Last week we saw violent outbreaks of stalematis in the games of Kasparov and Reshevsky. One of the most curious cases of this infectious disease happened in the games of another famous world class player, Mikhail Chigorin. Look at the position that occurred in his game vs. Joseph Henry Blackburne:
Image: Thoughts from the Line
You probably think that in the diagram position White resigned. Yes, that would be a logical conclusion of the game. It is amazing that a very strong chess player like Blackburne decided to continue playing in a completely hopeless position. It is even more amazing that Chigorin, who was a Candidate for the world title, allowed a well known drawing mechanism and almost missed a sure win!
It is logical to expect that such a close call was supposed to engrave the concept of stalemate into Chigorin's mind. But look what happened six years later:
As you could see in last week's article, stalematis always strikes three times, so you shouldn't be surprised by the next game of Chigorin. Yet, it is astonishing that the Russian player missed a stalemate in the same tournament (!) in a situation where it could save his own game!
As they say, one man's loss is another man's gain. Look how Vishy Anand used this exact idea to save his game against Vladimir Kramnik:
Another lesson to learn from the Chigorin's stalemate debacle (vs. Schlechter) is: never assume that you force your opponent into a winning pawn endgame until you checked a possible stalemate! Here are two examples from GM games:
To be continued...