Saturday, October 2, 2010

Stampeding Horses

In chess, we often see two Bishops working in tandem to achieve victory.  But two Knights jumping tactically in harmony is a rare sight even in grandmaster play.  This post features such occurrence made even more beautiful by a two-Rook sacrifice and a Queen sacrifice.

Portsmouth, 1948
Italian Game: Classical Closed Variation

1. e4, e5
2. Nf3, Nc6
3. Bc4, Bc5
4. c3, Qe7
5. 0-0 ....

Making the e4 pawn invulnerable.  This is the Closed Variation.  In Greco Gambit White allows the e4 pawn to be taken by the immediate 5. d4 in return for an open file.

5. .... d6
6. d4, Bb6
7. b4, Bg4
8. a4, a5
9. b5, Nd8
10. Ba3, f6

The move supports the e5 pawn as the d6 pawn is pinned.

11. Ra2? ....

A useless move. Where thou goest, Mr. Rook?

11. .... Ne6

The Knight intends to post itself on f4.

12. dxe5, fxe5
13. Qd5, Bxf3
14. Qxb7 ....
A lesson in move prioritization.  If 14. Qxe6 then 14....Bxe4.  Definitely not 14. gxf3 because of 14....Qg4+,15. Kh1 Nf4.

14. .... Qg5!!

Black decides the keep the Bishop instead of the Rook, as the former is more important in sustaining the attack.

15. Qxa8+, Ke7
16. g3, Nf4!!!

Threatening mate at h3.

17. Re1 ....

Worthless, but White has nothing better. If 17. h4 then 17....Qg4, 18. Re1 Qh3 and mate next move at g2 or h1.

17. .... Qh5!!

Placing the Queen at a strategic location.  If 18. gxf4 then Black still wins with 18....Qh3.

18. Nd2, Nf6!!!

The winning move, but more surprises are still to come.

19. Qxh8, Qxh2!!

A beautiful Queen sacrifice.  Black clinched his victory.  The rest of the moves followed naturally.

20. Kxh2, Ng4+
21. Kg1, Nh3+
22. Kf1, Nh2 mate.

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