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Zoltan Kovacs vs Larry Remlinger
56th US Open (1955), Long Beach, CA USA, rd 12, Aug-19
Nimzo-Indian Defense: Saemisch Variation (E26)  ·  0-1



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sac: 28...Rxh4 PGN: download | view | print Help: general | java-troubleshooting

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Mar-25-15  zb2cr: 28. ...Rxh4 threatens mate at h1 in two ways. White must either take or play 29. Qg2.

In the former case, 29. ... Rg4+; 30. Kh2, Qf3! puts White in a most uncomfortable position.

In the latter case, 29. ... Qxg2+; 30. Kxg2, Re4 and Black wins due to 3 extra Pawns.

Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: Got 28...Rxh4 29. gxh4 Rg4+ 30. Kh2 Qf3 for my Wednesday puzzle attempt, but didn't consider the reply 31. Qh3 until after I looked at the game continuation to check my solution.

After 31. Qh3 Qxf2+ 32. Kh1 Rxh4 (diagram below),

click for larger view

Deep Fritz 14 x 64 evaluates the position -8.54 @ 25 depth and the Fritz cloud search feature indicates Stockfish 6 assesses it -7.06 @ 27 depth.

Mar-25-15  Lambda: Seems a perfectly good puzzle to me. White's only chances of saving this position, already two pawns down, would be exploiting his passed pawn or having a safer king, so removing white's passed pawn and loosening his king's position is a perfectly adequate goal, and queen + phalanx of pawns against two rooks is an obvious win. Qf3 is a nice move to spot.
Mar-25-15  CHESSTTCAMPS: Black is up 2 pawns, with a solid wall of pawns to protect the king in the middle. White has a passed h-pawn, with some prospect of getting a major piece behind it to create counter-play. However, black can snatch it off:

28... Rxh4! threatens 29... Qh1# and leaves no good answer.

A) 29.gxh4 Qf3! (the move I had trouble finding. A good alternative is 29... Rg4+ 30.Kh2 Qf3! 31.Qh3 Qf4+ 32.Qg3 Rxh4+ 33.Kg1|g2 Rg4 winning) 30.Qg2 Rg4 31.Qxg4 Qxg4+ 32.Kf1 Qxh4 with a winning 4-pawn advantage.

B) 29.f3 Rh6 with a 3-pawn advantage and ongoing attack against the weakened castled position.

C) 29.Qg2 Qxg2+ 30.Kxg2 Rhg4 with an easily won R&P ending, 3 pawns up.

D) 29.(other - except Rxe6+, Qh3 or f4) Qh1#

Time for review...

Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: For improvement for White, I'd replace 13. Nc1? as it appears to do little other than drop a pawn. The Deep Fritz 14 suggestions 13. a4 = or 13. Qd2 = look OK.
Mar-25-15  CHESSTTCAMPS: <morfishine> improved my parenthesized note in line A. Nobody seems to picked 29... Qf3 first. Although it is less forcing, I don't see any flaws.
Mar-25-15  wooden nickel: After 30. ... Qf3! it's time to resign and take a walk on the pier... what an interesting site, Long Beach, California in the mid 55s, 12 years before the Queen Mary docked for good!
Mar-25-15  TheaN: Wednesday 25 March 2015 <28....?>

Black is up two pawns in this major pieces endgame. The biggest issue is that one additional pawn is a doubled f-pawn, and as compensation white has a kingside majority with a passed h-pawn. Rook pawns that are passed are very dangerous, and black doesn't have an easy way to simplify. That said, black can win an additional pawn with 28....Rxa4 and probably the game but it's no knockout.

Instead, black can aim at the passed h-pawn instead, destroy the kingside majority and any counterplay from white: <28....Rxh4! 29.gxh4> 29.Qg2 Qxg2+ 30.Kxg2 Rhe4 will just be a pointless struggle <29....Rg4+ 30.Kh2 (Qg2 Qxg2#) Qf3!> the key of the combination.

After 30....Rxh4?! 31.Kg3 black doesn't have easy checks. Sure, he has four pawns for the rook and the initiative, but he doesn't want to go there if not necessary. Qf3 prepares Rxh4 with mate, blocks the f-pawn and defends h3. Essentially the only way white can prevent mate is with <31.Qh3> yet <31....Qxf2+ 32.Kh1 (Qg2 Qxg2#) Rxh4> and now white can only play <33.Qxh4 Qxh4+ > and the five additional pawns will obliterate the white rooks.

Mar-25-15  TheaN: Hm. I admit I missed white's decline 29.f3, and that does sort of put the question marks at the puzzle worth.

I stick to the statement though that removing white's kingside pawn majority and the passed h-pawn seems better for black than creating an additional passed pawn himself. The combination works, so essentially black prefers taking the h-pawn over the a-pawn.

This is such a puzzle where acknowledging the combination is worth more than the actual outcome after said move. 28....Rxh4 accomplishes the most for black, and 29.gxh4 fails.

Mar-25-15  CHESSTTCAMPS: <Cheapo by the Dozen: I didn't "solve" the puzzle because I didn't why, if White declined the sacrifice, it was significantly better than taking the a-pawn to also be 3 pawns up.> It *is* significantly better because the h-pawn is a protected passed pawn and removing it further weakens the white king position if white elects to postpone mate by playing 29.f3. I side with <Lambda> on the tactical worth of the puzzle.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: Hmm. Black is already up 2 pawns, so I don't understand why black can't keep it simple with 28...Rxa4, and be up a 3 pawns, with no compensation for white. Of course, if there's a quick victory, then sure, take it, but I wouldn't play 28...Rxh4 OTB.

