‘With Chances for Both Sides . . .’

James Plaskett

James PlaskettComplex games may demand intense scrutiny. Thirty years after this one was played in the penultimate round of the world’s most prestigious Open, I offer my final verdict. And that of Fritz9.

    Plaskett – Miles

    Lugano 1986

    1 c4 e5 2 e3 d6 3 Nc3 g6 4 g3 Bg7 5 Bg2 Ne7 6 d4 0-0 7 Nge2 Nd7 8 0-0 f5 9 dxe5 dxe5 10 b3 c6 11 Ba3 Qe8 12 f4 e4 13 Qd6 Rf7 14 Rad1 Nf8 15 Rd2 Ne6 16 Bh3

plas-qThreatening 17 Nxe4.


The fun begins. 17 Nxe4? now loses to 17…g4. If instead of 16…g5! he had played 16…Bf8? that would not have stopped the threat, viz 17 Nxe4 Nd5 18 cxd5 Bxd6 19 Nxd6 and White wins.

    17 fxg5?

A bad move. By retreating with 17 Rdd1 White would have maintained equality, notwithstanding substantial losses in time.



This was the game’s second truly sub-standard move. 17…Bf8! would have left White with no alternative but to get his queen out of there with 18 Qe5, since 18 Qb4? loses to 18…Nxg5 19 Bg2 Nd5.

After 18 Qe5 Ng6 19 Qa5 b6 20 Qa4 Nxg5 21 Bg2 Ne5 White, with weaknesses,  his queen in Siberia and well-placed black knights about to drop in is clearly short of equality.

Following the avoidance of the fork by 22 Kh1 Black may continue 22…Bg7.

Fritz9 suggests this now as representative: 23 Bd6 Nd3 24 c5 (he was going to get squeezed anyway) 24…bxc5 25 Nb1 (otherwise the other horse would not be able to move, but unsurprisingly the relegation of the knight causes White a lot of problems) 25…a5! 26 Nf4 Ba6 (the needed support arrives) 27 Nxd3 Bb5! 28 Qa3 Bxd3 29 Rc1 a4 (Black switches tack and generates great queenside activity this time through a bishop and not a knight anchored at d3) 30 Qxc5 axb3 31 axb3 Ne6 32 Qb6 Ra6 33 Qb4 c5! and as 34 Qb8 Qxb8 35 Bxb8 Rd7! leaves Black dominant, e.g. 36 Bf4 Ra1 37 Rg1 Rda7! 38 Rdd1 R/7-a2 winning, White may as well try 34 Bxc5, but 34…Rc7 leaves him quite lost. To break loose he has to try something like 35 Rxd3 exd3 36 Bd5 but breaking the pin with 36…Kh8 wins for Black, viz – 37 Bxe6 Qxe6 38 Qb5 Qd5+ 39 Kg1 Ra8, etc.

Miles probably saw some of these consequences of 17…Bf8! as better for him but thought he could do better still with 17…Ng6? He did not calculate enough of the complications which now erupt.

    18 Bxf5! Bf8

The critical point.

plas-1White has 19 Bxg6! resulting in a mess after, say, 19…Rxf1+ 20 Kxf1 Qxg6 21 Qe5 Bxa3 22 Nxe4. The line 22…Be7 23 h4 Qg7 24 Nf6+ Kh8 25 Nf4 Nxf4 26 Rd8+! Bf8 27 Rxf8+! Qxf8 28 Nd7+ Qg7 29 Qe8+ Qg8 30 Qe5+ is perhaps representative.

On 19 Bxg6 Black also had 19…hxg6 when 20 Qe5 Bxa3 21 Nxe4 leaves White comfortably placed and with three healthy pawns for his minor piece.

A more challenging line would be 20…Rxf1+ 21 Kxf1 Qf7+ 22 Kg1 Bxa3 23 Nxe4.

Now 23…Be7 24 Nf6+ Bxf6 25 gxf6 Bd7 26 e4 is about equal and 23…Qf5 24 Nf6+ Kf7 25 Qxf5 gxf5 26 h4 Be7 27 Nd7 is too.

Instead, I mistakenly gave him the queen.

    19 Nxe4? Bxd6 20 Nxd6

plas-2Where to move the lady?

a) 20…Qd7? is worse for after 21 Nd4 he must bail out with 21…Rxf5 but then 22 N4xf5 gives an overwhelming attack.

b) 20…Qf8? allows 21 Nxc8 Qxc8 (21…Qxa3? 22 Bxe6 wins) 22 Nd4 when again he must go 22…Rxf5 and 23 Nxf5 leaves no better way of meeting the check at h6 than 23…Nxg5 when there is a draw by knight checks, since neither Kh8 is possible because of Bb2+ …Kg8 Nh6 mate nor Kf7 because Nd6+ wins the queen.

c) He chose 20…Qd8?. Now 21 Nxf7? Qxd2 would leave White unable to check on the long diagonal and so quite lost and 21 Nxc8? fails to 21…Qxd2 22 Bxe6 Qxe3+.

But I unpinned with 21 Rd3!. Now 21…Rf8 22 Nxc8 Qxc8 23 Nd4! forces the repetition given in b) by 23…Rxf5 as 23…Re8? loses to 24 Nxe6 Rxe6 26 Rd8+!! Qxd8 27 Bxe6+ Kg7 28 Rf7+ Kg8 29 Rc7+ Kh8 30 Bb2+ and mate.

I think Miles missed that his 21…Rxf5 could be met by 22 Nxf5! when he should have taken the rook and a draw: 22…Qxd3! 23 Nh6+ Kh8! 24 Bb2+ Ng7 25 Nf7+, etc.

Instead he played 22…Qxg5?, overlooking that I had 23 h4 Qh5 24 g4!!

plas-14    24…Qxg4+ 25 Neg3 Qh3 (forced) 26 Nh6+ Kg7


Here 27 Ngf5+ was the most natural and 27…Kf6 28 Bb2+ Ne5 permits White wins by 29 Ng8+, 29 Ng3+ or 29 e4!! Qxd3 30 Ng4+ and 32 Nxe5+ and 33 Nxd3.

In view of the power of my 24th move he had to try 23…Nxh4. Initially I just dismissed that as winning for White after 24 Nxh4. But Fritz9 does not give up so easily and assesses 24…Qa5 then as no worse for Black, e.g. 25 b4 Qh5 26 Nf4 Qg5 or 25 Bb2 Ng5.

The computer´s winning reply to 23…Nxh4 is 24 Ne7+! Kg7 25 e4!

