Study of the Month: October, 2017

by Siegfried Hornecker
10/4/2017 – While playing through the game Dennis Khismatullin vs Pavel Eljanov in 2015, our study expert saw a truly incredible king move. This inspired him to dig up some equally remarkable studies that feature king walks and astonishing manoeuvres. You will see how chess is not just about protecting your king — that piece can in fact be a powerful attacking force in deciding the outcome of a game. Siegfried Hornecker demonstrates in seven interesting and instructive examples. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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The king's wanderlust

When in March 2015 one of my friends told me to have a look at the game of Dennis Khismatullin against Pavel Eljanov that just had been played, naturally I knew Khismatullin had won even without seeing the game — my friend being a great fan of that grandmaster. However, my mind was — and still is — absolutely blown by the way this was accomplished.


White is to move and has obviously only two moves, as he must stop the threat of 44...Qxd1 mate: the moves are 44.Ra1 or 44.Re1. Right? In both cases, the difficult battle rages on. Zwischenschachs ("checks that postpone the decision" -Ed.) wouldn't help the position either.

Chess studies and games are very close when it comes to heroic deeds of kings, so much in fact, that reality may beat art. One of my favorite games was played between one semi-unknown and one completely unknown player, but also features a mate attack that is introduced by a king move. This time it is just a prophylactic castling. However, the real high point of the game is the final checkmate picture.

[Event "Germany"] [Site "?"] [Date "1972.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Runau, Ralf"] [Black "Schmidt"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B01"] [PlyCount "31"] [EventDate "1972.??.??"] {The following game has a furious finale that I am certain everyone will enjoy. Black is too materialistic, and White sets up a very nice checkmate.} 1. e4 Nc6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 Qxd5 4. Nf3 Bg4 5. Be2 O-O-O 6. c4 Qh5 7. d5 Bxf3 $2 8. Bxf3 Qe5+ 9. Be3 Qxb2 {[#]We have reached the critical position. Black is under some pressure but seems fine. However, White decides to sacrifice a few pieces. } 10. O-O $3 Qxa1 $2 ({Of course Black already has a very bad position, but it is better to finally develop his pieces.} 10... e5 11. Nd2 Nd4 {To see how bad Black is here, let us see at the computer suggestion:} 12. d6 $3 Rxd6 (12... c6 13. c5 $18) 13. Qa4 Re6 (13... Nf6 14. Rab1 Qc3 15. Qxa7 $18) 14. Bxd4 $3 (14. Rab1 $2 Nxf3+ 15. Nxf3 Qa3 $11) 14... Qxd4 15. Rfd1 $18 {and the White initiative rages on. With two pawns up, Black will still face a difficult defense that at best play is lost.}) 11. dxc6 $3 Rxd1 $2 ({One mistake rarely comes alone, but even after the best move Black is completely lost, for example:} 11... bxc6 12. Qa4 Qb2 13. Bxc6 Rd6 14. c5 Rxc6 15. Qxc6 Nf6 16. Rd1 e6 17. Qa8+ Qb8 18. Rd8+ Kxd8 19. Qxb8+ $18) 12. cxb7+ Kb8 13. Rxd1 c6 14. Bxc6 Kc7 15. Rd7+ Kxc6 16. b8=N# ({Of course not} 16. b8=Q $4 Kxd7 $11 {when White would hate himself.}) 1-0

I have selected four studies that show the wanderlust of kings, and as they are all unique in their own way, we slighly change our theme again and name them all “studies of the month”. The first is by one of the best authors of chess study books, having written a magnum opus in four parts between 1980 and 1987 about the history of the endgame study.

Filipp Semjonowitsch Bondarenko (1905-1993 — title picture from 1985) was a Ukrainian who served as a Soviet Army officer from 1938 until 1954. After this period he switched to the police where he ascended another rank, holding one similar to colonel (possibly “polkovnik”?). It is unclear if Bondarenko ever left the Soviet Union, but in his letters to John Roycroft, whom we will learn more about next month, Bondarenko underlined his strong belief in international friendship.

