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    Saturday
    Apr162005

    This Week on ChessBase: Pachman-Fischer

    In light of the attention I've been giving Ludek Pachman and his Checkmate in Prague the last few days, it seemed to me fitting that he - more exactly, his second win against Bobby Fischer - get to have a starring role in my ChessBase show this Monday. (See this post for the raw game score - it's the second game.)

    It's a very exciting game, and one in which Fischer certainly had his chances. Nevertheless, Pachman defended very cooly, and when Fischer failed to find the most accurate path through the complications, the White king went on a remarkable march to safety. Add to the game's entertainment value the interesting opening (I think every player needs to think about the Ragozin System at least once in their career!), and you've got a show well worth watching - so join me this Monday night (9 p.m. ET)!

    As always, information for watching the show (live or later on, in the archives) can be found here, while a list of past shows is available here.

    Friday
    Apr152005

    Pachman Strikes Back

    In the previous post, we looked at an episode between Czech grandmaster Ludek Pachman and Bobby Fischer. In revenge for Pachman's win in their head-to-head game, Fischer helped the relatively unknown Sanchez beat Pachman in a later round, sharing a bit of home preparation in an act whose ethical legitimacy was questionable at best.

    The story does not end there, however, and we resume Pachman's account from Checkmate in Prague, page 65:

    "With the help of Sanchez, then, Bobby had caught up with me, but the matter did not end there. Two days later, before the start of play, I was taking a walk with the young Chilean player, Jauregui. We were chatting about this and that, when suddenly on our way to the tournament hall we ran into Bobby.

    "'Ah, Mr. Pachman,' he called from a distance, 'so today you've been briefing my opponent.'

    "Realizing at that moment that Bobby was due to play Jauregui, I retorted: 'Of course, Bobby. And I must say he's very well prepared.'

    "My prompt reply caused Bobby to frown. He pondered the first moves in the ensuing game very deeply. And as it happened, Jauregui was using a system I often play, which helped to confirm Bobby's suspicions. He spent one hour and twenty minutes over the first eleven moves, anxious not to play according to the book and so avoid the danger of surprise. In the event, he lost his queen at the twenty-ninth move and was forced to resign at the fortieth. One might almost say that a bad conscience had robbed him of a point, involving the loss of first place in the tournament."

    Here's the game:

    Jauregui Andrade,Carlos - Fischer,Robert James [E81]
    Santiago (10), 1959

    1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3 0-0 6.Be3 Nbd7 7.Nge2 a6 8.Qd2 c5 9.a3 Rb8 10.b4 cxd4 11.Nxd4

    11...Ne5 12.Rc1 Bd7 13.Be2 Rc8 14.Nd5 e6 15.Nxf6+ Qxf6 16.0-0 Qe7 17.Rfe1

    17...Rc7 Probably the losing move, when Black goes from a cramped and difficult, but defensible position, to one in which he's completely overrun. [17...Ba4 seems better: it (1) makes it tougher for White to pile up on the d-file, (2) makes it easier for his own rooks to cover d6, and (3) clears the better d7 square as a retreat for his knight.] 18.f4 Nc6 19.Nf3! Bc8 20.Red1 Rd7 21.b5 Nd8 22.Qb4 Re8 23.Rd2 f5 24.c5 d5 25.c6 bxc6 26.Bc5 a5 27.Qb3 Qf7 28.Ng5

    28...dxe4 29.Nxf7 Rxd2 30.Nd6 Nb7 31.Nxb7 Bxb7 32.Qe3 Red8 33.Bc4 cxb5 34.Bxb5 e5 35.Bb6 exf4 36.Qxf4 e3 37.Bxd8 Bd4 38.Be2 Be4 39.Re1 Bd3 40.Qxd4

    1-0

    Thursday
    Apr142005

    More Fun with Pachman

    "Tragedy is what happens to me; comedy is what happens to you." - Mel Brooks

    In the previous post, I recalled a somewhat questionable bit of gamesmanship by Ludek Pachman; today's excerpt from his Checkmate in Prague (pp. 63-65) finds the ethical shoe on the other foot:

    "I had quite a time with him [the 15-year old Bobby Fischer] on that South American trip. We encountered each other first in Mar del Plata soon after the start of the tournament when Bobby, full of optimism, told me: 'I have white, and I'll wipe the floor with you.'

