Good Knight

The New Yorks Knights bid to win the US Chess League was stopped cold last night by the Boston Blitz. Board One, the battle of former US chess champions, Hikaru Nakamura for New York and Larry Christiansen for Boston, was the first game finished; it was a hard fought draw. Then Iryna Zenyuk, the hero of the Knights this year, couldn’t continue her winning ways and went down to her first defeat of the season on Board Four.

On Board Two, Pascal Charbonneau, playing Black for New York, had a great position. On move 29 (shown below)

he shifted his rook to g7, a logical-looking move, training the queen and rook battery on the White king. But White can then defend by retreating his bishop to f1. Black’s position, of course, is still strong, though. When I joined all the Knights for a gallows-humor post-mortem afterward, Pascal realized that on move 29 he should have penetrated with his queen to d2 so that he is forking White’s bishop and b-pawn.

Later Pascal had blundered into the position shown below, in which White, on move 35, has a cute, decisive shot. Can you find it?

The shot is Rh4, attacking and winning Black’s queen. The undefended rook is immune to capture by the queen because then White mates on g7. After Rh4, the French Canadian showed his excellent command of English by uttering a choice expletive.

With Pascal’s loss, New York was down two games, and would lose the match no matter what happened in the sole remaining encounter, between “Sleeping Knight” Jay Bonin and Denys Shmelov. Bonin, in fact, probably had a losing game because Shmelov was up material and had too many pawns. To the delight of his teammates, Bonin ended up swindling Shmelov by weaving a mating net and dangerously advancing his one foot soldier.

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