Not the sort of continuation one would be likely to sight upon short of time over the board but defensible via concrete analysis.

plas-rev1Black is up queen for rook and pawn but has no adequate defence.

On 25…Qa5 26 Bb2+ Kh6 27 Ng8+! Kh5 28 gxh4 with raging attack.

On 25…Nc5 26 Bb2+ Kh6 27 Bc1 Nxd3 28 Bxg5+ Kxg5 29 gxh4+ Kxh4 30 Rf8 wins, or 27…Qxc1 28 Rd6+ wins.

On 25…Qg4 26 Bb2+ Kh6 27 Rf6+ Kh5 28 Bc1 and the king is netted. The ending following 28…Ng6 29 Rf5+ Ng5 30 Rxg5+ Qxg5 31 Bxg5 Kxg5 32 Nxg6 is easily won.

Or 27…Ng6 27 Ng8+! Kg7! Best chance; on 27…Kh5 28 Rf5+ wins instantly. 28 Rf4+ Nd4 29 Rxg4 Bxg4 30 Nxd4 Kxg8 and the white initiative continues with, as Kasparov always pointed out, the big plus of getting a knight to f5 in front of a king. 31 Nf5, Decisive. 31…Bxf5 32 exf5 Nf8 33 g4 and wins.

And on 25…Ng6 26 Bb2+ Ne5 (or 26…Kh6 27 Ng8+ Kh5 28 Nf6+ Kh6 29 Bc1 wins.) 27 Nf5+ Kf6 28 Rd6 and Black is so trussed that White will regain his material. Black has nothing more constructive than 28…a5 29 Nf4 a4 30 b4 a3 31 Bc3 Qg4 32 c5 h5 33 Kh1. White can time it as suits him. 33…Qg5 34 Nd3. Now he´s ready. 34… Kf7 35 Nxe5+ Ke8 36 Rd3 with full material equality and winning attack.

plas-nI blundered again with

    27 Nhf5+?

which allowed an escape with 27…Kf7! Then it ought to end with something like 28 Nh6+ Ke8 29 Ne4 c5! and White has only perpetual.


was the last error and it ended

    28 Nh5+ Ke5 29 Nfg3 Nef8 30 Bb2+

30 Bd6+ also mated in four.

    30…Ke6+ 31 Ng7+ Ke7 32 Ba3+ 1-0



Kasparov: a knight on f5 is often worth a pawn
(photo © Mark Rabkin)

Kasparov cited his 1980 game with Marjanovic as an instance of how it can be worth a pawn to establish a knight at f5 in front of the opponent’s king. He also told me the 16th game of his 1985 match with Karpov illustrated how the influence of a knight at d3 (d6) supported by a bishop may compensate for sacrificed material.

I made use of his tuition.

But there was also

    ci) 21…Qa5!? I gave 22 b4 Qe5 23 Nxf7 Kxf7 24 Bxe6+ Kxe6 25 b5! c5 26 Nc3 ‘. . . and Black’s chances of survival are slim’, in Starting Out: Attacking Play (Everyman 2004).

plas-13Fritz9 took a more sanguine view. Black gets slaughtered after 26…b6 27 Bb2!, e.g. 27…Qxg5 28 Ne4, e.g. 28…Qg4 29 Rd6+ Ke7 30 Bf6+ Kf7 31 Ng5+ Kg8 32 Rd8+ Nf8 33 Be7 or reaches a clearly worse ending after 27…Bb7 28 Rf6+ Qxf6 (28…Ke7 29 Nd5+) 29 gxf6 Ne5 30 Rd1 Nxc4 31 Ba1.

But 26…Bd7! is tougher. 28 Rf6+ (28 Nd5 Rf8 29 Rfd1 may also yield sufficient play for White, but I prefer this.) 28…Ke7 29 Nd5+ and

    cia) 29…Ke8 30 Bxc5 wins a fourth pawn with the Black king still under harassment.

30…Bh3 (threatening mate) 31 Rd4 (threatening the queen) 31…Rd8 32 Bd6! Rxd6 33 Rxd6 is one plausible and obscure continuation.

    cib) On 29…Kd8 30 Bxc5 Rc8 31 Bxa7 is a useful grab and also increases White’s attack potential. After 31…Rxc4 32 Rd1 there is the delightful line, 32…Bxb5 33 Nb6+ Kc7?? 34 Bb8+!!, indicating how useful Short’s favourite (Bxa7) may be.

32…Bg4 is better and after 33 Bd4 Qe8 34 Rd6+ Kc8 35 Nb6+ Kb8 36 Nxc4 Bxd1 37 Bb6 we get an ending where White is not worse.

So 21…Qa5 was as good as 21…Rxf5.

    d) 20…Qe7! was the refutation I gave in 2004.

plas-aIf 21 h4 Rxf5 wins: White must take something.

    da) 21 Nxc8

    db) 21 Nxf7

    da) 21 Nxc8

We rejected 20…Qe7! because of 21 Nxc8 Qxa3 22 Bxe6, transposing to a line given in the notes to b) 20…Qf8?.

But Black has 21…Qxg5! and the tables are spectacularly turned, e.g. 22 Bxe6 Qxe3+

    dai) 23 Kg2

    daii) 23 Kh1

    dai) 23 Kg2

plas-bIn Playing To Win (Batsford 1988) I said 23…Qxe6 24 Rd8+ Kg7 25 Bb2+ Kh6 26 Bc1+ Kh5 wins.

But this is wrong as 26 Rxf7! holds. Playing to win would now fail, e.g. 26…Qxf7 27 Bc1+ Kh5? (27…Kg7 28 Bb2+ repeats) loses to 28 Rd4!, when White threatens 29 g4+ Kh4 30 g5+ Kh5 31 Ng3 mate, and 28…Rxc8 29 g4+ Kh4 30 g5+ forces a won ending after 30…Nf4+ 31 Rxf4+.

After 25…Ne5?! 26 Nf4! Rxf4 27 Rxf4 Rxc8 28 Bxe5+ White is better. Taking the knight with 26…Qxe2+ 27 Rf2 leaves Black best advised to keep checking.

Going after the one at c8 with 27…Qe6 28 Bc1+ Kh5? permits 29 h3! when 29…Rxc8 30 Rxc8 Qxc8 31 g4+! Kh4 32 Rf7! forces a lost ending, e.g. 32…h5 (32…Qg8 33 Rf5) 33 Rh7 Qh8 34 Rxh8 Nxh8 35 gxh5 and wins.

He will end up similarly trussed after 29…Nh4+ 30 gxh4 Rxc8 31 Rxc8 Qxc8 32 Rf6, e.g. 32…Qg8+ 33 Bg5 Qg7 34 Kf3, and he will soon have to play h6 when Rxh6+ wins.