    "I asked if he would allow me to defend myself a bit, to which he replied, with some magnanimity: 'You can do that; at least it will be more interesting.' He went all out, but I happened to be in good form, first playing defensively, then making a counterattack. On adjournment Bobby was a piece down, but he still hoped for a draw so when he had to resign, he leapt up, swept the pieces to the floor and ran from the hall.

    "We spent about a fortnight after the tournament in the same hotel in Buenos Aires where we became friends. We even began working together for the next event in Santiago. One day I showed Bobby my secret weapon - a new variation which I planned to use with black in the Sicilian Defence. I had discovered an interesting point involving the sacrifice of pieces. It looked fine and Bobby was unstinting in his praise. In private, however, he found a 'hole' in my analysis; white had a final surprise and it led straight to mate.

    "Bobby kept his discovery to himself, recording the entire variation in his notebook with the remark: Play against Pachman! In Santiago, however, he drew black, so he was unable to use his weapon. Seldom in my life have I played a game to compare with that against Bobby. We were both leading in the tournament while he had the added incentive of wreaking revenge for his earlier humiliation. He sacrificed a piece, followed immediately by a rook - mate seemed imminent, then, finally, my king escaped across the board to safety. Sweeping his pieces off with an angry gesture, Bobby ran out without waiting to sign his capitulation.

    "In the next round [DM: Actually, it was three rounds later.], I met Sanchez of Colombia. He plays every game 'hard for a draw' and it is no easy matter to win against him. Therefore, I was overjoyed when I got him into the Sicilian Defence, actually into the variation for which I had prepared my secret weapon! Naturally, I started to use it, then came a surprise, my king was mated. [DM: In the actual game, he doesn't get mated but although he came under a heavy attack, the game concluded in an ending. I'll have to examine the game more carefully at some point, to determine if the choice was Pachman's, to bail out into a hopeless ending rather than get mated in his originally intended main line, or if Sanchez missed a quicker win and let Pachman partially escape.] I eyed my opponent doubtfully - he had revealed himself as a brilliant attacker - when Bobby burst in behind me:

    "'Sanchez didn't beat you. I upset that variation! He simply played the way I showed him. That's very nice!'

    "I managed to control myself sufficiently to congratulate Sanchez, and Bobby, too. Without a trace of reproach, I asked Bobby whether it had not occurred to him to tell me about his discovery. He laughed: 'Why should I? I wanted to beat you.'"

    The conclusion of this tale will come soon; for now, here are the games referred to above.

    Fischer,Robert James - Pachman,Ludek [C75]
    Mar del Plata (3), 25.03.1959

    1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 d6 5.c3 Bd7 6.d4 Nge7 7.Bb3 h6 8.0-0 Ng6 9.Nbd2 Be7 10.Nc4 Bg5 11.Ne3 Bxe3 12.Bxe3 0-0 13.h3 Re8 14.Nh2 Qe7 15.dxe5 dxe5 16.Qh5 Na5 17.Bc2 Nc4 18.Bc1 Nf4 19.Qf3 Rad8 20.Bxf4 exf4 21.Qxf4 Bc6 22.Ng4 h5 23.Ne3 Nxb2 24.Nf5 Qf6 25.Qxc7 Qxc3 26.Rac1 Qf6 27.Rfe1 Nd3 28.Bxd3 Rxd3 29.Qf4 g6 30.Rc5 Re6 31.Qb8+ Rd8 32.Qf4 gxf5 33.Rxf5 Qg7 34.Rxh5 Rde8 35.f3 Re5 36.Rh4 Rg5 37.Rg4 Rxg4 38.hxg4 Qd4+ 39.Re3 Qe5 40.Qf5 Qxf5 41.gxf5 Rd8 42.Kf2 Bb5 43.Ke1 Kg7 44.e5 Rd4 45.g4 Kh6 46.e6 f6 47.Kf2 Rd2+ 48.Kg3 Kg7 49.Rc3 Bc6 50.a3 Re2 51.Kf4 a5 52.Rd3 a4 53.Rd8 Rf2 54.Rd3 b5 55.Rc3 Rxf3+ 56.Rxf3 Bxf3 0-1

