I offer a draw... or I resign! Part Two
"History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme."
- Mark Twain
The following game was played just three weeks ago at the FIDE World Cup in Tromso, Norway:
I hope you were able to solve the puzzle above, as it wasn't that difficult. Though now you are probably wondering why the result is posted as a draw even though White clearly just checkmated the Black King. The reason is pretty simple: In the game White didn't play 43.e4 checkmate, but instead delivered a perpetual check by 43.Nd6+.
So how could a Super Grandmaster miss a simple checkmate in one? "Elementary my dear Watson!" as Sherlock Holmes would say. In this game, all Tomashevsky needed to qualify for the next round of the World Cup was a draw... so draw he did! It has nothing to do with him being a very nice young man (which he is!). It has nothing to do with him not wanting to upset his opponent. He didn't see the checkmate simply because he had already seen a draw in advance, and that was all he needed.
You think that explanation is too outlandish? Here is a similar example:
Now tell me my dear readers, was it difficult for you to spot this forced checkmate in three moves? You say 'no'? But while Black was thinking about his 41st move (for a grand total of maybe 10 seconds), GM Lev Psakhis was offering a bet to everyone that Black would not find this checkmate in three moves.
You'll be amazed to learn that no one accepted the bet! The reason is very simple. This was a tiebreak game in a big knock out tournament in Tilburg (Netherlands) and Black needed only a draw to knock out his opponent. As every experienced player knows, a lonely Queen cannot checkmate an opponent's King, unless the King is surrounded by his own pieces that take away the escape squares.
Therefore, I remember that when I saw that by playing 41...exd4 I leave my opponent with a lonely Queen and my King has plenty of moves, I didn't look for anything else and just took the Bishop. That's why I am pretty sure that when Tomashevsky saw a perpetual check he didn't even bother to look for anything else.
This funny situation repeated in my game vs. Yermolinsky:
After he realized that his crazy attack had finally fizzled out, and that he could not possibly checkmate me any longer, Yermolinsky didn't even bother to analyze the position (since a draw or a loss was exactly the same for him) and repeated the famous line of Korchnoi: "I offer a draw...Or I resign".
I didn't bother to analyze the position either and didn't want to cause more pain to a nice person, so I agreed for a draw even though I was sure that my position was winning. In fact,it is a dead draw since the Black King cannot escape from the perpetual check!
So, as you can see, the line "I offer a draw...or I resign" was used at least two times by Grandmasters. But what about the Tal's "When I want to win against Benko, I win; when I want to draw, I draw!" ? That was surely unique, right? Well, as it turns out it has a "Great Predecessor".
Here is a game from the last round of the famous Carslbad tournament.
Here Wolf offered a draw but Rubinstein declined, even though he needed just a draw to win the tournament! Let's see how the game continued:
And again the most attentive readers definetely noticed the result of the game marked as a draw which means Rubinstein didn't execute this combination.
Here is how the game ended:
After the game Rubinstein was asked why he didn't play 24...Rh5.
Rubinstein acknowledged that of course he saw the combination and added, 'With Wolf, I make a draw when I want to, not when he wants to!'
The story doesn't end there! The same opponents played a game in the same location 16 years later. Rubinstein had an advantage and avoided a threefold repetition of the moves (remember 'With Wolf, I make a draw when I want to, not when he wants to!') only to blunder and resign four moves later!