The Open File
by Life Master Mike Petersen (Zug)
And Another Blunder
If you read last week’s column “Take His Rook, Archil!” and were amazed at my blunder, then you’ll even be more amazed by this one. There I was in a local weekend tournament in 1994, minding my own business playing as White against a 1700 player who had his Queen on my f2 square. Take a look at the diagram below.
My King is on h1 and I have pawns on h2 and g2. If he could play Qf1, for example, it would be mate. However, I have my Queen and Rook both on the back rank, so no sweat there. My Bishop is on d2, so I decide to get rid of the obnoxious Queen on f2. So what do I play? Why, Be1 of course!
Please note that the Bishop I so brilliantly placed on the e1 square cut off the defense of the back rank by my Queen and Rook. All my opponent had to do was slide the Queen one square forward and it would be checkmate! Sayonara. Curtains. Deathville. This howler should easily remind you of the game I mentioned above, in which I left a Rook en prise in the middle of the board. My opponent caused an uproar in that game because he didn't take it. Well, now, here I was again, but this time with another blunder that made that Rook move look like a brilliancy.
Heck, I am a USCF Master. Masters aren't supposed to make moves that allow mate in one, especially a mate in one where all the guy has to do is push the Queen one square forward. One square! Evidently, this must be a law that is written in stone, because my opponent sat and stared at the position, blinking his eyes. I supposed it was because he couldn't believe what he was seeing. But that wasn't it, because he started to hunker down into a big think.
Now try to picture this situation. Everyone looking at the game is staring in amazement at my opponent. They can't believe he doesn't see mate in one. As for me, well, I'm not looking at the board anymore. I’m watching the game next to mine as if I didn't have a care in the world. And I guess I really didn't. Either he will play the mate or he won't. There's nothing I could do anymore. Anyway, the clock continued to tick away, and my opponent continued to stare at the position. Five minutes passed in this manner.
This just didn't make sense. Why didn't this fellow see the mate? Finally, he moved. He played something with his Knight to "attack" my King position! Of course, this brought the house down with moans and groans of "You missed a mate in one!!" My opponent, of course, was humiliated. I asked him why he didn't see it. "Masters don't allow mates in one!" he cried. I just looked at him. He was miserable. Everyone was chastising him for missing the mate, forgetting that I was the one who made the goofy move to allow it! How do you think I felt? Well, I offered a draw, which was accepted.
Remember this, now, and repeat after me. Masters do not allow mate in one. Masters do not allow mate in one. Masters do not … aw, the heck with it.
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