SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
Many close fights are decided by a loss of sense of danger. That is, one of the players momentarily convinces himself that it is no longer necessary to be as cautious and double-check every line as it was on the previous move. Worse still, sometimes in these situations one subconsciously fools oneself into believing that we are infact calculating just as well…This can give rise to extraordinary opportunities for the tactically alert player to radically change the course–if not the outcome–of the struggle.
Witness the following example from the Bundesliga this past weekend.
POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 25th MOVE
Both players are strong young grandmasters, the White player being recently in the news for his outstanding performance at the World Cup this past summer.
Here a sharp game is in progress, with White having the customary slight initiative coming out of the Sicilian defence. BUT Black is solid and has everything under control. Recommended now is 25…Bd8, with …d5 (consolidating in the centre) coming in soon.
Black did some calculations and found that had a clever trap whereby he could play …d5 without the preparatory Bishop retreat to d8. This turned out to be not so simple as he had planned…
After some thought, White decided to fall into the trap that his opponent set for him….
This is the point of Black’s clever trap. The White Queen is trapped in the centre of the board (!) and it appears that White will end up with only 2 pieces for her majesty: 27.BxN BxQ 28.BxB RxB, hardly enough compensation. COULD it have been that Firman was expecting his opponent to extend his hand in resignation (this is grandmaster chess, after all!)
A SURPRISE CAME QUICKLY:
Ouch!! The fly in the ointment! The Queen can not be taken immediately because of 28.Bxf6-ch and 29.Rg4-ch winning. And while the Queen still has no moves in the above position, she can extracate herself and remain a piece up in every line. For example, 27…h6 is answered by 28.Bxh6! Or if 27…Kg8 (trying to avoid the check once the Queen is taken) then once more 28.Bh6!! follows.
REALIZING HIS ERROR, BLACK RESIGNED
Moral of the story: pinch yourself from time to time to make sure that you are fully awake!