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  1. 14 Nov '10 22:00

    The game this position is taken from occurred a long time ago. I remember it well because a few of us spent almost two hours analyzing it afterwards. It comes back to mind because I saw a similar position in an endgame study on Susan Polgar's site a few days ago. I actually went downstairs and drudged through some old game tablets (I wrote them in English notation then) and found the position, moves, and commentary.

    This was during the second round at the Illowa Open, a small regional chess tournament in Moline Illinois in 1971: entry fee $10, with three rounds on Saturday and two on Sunday. It drew one Expert (2000 USCF), a few "A" players, and an assortment of others. Black was Walter Karpuska, a chess fixture in the general Chicago area at the time. Karpuska, who was in his mid 60's then, was an avid supporter of the game, long before the Fischer craze took off. His gentlemanly ways were a contradiction to his fierce attacking style, and he liked playing somewhat-unsound moves, just to see how they would come out. Karpuska, whose rating never got much above 1800 (USCF), was respected and loved by all who knew him. I don't know of anybody who disliked the man.

    White was a 16 or 17 year old girl named Andrea, the daughter of another avid chess enthusiast, from Peoria. Andrea's rating was about 1450.

    I picked up on the game about a half-dozen moves before the given position. There was only one other game going at the time. By the time this position arose, the other game had ended, and most of the players in the room gathered around to watch.

    The two players had just finished their 60th move, and tournament director Stan Roberts put another 30 minutes on each clock for the ensuing 20 moves. Neither player was in serious time trouble. Karpuska, who had been up a Rook, had just given it away for a minor piece and pawn, capturing on b6 as he did.

    The position is remarkable, because White has to find nine consecutive moves, all but one of which are the only move to hold the position (e.g. any other move loses).

    1 Kd6

    The only move. White played this after about 10 seconds of thought. 1 e6 loses to f6, 2 Kd6 Kb7, 3 Kd7 f5, 4 Ke8 Kc7, 5 Kf7 Kd6.

    1..... Kb5
    2 Kd7

    Again the only move. 2 e6 f6 3 Kd5 (3 Kd7 loses as in the previous note) Ne7+ keeps White's King at bay until Black's King can arrive to help.

    2.... Kc5
    3 Ke8 Nh6
    4 Ke7 Kd4!

    The wily Karpuska sets a trap for his young opponent. The direct 4... Kd5, 5 Kf6 puts Black in Zugzwang and allows White's pawn to push and draw.

    At this point, the girl, who hadn't taken a full minute total on her previous four moves, now gave Karpuska an odd look. She frowned and studied the position for a few minutes. She looked very puzzled. Finally she exclaimed, a bit loudly, "Oh! THAT'S why you played that move!"

    The 30 or so spectators who had gathered now burst into laughter. The girl looked up, as though surprised that she had an audience. She shrugged, bent back over, and studied for about another minute, before playing:

    5 e6!

    It's now or never. Note that 5 Kd3?? Kd5 would fall right into White's trap. It's the same postion as discussed above, except that it's Black's move, and now SHE would be in Zugzwang and give up the Pawn.

    At that point, Karpuska smiled and said: "Yes, that's why I played that move. But you didn't fall for it."

    5.... f5 (forced)
    6 Kf6

    Again, the only move. 6 Kf8 Ng4, followed by Nf3.

    6... f4

    Made after a few minutes of thought. The other choice is 6 ... Ke4, 7 Kg7!, and now White has to fight for a draw with 7... f3, 9 e7 c2, 10 e8=Q+ Kf3, and Black has the Q vs BP draw, as White's King is too far away.

    At this point, it looks hopeless for White, as 7 Kg7 no longer works, since Black can now put the Knight on c4 and stop the Pawn. 7 Kg6 Ng8, 8 Kf7 Ke5 wins the Pawn one way or the other.

