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Dmitry Osipovich Rovner vs Lev Isaevich Guldin
"Dancing Queens" (game of the day Feb-22-2021)
Leningrad-ch (1939), Leningrad URS
Spanish Game: Morphy Defense. Modern Steinitz Defense Fianchetto Variation (C76)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: There's no doubt this game is a swindle. But just who swindled who?

It starts off as one of those interminable off-brand Ruy Lopezes that did so much to bring about sudden death time controls. Fred Reinfeld, commenting on the game (Chess Review, November 1940, p. 179-180) felt no need to say anything until after <46...e4>:

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<"White's early position play was admirable, but after move 30 or so, he began to lean too heavily on the a-pawn. One would think that it is all up with Black now, but he manages to find curious resources, until White almost breaks his neck trying to snare a draw.">

<47.a6 Bxc3 48.a7 Bxa1 49.Nf1>

49.a8Q?? Rc1+ leads to mate.

<49...Bd4 50.a8Q>

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And wins. For Black.


Now 51.Kh1 Rc1! is a lovely response, threatening mate and skewering the White queens.If White moves one of them to a6 to protect the knight, Black just takes the other one! Best would be 52.Qh8+ Kxh8 53.Qb2+ Kh7 54.Qxc1, but after 54...Qd3 White is tied down and the e-pawn will decide.

<51.Kxf2 Qd4+ 52.Kg3 Rc3+ 53.Kf4 e3+ 54.Qe4 Qf6+ 55.Kg4>

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<"This looks murderous, but it misses a clear win by 55...e2.">

<56.Kh3 e2+ 57.Ng3 e1Q>

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And that's it, right? Right! But it's not a win! (In fact, if you're a Student of Tactical Tricks, you've probably seen what comes next.)

<58.Qg8+! Kxg8>

If 58...Kh6 59.Qf4+ Qxf4 Qxg6+!

<59.Qe8+ Kh7 60.Qg8+! Kh6 61.Qh7+! Kg5 62.Qh6+!>

At last forcing stalemate. Can I get a "Whew!" Brothers and Sisters?

I still haven't figured out who swindled who. Perhaps this is simply the Immortal Double Swindle Game.

But the final word belongs to Fred Reinfeld.

<"Chess is a hard game.">

Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: I've never seen a Crazy Queen before.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: Dancing Queens, even. It's rare that the possessor of two queens is so despearate!
Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: Astounding game!!

Some would be tempted to play 58.QxQe1 and then get mated as the Black queen robs the pinned knight with 58...Qf5+ 59.Kh4 Qg4#.

Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: All right then--when reasonable levels of insanity will not suffice, try unreasonable levels. Games with one Suicide Queen are rare enough; when one player has two of
Feb-22-21  ajile: 53..Qf6+! and it's mate in 10 for Black..
Feb-22-21  goodevans: Sublime and ridiculous at the same time.
Premium Chessgames Member
  sleepyirv: I'm taking it on faith this game is not a composition. The a-pawn push seems very cave man-y to me, but gosh the game afterwards.
Feb-22-21  Ironmanth: Cute, clever, and cool finish! First time I've seen this as memory serves. Thanks, chessgames. Y'all stay safe out there today.
Feb-22-21  goodevans: Oh, dear. Someone has added SF's soulless annotations to this game. What a shame. Fred Reinfeld's 1940 annotations would have been so much better or, better still, <PB>'s commentary on Fred's annotations.

Can anyone suggest the rationale behind SF awarding a '?' to white's final move? Looks like yet another embarrassing SF annotation blunder to me.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: <After 61...Kg5>

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<62.Qh6+> is inferior because White can win a pawn with <62.Qxg6+!>, offering the quen in three ways. It's still staleate if she is captured, and if Black gets stubbon with <62...Kf4> then White can either force the issue with 63.Qg5+ or speculate on the ending after <63.Qxf6+> and <64.Qxf7>. And in this game, who knows?

<62.Qxh5+ Kf4 63.Qg5+> also wins material before stalemating.

But I don't blame White for taking the easy way out. Both players have been day tripping for some time now.

(Unromantic footnate: It's quite possible there was some adjournment analysis. But that session must have been some party.)

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<ajile> 53..Qf6+! and it's mate in 10 for Black.>

You are, of course, quite right. But after 53...Kf4 according to Stockfish 13 it seems that Black has many ways to win, which is not surprising given the White king's exposed position surrounded by Black's pawn's and heavy pieces and the far away location of White's pieces, unsuitable for defense of the White king, in spite of White's great material advantage.

At d=52 Stockfish 13 indicates the following possibilities for Black:

Mate in 9 after 54...g5+

Mate in 10 after either 54...Qf6+ or 52...Qd6+

Mate in 11 after 54...e3+ as played in the game.

Mate in 12 after 54...Qf2+

A likely win for Black after 54...Kg7, evaluated at [=19.12]

It's semi-interesting that if Black plays poorly or downright stupidly, it's White that mates:

Mate in 23 after 54...Qg7

Mate in 20 after 54...Qc4

Mate in 14 after 54...Rc7

Mate in 13 after 54...Rf3+

It's the first time that I've had an engine list its top 10 moves and have 9 of them end with mate, 5 for Black and 4 for White!

Feb-22-21  Diana Fernanda: After Black's 44th c6 rook, White had a queen x rook winning with the promotion of the square pawn to
Premium Chessgames Member
  NM JRousselle: 33 Nxb8 gave Black undeserved counter play. The simple Nb4 keeps a strong grip on the position.
Feb-23-21  ajile: <AylerKupp:> The point is of course that 53..e3+? allows White's queens access to the center of the board and some defense. The Black pawn staying on e4 blocks the long light squared diagonal. I saw this right away and then confirmed my idea by computer after.

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