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Igor Bondarevsky vs Vasily Smyslov
Moscow Championship (1944/45), Moscow URS, rd 16
Four Knights Game: Scotch Variation. Accepted (C47)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 3 OF 3 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Apr-06-10  Patriot: I looked at 21...Qb5 22.Rd4 Re2 and missed the simple 23.Qb3 defense. If I saw that, perhaps I would've found the easy 22...Rea8.
Apr-06-10  fouard: Easy alright. 21...Rea8. The N has nowhere to go, and can't be defended by either 22 b3 or Rd4, because of 22...Qb5.
Apr-06-10  fouard: I see the game line has 21...Qb5 played first. My eye was lured by the vulnerable a-file, but it appears that 22 c4 Qa5 23 b3 Rb8 will work as well. The game line is quicker, tho.
Apr-06-10  desiobu: I tried 21...Qb5, but failed to consider 22. Rd4. 22...Rea8 is easy enough to spot though.
Apr-06-10  Eisenheim: chess is a game of absolutes. never leave a horse on the edge of the board, unless of course its needed there. this took me some time for an easy puzzle. at first i considered somehow having the Qxg2 move work and choking down the second rank, but the only move that would force the white Q there would be rxa4, and after capturing the pawn at g2, the white Q can resume her position so its a no go. then i remembered its an easy day so I revisited the horse on the edge of the board and saw the solution. b3 could not rescue it due to the pin and the white rook offering assistance is combatted by the black rook doubling up. and doubling rooks is another absolute, i.e. always do it unless, of course, there is a reason not to.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: I missed this one-I was banking on the exchange sac at a4-I wasn't looking for a knight trap.

The main point in the text is that the natural protection move with the pawn,b3,is useless because the pin on the b-file. The move even blocks the queen's protection.

Apr-06-10  rapidcitychess: Analysis: Queenside Knight is dominated. The piece is pinned to the a pawn. Does an exchange sacrifice work? Leads to 21... ♖xa4 22 ♕xa4 ♕xg2 23 ♕d1. In which black is far down in material. The g-file will comeback to haunt him.This is very good for white. How about piling on the Knight? Whit cannot defend his Knight enough. How do we achieve this? By 21...♕b4 Everything else leads to ♖d4. But this way allows him to pile on the Knight.♖ea8!
Apr-06-10  jussu: This is a really cool exercise, such a silent sequence that is easier to find in a real game than in a puzzle position. At first I spent a lot of time on Rxa4 with Qxg2 but that was just silly. Finally noticed that the knight was too stuck to spend a rook on it :)
Apr-06-10  Suji: Who has the advantage after:
21. ... Rxa4
22. Qxa4 Re2
23. Qa8+ Bf8
Premium Chessgames Member
  scormus: Took an embarrassingly long time to get this one. I looked at 21... Rea8 (of course, if 22 Rd4? Qb5 transposes) 22 b3 Rxa4 23 bxa4 Rb8+ 24 Ka1 Ba3 and tried to make it work. But after 25 Rb1 B can make no more progress.
Apr-06-10  MaczynskiPratten: Maybe the psychologists could tell us why this one is so hard to spot? I struggled for some time to see Qb5 and missed Rea8 completely. First Tuesday I've missed for a long while :-(
Apr-06-10  Patriot: <MaczynskiPratten> I'm no psychologist, but I would say the reason is there are several reasonable looking moves such as 21...Rxa4 22.Qxa4 Qxg2 and threatening 23...Qxh1+; 21...Rea8; and 21...Qb5. And when you look at 21...Qb5, you have to see the subtle defense 22.Rd4 and that 22.b3 does not work. After 21...Qb5 22.Rd4, there are still several other subtle choices such as 22...Re2 and 22...Rea8.

In my opinion with all the subtle candidates, this was not an "easy" Tuesday puzzle.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: Definitely a tough one. I was immediately attracted to the offside white knight which has no safe retreat squares, but it took several attempts before I found a way to snare it. 21...Rea8 22. b3 and all is safely gathered in. Similarly, 21....Qa4 22. b3 and we are not making any progrss.

Then inspiration! We need to attack the knight and pin the b pawn at the same time. When you see this, the move 21...Qb5 fairly leaps off the board. Then 22. Rd4 and we get to play the Rea8 move that we started thinking about much too long ago.

