mia analisi: Il
La lezione del GM Schwartzman: This was a neat little position, wasn't it? And it comes from a game between
two very well know players too...
What I found interesting in this position was the false sense of safety that black must have had right about here. You see, he made great efforts to achieve an important goal: contain white's pieces. And he succeeded admirably! Just look at how well the white pieces are guarded: the rook on a8 controls a nice open 'a' file, but that's about it, since it seems that the knight on b8 is defending the king quite well. Then look at the rook on f1 - it has no real file to go to. Both the 'd' and 'e' files are in black's hands, and the 'f' one seems very securely closed. The bishop on c5 doesn't fare much better either: out of all the squares it can go to, only two are actually available. Finally, the masterpiece of black's containment plan: the queen on h2. It is hard to imagine a much more passive queen. She is stuck between her own pawns, can can not leave, not only because she doesn't have to many places to go to, but also because there is a certain checkmate threat on g2 that she has to worry about.
So, it looks like black's plan was a success - his position is safe. BUT... if there is one thing that we have learned in this wonderful game of ours, is that when there are combinations around, nothing is what it seems... And this is certainly the case in our situation.
The truth is that, as always, the combination doesn't just happen, out of the blue, that is. The characteristics of this position, especially black's disadvantages, are what allow white the do what he is going to do... And there are a few of these disadvantages. Whether I want it or not, I have to start with the king... On c8, it is more than a little exposed, the white pawn on b6 is a little too close for comfort, and the adjacent knight is the only thing between it and danger, in the form of the rook on a8. The rook on e5 is also the only thing staying between white and trouble, this time in the form of the queen on h2, which even when passive, can send her regards all the way to b8. Last but not least, there is the pawn on f6: it too is the only thing staying between the rook on f1 and the 8th rank.
Now here is the deal: when there are too many such "only" defenses, something isn't right. And truly so! One single sacrifice doesn't achieve anything, for instance, 1.Qe5 doesn't cause lethal trouble for black. But if you put two sacrifices together, things just start happening! And since sacrificing the lower value first is usually the best idea, let's look at 1.Rb8!
If black wants even a shot at further survival he has to take
back with 1...Kb8. Apparently, there is nothing wrong with his
position... Bd6 doesn't work, so it looks like white's sacrifice didn't achieve
anything. In reality, though, it did exactly one thing, but a rather important
one: it relocated the king from c8 to b8. What this does to the poor king, is
set it directly opposite the b6 pawn, and what it means is ... classical last
rank checkmate position.
All white has to do is get a major piece to the 8th rank, and if you remember, there is only one thing stopping the rook from getting there: the pawn on f6. Getting rid of it proves a joke after 2.Qe5!
Interestingly enough, no matter what black does, he will end up
checkmated shortly. Possible lines:
2...fe5 3.Rf8 Qe8 4.Re8 Rd8 5.Rd8 checkmate
2...Ka8 3.Ra1 Ra2 4.Ra2 checkmate
2...Kc8 3.Qc7 checkmate
It is absolutely amazing how just a couple of moves have managed to turn what looked like a safe position for black into a total disaster. One thing is sure: Alekhine enjoyed this win, and Reshevsky never forgot it, for the rest of his life!