mia analisi: Il
La lezione del GM Schwartzman: As you might have noticed, we are currently in the "moves that were made but
shouldn't have been made" mode. This one, from the game Filip-Darga, is no
exception. But before I get into that, please allow me to spend a few minutes
talking about this fascinating position.
You must admit it is indeed a very interesting position. White is an exchange and a pawn up. Further, his king is in apparent heaven compared with the black king on f5. Under normal circumstances, there should be absolutely no discussion about who would win this game. But hey, if it were normal circumstances, would we be looking at it?
The fact is that the more you get into the position, the more intriguing it becomes. Why? Mainly because white's king is closer to hell than to heaven, thanks to the incredibly threatening duo of bishop and queen black has put together on the h1-a8 diagonal. After all, if it were black to move, he would actually have a choice between three different checkmates: 1...Qh1, 1...Qg2, and 1...Qd1 followed by 2...Qh1. Why am I bothering with this, since it isn't black to move? Very simple: by establishing black's numerous threats, we are also establishing that white doesn't have too many choices - he needs to make sure that black doesn't get the move with even one of those threats looming above.
The good news though, is that black's king, in its fragile f5 position, is not even by far protected from checks, which means we should be able to have some fun with him. But here is where the trick lies! There are two very obvious things that we should be able to see after just one second of thought: all of black's threats are caused by the black bishop, and that we have the opportunity to capture the pawn on h7 with a check and a double threat on the bishop. Could things work out any better? Actually, they could!
Because if white is foolish enough, as Mr. Filip was in this particular case, to play 1.Qh7?? the unbelievable happens: black replies 1...Kg4 and is suddenly completely winning!
It is indeed incredible, but definitely true. The black king is
heading to the farthest point in white's king side setup: h3! There is this great
rule about chess, that pawns of the opposite color provide an even better protection than
those of the own color, simply because they can't be captured. In this case, what it
means is that once on h3, the only quick way of catching the king is on the h3-c8
diagonal, and catch him if you can...
Which is why black is winning. He now has the same checkmate threats as before, and if we try to stop him with a logical move such as 2.Rb7, he quickly moves 2...Kh3 and puts us in a situation where we can not possibly prevent the Qg2 and Qd1 threats without losing plenty of material. Other alternatives on the second move are not much better, since any check only helps black get his king into the nice cushy h3 square. I bet white was very suprised when he finally realized the dark reality of the situation after 1...Kg4.
So, this was a clear error caused by rushing. If you actually took the time to look at what happens after 1.Qh7, I am sure you would have realized that it is a bad move. The only reason white would choose this move is the false sense of safety offered by a check, and thus the too speedy decision of making the move. So, please let this be a lesson: never hurry, even if it looks good!
As to what the good move is for white, well, I awarded credit for two moves: 1.Rc5 and 1.g4, since they lead to the same main line. Both do the most important things: they check, thus not allowing black to mate, and they also keep the king out of h3.
After 1.g4 Ke5 2.Rc5 Bd5 (1.Rc5 Bd5 2.g4 Ke5 leads to the same position) white can force the black king in an uncomfortable position with 3.Qb8
And once the black king reaches e4, and there are no more checkmate threats, there is no limit as to what white can do to win the game. Simplest is probably 4.Qf4 forcing a queen trade and the entrance in a winning endgame an exchange up. What a different outcome from what happened in the game... And let's agree that neither 1.g4 nor 1.Rc5 are very hard moves to find. But in order to find them, you have to first find out what is wrong with the primary choice 1.Qh7. And that is what Mr. Filip didn't take enough time to do...