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Boris Spassky vs Bent Larsen
Bugojno (1978), Bugojno YUG, rd 7, Mar-05
Caro-Kann Defense: Classical Variation (B18)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Oct-17-08  Woody Wood Pusher: This is one of the most interesting puzzle positions I have ever seen, there are so many possibilities in it!

I realized 19. Rd6 was the best after a LOT of calculation.

The critical line is 19.Rd6,Bxd6 20.Rxd6,Qc5 21.Rd5,Qb4 22.a3,Qb6 23.Qxc4+,Qc6 24.Nb5,Rf8 25.Nxa7+,Kd8 26.Nxc6+,bxc6 27.Qxc6, + -

There are many beautiful other lines though.

Oct-17-08  johnlspouge: Friday (Difficult):

Spassky vs Larsen, 1978 (19.?)

White to play and win.

Material: Even. The Black Kc8 is stalemated. White has a battery Rd1 and Rd5 facing Nd7 and Rd8. The Black Qc6, Kc8, and Rd8 protect Nd7; Kc8 and Rh8 protect Rd8. The Black Rh8 and Nh6 are presently out of play, but White needs to activate Nc3, Nf3, and Qe2 for a local superiority and sacrificial attack against Kc8. The Black Qc6 is limited in scope and potentially overburdened with defense, not only of Bc5 and Nd7, but more subtly, of Pc4.

Candidates (19.): Qxc4, Ne4, Nd4

19.Nd4 (threatening 20.Nxc6 or 20.Qxc4)

Because both 19.Qc7 Ne6 and 19.Qb6 Qxc4+ are infeasible, Black has 2 options:

(1) 19…Qa6 20.Ndb5 (threatening 20.Qxc4 again)

20…Qc6 21.Rxc5 Qxc5 [Nxc5 22.Nxa7+]

22.Nd6+ Kb8 23.Ne4+

After 23…K moves 24.Nxc5, White has Q+B for R+N; after 23…Qc7 24.Bxc7, Q+B for R+B.

(2) 19…Bxd4 20.Rd6 Qc5

[20…Qc7 21.R6xd4 then eventually Rxc4 winning Qc7]

21.R1xd4 (threatening 22.Rxc4, 22.Qxc4, or 22.Qe6+)

21…Ne5 22.Bxe5 (threatening 22.Rxc4)

Black cannot productively capture anything [22…fxe5 23.Rxc4, 22…Qxe5 23.Qxc4+, 22…Rxd6 23.Rxc4], so he is down a piece.

Toga II 1.3.1 verifies my variations, evaluating 19.Nd4 at

[ply 15/58 time 01:32 value +3.77].

Spassky's 19.Rd6 is both elegant and better, however:

[ply 15/49 time 01:01 value +5.85].

Oct-17-08  AhmetMTF: Hi everybody. I couldn't find the move Rd6, however, I played a very different line which needs your evaluation. (since I'm just an amateur in chess.) At the end of my line, if it's correct, Black would have 2 rooks and a knight, while white has 1 rook, 2 knights and a bishop. However, white also have a positional advantage where Black king is open to threats. Please evaluate my line, at least briefly: 19.Qxc4!? - Be3+ 20. fxe3 - Qxc4 21. Nb5! (this move threatens mate in one move with Nxa7++) - Qxa2 22. Nd6+ - Kc7 23. Nb5+ - Kb6 24. Bc7+ - Kc6 25. Nfd4+ - Kxd5 26. Nc3+! - Kc5 27. Nxa2 - Rde8 28. Nb3+ etc. (It may be too amateur, but I think it is at least beautiful. :))
Oct-17-08  Patriot: This was difficult to say the least. There are so many forcing moves to consider--too many to analyze in too little time. I looked at Rxc5, Rxd7, Bxh6, Nd4, and Rd6. Rd6 looked the most appealing because it limited black's options compared to other candidates. After analyzing the obvious 19.Rd6 Bxd6 20.Rxd6 Qc5, I asked myself the question "And now what?" I didn't even consider 21.Rd5 because even after looking at the position nothing stood out after 21...Qc6 for example. Therefore I couldn't bring myself to accept 19.Rd6 as the right move since white is down material and from the best I could tell, no other candidates that lead anywhere. But of course that was incorrect as after 21...Qc6 22.Nb5 threatens mate and a queen-king fork. Plus Qxc4+ is threatened if Qb6. I just wonder how much time Spassky used before playing Rd6?
Oct-17-08  cyclon: Oh-hoh! -Qb4, Rb5/-Qb6,Qxc4+ Qc6 (-Nc5,Rxc5+ Kd7,Bxh6) Nb5. When I was a boy, I was wondering why certain particular players or rather (as I understand it now) `figures`, become World-Champions in Chess. After decades I have started slowly, very slowly to understand.
Oct-17-08  Patriot: AhmetMTF: Your line is very interesting. Maybe 19.Qxc4 Be3+ 20.fxe3 Qxc4 21.Nb5 then maybe 21...Ne5 22.Nxe5 fxe5 23.Nxa7+ Kb8 24.Rxd8+ Rxd8 25.Rxd8+ Kxa7 and it looks like black is winning. Looks like a very complicated line, so white should be very leary of playing Qxc4 because of the tactic you pointed out.
Oct-17-08  newzild: A nice one today.

