Kavalek on Huffington: Chess Champions and Their Queens (1)

by ChessBase
1/31/2017 – On November 30 last year, in a tie-break game, Magnus Carlsen played the queen sacrifice 50.Qh6+!!, "the most brilliant final move of any world chess championship in history," as GM Lubos Kavalek puts it. "Chess players are always attracted to queen sacrifices. They symbolize victory of mind over matter, and bring mysterious twists into chess. Some are waiting to be discovered, stay behind the curtain and never show up." Kavalek pulls out a few from his rich knowledge of chess history.

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Chess Champions and Their Queens

By GM Lubomir Kavalek

When Magnus Carlsen sacrificed his queen against the Russian challenger Sergey Karjakin last month in New York, it won him not only the world title match, but it was the most brilliant final move of any world chess championship in history. It will be hard to match.

[Event "WCh Rapid TB "] [Site "New York USA"] [Date "2016.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "Karjakin, Sergey"] [Result "1-0"] [Annotator "lk"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2R5/4bppk/1p1p4/5R1P/4PQ2/5P2/r4q1P/7K w - - 0 50"] [PlyCount "1"] [EventDate "2016.11.30"] [EventType "rapid"] 50. Qh6+ $3 {This astonishing queen sacrifice should be printed on Magnus Carlsen's visit card. Black is mated.} (50. Qh6+ gxh6 (50... Kxh6 51. Rh8#) 51. Rxf7#) 1-0

Chess players are always attracted to queen sacrifices. They symbolize victory of mind over matter, a desire to do more with less. Some queen sacrifices are models of efficiency and lead to checkmates; others take advantage of positional deficiencies and bring mysterious twists into chess. Some are waiting to be discovered, stay behind the curtain and never show up. It is always special when these sacrifices are played in games of strong players.

The man in the Barong Tagalog, a ceremonial Philippine shirt, is Wesley So. He won the Grand Chess Tour (GCT) that made him $295,000 richer. According to the former world champion Kramnik, So played the best chess of the year and could be a serious challenger to Carlsen in the future. In the final GCT tournament last month in London, Wesley was prepared to sacrifice his queen. It led to a spectacular smothered mate, but Veselin Topalov spoiled it a decided to lose differently.

[Event "8th London Classic "] [Site "?"] [Date "2016.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Topalov, Veselin"] [Black "So, Wesley"] [Result "0-1"] [WhiteElo "2760"] [BlackElo "2794"] [Annotator "GM Lubomir Kavalek/ The Huffington Post"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r1b2rk1/b1p2p1n/p1p5/P2pP1q1/6p1/2P3B1/1P1NBPP1/R2Q1RK1 b - - 0 19"] [PlyCount "17"] [EventDate "2016.12.07"] {Topalov played rather passively and So now brings in his forces for the final attack.} 19... f5 $1 20. exf6 (20. Bh2 g3 $19) 20... Nxf6 21. Ra4 ({After} 21. Bxc7 {Black has several ways how to win, for example:} Rf7 ({or} 21... Kg7 22. Bb6 (22. Qc1 Qh4) 22... Rh8 23. f4 Qh4 $19) 22. Bb6 Rh7 23. Bd3 Rh5 24. Re1 Qh4 25. Kf1 Bxb6 26. axb6 Qh1+ 27. Ke2 Re5+ 28. Ne4 Qxg2 $19) 21... Rf7 $1 { Protecting the c-pawn and threatening to swing the Rook to the h-file, Black kills two birds with one stone.} ({Not} 21... Nh5 22. Bxg4 Nxg3 23. Bxc8 $15 { and White still fights.}) 22. Re1 Nh5 $1 {Taking advantage of the weak, pinned f-pawn.} 23. Bxg4 Nxg3 24. Re8+ Kg7 25. Rxc8 (25. Nf3 Qh6 26. Bh3 Rxf3 $1 { wins.}) 25... Bxf2+ 26. Kh2 {[#]} Qe5 $1 {A precise finish. Black threatens discovery check with the Knight, mating soon.} 27. Kh3 ({So had a beautiful smothered mate in mind after} 27. Nf3 Nf1+ 28. Kh1 Qh2+ $3 29. Nxh2 Ng3#) 27... Ne2 (27... Ne2 {The threat is 28...Qg3 mate and after} 28. Nf1 Ng1#) 0-1

Carlsen and So now compete at the Tata Steel Chess tournament in Wijk aan Zee. Lots of nice memories are connected with the Dutch coastal town. In 1975 I won the Leo van Kijk prize for the most spectacular game, offered there for the first time. In the game against the eventual winner Lajos Portisch I sacrificed my queen for a mere bishop. But another queen sacrifice was secretly brewing in the mind of Jan Timman. Well, perhaps not so secretly since we discussed it at the hotel bar, but not in great detail. Timman even mentioned it in the tournament book I wrote about the event. Six months later his sacrifice appeared in our game.

