Chasing the King, Part 1

Chasing the King, Part 1‎

GM BryanSmith
24 | Middlegame

For the next two weeks, I will again return to the theme of Attack and Defense - more specifically, the phenomenon known as the "king hunt."

Although nowadays many of us are eating food which is farmed - such as farmed fish, chickens injected with hormones to such a level that they can hardly stand, and cows butchered by machines in a factory - nevertheless encoded in our DNA is an appreciation for a hunt. After all, that is how mankind survived for millennia before modern technology. Perhaps this is the reason for the nearly universal aesthetic appreciation by chess players for the hunting of one specific chess piece across the board.

Or could it be the risks - in the form of sacrifices - that a player takes in the chase for the "bad guy"? The uncertainty involved, or the foresight which is necessary to carry out such an attack? Usually if it is obvious that the king will be checkmated, then the aesthetic value is less. If you have a king and a queen against a king, nobody but a beginner to chess will find such a "king hunt" interesting. But a real, uncertain chase involving sacrifices - a chess player of any level finds that spectacular.

The following is the game Tietz-Ramisch, from Carlsbad 1898:

I should add that there are apparently many brilliancies from Victor Tietz, and some think that he just composed the positions. I can see how that could be true, but nevertheless it shouldn't stop us from enjoying them.

But I know for a fact that the following king hunt is from a real game, since I played it myself. For a couple years following my move to Philadelphia in 2004 there were monthly blitz tournaments held at the Franklin-Merchantile chess club. So probably on some sunny day in spring 2006 I played this game, against an opponent whose name I do not know:

Stay tuned for next week when I will show an epic king hunt from long ago.

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