GM BryanSmith
32 | Middlegame

As chess players, most of us have probably at some point played a game or two of checkers. Perhaps you even played more than a few games before deciding, as Rashid Nezhmetdinov did, that chess is just the better game (I hope nobody gets mad about that…) However, there is one pleasure of checkers that chess does not usually afford you – the multiple hops on diagonals, capturing several pieces in a row. Especially if you are a kid, I am sure there is nothing more fun than hopping over and capturing three or four pieces on one turn, then piling them up by the side of the board. Yet occasionally in chess you get the chance to do the same thing, such as in the following game.

What we are talking about here is the combinative destruction of the pawn chain, undermining it at the base. While White is carrying out the “checkers-style” captures, annihilating the black center, black is carrying out his own sequence, with his f-pawn mowing down a row of white pieces. Yet an important zwischenzug altered the sequence, and finally at the end White was left technically down in material, but with two powerful passed pawns in the center. With the help of a pretty tactic, White was able to say “queen me”. 

This was the fifth round game of my most recent tournament, the Zagreb Open. The tournament had started all right, with an easy win in round one against a 2250, a draw as black in the king’s Indian against a GM, then a draw with white against a GM where I was pressing a little bit but couldn’t make progress. However, in the fourth round I had lost as black against a GM in the King’s Indian, in a game where I basically did not get out of the opening, which was very dispiriting. Now I played as white against IM Srdjan Sale, and he surprised me with the Alekhine Defense. 

What could be better than having your calculations proven accurate and your evaluations proven correct, while also getting the chance to sacrifice the queen twice? Well, perhaps getting to make a triple jump leading to a "king-me"...

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