    Pachman,Ludek - Fischer,Robert James [E51]
    Santiago (6), 1959

    1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.d4 d5 4.e3 Nc6 5.Nc3 Bb4 6.Bd2 0-0 7.a3 Bxc3 8.Bxc3 Ne4 9.Qc2 a5 10.b3 b6 11.Bb2 Ba6 12.Bd3 f5 13.Rc1 Rc8 14.0-0 Rf6 15.Rfd1 Rh6 16.Bf1 g5 17.cxd5 g4 18.Bxa6 gxf3 19.gxf3 Qg5+ 20.Kf1 Rxh2 21.fxe4 Rf8 22.e5 f4 23.e4 f3 24.Ke1 Qg1+ 25.Kd2 Qxf2+ 26.Kc3 Qg3 27.Qd3 exd5 28.Rg1 Rg2 29.Rxg2 Qxg2 30.Qf1 dxe4 31.Qxg2+ fxg2 32.Rg1 Rf2 33.Bc4+ Kf8 34.Bd5 Rf3+ 35.Kc4 b5+ 36.Kc5 Ne7 37.Rxg2 Nxd5 38.Kxd5 Rxb3 39.Kxe4 b4 40.axb4 axb4 1-0

    Sanchez,Luis Augusto - Pachman,Ludek [B88]
    Santiago (9), 1959

    1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bc4 e6 7.0-0 Nc6 8.Bb3 Be7 9.Be3 0-0 10.f4 Qc7 11.Qf3 Bd7 12.f5 e5 13.Nxc6 Bxc6 14.g4 h6 15.h4 Nh7 16.g5 hxg5 17.hxg5 Bxg5 18.Bxg5 Nxg5 19.Qg4 Qe7 20.Rf2 Nh7 21.Rg2 Qf6 22.Rd1 Rfd8 23.Rd3 d5 24.exd5 Bd7 25.Ne4 Qh6 26.d6 Qc1+ 27.Rd1 Qh6 28.Qg6 Kh8 29.Bxf7 Bc6 30.Rh2 Bxe4 31.Rxh6 gxh6 32.d7 Rf8 33.Be6 Rad8 34.Rd2 Bxf5 35.Bxf5 Rg8 36.Rg2 Rxg6 37.Rxg6 Nf8 38.Rxh6+ Kg8 39.Rb6 Kf7 40.Rxb7 Ne6 41.Bxe6+ 1-0

    Wednesday
    Apr132005

    Swindle Like a Grandmaster

    I've been reading Checkmate in Prague, the memoir of the late GM Ludek Pachman (1924-2003), and while most of the book is centered on the events of the so-called Prague Spring of 1968, elements of his chess career surface as well. Here is one such tale, from the Havana 1965 tournament, which I offer for two reasons. The official, respectable reason is to offer it as a salutary warning to those of us tempted to relax in winning positions. The more likely reason is that it's an amusing anecdote - at least to those of us who haven't lost a game in this way!

    "Not long after [DM: referring to his draw with Bobby Fischer, with whom he had an even score for his career], I played the Pole, Doda. Anxious to win, I opened sharply, sacrificed a rook for a bishop, and went into attack. But a slight error spoilt it. Doda made an unexpected move, banging the piece triumphantly on the board and then running off to bring any colleagues who happened to be free to see what he had done to me. [DM: Ah, good ol' hubris...just you wait, Mr. Doda!]

    "Meantime I sat frowning at the board; my ears were certainly dark red. [DM: Alluding to a claim earlier in the book that many players' ears turn red when in trouble.] My first impulse was to throw it in and go for several Cuba libres. Then I forced myself to review the situation, which led me to conclude that I was bound to lose. One of the threatened pawns had to go, attack was out. Then I saw a tiny chance -- having lost one pawn, I could, with an apparently weak move, offer another. Should my opponent take it, I would sacrifice yet another piece, and he would be in a bad way. Although the course right through the end was not clear to me, I could see a strong chance of mating. Under normal circumstances, it was a faint hope, for my offering the second pawn would arouse my opponent's suspicions and, being no fool, he would see after two moves at least what I already saw. But here was the only alternative to resigning at once.

