Englishman’s Olympiad brilliancy

Forty years ago Michael Stean won $1,000 for the tournament’s most spectacular game:


Stean – Browne

England v USA, Nice 1974

White to play after 12…Be7

13 Nxe6!

Probably the best of the many sacrificial possibilities.

13…fxe6 14 Bxe6

The forcing 14 e5 Nd5 15 Qg6+ Kd7 is unconvincing, as the black king will be quite safe on c7.



Trying to force the issue by threatening …Qb6+ and …Kd8-c7. Against purely passive defence to the threat (i.e. 15 e5) I was intending simply to improve my position with moves like Rad1 and Kh1 before breaking with e5, since it is difficult for Black to find any constructive moves, e.g. 14…Bc8 15 Bb3 does not relieve Black’s postion. If 14…Nd7 (to meet 15 e5 with 15…Nf8) 15 Rad1 Nc5 16 Qh3 Nxb3 17 Qxb3, then 18 e5 will be very strong.

15 e5 Qb6+ 16 Kh1 dxe5 17 Qg6+ Kd8


18 Qf7

It is important not to play 18 Rad1+ Kc7 first, as Black can then defend with Rae8.


There is no other defence to 19 Rad1+ e.g. 18…Bc5 19 Rad1+ Bd4 20 fxe5.

19 fxe5

Now Black is lost, as 19…Qxe5 20 Rad1+ wins a piece with check and 19…Nd7 20 Rad1 Bc6 allows 21 Bxd7 and 22 e6. Hence the following counter-sacrifice.


19…Bxg2+ 20 Kxg2 Rf8

21 Rad1+

The clearest win. After 21 Qxg7 Qc6+ 22 Bd5 Nxd5 23 Rxf8+ Kd7 there are still complications to be resolved. Also 21 Qg6 Qxe5 is not clear at all.

21…Kc7 22 Qxg7 Rg8


23 exf6!

Clearer than 23 Bxg8.

23…Rxg7+ 24 fxg7 Bd6

The point of White’s play is that after 24…Qg5+ 25 Kh1 Qxg7 26 Rf7 wins a piece by 27 Rxe7+ and 28 Nd5+.

25 Rf7+ Kc6 

25…Kb6 26 Nd5+ Kc6 27 Bd7+ Kb7 28 Bxb5+ wins everything.

26 Bd5+ Kb6 27 Bxa8 Qg5+ 28 Kh1 Be5


29 b4

Threat Nd5 mate. If 29…Bxc3 30 Rd6 mate.

29…a5 30 Rb7+ Kc6

If 30…Ka6 either 31 a4 or 31 Rxb5 Qxg7 32 Rxa5+ Kb6 33 Nd5 mate.

31 g8Q Qxg8 32 Rb8+ 1-0


Michael Stean in Keene and Levy, Chess Olympiad Nice 1974 (Batsford 1975), pp.146-7.



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