Saturday, September 9, 2017

The Ultimate Climax

Chess players are fascinated with what they consider to be beautiful motifs on the chess board. It is sometimes hard to describe what is beautiful in chess, and it may be different for different players. I mean, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

When we start learning the game, traps fascinate us. But after a while we learn that these are just guiding posts for us to avoid,or for us to deliver if someone doesn't know them.

As these traps usually involve moves which don't appear natural, such as sacrifices, our next fascination comes with the unusual in actual play. There are no end of famous sacrifices in the history of chess and just mentioning words like Morphy, Tal, Immortal or Evergreen will conjure images of wonderful combinations. But again, after a while playing chess, we realise that sacrifices work rarely (which is why they are probably so wonderful in our minds) and we are more likely to win a game of chess by playing solidly, winning a little bit of material, and converting in the endgame.

Which then brings us to a study of endgames. With minimal pieces on the board there can also be beautiful ideas, moving pieces around in seemingly impossible fashion to manufacture wins or draws, using various methods to save positions, especially stalemate themes, or creating amazing pawn breakthroughs to promote. However, the practical reality of the endgame is that what is most useful for us, is to develop a technical understanding of how to generally play endgames, backed by a reasonable theoretical knowledge of basic endgame positions that can help guide us in making plans.

So it would seem from what I'm saying that we are attracted to the beautiful in chess, but then most of us develop a playing style which is practical and technical, rather than flamboyant and beautiful. And that is fine. It doesn't mean that we can't enjoy the beautiful, or on occasion, dish out an extravagant move.

I remember thinking about these things and wondering if I'd ever be able to play a double rook sacrifice in my games like Anderssen in his Immortal win against Kiezeritsky. I have then since wondered about using various endgame ideas that I've worked on in my games.

But I now have fully seen the light, with the most amazing move possible. Can you imagine under-promoting to a knight in a corner square to deliver mate? Not in a made up study, in a real game? Well if you manage it, then you certainly won't be the first. I don't know if anyone else has done it, but Ding Liren managed it last night in a play off game in the World Cup against Kravtsiv.

I'm struggling to think of a move more stylish than this to finish a game of chess!

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