mia analisi: Il
La lezione del GM Schwartzman: If you have had the good fortune of finding the right solution for this puzzle, than
you might be wondering how come I showed it - it does look a little easy, doesn't it?
Well, yes, to some of you it might have. But, just wait until I tell you in what circumstances this game took place! It was February 1st, 1925, when Alekhine attempted to set a world record by playing no less than 28 games at once. You might be saying big deal - you might have even seen me play double that... Well, yes, except that Alekhine was BLINDFOLDED for this particular event!
Can you imagine playing 28 games simultaneously, while blindfolded? I certainly can't - the most I have ever been able to do is five. And that gave me such a headache, that I decided not to do it too often... However, I do like to play a single game blindfolded. As a matter of fact, I do it very often, for two reasons: it impresses people (especially kids) and it helps me with my regular games!
Yes, that's right - playing blindfolded does help. How do you calculate during a game? You do it in your head, right? I means this is what thinking ahead is all about! So, the more your mind is used to being able to visualize the chess board without actually looking at it, the better. When I started out playing chess as a little kid, in order to be able to visualize better, I used to try to say to which squares a knight can go to from a random position, without looking at the board. I guess the only difference between then and now, is that now I can visualize a few more pieces...
Anyway, it's one thing to play a blindfolded game, and it an entirely different thing to play it well. Alekhine definitely fits under the latter category! In that particular 1925 simultaneous, it took him 14 hours to win 22 of the games, draw 3, and lose 3. Impressive record, even if the exhibition hadn't been blindfolded! As to the quality of the play, this game stands witness.
Alekhine was playing with the black pieces, and the position we are looking at shows a clear advantage for him, due to the incredibly exposed white king. However, this doesn't mean black is winning so easily. After all, white does have a lot of pieces around his king, and he is currently threatening black's queen.
Furthermore, there is that knight on d3, which is incredibly strong, but also fairly vulnerable. The only one defending it is the queen, so if we were to indeed move the queen, it would be quite restricted in where it could go to. Because of this the variation after 1...Qb5 could turn out pretty bad for black.
The good news, though, is that we do not have to move the queen! Whenever you are dealing with a king as exposed as white's, and especially if you have the advantage of having its path back cut off, thinking about a checkmate is highly appropriate. Since the checks right now are not that attractive, the only way we could allow white to capture our most valuable piece, is if we can effectively replace it.
Interestingly enough, in this case the knight is proving to be a more than adequate replacement! Just look at the position after 1...Nd4!!
First of all, we already did something useful: we captured a pawn.
And a very important pawn, indeed! Now, with d4 gone, a check on e5 becomes a
very dangerous, if not deadly reality for white. So, what more natural way to
counteract that, than to capture our beloved queen with 2.ef5.
Well, since we are in the mood of taking pawns, why not snatch up another one with the natural 2...Nf5. Now, suddenly, there are two knights swarming the white king, and he is a a bit hindered in his attempts to move around, by his own pieces! With so many squares such as h2, g2, and f3, out of reach, the king is forced to choose between h3, where it would get checkmated right away with Nf2, or g4.
But after 3.Kg4 h5, there is not that much left to do either. 4.Kg5 is quickly met by 4...Bf6 checkmate, and the move made in the game, 4.Kh3 was promptly met by black's 4...Nf2 checkmate!
Talk about cornering a king... Anyway, this was a pretty neat combination, especially if you keep in mind that Alekhine found it blindfolded, and while playing dozens of other games at the same time. Do we need any further proof that Alekhine was a true genius? I doubt it...