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Ambush

Kasparov, commenting on Euwe's game against Speyer in the 1924 Dutch Championship, wrote, “This is ... a classic ambush with the threat of discovered check.”

The concept of an ambush hadn't occurred to me before but I didn't need to read it twice to realise that this is a device we've all employed at one time or another (“I'll play thisand then, if he doesn't realise what I have in mind, I'll get him here.”) It's fun when it works out but down here in Patzerland, many of those ambushes are flawed and, by attempting a flamboyant trap, I've sometimes lost games that I might have won by giving my opponent credit for having two eyes and a brain.

Nevertheless, I was enchanted by the idea of ambushes and went looking for them in master games. The annotations in the Euwe-Speyer game are Kasparov's but I'm to blame if there's any faulty analysis in the others. If anybody wants to comment, please feel free to wade in.

 

In the next game Capablanca's c-pawn was getting a little above its station, and Ossip Bernstein didn't need Nimzowitsch to point out the danger. Surprisingly, Capa made it fairly easy for him to win it, moving his rook forward and back where the White's knight could attack it while manoeuvring toward the pawn. Inevitably the pawn fell and if Berstein was relieved to capture it so easily that relief didn't last long. When Capa sprung his ambush with a queen sacrifice on move 29, Bernstein resigned. Object lesson for young players—when you calculate a combination be certain you know what the board will look like when it's completed.

 

In 1857 France and the United Kingdom declared war on China, an earthquake in Tokyo killed more than 100,000 people, and the “Panic of 1857” set off one of the most severe economic crises in U.S. History. And over the chessboard there was another panic—this time on the part of Napoleon Marache when he realised that Paul Morphy had just ambushed him. Played with typical Morphy magic, this game barely lasted twenty moves.

 

Sometimes even the best don't see it coming. At his peak Ulf Andersson reached #4 in FIDE's world rankings and this game was played the year he earned his GM title. Bill Hartston, with the black pieces, perhaps had a home ground advantage, for the game was played at Hastings in 1972. There had been a great deal of manoeuvring during the game and the diagrammed position is after Hartston had just played 35...Nf6, a seemingly innocuous move, but one which was critical to the sacrifice that followed, for cooperating with the g5 pawn it formed an invisible, but impenetrable ambush across f4, g4, h4. Andersson pinched the c7 pawn and the queen, hussy that she was, snuggled up to the white king and said, “Your place or mine?” Andersson resigned rather than face 37.Kxh3 Bf1#.

If you'd like to share a nice ambush from one of your own games, this is your opportunity.  Add it below.

Comments


  • 5 years ago

    WaterAlch

    Was looking through my own games, not all, but enough to notice that I don't really do any discovered checks, even though I know what they are. Can you make a part II on this idea that can explain patterns to look for?

  • 5 years ago

    Dozy

    tushu: Yet again another beauty of an article. As always, thanks for posting.

    Cheers, tushu.  Glad you enjoyed it. Smile

  • 5 years ago

    tushu

    Yet again another beauty of an article. As always, thanks for posting.

  • 5 years ago

    Dozy

    batgirl:  But I did learn something - my chess games have something in common with those of Frank Marshall!  Many of my moves look a lot like typographical errors too.

    Laughing LOL

  • 5 years ago

    batgirl

    hmmm... I replied to your reply yesterday, but it never showed up.

    I had thought about Marshall's showered-with-gold-coins game. And I agree that it contains one of the most amazing moves- as well as an enjoyable series of clever moves.  I just see Capablanca's game far more often.  But I did learn something - my chess games have something in common with those of Frank Marshall! 
    Many of my moves look a lot like typographical errors too.

  • 5 years ago

    Dozy

    nevin: that morphy game was really cool. I also liked the William Hartston one right after that.

    Totally agree, nevin. Morphy's games had just a little bit of magic. Well, a lot of magic! It'd be interesting to see what he'd be like if he had the benefit of computers and modern training techniques.

  • 5 years ago

    nevin

    that morphy game was really cool. I also liked the William Hartston one right after that.

  • 5 years ago

    Dozy

    batgirl: Capablanca's 29....Qb2 is possibly (objectively) the most famous and (subjectively) most amazing move ever recorded. 

    You may well be right about that, batgirl, but Irving  Chernev and Fred Reinfeld in their 1949 edition of Winning Chess thought they had a better candidate.

    The game was Levitsky - Marshall at the 1912 DSB-18 Kongress and although I'll post the whole game (it's another brevity) you can safely skip to the last move where the queen on g3 was threatening 24...Qxh2#. It can be captured in three different ways.

    If 24.hxg3 Ne2#.  If 24.fxg3 Ne2+ 25.Kh1 Rxf1#. If 24.Qxg3 Ne2+ 25.Kh1 Nxg3+ 26.Kg1 Nd2+ and black remains a piece to the good.

    Napier commented, "Some of Marshall's most sparkling moves look at first like typographical errors."

  • 5 years ago

    batgirl

    Max Euwe is sometimes dragged out as the weakest WC.  I don't know what people use to guage this, but Euwe could be an astonishingly creative and romantic player, as this game fragment attests to.

    Capablanca's 29....Qb2 is possibly (objectively) the most famous and (subjectively) most amazing move ever recorded.

    Morphy's 19....Ng3 is my personal favorite "Morphy move," even more so than his more famous Queen sac against Paulsen. 
    Thanks for the 1857 recap. I knew about the financial panic in the USA, but not about the earthquake or the Franco-British war declaration on China.


    The last game was just plain funny.


    Thanks.

  • 5 years ago

    Dozy

    Frenzal: Those games are things of beauty to my mind.

    I feel much the same about them, Frenzal. It's one of the enjoyable things about chess: even though we might not reach the heights that these guys do it's still possible to become excited by the combinations they conjure up. It's a great game.

  • 5 years ago

    Frenzal

    Very good article.

     

    Those games are things of beauty to my mind.

  • 5 years ago

    Dozy

    Thanks for commenting, all. 

    Pingshiyu, the point of the Hartston sacrifice was that if White captures the queen then 38...Bf1 is mate.  If he tries to escape with 38.Kf2 Qf1 is mate.  If he runs for cover in the corner with 38.Kh1 then 38...Qf1+ 39.Bb1 Qxf3#.

  • 5 years ago

    Archaic71

    I've seen the Morphy game before, but the Capa game was a beaut.  The last one was pure evil, I am not sure very many players at ANY level would have seen that coming.  Good stuff Dozy.

  • 5 years ago

    pingshiyu

    hmm?i dont see what the point is last one

  • 5 years ago

    SonofPearl

    Very nice.  That last one in particular was straight out of the blue! A very nice conception from Hartston! Cool

  • 5 years ago

    hackattack

    hehe your place or mine :)

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