Do Grandmasters Know The Rules Of Chess?

Do Grandmasters Know The Rules Of Chess?

| 72 | Fun & Trivia

If the title of the article sounds ridiculous, don't rush to a conclusion.

I'll try to prove that sometimes even very strong chess players forget the basic rules of chess.

Let's talk about castling. Do you remember when it is legal and when it is illegal to castle? Let's see:

Question #1:

Can White castle in the following position?

I bet you answered this one right! It is one of the most basic rules of castling: you cannot castle when your king is in check! And yet, this is exactly what famous grandmaster Alexander Kotov (author of the bestseller "Play Like A Grandmaster") tried to do!

After he played 28.0-0-0!?, his surprised opponent pointed at his mistake. Embarrassed, Kotov had to play 28.Kf1, which ironically was a winning move anyway!

In his autobiography, Alexander Kotov confessed that this game convinced him that it was time to consider retirement from chess!

Here is how the game ended:

Question #2:

Can Black castle in the position on the next diagram?

(Hint: you should play through the game to answer this question!)

Here is what happened according to the book "The Caro Kann Advance" by IM Byron Jacobs:

"At this point Korchnoi castled his king into safety (26. ... O-O) and the players continued to blitz out their moves as if nothing out of the ordinary happened. Both flags fell at move 47 and it was only when the arbiter tried to reconstruct the game with the help of a computer that they discovered the mistake. Korchnoi's 26. ... O-O was illegal as he had already moved the rook! In such a case the rules require that the players restart from the position in which the illegal move occurred, with the clock set back to the times at that point, and here with Korchnoi obliged to move his king. But the players could not face the prospect of negotiating another time scramble, so they retrospectively agreed to a draw!"

Question #3:

Can Black castle in the following position? If yes, then which side?

Torre tried to play 22...0-0-0, which would be a good move...except it is illegal since Black queen's rook moved as early as move 8!

Due to the touch move rule, Reti had to move his king. Even though 22...0-0 was perfectly legal, Reti was afraid of the 23.Nxg6 sac, and rightfully so!

As the result, he decided to play 22...Kf8. By coincidence, this game was a draw, just like the Korchnoi's game above!

Question #4:

Is it legal for Black to castle here?

Grandmaster Averbakh is a famous player and author of one of the best textbooks for beginners.

Many generations of Soviet players learned chess by the Averbakh's book. It was one of my first chess books and I remember that grandmasters Ivanchuk and Khalifman both mentioned that it was their first book too!

Yet here in the heat of the battle Averbakh forgot the rules! Here is what happened according to GM Larry Evans and his book "Chess Catechism":

"Black castled queenside. Averbakh pointed out that the rook passed over a square controlled by White and thought it was illegal. Purdy proved that the castling was legal since this applies only to the king, to which Averbakh replied: "Only the king? Not the rook?"

Here is the rest of the game:

Question #5:

Can White castle in the following position and if yes, then which side?

The game was played in the Candidates match and was obviously very important.

To avoid a possible embarrassment, Korchnoi asked the chief arbiter of the match, GM O'Kelly, if it was legal for White to castle.

After the arbiter assured Korchnoi that it was perfectly legal to castle on both sides, Korchnoi played the winning move:

It is ironic that in all the examples we saw today, the grandmasters who didn't know how to castle either drew or won their games.

But of course it is just pure luck, and if you try to castle illegally in your tournament game, it can end badly for you!

Hopefully you, my dear readers, were able to brush up your castling skills today and will never make such embarrassing mistakes in your games!


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