1.Rd6 seems to win, with a combo of threats including checkmate - of the king or queen!

Eg: 1.Rd6 Bxd6

Not 1...Qc7 2.Rxd7

2.Rxd6 Qc5

Not 2...Qc7 Rxd7!
And now comes the toughest move of the combination:


Seems to do the trick. Black has no good move - eg. 3...Qc7 4.Rxd7 or 3...Qc6 4.Nd4

I'm sure this is it. Time to check...

Oct-17-08  newzild: Hmmm. I certainly "solved" the puzzle, but some of my side-lines are different to those given by other posters below.

I'm too drunk to check my analysis again, so I'll just put it down as "solved" and leave it at that.

Goodnight, all...

Oct-17-08  newzild: Ahh, I see a mistake in that Rxd7 doesn't work in a couple of my lines. I'm still calling it "solved" though, because I reckon getting the main line with a skin full of cheap bubbly is pretty good.
Oct-17-08  Major Dude: I think Larsen's style could be the cause of short brilliant losses like this one. Here is another game he lost to Spassky with white.Larsen vs Spassky, 1970

And here is another spectacular loss to Korchnoi,
Larsen vs Korchnoi, 1987

Oct-17-08  5hrsolver: Nice game by Spassky. From the starting position White's advantages are his centralized pieces and lead in development. The thing is to strike before black has time to consolidate his position.

Black could not play 18..Rhe8 because of 19. Rxd7 which wins material. He opted for 18..f6 to defend the e5 square but got blitzed on the queenside.

I found 21..Qc6 22.Nb5 but only after 5 hrs as there were other candidate moves.

Oct-17-08  AhmetMTF: Patriot, thank you for your comment. I understand the line now. I didn't see Ne5! which leads to a win by black. Indeed, after Nb5, Black could block White's bishop eye on c7 by Ne5, instead of protecting the a7 pawn with Qxa2. Thanks again...
Premium Chessgames Member
  chrisowen: Nice horse strategy? Spassky plays 16. d5 and injects it with a bit of pace making the d file clear. Looking at tactical operations he nurses it with surgical precision e.g. 19. Rd6 Bxd6 Rxd6 Qc5 Rd5 and the white rook is a montser.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: White gives up the exchange to be able to chase the queen away from the c-file. Without Her Majesty,mate will follow on said file.
Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: For today's difficult Friday puzzle, White plays the sham exchange sacrifice 19. Rd6! to harass the overworked Black Queen to force her to remove her protection of the weak pawn on c4.

Once the White Queen can safely capture the c4 pawn, Black can delay the coming mate only by giving up decisive material. See the post by <ConLaMismaMano>, on page one of the kibitzing here, for a likely continuation in the final position.

Oct-17-08  YouRang: Hmmm, I didn't see 19.Rd6 at all, but I felt that I found a different idea that works:

The immediate 19.Qxc4 is no good because of the discovered attack 19...Be3+, but if I can get bounce the queen then Qxc4 puts a double attack on black's pinned bishop. So, I first play <19.Nd4!>, scaring black's queen.

