Sunday 11 December 2016

The rules of chess have evolved over a very long period of time. For example, stalemate was treated quite differently in different ages and countries - from a loss to the stalemated side to a loss to the side which played the move leading to a stalemate. Only in the 19th Century did the rule concerning stalemate take its present shape. Stalemate is often the last gleam of hope that the defending side has and many a game was saved with a last-minute brilliancy leading to a stalemate.

Published 13/09/2015 | 02:30

The rules of chess have evolved over a very long period of time. For example, stalemate was treated quite differently in different ages and countries - from a loss to the stalemated side to a loss to the side which played the move leading to a stalemate. Only in the 19th Century did the rule concerning stalemate take its present shape. Stalemate is often the last gleam of hope that the defending side has and many a game was saved with a last-minute brilliancy leading to a stalemate.

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Let us consider the following position from a recent tournament in Barcelona, which took place in the end of August. It was a big tournament, with 380 players competing. Polish Grandmaster Kacper Piorun won it outright, scoring 8.5 points in 10 rounds. Both players in this game were strong amateurs.

Serarols Mabras - Lorenzo de la Riva

Black to play

Black is winning - not only is he a pawn up, but all his pieces are more active than their white counterparts. Black had to regroup his pieces, either getting his queen to e4 or his king to g3, preparing to play ... g5-g4, for example: 54...Re3 55.Qd5 Qf2 56.Qd8 Qe2 57.Qd5 Re5 58.Qd8 Kg3, winning.

However, Black became seduced by a very clever idea, which had a well-hidden tactical flaw:

54...Rxh3+ 55.gxh3 Kxh3

It seems that White is helpless against the checkmate on h2, but White saved the game with a brilliant move:

56.Qf2!! Qxf2 57.Rg3+ fxg3

Stalemate!

Sunday Independent

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