The First Law of Swindling states that a player's propensity to blunder in a winning position is proportional to the number of paths he can choose to victory. In other words, the best way to save a lost position is to confuse your opponent by offering him a choice of winning paths.

Jan Timman appreciates this, as he demonstrated in a fine escape against John van der Sterren at the Dutch championships. In the diagram position, Timman (Black) faced the threat of Nxe8. White also has good chances of a mating attack with Bh6 and/or Nd5 and Nf6+. So Timman played 1...Re4!

White can now win with 2.Nd5 or (thanks to Re4 taking away a square from Black's queen) with 2.Rc1 Qb3 3.Rc3 Qa4 4.Bb5. Instead he chose the third way: 2.Bd3, allowing 2...Qxd1+! 3.Qxd1 Rxd6 4.h3 Rxd3! 5.Qxd3 Re1+ 6.Qf1 Rxf1+ 7.Kxf1 with a draw agreed two moves later.

Comments