Monday, September 24, 2012

Value of a Typographical Error

I was studying GM Yuri Averbakh’s “Chess Tactics for Advanced Players” (1st printing paperback edition by Chess Digest 1992) Part 1: The double attack, subsection on The Mutual Tw- Fold Attack described as “This extremely tense situation in which two pieces on each side attack two hostile pieces deserves special consideration” (p50).

Working my way through the diagrams I came to the diagram below (p53) between GM George Thomas vs GM Max Euwe, 1936, Nottingham England where after 22 moves Thomas has built up a crushing attack against Euwe’s Bishop sitting on d6 triple attacked. Ouch!

Black to play

Euwe played 22. … Ne6 where GM Averbakh stated, “apparently assuming that after 23. Rxd6, Rxd6 24. Qxd6 Rd8 a mutual two-fold is created from which he extricates himself with 25. Qxc7 Rxd1+ with an advantage in material [after 26. Kf2 Nxc7].”

I have to admit I first played through this a few times in my head and then on the board and thought Euwe had found a great recovery in a very bad situation.

Then I read further.

GM Averbakh went on to say, “But White [could have] found a different way of defending himself and of protecting his position against harassment by the rook [move to d8].

The attempt to recover the piece by means of a pin after 26. … Qxd6, 27. Rxd6 Nf8 [would be] frustrated by by the discovered check 28. Nf6+” (p53) with no further comments.

Of course the variation given does not make sense because a move is missing, White’s new / different move 25.? What was it? No errata sheet was found online for the book so I went looking elsewhere.

On I found the entire game. Turns out it was an Alekhine Defense: Modern Variation. Main Line (B05). It was there in the notes below in the “Kibitzer’s Corner” I found the missing move.

There a reader (AdrainP) had noted, “The most interesting thing is that White believed Black, that the piece could not be taken, and replied 23 g3." ('Chess Middlegames: Essential Knowledge' Averbakh).” Clearly Averbakh thought this position was worth using in more than one book. I have to agree.

From AdrainP we learn, Max Euwe “… in his preliminary calculations, overlooked that White can reply 25. Nd7! and after 25. ...Qxd6 26. Rxd6 the move 26. ...Nf8 is refuted by 27. Nf6+.”

So let’s see a new diagram just prior to 25. Nd7!

White to play

Here White can play the winning 25. Nd7!! An incredible interference move which renders Black’s 24. … Rd8 useless and White is a piece ahead.

Of course Black can try the variation given, 25. Nd7 Qxd6 26.Rxe6 Nf8 with a double attack against the Knight of d7.

But the double attack on d7 avails Black nothing as it is followed by 27.Nf6+ and the win of the Rook on d8 and the game would have been over.

However as noted above, White played 23.g3 after Black’s 22…. Ne6 and the game went on another 14 moves.

GM Thomas resigned after making move 37. At first a few of us (thought it might have been time trouble that caused White’s loss. That was not it, not at all.

Black to play

It took us minutes to find what GM Thomas likely saw in single digit seconds after playing 37. Qe3 and did not wait to find out if GM Euwe saw the same. After White’s move 37 we are treated to the position on the left.

In this position we (by this time I had engaged a number of Dayton Chess Club members in my searth for truth) enjoyed finding the following variations.

37. … Qf1+ 38. Kh4 g5+ 39. Fxg5 fxg5+ 40.Kxh5 Qh3+ 41.Kg6 Qh7++

Or 37. … Qf1+ 38. Rg7 Qd1! Threatening mate on g4 and a double attack on W(ite’s Bishop on d4. So it’s either mate or the loss of a piece.

Moral of the story: typographical errors can lead to greater knowledge if you are willing to follow up on them.

By the way – I highly recommend GM Averbakh’s “Chess Tactics for Advanced Players” and it is available on


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