Neiman/Afek: Invisible Chess Moves

by ChessBase
2/9/2012 – Every chess player knows that some moves are harder to see than others. Why is it that, frequently, uncomplicated wins simply do not enter your mind? A new book investigates the blind spots from which even strong grandmasters suffer and which obscure some of their best ideas during a game. The examples in this review, all taken from the Tata Steel tournament, are for you to solve.

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Invisible Chess Moves

While the strength of the top players has significantly grown, they still often miss apparently simple moves, based upon very short variations. How can it be possible that the same players, capable of calculating ten moves ahead for hours, fail to see a one-move win? More remarkably, in most cases these oversights are reciprocal. If an elementary mistake coming from a high level player is always a possibility, the probability of double blindness is very small.

Such positions where a simple move is missed often by both players are examined in the book "Invisible Chess Moves" by Emmanuel Neiman & Yochanan Afek published by New in Chess. The book has just won the Book of the Year award for 2011 at the Chess Cafe, which commented: "After several weeks of voting, one book stood out as the runaway winner. In previous years the voting has been close round-by-round, or one book will do well in the first round, but falter in the second. This year players (predominately from France, Israel, and The Netherlands) rallied overwhelmingly around just this one title." The book has been translated into French and Spanish, and a Russian version is expected this year.

Emmanuel Neiman is a FIDE master. He teaches chess in his home country France and he has written books on chess tactics and chess training. Yochanan Afek is an Israeli International Master who lives in Holland. He is an organizer, a journalist and a trainer, but probably best known as an endgame study composer. This is his third book on chess.

Invisible Chess Moves at Tata Steel

By IM Yochanan Afek

Invisible Chess Moves explains why certain moves are harder to spot for a human being than other moves and why such oversights occur so often to players at any level. If the chess geometry and the specific handling of every chess piece are difficult for the beginner, they are no secret for the experienced player. Nevertheless, even grandmasters miss a backward rook move more often than a forward move, and also for them horizontal moves are harder to find than vertical moves.

With an experienced player, a lot of elements in his play will be mechanical. In the opening: develop quickly and castle. In the middlegame: be careful with unprotected pieces. In the endgame: centralize the king. The quality of a player can be established by regarding the number of such integrated principles that he knows. The stronger the player, the better he will be able to break these rules of automatism if that is necessary.

Obviously, professional players are familiar with this problem and would be ready for any possible exception Even so, we still observe many examples of missed opportunities linked to this type of illogical move or even due to a variety of psychological circumstances: the evolution of the actual game, the past confrontations between the two protagonists, their reciprocal status, titles, ratings and other stressing factors.

Would you have missed that?

In the 74th edition of Tata Steel super-tournament we witnessed just last month several excellent fresh examples of such missed opportunities of of which the book deals with. They could all serve as serious candidates for a future edition. Not simple blunders or trivial mistakes which are part of any tournament but rather amazing oversights of both players. All these misfortunate incidents resulted not just in spoiling an impressive chess piece of art but also in a loss of a precious half a point.

The readers are invited to give it a try and find out what escaped the eyes of experienced grandmasters. Turn the Invisible into visible!

"Big deal!" we can almost hear you whispering. "Sitting there in the pressroom with the best of silicon monsters without the ticking clock and the contest pressure and comfortably 'find' those brilliant invisible moves!" That's all very true, dear readers and that is why you should not use computers finding them now!

1. Gashimov,Vugar - Navara,David [C65]
Tata Steel Chess 2012 Wijk aan Zee (9.7), 24.01.2012

Here Black played 24...Nh6?? (24...Nf6 25.Qg5 Qb4+ 26.Kf1 Nxh5 was absolutely necessary). White continued logically 25.g4?? However, this proved rather slow as following 25...Rg6 26.Ng3 Qd8 27.Rh5 Be6 28.g5 Bxd5 29.gxh6 Rxg3 30.Qh2 Rg5 31.hxg7 Kxg7 32.Rh7+ Kf6 33.exd5 Qxd5 34.Rh6+ Ke7 35.Rxc7+ Kd8 36.Rhc6 Qxf3 37.Rc8+ Ke7 38.R8c7+ Kd8 39.Rc8+ Ke7 40.R8c7+ the game was eventually drawn. What did Gashimov miss?

