The Impossible Finish

Would you have found Black's brilliant drawing resource after more than 8 hours of unbroken play? Would you have found the refutation?

Auburn Memorial Weekend Open, 1972.

White: Col. Sicherman
Black: E. Tyma

Grünfeld Defense.

1. d4 Nf6; 2. c4 g6; 3. Nc3 d5; 4. Bf4.

A quiet line. I wasn't familiar with the Grünfeld.

4...Bg7; 5. e3 O-O; 6. Qb3 c5; 7. Nf3.

Now Black opens the position a bit early.; 8. ed dc; 9. B:c4 a6?; 10. Ng5 e6; 11. B:b8 R:b8; 12. B:a6.

Black has some pressure for the pawn.

12...Qa5; 13. Bb5 Nd5; 14. Nf3 Rd8; 15. O-O Ne7.

Black starts bearing down on the isolated d-pawn.

16. Rfd1 Qc7; 17. Rac1 Qf4; 18. Ne2 Qd6; 19. Ne5.

White has a comfortable position and a pawn plus.

19...Nd5; 20. Nc4 Qe7; 21. Qg3 Bd7; 22. B:d7 Q:d7; 23. a3 Qb5; 24. Qd3 Nf4!?

Black gives up material to unbalance the position.

25. N:f4 R:d4; 26. Q:d4 B:d4; 27. R:d4 e5.

Black was probably counting on this shot, but White has too much control over the board.

28. Rd5 Qc6; 29. Rd6 Qe4; 30. Nd5 Kg7; 31. Nce3 Qd4 32. Rd1.

Giving back the pawn for a more aggressive position.

32...Q:b2; 33. Nc4 Qb3; 34. Nde3 b5.

Black offered a draw here.

35. R6d3 Qa4; 36. N:e5 Re8! 37. Nf3 b4; 38. ab Q:b4.

The exchange of pawns makes White's task harder.

39. Rd7 h6; 40. h3 Re7; 41. R:e7!?

It would be more ambitious to leave the Rooks on, hoping to harass Black's Rook with the Knights.

41...Q:e7; 42. Nd4 Qe4; 43. Ndc2 Qa4; 44. Nd4 Kf8; 45. Nf3 Kg7; 46. Ne5 Qe4; 47. Nd7 Qa4; 48. Nc5 Qb4; 49. Nd3 Qb3; 50. Ne1 Qa4; 51. Nf3 Qe4.

White is getting nowhere fast.

52. Nd2 Qa4; 53. Ndc4 Qb3; 54. Rd2 Qb1+; 55. Kh2 Qb8+; 56. g3 Qb3; 57. Nd6.

Little by little White advances.

57...Qc3; 58. Nec4 Qf3; 59. Ra2 Kf8; 60. Rb2.

With threats against the f-pawn. Black avoids check with tempo.

60...Kg7; 61. Ne3 Qc6; 62. Ndc4 Qf6; 63. Kg1 h5; 64. Rb6 Qa1+; 65. Kh2 Qa2; 66. Rb2 Qa8; 67. Nd6 Qc6; 68. Rd2 Qf3; 69. Kg1!? h4?!

Wins a pawn, but the Queen is temporarily trapped out of play.

70. g4 Q:h3; 71. Rd3 Kf8; 72. Rc3 Qf3; 73. Rc7 Qe2; 74. R:f7+ Kg8; 75. Rf6 Qe1+; 76. Kg2 Kh7; 77. Nf7 Kg7; 78. Rf4 Qa5.

Black looks like losing another pawn.

79. Kh3 Qc7; 80. Ng5!

To meet 80...Q:f4 with 81. Ne6+.

80...Kh6; 81. Rf7 Qc6.

Setting a diabolical trap. By now it was past midnight, and no spectators remained except a few teenagers from Syracuse, making frequent trips to the cloakroom to analyze the position.

82. K:h4.

Taking the bait!

82...Qh1+; 83. Kg3.

Intending to answer 83...K:g5? with 84. f4+ Kh6; 85. g5+ Kh5; 86. Rh7#.


An amazing resource! White must take the Queen and stalemate or lose a piece. The kids relaxed and waited for me to hold out my hand, but . . .

84. Kg2!!

. . . after standing paralyzed for a moment, they dashed for the cloakroom. Black has two ways to take the Knight, both toxic, and any other move gives away his Queen.


Or 84...K:g5; 85. f4+ Kh6; 86. g5+ Kh5; 87. Rh7#.

85. f4 1:0.

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Col. G. L. Sicherman [ HOME | MAIL ]