Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Problem moves

A spectacular game with a number of tactical blows will normally more appeal the audience than a more positional played game. Sacrifices and counter-sacrifices are not only fascinating but often also much easier to understand than the so called quiet moves. It is no coincidence that I chose in my blogarticle mijn mooiste zet for only tactical positions. Explaining well the concept of critical moves, is not easy with quiet moves which often differ little or nothing with the alternatives.

Nevertheless I won't deny that I can also enjoy a lot the quiet moves. As there are often in a game many of them which are trivial, it is not redundant to describe what can be a beautiful quiet move. In my opinion the most important characteristic is that the move must be rare and at the same time functional. Recently I bumped via the blog of David Smerdon on a game between L'Ami-Krasenkow in which the remarkable move Bh8-a1 was played.
[Event "Unive Open"] [Site "Hoogeveen NED"] [Date "2013.10.21"] [Round "4.2"] [White "Erwin L’Ami"] [Black "Mikhail Krasenkow"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "D31"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "3r3B/5k1p/8/p7/Rp6/8/6PP/6K1 w - - 0 36"] [PlyCount "56"] 36. Ba1 {(A retreating bishop move on the long diagonal is a rare move in practice. White gets a big advantage wit this move but eventually does not manage to win the game.)} Rd1 37. Kf2 b3 38. Kf3 Rd2 39. Rf4 Kg8 40. Rg4 Kf8 41. Bg7 Kf7 42. Bh8 Rd8 43. Rg7 Ke6 44. Rxh7 a4 45. Rh6 Kf7 46. Bb2 Rd2 47. Rh4 Rxb2 48. Rxa4 Rc2 49. Rb4 Rc3 50. Kf2 Rc2 51. Kg3 Rc3 52. Kh4 Rc2 53. Kh3 b2 54. Rb6 Ke7 55. g4 Kd7 56. Kg3 Kc7 57. Rb3 Kd6 58. Rb8 Kc5 59. h3 Kc4 60. Kf4 Rd2 61. Rc8 Kd3 62. Rb8 Kc4 63. Rc8 Kd3 1/2-1/2'/>
A bishop in the corner has a minimum of squares to where it can move to. So moving a bishop on purpose from one corner to the other one, is not what we see every day on the board. Thanks to an old article of the fantastic website of  Tim Krabbe we know that this move happens once per x thousands of games. Next would be nice to know which move is the most rare one. Well except some minorpromotions all moves have been played at least once in practice. This with the restriction if we use the long notation. If we use the short notation then I am not so sure of that even if we don't take minorpromotions into account. 

A knight on the rim is grim, is a known proverb so we won't play a knight easily to the side of the board. Putting a knight in the corner is obviously even less done although not very rare as Herman Grooten recently illustrated in some articles on schaaksite: vier maal een paard op h1 en gespot 56 paard naar de hoek. Really weird it is when you put a knight in the corner when you have the choice between 2 knights. I mean you play a move like Nba8, Nca8, Ngh8, Nfh8, Nca1, Nba1, Nfh1, Ngh1. I played such move once in my career against Alexander Raetsky whom after the tournament became grandmaster.
[Event "Open Cappelle La Grande 7de ronde"] [Date "2005"] [White "Raetsky, A."] [Black "Brabo"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A85"] [WhiteElo "2460"] [BlackElo "2316"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2r3k1/1bn3pp/pn2p3/B3Np2/3P4/6P1/4PP1P/R4BK1 b - - 0 30"] [PlyCount "16"] 30... Nba8 {(Black has already a bad position so I do not find Nba8 much sillier than Nbd5 which would block blacks bishop. My opponent did not agree at all while the engines show little difference in evaluation between both moves.)} 31. e3 Nb5 32. Nd3 Rc2 $6 {(A try to become active but objectively it only worsens the position. )} 33. Nc5 Bc8 34. Bxb5 axb5 35. Bd8 b4 36. Rxa8 $2 {(The logical followup but there is a hidden resource which white misses. E.g. Ra7 would be over and out.)} b3 $2 {(With very little time remaining, I miss a golden opportunity.)} (36... Rc1 $1 37. Kg2 Rxc5 { (A complex endgame in which black has good surviving chances.)}) 37. Nxb3 Bb7 38. Ra1 1-0'/>
After the game my opponent laughed in my face for the most idiotic move he ever saw although even today I still don't find it a bad choice. Anyway at move 36 I missed a beautiful drawing chance with Rc1 followed up with Rxc5. Now I do admit that with such moves you won't win many games. The former worldchampion Anatoly Karpov succeeded once with such sort of move but he was at that time still very young see his 29th move Nfh1 against Fedin. Of the 8 possibilities, I found 7 but I assume Nba1 is likely also once played. A lot more unlikely it becomes if we add the condition that the move can't be played on the own side of the board. I mean Nba8 for white instead of black. Out of curiosity I challenge the reader to find such example from the tournamentpractice (so without cheating and constructing a game.) 

