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The In Houdini's Footsteps

Instructor The famous illusionist of the past Harry Houdini was known for his
impressive tricks in which he escaped from apparently impossible
situations. His "namesake," the computer program that is popular at the Houdini 4 Aquarium
Mark Dvoretsky moment, sometimes comes out with similar "tricks" when analysing by ChessOK
positions that at first glance look hopeless or very difficult, which have
arisen in practical games of the past or present. Getting to know these
kinds of examples broadens our conception of the boundaries of the
possible in chess and teaches us never to despair, but to stubbornly keep
Translate this page looking for hidden resources in any situation.
I already published the article "Saving Combinations" on this topic a few
years ago; you can find it in the Archives for October
and November 2005 and at for February 2006. The article
contains several difficult and, in my view, rather beautiful exercises for
independent solving. Now I offer you a new portion of these kinds of
problems, with which I recently supplemented my card index.
Mannheim 1914 and
the Interned Russians
The exercises are designed for strong players, but less sophisticated by Anthony Gillam
readers can just investigate the given variations, following the logic of the
search and checking the solutions. Meanwhile, in all the examples, both in
the previous article and in this one, the players did not manage to cope
with the problems that were facing them (and sometimes even the
commentators failed too). I hope that those who want to train seriously by
using my materials will consequently be more successful in their games.
In the first two examples the saving chance presented itself twice, and in
each game at a certain point it was possible not only to save yourself, but
even achieve a win.
Zueger – Landenbergue
Swiss Championship, Chiasso, 1991 Grandmaster Preparation:
Attack & Defence
by Jacob Aagaard

[FEN "2b2rk1/4R3/2pp3b/Q3p1n1/
2P1Nqp1/B2P4/P2NPpB1/5K2 w - - 0 33"]

A situation that is typical in one of the strategic schemes of the English
Opening. White has broken through on the queenside, and in exchange
his opponent, by sacrificing a piece, has created very dangerous threats
to the king on the opposite side of the board. It is very difficult to defend.
Bad, for example, is 33.Nxg5? Bxg5 34.Bxd6 Bxe7 35.Bxe5 (35.Bxe7
Qh2-+) 35...Qe3-+.
You have to return the extra piece to defuse the situation somewhat.
33.Re7xe5!! d6xe5
Nothing is changed by 33...Nxe4 34.Nxe4 de 35.Bxf8. In the case of an
exchange of queens, 33...Qxe5? 34.Qxe5 de 35.Bxf8 Kxf8, White is left a
pawn up in the endgame.
34.Ba3xf8 Ng5xe4
34...Bxf8 35.Qd8!? Nxe4 36.Nxe4= is not dangerous.
White managed to defend against direct threats, and there, in principle, it
is possible to stop calculating: as there was not anything better for him
anyway. In fact, the dangers are not over yet - his opponent can continue
the attack.
35...Qf4-c1+ 36.Kf1xf2 Bh6-e3+
If 36...g3+, then 37.Nxg3! Qe3+ 38.Kf1, and Black is forced to give
perpetual check: 38...Qf4+ 39.Kg1 Qd4+ 40.Kf1.
37.Kf2-g3 Be3-f4+ 38.Kg3-h4 Qc1-g1!

[FEN "2b2Bk1/8/2p5/Q3p3/2P1NbpK/
3P4/P3P1B1/6q1 w - - 0 39"]

