Follow Through Go For The Knockout

Everything can collapse. Houses, bodies, and enemies collapse when their rhythm becomes deranged.

In large-scale strategy, when the enemy starts to collapse you must pursue him without letting the chance go. If you fail to take advantage of your enemies' collapse, they may recover.

In single combat, the enemy sometimes loses timing and collapses. If you let this opportunity pass, he may recover and not be so negligent thereafter. Fix your eye on the enemy's collapse, and chase him, attacking so that you do not let him recover. You must do this. The chasing attack is with a strong spirit. You must utterly cut the enemy down so that he does not: recover his position.

In Hollywood movies the "good guy "often fells his opponent in a fight with a brilliant combination of punches, only to turn his back while his attacker recovers and whacks him in the head from behind with a chair. In real combat we train to finish the opponent by knocking him out cold. The best fighters from western boxing arid competitive bu-jitsu all hone this "killer instinct." In real life, mercy and compassion are highly admirable and desirable qualities, but during a chess game they are irrelevant. (After

I >u have vanquished your opponent is the moment to offer en-< ouraging words and a beverage.)

When your attacking strategy yields an advantage, you must stay Incused and capitalize on it. Even if you have captured material early, do not let up. Big-game hunters in Africa say, "It is the dead lion that gets up and eats you." The Samurai aphorism "After the battle, tighten your helmet straps," is a reminder that you should not let your guard down just because you have won—apparently, in modern Japanese martial arts, this quality is called zanshin — "continuing mind."

There is good reason to "tighten your helmet straps," despite an i iverwhelming advantage. You can always be suckered into a draw through stalemate, or you can lose outright through wickedly clever play from an opponent who appears to have nothing to lose. The following two examples—the sucker stalemate and the dramatic victory when all seems lost—show how a "dead lion" can still get up and eat a player who has lost zanshin.

White: Larry Evans; Black: Sammy Reshevsky

U.S. Championship 1964


Black to move

Black to move

abede fgh

In this needle game from the U.S. Championship between two top American Grandmasters, Black is a knight ahead and would win easily with virtually any move. He could even play 1 . . . Qg6 since White dare not capture the knight.

Instead, Reshevsky fell for the sucker punch by playing 1 . . . Sxg3. Now White had his chance, and rose from the dead with the stunning 2 @g8+ 1t?xg8 3 §xg7-K

White's amazing series of sacrifices forces a draw. From the diagram 3 . .. ©xg7 is stalemate as is 3 ., . ¿?xg7. Alternatively, if the black king tries to run away from the checks with 3 . . . §h8, then 4 Bh7+ &g8 5 Bg7+ &f8 6 Hf7+ &e8 7 Be7+, and so on ad infinitum. The white rook pursues the black king like a rottweiler, yapping and snapping at his heels. Whenever the rook is taken, the stalemate draw becomes automatic. This is perhaps the most dramatic example in top-flight tournament chess of this drawing theme.

The second example features the normally imperturbable and virtually undefeatable Petrosian, This was the second-biggest blunder of his career. (See page 153 for the worst.)


White: Petrosian; Black; Gligoric

Belgrade 1956

In the diagram position, White can win easily with 1 Hxe8+ n -,.'8 2 Ah6 (threatening mate on g7) 2 . . . &B+ 3 &g2 Se5 ■ In ii 4 §a8 strikes Black down from a new direction.

White to play

White to play

a b c d e f g h

Instead Petrosian reversed the order of his moves. He played 1 Aii6, which was immediately crushed by 1 . . . §xel+ 2 Sfxel


Now the black knight has forked the white king and queen, so White resigned.

Adolf Anperssen-the kaiser of the knockout

The ultimate model for the second Samurai chess principle is Adolf Anderssen, a German Grandmaster who won the first ever international tournament:, staged in London in 1851, and remained a dominating figures in world chess for two decades. Anderssen was noted for the brutality and elegance of his finishing power.

White: Adolf Anderssen; Black: Lionel Kieseritsky

London 1851 King's Gambit

This game was played during the 1851 Great Exhibition. The vanquished Lionel Kieseritsky, chess tutor at the Cafe de la Regence, Paris, where he gave lessons at 5 francs an hour, was so impressed by the brilliance of Anderssen's play-that he immediately telegraphed the moves to a waiting audience in Paris. Ever since, this game has been known by the unimprovable sobriquet the Immortal Game.













Here Black sacrifices his pawn to lure White's bishop away from its attacking position and to create an avenue of development for his own queens bishop from b7. In 1851 even masters regarded this as sufficient compensation for the loss of a pawn.

6 Sh6

This is a mistake. Black would have been better advised to play . . . ¿Lb7. The knight's transparent threat of .. . iàg3-t- is too easily parried.

8 fch4 1ttg5

9 MS c6

10 g4 fcf6

a b c d e f gh

Klack here evidently experts to win White's g4 pawn, .lulicipating the continuation I I Ac4 Sxg4. Instead of i ¡liliging in this fashion, White r.ives up his bishop—the first "I many sacrifices in this brilliant game. Anderssen demon--.1 rates superb risk assessment in this game. If his attack does 5!<j| break through, he will cer-f.1 inly lose because of his heavy material sacrifices.

11 Sgl cxb5

White has the initiative --every move of White's now poses a forced threat,

14 SB

White now poses the terrible new threat of ilxf4, trap ping Black's queen. In order to create an avenue of escape, Black has to retreat one of the few pieces he has developed.











This heTalds the introduction to a grandiose combination in which White sacrifices both rooks and his queen to deliver checkmate.

a b c d e f g h

Black wins his first rook.

19 &e2 Axgl

Black does not believe White's attack and takes the second rook, White is now the colossal total of two rooks and a bishop down. He must go remorselessly for the most accurate knockout blow; otherwise Black will recover and inevitably win on sheer material.

Now, to cap all White's earlier efforts, comes the queen sacrifice.

23 Atl check mate

The most spectacuhi knockout in the entire histon of chess:


it's like a game of chess: you synchronize the action of your pieces, then BLAM.

—Line from independence Day, the top-grossing movie blockbuster of 1996


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  • Declan Moore
    Who said "after the battle, tighten your helmet"?
    2 years ago

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