- The Washington Times - Friday, December 24, 2004

The holidays are a time to catch up with long-lost friends, and both of today’s games qualify. The first comes courtesy of the great Hungarian master Gyula Breyer, a pioneer of the hypermodern school, who died at 27 in 1921. White’s 14th move, a seemingly pointless sidestep of the king, qualifies as one of the most imaginative attacking moves ever played.

German master Johannes Esser, playing the Black side of this Queen’s Gambit, fails to challenge the White center with a timely …c5, and Breyer preserves his bishop on the attacking diagonal (8. Bb1!) at the cost of a trivial pawn. By 10. Ng5 h6 11. h4! (threatening 12. e5 Nd4 13. Qc2 g6 14. h5) g6 12. e5! hxg5 13. hxg5! Nd4, White has clear attacking chances with the open h-file and the two bishops.

Breyer’s next shot, however, is beyond inspired: 14. Kf1!!, a move Irving Chernev once hailed as “one of the deepest moves ever made on the chessboard.” The point won’t emerge for another nine moves and several more White sacrifices.

Thus: 14…Nxc3 15. bxc3 Bb7 16. Qg4 Kg7 (preparing 17…Rh8) 17. Rh7+!! Kxh7 (Kg8 18. Qh4 wins at once) 18. Qh5+ Kg7 19. Qh6+ Kg8 20. Bxg6! hxg6 21. Qxg6+ Kh8 22. Qh6+ Kg8 23. g6!, breaking down the Black citadel.

The White attack seems to play itself, but had Breyer not played 14. Kf1!!, Esser could have escaped now with 23…Bh4+ and 24…Qe7!, blocking the mate threat. With the king on f1, there’s no bishop check and no hope for Black.

The game concluded with 23…Rf7 (the only way for forestall mate) 24. gxf7+ Kxf7 25. Qh5+ Kg7 26. f5! (a final line-clearing sacrifice to liberate the White bishop) exf5 26. Bh6+. With lines such as 27…Kh7 28. Bf4+ Kg7 29. Qh6+ Kg8 30. Qg6+ Kh8 31. Ke2! (another subtle king move) Bh4 32. Rh1 Nd7 33. Bg5 Qxg5 34. Qxg5 on tap, Black resigned.

The Dutch world champion Max Euwe may have lost more brilliant games than any other titleholder in history, a tribute in its way to his fighting spirit, dynamic style and lengthy career. But Euwe’s most galling defeat may have come at the hands of Slovenian great Milan Vidmar, in which Black would have an unstoppable checkmate if his only opponent would let him move.

This game, played at the fabled 1929 grandmaster event in the Czech resort town of Carlsbad, is full of neat tactical flourishes even before its famous finale. After 11. exf4 0-0!, 12. Bxg6 is met by 12…c4! 13. Nxc4 (Qxc4? d5 wins a piece for Black) d5 14. Nce5 fxg6 15. Nxg6 Rf6, with a complex middle game in prospect.

Both sides enjoy good attacking chances, but by 24. h3 Rac8 25. Rdd1 (Qxa7? Bxf3) Rc4, Black enjoys a clear initiative. But Euwe, believing he has a winning combination, overplays his hand and meets with a subtle but stunning refutation.

In mutual time pressure, Black’s 27…Qd4+ 28. Kh1 Qxd5?! (immensely seductive, but 28…Rc2 29. Ne4 Qxb2 was a better way to go) 29. Be4 Rxe4 30. Nxe4 Qxf5 31. Nxd6 Bxg2+! 32. Kxg2 Rc2+ 33. Kh1 Qc4 appears to settle the matter.

Black’s threatened mate on h2 seems completely unstoppable, but White’s spite checks, for once, contain real venom. Vidmar’s amazing escape comes on 34. Re8+ Bf8 (White had to see back on Move 29 that 34…Kh7 loses the rook to 35. Qd3+) 35. Rxf8+!! Kxf8 (forced, as 35…Kg7 36. Rxf7+ wins) 36. Nf5+ Kg8 37. Qf8+!!.

A second White major piece gives up its life on f8, but Black’s only choices are 37…Kxf8 38. Rd8 mate and 37…Kh7 38. Qg7 mate. Euwe resigned. The game won the tournament brilliancy prize — in a field that included former champion Jose Raoul Capablanca, Akiba Rubinstein, Efim Bogolyubov and tournament winner Aron Nimzovich.

• • •

Some real heavy lifting gets under way tomorrow with the start of the 31st annual Eastern Open, to be held at the Wyndham Washington Hotel at 1400 M St. NW. The eight-round Swiss event runs through Wednesday and is the last major Grand Prix event of the year.

There’s no charge to watch, and there should be plenty of skittles action and chess paraphernalia on sale. Call 202/857-4922 for more information. We’ll have the winners and some games from the Eastern in upcoming columns.

Happy holidays to all, and thanks for reading.

Budapest, 1917


1. d4d515. bxc3Bb7

2. c4e616. Qg4Kg7

3. Nc3c617. Rh7+Kxh7

4. e3Nf618. Qh5+Kg7

5. Bd3Bd619. Qh6+Kg8

6. f40-020. Bxg6fxg6

7. Nf3dxc421. Qxg6+Kh8

8. Bb1b522. Qh6+Kg8

9. e4Be723. g6Rf7

10. Ng5h624. gxf7+Kxf7

11. h4g625. Qh5+Kg7

12. e5hxg526. f5exf5

13. hxg5Nd527. Bh6+Black

14. Kf1Nxc3resigns

Carlsbad, 1929


1. d4Nf620. g4Rc7

2. Nf3g621. f5exf5

3. Bg5Bg722. gxf5g5

4. Nbd2c523. Re1Qf6

5. e3b624. h3Rac8

6. Bd3Bb725. Rdd1Rc4

7. 0-0h626. d5a5

8. Bf4d627. Nd2Qd4+

9. c3Nh528. Kh1Qxd5

10. Qb3Nxf429. Be4Rxe4

11. exf40-030. Nxe4Qxf5

12. Rad1Nc631. Nxd6Bxg2+

13. Bb1cxd432. Kxg2Rc2+

14. cxd4e633. Kh1Qf4

15. Ne4Ne734. Re8+Bf8

16. Qa3Nf535. Rxf8+Kxf8

17. Rd2Qe736. Nf5+Kg8

18. Ng3Nxg337. Qf8+Black

19. fxg3Rfc8resigns

David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by e-mail at dsands@washington times.com.

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