There is also no win by first checking the king to g1, viz 27…Qe4+ 28 Kg1 Qe6 because of 29 Bc1+ Kh5 30 Rd6!, e.g 30…Qxc8? 31 h3!. This was ineffective at move 30 because of 30…Qe1 but now works well.

Black cannot wait whilst White moves his king up and mates him so 31…Qxh3 is best, and then 32 Rh2 Qxh2+ 33 Kxh2… creates mating ideas of Kh3 and g4 and White retains a clear plus after 33…Kg4 34 Rd4+ Kf3 35 Rd7.

Or 30…Qe4 31 Rdf6 Rxc8 White draws by 32 R/6-f5+ Kg4 33 Rg5+ Kh3 34 Rh5+ etc.

Another draw results from 30…Qe1+ 31 Rf1 Qe5 32 Rf7! when Black ought to check on e1. 32…Rxc8? 33 Rxh7+ Kg4 34 Rxg6+ would leave Black behind on material and 32…Kg4? meets the spectacular 33 h3+!!

plas-12Disruptive knight sacs also do not work, viz 27…Nf4+ 28 gxf4 Qg4+ 29 Kf1 Rxc8 and White is not worse following 30 Rd3 nor 30 Rxc8 Qxc8 31 f5.

27…Nh4+? 28 gxh4 Qg4+ 29 Kh1 Rxc8 loses to 30 Rf6+ Kh5 31 Rd4! Qe2 32 Rf5+ Kg6 33 Rg5+ Kf7 (33…Kh6 34 Rd6+) 34 Rf4+ Ke6 35 Re5+ Qxe5 36 Bxe5 Kxe5 37 Rf7.

Yet Black may still win from here, by capturing the rook: 23…Qxd2! 24 Bxf7+ Kg7.

Both white knights hang but 25 Nd6 keeps the kettle boiling as 25…Qxe2+ 26 Rf2 leaves the problem of how to cope with Bb2+ (?).

On 26…Qd3 27 Bb2+ Kh6 White can repeat with 28 Bc1+ whilst Fritz9 likes 28 c5.

Correct is to first grab with 25…Qxa2! and after White preserves his bishop by 26 Bc5… (26 Bc1 Qxe2+ 27 Rf2 Nh4+! 28 gxh4 Qg4+ 29 Kf1 Qd1+ 30 Kg2 Qxc1 wins, or here 28 Kg1 Nf3+ 29 Kg2 Ne1+ 30 Kg1 Qxf2+ 31 Kxf2 Nd3+ etc) then snaffle the knight. 26…Qxe2+ 27 Rf2


plas-10The only win. Others allow limitless checks, e.g. 26…Qd3? 27 Bd4+! or a level ending following 27…Qxd4 28 Nf5+ Kxf7 29 Nxd4+.

Play goes 28 gxf4 Qg4+ 29 Kf1 Qd1+ 30 Kg2 Rd8 and the rook will capture two pieces. 31 Bd4+ is met by 31…Kf8 leaving White nothing better than a less coordinated version of the ending which will be our principle focus.

Instead 31…Qxd4?! 32 Nf5+ Kf7 33 Nxd4 Rxd4 gives real drawing chances by 34 Kf3! Rd3+ 35 Ke4 Rxb3 36 Ke5.

So 31 Be6 Rxd6 32 Bxd6 Qxd6 33 f5.

plas-11This ending is critical for the queen sacrifice. Candidate thoughts included:

‘I think it should be a win but I’m not completely sure.’ (M. Adams)

‘It doesn’t look trivial to me because if Black sets up a passed a pawn then the bishop covers a2; and the f6 pawn needs watching so it may be hard to activate the king. Also b3 isn’t hard to defend from f3 tho’ there might be some zugzwang perhaps? Still it may be that somebody with a more developed sense would just say “win”.’ (J. Speelman)

And the definitive –

‘In my 10 seconds I was wondering how White was to defend against an advance of the h-pawn? With the pawn on h4 how can White protect the b-pawn? The rook must surely be on f3, pawn on h3, king on f1, with the Black queen on d2. Does king e5 then win, or does f6 draw? F… knows. I have had too much to drink anyway…’ (N. Short)

Yet it is lost.

White has too wide an area to cover and Black may combine threats to the b and h pawns with the advance of his own rook pawn and sometimes his king.

A line like 33…Kf6 34 Rf3 Qd2+ 35 Kg3 Qe2 36 Rf2 Qe5+ 37 Kg2 Qe4+ 38 Rf3 Qe2+ 39 Kg3 h5! 40 h4 Qe1+ 41 Rf2 Qd1 42 Rf3 Qg1+ is typical. A pawn is dropping off.

There remains

    daii) 23 Kh1

Now after 23…Qxd2

plas-924 Ng1!!. Not 24 Rxf7? Qxe2 and White is lost.

The computer keeps the knight, noticing that 24…Rxc8 25 Rxf7 leaves no adequate counter, e.g. 25…Qe3 26 Re7+ Kf8 27 Rc7+ Ne7 28 Bxe7+ Ke8 29 Rxc8+ Kxe7 30 Bh3 etc.

So 24…Ne5, which seems to positively invite 25 Nd6. But then the e5 knight switches into an attacker via the splendid 25…Ng4!! and it is Black who triumphs, e.g, 26 Bxg4 Rxf1 or 26 Bxf7+ Kh8 and White cannot cope with the mate threat as 27 Nf3 Qe2 28 Kg1 Ne3 29 Rf2 Qd1+ mates.

The right reply to 24…Ne5 is 25 Bd6! when after 25…Rxc8 (otherwise it checks at e7) 26 Bxe5 Rf8 27 Rf4 Black is so bound by the bishops that he can do little.

After 27…h5 28 Nf3 Qxa2 29 Ng5 or 28…Qe2 29 Kg1 should Black avoid giving perpetual an advance of the king and g and h pawns may even generate winning chances.

If  Black mistakenly defends his attacked knight White will win, e.g.  25…Qb2? 26 Rf5 Ng4 27 Rg5+ or 25…Qc3? 26 Rf5, or 25…Qd4? 26 Rf4.

25…Qe3? fails to 26 Bxf7+ Nxf7 27 Ne7+ Kh8 28 Rxf7 Qe6 29 Bb4! Qxf7 30 Bc3+ Qg7 31 Bxg7+ Kxg7 32 Nf5+with a won ending.