    "Finally, I hit on an idea for strengthening my chance somewhat. One more check-up confirmed that things stood as I had judged at the start, and now some ten moves [DM: until the time control at move 40] remained to me. I had a full hour to make them. Head in hands, I pretended to be seeking a way out, but actually I had decided to put chess out of my mind for most of the hour -- I would recite poems to myself or try to recall the logarithms I once knew by heart.

    "Doda walked the stage as proud as a peacock while other competitors came along to see if my ears were red. Slowly the minutes ticked away; applause greeted the end of someone's game, then quiet again.

    "With two minutes left on the clock -- I had set that as the minimum time for making my ten moves -- I reached for a piece to do what I had known for an hour I would have to do. Doda hurried back, then, after brief consideration, he took my pawn. Glancing as if with anxiety at the clock, I made a lightning move, presenting the other pawn. Doda frowned, glanced at my clock, and took the pawn, assuming that, being pressed for time, I had lost control and would offer more pieces. Another swift sacrifice left Doda clutching his head. He thought it over but now it was too late. Even eternity cannot repair the damage of a second, as Zweig wrote. Blow upon blow fell upon the black king, two minutes sufficed for a devastating onslaught. Caught by the time limit, my opponent had to resign. Players gathered round, cursing my luck in having emerged from such a hopeless position, and in a time scramble, too....In this case too big an advantage cost my opponent a whole point in the tournament" (Pachman, Checkmate in Prague (New York: Macmillan, 1975), pp. 56-57).

    The book doesn't include the score of the game (or of any other games), so while I have the game in my databases, applying his comments requires a bit of guesswork, since the move numbers don't quite work the way he suggests. In any case, here's the game:

    Pachman,Ludek - Doda,Zbigniew [A65]
    Capablanca mem Havana (16), 1965

    1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 d6 4.Nc3 g6 5.e4 Bg7 6.Bd3 0-0 7.Nge2 e6 8.0-0 exd5 9.cxd5 a6 10.a4 Qc7 11.h3 Nbd7 12.Ng3 Re8 13.Be3 Rb8 14.a5 b5 15.axb6 Nxb6 16.Re1 Nfd7 17.f4 c4 18.Bc2 Nc5 19.Bd4 Nd3 20.Bxg7 Nxe1 21.Bd4 Nxc2 22.Qxc2 Nd7 23.Qf2 f6 24.Re1 Qd8 25.h4 Qe7 26.h5 Rf8

    This seems like a good point to start discussing the game. In this Modern Benoni-like structure, White has a very healthy space advantage and reasonable attacking prospects in return for the sacrificed exchange. Since the e5 advance isn't going to happen any time too soon, White tries to reposition his rook more usefully with 27.Re3 This move has a good idea behind it: he wants to retreat the Ng3 (perhaps after swapping pawns on g6) and then swing the rook to g3. Unfortunately, it gives Black a very nice opportunity. 27...Ne5! This, I'm sure, is the move Doda banged on the board, and it's a good one. Taking on e5 is worthless: 28.fxe5? fxe5 regains the piece while completely ending any attacking fantasies White may have been harboring. Additionally, Black threatens 32...Ng4 and 32...Nd3 here, so it's safe to say that White has some serious problems here. 28.Qd2 Nd3 29.Nd1 Nxf4 30.Nf5 gxf5 31.Rg3+ Kh8 32.Qxf4 Rb3? [32...Qxe4 is winning, and a move I'm sure Doda would have found (and played) had he taken a bit more time, as it's easy to see that 33.Qf2 (33.Qh6 Qxd4+ 34.Kh2 Rg8-+; Maybe 33.Qxd6 was what Doda feared, but White's attack is a mirage: 33...Qxd4+ 34.Nf2 Bb7 35.Qc7 Rg8 36.Rxg8+ Rxg8 37.Qxb7 Qe3 38.Qc6 Qc1+ 39.Kh2 Qxb2-+) 33...f4 leaves White down a lot of material and without an attack.] 33.Nc3 Rxb2

