Chess: Geller's gaffe

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The Independent Culture
WHEN you see a good move, the great Dr Tarrasch advised, sit on your hands and look for a better one. That may be right for grandmasters, but as every club player knows, a good move should be played quickly before you think yourself out of it. Good moves are rare and you should not push your luck looking for something better.

Another basic rule of club chess, often forgotten in the heat of battle, is the Combinational Uncertainty Principle: the probability of miscalculating is directly proportional to the square of the number of moves in the longest variation analysed. A simple corollary of this is that any wonderful idea probably doesn't work, so you might as well play something simple instead and not waste time.

If grandmaster Geller had remembered that, he would probably not have lost to Zsuzsa Polgar in the Old Men versus Young Women tournament in Vienna last week. At move 13, Geller began a deep combination, probably calculating as far as move 18.

After 15. Rxa7, he can cop out with 15 . . . Bxb4. Black's game is uncomfortable after 16. Rxb7 Ba5, but he should hold out for a draw.

On 16. Nb5, Black has comfortable equality with Bxb4, but Geller persisted with his plan. 16 . . . Rc4?] is a fine idea - but it doesn't work. He must have calculated 17. Bxc4 dxc4 18. Qa4 Bd7 19. Ra5 Nd5] when White is hopelessly tangled and Black threats both Nc3 and Bxb4.

He had simply overlooked 19. Qa5] when 19 . . . Qxb5 20. Qxb5 Bxb5 21. Rxb7 leaves White picking up one of the bishops. With 19 . . . Qxa5 20. Rxa5 b6 21. Ra7 offering much the same prospect, Geller could only accept that it had all gone wrong. At the end, the threats of 29. Qxe8+ and 29. Nd6 were too much to stand.

White: Z Polgar

Black: Y Geller

1 d4 d5 15 Rxa7 Qb6 2 c4 e6 16 Nb5 Rc4 3 Nc3 Be7 17 Bxc4 dxc4 4 Nf3 Nf6 18 Qa4 Bd7 5 Bf4 0-0 19 Qa5 Qc6 6 e3 c5 20 Nd4 Qc8 7 dxc5 Bxc5 21 Qb6 c3 8 a3 Nc6 22 Qxb7 Qc4 9 b4 Be7 23 Be5 Rd8 10 cxd5 exd5 24 Bxf6 Bxf6 11 Be2 Be6 25 Ra8 Re8 12 Nd4 Rc8 26 Rxe8+ Bxe8 13 0-0 Nxb4 27 Qb8 Kf8 14 axb4 Rxc3 28 Nf5 1-0