donderdag 28 februari 2008

The most beautiful move he (n)ever played.

It was the fifth round of the Hastings international open tournament. New years day 2006. Willy Hendriks the Dutch IM, had a good start in this tournament and with 4/5 he was playing board 5 on stage, and had the white pieces against Tim Spanton. Spanton had only a rating of 2018, but was one of the big surprises of the tournament so far.

After a 9 ..., Qe7 the folowing position had arisen.

Willy felt like he was in a dream. Could this be for real? New years day in an international tournament and here he sat on the big stage with the chance to play the move of the year! He would make headlines in chess magazines all over the world.

He started to think back to the discovery of the move. It was a few years ago. He was analysing an anoying sideline of the bishops opening. In every variation black apeared do come out at least equal. But for some reason Fritz didn't agree. At first Willy thought that the evaluation function probably had a bug. He stood up to get a cup of coffee while entering the strange and apparantly losing move that Fritz prefered. But when he subsequently entered the obvious refutation, there was a blow so unexpected that he almost spilled his complete cup of coffee over the computer. In an instant he knew what was going on. The "refutation" he had played allowed the most unexpected combination he had ever seen.

After checking the analysis he knew that this sideline was not to worrie him anymore. But Willy doubted very much if his discovery (his were after all probably the first human eyes to witness this combination), would ever see the light of day in a game, since this sideline was not popular at all.

And here, on a day pregnant of expectation, he found himself on what felt like the road to chessnirvana. He would write history today.

The last move he had played was 10 Qf4. This was the move Fritz had prefered despite the obvious refutation 10 ..., Nh5, chasing the queen away and winning the knight. This was indeed the move black played, fast and with confidence. Perfect! this was precisely the attitude that would allow the grandiose finale Willy had in mind. He played 11 Bxf7+ expecting nothing else than the apparent killer move 11 ..., Kh8.

Now the queen is hanging, the bishop is pinned and the knight as well as the game apear to be beyond salvation. Willy began to imagine how he would attract attention for the final moves. At first he would sink his head in his hands as if he were in desperation, then he would act like he was in denial. And as soon as his gesturing and obvious desperation had attracted enough audience, he would play out his hand as if he were in a pokergame. Winning the pot with four aces. Because this was what he had in his sleeve for all those years:

12 Qg3!!!. A supermove. The queen still defends the knight, but it does so by moving the queen to a square where it can also be taken. But look what happens if black would indeed take the queen. 12 ..., Nxg3 13 Ng6!! another stunner. And now 13 ...., hxg6 14 hxg3 and mate next move!

And while dreaming about a wild night in a bar surrounded by chessgroupies, he saw suddenly everything evaporate. After some thinking, never contemplating 10 ... Kh8 at all, black played 10 ..., Rxf7 allowing white a slightly better endgame. Willy won easily, but completely unnoticed. He went to bed early that night.

10 opmerkingen:

Glenn Wilson zei


transformation zei

perfectly told, such a story!


and, of course, in all stories, that a man tells of others, he is really just truly describing his own self


Phaedrus zei

Thank you Glenn and Transformation.

Allthough this all is very much a true story (the game can be found in the big databases), the inner dialogue is my projection, mainly revealing how would think and react in a simmilar situation.

In reality Willy is a very cool guy who would not try to atract attention in the way I described. He lives with a very nice woman, so the part about the chessgroupies may tell you more about my sick brain than about Willy's plans for that night.

I based this Post on a lecture Willy gave at the centennial celebration of our chessclub. When I asked him if I could use it on the internet he kindly gave me permission, which is no small thing, because the keymove was not to be found anywhere on the net untill today.

transformation zei

your sick brain? not hardly!

many have suggest that they thought i was very obscessive-compulsive. yes, it is true enough. i have been found out!

but there is more: i always make it a point to say, not really so much as 'obscessive' alone, but 'highly committed', that is what i am.

i help them to understand this by distinguishing the two--the big essential difference being that one is blind, and the other constructive, resolute, and guided.

Polly zei

I love the commentary! That would have been a very cool way for the game to go.

Phaedrus zei

Thank you Polly,

English is not my native language, and I didn't use it on a regular basis before starting this blog.

Getting some drama in this story, i must confess, toke quite some effort.

You are the queen of the narrative in blogging. So your positive respons to this post makes my day.

Temposchlucker zei

Would targetscanning be enough to find this combination?

Phaedrus zei

Hello Temposchlucker,

Target scanning always helps to get deeper into the position. And as a matter of fact, I saw this combination when Willy paused at his lecture and gave us time to think (for the sceptics, there were about 30 people present at the lecture who can testify i did). But of course that is not really a big deal, since Willy already had announced what the subject of this part of his lecture was. So I was triggered.

But after the lecture we spoke about the reasons that makes it so hard for people to find this move in a game. Willy told me that he had tested the first position and had asked grandmasters up to 2600 if Qf4 was a move in this position.

Without any exception they all rejected the move, pointing at 10 ..., Nh5. We both thought that a move like 12 Qg3 is probably blocked because a grandmaster would never check apparently bad moves. In your words we would probably have said that the motor skills block an analysis of this move.

So target scanning helps (as I was able to prove when I found 12 Qg3), but in the position at move 10 an in itself very useful mechanism (not analysing obvious bad moves) dissuades strong players from applying it.

Polly zei

Thank you for such kind words. I write like I'm talking.

Your English is better then my Dutch will ever be. I have found in my European travels that outside of Great Britain the Dutch seem to have the best command of the English language. I never seem to have trouble getting around the Netherlands whereas I was having a lot of problems commuicating in Spain last week.

Phaedrus zei

Hi Polly,

The dutch are politically and culturaly very much oriented on the US and the UK. I guess that the second worldwar had a lot to do with that.

As a result of that it is recquired for every scholar to follow english classes throughout highschool.

It makes it for english speaking people very easy to get around in the Netherlands.

Unfortunately these english classes are no guarantee for flawless grammatics and spelling as you can see in my blog.