Now White already has to look for perpetual check. Two pieces are
sacrificed for the sake of it!
39.Ne4-f6+! Kg8-h8!
39...Kxf8? is a mistake: 40.Qd8+ Kf7 41.Qe8+ Kxf6 42.Qf8+ Ke6
(42...Kg6? 43.Be4+) 43.Qxc8+ Ke7 44.Qxg4+/-.
40.Bf8-g7+! Kh8xg7 41.Qa5-c7+ Kg7xf6 42.Qc7-d8+ Kf6-f7 43.Qd8-
c7+ Kf7-f6 44.Qc7-d8+
But in the game White chose 33.Bxd6? Qh2! 34.Nxf2 g3 35.Qxe5. Now
quickly decisive was 35...Rxf2+ 36.Ke1 Qg1+ 37.Nf1 Rxf1+ (37...Nf3+! is
possible immediately) 38.Bxf1 Nf3+! 39.ef Qf2+ 40.Kd1 Qd2#, or 37.Bf1
Nf3+! (37...g2 does not let go of the win either). Instead of that Black
played "for beauty": 35...Bh3?.
[FEN "5rk1/4R3/2pB3b/4Q1n1/2P5/
3P2pb/P2NPNBq/5K2 w - - 0 36"]

I found this position in the good book Invisible Chess Moves, written by
Yochanan Afek and Emmanuel Neiman. From this, by the way, my
acquaintance with the given example also began: I went into Megabase,
found the game and discovered that several moves earlier White had to
solve a problem (which we already investigated) that was no less
interesting than this one.
Black's idea justified itself: his opponent missed a mate in one based on
two simultaneous pins: 36.Qxg3?? Qh1#.
Meanwhile, excessive aggression can be harshly punished.
36.Re7-g7+! Bh6xg7 37.Qe5xg7+! Kg8xg7 38.Bd6xf8+ Kg7xf8
39.Nf2xh3 Ng5xh3
On 39...Ke7, the simplest of all is 40.Nf3! Nxf3 41.ef. The queen is
excluded from the game forever, and the black king cannot fight alone
against multiple pawns.
A minor piece endgame arises with White two or three pawns up.
Schmidt – Gulko
Yerevan, 1976

[FEN "2b2k2/4r2p/p2p3b/n1pPpp2/1pP4q/
1P3P2/PBQ1RNK1/4RN2 w - - 0 28"]

The King's Indian was played, of course. Black has sacrificed a whole
rook, relying on the strength of the threat 28...Rg7+. His idea could have
been refuted by a reciprocal sacrifice, which would have allowed White to
switch to a decisive counter-attack.
28.Bb2xe5!! d6xe5 29.Re2xe5 Re7-g7+
29...Rxe5 30.Rxe5 is completely hopeless.
30.Nf2-g4! f5xg4 31.Re5-e8+
But just not 31.f4? Bd7, and Black wins.
[FEN "2b1R3/5krp/p6b/n1pP4/1pP3pq/
1P3P2/P1Q3K1/4RN2 w - - 0 32"]

Black's attack is exhausted, and his own king finds itself in a desperate
32...Bc8-d7 33.Qc2-e4+-
33.R1e7+ Qxe7 (33...Kf6 34.Re6+) 34.Rxe7+ Kxe7 35.Qf2!? Kd6 36.Qb2
also wins.
All other tries are significantly weaker.
The worst is 28.Ng3? Rg7 29.Nh1.

[FEN "2b2k2/6rp/p2p3b/n1pPpp2/1pP4q/
1P3PN1/PBQ1R1K1/4R2N b - - 0 29"]

In the case of 29...f4 the move 30.Bxe5! can be found, after which the
position remains unclear: 31.Rxe5 or 30...Bh3+ 31.Kg1 Rxg3+
32.Nxg3 Qxg3+ 33.Kh1 Qxf3+ 34.Rg2! de 35.Rxe5.
The move 29...Bf4! given by Boris Gulko sets more difficult tasks for his
opponent. But here too, contrary to his opinion, it is hardly possible to
evaluate the position unequivocally. White continues 30.Rg1 Bxg3 31.Kf1
f4 32.Nxg3 fg 33.Ke1 (33.Bc1!?) 33...g2+ 34.Rf2! (but just not 34.Kd1?
Qh2! 35.Rexg2 Qxg1+!), and in the case of 34...Bh3?! the move 35.f4!
equalises. You have to resort to more subtle methods such as 35...Ke8!
36.Qe2 (36.f4? Rg3!) 36...Kd8 37.f4 Bg4 38.Qc2! Rf7!. Then again, here
we have a typical computer scenario, so I will cut the variation off (I
probably should have done this a lot sooner).
But on 28.Nh2!? Black no longer finds a clear path to equalisation:
28...Bf4 (28...Rg7+? 29.Kh1 Bf4 30.Nd3+-) 29.Rh1 Rg7+ 30.Kf1 Bxh2
31.Ne4! Qh3+ 32.Ke1.

