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Semion Alapin vs Alexander Alekhine
All-Russian Masters (1914), St. Petersburg RUE, rd 17, Jan-30
Spanish Game: Morphy Defense. Wormald Attack (C77)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Mar-22-10  turbo231: I meant to say all rybka could do was march her pawn up the "H FILE" to h5.
Mar-22-10  goodevans: <ChocolateCakeLover: I thought the position after 45...Re2 is called a zugzwang.>

<kevin86: to add to the move-the final position is also a zugzwang.>

My understanding of the term "Zugzwang" is that the player with the move would be fine if he didn't need to play a move but is forced to commit suicide. This position doesn't fall into that category: Even if he could avoid making a move white would lose a whole Q or be mated.

Premium Chessgames Member
  chrisowen: <once.. best way to defend against a threat is to ignore it> i notice you skated around throwing up a long post curve-ball this time. 45.Qg2 is a big mistake. Your pitch is right in the money, it warrants choosing between nailed on mate in 5 or jimmy the 1st rank 45.Rg2 backs the rooks transfer and draws.
Mar-22-10  DarthStapler: Got it
Premium Chessgames Member
  benveniste: <dzechiel> I don't think it's just that Alekhine just decided it was time to end the game, but rather that Alapin just made a mistake. If 45. ♖g2, I think the result would have been a quick draw.
Mar-22-10  xrt999: <dzechiel I'm guessing in the actual game that Alapin resigned immediately, but those were different times when is was considered gentlemanly to allow your opponent to effect checkmate.>

I think that by this time, there was already a strong meme taking hold in chess culture that it was ungentlemanly to allow your opponent to effect checkmate, whereas in, say, 1875 it was considered ungentlemanly to not allow your opponent to effect checkmate. Resigning in the face of certain checkmate would have been considered weak and rude in 1875.

So, the current meme -which is embedded deep within all serious chess players- (and is drilled down at a very young age) began to take hold around this time. Why? Its an interesting discussion as to why the change happened, what caused it, and what I think is the most serious problem: the damage it has done to prevent non-players to take chess seriously as a sport.

On the flip-side, the meme is so strong that whenever someone broaches the subject they are met with disdain, and any discussion casting negativity on resigning in chess is quickly dismissed.

Mar-22-10  Patriot: <<chrisowen>: <once.. best way to defend against a threat is to ignore it> i notice you skated around throwing up a long post curve-ball this time.>

Is that more poetry?

Mar-22-10  dzechiel: <benveniste: <dzechiel> I don't think it's just that Alekhine just decided it was time to end the game...>

My weak attempt at humor has obviously come up short. While the move played does bring the game to an abrupt end, the ending is not something that Alekhine could have brought about entirely on his own. Alapin had to help out...

Mar-22-10  fyad reject: WELP missed another monday

i spent a long time looking at checks but couldnt find a direct attack that did anything more than trade down

i suspected the solution was going to be some preparatory move and considered Rf8 and Re3 but couldnt find anything and gave up after 10 minutes

i dont understand how i can perpetually be so terrible and i wish i knew how everyone else seemingly instantly sees the correct move. could someone please explain the thought process

Mar-22-10  jsheedy: 45...Re2, 46. Qxf3, Rxh2#. Why did this take me two whole minutes? I looked at 45...gxh2 first, thinking that had to lead to mate, but it doesn't.
Mar-22-10  Patriot: <fyad reject> Here's one thing that might help. Whenever a piece is pinned consider attacking it again. Also notice that the white king has no moves.

It seems you were distracted by the fact that the black queen is hanging and so you decided to protect it. Rarely do puzzles involve simply guarding a piece. Look for something strong.

I have to admit though, that this puzzle was a bit harder for a Monday. At least I didn't see it within 5 seconds or so as I usually do on Monday's--it took about a minute. Keep practicing tactics and you will get better. Just don't give up!

Mar-22-10  fyad reject: thanks <patriot>, you are one of the most consistently positive and reassuring posters on this site and we beginners appreciate your encouragement and patience and willingness to slow down and explain things at a simpler level for us
Mar-22-10  vanytchouck: vanytchouck: < turbo231: Well i'm playing Rybka, i moved re2 Rybka moved b4b5, i moved a6xb5.(...)>

45... Re2
46. b5 Rxg2
47. Rxg2 Qf1
48. Rg1 g2 #


45 ...Re2
46. h3 (h4)Rxg2
47. Rxg2 Qf1
48. Rg1 Qxh3 (or Qh3)#

And there is not quick forced mare after 46. hxg3

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <fyad reject: could someone please explain the thought process>

Everyone thinks differently. Here's a handful of ways to approach today's puzzle. We started from here:

click for larger view

Method 1: examine every forcing move. First look at every check - the most powerful non-mating move on the board. Nope. Then look at every capture. Equally, nothing doing. Then look at ways to threaten something juicy - either win of a piece or a mate. The king is safely tucked away, so the juiciest white target is the Qg2. So how can we attack the queen? 45...Re2 looks odd at first, but let's run it up the flagpole and see if it is worth saluting...

Method 2: the Silman imbalances. From our starting position we see that black has a temporary advantage because white's queen is pinned. And the normal rule for pins is to Pile on the Pressure. We don't have a bishop to sit on the long diagonal, so can we attack white queen again with our remaining piece, the rook? Aha, we can with 45...Re2.

