Monday, November 27, 2006

Shock and Stun

Susan Polgar is regularly stunned and shocked when it comes to chess events and moves - but even she might have to reach for the thesaurus to express her amazement at this one.

In the diagram position it's black, Kramnik, to move, in game 2 of his match against Fritz from today. Now it doesn't matter how centralised you are, whether you'll be better in the endgame after a queen exchange, nor whether your bishop is better than the knight, or how quick you can make a passed pawn - not when your opponent threatens mate in one.

So, here are the moves of the game, if you can bare to look. The diagram is at move number 34:

1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. e4 b5 4. a4 c6 5. Nc3 b4 6. Na2 Nf6 7. e5 Nd5 8. Bxc4 e6 9. Nf3 a5 10. Bg5 Qb6 11. Nc1 Ba6 12. Qe2 h6 13. Be3 Bxc4 14. Qxc4 Nd7 15. Nb3 Be7 16. Rc1 O-O 17. O-O Rfc8 18. Qe2 c5 19. Nfd2 Qc6 20. Qh5 Qxa4 21. Nxc5 Nxc5 22. dxc5 Nxe3 23. fxe3 Bxc5 24. Qxf7+ Kh8 25. Qf3 Rf8 26. Qe4 Qd7 27. Nb3 Bb6 28. Rfd1 Qf7 29. Rf1 Qa7 30. Rxf8+ Rxf8 31. Nd4 a4 32. Nxe6 Bxe3+ 33. Kh1 Bxc1 34. Nxf8 Qe3?? 35. Qh7#


Jonathan B said...

Pein reports Kramnik actually thought for "minutes" over his last move - lack of time wasn't a problem as I had assumed.

Tom Chivers said...

UPDATE! Susan was speechless, it turns out.

Time indeed was not an issue, as one Chessbase report make clear: "Kramnik played the move 34...Qe3 calmly, stood up, picked up his cup and was about to leave the stage to go to his rest room. At least one audio commentator also noticed nothing, while Fritz operator Mathias Feist kept glancing from the board to the screen and back, hardly able to believe that he had input the correct move. Fritz was displaying mate in one, and when Mathias executed it on the board Kramnik briefly grasped his forehead, took a seat to sign the score sheet and left for the press conference, which he dutifully attended."

But on this specific subject, this one instead is interesting in places:

Chris Morgan said...

Although a terrible blunder, especially for a world champion, I read a chess article in one of the newspapers which may go a small way towards explaining the over-sight. In terms of mating patterns, the knight on f8 is unusual. If the knight had been on g5 or f6, Kramnik's pattern recognition would have kicked in and spotted the threat immediately. Also, the knight's move to f8 was at the end of a series of captures, and not a simple mate threat.

Tom Chivers said...

I think there's quite a lot in that Chris - yes.

Anonymous said...

that's a stinker :D