Importance of the Knockout Punch

Importance of the Knockout Punch

Feb 3, 2014, 2:39 AM |

If you are a chess fan, you have been following the strongest chess tournament in history!

I am referring to the Zurich Chess Challenge being played right now 1/30/14-2/4/14 with an average rating of more than 2800!  What an exciting tournament; it includes the World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen (highest rated player in history at 2879, Number Two and recent winner of the Tata Steel Tournament Levon Aronian; U.S. #1 and World #3 Hikaru Nakamura; Italian superstar Fabiano Caruana; Israeli world championship candidate GM Boris Gelfand and, former World Champion Vishy Anand.

In Round 3, it seemed Hikaru Nakamura was about to defeat the World Champion Magnus Carlsen.  This would have been a great feat - Hikaru has a particularly bad score vs Carlsen, and could have been Carlsen's first loss as World Champion.

The computer evaluation of the game, had Nakamura up by more than 5 points in the middlegame.  Unfortunately Nakamura blundered with 37. d6??








I wanted to show a variation that could have occured 37. Qf1!

This basically puts Carlsen in Zugzvwang.  A sample variation is 37...b5

38. Rxh7!! 

The problem for Carlsen here, is checkmate in one move is threatened.  If he captures 38...Kxh7, he loses to 39. Qh3+ Kg8 40. Qh8#.  The other problem is 38...Qxh7, 39. Nh6+ and if 39...Kxg7, checkmate in five.  Can you find the mate in 5?