Sunday, June 03, 2007


Reti-Bogoljubow, New York 1924
White to play and win.

This is quite a famous position but I've been keen to post it for some time now.

To my eyes it's one of the most appealing finishes to a game of all time ... and if that weren't enough, it also gives me the chance to use Zwischenzug (twice now), one of my favourite words.


Ryan Emmett said...

Nice finish. But isn't it an example of interference rather than a Zwischenzug? (btw, what is the correct pronunciation of that word?) :)

Anonymous said...

It's pronounced 'zwishen-tsoog', the 'z' in German is more like a 'ts'. Not very easy to explain without actually hearing it!


Jonathan B said...

Antony has done a better job on the pronounciation that I ever could.

I agree there is an interference theme but it doesn't work without the first move - hence the zwischenzug (in my eyes at least).

Ryan Emmett said...

I've never seen a definition, but I've always thought of a Zwischenzug as being a move in the middle of a sequence of exchanges. Maybe it's just me. Whatever you call it, it's a very nice finish. Not hard to see if you know something is there, but very easy to miss otherwise!

Jonathan B said...


it seems that at least one of the other regular contributors to this blog agrees with you!

I've always considered Z-zug to refer to an 'in between' move - that seems to fit here.

You may well be right though.

Tom Chivers said...

"In between" - but in between what? I've always thought it meant, "in between the opponent's ideas", similar to you Ryan, as opposed to just "in between now and my next move".

But I might be wrong.

hisbestfriend said...

I thought I recognized this position as a mate, yet this is only a queen losing problem. Is that correct?

Anonymous said...

Maybe I've misseen it but I think White mates in any case...

Jonathan, can you tell us?


Anonymous said...

Err... I think I did missee. There's a move I didn't consider after which I can't see a mate.


Jonathan B said...

The solution is...

1. Bf7+ Kh8
2. Be8 1-0

because after
2. ...Rxe8
3. Qf8+ Rxf8
4. Rxf8 mate.

That's why I see it as an inbetween move. The key idea is Be8 interfering with the Rook's defence of f8 - but it doesn't work straight away because the King is too close. So Black has to play Bf7 first, chasing the King away and only then continue on it's journey to e8.

So the Bishop stops off on f7 inbetween moving from h5 and e8. Hence, to me, zwischenzug

Anonymous said...

Definitely doesn't meet the definition of zwischenzug IMO. Tom's post at 10:18 says it best.

Put it this way: Would you see it as a zwischenzug if the solution was, say, Bf7 and Bb3? Or Bf7 and Bg8?

Alternatively remove the black queen and white bishop from the board. 1. Qf7+ and 2.Qxf8 Zwischenzug? Not really. A zwischenzug is more a move inserted into the middle of a forced sequence (not necessarily with exchanges) but independent of that sequence (other than that it changes the assessment of the position at the end of it). It's certainly not a sequence (Bf7, Kh8) inserted within a move!

For me the two themes here are "deflection" and "interference". Bf7 is deflection and Be8 is interference.

Anonymous said...

Incidentally, technical point, but does "zwischenzug" actually mean "in-between move" or "in-between moves"?

Tom Chivers said...

Wikipedia seems to nail it:

"The zwischenzug is a common chess tactic in which a player, instead of playing the expected move (commonly a recapture of a piece that the opponent has just captured) first interpolates another move, posing an immediate threat that the opponent must answer, then plays the expected move. Ideally, the zwischenzug changes the situation to the player's advantage. Such a move is also called an intermezzo, intermediate move, or in-between move."

It also says this game was described by Chernev no less as "The Immortal Zwischenzug" game. Since the game is far less interesting from the one from the same tournament on the blog post, I think we can now be pretty sure that the above definitely is not a Zwischenzug...

Jonathan B said...

Also from Wikipedia, albeit a different page:-

"Zwischenzug (from the German): An 'in-between"' move played before the expected reply. Often used to force the opponent into Zugzwang."

the second bit of which is obvious nonsense.

Anyhoo, regardless, I still see Bf7 as making sense to me as a zwischenzug. In answer to our anonymous friend I would say there is a difference between

Bh5-f7-e8 and
Bh5-f7-g8 or Bh5-f7-b3

in that the first one is a straight line and the others aren't. In that way, I see it more clearly as a stop off or inbetween move.

Obviously, I'm in a minority on this one. Mind you, I'm firmly of the view that 'Lurpak Spreadable' is not, in fact, even remotely spreadable and nobody agrees with me on that either.

Tom Chivers said...

The definition is a bit clumsy, but to me also communicates the spirit of Z (even if the word 'capture' should be replaced by 'threat', and 'recapture' by something about not answering the threat directly.)

"A move played in response to a capture which is not a recapture, but which forces the opponent to make a reply which cannot avoid eventual capture."

Also I just went through Paul Littlewood's chapter on Z in his (excellent) book "Chess Tactics". The examples all seem to involve doing something in the middle of a sequence, either unexpectedly or in not answering the opponent's threat.

Btw, MegaBase 2007 has many examples of Z classified, if you look the term up in the database's 'themes'.

Anonymous said...

wow 15 comments on the minutae of zwischenzug! 16 now I suppose!

Anonymous said...

Anyone for zugzwang?


Tom Chivers said...

Have you ever tried defining 'dynamics'? I found it impossible.

Ryan Emmett said...

According to Bill Wall, Zwischenzug is pronounced "TSVEYE-shun-tsook". He just replied to my blog entry at

Chris Morgan said...

I suppose the bishop goes to f7 'in between' moving to e8. Zwischenzug does usually refer to a move played before an obvious recapture though.