    I think it is this move that Pachman identified as the loser, but as best as I've been able to ascertain, however, Black is already lost! [Here are a number of sample variations in support: 33...Rf7 34.Qg5 Qf8 35.exf5 a5 36.h6+-; 33...fxe4 34.h6 Rf7 35.Qg5 Qf8 36.Nxe4 Rxg3 37.Nxg3 Qe7 38.Nh5+-; 33...a5 34.h6 followed by Qg5, etc., winning.; 33...Rxc3 34.Bxc3 fxe4 (34...Qxe4 35.Qxd6 with a quick mate) 35.Qh6 threatens Rg6, and unfortunately for Black, there's no good defense. 35...Bf5 36.Rg5 e3 37.Rxf5 e2 38.Rxf6 e1Q+ 39.Rf1++-] 34.exf5 Bd7 [34...Rb7 might be Black's best, but White wins here, too, after 35.h6 Qd8 36.Ne4 Rbf7 37.Nxf6 Rxf6 38.Qg5 Qe7 39.Re3 (39.Qg7+ Qxg7 40.hxg7+ Kg8 41.gxf8Q+ Kxf8 42.Bxf6+-) 39...Qf7 40.Bxf6+ Qxf6 41.Qxf6+ Rxf6 42.Re8+ Rf8 43.Rxf8#] 35.Ne4 Re2 36.Nxf6 Rxf6 37.Qg5 Re1+ 38.Kh2 1-0

    Tuesday
    Apr122005

    Rook vs. Bishop: Ending 3

    We turn now to the third in our series of rook vs. bishop endings (its predecessors can be found here and here), this one taken from the game Viktor Kortchnoi (a.k.a. Kortchnoi, a.k.a. Kortschnoj)-Boris Spassky, Clermont Ferrand 1989.

    Obviously enough, only White can win this (barring massive hallucination, bribe, or heart attack), but it's not exactly clear at first glance how he's going to make progress. White has no safe pawn move, the rook can't do anything by itself and the White king is stalemated.

    Is it a draw then? Thanks to the indispensable endgame tool known as zugzwang, it's not.

    51.Ra7 First step: activate the rook. Clearly Black doesn't want to retreat the king - at least not if he doesn't have to - so Black's next move is obvious. 51...Be6 52.Rc7 The power of waiting moves! Now Black has to make a significant decision. If he retreats the king, White happily plays Kg5 and works for the f5 break, while if he retreats the bishop, White has two interesting possibilities. First, he could take his king out of the cage, retreat to h3 and then perhaps try to penetrate Black's position by going the long way around:g2-f3-e3-d4-c5-d6-e7 and so on. Even assuming White can do all that without anything bad happening to him (such as useful pawn trades via ...h4 and/or ...g5), it's not enough. White will still need to break the Black pawn structure somewhere to make progress, so he might as well do it with the king on h4. And that leads to possibility number two: the f5 pawn break. 52...Bb3 [52...Kg7 53.Kg5 The Black king can't afford to give up any more ground, but it's already too much: White will maneuver the rook to f6, play f5, and win the pawn ending by taking advantage of Black's fractured pawn structure. 53...Bg4 54.Rc6 Bh3 55.Rf6 Bg4 (55...Bd7 56.f5 Bxf5 57.Rxf5 gxf5 58.Kxh5! comes to the same thing.) 56.f5 gxf5 (56...Bxf5 57.Rxf5 gxf5 58.Kxh5! (But not 58.Kxf5?? Kf8! 59.Kg5 Ke7 60.Kxh5 Ke6 with a draw.) 58...Kf8 59.Kg5 Ke8! 60.Kf6! Kf8 61.e6 with a routine win.) 57.Ra6 followed by Ra7 wins - the subsequent threat of e6 can only be averted by allowing the lethal Kf6 or by pitching the f5 and h5 pawns.] 53.f5! gxf5

