- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 18, 2016

This just in from our Other Board Games Bureau: The Japan Shogi Association will soon ban players from bringing any electronic devices with them to matches, and players will have to go through metal detectors before they can enter the playing hall. Starting Dec. 14, leaving the tournament room in midmatch will also be forbidden, and those caught cheating will be permanently expelled from the association, the BBC reported last week.

Chess players can relate. The rise of superstrong, smartphone-enabled computer programs has created a wrenching dilemma for organizers and players alike trying to police cheating.

In the wake of a string of scandals in which players benefited from some covert cybercoaching, chess officials have resorted to increasingly draconian measures. In top events, if a player’s cellphone so much as buzzes during a game, that player is instantly forfeited.

We would, of course, never condone cheating, but there is a long and colorful history of players bending the game’s basic rules, intentionally or not. Even the world’s best grandmasters have been known on occasion to try to castle after the king has moved, to misplay the en passant rule, to try to move a piece pinned to the king, or to replace a knocked-down piece on the wrong square.

One of the more colorful cases of getting it wrong came in a 1976 game between Russian GMs Ratmir Kholmov and Anatoly Lutikov. Kholmov at one time ranked among the 10 best players in the world, but in this unusual Ruy Lopez line (3…g6) he definitely tried to color outside the lines after the game’s 11. h3 Bc8!? (see diagram). White, simply assuming his opponent had captured on f3 (11…Bxf3 12. Qxf3 h6 13. Be3 Nbd7 is indeed very pleasant for White), first responded with 12. Qxf3?!?!, capturing his own knight!

After a little consternation, tournament officials ruled that White had first touched his knight in the capture and thus had to move that piece. Fortunately for Kholmov, 12. Ne1 h6 13. Bh4 c5 14. Nd3 turns out to be not so bad, with White having potential breaks on both f4 and b4. White’s positional edge becomes so pronounced that he even risks a speculative piece sacrifice four moves later.

Thus: 17. Ba4 b5 18. Bxb5!? (cxb5?! cxb4 19. b6 Qxb6 20. Nxb4 Qd4 21. Rc1 Qxd1 22. Bxd1 Bf5 gives White only a marginal edge) axb5 19. Nxb5, when Black’s best defense appears to be 19…Qd7! 20. bxc5 Nf4 21. c6 Nxc6! 22. dxc6 Qxc6 23. Nxf4 exf4 24. Be7 Re8 25. Qxd6 Qxd6 26. Bxd6 Bxa1 27. Nc7 Rxe4 28. Nxa8 Bd4, with a defensible position for Black. Instead, on the game’s 19…Qb6? 20. Be7 cxb4 21. axb4 Rxa1 22. Qxa1, 22…Re8? would run into 23. Nxd6 Rxe7 24. Nxc8 Qb7 25. Nxe7+ Qxe7 26. 26. Qa8, while 22…Nf4 23. Nxf4 exf4 24. Qa7 Qxa7 25. Nxa7 Re8 26. Bxd6 leaves White with an imposing squadron of pawns.

White infiltrates decisively with 26. Nxd6! Bxd6 27. Qd8+ Bf8 28. b5 Qc8 (Bxb5 29. cxb5 Qxb5 30. Rc8 and wins) 29. Qb6! — a killer move hitting both a6 and g6. The smoke finally clears after 32. Nxe5 Qf5 (Bxc5 33. Qf7+ Kh7 34. Kh1! — sidestepping the check — h5 35. b6 Na6 36. Nd7 and wins) 33. Qxf5 Nxf5 34. c6; Black has three minor pieces for a rook and four pawns, but those extra pawns prove decisive, sweeping all before them.

The end comes on 39. b7 Bf5 40. g4 Be6 (desperation — 40…Bg6 41. Rc1 Bc7 42. d6 Bxd6 43. c7 Bxc7 44. Rxc7 Bf7 45. Rc8 is winning for White) 41. dxe6 Nxc6 42. Rc2, and Lutikov resigned facing 42…Ne7 (Nb8 43. Rc8+ Kg7 44. Rd8 Bc7 45. e7) 43. Rd1 Bf4 44. Rd8+ Kg7 45. b8=Q Bxb8 46. Rxb8 Kf6 47. Rh8, and the ending is hopeless.

Kholmov-Lutivov, Dubna, Russia, 1976

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 g6 4.O-O Bg7 5.c3 d6 6.d4 Bd7 7.d5 Nb8 8.c4 Nf6 9.Nc3 O-O 10.Bg5 Bg4 11.h3 Bc8 12.Ne1 h6 13.Bh4 c5 14.Nd3 Qc7 15.a3 Nh5 16.b4 a6 17.Ba4 b5 18.Bxb5 axb5 19.Nxb5 Qb6 20.Be7 cxb4 21.axb4 Rxa1 22.Qxa1 Ba6 23.Bxf8 Bxf8 24.Qa5 Qb7 25.Rc1 f5 26.Nxd6 Bxd6 27.Qd8+ Bf8 28.b5 Qc8 29.Qb6 Bb7 30.Qxg6+ Ng7 31.c5 fxe4 32.Nxe5 Qf5 33.Qxf5 Nxf5 34.c6 Bd6 35.Nc4 Bc8 36.b6 Bf4 37.Re1 Nd6 38.Nxd6 Bxd6 39.b7 Bf5 40.g4 Be6 41.dxe6 Nxc6 42.Rc1 Black resigns.

• David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by email at dsands@washingtontimes.com.

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