Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Another knight underpromotion

A few posts ago, I gave the game Fidlow-Maier, which featured an underpromotion to knight on move 7. Above is another such game, in which the underpromotion actually checkmates White! If White's play seems a bit, um, eccentric, a commenter at chessgames.com has the explanation:

Phony Benoni: I just happen to have an issue of the Lower Slobbovian Journal of Chess which gives a full account of this game, and can translate the story for you.

After <1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4>, Wiede noticed that several of his pawns were off center. He adjusted, in order, his b-, h-, and g-pawns, then played 3.Nf3.

"Wait a minute!" said Goetz, who was an unpleasant fellow. "You touched your b-pawn--you have to move it."

"But I was just adjusting", replied Wiede.

"Then you should have said "j'adoube."

"But I don't speak French!"

"Makes no difference! Move the b-pawn."

Secretly, Goetz was hoping for 3.b4 so he could snatch another pawn, but when Wiede avoided the trap with <3.b3> he reluctantly played <3...Qh4+>. Wiede tried 4.Ke2, but Goetz was alert.

"Wait a minute! You also touched your g-pawn! You must interpose it!"

"What are you talking about? Touch-move isn't retroactive!"

"In this town it is. We're a law-and-order community."

"And anyway, I touched the h-pawn first."

"But that doesn't get you out of check. The rule is that you must move the first piece touched that can be legally moved. You can move the h-pawn next."

So the game continued <4.g3 fxg3 5.h3 g2+ 6.Ke2 Qxe4+ 7.Kf2 gxh1>

"And that's a knight", shouted Goetz gleefully, "With mate!"

"Whaddya mean, knight? You touched my rook; don't you have to promote to a rook?"

"Read the rules, dummy! I can get any piece I like."

"OK, you know the rules. But what's this knight you're talking about?"

"You know. Springer. Caballero. Horsie."

"I don't see one on the board."

"Well, I don't happen to have a third knight handy."

"Then it doesn't exist! Seeing is believing! You think I'm a Platonist or something?"

At this point, the kindly old arbiter arrived at the board, and placed a friendly hand on Wiede's shoulder. "Look, my friend, it is clearly in your best interests to allow the knight promotion with mate. I have watched your play, and the only way you'll ever reach immortality in chess is to go for negative immortality. You can be another Kieseritzky! Another Dufresne! Another Levitsky! You may even outrank Systemsson!

Wiede's response to this was one of those Lower Slobbovian words with which I am not familiar, but perhaps that's for the best. What I can tell is that he gave up chess forever and changed his name to Charles Berlitz.

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