The USA currently has a thriving chess composition magazine. It’s called StrateGems, (not a printing error!) and is published by The Good Companions, an association of American chess problemists and study enthusiasts. You can find their website at www.strategems.net. Our first study today is a prize-winner from their informal tourney for studies for the years 2006 and 2007. It is a joint composition, and one of its authors is Pal Benko. This is the Pal Benko who was an otb World Championship Candidate in the 1950s and 1960, and who is also famous for the gambit named after him. Benko has been an enthusiastic composer of problems and studies for many years.
This is a study of two halves. The first half, by way of introduction, is a romantic battle in the old style (including three sacrifices), while the second half is a technical endgame in the newer style. It is wonderful that the composers have been able to add such an elegant introduction onto an endgame position that may well have been mined from an endgame table base, thereby creating the best of two very different worlds.
Pal Benko & Peter Gyarmati
3rd Prize, StrateGems, 2006-2007
White to play and win
White can't seem to make progress by attacking the h-pawn straight away. For example - 1.Kh6? Rg2 2.e6+ (2.Qf1+ Ke8! =) 2...Kxe6 3.Qe1+ (3.Qe3+ Kf5 =) 3...Kf5 (3...Kd5 4.Qd1+ (4.Qh1 Ke5 5.Qh5+ Kf6 6.Qh4+ Kf5 7.a6 Qf3 =) 4...Ke4 (4...Ke6 5.Qb3+ Ke5 6.Qe3+ Kf5 =; 4...Ke5 5.Qh5+ Kf6 =) 5.Bb2 Qa8 6.Qd4+ Kf3 7.Qd3+ (7.Qc3+ Kf2 =) 7...Kf2 =) 4.Qb1+ Kg4=. What does work is the study’s first sacrifice, which, as far as the main-line is concerned, unblocks White’s d-pawn, making way for the later sacrifices. 1.e6+ dxe6 Leads to the interesting main-line play, but Black has other, more pedestrian ways to lose - 1...Kxe6 2.Qg8+ Kf5 3.Qxh7+ Ke5 4.Qh8+ Kd5 5.a8Q Rh2+ 6.Kg5 Rxh8 7.Qxh8 1-0 or 1...Kf6 2.Qg5+ Kxe6 3.Qxd2 1-0 2.Kh6 Rg2 3.Qf1+ Kg8 Going the other way leads to mate - 3...Ke8 4.a8Q+ Qxa8 5.d7+ Kxd7 6.Qf7+ Kc8 7.Qxe6+ Kc7 8.Qd6+ Kc8 9.Qf8+ Kb7 10.Qf3+ Ka7 11.Bc5+ Kb8 12.Bd6+ Ka7 13.Qe3+ Kb7 14.Qb6+ Kc8 15.Qc7# 4.Qf8+ The second sacrifice. 4...Kxf8 5.d7+ Kf7 6.d8N+ White mustn't thoughtlessly choose a queen - 6.d8Q?? Rg6+ 7.Kh5 (7.Kxh7 Qh1+ 8.Qh4 Qxh4#) 7...Qf3+ 8.Kh4 Qh1# 6...Kf6 7.Be7+ The third sacrifice, necessary to avoid mate on the h-file. (7.Nxc6?? Rh2#) 7...Kxe7 8.Nxc6+ The end of the first, romantic, phase of the study. We now move into the second, technical phase. 8...Kf6 9.Kxh7 Rg7+ 9...Rh2+ 10.Kg8 Rg2+ 11.Kf8 Rh2 12.Ne7 1-0; 9...Kf7 10.Ne5+ Kf6 11.a8Q 1-0 10.Kh8 10.Kh6? Rg8 11.Kh5 Ra8 = 10...Rxa7 The black moves of the main line are those that lead to optimal, unique White play, as guaranteed by the endgame tablebases. 11.Nxa7 Ke5 Just as good (or bad!) is 11...Ke7 12.Kg7 Kd6 13.Kf6 e5 14.Kf5 Kd5 15.Nb5 e4 16.Kf4 Kc5 17.Na3 Kc6 18.Kxe4 Kb7 19.Nc4 Ka6 20.Kd5 1-0 12.Kg7 Kd5 12...Kd6 13.Kf6 e5 14.Kf5 Kd5 15.Nb5 transposes to the previous note. 13.Kf6 e5 14.Kf5 e4 15.Kf4 e3 16.Kxe3 Kc5 17.Ke4 Kb4 17...Kd6 18.Kd4 Kc7 19.Kc5 Kb7 20.Nc6 Ka6 21.Kb4 Kb7 22.Kb5 1-0 18.Nc6+ Kb5 18...Kc5 19.Nb4 Kb5 20.a6 Kb6 21.Kd4 Ka7 22.Kc5 1-0 19.Kd5 1–0
As our study for solving, here’s one that was in the award in StrateGems’ latest tourney award. Why not have a go at it?
1st Comm., StrateGems, 2008
White to play and win
1.f6 1.Nd3+? Kxf5 2.Bxd5 a1Q 3.Kh5 Qd1! 0-1 1...exf6 1...a1Q 2.fxe7 Qh8 (2...Qe1 3.e8Q Qxf2+ 4.Kh5 1-0; 2...Qd4 3.e8Q Qxf2+ 4.Kh5 1-0) 3.Bc6 1-0 2.g6 hxg6 2...a1Q 3.g7 Qe1 (3...Qg1 4.Nxh3+ 1-0) 4.g8Q Qxf2+ 5.Qg3+ Qxg3+ 6.hxg3+ 1-0 3.Nd3+ Kf5 3...Ke3 4.Nb4 a1Q 5.Nc2+ 1-0; 3...Ke4 4.Bxd5+ Kxd5 5.Nb4+ 1-0 4.Bxd5 a1Q 4...g5+ 5.Kh5 a1Q 6.e4# 5.e4#
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