A King on the Run

A King on the Run‎

GM BryanSmith
14 | Middlegame

When you see games published involving king hunts, there tends to be only one result: at the end there is a spectacular checkmate. But what about those games where the king gets away? Does that ever happen?

Of course it does, and this often provides the backdrop for some of the nicest games. Check out for instance the famous game Gashimov-Grischuk, from the 2010 World Team Championship:

This is an amazing game, showing the spectacular interplay of attack and defense, with both kings under threat. Although the black king was chased all across the board, in the end it was ironically the white king which faced the real attack – with his foe sitting only one square away, perhaps giving him the evil eye…

The main game I will be showing is one of my own games. My opponent was IM Irina Krush, one of the top female players in the U.S. This game took place quite a while ago, in the fall of 2007.

In fact, the circumstances of the game were unusual - it was not played over the board, but rather over the internet, in the U.S. Chess League. For those who do not know, the U.S. Chess League is sort of an American equivalent to the national leagues in Europe. However, the difference is that all teams play each other through the internet – this is due to the lack of money for chess in the U.S. and the long distances of travel that would be required for teams to compete in person. Nevertheless, the time control is the normal FIDE time control of 90 minutes for each side with a thirty second increment.

I played in this league from 2006 until 2010, and I always played for the Philadelphia team, which is where I live/lived. My performance was usually very poor, with a performance rating several hundred points less than my actual rating. Why was this? I often wondered the reason why I was so unable to play under these particular circumstances.

I think it was a combination of factors. I certainly had difficulties concentrating on a computer screen for hours, and even when I started transferring the moves on to a real board, the impersonal nature of the game made it seem unreal to me – not to mention that when time pressure comes, you have to switch to just using the computer, which is difficult. But probably most important was the very unpleasant surrounding atmosphere. I don’t want to go into any details, but let’s just say that I dreaded each weekly game.  I finally quit playing in 2010 – although the payment I received for playing provided an important source of income, it was not worth the worry and unhappiness. It was a great relief when I finally made the decision to leave the team.

Not a normal game by any stretch of the imagination – but what chess game is normal? Probably that's what we love about chess.

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