Why is this so hard to see? It's something we have noticed before - combinations involving trapped pieces can be hard to spot because so many pieces and squares are involved. The knight has four escape squares which need to be covered (b2, c3, c5 and b6). We need a black heavy piece on the b file to pin the b2 pawn against the white king on b1. And we need two black rooks to attack the knight along the a file.

This means that we need to hold in our mind more than double the number of pieces that we would need for, say, a pin or a fork.

There are also more focal points here than in a mating attack, which generally has only one or two focal points. Add to this the fact that black has several tempting moves and it is not hard to see why this is one of the toughest Tuesdays I can recall.

But here's a thought ... don't several chess writers say that a combination needs to involve a sacrifice? If so, where is the sac in today's puzzle?

Apr-06-10  YouRang: It took me a few rounds of false starts to get it. But eventually I noticed that the knight on a4 had no flight square and was defended only by the queen.

I can double attack it with with my queen, but then playing b3 seems to defend -- UNLESS I double attack with my queen from the b5 square (i.e. 21...Qb5). In that case, the defense offered by 22.b3 is an illusion, since Pb3 is pinned.

Apr-06-10  DarthStapler: I got the first move but I didn't find the response to Rd4
Apr-06-10  jussu: <Once>, Why does a puzzle have to be called a combination?

Then again, I think this aspect has something to do with the fact that many of us found this puzzle rather challenging. We don't expect calm butchering of a piece from a puzzle, we expect whacky sacs from them. Honestly, I think most of us would have found the solution in a practical game more easily than in a puzzle.

Apr-06-10  ZZer: I found 22...c5 as the response to Rd4. I think it also wins, doesn't it?
Apr-06-10  turkeytail: Hi all I've been lurking around here for awhile but have not commented but I do not understand whites resignation, sure he lost the knight but it seems to me that after 23 Re1, Rxa4 24 Rxa4 Rxa4 25 Re8# white has decent counterplay with a superior pawn formation and several potential checkmates if black isn't very careful. Sure white is behind but still has a decent fighting chance, am I missing something?
Apr-06-10  DarthStapler: Bf8 is possible so it's not mate
Apr-06-10  wals: Rybka 3 1-cpu : 3071 mb hash : depth 17:

White's major error :-
18.Bc4 (-1.98) Better was Kb1 (-0.13) or Bd3 (-0.28)

Rybka calculated Black mates 50...Qxb4#.

Apr-06-10  micartouse: For some reason, I spotted the answer very quickly and doubted I had it correct. I was expecting others to say it was an easy puzzle since usually the majority opinion conforms to my own in these puzzles.

Retracing my steps, my mind did something like this:

1. I can play ... Rxa4 exchange sac.
2. ...Qb5 would then fork two pieces.
3. Oh no, I can't fork a queen, so maybe I should reorder the moves. 4. ...Qb5 does it!

So I only found it "easily" because I was stupid enough to consider forking a queen with a queen.

Apr-06-10  MaczynskiPratten: <turkeytail>: At grandmaster level, a piece down in a simplified position like this is hopeless - White would simply be ground down in another 20-30 moves. Black can create an airhole any time with g6 or h6 to stop any mate threats. White resigns to spare himself a couple of hours of soul-destroying effort for no reward.

<wals>: Very interesting, because Bc4 looks a good square, but allows Black to play a five move combination (or "move sequence":-) exploiting the two Bishops and the diagonals b1-h7 and c1-h6. Maybe c4 is needed for the c3 pawn, to give White's Knight an escape square. Bd3 guards the weak b1-h7 diagonal, while Kb1 removes Black's vital tempo gain from Qg5+.

An elegant game by Smyslov, in the way that he probes White's weaknesses and forces small concessions.

Apr-06-10  VincentL: I have been looking at this position for at least five minutes, and see nothing good.

21.... Rxa4 22. Qxa4 Qxg2 leads nowhere.

Similarly 21.... Re2 doesn't work. 22. Qxe2 Rxa4.. but there is no progress.

I have to give up and check.

Apr-06-10  VincentL: 21.... Qb5. I didn't consider this move, and it seems that some others didn't either.

The solution is so simple, yet elusive. Godd puzzle.

Premium Chessgames Member
  gawain: Five minutes should have been enough for Easy but I just didn't see it. I think I am conditioned to seek something more dramatic and sacrificial early in the week. Winning a "mere" knight didn't occur to me in this context--whereas it might well have done over the board!

Certainly an instructive exercise.

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