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Test your chess: daily chess puzzle

May 14, 2015

Black to play and win

From: many games, see below

 

Solution

 

The position was the weekend puzzle in last weekend's Financial Times column by Leonard Barden. He wrote that it is a Dragon Sicilian opening trap which has deceived three grandmasters.

On inspection, I couldn't solve it: 1…Nd4 just simplifies into a position where white has a space advantage, and I couldn't see how to trap up fork a minor piece; so as is my wont, I tore the article out (sans solution), and took it with me on a dog walk….and the solution quickly came to me.

1…Bd4! is a surprise exchange, but once seen, is easy: 2 Bd4 e6 and if the Knight retreats to e3, 3…e5 traps the bishop, or if 3 Nf4 e5 is Purdy's 'potassium cyanide' and forks the minor pieces.

Having thrown away the solution, I don't know which three GMs Leonard was referring to, but a quick search of Megabase 2012 showed the following:

The games highlighted were those in which black found the tactic. In the others, he didn't, playing 1…Bb7 or 1….Nd7e5. A further search in my TWIC database shows two more occurrences in 2014, in only one of which 1…Bd4 was played. I have a lot of sympathy for all those black players who played routine moves: I suspect I would have done so too.

Three final points:

Gata Kamsky fell into the trap against Sergey Tiviakov; Gata then put up the stoutest resistance, the game lasting 68 moves;

Sergey won with the trap twice, with a gap of 13 years, the second time with white being Erwin L'Ami: two top scalps;

Vladimir Georgiev, a c 2,500 player, won with the trap in May 1999, and then fell into the trap, playing white in December 2001. This strikes me as curious. An eighteen move win followed by an eighteen move loss?!

 

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