Again Black´s best shot is the tricky 25…Ng4!? when White must play accurately: 26 Ne7+! (Not 26 Bxf7+? as 26… Kg7 27 Nf3 Qe2 28 Kg1 Ne3 wins) and Black has no win after 26…Kh8 27 Bxg4! Qxd6 28 Rxf7 Re8 29 Nf5 Qg6 30 Rg7 or 29…Qe6 30 Bh5 with the knight at f5 aiming to get back to f3 via h4 asap in either case.

On 26…Kf8 White must choose his shot with care.


On 27 Nf5+? Ke8 28 Bxf7+ Kxf7 or 28 Ng7+ Kd8! and Black wins.

On 27 Rxf7+ Ke8 White cannot deal with the mate threat by 28 Nf3 because of 28…Qxd6. So 28 Bxg4 is forced leaving us with a highly unusual position of an
(approximate) material equality after 28…Kxf7. d6 and a2 hang and the horse at g1 is inactive. I prefer Black after either 29 c5 Rd8 or 29 Nf5 Rd8.

On 27 Ng6+? Ke8 28 Bxf7+ Kd8 29 Be7+ Kc7 30 Nf3 Qe2 31 Kg1 Ne3 and Black mates.

27 Nd5+? is also bad after 27…Ke8 28 Bxf7+ (28 Nc7+ Kd8) 28…Kd7 29 Nf3 Qe2 30 Kg1 cxd5 etc.

Best is 27 Nxc6+! Qxd6 28 Rxf7+ Ke8 29 Re7+ Qxe7 (29…Kf8 30 Rf7+ Kg8? 31 Ne7+ and 32 Bxg4 wins) 30 Nxe7 Nf2+ 31 Kg2 Kxe7 32 Bf5 and he is not worse.

Or on 27…Ke8 29 Bxf7+ Kd7 30 Ne5+ Kxd6 31 Nxg4 we have an obscure situation where white has three minor pieces and two pawns for the queen yet he is rather uncoordinated, the knight on g1 undeveloped and a2 hangs.

On 27…Kg8 White repeats with 28 Ne7+ and on 27…Kg7 28 Rxf7+ Kh8 29 Bxg4 Qxd6 30 Ne7 wins.

plas-cBut this time 23…Qxe6! wins, e.g. 24 Rd8+ Kg7 25 Bb2+ Kh6 26 Bc1+ Kh5! and running along the rim will now prove successful as the king on g2 was a strong attacker but on h1 it is not and accurate footwork will enable Black to, just, dodge the darts, e.g. 27 Rxf7 Qxf7 28 g4+ Kh4! and neither 29 Ng3 Qf3+ 30 Kg1 Rxc8 nor 29 Ng1 Rxc8! 30 Rxc8 Qe6 31 Nf3+ Kxg4 suffice for White.

Or 28 Kg2 Qe6! 29 g4+ Qxg4+ 30 Ng3+ Kh4 31 Rd4 Qxd4 32 Nf5+ Kg4 33 Nxd4 Nh4+ and 34…Rxc8 wins.


    db) 21 Nxf7 Qxa3

(21…Qxf7? 22 Bxe6 Qxe6 23 Rd8+ Kg7 24 Bb2+ Ne5 25 Nd4 is devastating, e.g. 25…Qe7 26 Rxc8)

Three pawns and a rook for the queen is near equality. But those are coarse guidelines for so delicate a setting. Black’s king is exposed, his queen out of it and his queenside undeveloped. Meanwhile White’s rooks and knights lurk as immanent attackers, the pawn at g5 may have an attacking role as well as serving as an anchor, and sometimes even the h pawn gets in on the act. For Black, a queen is a queen and one of its especial fortés is circling to exploit discoordination and weaknesses.

plas-3In 1988 I thought this unclear. Then in 2004 I said that after 22 Bxg6 hxg6 23 Nh6+ Kh8 White was lost.

The position is unique and, although it merits the signs for ‘development advantage’, ‘initiative’, ‘attack’ and ‘compensation for the material’, the playing fields are strewn with mines and ultimately concrete analysis is what counts.

f7 hangs, so taking on g6 makes sense.

    db1) 22 Bxg6 hxg6

plas-5    23 Nh6+

    db1a) 23…Kh8!

The best move.

Now 24 Rf7 is met by 24…Qa5! and g5 falls. 25 Nf4 Qxg5 wins even after White wriggles with 26 Rf8+ Kh7! 27 Rh8+ Kxh8 28 Nf7+ Kh7 29 Nxg5+ Nxg5 etc.

Should White prefer 24 h4, Black needs to mobilise swiftly. Following 24…Qc5 25 Rd3 b5 gets on with the breakout.

plas-dAn illustration of the sharpness of it all is that after 26 cxb5 cxb5? 27 Nf4 Kh7 (27…Nxf4 28 Rd8+ Kg7 29 Rxf4 Qxe3+ 30 Kh2 and a draw.) 28 Nd5… the use of this square enables White to hold, 28…Bb7 29 Rf7+ Kh8 30 Rxb7 Qc1+ 31 Kg2 Qc2+ 32 Kg1 Qxd3 33 Nf6 and Black must take perpetual, or 32…Rf8 33 Nf6 Rxf6 34 gxf6 Qxd3 35 Nf7+ Kg8 36 Nh6+ Kf8 37 Rf7+ Ke8 38 Re7+ Kd8 39 Rxe6 and White is not worse.

The tricky 26…Qc2? is met by 27 Nf4 Nxf4 28 Rd8+ Kh7 29 Rxf4, etc. But 26…Qxb5! is stronger as it retains pawn governance of d5, e.g. 27 Nf4 Kh7 28 Rfd1 Nxf4 29 gxf4 a5 and White has insufficient compensation.

With 26 Nc3 bxc4 27 Ne4 (27 bxc4 Qxc4 28 Rfd1 Kg7 and wins) White brings in his last unit, generating frightful complications.

Fritz9 thinks that this does not alter things, viz. 27…Qb4 (27…cxd3? 28 Nxc5 Nxc5 29 Rf8+ is a draw) 28 Nf7+ Kg7 and challenges man to find a way to justify his further sacrifices. I couldn’t, e.g. 29 Rdd1 Qb6!? 30 Nfd6 Qxe3+, or 29 Nfd6 fails to 29…cxd3 30 Rf7+ Kh8 31 Nf6 Qe1+ and black checks to victory, e.g. 32 Kh2 Qf2+ 33 Kh1 Qf1+ 34 Kh2 Qh3+! 35 Kxh3 Nxg5+ and wins, or 35 Kg1 Qxg3+ 36 Kh1 Qxh4+ 37 Kg1 Nxg5 wins or 36 Kf1 Nxg5 wins. On 32 Kg2 Qe2+ 33 Kg1 Qxe3+ 34 Kf1 Qf3+ with similar play, or 34 Kg2 Nf4+! 35 gxf4 Qh3+ 36 Kg1 Qg3+ 37 Kf1 Bh3 mate or 36 Kf2 Qxh4+ and 37…Be6. On 37 Kh1 Qxh4+ and 38…Be6, etc.

