Chess

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Allow Me to let you into one of the most closely guarded secrets of the great players. Those "brilliant combinations" that grace every anthology of chessboard "masterpieces" are, in the main, just the result of lucky accidents. One man's fingerslip is another's magnificent combination. I bring, as evidence, one of the most acclaimed games of all time.

White: Rotlewi

Black: Rubinstein

Lodz 1907

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 e6 3.e3 c5 4.c4 Nc6 5.Nc3 Nf6 6.dxc5 Bxc5 7.a3 a6 8.b4 Bd6 9.Bb2 0-0 10.Qd2?

Quite pointless. The queen is almost better off on d1 than on this square.

10...Qe7 11.Bd3

Perhaps White had intended 11.cxd5 exd5 12.Nxd5 Nxd5 13.Qxd5, and only now noticed the force of 13...Nxb4 14.axb4 Bxb4+ 15.Ke2 Be6 with a withering attack.

11...dxc4 12.Bxc4 b5 13.Bd3 Rd8 14.Qe2 Bb7 15.0-0

White has contrived to fall two moves behind - the signal for Black to take the reins.

15...Ne5 16.Nxe5 Bxe5 17.f4 Bc7 18.e4 Rac8 19.e5

A natural move that turns out, by sheer bad fortune, to be an error.

19...Bb6+ 20.Kh1 Ng4! 21.Be4

21.Qxg4 Rxd3 would not have been pleasant for White.

21...Qh4 22.g3 (See diagram.)

Now put yourself in Black's shoes: you were given two free moves in the opening, but you squandered them with 15...Ne5, which only encouraged White to seize space with f4 and e4. After 19.e5, you sought refuge in tactics with the dubious Ng4. Now your queen and bishop are attacked and your knight on g4 is still loose. Is it any wonder that Black panics?

22...Rxc3

Black had probably intended Bxe4+, but picked up the piece that was due to recapture on e4. It's easily done.

22.gxh4 Rd2!

A lucky resource. White must accept the rook, or it will deliver mate on h2.

23.Qxd2 Bxe4+ 24.Qg2 Rh3!!

Black's luck holds to the end. There is no defence to Rxh2 mate.

White resigned.

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