Magic chess

GM smurfo
Jul 30, 2015, 3:25 AM |

There's so much chess going on at the moment that it's hard to keep up. I'm not talking about Biel - for the most part, with the exception of the incredible Navara-Wojtaszek clash, it's been pretty lacklustre - but rather the Politiken Cup and the British Championships. These are two huge European Opens and, most impressively for the chess spectator, have a massive number of live DGT boards. Being able to watch literally hundreds of games live with analysis is mesmerising - and terrible for my work productivity!

As one might imagine with such a mass of games, there have been a bunch of hidden gems. Here are three 'missed opportunities' by GMs I've noticed in the last 48 hours alone, although I can't be too critical; the entertainment value has been golden. 

The first is an unfortunately 'tragicomedy' that befell Tiger Hillarp Persson. Tiger is generally an excellent calculator, but sadly the finish to his top-board game is surely going to repeated in endgame books everywhere:



After defending well, Tiger blundered in the worst possible way:


Unfortunately, the position is drawn, and quite trivially so. But to Tiger's credit, two psychological forces were working against him. Firstly, his higher-rated GM opponent also apparently didn't spot the draw and so was appearing for all purposes to be confident of the win. But secondly, and perhaps most importantly, like all good GMs Tiger was no doubt familiar with the classic king-and-pawn endgame Cohn-Rubinstein, 1909. It's a textbook example of a winning endgame, and the final position, in which White (justifiably) resigned, looks like this:








Every top player has this finish ingrained into their memories, so I'm perhaps less surprised than most that Tiger's subconscious told him he was lost. Anyway, quite a tragedy, and I hope he bounces back in the rest of the tournament.

The second gem is an immensely entertaining tragicomedy on behalf of both players; in fact, I joked afterwards that I wasn't sure if both players would feel as if they stole or lost half a point. Well, they're both super nice people, so I'll assume an optimistic outcome. White was completely winning from move 33 to 43 until Glenn saw a really beautiful - but sadly flawed - combination to finish off the game. The position was objectively drawn on move 44, then Black wass completely winning from her brilliant 45th move until move 50, when she missed a way to end the game with 50...b5!. Instead, Glenn escaped with a well-deserved (or not?) draw. What a fight!

But the last game is one you've really got to check out. It's absolutely incredible. Howell-Gormally was the all-GM clash on the top board of the British Championships yesterday, and it ended in an epic 120-move draw after Danny defended like a tiger. Danny was up against it for the entire struggle but put in a titanic defensive effort, made even more impressive by the fact that both players played 80 moves running on only 30-second increments.

But it's the finish that is really worth your attention. So relieved was Danny to steal half a point that he quickly repeated moves and signed the scoresheet. Both players must have been shocked to their cores to discover that Black could actually let White get an extra queen, and then checkmate with his last few forces. I find it particularly ironic that Black's dark-squared bishop, his number one problem piece for the first half the game, became so powerful that it could literally have been stronger than White's extra queen in the spectacular variation. Also quite cool is the drawing line in the note to White's 115th (!) move. Check it out!

I can't wait for the rounds to start today!