- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Many people don’t realize you can obtain chess immortality — or at least notoriety — without putting in the hard work to achieve chess mastery. And I don’t just mean by writing your own column.

You can lose a brilliant game, attaching your name forever to the great player who beat you. Karl II sounds like a spectacularly ineffective Duke of Brunswick, deposed from his German duchy after just 15 years in power and forced into exile for the last 43 years of his life. But his casual consultation game against Paul Morphy at a Paris opera box in 1858, a fireworks of sacrifices from the young American, makes him perhaps the most famous duke of Brunswick ever.

You can invent — or at least champion monomaniacally — a variation that gets into the opening manuals, the main reason that today we still invoke the names of Blackmar and Diemer, Richter and Rauzer, Milner and Barry.

Or, like the 19th century British amateur Samuel Standidge Boden, you can attach your name to a memorable tactical motif. “Boden’s Mate” made its debut in an 1853 friendly game in London, which we pick up from today’s diagram after White has just played 13. 0-0-0. Playing Black, Boden hit on the brilliant, scissorlike dance of the bishops used to deliver his eponymous mate. The game concludes with a thunderclap: 13…d5! (setting a trap that is hard to see) 14. Bxd5? Qxc3+!! 15. bxc3 Ba3 mate!.

Boden’s Mate is a pattern so familiar now that even a strong club player knows to be wary of its bite. But with a little imagination, a talented grandmaster even today can work the motif into his games.

Danish GM Allan Stig Rasmussen did so in brilliant fashion against Finnish GM Tomi Nyback at the 21st European Team Chess Championships, just wrapping up in the city of Hersonissos on the Greek island of Crete. It’s a classic Ruy Lopez Closed battle in which Boden and his little mate play a starring role in the finale.

Nyback’s 16. Bh6 Nc4 17. b3 Na3!? 18. Bd3 c5 is a positional gamble, betting that Black’s queenside push will break through and allow his misplaced knight back in the game. But after 18. Bd3 c5 19. Bf4 Nf8 20. e5!? dxe5 (interesting would have been 20…Ne6!? 21. Bc1 Nxd4 22. Bxa3 Bxf3 23. gxf3 Bxe5, with substantial compensation for the piece) 21. dxe5 Be7 22. Qe2, White clearly has the initiative.

That initiative turns into a winning edge just as Black appears to be getting a little traction on the queenside: 24…c4 25. Be4 Rc8 26. Rd1 Qa5 (with two key Black defensive pieces marooned on the a-file, White correctly senses a combination is in the air) 27. Nf5!!.

The threat is just 28. Nh6+ Kh8 29. Qxf7 and wins, and declining the offer with 27…Bf8 costs Black material after 28. b4! Qxb4 29. Nd6 Bxd6 30. cxd6, with the killer dual threats of 31. d7 and 31. Bxa3. But Black’s intended defense loses to an even more stunning riposte.

The game concluded: 27…gxf5 28. Qxf5 Nf8 29. Bh6 Ng6 (blocking the mate on h7; now on 30. Bd5?!, Black can at least fight on after 30…Kh8 31. Bxf7 Rg8 32. Bxg8 Rxg8 33. e6 Qc3) 30. Qxf7+!!, and Black resigned instantly. Helped by some unfortunately placed Black defenders, Boden’s scything bishop delivers the denouement after 30…Kxf7 (Kh8 31. Bg7 mate) 31. Bd5 mate. Rasmussen’s combination is even more impressive because most Boden Mates occur when the opponent has castled long and is pinned on the back rank.

With a draw against Ukraine Monday, the strong Azerbaijan team took home the gold medal in the team event on tiebreaks over silver medalist Russia. On the women’s side, a dominant Russian team captured the gold with a round to spare over the weekend, with Georgia capturing silver and Ukraine the bronze.

Rasmussen-Nyback, 21st European Chess Team Championship, Hersonissos, Greece, November 2017

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3 O-O 9. h3 Bb7 10. d4 Nd7 11. Nbd2 exd4 12. cxd4 Bf6 13. Nf1 Na5 14. Bc2 Re8 15. Ng3 g6 16. Bh6 Nc4 17. b3 Na3 18. Bd3 c5 19. Bf4 Nf8 20. e5 dxe5 21. dxe5 Be7 22. Qe2 Ne6 23. Bc1 Bxf3 24. Qxf3 c4 25. Be4 Rc8 26. Rd1 Qa5 27. Nf5 gxf5 28. Qxf5 Nf8 29. Bh6 Ng6 30. Qxf7+ Black resigns.

David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by email [email protected].

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