Moves we would all like to play (part 7)

A & K Sarychev. Commended, Shakhmatny Listok 1928

White to play and draw

White’s position seems hopeless, since he cannot eliminate the black pawn, nor can his own pawn promote, eg. 1.c8(Q)? Bf5+ etc, or 1.Kd6 Bf5 etc. Instead we play a move that deserves to appear in the dictionary, under “counter-intuitive”:


Now 1…Be4 2.Kb8 wins the black pawn, so it must advance.

1…b5 2.Kd7!!

Again the only move. Incredibly, in a position that appears to hang on one or two tempi, White has “wasted” two moves. But as Polonius said, “Though this be madness, there is method in’t”.

2…b4 3.Kd6 Bf5


The point. The WK gains a vital tempo, by attacking the bishop.

4…Bc8 5.Kd4

The miracle has accurred. The WK has caught the black pawn, which cannot now avoid being exchanged for its opposite number.

5…b3 6.Kc3 Be6 7.c8(Q) and draws. 

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