On 25 Rf3

plas-eBlack may get his queenside bits out with 25…b5 but this is not so good. To be sure, after 26 cxb5? cxb5! (here effective as 27 Nf4 would drop a rook.) 27 Nf7+ (as good as any) 27…Kg7 28 Nd6 Bd7 29 Ne4 (29 Rf7+ Kg8 30 Rxd7 Qxe3+ wins.) 29…Qe7 30 N2c3 Bc6 31 Nd5 Bxd5 Black wins easily.

But, once again, 26 Nc3!, and this time the consequences of 26…bxc4 27 Ne4 are better. After 27…Qe7? 28 Rf7 Qa3 a sixth and decisive unit enters by 29 h5!, e.g. 29…Ba6 30 hxg6 Ng7 31 Rfd7 Qc1+ 32 Kh2 and the rooks, knights and g pawns do Black over. Following 27…Qa3 28 Nf7+! Kg7 29 Ne5 pulling the queen back is best; 29…Qe7 30 Rf6! Nf8 31 Rf7+ Qxf7 32 Nxf7 Kxf7 33 Nd6+ and 34 Nxc4 and there’s not much in it.

Or he might go for pawns with 25…Qa5. This is very dangerous as White’s pieces stream out to attack. But it works.

The pusillanimous 26 Rc2 would permit 26…Bd7, so White must give material. 26 Rd1 (26 Rd6? Qe1+) 26…Qxa2 27 Nf4 and Black may seek a win in the complications from 27…Qxb3 or from 27…Kh7.

    db1a1) 27…Qxb3 Gorging. But all the white boys come out to play. 28 Rd3 Qb2 29 Rf2 Qc1+ 30 Rf1 Qxc4 Now it’s White’s turn. 31 Nxg6+ Kh7 32 Ne5 Qc5 33 Rf7+ Ng7 34 Nd7! Bxd7 (34…Qc1+? 35 Rf1 followed by a knight check wins.) 35 Rdxd7 Kh8! 36 Rxb7 (36 Rxg7? Qc1-b2-g7) 36…Qxe3+ 37 Kh2 Qc3 38 Kh3 (preparing g6) 38…a5 39 g6 (controlling h7) 39…Qa1 40 Rfe7 and a draw by checks.

    db1a2) 27…Kh7! (This is better.) 28 Rd6 (He must keep attacking.) 28… Qb1+ 29 Kg2 Nxf4+ 30 Rxf4 Qb2+ 31 Kg1 Bh3 32 Rf2 Qe5 White can struggle on with 33 Rf7+ Kh8 34 Rf3. Rook and two for the queen, but play is razor sharp.

Black can get more pawns via

    db1a2i) 34…Qb2 35 Rf2 Qxb3 36 Kh2 Qxe3 but 37 Rff6 shows his bishop now stranded and 37…Bf5 38 Nxf5 leaves a perpetual on the cards; 38…Qe2+ 39 Kh3, etc.

He has better in:

    db1a2ii) 34…Qe4! 35 Rdf6 Bf5 36 Kg2 (Not really where he wants to be, but the rook needed defence.) 36…Be6 37 Kh2 (Unpinning. 36…Kh7! 37 g4 trying to utilise his last soldiers.) 37…b5! 38 h5 Qe5+! 39 Kg2 and Black can withstand the attack; 40… gxh5 41 Nf5 Bxf5 42 Rh6+ Kg8 43 gxf5 and now, for instance, 43…Rf8 44 Rg6+ Kf7 45 Rf6+ Ke7 46 Re6+ Qxe6 47 fxe6 Rxf3 and wins the ending.

So, the hair-raising consequences of 22 Bxg6 hxg6 23 Nh6+ Kh8! 24 h4 Qc5 25 Rd3 b5 26 cxb5 Qxb5! or 25 Rf3 Qa5 26 Rd1 Qxa2 27 Nf4 Kh7! favour Black. This is not an exhaustive analysis of 23 Nh6+ Kh8! 24 h4, e.g. I have not examined 24… Qa5 (nor indeed the madcap 22 Bxg6 Qc5!?) but I am not analysing to see if Black can refute the sacrifice in more than one way.

Before moving on let me explain why 23…Kh7?! is inferior.

plas-gAt first the idea of slotting the knight to g7 and then completing queenside development appealed to me.

But White has a long, forcing sequence leading to an ending where there are still a few remaining chinks of light for him.

After 24 Rf7+ Ng7.

If now 25 h4 Black repels with 25…Be6! when 26 Rxb7 Re8 creates the big threat of 27…Qa6 28 Rc7 Qa5 or 28…Qb6.

25 Rd8 Qa5!. The only move but a good one: the motile lady hitting d8, g5 and e1. Giving material away to mobilise with 25…Be6 permits White 26 Rxg7+! Kxg7 27 Rxa8 and Black is now behind in the material stakes. Hitting e3 and g5 with 27…Qc5 may be met by 28 Nf4! Qxe3+ 29 Kg2 and White’s activity denies Black any hope of winning.

26 Rg8 Otherwise g5 is taken, or 26 Rff8 Qe1+ 27 Kg2 Bh3+ and wins.

26… Qe1+ 27 Rf1 Qxf1+! (27…Qxe2 28 Rxg7+! draws immediately.) 28 Kxf1 Bh3+ 29 Kf2 Rxg8 30 Nxg8 Kxg8

plas-8White’s pawns are vulnerable. He may try

    db1bi) 31 Nf4

    db1bii) 31 Kf3

    db1bi) 31 e4

    db1bi) 31 Nf4 Bf5 32 Kf3 Bb1 33 a3 Kf7 34 b4 Ne8! The knight sets off to attack. White cannot save this, not even by advancing his pawn clump, e.g. 35 c5 Nc7 36 g4 Nb5 37 h4 Nxa3 38 h5 Nc4, etc.