There are two most-apparent (to me) replies for black:

(1) <19...Qa6>, evading capture and guarding Pc4, but I then have 20.Ne5 forking black's Rd8 and Bc5. If black pins my knight with 20...Rhe8/Rde8, I ignore the pin with 21.Nxc5!, and if he takes my queen, I take his, and remain up a piece.

(2) <19...Bxd4>, removing the bothersome knight, but then 20.Rxd4 (threat:21.Rxc4 pins & wins Q -- or mates if the black Q moves). Black's best move seems to be 20...Nb6, guarding Pc4 (20...b5 simply loses to 21.Nxb5). Now I have 21.Nb5, threatening Nxa7# (let alone the K+Q fork), and I don't see much that black can do about it.

Oct-17-08  VooDooMoves: <19. Ne4> Threatening both 20. Nxc5 Nxc5 21. Rxc5! Qxc5 (21...Rxd1+ is better and refutes this line) 22. Qe6+ Rd7 23. Qxd7# and 20. Qxc4! Be3+ 21. Bxe3 Qxc4 22. Nd6+ Kb8 23. Nxc4+. <19...Bb6 20. Nd6+ Kb8 21. Nxc4+ Ka8 22. Nxb6+ axb6> 22...Qxb6 23. Rxd7 ; 22...Nxb6 23. Rxd8+ Rxd8 24. Rxd8+ Nc8 25. Qe6! <23. Rd6 Qc8> To protect the pinned Knight <24.Qb5!> Hitting the knight again and threatening mate with 24. Qa4+ Kb8 25. Rxd7+ Qc7 26. Rxd8+! Rxd8 27. Rxd8#

Interesting position but I know my analysis is irrelevant. Sometimes I have the tendency to make these positions more complex than they need be and definitely more complex than I can handle. Ah, phooey! :/

Oct-17-08  Woody Wood Pusher: I think 19.Qxc4 gives white at least a draw...

e.g. 19.Qxc4,Be3+ 20.fxe3,Qxc3 21.Nb5,Qa4 (21...b6? 22.Nd6+,Kb8 23.Nxc4 + -) 22.b3!,Qa6 (22..Qa5? 23.Nd6+,Kb8 24.Rxa5 + -) 23 Nd6+,Kb8 (23..Qxd6 24.Rxd6 ) 24.Ne8+,Kc8 = (24..Ka8? 25.Nc7+,Kb8 26.Nxa6+ + -)

what do the computers think of this line?

This is such a fascinating position!

Oct-17-08  Woody Wood Pusher: 21..Qxa2 - + busts my previous line...but it was still interesting to think up lol
Premium Chessgames Member
  agb2002: Too many pieces aiming at the black king and queen. Candidates:

A) 19.Nd4 (to incorporate the KN into attack and/or eliminate the black bishop, the white bishop opponent).

B) 19.Rd6 (to eliminate immediately the black bishop).

C) 19.Qxc4.


A) 19.Nd4 Bxd4 20.R5xd4 Nb6 seems to improve black’s position.

B) 19.Rd6 Bxd6 (19... Qc7 20.Rxd7 winning) 20.Rxd6

B.1) 20... Qc7 21.Nb5

B.1.a) 21... Qb8 22.Qxc4+ winning.

B.1.b) 21... Qc6 22.Nxa7+ winning the queen.

B.1.c) 21... Qc5 22.Rd5 Rde8 (22... Qxd5 23.Nxa7 mate) 23.Rxc5+ Nxc5 24.Qxc4 with Q+B+P against 2R.

B.1.d) 21... Rde8 22.Re6 Rxe6 (22... Qd8 23.Nxa7 mate) 23.Nxa7+ Kd8 24.Bxc7+ Kxc7 25.Qxe6 with Q+P against R.

B.1.e) 21... Rhe8 22.Re6 similarly as B.1.d).

