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Judit Polgar vs Boris Spassky
Polgar - Spassky (1993), Budapest HUN, rd 10, Feb-16
Spanish Game: Morphy Defense. Breyer Defense Zaitsev Hybrid (C95)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 3 OF 3 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Feb-10-15  dick50: Unbelievable!! Did Boris Spasky made move 11.. Re8 and Did Judith polgar misssed 12..Bxf7? Perhaps some mistaken identities.
Feb-10-15  stst: not a direct kill, but a heavy gain in material:

12.BxP+ KxB
13.Ng5+ Kf8/g8
14.Ne6 captures the Q (locked, no escape sq.)

Feb-10-15  stst: difficulty within "Easy"??

Why CG presents a game where the actual play differs from the "best"/"optimal" line so drastically??

Maybe it's an intention ? catch 22 ?? to tell the story that so-called masters did MISS the thing!!

and, if the game play is followed as a "standard(??)" then all of us WRONG???

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <stst> Read the previous comments, which explain what happened.
Feb-10-15  Nick46: Roll on Wednesday.
Feb-10-15  Abdel Irada: Call it "the one that got away."

Whether or not either or both players were "mesmerized," they do appear to have been playing on autopilot.

I wonder what percentage of GM games go like this: One player makes an accidental "transposition," playing the moves of a well-known line in the wrong order (and punishably so, as in this case) and gets away with it.

I'm guessing it's rare but not extremely so. We don't hear of it often, perhaps because the players tend to "transpose" back into the familiar line without pausing to see if the move order allows other and more incisive responses.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Bubo bubo: White wins a pawn and the exchange with 12.Bxf7+, as Black must not play 12...Kxf7 due to 13.Ng5+ and 14.Ne6, winning the smothered queen.
Feb-10-15  Cheapo by the Dozen: I love Tuesdays!

f7 looks weak. Mating attempts don't quite work, as the f6 knight blocks queen incursions at d5 or h5. Ng5/Nf7 doesn't quite work either, since ... Rf8 defends.

What does work is

12 Bxf7+ Kxf7
13 Ng5+ (K moves)
14 Ne6

and Black's queen is smothered. Declining the bishop of course also leaves Black badly down in material.

Feb-10-15  zb2cr: 12. Bxf7+, Kxf7; 13. Ng5+, Kg8; 14. Ne6 is the main line.
Feb-10-15  CHESSTTCAMPS: All pieces and pawns are on the board in this opening position from a Ruy Lopez. Black's f7 is protected only once and the queen entombed. This suggests 12.Bxf7+ Kxf7 13.Ng5+ K moves 14.Ne6 winning the queen. The alternative 12... Kh8 13.Bxe8 Qxe8 is not a lot better. This trick shows up in other openings, e.g. Fischer-Reshevsky (U.S. Championship) is a more subtle version of this trap that came out of a Sicilian Defense.
Feb-10-15  TheBish: Judit Polgar vs Spassky, 1993

White to play (12.?) "Easy"

If I recall correctly, this was a move that both players missed! Pretty hard to believe, even in a rapid game. I don't remember if this was a rapid game or what the tournament was, but eager to hear the story behind this.

12. Bxf7+! Kxf7

Better is 12...Kh8 13. Bxe8 Qxe8, but still resignable at the GM level.

13. Ng5+ Kg8 14. Ne6 and Black's queen is trapped.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: The only way I got this puzzle was because recently, I was watching an analyzed game that was a Ruy Lopez, and this tactic of 12.Bxf7+ was mentioned. :) 2/2.
Premium Chessgames Member
  sleepyirv: My initial reaction was "Seriously, Spassky?" only to be surprised that Polgar missed it too!
Feb-10-15  TheaN: Tuesday 10 February 2015 <12.?>

White takes advantage of black's cramped position, especially the immobile queen by playing <12.Bxf7+!>. If black declines, white wins at least the exchange and pawn with 13.Bxe8, if black accepts <12....Kxf7 13.Ng5+ Kg6 14.Ne6 > and white wins the queen for two pieces. Note that after 13....Kg8 white can gain a tempo and perhaps a smothered mate by playing 14.Qb3+ first, to which only 14....d5 adequately defends.

Feb-10-15  TheaN: Got the combination, but my line with 14.Qb3+? is a blunder: black can abuse the position of the white queen after 14....d5 15.Ne6 Nc5! after which only 16.Nxc5 Bxc5 17.dxc5 keeps minor advantage for white. Always consider inbetween moves.
Premium Chessgames Member
  gawain: I don't mind seeing great players overlooking combinations. They, too, are mortal.
Feb-10-15  starry2013: <Phony Benoni: Hardly a matter of "What where they thinking?" Obviously, they weren't.>

This can be a problem with openings these days when people don't think just memorize. I remember Aronian blundering a queen early last year as he had memorized his opening wrong.

Fascinating to hear how the moves were reported wrongly, history rewritten. I wonder how often that has happened. Hopefully it's harder for people to get away with that now with live coverage.

I was looking at the bishop sacrifice straight away along with Ng5 as a secondary idea. I also thought the King was meant to capture as that queen looks trapped. When I played the computer of course the King moved to h8. I lose a bishop but gain a rook and a pawn even then.

Feb-10-15  Sally Simpson: We don't expect a blunder so we never look for them.

This was Anand's excuse for missing a tactical shot v Carlsen in the last World Championship match.

This postion:

click for larger view

has appeared quite a few times in OTB play with White missing Bxf7+

One was this joyful effort where White missed it twice.

Mokry,K (2515) - Farago,I (2540) Austria Ch, 1994.

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3 O-O 9. h3 Nb8 10. d4 Nbd7 11. Nbd2 Re8 12. Ng5 Rf8 13. Ngf3 Re8

These two then agreed a draw.


Someone may care to calm Susan's blushes and add this to the 4 games between these two that are already here.


I read with mild amusement some of the comments.

When I first saw the puzzle I thought Oh No! the engine users will have a field day with this one. There will grumbling and great gnashing of teeth.

"How could this happen?"

Everytime I see such a miss my mind goes back to...

Chandler - Birkett, Edinburgh Open 2003 (White to Play)

click for larger view

Did the boy wonder play Qh5 and Qd5 1-0.

No. I quickly chopped Rooks and castled because I am a castle first and philosophise later player. Too much Reinfeld, not enough Morphy.

(and also note how wonder boy has left out his initial - Murray can have this one.)

I lost - we played over the game and again Qh5 was missed by both players (Black went onto to win the tournament so he is no mug.)

One year later Black emails me and tells me he was entering the game into his databse and Fritz saw it.......The absolute shame of it all.

For me to miss that in a bread and butter position was shocking and players who have been in same situation will know how I felt when it was discovered.

But it does happen. ('cept of course to engine users....)

Feb-10-15  Eduardo Leon: Wait, wut [this spelling is intended], <two> people missed this?
Feb-10-15  Marmot PFL: Polgar had already won the match and didn't want to embarrass Spassky.
Feb-10-15  sorokahdeen: Holy move-order, Batman!
Feb-10-15  Whitehat1963: I instinctively wanted to play 12. Bxf7, but I couldn't see a way to make it work. Didn't see that the queen was dead.
Feb-10-15  Uncertianly: Sally
Very nice interesting and helpful post.
Thank you for your consistent contribution.
Feb-11-15  Retireborn: Very interesting to read the truth about what happened in this game! My source (Chessbase) does indeed give an "improved" move order!
May-04-21  FSTIMJP: This game lasted longer than the moves are here. Here, at the end, Judit resigned when in a drawn position.
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