Or 32 c5 Bb1 33 a3 Ne8 34 g4 Nc7 35 h4 Nb5 36 h5 Nxa3 37 Kf3 Nb5 similarly.

    db1bii) 31 Kf3 White has up his sleeve the tricky device of g3-g4 confining the bishop. Black must play accurately. 31…Ne6 Essential: on anything else White
straightens out his kingside pawns. 32 g4 Nxg5+ 33 Kg3 Bf1 34 Nf4 Ne4+ 35 Kf3 Nd2+! 36 Kf2 g5!  37 Ne6 Bd3 38 Nxg5 c5! and white is struggling.
The other try to confine the bishop behind enemy lines is 34 Nc1. Now black may deploy the extraordinary device of 34…Nh3!
If White twiddles his thumbs the black king advances rapidly. But on 35 b4 the prison door is opened and Black just nips back with his knight to stand winning after 35…Ng5.

    db1biii) 31 e4 (Blocking Bf5 thus is the best chance.) 31…Ne6! (The only move. Against 31…Kf7 White plays 32 Nf4 and 33 h4 with a viable game.) 32 Nf4 Nxg5 (Once again the only way) 33 Nxg6 Kf7 34 Nf4 Nxe4+ 35 Ke3 Ng5

White has succeeded in liquidating the black kingside and now with two connected outside passed pawns for a piece and the black rook pawn the ‘wrong’ one for the bishop he still retains some hope following 36 c5.

So 23…Kh7?! is not as accurate.

In several lines after 23 Nh6+ we have seen that knight rather stranded.

Less committal options are:

    db1c) 23 Rf6

    db1d) 23 Nc3

    db1e) 23 Rd6

    db1f) 23 h4

    db1c) 23 Rf6 loses to 23…Qa5 hitting g5 and d2 simultaneously.

    db1d) 23 Nc3 Qc5! 24 Ne4 Qxe3+ 25 Rdf2 Nd4! wins. (And not 25… Qxe4? when 26 Nh6+ Kh7 27 Rf7+ Ng7 28 Rxg7+! holds.)

    db1e) 23 Rd6 Kg7! (A constructive tidying-up and threatening Nxg5.) 24 Nc3 and now not 24…Nxg5? for after 25 Nxg5 Qxd6 26 Rf7+ Kg8 (26…Kh6? 27 Rh7+ Kxg5 28 Ne4+) 27 Nce4 White holds; 27…Qd1+ 28 Kg2 Qc2+ 29 Kf3! Qxh2 (29…Bg4+? 30 Kf4! and White wins!) 30 Nf6+ Kh8 31 Rf8+ Kg7 32 Rf7+ and as 32…Kh6? 33 Rh7+ Kxg5 34 Ne4+ Kf5 35 Rxh2 leaves Black badly off, he must repeat.

Rather 24… Qc5! is again winning.

If 24 h4 it’s time to start eating and 24…Qxa2! 25 Nc3 Qxb3 leaves no good reply. Or on 25 Nc1 Qa3 White’s disruptive efforts are hampered by the f7 knight’s having to cover d6. 26 Nd3 Nf8. If 27 b4 Bf5 White is reduced to something like 28 Rxf5 gxf5 29 Nh6, but this is hardly adequate, e.g. 29…a5 30 Nxf5+ Kg8, etc.

    db1f) 23 h4 The most flexible move also cements g5.

plas-hThe obvious response is to bring the queen back, yet

    db1f1) 23…Qe7 24 Nh6+ is not favourable for Black, e.g. 24…Kh8 25 Rf7 and 25…Qe8 is forced since 25…Qb4 loses to 26 Nf4 Nxf4 27 Rd8+ and 25…Qa3 to 26 h5! gxh5 27 g6.

Then 26 e4 leaves hardly a constructive option as 26…Ng7 27 Nf4 wins or 26…Nf8 27 Nf4 with 28 Rxf8+ looming. On 26…Nd8 27 Rf6 threatens Rxd8 and 28…Ne6 29 Rf7 repeats.

On 24…Kg7 25 Rf7+ Qxf7 26 Nxf7 Kxf7

plas-7I believe White should hold.

27 Kf2 Nc5 28 Kf3 Bf5 29 Nc3 Re8 30 g4 and best seems 30…Ne4 31 Nxe4 Bxe4+ 32 Kf4 c5 33 h5 Bc6 (undoubling by 33…gxh5? causes big problems after 34 gxh5 Bc6 35 h6!) 34 Rd3 and the h pawn asset enables White to stay in the game.

A representative line might be 34…Re4+ 35 Kg3 Re7 36 Kf4 Re4+ 37 Kg3 Ke7!? 38 h6 Kf7 39 Rd6! (The g pawn is vulnerable.) 39…Rxe3+ 40 Kf2 Rf3+ 41 Ke2 Rf4 (forced) 42 Rd8! (threatening h7) 42… Re4+ (forced) 43 Kd2 Be8 44 Rc8 wins another pawn, and following 44…Kg8 45 Rxc5 Bc6 46 b4, White is okay.

If instead Black chooses 43…Re8 then 44 Rd6 Be4! 45 Rd7+ Kg8 46 Rc7 wins another pawn and holds, or on 45…Ke6 46 Rg7 and  White is okay after, e.g. 46…a5 47 Ke3 Bb1 48 Rxb7 Bxa2 49 Rb6+ Kd7+ 50 Kf4.

But, in this line, on 44…Rf8? 45 Rf6+ and the suppressive h pawn more than compensates for a bishop, e.g. 45…Ke7 46 Rxf8 Kxf8 47 Ke3, viz 47…Kg8 48 Kf4 b6 49 Ke5 Bf3 50 Kd6 Be4 51 Kc7 Bb1 52 a4 Bc2 53 Kb7! Bxb3 54 Kxa7 Bxc4 55 Kxb6 Bb3 56 Kb5! c4 57 Kb4 Bd1 58 a5 and the a pawn will force Black to give up first his c pawn and then his bishop.

Or should Black try to swiftly liquidate the queenside before the king arrives with 47…b5 then by combining threats to penetrate on both sides White will triumph by one tempo, viz 48 Kf4 bxc4 49 bxc4 Be8 50 Ke5 Bf7 51 Kf6!.

44…Rg8? also loses to 45 Rf6+ Ke7 46 Rxg6! Rxg6 47 h7 Rxg5 48 h8=Q Rg4 49 Qe5+ Kd8 50 Qb8+ Kd7 51 Qxa7.

plas-h    db1f2) 23…Kg7?

    db1f3) 23…Kh7!

    db1f2) 23…Kg7? 24 Nh6 and there is nothing better than 24…Kh7 25 Rf7+ Ng7 26 Rd8 Qa5 27 Rff8 and and a draw after 27…Qe1+ 28 Kh2 Qxe2+ 29 Kg1.

    db1f3) 23..Kh7! here is the accurate move.

    db1f3i) 24 Nh6

24…Qa5! Now after 25 Rd3 comes 25…Ng7 and Black’s reorganisation is progressing well.