While being an avid writer, Bondarenko also allowed many studies awards to appear in the West by transcribing them by hand (!) for EG. Unfortunately, only a part of his 30,000 studies collection was retrieved after Bondarenko’s death. His books were to my knowledge sadly never translated into German or English, and while I have a few, I can only browse through the diagrams, as I can’t read Russian. His titles: Master of Sports of the USSR, International Judge for Chess Composition (both 1966), International Master for Chess Composition (1979). [Sources: German Wikipedia for title picture and work details, but mainly Arves].


We left the first move out in this presentation as it caused some incorrectnesses. In this position White is up in material, but has only one precise way to win.

Long before Fritz was a household name for good chess software, it was a household name for good chess studies. Jindrich Fritz (1912-1984) was a Czech lawyer. His more than 500 compositions received him the rare title of Grandmaster for Chess Compositions in 1976. In his works, Fritz followed the Bohemian School, which is concerned with economic final positions, showing in orthodox problems at least three "ideal mates", i.e. checkmates where all pieces except the White king and pawns participate.

A bonus study by Yochanan Afek (more on him also in the next issue) with the same ending can be found below that is good for chess trainers to teach the analysis of different variations. Optimally, the pupils will find the solution by exclusion of wrong variations. If you don’t know the studies yet, please try to find the solution to the second one first before replaying them at the bottom of the page.


Published in the Italian magazine L'Italia Scacchistica, in this position White seems hopelessly lost. He is a rook down and — as is a convention of chess studies — Black still has the right to castle. The pawns are White's only hope of survival, but his king is in check directly after castling. The first two moves are explained by this observation, the next two are reactions to Black's play.

In the next position it isn’t the length of the wanderlust that is spectacular but the way the king takes.


Originally published in the Pfeiter JT, this study was given to a group of enthusiasts, including me, for solving by a chess teacher from the Netherlands — the author himself, Yochanan Afek. And of course, as Sherlock Holmes said, after excluding the impossible, only the improbable remains. White can't save his Pa7, he can't do anything that seems to be of value. Let us just look at forcing moves and see if we can make a difference.

Mark Liburkin (1910-1953) was, according to Kofman’s book, a Russian finance specialist. His impressive studies were of great clarity, but his life was cut short by a terminal illness. The collection of his studies spans around 110 to 125 entries, depending on the source. The database of Harold van der Heijden has over 180 entries by Liburkin, of which many are corrections and versions.

The study was originally published in the Erevan tourney 1950, winning 2nd prize. White is to move and win, and the wandering king must find the correct route to a7 so Black can't imprison him.



The final example is already known to some readers from Tim Krabbé’s books, but is worth being repeated here.

John Selman Jr. (1910-1978) worked as an archivist at the Royal Dutch Shell fuel company, more commonly known just as Shell. It is unclear if his work experience helped him in discovering the history of the Saavedra study, but many of his manuscripts were only published in the 1990s, as posthumous works. With the around 150 studies known by him, some more also were only published in 2005 in the third edition of Harold van der Heijden’s database and another one in a 2007 book, totaling 170 by today. Who knows, maybe there are more somewhere...?


After the introductory move, Black would like to sacrifice his rook on a white square, on either the a2-c4 or the b1-e4 diagonal. White must play precisely to prevent this, for example entering the third rank would allow permanent checks on the second rank by the rook.


You probably know that you can move pieces on our replay boards to analyse, and even start an engine to help you. You can maximize the replayer, auto-play, flip the board and even change the piece style in the bar below the board.

At the bottom of the notation window on the right there are buttons for editing (delete, promote, cut lines, unannotate, undo, redo) save, play out the position against Fritz and even embed the ChessBase game viewer on your web site or blog. Hovering the mouse over any button will show you its function.