As for this actual puzzle, I got 28...Rxh4 29.gxh4 Rg4+ 30.Kg2.

Premium Chessgames Member
  dorsnikov: If that was a medium/easy problem, then I'm Bobby Fisher? And of course we all know the truth of that ?
Mar-25-15  Dr. J: Speaking ad the "it's a bad puzzle" grouch-in-residence, this time I have to side with those who like the puzzle. Yes, White could have chosen a better defense, but the question is "does the combination, even in the face of best defense, advance our position more effectively than any alternative?"

As I suggested above 28...Rxa4 29 Rec1 Rec4 30 Rxc4 Qxc4 31 Qxc4 Rxc4 32 Rxa7+ is not as convincing as 28...Rxh4 29 Qg2 Qxg2+ etc., or 29 f3 Rh5 etc.

Could White avoid the fireworks and escape with 'only' the loss of another Pawn. Yes. So what?

Mar-25-15  TheaN: I would like to underline the destructiveness of this position:

click for larger view

The doubled f-pawns play their part here, in the sense that they can co-suppoort the e-pawn in advancing up the board. The queen is a slumbering bystander, whom will viciously destroy the white rooks, either seperately if they seperate or both if supported by the king.

To illustrate, black is almost free (perhaps intermezzo Rc1 Kd7) to play f5, f4, f5, e5, e4 and f3, only then to start worrying about how to force promotion or mate.

Mar-25-15  Marmot PFL: With two extra pawns black could gradually trade down and win the ending, but the weakness in the white structure can be exploited now, with 28...Rxh4 29 gh4 Rxh4+.

The game was all but decided after white's blunder on move 13.

Premium Chessgames Member
  doubledrooks: I went with 28..Rxh4 29.gxh4 Rg4+ 30. Kh2 Qf3. For example, 31.Qh3 Qf4+ 32.Qg3 Rxh4+ 33.K moves Rg4.

I didn't remember to look at lines where white doesn't play 30.gxh4.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: The rook sac allows the other rook and queen to mate quickly
Mar-25-15  dfcx: The move is not hard to see, black really does not have many forcing moves. I spent some time looking for a quick mate but did not find any.

28...Rxh4 - threatening Q/Rh1#
29.gxh4 Rg4+ 30.Kh2 Qf3! 31.Qh3 Qxf2+
32.Kh1 Rxh4 33.Qxh4 Qxh4+

Black traded two rooks for the queen plus three pawns, definitely winning with Q+4P against 2R.

click for larger view

Mar-25-15  fortheloveofchess: If 29)f3 then 30)Qc5 and white cannot take on h4 because if 30)gxh4 then 31)...Rxh4+ 32)Kg2 Qg5+ 33)Kf2 Rh2 with a clear mating attack.
Mar-25-15  poachedeggs: After 30... Qf3, I believe whites logical continuation is the spite check 31. Rxf6+....:)
Mar-25-15  YouRang: I think the puzzle is okay. The best move isn't necessary the "final crushing blow".

Lots of games are won by finding a clever opportunity to steal a pawn, and stealing a key defensive pawn from your opponent when you're already better can be crushing in itself.

Mar-25-15  ehackett: I'm with the "it's a fine puzzle" folks: can't see how white avoids mate in short order. And the clever part of the puzzle, at least for me, is that I had to overcome my fixation on the Q side to create opportunity on the K side. The R sac was not the most obvious move, initially, and over the board grabbing the pawns and slogging to victor would be an likely (but unfortunate) finish.
Mar-25-15  A.T PhoneHome: And the winner is...

28...Rxh4 29.gxh4 Rg4+ 30.Kh2 Qf3, with mate to follow shortly.

First I looked at 28...Rxh4 29.gxh4 Rxh4 and ...Qh1# to follow; too bad that White pawn on f2 messed it up (White can simply play f2-f3 to prevent the mate). Oh well, I tried!

Another decent go at Daily Puzzle once again, sleep tight <chess citizens!> :)

Premium Chessgames Member
  Bubo bubo: I propose 28...Rxh4 (threatening Rh1#) 29.gxh4 Qf3. White can repel the mate threat (30...Rg4+ 31.Kh2 Rh4+ and mate in two) only by playing 30.Qg2, but after 30...Rg4 31.Qxg4 Qxg4+ and 32...Qxh4 Black is up four pawns.

Therefore White may decide to refuse the sac and play 29.f3, but then he has just lost a third pawn and will be in trouble again soon due to the poor position of his king and the greater activity of Black's heavy pieces.

<EDIT> Of course 29...Rg4+ is more convincing than 29...Qf3. I wonder why I missed that one...

Mar-26-15  M.Hassan: "Medium/Easy"
Black to play 28...?
Black is two pawns up

By this move, Black eliminates White's only passed pawn

A) 29.gxh4 Rg4+
30.Kh2 Qf3!
31.Re3 Rxh4+
32.Qh3 Rxh3+
33.Kg1 Qh1#

B) 29.Qg2 Re4
30.Rxe4 Rxe4
31.a5 b5
32.Rd1 Rc4
White is now 3 pawns up and winning.
One may say that on move 28, Black could have taken: 28....Rxa4 29.Rxa4 Rxa4 and Black also would have been 3 pawns up like the case B) above and why bother another line?. In my opinion, by taking h4 pawn Black opens a possible line for mate and if not, saves himself trouble of stopping the h4 pawn from promotion.

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