B.2) 20... Qc5 21.Rd5 Qc6 (21... Qb4 22.a3 and the queen can no longer defend c4) 22.Nd4 Qa6 (22... Rhe8 23.Nxc6 Rxe2 24.Nxa7 mate; 22... Rde8 23.Nxc6 Rxe2 24.Nxa7+ Kd8 25.Nxe2 with a piece ahead) 23.Ndb5 Nb6 (23... Qc6 24.Nxa7+; 23... Rde8 24.Qxc4+ Kd8 25.Rxd7+ Kxd7 26.Qc7+ Ke6 27.Nd4 mate) 24.Rc5+ Kd7 25.Rc7 mate.

C) 19.Qxc4 loses miserably to 19... Be3+.

I’d go for line B). Time to post and check.

Oct-17-08  drnooo: Not that its very useful, but with these puzzles I never look at the players beforehand and try to back up, play through the game to the puzzle, and then guess the winners name. It seemed a modern game, but because of the petite combination it resembled a Capa, it was so simple.
Oct-17-08  dzechiel: White to play (19?). Material even. "Difficult."

Back from vacation. The only thing wrong with a four day cruise to Ensenada, Mexico is the tourist portion of Ensenada. You are constantly accosted by young men trying to get you drunk, young children besieging you to buy Chiclets and young women trying to braid your hair. It's good to be back in the U.S.A.

Looking at today's position, I soon came up with several forcing candidate moves (19 Rxc5, 19 Rxd7, 19 Bxh6, 19 Qxc4), but all of them quickly failed to pan out.

Then I started looking for a candidate move that was forcing without being a capture, and spotted

19 Rd6

This has all the hallmarks of a good candidate move in that it has a threat (20 Rxc6+) and there are limited good replies. Black could try 19...Qc7, but after 20 Rxd7 white has picked up a piece and has a DOUBLE attack on the black queen. Nope, it looks like black will have to play

19...Bxd6 20 Rxd6

Once again on the queen. But now black has other problems. The pawn on c4 is under attack by the white queen and once that capture is made (with check), black will find himself in a world of hurt.

Black must save the queen AND protect that pawn.


Black could try 20...Qc7 but after 21 Nb5 the queen will have to go to c5 anyway, and 22 Rd5 will be even more powerful.

21 Rd5

Once again on the queen.


On 21...Qb4 22 Rb5 looks very strong.

22 Nd4

The black queen has run out of squares. After 23 Qxc4+ black can resign.

Time to check.

Oct-17-08  YouRang: <agb2002><Analysis:

A) 19.Nd4 Bxd4 20.R5xd4 Nb6 seems to improve black’s position.>

Your post made me realize that my post above had an ambiguous move:

After 19.Nd4 Bxd4, I said <20.Rxd4>, but it should have been <20.R1xd4>.

This is better than 20.R5xd4 since 20...Nb6 is answered by 21.Nb5! (our knight is guarded by the f5 rook and it threatens Nxa7#).

Oct-17-08  MostlyAverageJoe: <johnlspouge: ... Toga II 1.3.1 verifies my variations>

Alas, if you run it longer, it switches to 19.Nd4 as the better choice (you need to go 19 plies deep).

This said, there is no question that 19.Rd6 is much prettier.

Three of the engines I tried (Hiarcs/DeepShredder/Toga) show the same behavior: first they pick Nd4, then switch to Rd6, and then finally figure out that Nd4 is better after all. Toga took more time to get there. Fruit, the precursor of Toga, never got there on its own and needed to be pushed 4 plies into Nd4 line before it saw the light.

It seems that this position after what appears to be the strongest play for both sides (according to the engines) 19. Nd4 Bxd4 20. R1xd4 Nb6 gives engines trouble:

click for larger view

It takes a while to figure out that now Rd6 is stronger than Nb5. The rest goes something like: 21. Rd6 Rxd6 22. Rxd6 Qe8 23. Re6 Qd7 24. Re7 ...

click for larger view

Black still has even material, but not for long. The black Q is in trouble:

... Qc6 25. Rc7+, forked

... Qd4 25. Rc7+, mate in 10

... Qf6/Qh325. Re8+, mate in 3

The evaluations here are about +11, depending on how the black loses his Q.

Oct-18-08  Woody Wood Pusher: <MAJ> What about 20..Rde8 for black

20..Rde8 21.Qf1,Nf5 22.Nb5,Nxd4 23.Nxa7+ (+ -)

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