Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Two pieces for a ....

The other night I saw a game between a newcomer to my local chess club, and a more experienced player. I noted that the newcomer had two fewer minor pieces than his opponent and simply assumed that they had been lost. Returning to view the game a number of moves later I saw that more material was about to be lost, but then noticed something strange. The more experienced player was missing a queen, and I realised that they had probably been missing a queen for a quite a while. My assumption about the loss of two pieces had in fact been wrong, and in fact the two pieces had come off the board in return for the queen. Sadly for the newcomer, his opponent knuckled down to the task, coordinated his remaining pieces and went on to win.
A famous example of my mistake occurred in a game between Fischer and Gligoric in the 1966 Olympiad. Fischer had surprised the world with his revival of the Exchange Lopez, and he used it to beat Gligoric in 25 moves. Gligoric was down two pieces by move 22 but played on just long enough to confuse a few passing GM's who thought that in return for the two pieces, Gligoric had surely pocketed a rook!

Fischer,Robert James - Gligoric,Svetozar [C69]
Havana ol (Men) fin-A Havana (8), 1966

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