The good ol' days...

Jan 3, 2011, 1:02 AM |

In the good old days, chess analysis was done by hand. Or... you know... by brain. At any rate, Fischer or Capablanca could not have come home after a tourney, flick on the rybkas and the fritzes, punch in a position and see what they have missed - no megabase to see how others have played this very same line in the past in less then a second. Kind of scary to think what they would be like if that had that option... 


In honor of those good old days I am posting this blog entry. It is taken from an ancient paper-book. Yup, no PDF, no PGN, just plain old paper and ink. Ok, enough of the whining about the golden past - here i have an interesting position for you to look at.


For those of you who can't make out what the position actually is, here is a board:

Ok, here is the situation. The position above was reached by a world champion player, playing white. Certain Mr. Karpov has played Nf3 in the position and went on to win the game by fine positional play and exploiting the weak d6 pawn. That is all well and fine, but here comes the rub. Having seen huge ammounts of diagrams and positions in various puzzles and what not i can very well go into the puzzle-mode when i see a caption reading "white to play and win". The only problem is, you never have that label in OTB play - wish i had, really... So to miss those situations in home analysis we just turn on the engine in the background. Sure enough, whenever there is a winning combination that went unnoticed during the game (often by either side!) we have that little red light go on and suddenly the evaluation drops from +0.12 to -4.53 and we know we messed up somewhere. 


What strikes me as amazing, is some peoples ability to just know when to look for the killer move - and that's what this blog is about really. In the above position, Karpov followed his plan and played a strong positional and strategic move Nf3. However, what he missed, was a tactical shot that wins the game on the spot. As it was pointed out by certain Mr. Tal, white has a perfect chance to score the game. Now, given enough time and most importantly the label "white to play and win" I believe I could find this beautiful shot. Would I have found it over the board, with my head full of careful strategic plans? I'm not so sure... If you are the same way, don't cry over it - after all, Karpov missed it too...


To finish off the combination, there are more ways, depending on where the white king decides to run to, but they all lead to victory. There are many side-lines i was just working with Tal's note in an old book saying "Karpov missed the short path to victory, because ..the move.. wins immediately". In the best defense that i have found, black "just" has to give a pawn for no compensation in a worse position. But if Tal says the move wins, then i believe him. I wanted to tribute the players who can look at a position and label it "white wins" even though a world champion at the board does not notice the striking blow.