Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Nothing new under the sun II

After playing Rhine-Boerkoel (see previous post), I found the following game, which has strikingly similar tactics. The most salient difference is that in the final position 18...Kxf7 isn't an option because of 19.Nxd8+. Had the game continued, Black would have had to take the queen, allowing White's rook to give perpetual check on g7 and h7.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A spectacular game

This is one of my three favorite games that I have played. The others are K.Thompson-Rhine, 1992 and Rhine-Sprenkle, 1981. This is the only one of the three that isn't published in Chess Informant I should've submitted this one too, but I got lazy. It's a beautiful game, primarily because of my opponent's efforts - he sacrificed, or offered to sacrifice, a pawn, knight, bishop, rook, and queen - literally every kind of piece except his king. The cold, dispassionate engine (Houdini 3) tells me that had I played slightly differently (23.Qc2!), I would have had a large advantage. But as "Kinghunt" once observed on, "This is a King's Indian Defence - Black is always objectively lost until suddenly Black wins." Or draws, in this case.

Up through 15.c5, the game was all book. My opponent's 15...c6!? was a novelty. I was quite happy after 23.Qb3, thinking that I was a pawn up for little compensation. I could meet 23...f3 with 24.g3 Qh3 25.Bf1. Boerkoel's 23...Ne3!! came as a huge shock. The main points are that Black threatens to win with both 24....Nxg2 25.Kxg2 f3+ and 24...f3 25.g3 Qh3 26.Bf1 Nxf1, and if White plays 24.fxe3, 24...fxe3 threatens 25...Qxh2#, 25...Qxe4, and 25...f2+. The subtle 23.Qc2! would have avoided this shot; since it would have guarded my knight, I could have met 23...Ne3?? with simply 24.fxe3 fxe3 25.g3 and wins. I still thought I was winning after 26.Kxf2. After 26...Bxg3+!, the light finally dawned: I had to allow perpetual check.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Nothing new under the sun

The same tactical themes are seen again and again. Compare the finishes of these two games. They reached identical positions except for the side on which White castled. In both, 15.Nxc6! is the killer, with the point that 15...bxc6 is met by 16.Qa6#, while 15...Qxe2 is met by the unusual checkmate 16.Nxa7#. The first game is No. 314 in Chernev's classic The 1000 Best Short Games of Chess.

Over sixty years later, I played this blitz game, without knowing of its predecessor:

The astute observer will notice that in my game, 14.Nxc6! was already possible. In fairness to Albert, who was my teammate on the Lane Tech High School chess team, this result was highly atypical of our games at the time. He was much stronger. Later we both became masters. Many years later, he co-founded the website.