2. Reinderman,Dimitri - Bruzon,Lazaro [A30]
Tata Steel Chess 2012 Wijk aan Zee (2.14), 15.01.2012

Dimitry Reinderman was one of several grandmasters who were busy reading and enjoying the book Invisible Chess Moves during the tournament. Curiously he found himself already in round two of GM group B in an ideal situation to commit a typical psychological oversight. White's extra pawn is of no importance and both players had already been for some moves in a drawish state of mind. However, in their contract they were kindly asked to try not to agree draw before the 30th move. Therefore Black here played the super natural 28...Re8-e1??

Reinderman, who already saw the inevitable result of the game responded automatically 29.Rxe1?? and after 29...Bxe1 30.bxc5 bxc5 31.Ke2 indeed hands were peacefully shaken. Bruzon told me that he had immediately noticed his own error right after committing it (too late, dear Lazaro. for us it's considered still invisible!) and showed his opponent right after the game what you are also asked to discover. What should White have played in the diagram position?

The next two examples are from GM C, and the honour to miss both golden chances was given to the young rising Indian star Sahaj Grover. It was probably not a matter of age however fatigue still played here an important role too as both games were rather long and exahusting.

3. Brandenburg,Daan - Grover,Sahaj [C09]
Tata Steel Chess 2012 Wijk aan Zee (3.19), 16.01.2012

White was totally winning and in fact could choose any move he likes. Well, almost... Unfortunately, with 57.Rc4?? White rushed to exchange pieces in order to convert his material advantage into an easy point. However: 57...Rxc4?? Played automatically, as Black was happy to spot the following miraculous salvation: 58.Nxc4 Qe1! The perpetual check is now unavoidable 59.Qxd5 Qg3+ 60.Kg1 draw. Well, you might wonder, where is exactly the invisible move here? But that is precisely what you should find out. What exactly was it that both players had missed?

4. Grover,Sahaj - Sadler,Matthew [A40]
Tata Steel Chess 2012 Wijk aan Zee (13.19), 29.01.2012

This was one of the last round's longest games. The double error is here a result of both playres' chess education: 53...Rh6?? The rook should support the passed pawn from behind! 54.Kg5?? While the king should rush to blockade it, right? 54...Rh8 55.Kh4 Re8 56.Rd7 Re4+ 57.Kh3 Rxa4 58.Rxd6 Rc4 59.Rd7 Kc8 60.Rb7 Rc5 61.Rxb6 Rxd5 62.Ra6 Kc7 63.Kh4 Rc5 64.Kh3 Kd6 65.Kh4 Re5 66.Kh3 Rf5 67.Kh4 Kc7 68.Kh3 Rf3+ 69.Kh4 Rf5 70.Kh3 Re5 71.Kh4 Rd5 72.Kh3 Rd3+ 73.Kh4 Ra3 74.Kxh5 a4 75.Kg4 Kd6 76.Kf4 Ra1 77.Ke3 a3 78.Kd2 a2 79.Kc2 Rh1 80.Rxa2 Rh2+ 81.Kb3 Rxa2 82.Kxa2 Kxc6 draw. All rook endings are drawn, and this one is no exception. Neverthelass, could White have done better?

5. Radjabov,Teymour - Van Wely,Loek [A80]
Tata Steel Chess 2012 Wijk aan Zee (10.2), 25.01.2012

Here the Azeri number one played 40.Qf3?? and offered a draw. Luckily for him Loek still had to make one move before the time control and he agreed overlooking a nice win. Radjabov eventually ended up as the only unbeaten player at the top group. How would you continue as black?


Would you care for more of the same? You will find many more examples in Invisible Chess Moves, which you can get from the publishers New in Chess, from Chess Cafe or from the London Chess Centre.

Copyright Afek/ChessBase

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