On 26 Nc3 Be6 27 Rfd1 Rf8 Black is coordinated, or 27 Ne4 Qxa2! Here a useful grab and Bh3 becomes a threat too. If 28 Rfd1 Rf8 and wins, e.g. 29 Rd8 Qxb3.

Alternatively, in response to 25 Rfd1 Black cuts loose with 25…Nxg5! 26 hxg5 Qxg5 27 Nf7 Qxe3+ 28 Kg2 Bg4. Or 25 Rdd1 and Black has 25…Ng7 or 25…Nxg5! 26 hxg5 Qxg5 27 Nf7 Qxe3+ 28 Rf2 Bf5 or 28…Bg4.

The knight sac also works well against 25 Rd6 or 25 Rfd1, but it is not good against 25 Rd3 as e3 is defended.

After 25 Rd3 Ng7! 25 Rf7 … Black may repel with 25…Be6! when 26 Rxb7 Re8 creates the big threat of 27…Qa6 28 Rc7 Qa5 or 28…Qb6.

26 g4 is also unsuccessful following 26…Be6 27 Nf4 Rf8, intending Bc8.

There are lines where a rook on the 7th in conjunction with a knight at f6 or h6 creates sufficient counterplay. This is not one of them and following 28 Nxe6 Rxf1+ 29 Kxf1 Nxe6 30 Rd7+ Ng7 Black will win.


    db1f3ii) 24 Nc3

– off to f6 – Black must watch out. 24…Qe7 25 Ne4 Nc5 26 Nf6+ Kg7 Now e3 must be covered. 27 Rf3. Remarkably 27…Qxf7? now is an error because of 28 Rd8 and White holds. But 27…Be6 or 27…Ne4 win.

On 26 Nxc5 Qxe3+ 27 Rff2 Qxg3+! 28 Kh1 Bg4 29 Ne5 Qxe5 etc.

    db1f3iii) 24 Rd6


After 24…Ng7 White may whip up various storms. Black can probably weather all. Still, I am not going to permit 25 Rxg6

even though 25…Nf5! in response might yet win.

The text takes an important pawn, interferes with White’s coordination and allows the liberating advance of the a pawn.

plas-iOn 25 Nc3 Qxb3 White has no good move. So 25 Nc1 Qa3 26 Nd3 a5! Better than taking the pawn. 27 e4 a4 28 b4 Qb3 29 Nfe5 a3 and she steams home.

Or 26 g4 a5! and White has nothing better than the unsatisfactory 27 Rd3 a4 28 bxa4 Qxa4.

Or 26 e4 Ng7 27 Rd8 Qc5+ 28 Kh2 Ne6 29 Rh8+ Kg7 and White cannot inflict enough harm, e.g. 30 Re8 Nc7 31 Rd8 Be6, etc.

I looked at 21 Nxf7 Qxa3 as a response to 20…Qf8 and thought only of 22 Bxg6 hxg6 23 Nh6+.

plas-3The last option is

    db2) 22 Nh6+ Kg7 (22…Kh8 23 Bxg6 hxg6 24 Rf7 and Black won’t win.

g5 is now en prise and 23 Bxg6? fails to 23…Nxg5!.)

(Well, I guess that’s how we refute: the machine prefers 23…Qc5 !!?)

So 23 h4

plas-j    db2a) 23…Qc5

    db2b) 23…Qa5

    db2c) 23…Qe7

    db2d) 23…Ne5

    db2a) 23… Qc5 24 Nd4 Qe5 looks good, e.g. 25 Rf3 Nxd4 26 Rxd4 Bxf5 27 Nxf5+ Kh8 and wins.

But White has 25 Ng4! when after 25…Qxg3+ 26 Rg2 neither 26…Qd6 27 Bxe6 Bxe6 28 Rf6, threatening Nf5 nor 26…Nxd4 27 Rxg3 Nxf5 28 Rgf3 Ngxh4 29 Rh3 leaves him worse off. On 25…Qa5 26 Bxe6 Qxd2 27 Rf7+ Kh8 28 Nf6 draws. Black could try 24…Nxd4 25 Rxd4 Qe5. But White plays 26 Kh2!, e.g. 26…Qxe3 27 Bxc8! Qe2+ 28 Kg1 Rxc8 29 Rd7+ Kh8 30 Nf7+, etc, or 26…Bxf5 27 Rxf5 with similar play.

   db2b) 23…Qa5 24 Rd6! Now if 24…Nef8 25 Bxg6. On 24…Ngf8 25 Bh3 with an excellent game. On 24…Qc5 White has 25 Bxg6! Qxe3+ 26 Kh1 hxg6 (26…Qxe2? 27 Bd3) 27 Rf7+ Kh8 28 Nf4 and again perpetual.

    db2c) 23…Qe7 24 Kh2… To avoid tricks at e3. Fritz9 shows the value of this in the fabulous line 24…Nxg5 25 Bxc8 Kxh6 26 Rd7!! Qxe3 27 Nd4! and, again, the vulnerability of f5 is what counts. 27… Nxh4 28 Rd6+ Kg7 29 Rd7+ with a draw.

There are no other squares for the e6 knight as 25 Bxc8 in response threatens 26 Nf5+. Alternatives are scarce. Black may harry the rook with 24…Qb4 25 Rdd1 Qa3 but here at least 26 Bxg6 will do, e.g. 26…hxg6 27 Rf7+ Kh8 28 Nf4 Qxa2+ 29 Kh1 Qc2 30 Rd3, or 26…Kxg6 27 g4!? Qb2 28 Rf6+ Kg7 29 Nf5+ and draws. 28…Qxf6? 29 gxf6 Kxh6 30 e4 could only favour White.

On 25…Ne5 26 Nf4 Black has little more purposeful than to bring the queen back again; 26…Qe7 White might then consider 27 Nd3!? Nxd3 28 Rxd3 when f5 still causes Black headaches. 28…Bd7 allows White to grab a fourth pawn by 29 Bxh7! when, e.g. 29…Nc5 30 Rd4 Rf8 31 Rxf8 Qxf8 32 Rf4 Qd6 33 Rf7+ Kh8 34 Bf5 Bxf5 35 Nxf5 Qd2+ 36 Kh3 should be about equal.

On 28…Qe8? 29 Rd6 Nd8 30 Rf6 Bxf5 31 Nxf5+ Kg8 White may even play to win with 32 Rf4!

