Chess: Playing to win, or just playing?

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The Independent Culture
BORIS SPASSKY had the right idea. He put on a blank expression, idly studied the position in front of him as though it were a restaurant menu, then chose the move that tasted best. Most of us, however, find such emotional detachment hard to achieve.

There is a tale from the Candidates Tournament of 1953, in which one grandmaster - I think it was Najdorf - offered a draw by asking his opponent, probably Bronstein: 'Are you playing for a win?' Bronstein said 'No' and made a move. Najdorf, somewhat puzzled, then asked: 'Would you like a draw?' Bronstein declined. 'What are you playing for, then?' asked Najdorf. 'Just playing,' replied Bronstein.

In today's game, if Black had been 'just playing', he need not have lost. Instead, he played for a win, and that was his fatal error. With the initiative lurching back and forth throughout the game, it was an easy mistake to make.

With 12 . . . Ne4, Black accepted a potentially weak pawn on e4, which was hard for White to get at. With the remarkable plan of Kf8, Ke7 and f6, Black created a rescue mission for the errant pawn.

By move 30, White's game was looking ragged, but things changed after the speculative 31. a3]? which threw Black completely off balance. He took the bait and his queen was lured offside long enough for White to open lines to the king with a piece sacrifice.

The crucial moment came after 37. Qf5, which should have been met by 37 . . . Qe7 38. Rh6 Rf8. Instead, Black became carried away with his own attacking plans, and soon found himself defenceless.

White: Thorhallsson

Black: Shaw

1 d4 d5 2 Nf3 Bf5 3 c4 e6 4 Nc3 c6 5 g3 Nf6 6 Bg2 Be7 7 0-0 h6 8 Ne5 Nbd7 9 Bf4 0-0 10 h3 Qb6 11 Qd2 Nxe5 12 dxe5 Ne4 13 Nxe4 dxe4 14 g4 Bh7 15 Qc3 Rad8 16 Be3 Bc5 17 Bxc5 Qxc5 18 Rfd1 a5 19 Rac1 Rfe8 20 b3 Kf8 21 Bf1 Ke7 22 e3 f6 23 exf6+ gxf6 24 Be2 h5 25 Kf1 hxg4 26 hxg4 Bg6 27 Kg2 Qg5 28 Rh1 Rh8 29 Rcd1 Rxh1 30 Rxh1 Qc5 31 a3 Qxa3 32 g5 e5 33 Rh6 Kf7 34 Bh5 Bxh5 35 Rxf6+ Kg8 36 Qxe5 Re8 37 Qf5 Qa1 38 Rh6 Bf3+ 39 Kg3 Qg1+ 40 Kf4 Rf8 41 Rg6+ Kh7 42 Rf6+ Kg7 43 Qg6+ Kh8 44 Rxf8+ 1-0

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