SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
The old masters knew all there was to know about chess. They wrote the books that revealed the deepest secrets of our ageless game to the whole world. Today none of the new books that appear in print have anything new to add to the old masters’ contribution; they merely prove that the old masters were right, by providing more recent examples!
In particular, Lasker and Steinitz precisely described what to do when you find yourself with the advantage…
Steinitz (L) playing Lasker (R) for the world title
”When you have an advantage, you are obliged to attack; otherwise you are endangered to lose the advantage. ” is a principle first enunciated by Wilhelm Steinitz, the first official world champion.
The man who vanquished Steinitz in 1894–Emanuel Lasker–and would go on to hold the title for a total of 28 years, would later elevate this axiom to a question of ethics: ”This ”obligation” connotes an ethical power. To obey the command is hard and irksome. Not to obey…Believe in the existence of that combination and seek to discover it. And if you have searched in vain a hundred times, continue. Possibly the advantage that you think you hold is only an illusion; your valuations may be at fault: prove them and improve them. But, first of all, search diligently; work, for such work is rewarded.”–(Lasker’s Manual of Chess, p 215)
In other words, you must pounce on the opportunity –when it appears–with all the might and energy and will-power that you possess , without thinking of consequence or cost. Witness the following game between the 2 Ukranian masters Stets and Karjakin (who would go on to become one of the elite grandmasters in the world today) as an example to illustrate this point.
POSITION AFTER BLACK’S 18th MOVE:
Should White recapture the Knight on c3? Or can he try to take advantage of the fact that the Knight is presently pinned against the Black Queen and can not flee? Is there a way for White to take advantage of the fact that most of Black’s pieces are far away from the Black King?
Lasker advised the student of the game to search …a hundred times if necessary…and then some…Stets found a brilliant idea that allows White to win by direct attack:
A stunning move that rips open the Black King position. Black has little choice but to accept the gift: 19… Ne5 would fail after 20. Rxg7! Kxg7 21. Qh4! Qc7 22. Qh6 Kg8 23. Bxc3 e6 24. Bg4! and White just keeps on piling pressure.
19… Kxf7 20. Qe6 ch! Kf8
White is a Rook and a piece down and it is not obvious how to proceed with his attack; Black still has a number of minor pieces defending the Black monarch. The solution to White’s problem begins with a quiet move:
A difficult move to forsee, but no doubt Stets was guided by Lasker’s advice! White now creates threats of Bh5 and Bh6. Black must act quickly to prevent this. Giving up the Queen with 21… Nxe2 22. Bxa5 b6 does not stop White’s attack: 23. Rf1 Nf6 24. Bb4 c3 25. e5! etc
Once more the threats of Bh5 and Bh6 are in the air. If now 22… Rc7 then 23. Bh6! is curtains. Black’s only hope is to bring back the Black Queen via e8 to defend against the mate on f7:
23. Bh6 !
Stets plays with great energy and precision!
23… Bxh6 24. Bh5!
It is curious how White manages to get in both Bh6 and Bh5. Black’s next is also forced:
24… Qe8! 25. Qxh6ch Kg8 26. Bxe8
The Black Queen knew that returning to defend the Black King would mean certain death, but atleast an attacking piece perishes in the process…duty is duty! Unfortunately for Black, loyalty is not enough to save the Black monarch. White has only to find a way to bring in the White Rook to bring a logical end to this attack: if now 26… Rxe8 then 27. Qg6ch Kh8 28. Rf4! is curtains.
26… Ncxe4!? 27. Qg6ch Kh8 28. Rf4!
“Lies and hypocrisy do not survive for long on the chessboard. The creative combination lays bare the presumption of a lie, while the merciless fact, culminating in a checkmate, contradicts the hypocrite.” — Lasker’s Manual of Chess
SPRAGGETT ON CHESS