Chess Problem – In a Real Game

October 2, 2013
Posted by Jay Livingston

(No sociology here, just what Chris Uggen calls “self-indulgery.”)

I am not a chess player. I haven’t played since my kid was in grade school, and during Saturday morning tournaments, when the kids were playing their matches in the lunch room, some of us bored parents in the auditorium would sit on the stage and play our patzer’s version of the game.

But last Saturday I was at the farmers’ market in Union Square, which also has a lane for chess players. 

(Click on an image for a larger view.)

I figured these were canny players.  The match in the foreground above reminded me of “Searching for Bobby Fischer” – how many times had I watched our VHS of that movie – where a park hustler competes with a grandmaster for the chess soul of a young prodigy.

For a minute or so I watched this game.  When I got home and browsed through my photos – mostly of things like apples and radishes -- I took a closer look at the board.  It was white to move.:

Here’s a diagram of the position.

White pushed his pawn to h4, attacking black’s knight.

Black thought for a while, too long in fact, for he made some move with his queen. He had been so lost in thought about the line of play following that move that he forgot that he was about to lose a knight.

But neither player saw the killer move that black had.  If you know anything about chess, you’ll see it immediately.  It’s the kind of position you might find in the chess problem corner of the newspaper (“Black has a crusher”), on the same page with the Jumble and Funky Winkerbean.  But there it was in a real game.


PCM said...

You mean (I think) "BLACK (not white) thought for a while, too long in fact, for he made some move with his queen." Right?

If I were black I would move my knight to H3, check.

Then it becomes a bit of a clusterf**k for the next few moves, but i would think the demise of white is then inevitable

Jay Livingston said...

Thanks for the correction. But after h3 forcing K-g2, black immediately wins the queen.

PCM said...

Oh... by moving the knight to the check/enguard fork (g4).

Didn't see that. I guess that's why I'm not a great chess player. But at least I would have made the right move!