Tuesday 01 April 1997
In the Forties however, Matison and Rabinovich found the idea of 1.f4 Rf2 2.Kd4! Rxf4+ 3.Ke5 which they claimed led to a draw. Another 10 years went by before it was discovered that Black could still win with 3...Rf8! 4.d4 Re8+! 5.Kd6 Rd8+! 6.Kc5 Kc2 7.d5 Kd3.
Finally, in 1956, Maizelis blew a hole in the Reti's original solution with 1.f3 Ka2!! 2.d4 Ka3 3.Kc4 Ka4 4.d5 Ka5 5.Kc5 Rc2+ 6.Kd6 Kb6 7.f4 Rf2 and Black wins!
The whole thing does, however, have a happy ending. Maizelis was not just a wrecker; he believed in putting things right, too. Looking again at the initial position, he moved the black rook from h2 to a2. Now it is White to play and draw, and the only solution (as far as we know) is 1.f3. Reti's original variation is restored, and the black king cannot move to a2. After 1.f4 Rf2 we are back in the twice-improved variation above. Not quite what Reti originally intended, but all the better for it.
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