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It’s Your Move: daily chess puzzle # 117

September 19, 2015

White to play and win? Or draw? Or lose?

set the pieces up, pour yourself a sherry, g&t, or your favourite tipple; have the bottle to hand, to top up, and study the following. Perhaps, better still, set the clock ticking, and give yourself a sensible amount of time to decide how you would play this position in practice.

Bilek v Ghitescu, Hamburg, 1965




White offered a draw here, and who can blame him? If I were white, I would take the perpetual too, 98 times out of 100.

If though I were in a must win situation, and if I had ample time on my clock, I would still on 1 time out of 100 take the perpetual, but the other time I might, just might, play 1 Nf6: especially if I flunked it, since even after 1…Qf6, the weaker of Black's two captures, the best White can hope for is a perpetual: 2 Qh5+ Kg7 3 Rg5+[] Qg5[] and White only has his Queen left, and can't fork/skewer king and bishop. [my engine says he has perpetual]

But 1 Nf6? is better met by 1…Rf6!, the more obvious move too, since the rook move creates luft for the king on f8. It isn't too hard to get to the following position:


And here, my intuition would say 'Black is escaping' 'might be a draw'. My chess knowledge might say 'is there a Wei Yi immortal checkmate here'? (there isn't, though more engine analysis might perhaps throw up something) my 'seeing how the top GMs defend' brain would say 'I wonder if 7…Rf5 or 7…Bf5 is a serious spanner in the works?' (in fact, 7…Bf5! kills White's attack).

So, 1 Nf6 loses, I think.

So, Bilek was right to take the draw?

No, White is winning in the original position.

If you too took the draw, and didn't find anything better, I suggest you look again, with the knowledge that there is a winning move: but one I would never see in one hundred occasions.




1 Rf3.


Obvious once you are shown it.

And insightful when you study the resultant position, for instance with Black playing a null move like 1…a5; then 2 Nf6 Rf6 3 Rf6:


I wonder at what level of player 1 Rf3!! is obvious in a game?


Postscript: the game itself

White made a wonderful sacrifice, 23 Rf6!! to reach the puzzle position. Wonderful because it is dramatic, though in fact it was forced, since otherwise his Queen was about to be trapped by …Rf7-h7. So, I suspect, Bilek was baling out a well played Maroczy Bind game for a draw.

(diagram from Chessbase's online database iPad app)


From → Chess

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