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Missed Opportunity

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This is Vasquez-Ni Hua from Aeroflot. Black just played 41...Ra3. I annotated this endgame for the latest Black Belt and this position just has to be shared.

Here White missed a chance for a brilliant swindle and went on to lose. I don't remember seeing this sort of sequence before. When you know there's something to look for it shouldn't take long to find. Answer below.

42.Rc3! Black can't take the rook or it's stalemate. But it gets better. 42...Ra1 43.Ra3!! winning the a-pawn. It's a pretty two-step, offering the rook twice.

White played 42.Rc8? and went on to lose, although he missed good drawing chances later on.


Whenever I'm in a hopeless position I always look for cheap swindle possibilities.

For example, albeit a lame one, here's a position from an online blitz game I played some months back (I believe I've remembered the position correctly):

White: Kf5, Rb4, Bc5, Pa3
Black(Me): Ka5, Re8, Pa6, Pc6

After a pathetic opening and middlegame (by me, my opponent had played very well), this position had been reached. I had just been checking White's King around with my Rook on the back rank, when I suddenly discovered to my horror, that White was now threatening Bb6 checkmate! Then I noticed my King has no moves, and played 1...Re5+ hoping for stalemate. Well...I got really lucky: my opponent, already low on time, saw the stalemate and played 2.Kf4?? Rxc5 and I went on to win.

So my question is why do so many people miss moves like 42.Rc3? Are they so mad and disgusted that they give up looking for possible saves?

I would propose that it's almost the opposite. White had good drawing chances here even without the miracle save and so he probably wasn't looking for such desperate tricks. You tend not to think about such things until all other hope is gone.

I think that's normally a good thing to do, this is more about pattern recognition. If you don't know about this kind of trick and haven't seen it before you would pretty much need to go through every legal move to find it, and that's obviously usually too uneconomical unless it's really desperate. So collect examples like this and chances are much bigger you'll find them in your own games.

For a similar trick much harder to see, go to move 35 of http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1083387 and try to improve on Black's ..Qxc2?. Dvoretsky gave that as an exercise and Aagaard wrote in "Excelling at Chess Calculation" that he solved it by literally calculating all legal moves of the position.

Just looking at this for a few seconds, I would say it involves a "super Rook."

acirec, bull. I'm an average player (2000 lightning on FICS)and took it me all of 1 mt to spot the stalemate and the 2 rook moves. Of course once Mig said it was a swindle, it made everything much easier, but I think its just as Mig said. Its not a desparate situation, (in fact just thinking of all the possible variations give me a headache) so you're not looking for swindles.

Acirce- that's a great position - took me 3 minutes to find the solution (b6 ne3 and Qf1) but without the clue, I doubt if I would have seen the stalemate. No doubt fritz would see this in a nano-second

What was bull? I think most of us find it very quickly now that we're told something is there. I was talking about a game situation. And in any case I'm pretty sure you're likely to find it faster if you have seen similar tricks before.

Andrew: Yes, it's very nice. Fritz indeed finds it quickly. But then again it really *does* go through every legal move.

possibly bull was a strong ..umm adjective to use in this case; I seem to have been biased by your general tendency to write bull ..

What I meant to say was, i didnt have to go through every legal move, but yes, it does help to know the patterns beforeheand.

What if Black plays 43...Rh1 44 Kg3 Kg5 45 Ra5 Rg1 46 Kf3 Rg4 47 Ra7 Rf4? I think Vazquez saw the stalemate idea but wanted to avoid the resulting endgame where Black can torture him for many more moves. Also you have to remember that they probably already were in a 'sudden death' mode at this moment.

Isn't 45 Ra5 a check on the Black King on g5 so Black has to move the king, and can't do 45...Rg1?

Still even after moving the Black King out of check, I would agree it does look like a long torturous endgame.

Nice trick, it reminds me of the Reshevsky-Geller rook ending where Sammy was up 2 pawns but Geller offers to sac his rook for stalemate.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on February 20, 2005 11:09 PM.

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