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Juraj Nikolac vs Jan Timman
Hoogovens (1979), Wijk aan Zee NED, rd 7, Jan-27
Zukertort Opening: Nimzo-Larsen Variation (A04)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Jul-29-05  white pawn: I got today's... and I knew why the answer was the correct one <sneaky> :-). It was quite simple, however. I'm just glad I get to add another notch to my "solved a Friday-puzzle belt..." Oh yeah, it's a real belt.
Jul-29-05  belka: I got it mainly I think because it's a puzzle. It's Black to move and win. Well, Black clearly can't win unless he wins pawns, and the only way to win pawns is to play Kc4 or Bxh3. The only move that does either is Bf1.

Over the board, I'd like to think because it's the only try, that I would have considered it, followed through to ...Kd3, and noticed that the Knight cannot defend f2.

Jul-29-05  ThomYorke: <Averageguy> I doubt that you got it. I don´t know why, but I doubt. I feel you´re lying.
Jul-29-05  brainzugzwang: <The King Returns1> Well, because this happened in a GM-strength international tournament, and because it happened at Move 56, I would guess time pressure might have been a factor? Back in 1979, I believe standard controls were at moves 40, 56, 72, 88, etc.

Although to be honest, I thought it was surprisingly easy for a Friday puzzle — once you sit down and reason out what Black needs to do to win: He needs to set his advanced pawns free; thus he needs to remove at least one White pawn; with the Knight covering the Bishop's point of entry at f1, Black must penetrate with his King; so Bf1, with the threatened capture of the h- and g-pawns, forces Nxf1, opening the door for the King to walk in and start eating pawns. Hey, if I solved an endgame puzzle, it must have been relatively simple!

Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: <Howardtheduck> <the pros are all the time the best they can be...> Good post and good points! I would qualify your last statement by saying "Masters consistently make best moves far more often than amateurs."

I think it's somewhat analagous to Golf where top amateurs can match the pros shot-for-shot 90% of the time, but with that small 10% difference the pros win nearly every round and practically every tournament.

Jul-29-05  brainzugzwang: <peabody88: I'm not sure 56... Bc8 would work since 57. Kb4 would block Black´s king path for infiltration. And after 57... Bxg4, 58.hxg4 h3 59.Nf1 blocks de advance of the pawn and wins the oposition of the kings.>

Beat me to it! The White King has too many squares available (b3-4, c3-4) to maintain opposition or keep Black from penetrating. Also, the after the moves you noted, the Knight can always hop between f1 and h2 when White needs a tempo.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Strange-white's horse was trapped in enemy territory for some time-now it will be trapped in its own zone--totally hopeless against a charging enemy king. Black hands over his bishop to usher in his king to cause havoc-or in NASCAR circles-Harvick upon the white camp.
Jul-29-05  notyetagm: < The King Returns1: How come GM Nikolac didn't see this coming? Or did he see it coming? If he did see it coming, then why would he play the moves that he played? If these puzzles are so easy, as many people say they are, then how come there is always a grandmaster sitting on the other side of the table who probably misses the coming combination? Are they stupid? Or are most of us patzers here really playing at grandmaster strength?>

I could not agree with you more. "Oh, it's so easy" they all say. <Well, they are given a position with a known tactical solution.> They already know all the variations work out in the position. In a real game no one is sitting over their shoulder telling them "Psst, if you sac the bishop, I know it looks crazy but all the variations work out to a forced win" or "Don't play the bishop sac because White has an incredible defensive resource five moves into your principal variation which wins the game for him".

<I quickly saw the basic idea of deflecting the overworked d2-knight, the knight that is trying to simultaneously keep the Black a6-bishop out of f1 and the Black king out of c4, but do all the variations really work?> Is White really completely helpless against the penetration of the Black king after 57 ♘xf1 ♔c4? I spent quite a bit of time convincing myself that because <a knight on the rim is dim> White would have great difficulty defending his kingside with his f1-knight. In particular I saw that it was impossible for White to keep the Black king out of d3 (the blindspot for the f1-knight) and then e2 (since ♘f1-g3 is not possible because of the Black h4-pawn). But all this analysis, looking for the best possible White defense, was far from easy.

This superficial analysis is the reason patzers lose games. <They see an idea and just "assume" it works, totally oblivious to some nuance four moves into the principal variation which wins the game for their opponent.> In this position, for example, after the sacrifice of the Black bishop (56 ... ♗f1! 57 ♘xf1), if White had been able to play ♘f1-g3 then the bishop sacrifice may well have been a blunder.