    White brushed her hair back and studied the position for about five minutes. She frowned, shrugged her shoulders, said: "Oh well, at least I tried," and played:

    7 e7! Ng8+

    White made an exasperated face and tipped her King over to resign.

    Many of us who knew what had just happened made disappointed sounds at this. Stan Roberts started for the director's table to record the result.

    Mr. Karpuska showed why he was loved by everybody. He wasn't having any of the resignation. He picked up the prone King and placed it back on f6. His gentle voice said (don't quote me verbatim): "I believe that you touched your King. Would you mind moving it, please?"

    The girl looked up at him with a puzzled, slightly angry expression. She saw a friendly, solemn face in Karpuska and various faces of concern and interest in some of the rest of us. There wasn't the slightest hint of malice anywhere. She went back to the position, scowling at it. Why was she being forced to make a move; hadn't she resigned?

    Then the light-bulb went on in her head. Her eyes lit up. She gasped, grabbed the King (almost knocking it over again), and played:

    8 Kf5!

    8 Kg5 also works; the only move that White has an option for.

    8.... Nxe7+

    Karpuska couldn't help injecting a parting bit of humor. As the girl reached for the King to take the pawn, he said, as though it made a difference: "Check!"

    The girl hesitated for a moment, then scowled (because she'd been taken in) and played:

    9 Kxf4

    At which point Karpuska extended his hand and said: "Well played draw", as the room broke into applause, some of it undoubtedly for him, due to his generous "Mulligan".

    We analyzed the game a bit before the start of the next round, and also after that round was over, and we found that every White move except the eighth was forced, and many moves in the variations were also forced.

    The girl didn't see what all the fuss was about. She got up from the table after the handshake and sought out her father, wanting to know if it was possible to eat before the next round. It wasn't, as the round was already delayed, but a local who'd had to work that day and couldn't participate in the tournament, offered to make a fast-food run----and quickly got about 20 replies from various people.

    As it happened, the girl and I played in the next round. While munching on McDonald's, she played timidly and managed to get herself mated in about 25 moves. It didn't seem to bother her. She played the next day, scoring a loss and draw.

    I ran into her father a few years later. He said that she didn't play in another tournament, as she simply didn't share his avid interest in chess. That's the last I've heard from either of them, although I still see his name in the USCF active lists.
  2. 14 Nov '10 23:19
    Originally posted by TomBarrister
    [fen]6n1/5p2/1k6/3KP3/8/8/8/8 w KQkq - 0 1[/fen]

    The game this position is taken from occurred a long time ago. I remember it well because a few of us spent almost two hours analyzing it afterwards. It comes back to mind because I saw a similar position in an endgame study on Susan Polgar's site a few days ago. I actually went downstairs and drudg ...[text shortened]... I still see his name in the USCF active lists.
    what a thoroughly entertaining posts, thanks for that!
  3. 14 Nov '10 23:40
    Good post. Here is the game moving.

  4. Standard member nimzo5
    15 Nov '10 01:02
    Sidenote- I just played in the Quad City Fall Classic a few weekends ago- hosted by the very same Illowa Chess Club. 🙂
  5. 15 Nov '10 02:32
    I haven't played competitive chess since 1977. I've barely kept in touch with the game until the past few momths.

    The Illowa Chess Club used to be held Tuesday Nights at Hauberg Civic Center in Rock Island. Most of the tournaments that the club handled were held at the LeClaire Hotel in downtown Moline. That all changed in the mid 1970's, but I haven't kept up with it.

    If you were at a Quad City tournament, it's all but guaranteed that you saw Bob Long there, probably with a long table or two full of books and other chess items for sale. Bob was filling orders from his store and/or home even before the Fischer craze hit the country, and he has a presence online now as well.
  6. Standard member nimzo5
    15 Nov '10 02:45
    I have stopped in at his shop in Davenport, but I got the impression that he no longer is in the area. The Illowa chess club has a website, easy to google and see who is active these days. They hold their Fall Classic at Augastana in the student union.