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Edgar Walther vs Mikhail Tal
Havana Olympiad qual-1 (1966), Havana CUB, rd 6, Oct-31
Sicilian Defense: Richter-Rauzer. Classical Variation (B64)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Mar-17-09  outplayer: I have solved it in 1 minute.
Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: <UnsoundHero: 34 Qxb4 helps black's attack by opening-up the b-file: 34...Rb7> You are correct that 34. Qxb4? loses to 34...Rb7. However, 35. Qxb4 (instead of 35. Nxb4?) is a forced best move that puts up enough resistance to make a game of it.

The computers will probably assess 35. Qxb4 as a win for Black against strong play, but at least it avoids an immediate loss and provides opportunity for Black to go wrong in practical OTB play.

For example, playing it out move by move against Fritz gives 35. Qxb4 Qa8 36. c3 h6 37. Re1 Ra4 38. Qb5 Ra5 39. Qb4 Qa7 40. Kc2 Ra2 41. g4 Nxb2 42. Nxb2 Qf2+ 43. Kb1 Rxb2+ 44. Qxb2 Qxe1+ 45. Ka2 Qxh4 (-2.31 @ 15 ply per Fritz), when Black is up a pawn with no weaknesses in a Queen and pawn ending. This is probably more than enough for Tal to win, but against lesser mortals White might be able to swindle a draw.

P.S.: <sfm> May be right in asserting that Tal had this game won by his 32nd move.

Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: Tal's 34...Ra7! might make for a good future Saturday or Sunday puzzle. On the surface it sacs the pawn to offer White the chance to blunder and lose his Queen after 35. Nxb4? Qa8 36. c3 Ra1+! . On a deeper level, it appears to lead to a won endgame (or at least a clear and strong advantage) for Black after 35. Qxb4 Qa8! .
Mar-17-09  StevieB: Rats, I went after the king instead of the queen. I was ready to chase him all over the board.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: A deft queen trap by Tal. I am so used to his GIVING of the queen and not to the taking of it.

BTW,Doesn't "Taking of the queen sound slightly like "Wearing of the green"?-maybe a little cockney slang, perhaps.

Mar-17-09  cyclon: Woaw! Such a `simple` idea, but surprisingly difficult in the sense that "jailing" the Queen was not exactly first thing to be discovered on the `agenda`.
Mar-17-09  YouRang: So simple, and yet so unsolved by me. :-(

Can't believe I blew off a Tuesday puzzle, and I can't even argue about it being too hard for a Tuesday.

Mar-17-09  emde: Yeah, it might be easy, but it takes Tal to see it from the move 34. I wonder if he actually predicted that the queen would get trapped or did he just played the logical moves and glimpsed the possibility once the white knight was in place
Mar-17-09  njchess: I have to admit that I looked at this position for about two minutes before I hit upon a promising idea. I cannot see a checkmating solution, so I will go with gaining a material advantage.

36. ... Ra1+ 37. Kc2 Na5!! White's queen is mine since it cannot escape capture due to his king's movements.

Maybe Tal found checkmate but since this Tuesday, I'm willing to bet that this is the solution. Time to check.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: So why was today's problem so hard to solve? Possibly because we have to switch ideas from move to move.

A seeming mating attack 36... Ra1+ is followed by 37. Kc2 Na5 to trap the the queen. In some ways 37... Na5 is counter-intuitive because it moves a piece away from the action and it blocks the a file, which has up to now been black's greatest asset.

If we had been presented with the position after 36...Kc2, it is much easier to find the continuation:

click for larger view

Because Ra1 has already been played, we are less likely to be in king-hunt mode. Now it is fairly easy to spot that the white queen is trapped and to look for ways to attack it again.

I suppose the chess is sometimes like poker. In poker, it does not matter how much money you have put into the pot, but what pot-odds you get on your next bet.

In the same way, it doesn't matter how we arrive at a particular chess position. All that matters is the next move. From the starting position, 36...Ra1+ was an obvious try because white's response is forced. Then we need to visualise the position after 37. Kc2, without assuming that we need to continue with an attack against the king.

Great puzzle - very illuminating.

Mar-17-09  khursh: <YetAnotherAmateur: <<khursh> My first take 36..Ra3 if 37.Qc2 Ra1++>

Hate to burst your bubble, but 36. ... Ra3 37. bxa3 and the white queen is perfectly safe.>

yeah, I realized it later, sometimes my brain can't see danger. I consider it's healthy to analyze also wrong moves and thanks for your contribution.