The forcing options have not proved successful. I think Black’s best is to bring the knight to an excellent post with

    db2d) 23…Ne5!


White would like to swing his knight into the game, but 24 Nf4 allows 24…Nxf4 and 25…Nf3+! 26 Rxf3 Qc1+. So instead 24 Be4 and since 24…Nc5? would allow 25 Rd8, threatening mate. 25… Be6 26 Rxa8 Nxe4 27 Nd4 and wins, Black must defer. 24…Qa5 25 Rfd1 and, e.g. 25…Rb8 challenges White to show something before the other guy coordinates.

plas-lAgain 26 Nf4 runs into an inconvenient counter; 26…Nxf4 27 gxf4 Qc3!, e.g. 28 Kf2 Ng4+ 29 Nxg4 Bxg4 30 Bf3 Bxf3 and wins.

So 26 Kh1 to prepare, but then 26…Nf8 and Black is ready to complete development. Neither 27 Nd4 Ng4 28 Ndf5+ Bxf5 29 Nxf5+ Kh8 nor 27 Rd8 Qc7 28 Nf4 Bg4 will suffice for White, e.g. here 29 Rxf8 Rxf8 30 Nxg4 Rxf4! 31 exf4 Nxg4 and wins.

There is also the full retreat by 24 Bb1 when Black continues 24…Qa5 25 Rdd1 Nf8.

plas-mIf White cannot do something quickly Black will bring out his pieces and stand better or simply winning. Yet even his greatest irritations here still won’t do; 26 Nf4 Bd7 27 Nd3 Nxd3 28 Rxd3 Be6! and he cannot cause enough problems, viz 29 Rd4 Rd8 30 Re4 Kh8! 31 Ref4 Ng6 32 Nf7+ Bxf7 33 Rxf7 Qe5, and Black gets it all together.

In this line the interpolation 28 Rf7+ Kh8 29 Rxd3 loses to 29…Qe1+, or 29 Bxd3 Qxa2!.

None of 27 Nh5+ Kh8 28 Nf6 Be6, nor 28 Nf7+ Nxf7 29 Rxf7 Bg4, nor 28 Kh1 Qc3 will suffice to generate enough play for the queen.

And other attempts also don’t quite work, viz 26 Nd4 Nfg6 27 Rf6 Qc3! 28 Kh1 Bg4, or 26 Rf4 Bd7.


In Conclusion

Black should have played 20…Qe7! when the envisaged 21 Nxc8? loses to 21…Qxg5! 22 Bxe6 Qxe3+. On 22 Kg2 he takes on d2. On 23 Kh1 Qxe6! wins.

21 Nxf7 is better. 21…Qxa3 and the best hope is 22 Nh6+ Kg7 23 h4, but even here 23…Ne5! seems to deny the sacrifice full validity.

*   *   *

The nature of our game is such that situations sometimes arise in which the possibilities border on the threshold of the calculable. Top players navigate through by calculation mixed with judgement, experience and intuition. And, as Tibor Karolyi once accurately observed in Kingpin, ‘They are also lucky.’

The first detailed computer analysis I saw was in Speelman’s Best Games. I was struck by the inhuman and unpatterned variations in, for example, his 1975 game with Miles. And it was Speelman who commented in The Independent on complications in a game I played with Fressinet that it was ‘… a position for machines, not humans’. He also emailed me after our game from Gibraltar 1993 to say that after 1 e4 d5 2 Nc3 dxe4 3 Nxe4 Nc6 4 Bb5?! Qd5 5 Qe2 Bf5 6 Ng3 Qxg2? 7 Qe5 e6 8 Qxc7 Bc5

plas-pinstead of my dreadful 9 Qf4? I could have established a clear plus by 9 Nxf5!. A computer had instructed him thus. At move nine.

Even with an IQ of 180, Dr Nunn observed how analysis with computers had revealed to him just how limited we are to patterned thinking. When commenting on the 19…Bh6!! of his win over Kuligowski from Wijk aan Zee, 1983 he noted that in complex positions one must look at every possible move, and Dvoretsky also observed that in very sharp positions one move may change everything.

When I gave Miles the queen he was ranked ninth in the world and had 54 minutes left on the clock to reach move 40 to my 16. Even he quite overlooked 21 Rd3!, 22 Nxf5! and 24 g4!!.

And each was an only move.

© Mark Huba

Mikhail Tal
(photo © Mark Huba)

‘You must take your opponent into a deep, dark forest where 2+2=5, and the path leading out is only wide enough for one.’

Mikhail Tal

But for these calculating engines everything is clear in even the most verdant setting. In 2016 the outstanding characteristic of the computer move still remains the surprise and accurate tactic. When commenting on some (mutual) massive miscalculations in a complex game with Hans Ree, Speelman observed that such errors were easily made ‘in the heat of battle’.

Perhaps the definitive moment in the eclipsing of man by machine was the first match game when Deep Blue grabbed a distant Kasparov pawn, having simply calculated that it could withstand his attack.

Take for instance Larsen´s 32nd move in the first game of his 1971 Candidates match with Fischer.


Fischer – Larsen

Denver, 1971

A pivotal point of both game and match.

    32…Qxc3 was given ? by both Timman and later ?? by Speelman before Kasparov gave it ? in his book on his predecessors.

They all criticised Larsen for his optimism and said that by ceding Fischer a passed a pawn he gave him the game. Play continued

    33 Rg1+ Kf6 34 Bxa7 g5 35 Bb6 Qxc2 36 a5 Qb2 37 Bd8+ Ke6 38 a6 Qa3 39 Bb7 Qc5 40 Rb1 c3 41 Bb6

But computer analysis by Charles Sullivan posted by Muller at www.chesscafé.com suggests 32…Qxc3 actually deserves an exclamation mark and that after 33 Rg1+ Kf6 34 Bxa7 g5?? was the fatal error and Black could have demonstrated equality via 34…g6, 34…Ke6 or 34…Ke5.

All three GM commentators cited instead 32…a5 33 Bd4 Kh6 34 Rf1 as probably equal and certainly a better chance.

But the computers now view that as definitely superior for White.

34…g5 looks by far the most natural move on the board, and Timman and Speelman have each been ranked in the world top five whilst Kasparov was Kasparov.

But their conclusions, rational enough, were reached without using computers.


In the cold light of a computer day I conclude that 19 Bxg6! instead was required and my queen sac was insufficient.

My wife observed a certain symbolism in it all.

Chess is so difficult a game. And it is now played properly not by men but by machines.

I would welcome critical comments from Kingpin readers.



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