    Now that the Black pawn structure has been destroyed, it's time to start collecting the weakies. To do so, White maneuvers the rook to g5, when either the h5 or f5 pawn will fall. (Unless Black plays 54...Bd1, in which case 55.Rc6+ followed by 56.Kg5 and 57.Rc7, with the threat of 58.e6, will do the trick.) 54.Rc8 Be6 55.Rd8 Kg6 56.Rg8+ Kh7 57.Rg5 Kh6 58.Rxh5+ Kg6

    Now it's time for another stage in the plan. However, the first thing we should do is extricate the rook, as White can't do anything as long as the rook is so clumsily placed. 59.Rh8 Kg7 60.Re8 Kg6

    Okay, the rook's position has been improved; now what? 61.g4 is senseless, there aren't any inspiring room maneuvers on the horizon, so let's improve the position of the king. 61.Kh3! Bd5 [61...f4+

    is a much more interesting move. I'm sure "Viktor the Terrible" would have won just the same, but there are a couple of neat traps. The more obvious but still seductive false trail is the liquidating 62.Rxe6+?? fxe6 63.gxf4 and now Kh7!! (and only Kh7!!) draws, maintaining the distant opposition: a) 63...Kf5 64.Kg3 Kg6 65.Kg4 Kh6 (65...Kf7 66.Kh5 Kg7 67.Kg5 Kf7 68.Kh6 Kf8 69.Kg6 Ke7 70.Kg7 Ke8 71.Kf6 Kd7 72.Kf7+-) 66.f5 exf5+ 67.Kxf5 Kg7 68.Ke6 Kf8 69.Kd7+-; b) 63...Kh5 64.Kg3 Kh6 65.Kh4 Kg6 66.Kg4 Kf7 (66...Kh6 67.f5+- see line a) 67.Kh5 Kg7 68.Kg5 Kf7 69.Kh6 Ke8 70.Kg6 Ke7 71.Kg7 Ke8 72.Kf6 Kd7 73.Kf7+-; ]

    So the correct move is 62.g4, but there is another trick yet to come: 62...Kg5 63.Rg8+ Kh6 64.Kh4 Bc4 65.Rd8 f3 66.Rd6+ Kg7 67.Kg3 Be2 68.Rf6 Bd1 and now a) 69.Rxf3?? looks like a routine win, but amazingly, it's not! 69...Bxf3 70.Kxf3 Kh6!!

    The only drawing move! (70...Kg6 71.Kf4 Kh6 72.Kf5 Kg7 73.Kg5 Kg8 74.Kf6 Kf8 75.g5 Ke8 76.Kg7 Ke7 77.Kg8 Ke8 78.e6 fxe6 79.g6 Ke7 80.Kh7 e5 81.g7+-; 70...Kh7 71.Ke4 Kg6 72.Kf4 - see 70...Kg6 71.Kf4) ; b) 69.Kh3 is the start of a rather subtle winning idea: 69...Be2 70.g5 Bd1 71.Kh4 Be2 72.g6! fxg6 73.Kg5 Bd1 74.e6 Bb3 75.e7 Bf7 76.Rxf3 Kg8 77.Kh6 g5 78.Rf5 g4 79.Rg5+ Kh8 80.Rxg4 Be8 81.Rf4 Bf7 82.Rxf7 Kg8 83.Rf8#; The most natural winning plan is c) 69.g5 Be2 70.Kf2 Bd1 71.Ke3 Be2 72.Kd4 Bd1 73.Kc5 Be2 74.Kd6 Bd1 75.Ke7 Be2 76.Rxf7+ Kg6 77.e6 Kxg5 78.Kd6 Kg4 79.Kc5! Bd1 80.Kb4! with an elegant win. And now, back to the mundane conclusion:

    62.Rg8+ [62.Rg8+ Kh7 63.Rd8 Be6 64.Kg2 Kg6 65.Kf3 Kg5 66.Rg8+ Kh6 67.Kf4 followed by 68.Rg5 and 69.Rxf5, winning easily.] 1-0