Mar-17-09  Geronimo: Like <YouRang> I admit that I didn't solve this - although I only glanced at it before peeking and I can regularly solve through Friday without too much work. One reason for this being tough on some of us might be that we treat puzzles as questions of finding mate. Over the board this could easily go the other way, as I (we) don't go into every move with an idea that says "this is a tuesday puzzle, I'll look for mate in two or three...."
Mar-17-09  ruzon: I almost gave up trying to make 36...♘a3+ work, then trying to make 37...♘d2+ possible by deflecting the rook, then trying 36...♖a1+ 37.♔c2 ♘a3+ to trap the Queen, then finally realized the value of 37...♘a5 after 36...♖a1+ 37.♔c2 covers three flight squares and blocks two more for the Queen. Yippee.
Mar-17-09  SamAtoms1980: Hmmm..... After 36 ... Ra1+ 37 Kc2 Na5, where does poor little Donna go? Does she have a home?
Mar-17-09  WhiteRook48: no home for the queen
36...Ra1+! I thought that first, and then I changed to 36...Nd2+??
Mar-17-09  MaxxLange: Tal had the initiative for almost all of this game; White's Kingside pawn attack is frozen after the defensive 14. g3 ?, and he doesn't do much but defend after that

Surely it is dangerous for Black to play ...Qxh4 after 13 g4, right?

Mar-17-09  CHESSTTCAMPS: <Once:> wrote < So why was today's problem so hard to solve? .....> I thought that your post provided the best explanation as to why so many of the accomplished regulars on this site had difficulties with this puzzle. Undoubtedly, most of us have a specific mission in mind when we come up with a particular candidate move, e.g. 36...Na5 is directed towards winning the queen, 36...Ra1+ is directed towards quick checkmate. Shifting gears and trying to combine moves with disparate goals can be difficult.
Mar-17-09  PinnedPiece: So amazing was Tal's calculation ability. Able to see that the d5 pawn was deadly and could be leveraged.


Mar-17-09  Some call me Tim: Strange I did not even have a glint of an image of trapping the Queen. Like others I think I saw Tal and saw mate.
Mar-18-09  Some call me Tim: Walther has 98 games in this database. His claim to 15 minutes of fame is a win he botched against Fischer at Zurich 1959. Fischer included it in his My 60 Memorable Games and called it a swindle, but it is really just deplorable endgame play by Walther that earned Fischer a draw. E Walther vs Fischer, 1959
Mar-18-09  MaxxLange: what am I thinking, at 13 the KR is still holding the h4 pawn. 13 g3? is totally bad
Mar-18-09  MaxxLange: 13 g4 is better, with the idea of f5. Black will have to take on d4 before the knight can go to f5 to recapture - or before it sacs there. the passive defense strategy, trying to ride out the Q-side attack and recoil in the center, was crushed....maybe White can at least get a draw if he throws everything at the King
Mar-18-09  TheaN: Tuesday 17 March 2009


Material /+♙\ w: ♕ + ♖ + ♘ +6♙ b: ♕ + ♖ + ♘ + 5♙

Candidates: Ra1†, d4, Ne3, alternating, ages later, <[Ra1†]>

I just could NOT visualize this one. It took me well over half hour today. The strange thing is, these positions are easier to win OTB than as a puzzle. The trap which is the solution in this puzzle is a much more alert cause OTB as is a mating attack in a puzzle.

<36....Ra1† 37.Kc2> and now Black should discard any mating threats as they are not in this puzzle. No, the SIMPLE solution involves the know quite trapped White Queen. Can we attack it? Well, yeah:

37....Na5 38.Qa2 Rxa2 39.Nxa2 Nc4 > and White's Rook for Queen endgame is lost. Time to check, after AGES.

Mar-18-09  TheaN: 2/2

Well, maybe 30min is a bit too much, but I took well over 10min.

I'm going to work with a <week timelimit> of 15 minutes from next week on. Every puzzlesolving time will be deducted from these 15 minutes and I will forfeit the current and any remaining puzzles if I'm out of that time. Of course, I'll skim the later ones once or twice as I usually do; but I want these kind of tactics to jump out first, THEN I'll solve the difficult ones.

Premium Chessgames Member
  WCC Editing Project:

Queen trap Trick or Treat- this game was played on Halloween, 1966.

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