Jul-29-05  jackmandoo: ok i dont see how this wins, white gets a free bishop and keeps his horse. maybe i am missing something but all black can do is move his king around.
Jul-29-05  Kajtek: I think it's easy to see the first move, but maybe not the exact continuation.
Jul-29-05  notyetagm: Do you think White would have drawn this position if he had just not decentralized his king? <I mean, what is the point of the White king maneuver ♔b4-♔b5-♔b4-♔a5?> White must have been thinking that there was no danger to his kingside but why not just hold tight and keep the king near c3/b4 just to be safe? Then the White king defends the c4-square from invasion by the Black king, the White knight defends the f1-square from invasion by the Black bishop, <no White piece is overworked>, and then Black's winning combination based on deflecting the overworked d2-knight (56 ... ♗f1! 57 ♘xf1 ♔c4) is impossible.

Jul-29-05  notyetagm: <jackmandoo: ... maybe i am missing something but all black can do is move his king around.>

That's the whole point of the sacrifice, my chess friend. After the deflection sacrifice 56 ... ♗f1! 57 ♘xf1 ♔c4, Black intends to win by playing ... ♔d3-♔e2-♔xf2 and then destroying the White kingside pawn structure, promoting a pawn or two in the process. White has no defense to this simple winning plan.

Jul-29-05  Colombiano: Hi. This is the second time that I know of a "poisoned bishop". The first time was when I studied history and heard about Cardenal Richelieu. Todays it was a good and instructive puzzle. Thanks
Jul-29-05  Dick Brain: Good, but it's a simpler example of Shirov's idea of giving up a piece for a tempo and king penetration so it should not be hard if you're familiar with the other game. Topalov vs Shirov, 1998
Jul-29-05  Shokwave: Very easy for a Friday puzzle...there just aren't any other options that do anything. Saw it immediately.
Jul-29-05  teme: I saw this fast. Great game! I think this should have been a draw I guess he thought he had draw and didn't see it.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: 56.Ka5 was a terrible blunder. Maybe Nikolac was in time troubles or simply not very concentrated on the game. 56...Bf1! is a beautiful move but really not extremely difficult. I think that any first class club player (elo 1900-2000) should find and calculate it in game over the board.
Jul-29-05  nateinstein: I'm with shockwave and hangover, this puzzle is easy, but perhaps in the fact there is no other move...
Jul-29-05  fgh: 5 seconds. Either the kingside gets whitewashed or the black king penetrates.
Jul-29-05  teme: <fgh: 5 seconds> Same.
Premium Chessgames Member
  al wazir: <The King Returns1: How come GM Nikolac didn't see this coming? . . . Or are most of us patzers here really playing at grandmaster strength?>

I'll take a stab at that one. Chess is a difficult game. Even GMs make errors that are obvious in retrospect. A computer program would not have made Nikolac's mistake, but computers are barely powerful enough to make up for not having the positional intuition of a strong GM.

I believe chess games end in a win *only* if someone makes a mistake. The only reason GMs don't usually make a crucial mistake in the first 20 moves or so is that they play well analyzed openings. I believe this would be demonstrated in a strong tournament using Fischer randomization. If that ever happens you will see games won in 15 moves because of blunders.

Jul-29-05  black knight c6: simple thought process... black needs promotion, bishop is an obvious sac for passed pawn, c8s to slow, but after Bc1, NxB, K moves in and games won. nice
Jul-30-05  black knight c6: <Richard Taylor> No, black's bishop is FAR better than whites knight. 2 reasons: its on the same colour as all whites pawns, and knights are generally better n closed positions, but here it isnt weaving through the pawns pissing black off like it should be- its stuck in the lower ranks, cramped and is the only one defending a complete loss to black by preventing the king coming through, and so black capitalises on this overworked defender - and if you can captilatise on an overworked defender or capitlalise on any piece in any way, then its a bad piece! remember- in every position theres usually an exception to common guidelines and motives- and here there is.
Jul-30-05  melianis: I keep on wondering which was the last move for white to get the knight harrassing the kingside pawns. I think there might be something in 33.Rb1 but the continuations are way too hard and time-consuming for me.
Nov-13-05  Averageguy: <Thomyorke> <I doubt that you got it. I don´t know why, but I doubt. I feel you´re lying.> Why me, and not the other kibitzers who claim to have found the solution?
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