As presaged in my post two days ago, I have decided to switch this blog to a Blogger platform, in order to incorporate on-screen game replays. You can find the new blog here. The present blog will remain, but will not be updated from now on. Please update your bookmarks accordingly.
Today is the day of the annual Varsity match, held at the RAC Club, in London’s Pall Mall. It is a fine, immensely traditional, occasion. Alas, although a graduate of Oxford, I never played in it. The closest I got was my freshman year, when I was top board for the second team – a bit like getting a vote of thanks from the Chairman. And, lest any of the termitic persuasion suspect otherwise, I have never even attended one -no, I don’t get an automatic invitation from The Times’ chess correspondent, nor do I expect one.
But I don’t resent it at all. On the contrary, I am delighted that, in a world of crumbling values, where “tradition” has become a term of abuse, some things still endure, and are still respected by the people who actually matter in the chess world. The fixture is not as strong as in the days when virtually the entire England team, plus reserves, were playing, but it remains an excellent event. I hope all present have a fine day, with some exciting chess, and afterwards a fine dinner, win or lose.
“I could have been a contender!”
The other option would be a self-hosted blog, but that involves more hassle and is something I would prefer to avoid. So, for the time being, we will have to manage without on-screen replays, but research continues. I am consulting my IT adviser:
“Termites at 356, mark 4, Captain! Photon torpedoes locked on and ready to fire.” (photo: en.wikipedia.org)
From the latest issue of the Russian journal 64 comes a remarkable study by top Russian composer, Oleg Pervakov. It took first prize in last year’s study composing competition, held to mark the 50th birthday of the Dutch study guru, Harold van der Heijden. In 64, Pervakov explains at length the genesis of this study; here, we will just admire the wonderful finished product.
O Pervakov, 1st Pr, Harold van der Heijden 50
White has two extra pieces, but the black a-pawn is about to queen and White also has a rook hanging.
The other sacrifice 1. Re5+ Kxe5 2. Bxh6 fails to the spectacular 2…a1=Q 3. Bg7+ Ke4 4. Bxa1 Rc1 5. Rf4+ Ke3
and although he has two extra pieces, all of White’s units are attacked, and he cannot avoid a drawn ending with R+minor piece v rook. Note that 6. Bd4+ Kxf4 7. Ne2+ fails to 7…Ke4! This is a harbinger of what is to come; meanwhile, back at move one…
1… Kxd4 2. Bb2+ Ke3
2… Kd5 3. Rf5+ wins easily.
Again, the only check. The alternative 3. Re2+? fails after 3…Kd3! 4. Kxc5 Rh5+! 5. Kb4 a1=Q! 6. Bxa1 Rb5+! 7. Kxb5 stalemate!
A nice mid-board stalemate. Once again, make a note of this position – something similar recurs soon.
3… Ke4! 4. Kxc5 a1=Q! 5. Bxa1 Rc6+!
Now after 6.Kxc6, we would have an echo of the previous stalemate – the only difference is that the two kings and the white rook have each moved one square to the “north-east” – instead of being on the f1-a6 diagonal, they are on the h1-a8 diagonal.
6. Kb5! Rc1
Chasing the king by 6… Rc5+ 7. Kb6 Rc6+ 8. Kb7 comes to nothing, since now the BK has access to d5, so a further rook check on c7 or b6 could just be captured. Black would therefore have to play 8…Rc1, which comes to the same thing as the game.
7. Rf4+! Ke3
Compare this diagram with that in the note to 1.Re5+?. The only difference is that the white king is now on b5, instead of b4. But that makes all the difference!
And this is why – with the WK on b4, this is impossible, of course.
8…Rxg1 9. Bd4+ 1-0
A magnificent tour de force by Pervakov, and a pretty nice birthday present to receive, don’t you think?
Is Carl “Old Mother” Hibbard, the Censor in Chief of the Egregious Chess Forum, running out of patience with his termitic brethren? Not content with handing out individual bans like confetti, to anyone who questions his unlimited authority, he has now posted a note under the Rules and Registration thread, headed “Account Deletion”, which states:
I reserve the right to delete any members (sic) account, without giving any reason as to why (sic)
This Kafka-esque pronouncement is not accompanied by any attempt at justifying such peremptory action. Still more amusingly, despite Old Mother’s frequent fulminations at the author of this blog, for refusing to allow comments, the thread in question has been locked, thus preventing other termites from commenting!
Could it be that Old Mother is reaching his wits’ end (admittedly, not a lengthy journey in his case) with his brethren? Perhaps he needs some assistants, to enforce his divine will?
“Exterminate! Exterminate!” (photo: daleklinks.co.uk)