Tuesday, 26 February 2008

You'll just have to show me

One of the more frustrating things I found when learning chess was that sometimes annotators would pass over a move without looking at obvious alternatives. Well, obvious to me at least. Often I would be left scratching my head after seeing a player not swap queens (for example) and then get mated, by the enemy queen, 6 moves later, with the annotator failing to mention QxQ as an alternative.
I like to be shown things, especially if it isn't obvious what would have happened next. Now one example of this has always stuck in my mind ever since I started playing chess seriously. One of my favourite opening books is "The Italian Game" by Harding and Botterill. The chapter on the Wilkes-Barre has long since been covered in the stains of my grubby thumb prints, but there was one line (and lack of analysis) that always irritated me. So finally I put the game into Fritz to try and discover what had been left unsaid by the authors. (The comments are mine btw)

Jentzch - Nosotta [C57]
cr cr, 1956

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 Bc5 5.Nxf7 Bxf2+ 6.Kxf2 Nxe4+ 7.Ke3 While this move looks suicidal, it is considered by some as the best chance of refuting the Traxler. 7...Qh4 8.Qf3 Now this move 'looks' sensible. 8...Nf6!! (D)
The !! were given by Harding and Botterill followed by 0-1. Annoyingly there was no explanation for this assement, and in pre-computer days I found it very hard to find a clear cut win for Black. 9.Ke2 As this just loses quickly why not grab the rook instead. [ 9.Nxh8 Nd4 10.Qd1 ( 10.Qf1 Ng4+ 11.Kd3 Nf2+ 12.Kc3 Ne4+ 13.Kd3 Nc5+ 14.Ke3 ( 14.Kc3 Nb5+ 15.Kb4 a5+ 16.Kxb5 ( 16.Kxc5 d6+ 17.Kxb5 Bd7#) 16...c6+ 17.Kb6 Qd8+ 18.Kxc5 d6#; 14...Nxc2+ 15.Ke2 ( 15.Kf3 Qf4+ 16.Ke2 Qxc4+) 15...Qxc4+-+ although only on 'points'; 10...Qf4+ 11.Kd3 Qf5+ 12.Kc3 ( 12.Ke3 Ng4+ 13.Qxg4 Nxc2+ 14.Ke2 Qxg4+) 12...Ne4+ 13.Kb4 ( 13.Kd3 Nf2+) 13...a5+ 14.Ka4 b5+ 15.Bxb5 Nc5+ 16.Ka3 Nxb5#;
or move the bishop 9.Bb3 Rf8 10.Qg3 ( 10.g3 Qd4+ 11.Ke2 d5 with too many threats.) 10...Qe4+ 11.Kf2 Ng4+ 12.Kg1 Qd4+ 13.Kf1 d5 winning back the piece and leaving Black on top;
9.d3 Nd4 10.Qf1 Rf8 with d5 and Rxf7 to follow.] 9...Qxc4+ 10.Kd1 Nd4 0-1

1 comment:

Denis Jessop said...

HI Shaun

I think it was even worse when I was learning chess. My feeling is that in earlier years, say at least 20-30 years ago and before, annotators by and large really wrote for experts or at least quite strong players and so young learners or players who were not so strong were often left wondering in the way you describe. I certainly also had the same feeling.

On the contrary, when I started reading some annotated games about 10 or more years ago, after a long lay-off, I suddenly thought that I must be knowing much more about chess than I used to as I would find annotations that were extremely obvious. I was wrong. My feeling is that now some annotators have gone the other way and are including observations aimed at the weaker players. Apart from that they seem to include reams of analysis, probably hot from Fritz. I also find that off-putting. Maybe actually writing a book that explains things is too hard.

DJ