Method 3: the <Once speciality> fantasy position method. If we turned wizard for a mo, what non-legal move or series of moves would we like to play? Well, Nf2# would be fun, except we don't have a knight. The swerve shot of Rxh2# would also do the trick, except of course rooks don't know about swerve (or english as some might know it). Hang on, is there another way to hyperspace the rook to h2 via e2?

Whichever method you use, you need to find yourself wondering if 45...Re2 is playable. A rank beginner would dismiss the move out of hand (if he got as far as spotting it), cos it just loses the black queen. But we can see that mate is near so moves like Re2 just have to be examined.

Then we enter the process I call spell-checking - working through each variation to make sure that it works. That's the perspiration to follow the previous inspiration.

And as <patriot> says, practise practise practise.

Mar-22-10  MiCrooks: Wow, huge blunder for Alapin! Makes one wonder if time control wasn't at 45 moves? Or perhaps it was just one of those snap was bad on so many counts! Even if you weren't getting mated with Re2, moving your Queen away from the threatened Qxh6 (your major counterplay that allows you to draw on Rg2) is a blunder in itself.

If mate wasn't there Alapin's move would still have allowed a Queen trade into a pawn up Rook and pawn ending. Sure there are good chances to draw it due to the rook pawn, but still. Terrible move all around on his part makes me think he was under pressure.

He had just faced the mate threat with Rd2 a couple of moves back! He had to realize it was there.

Mar-22-10  wals: Rybka 3 1cpu: 3071mb hash: depth 12:

White's error:-
41.g3 -2.30, better was Qa4 -0.31

Black's error:-
41...fxg3 0.00 better was Rd2 -2.30

White's error:-
45.Qg2 +#4, better was Rg2 0.00

Mar-22-10  Patriot: <fyad reject> Thanks, I'm always glad to help if I can. <Once> brings up some good points as well. I chose a mixture of methods 1 & 2.
Premium Chessgames Member
  chrisowen: < that more poetry?> Could you define this? Have a think about it. Really the hammer comes down and i author my son daily. I've the foundation masked garish, all and sundry say what they like. So when I mope around I guess i'm just an acrostic.
Mar-22-10  ROO.BOOKAROO: I got it, after a little reflexion, for it's not completely obvious. Happy to mention my progress here.
Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: <Once> For novices another way to visualize 45...Re2! is that the Queen is tied (i.e. pinned) to the defense of h2 to avoid mate (e.g. 45...Re2 46. Qxf3 Rxh2+). This of course presuposes that the student has been taught to (1) examine all threatening moves even if it appears that they might at first lose material and (2) to visualize the position after all possible captures and recaptures for their next move.

So, since 45...Re2! is possible, we ask does White have a defense? A quick calculation of one, two and three move mates indicates the answer is a resounding no.

As far as practice, perhaps work on visualizing simple mates with Queen and Rook would be useful. One place to start is with a chess program (e.g. a free version of crafty, rybka etc.) to solve all the possible mate combinations in this puzzle.

Then work backwards from the one move mates to the two and three move mates and then back to the initial problem.

P.S.: I found the 45...Re2 solution quickly, but found myself pondering as to whether this is a pinning combination, a mating combination or a combination of both. Certainly no book on the pin tactic would be complete without such an example (i.e. attack on a pinned piece protecting a square from a mate threat).

Premium Chessgames Member
  beenthere240: One way is to first look at every check.
Then check every move that isn't.
One of those moves will be right!
Repeat process for moves 2, 3 etc.
Mar-22-10  turbo231: <vanychouck>

Thanks for the post, and to think all i had to do was 2 more moves. Right after i played rybka i had to leave the house to go to the denist. On the way there i was thinking about this puzzle and realized what i should have done. I'm just a 2 or 3 move person, after that my mind goes blank.

Premium Chessgames Member
  NM JRousselle: Zugzwang is often translated as "move compulsion". I know someone who speaks German and knows almost nothing about chess. Her translation was "you gotta move".

The rules of chess simply state that players alternate moves, ie no passing is allowed. That does not seem like much on the surface, but in the endgame is a pretty important rule.

Mar-23-10  Dravus: The tugtwang, that feeling, that twinge, like you've got to move, something pulls or tugs at you. It also happens commonly in backgammon. With your back game on, you want to hit back your opponent's stone.
Mar-23-10  dufferps: Being a not-very-strong player, I find it useful to play out the possibilities, after the point where masters resign. This one was fun. Patience was the key. If 46.hxg3 Qh5+
47.Qh3 Qxh3#
If 46.h3 or 46.h4
Black patiently pushes his h-pawn and king until white is in Zugzwang and must move his Rook from g1. Then ... Qxg2#
If after 46.h3 or 46.h4, Black is impatient and plays ... Rxg2 countered by White's Rxg2, Then white (with a Queen and 4 pawns to white's Rook and 3 pawns) will still win, but it will take longer. White cannot forever keep his king protecting his rook and preventing advance of white pawns supported by Queen and/or King. Most of the lines done that way ended with white promoting a pawn and forcing checkmate almost immediately after that.
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