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Daily Chess Puzzle: 40th anniversary edition

January 15, 2018

Today’s problem is from my game 40 years ago today against Tigran Petrosian. I was one of the England Junior Squad playing the former World Champion in a simul in London.

My school mate Nigel Short was also playing:


(I am pictured right at the far end of the picture, with a full head of dark hair obscuring my face. Alas, no more). Nigel won, one of his many early signs of his truly great ability.

chess 1978

alas, all that hair was quickly to go….

Since the start of 2018, I have decided to adopt the style of only saying which side is to play: and not giving an idea if the move wins or otherwise, unless on occasion I think signposting would be helpful. Instead, the problems are posed with the instruction to decide what you would play, as in a game.

Black to play


Petrosian-Beardsworth, London (simul) 15/1/1978


The position arose from the Benko gambit: in 1978, a very modern, newly developed opening. Tigran had played a quick e4-e5 opening the position, whilst giving up his extra pawn. The position was unbalanced, and I suspect at the time I was just trying my hardest to play decent moves, with no thought to whether I might be winning or losing.

I chose the weak 1…Ne5?, met by 2 Rg7+ and a simplification to a position in which I now, with the benefit on engines, know was -+, but I could only draw. The final position was:


Position after 41 Qc3; 1/2-1/2

I still remember vividly the broad, warm, smile which Tigran gave me as we shook hands. That memory will last a lifetime.

It was only with the help of engine analysis a few years ago that I saw this I could have done better. Firstly, 1…Bd4 is strong, and maintains Black’s edge, but best of all is 1…Raa2!


The motif is deflection: the aim is deflect the N to a2, so that it no longer controls d5, so that after (e.g.) 1 Na2 Ne5 wins, since White can no longer interpose on the h1-a8 diagonal (Black threatens both the Qd3 and Qh1+) on d5.


With the support of engines, lots more lines can be explored: but a key one is (1 Na2 Ne5) 2 Rg7+ Kh8! since 2…Kg7? permits 3 Be5+.


r5k1/4R1bp/2qp2p1/2p5/5B2/2NQ1nPP/Pr3P2/2R2K2 b – – 0 25


From → Chess

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