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2011 U.S. Championship


In the 55 U.S. Championships


since the tournament became a reg- ularly scheduled event, the defending champion took clear first place or tied for it on 17 occasions. But that hadn’t happened for 25 years until Gata Kamskymanaged the feat last April. The 2011 Championship, held again in St. Louis, provides our six quiz positions this month. In each diagram you are asked to find the fastest winning line of play. This will typically be the forced win of a rook, a minor piece or other decisive amount of material. For solutions see page 79.


Problem I


GM Larry Christiansen GM Robert Hess


+ + p + + +k+p+ + + +nP p + P + + +R+K+ Black to play


Problem IV GM Gata Kamsky GM Varuzhan Akobian


p + Np+k + +l+p+


L p+ + Q + + +PP + + + K White to play


didn’t win another game in the next five rounds. But he later regained his compo- sure and won the tournament. Compare that with GM Semyon Fur-


man, who also got off to a very good start in a Soviet championship six years later. But after he drew a winning position he spent “the whole night trying to find what he had missed, he recalled. “Only just before morning I fell asleep and in my dream” found the rook sacrifice that would have mated. But the loss of sleep took its toll. Furman lost his next game and ended the tournament in 15th place out of 20. Regret can have such a psychological


effect that it’s been turned into a weapon. Bent Larsen recalled the “very good trick” he used when he left a pawn hanging against Oscar Panno at Palma deMallorca 1969. Panno, in time trouble, didn’t take the pawn. Larsen replied very quickly, protecting the pawn. “Imake himthink he should have taken it!” he told Overboard magazine in 1974. Panno’s position quickly deteriorated and he lost.


Regret Mikhail Botvinnik David Bronstein World Championship, third game, Moscow 1951


(see diagramtop of next column) uschess.org


+ +pPp+ n+ P +p+


r + + +


+ + + + + + + +


+ + + +


Problem II


GM Benjamin Finegold GM Yasser Seirawan


P +L+ + + K + + + + + + Black to play


Problem V GM Alexander Stripunsky GM Ray Robson


p + + pp lpn+N+ + + lLnp+ + + + +


+ +P+ P PLP+ + P


Black to play + +rr k


+ + + + + + + + p + + + p + k p P P+ n +


Problem III


GM Sam Shankland GM Alexander Shabalov


+l+ +ppp pq +p+ + + + + +Q +p+ + + +pNn+ P P +RP P R + + K Black to play


Problem VI GM Alexander Ivanov GM Varuzhan Akobian


p p+ +p+ + +pP p


P +pP + + PlN P


R N+ +R+K + RQ+ + White to play


+p+r+plk p+ + +p+ + +p+ +p + + + +


+ P + PP PPN+ PK+ + +R+ +


After 41. Nc2 Mikhail Botvinnik felt he, too, fell vic-


timto the regret trick after he adjourned this position, with a textbook advantage, against his bitter enemy David Bronstein. White threatens to win a pawn with


42. Ne3 d4 43. Nc2 because of 43. ... d3 44. Nd4! Bxd4 45. Rxd3! with excellent winning chances. Black can defend with 41. ... Rd8


because at the end of 42. Ne3 variation Black can unpin with 45. ... Bf6. So Botvinnik expected the game to con-


tinue 41. ... Rd8. He was prepared to reply 42. Nb4! d4 43. c4! Re8 44. Nd3, with a considerable positional edge.


(see diagramtop of next column) He was stunned when Bronstein replied


41. ... a5!?!, stopping the Nb4 idea. Botvinnik studied the position and found


+ + + +


+p+ +plk p+ + +p+ + + + +p +Pp + +


+ +N+ PP PP + PK+ + +R+ +


Analysis after 44. Nd3


some reason why 42. Ne3 d4 43. Nc2 d3 44. Nd4 wasn’t good enough. He chose 42. a4? instead. Bronstein


replied 42. ... Rd8! and White can no longer win a pawn or get the positional edge. Botvinnik played the rest of the game weakly and drew. More than 40 years later, after Botvin-


nik died, his nephew Igor Botvinnik published the brief, personal notes that the world champion wrote to himself after each game. “He deceived me!” Botvinnik wrote of


41. ... a5. “His very first move was a showy one,” but “I didn’t take the pawn!!!.” In other words, once he felt he had been


tricked out of 42. Ne3!, he was crippled by regret. “A nightmare!!!” he wrote.


. See Chess Life Online for chess news. Chess Life — August 2011 15 + +r+ +


l Pr +NR +n+ + K


+ q + k + + rk+


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