Moves we would all like to play (part 15)

Yochanan Afek, 2nd pr, Tidskrift for Skack, 1972

White to play and win

White has an extra piece, but the hanging position of his pieces on c4 and b6 means that he cannot keep it. However, he has a tactic:
1. Rxb5+! 

The only way. The attempt to exploit the fork on d7 by 1. Ne5 Kxb6 2. Nd7+ Kc6 3. Nxf8 fails because after 3…Bxg4 4. Nh7 Bd1 5.Nxg5 b4 the last white pawn is eliminated.

1… Kxb5 2. Ne5+ Ka4

The only way to avoid a fork on d7, when, in contrast to the last note, Black would lack his b-pawn, and would be losing prosically. The text avoids this, but puts his king in a mating net.

3. Nd7!

Threatening mate on both b6 and c5. Black has no direct way to meet both threats, so he must play for stalemate.

 3…Be2! 4. Bxe2 Rb8+!

But now what? Taking the rook is stalemate, whilst 5.Ka2? runs into the desperado 5…Rb2+! It appears that Black is drawing, but now the miracle is uncorked.

5. Bb5+!!

The stunning point. 5…Kxb5 loses simply after 6.Nxb8, so Black must take with the rook.

5… Rxb5+ 6. Ka2 1-0

And now the incredible truth dawns. The black rook is dominated in the middle of the board – wherever it moves to, it will fall to a knight fork on either b6 or c5!

This is one of Yochanan’s earliest published studies, and still one of his best.

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