So far the special moves but really nice things can be seen when several quiet moves are combined. Recently Luc Winants deservedly informed us about a nice moment at move 31 and 32 in his game against Moens.
[Event "European Club Cup"] [Site "Rhodes GRE"] [Date "2013.10.23"] [Round "4.11"] [White "Andreas Moen"] [Black "Luc Winants"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C79"] [WhiteElo "2390"] [BlackElo "2534"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "3rr1k1/5qpp/2pBbp2/1pP5/p3PP2/2QR2R1/1P4PP/6K1 b - - 0 31"] [PlyCount "5"] [EventDate "2013.10.20"] 31... Ba2 {(Not the only possible move but a move which contains some poison and includes a very nice theme. )} 32. Rde3 Qb3 {(A bristol-clearance which is rarely seen in practice. )} 33. Qxf6 $4 Qxe3 0-1'/>
We may rightly speak here about a bristol clearance. A lighter piece clears space for a heavier piece. In the problemworld this is well known but in practice you see such things very rare. A step further goes the below analysed opening in which i already discovered in 1997 a lovely novelty. If I can trust my databases then the move is still not played in practice. 
[Event "BEL-ch Expert"] [Site "Namur"] [Date "2007.06.30"] [Round "1"] [White "Akhayan, Ruben"] [Black "Hovhanisian, Mher"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C11"] [WhiteElo "2247"] [BlackElo "2391"] [PlyCount "110"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Be3 Qb6 8. Na4 Qa5 9. c3 cxd4 10. b4 Nxb4 11. cxb4 Bxb4 12. Bd2 Bxd2 13. Nxd2 b5 14. Nb2 Nc5 15. Bd3 Qc3 {(The move was around 1997 pretty popular with players in the region of Bruges. )} 16. Bxb5 $6 {(The only move in practice which has been tested several times but the novelty which I discovered in 1997 is stronger. )} ( 16. Qb1 $1 $146 {(A turton-bristol clearance as the queen clears space for the rook of h1.)} Bd7 17. Ke2 f6 18. Rc1 Qa3 19. Nb3 Rc8 20. exf6 gxf6 21. Kf1 Kf7 $14) 16... Bd7 17. Bxd7 Nxd7 18. Na4 Qe3 19. Qe2 Qxf4 20. Rf1 Qxe5 21. Qxe5 Nxe5 22. Nf3 Nxf3 23. gxf3 Ke7 24. Kd2 Rhc8 25. Rab1 Rc7 26. Rfc1 Rac8 27. Rxc7 Rxc7 28. Kd3 g5 29. Rb5 Kd6 30. Ra5 Ke5 31. Nc5 h5 32. Nb3 Rc3 33. Ke2 Rc2 34. Kd3 Rxh2 35. Rxa7 f5 36. Nxd4 Rh1 37. f4 gxf4 38. Nf3 Kf6 39. a4 h4 40. Rh7 h3 41. Rh6 Kg7 42. Rxe6 h2 43. Nxh2 Rxh2 44. Rd6 Ra2 45. Rxd5 Kf6 46. Rd8 Kg5 47. Rg8 Kh4 48. Rh8 Kg4 49. Rg8 Kf3 50. Ra8 Kg2 51. Rg8 Kf2 52. Ra8 f3 53. Kc3 Kg3 54. Rg8 Kf4 55. Kb3 Ra1 0-1'/>
Here the heavier piece clears space for the lighter piece. In my old book of problems this is called a Turton-Bristol but I also found different names so there is discussion about what is the right name. Finally I also want to show a real problem which I built 20 years ago as a non clubplayer. There exist many more beautiful creations with this theme but it sounds to me anyway appropriate in the context of the blogarticle. The solution is mentioned on the bottom of the article as maybe some readers prefer to try first themselves although I expect it must be easy if you read this article.
Wit mates in 3
I strongly doubt that such problemmoves are possible in tournament practice. Anway schaakcompositities clearly show that chess hides many more possibilities than we will ever see in a boardgame. Therefore I also think that we shouldn't search too fast for the rare/ problem-moves in a game. It is not with that sort of moves that we will decide a game in our favor or you have to be a very strong player like the grandmasters in above examples. 


Loydse clearance: A piece clears space for another piece which uses it in the opposite direction.
1.Lh8 (dreigt Db2#), Kb7 2.Dg7+ Kb6 3.Db2#

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