[FEN "2b2k2/6rp/p2p4/n1pPpp2/1pP1N3/
1P3P1q/PBQ1R2b/4K2R b - - 0 32"]
1P3P1q/PBQ1R2b/4K2R b - - 0 32"]

Here the variations are also purely computer-like. White remains the
exchange up everywhere, but taking advantage of that is problematic.
32...Bg3+ 33.Nxg3 Qxg3+ 34.Rf2! f4!? (34...Nb7 35.f4!) 35.Rxh7
32...Qxf3 33.Rexh2 Qe3+, and now either 34.Re2 Rg1+ 35.Rxg1 Qxg1+
36.Kd2 fe 37.Qxe4 Bg4 38.Qg2! Qxg2 39.Rxg2 h5+/=, or 34.Qe2 Rg1+
35.Rxg1 Qxg1+ 36.Kd2 fe 37.Qf2+ Qxf2+ 38.Rxf2+ Kg7+/=.
Wlodzimierz Schmidt chose a different retreat of the f1-knight, which by
strength is in the middle of the ones we have already looked at. Gulko
wrongly awarded it an exclamation mark.
28.Ne3? Rg7+ 29.Kf1 Qh2
The alternative 29...Bxe3 30.Rxe3 f4.

[FEN "2b2k2/6rp/p2p4/n1pPp3/1pP2p1q/
1P2RP2/PBQ2N2/4RK2 w - - 0 31"]

31.Re4? Bh3+ 32.Ke2 Qxf2+! 33.Kxf2 Rg2+ 34.Kf1 Rxc2+ loses. A draw
results from both the variation given by Gulko 31.Bxe5! Bh3+ 32.Nxh3!
(32.Ke2? Qxf2+!) 32...Qxh3+ 33.Ke2 de! 34.Rxe5! Rg2+ 35.Kd1 Rxc2
36.Re8+ Kg7 37.R8e7+ Kg6 38.R1e6+, and also 31.Rxe5! Bh3+
32.Nxh3! Qxh3+ 33.Ke2 Rg2+ 34.Kd1 de 35.Re2.
Let's go back to the game.

[FEN "2b2k2/6rp/p2p3b/n1pPpp2/1pP5/
1P2NP2/PBQ1RN1q/4RK2 w - - 0 30"]

Again, as on the 28th move, the terrible danger threatening the white king
can be neutralised by switching to an energetic counter-attack (this time it
is only enough for a draw). The variations are given in Gulko's notes.
30.Nfg4? Qh3+ with a subsequent 31...fg-+ does not work. But the game
finished like this: 30.Rd2? Rg1+ 31.Ke2 Rxe1+ (31...Bxe3! decided
things more quickly) 32.Kxe1 Bxe3 33.Nd1 Bxd2+ 34.Qxd2 Qxd2+
35.Kxd2 f4 (intending Bf5-b1). White resigned.
30...f5xg4 31.Bb2xe5!
But not 31.Nxg4? Qh3+ 32.Kg1 Be3+ 33.Rxe3 Bxg4-+.
31...d6xe5 32.Re2xe5 Bc8-d7! 33.Qc2-e4!
Another path to a draw: 33.Rf5+! Kg8! 34.Qe4! Rg6!= (Dvoretsky).
Another path to a draw: 33.Rf5+! Kg8! 34.Qe4! Rg6!= (Dvoretsky).
33...Rg7-f7! 34.Re5-e7! g4-g3 35.Re7xf7+ Kf8xf7 36.Qe4xh7+! Kf7-f8
A sharp battle ends in perpetual check.

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by Mark Dvoretsky
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