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King Hunts — ancient and modern

The nineteenth century was an age of spectacular sacrifices and flamboyant gambits that resulted in the kind of wild games that we rarely see in modern practice. Following are two king chases from the glory days, one from modern tournament play, and one from chess.com.

Good manners, the lubricant that allows people to rub shoulders without too much friction, appear to have become a thing of the past. For most of us, anyway. Of course, in the case of another outdated institution—the monarchy—you would expect good manners, if little else. So when a king exposes himself in public he's not going to get much sympathy from me if he gets punished for it.

In this 1844 game between a pair of Alexanders (a kingly name if ever there was one) Alexander Hoffman's king flaunted himself in front of Alexander Petrov's army and was sent to Coventry for his indiscretion.

 

Twenty years later William Steinitz took the white pieces against the ubiquitous Mr No Name. The Evans Gambit gives Black plenty of chances to go wrong and our anonymous gladiator was adept at finding them. He would have been able to boast to his grandchildren that he won Steinitz's queen but that was the last time in the game he had any choice at all.

 

If you thought king hunts like those don't happen in the modern era you need look no further than 10 year-old Joshua Waitzkin (of Searching for Bobby Fischer fame). His opponent, IM Edward Frumkin, played 24...Nb2 attacking Waitzkin's rook on d1. Rather than move the rook, Waitzkin removed its protection with 25.Re3 allowing his opponent to win a whole rook. Perhaps Frumkin didn't see what Waitzkin planned, or perhaps he just didn't take such a small boy seriously enough, because he captured the now unprotected rook—and World War III broke out on the king-side. This was blitzkrieg with no quarter given and after Waitzkin followed up with a queen sacrifice on move 26 he had a perambulating king and a forced mate in six. Spectacular stuff!

 

To round this off I'd like to point out that you don't have to be a GM to chase kings. I've done it myself. In fact, I did it right here on chess.com. In the following position I chased RobinsonGeorge's king all the way from f3 to g6—then resigned! Why? Because I'd helped him get to a square where there were no more checks possible and where his king supported mate in two different ways: Rc8+ or Qxe6+. We played that game in November 2007 and I still haven't forgotten it. I'm glad to say George is still with chess.com and still playing actively.

 

 

Comments


  • 5 years ago

    Dozy

    nuclearturkey: Another great article! Kasparov vs Topalov 99 gets my vote as not only being the greatest King hunt of all time, but also probably the best game ever.

    Cheers, nuclearturkey. (That's a top name, by the way.) I'd overlooked the Kasparov-Topalov game.  Thanks for the reminder.  I'll post a copy here so everybody can enjoy it. The chase starts with White's move #20.

  • 5 years ago

    Dozy

    humbug8: The Waitzkin game is annotated by the man himself in the latest Chessmaster series and is quite some game and amazing to hear his own comments on his first victory against an IM.

    Thanks, humbug. I didn't know a bout that. Do you know if there's a link where we could see it?

  • 5 years ago

    Dozy

    chumpy:  wow what an awesome play by josh waitzkin. i wonder how good he would be today if he hadnt stoppped playing.

    Me too, chumpy. He's one of those remarkable people who excels at whatever he does, but that game stuck in my mind.  (I posted it on chess.com previously as part of the Black Shield Assassins' Manual but, since most people aren't a member of that group, it was inaccessible.

     

     

  • 5 years ago

    humbug8

    The Waitzkin game is annotated by the man himself in the latest Chessmaster series and is quite some game and amazing to hear his own comments on his first victory against an IM.

  • 5 years ago

    chumpy

    wow what an awesome play by josh waitzkin. i wonder how good he would be today if he hadnt stoppped playing.

  • 5 years ago

    nuclearturkey

    Another great article! Kasparov vs Topalov 99 gets my vote as not only being the greatest King hunt of all time, but also probably the best game ever.

