(Photo by Johannes Barthelmes) I have recently been exploring the databases of old Soviet grandmasters. There is a wealth of interesting material, much of it forgotten or never having made the books. Below is a game that I want to share with my readers, especially because it contains one of the most amazing moves ever played in tournament chess! ENJOY!
This game was played at the USSR Championship Finals in Leningrad, 1956. Position after White’s 19th move (Bc4). Black has sacrificed a pawn in the Spanish Opening in an old line of the Breyer that was once popular for a couple of years in the fifties, but is a forerunner of similar lines seen today:
Taking the pawn on e5 gives Black considerable activity and seemingly sufficient compensation. Most top grandmasters , including Topalov, prefer to decline the gift and instead concentrate on development with 11.Nbd2.
In the game under consideration (Zurakhov vs Tolush) White has a slightly better position than normal, as since his d-pawn is easily defended and he has some activity on the Kingside with his Knight on f5. Never the less, Black has some compensation with his lead in development and active pieces….
Here the experienced grandmaster Alexander Tolush lets his sense of danger escape him by not treating the Knight on f5 with the respect it deserves. He should play the cautious 19…Bc8!?, politely asking the Knight to move, and if 20.Ng3 then 20…Be6!? with a hard fight ahead for both sides.
Tolush’s move appears logical at first sight:
Also asking the Knight to move, but the idea has a serious flaw.
The threat of 21.Nh6+, winning the Black Queen, allows White to build up a strong initiative. If now 20… Bc8 then White must eventually win after 21. Nh6+ Kh8 22. Qxd7 Bxd7 23. Nxf7+ Rxf7 24. Bxf7 Nc2 25. Bf4, so Black plays the only other reasonable move…
THE GAME CONTINUED 20…Kh8 21.Re7!
White’s initiative grows quickly as he creates direct threats
21…Qc6 (there is no better) 22.Bg5!
Surprisingly, Black has no good defence after this strong move!
The threat is just to take on f6. If now 22… Bxe7 23. Bxe7 g6 24. Nd6! and Black is crushed; 22… Bxb2!? is as good as any, but after 23. Rb1 Bc8 24. Rxb2 g6 25. Bxf7 Bxf5 26. Qc4 Black is also crushed.; finally 22… Bxg5 23. Qxg5 Qg6 24. Qxg6 fxg6 25. Nxg7! Bc6 26. Ne6 and Black has no chances to save himself:
So Tolush plays his only other try: 22…Bc8!?
Defending against the immediate threat of taking on f6
WHITE TO PLAY AND WIN!
One of the most spectacular moves that I have ever seen! Based on the interference theme, the Rook can be taken three ways but all lose! The immediate threat is to take on f6 or to take the Queen.