Moves we would all like to play (part 10)

Gady Costeff, 1st HM, The Problemist 1980-81

White to play and win

John Nunn once told me that his idea of a really good study was “a succession of mutual cheapos”. This masterpiece fulfils that definition as well as any study that I have ever seen. Basically, White is winning on material, if he can keep the three minor pieces against the rook, but that appears difficult.

1. Nb6+!

The right start. After 1. Nc7+? Kb8 2. Nb5 Rd3+ 3. Kxe2 bxc6 Black draws.

1… Ka7

Clearly, Black must keep attacking the knight, else White will just rescue his Bc6 and be winning.

2. Nc8+ Kb8 3.Ne7

White has surmounted the first crisis, thanks to the fork on c6. Now Black must find another way to attack a second white piece.


The only move. Now 4.Kxe2? fails to 4…Rxe1+ and 5…bxc6, so White’s next is again forced. .

4. Bg3+ Ka8

This is best, as will become clear.

5. Kxe2 Rg1! 6. Bf2!

Another only move. The alternative 6. Bh2? is met by 6…Rg7 7. Nf5 Rh7! and White can no longer rescue both bishops.


Again the best move. Instead, the same defence as in the previous note, 6…Rg7, fails to 7.Nf5, followed by 8.Be4, and White has escaped with all his booty intact – and as John Keats pointed out, “A thing of booty is a joy forever…”! After the text, however, White seems to face an insoluble problem, since Black threatens a rook check on e5, as well as the capture on c6. But…

7. Be4!Re5 8. Nd5!! Rxe4+ 9. Kf3

And now we see the point of the whole study – believe it or not, the black rook is dominated in the middle of the board. Wherever it moves to, it will fall to a knight fork, either at once (after any move to a white square, such as a4, c4, e6, e8, etc) or after 9…Re5 10 Nb6+, followed by either 10…Kb8 11.Nd7+, or to the discovered check 10…Ka7 11.Nc4+.

A wonderful study, which cannot but delight any chessplayer.

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