Berry Withuis, a Dutch organizer and journalist, immediately asked: “Do you know Nezhmedtinov’s queen sacrifice?”

I thought he meant Rashid Nezhmedtinov’s brilliant masterpiece against Lev Polugaevsky, played in Sochi in 1958. It was one of the best games of the last century and it appeared on a menacing painting of a Russian artist G. Satonina (Nezhmedtinov on the right).

“A different one,” said Withuis and made it sound as if Nezhmedtinov created queen sacrifices every day. He summed it up in a question he asked one day of the legendary grandmaster David Bronstein: “Is the queen stronger than two light pieces?”

The former challenger for the world title took the question seriously. “I don’t know,” he said. “But I will tell you later.”

That evening Bronstein played a simultaneous exhibition in Amsterdam and whenever he could, he sacrificed his queen for two minor pieces. “Now I know,” he told Withuis afterwards. “The queen is stronger.”

In Nezhmedtinov’s game the queen lost, but it was foggy and unclear. Bobby Fischer had a chance, but didn’t go there and the computers had later shown that White may equalize at best. It did not deter Nezhmedtinov. He wowed that given a chance, he would sacrifice the queen again.

[Event "Rostov on Don"] [Site "?"] [Date "1963.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Nezhmedtinov, Rashid"] [Black "Chernikov, Oleg"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B35"] [Annotator "GM Lubomir Kavalek/The Huffington Post"] [PlyCount "65"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 g6 5. Nc3 Bg7 6. Be3 Nf6 7. Bc4 O-O 8. Bb3 Ng4 9. Qxg4 Nxd4 10. Qh4 Qa5 11. O-O Bf6 {[#]} 12. Qxf6 $3 {After nearly an hour of delibration, Nezhmedtinov decided to sacrifice the queen. Why would he spend so much time on an intuitive sacrifice? He could not calculate it, but he obviously tried. He must have known that Bobby Fischer rejected it a year earlier.} ({After} 12. Qg4 d6 13. Qd1 {the game Fischer-Reshevsky, Los Angeles 1961, ended in a draw in 25 moves.}) 12... Ne2+ $1 13. Nxe2 exf6 14. Nc3 {The dark squares can't be defended properly and White's minor pieces get plenty of play. Still, it is roughly equal.} Re8 {Other options involve the d-pawn.} ({The violent} 14... d5 {Nezhmedtinov planned to meet with} 15. Bd4 $5 (15. Nxd5 {is, of course, playable, for example} Be6 (15... Rd8 16. Bd4 Rxd5 $6 17. exd5 Kg7 18. Rfe1 $16) 16. Nxf6+ Kg7 17. Bd4 Bxb3 18. Ne8+ Kg8 19. Nf6+ Kg7 (19... Kh8 $6 20. Ng4+ f6 21. Nxf6 $1 $14) 20. Ne8+ $11)) ({Computers suggested the modest} 14... d6 15. Nd5 Be6 16. Nxf6+ Kg7 17. Bd4 Rfc8 $11) 15. Nd5 Re6 16. Bd4 Kg7 17. Rad1 $11 d6 18. Rd3 Bd7 19. Rf3 Bb5 20. Bc3 Qd8 21. Nxf6 $1 Be2 (21... Bxf1 22. Ng4+ $18) 22. Nxh7+ $1 Kg8 23. Rh3 Re5 24. f4 Bxf1 25. Kxf1 $1 Rc8 26. Bd4 (26. fxe5 dxe5 27. Rd3 Qh4 28. Bxe5 $1 Qxh7 29. Rh3 $18 ) 26... b5 27. Ng5 Rc7 {Nezhmedtinov now starts the final combination, reminisent of the 1966 Petrosian-Spassky10th game. [#]} 28. Bxf7+ $1 Rxf7 29. Rh8+ $1 Kxh8 30. Nxf7+ Kh7 31. Nxd8 Rxe4 32. Nc6 Rxf4+ 33. Ke2 1-0

You probably know that you can move pieces on the replay board 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 our JavaScript replayer on your web site or blog. Hovering the mouse over any button will show you its function.

Images from London Chess Classic and SachInfo

– Part two to follow shortly –

Original column hereCopyright Huffington Post

The Huffington Post is an American news website and aggregated blog founded by Arianna Huffington and others, featuring various news sources and columnists. The site was launched on May 9, 2005, as a commentary outlet and liberal/progressive alternative to conservative news websites. It offers coverage of politics, media, business, entertainment, living, style, the green movement, world news, and comedy. It is a top destination for news, blogs, and original content. The Huffington Post has an active community, with over over a quarter of a billion visits per month (according to Quantcast), making it the number 73 ranked web site in the world (Alexa, January 2014).

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