World Federation for Chess Composition

World Federation for Chess Composition (


Siegfried (*1986) is a German chess composer and member of the World Federation for Chess Composition, subcommitee for endgame studies. His autobiographical book "Weltenfern" (in English only) can be found on the ARVES website. He presents an interesting endgame study with detailed explanation each month.
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Philip Feeley Philip Feeley 10/7/2017 02:45
Wasn't there a great king walk by Short some time ago? Can't remember the game, exactly.
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 10/6/2017 12:44
A bit strange to call 11... bxc6 in Runau–Schmidt the 'best move'. Of course 11... Rxd1 is the best move, as it leads to a beautiful finish, while 11... bxc6 is equivalent to resignation. Don't let engines take over chess commentary.
cythlord cythlord 10/6/2017 04:23
Lovuschka: Of course, if black makes losing moves the position is winning for white. Instead of 53...h5??, allowing g3-g4-g5, black should instead preserve the option of g6-g5. For example, moves like b5-b4-b3 running down the b-pawn and only playing g5 when white threatens to play g5.
Lovuschka Lovuschka 10/5/2017 09:04
Yes, I confirm, the Bondarenko study is only correct then from Se7-c8 on. Nice find!

I am not convinced that 44.-Rd5 would draw in the game, but then it is difficult. One variation I have is 44.-Rd5 45.Kh2 Kf6 46.e4 Rc5 47.Qd6+ Kg7 48.Rxd3 Rxc6 49.Qe5+ Rf6 50.Rf3 Qc6 (you evaluate this as drawn) 51.g3 h6 52.h4 Qe6 53.Qb2 h5, and this position has a forced win: 54.Rf4! Qc6 55.f3 Qe6 56.g4 hxg4 57.fxg4, and so on. It would be interesting to analyse if Black has a way to avoid this.
dengtianle dengtianle 10/5/2017 03:52
44.Kg1!! really win by force? I don't agree! Objectively it should be a draw:

44.Kg1 Rd5!! 45.Kh2 Kf6! 46.e4 Rc5 47.e5!?(47.Qd6+ Kg7 48.Rxd3 Rxc6 49.Qe5+ Rf6 50.Rf3 Qc6=) Kxe5 48.Re1+ Kd4 49.Qd6+ Kc3 50.c7 d2 51.Ra1 Qb3 52.Ra5! Rxa7!= Finally there is a draw--Black has nothing more than perpetual check!

However, only computers can find these variations. But all in all this article is talking about studies!
ArcyKen ArcyKen 10/5/2017 12:24
In the Bondarenko study white has an easy win with 1.a6 Kc7 2.Nd5 followed by 3.Qxg2.
dhochee dhochee 10/4/2017 09:46
Sorry for missing the humor. It makes sense now that I see the solution. My mistake for not first reading to the end.
Lovuschka Lovuschka 10/4/2017 07:51
The author here. "Zwischenschachs" indeed can be translated to "in-between checks", or in this context "checks that postpone the decision". I assumed it was an english word taken from German, such as zugzwang or zwischenzug, but it seems I was wrong.
I contacted the editors to correct it. Van Perlo used it in his endgame book in 2006 according to Wikipedia (I would need to buy that book again, somewhere I lost it or gifted/traded it to someone), so it must have slipped into my vocabulary from there, and I assumed it was a common word.

As a comprehensive definition: A "zwischenschach" is a zwischenzug that also gives check.

And @dhuchee: Of course the move 44.Kg1 is the best move, winning the game forced, and was also played. So yes, that "Right?" implies that the remark is actually wrong. :-)

Best regards,
dhochee dhochee 10/4/2017 07:44
"White is to move and has obviously only two moves, as he must stop the threat of 44...Qxd1 mate: the moves are 44.Ra1 or 44.Re1. Right?"

Um, no? Komodo shows that Kg1 (with or without a preliminary Qe7+) is preferable, and that the pawn checks f4+ and h4+ are better than either Ra1 or Re1, which are both better for Black.
dhochee dhochee 10/4/2017 07:33
Ouch. That intro could use some editing. I understand English is not the writer's native language, but he should probably have someone give him a hand.

I assume 'Zwischenschachs' means in-between-checks, meaning that it won't make a difference in the outcome if White inserts a check with his Queen.
genem genem 10/4/2017 07:10
'Zwischenschachs' is translated as "between chess": What is this supposed to mean?