SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
I repeatedly advise my students ”If you see a good move, wait a bit , look for a stronger one.” Certainly not original advice, but worth repeating a hundred times if necessary. Chess is all about the moves we finally choose to play. Mastery is about getting it right most of the time…
Was it Lasker who first wrote this? Or was it Tarrasch? I don’t quite remember, and googling today to find out, I see that the chess world is divided as to who deserves this credit. In anycase, I am certain that some wise observer (not necessarily a chess player) said it first…and those two gentlemen saw much merit in it.
POSITION AFTER BLACK’S 36th MOVE
GM HILLARP PERSSON
In this position Guseinov played the very strong 37.Rxf7! , breaking down the barracades of the enemy Kingside. Black can not take back because of a forced mate after 38.Qxh7ch. Hillarp replied 38…h5, but soon resigned in a hopeless position a few moves later.
Returning to Lasker’s advice, I should mention that as strong as White’s 37th move was, there is better: 37.RxB!. Should Black take the Rook then White replies 38.Qh6 threatening mate in 1 move, forcing Black’s immediate resignation.
PS. Later today I was informed (from a very reliable source) that it was the Portuguese chess master Pedro Damiao (1480-1544) who first advocated the advice about waiting to look for a better move! (Obrigado, Pedro!) I should also point out that Damiao wrote one of the very first books on the game of chess, published in 1512 (Rome), called “Questo libro e da imparare giocare a scachi et de li partiti”.
DID HE OR DIDN’T HE BLUNDER?
The board one match up between GMs I. Sokolov and V.Ivanchuk was a curious affair. The first 7 moves were:
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 4. Qc2 bxc4 5. e4 d6 6. Bxc4 g6 7. b3
Sokolov’s last move allows Black to win a pawn–which is what Ivanchuk did without much fuss:
The idea is quite simple: if White takes the Knight then 8…Bg7 wins the Rook in the corner. Sokolov played 8.Bb2 and Ivanchuk won with apparent ease in 25 moves (game below)
The critics have been very harsh on Sokolov’s 7th move, essentially branding it an amateurish blunder:
”Vassily Ivanchuk played again and made an end to Ivan Sokolov’s winning streak, while reaching 4/4 himself. The Volga/Benkö might have lost its popularity, but as we all know, Chuky plays everything and Sokolov’s 4.Qc2 wasn’t the most critical choice. Especially when you drop a pawn at move seven.”
”In my opinion Sokolov most likely mixed up move order. A GM wouldn’t miss (such) a simple tactic…”
”Looks like white made a mistake…”
”Ouch, lost a pawn on move 7…”
I also am not impressed with Sokolov’s 7th move, but I ask myself if it was indeed the case that Sokolov would have overlooked Black’s obvious reply? Especially since Sokolov himself had played the same position just a few weeks earlier! Yes, it is true! On the 11th of September, in Antwerp, Sokolov played 7.b3 against T.Piceu and won. Though, it has to be admitted, Piceu did not dare to take the gift on e4.
So the question ”Did he or didn’t he blunder a pawn?” remains unanswered. The mystery continues….
SPRAGGETT ON CHESS