  • 5 years ago

    Dozy

    terlimone: A very nice and understandable article. Not complicated at all! Dozy, I look out to your next article! Greetings.

    Thanks, Ignace. I like to keep it simple -- that way I can understand it myself. Wink I leave the complicated stuff to the experts.

  • 5 years ago

    Terlimone

    A very nice and understandable article. Not complicated at all! Dozy, I look out to your next article! Greetings.

  • 5 years ago

    Dozy

    1wa: Great stories and the games are amazing. Thanks Dozy.

    Thanks, Bill.  Glad you enjoyed them. She Who Flies By Night has made a request for the next story and that should be fun.  Coincidentally I couldn't have written it until the postman brought me a package from the USCF this morning and it had exactly what's needed.  I'll let this yarn run for another 3-4 days before writing it.

    JG27 Pyth: Quite a conception for a 10 year old boy

    Not a bad conception for anybody.  I can understand how he saw the possibilty, and I can understand how he pulled it off -- but on the best day of my life I couldn't have envisaged that and done it myself. BTW, that 's an unusual name you're using.  What does it mean?

    tarikhk: accepting the queen sac was the mistake.

    You speak the truth, tarik. but without errors there would be no victories at all; and without major errors there would be no tragicomedies; and without tragicomedies there would be no Dozy's Inferno. I'd wither up and die if I had to write serious stuff.

  • 5 years ago

    tarikhk

    to be fair, the steinitz game was actually a completely forced variation. accepting the queen sac was the mistake.

  • 5 years ago

    JG27Pyth

    Very nice games! Quite a conception for a 10 year old boy the rook sac and Queen sac! And the Hoffman v Petrov was awesome too. I can't help thinking if you hadn't gone with f5+? you might have prevailed.

  • 5 years ago

    1wa

    Great stories and the games are amazing. Thanks Dozy.

  • 5 years ago

    Dozy

    mf92: hahahahha king on a4 on the 16th move funny stuff

    I guess it was kind of funny, but maybe not so for Mr. No name. I wonder if he managed to sleep after losing that one?

  • 5 years ago

    mf92

    hahahahha king on a4 on the 16th move funny stuff

  • 5 years ago

    Dozy

    B97: The Alexander v/s Alexander game was fantastic! Wild games simply rock!

    Wasn't it though. You'd wonder what sort of brain could consider castling in that position and leaving his queen to die.  It's exciting stuff.

  • 5 years ago

    Dozy

    12261980: Thanks, that's a great post.

    Thanks yourself Mr Boxing Day.  What a terrible date to have a birthday! ;-)

  • 5 years ago

    B97

    The Alexander v/s Alexander game was fantastic! Wild games simply rock!

  • 5 years ago

    12261980

    Thanks, that's a great post.

  • 5 years ago

    Dozy

    Gert-Jan; nice examples.

    Cheers G-J. Always nice to hear from you.

  • 5 years ago

    Dozy

    batgirl: I'm sure there must be something profoundly philosophical, or maybe even psychological, to be garnered from surrendering the most powerful piece to win the most valuable one.

    I never thought of it like that. That's succinct! It also explains Zoe's attitude.  She's our dog. 

    Since she came to live with us ten years ago Zoe has established a pecking order.  Lynne's #1, Zoe's #2 and I'm #3. Lynne is obviously the most powerful and, on the odd occasions that voices are raised,  Zoe stands next to her and barks at me, which has the immediate effect of the argument dissolving into laughter. But since I get to cook her food and open doors when she needs to go outside I guess I'm probably the most valuable.  Thanks for the insight.

    I very much enjoyed the Morphy game.  kco also quoted it in the post he referred to in his comment. 

    Like you I enjoy pawn mates, especially when I get to execute them myself.  Underpromotion, too. Thanks for the suggestion.

    Castling mates are brilliant but I'll have to do some research to find those. There's a touch of mystery about them, and more than a touch (pun intended) of prestidigitation .

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