of the B at h6 followed - main point - by the irruption of the Q to f6, forcing the K out into the open altogether. I had this one about to go off in one of my games, but my opponent scented danger and nicked off the f5 N before I could spring it.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gilmoy: Heh. For those of you whose eyes don't "see" Nxg7 yet, take heart: we started there, too. Solve PotDs here for a couple of years, and your eyes will learn.

I did it the other way around: <21.Nxg7> felt right in ~1 second (before I saw White's back row configuration), whereas it took me almost 20 seconds to even notice Nxh6+. (Some meta-gaming from experience: toward the end of the chessgames week, we start to reverse-prune away the coffeehouse sacs.)

N.B. It helps greatly to have played Nxg7/Nxg2 and won OTB, even in 5m blitz on free sites like Pogo. The work you put in to calculate it out, and even to make it a plan element from 2-4 moves earlier and jockey for it, is the most indelible kind of training. Of course, there's a bit of chicken-and-egg in that you have to "see" a move before you can judge whether it's worth a think. Glean nuggets from PotDs and game study, and then go ye forth and smite some fish.

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