Saturday, 11 October 2008

A chess riddle

The following game can be found in "Mastering the Chess Openings: Volume 1" by John Watson and is used to illustrate the advantage of development in the opening. There is an almost identical game given in "My System" by Aron Nimzowitsch, again addressing the need for development in the opening. The only difference in the moves played was that Nimzowitsch's opponent (only given as Amateur) played 9. ... cxd6 and the game continued 10.exd6 Nxf2 11.Qb3 Nxh1 12.Bxf7+ Kf8 13.Bg5 where the moves were once again in sync.
Now here is the riddle. Both players with the Black pieces resigned at the same point, yet while Libov's resignation was sensible, Nimzowitch's opponent should have played on. Why?

Estrin,Y - Libov [C54]
Moscow, 1944

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.cxd4 Bb6 7.d5 Ne7 8.e5 Ne4 9.d6 Nxf2 10.Qb3 Nxh1 11.Bxf7+ Kf8 12.Bg5 cxd6 13.exd6 1-0

5 comments:

Alex said...

Because he still had drawing chances?

Alex

Phil Bourke said...

No idea!!

TrueFiendish said...

If I remember correctly, Nimzo was involved in a physical altercation with one of the other simul opponents and it looked like he'd be bested. The amateur had arrived with a copy of Tarrasch's "The Game of Chess" and was beating the Nimzmeister about the head with it.

So in the game at hand Black could have played maybe ...Bf2+, hoping Nimzo would not be able to continue.

As it happened, though, N managed to jam his e-pawn up his attacker's nose. He kept it there against all attempts to dislodge it, eventually compelling resignation, and was able to complete all games.

A brilliant combination of improvisation and sound strategy!

TrueFiendish said...

Okay Shaun, I'm stumped. What is the answer to the riddle?

Shaun Press said...

Ok. It is a pretty mean puzzle, in that there is nothing in the question that provides any clues towards the answer.
It turns out that the Nimzowitsch game was played at rook odds (ie Nimzowitsch started the game without his queens rook). So at the point where Black resigned, he could have given up the queen with Nf5 and still been ahead on material. Strangely Nimzowitsch does not mention this possibility in "My System". In the case of the Estrin game, no such odds were given, so Libov was just lost.