Monday, August 18, 2014

The Best of Times

19 Bc1-h6!
Adams - Grandelius, Tromso Olympiad 2014

Choosing my Champagne Moment ((C) TMS) of the Olympiad has not been the most onerous of tasks. Nothing could top seeing Bh6 appear on Mickey Adams’ board in England’s match against Sweden.

In the time it took for Grandelius to reply I got to wondering: if Black lets White play Bxf8 at some point - after something like 19 ... Nd7, 20 Qe4 g6, say - would that count as an ISE?

15 Bc1-h6!
Portisch - Radulov & Ribli - Ljubojevic, Buenos Aires Olympiad 1978

Bc1-h6 allowing the bish to be snaffled by a pawn on g7 has a long and honourable tradition at Olympiads. 35 years ago in Argentina (you may remember it from WwwK XVIII) Portisch played it, and his teammate Zoltan Ribli got to repeat it a few days later, in what had previously been thought to be a harmless variation of the Catalan.

Spectacular bishop moves are all very well, but what of the ISE question? Do I add one to my 2014 ISE count - standing at 52 after Kramnik’s effort against Topalov last week - or do I not?

After a long think Grandelius chose to keep material equality whilst allowing his pawn structure to be shattered.

White to play
What happened

Clearly if the Swedish GM had played differently it would have been a conscious choice to do so. Would that have been him sacrificing the exchange, then, or would Adams merely be winning it? The computer seems to feel that Black is less worse after giving up/losing (delete as you see fit) the material. Should that make a difference?

White to play
What Might Have Been

Perhaps, as Matt Fletcher suggests, we need a completely new category: the Desperation Sacrifice of an Exchange

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