The Invisible Stalemate

My old friend, the Israeli chess writer and composer Amatzia Avni reacts on our recent item regarding the liberation day tournament. Watching my Rook ending against GM Alexandre Dgebuadze in Karel van Delft’s video he noticed a missed opportunity:

The game continued: 1…h5+ 2.Kf4 Rh3 3.Rb6+ Kg7 4.Rb7+?? Kh6 5.Rb6 Rxh4+ and Black soon won.
“Instead of 4. Rb7+?” wonders Amatzia “couldn’t white save the game by the familiar 4.Rb4! with the idea 4…Rxh4+ 5. Kg5! Rxb4 stalemate?” He could of course but this possibility even did not occur to him and in the heat of the game and the time pressure I also could not spot it despite a vague feeling of déjà vu.

This “trick” had been actually employed in tournament practice more than once. Van Perlo’s monumental  “Endgame Tactics” quotes the following example played in 1963 in the Soviet Union:

My opponent may be excused for this oversight in the final stage of a rapid game. Nevertheless we quite often witness stalemate opportunities overlooked notably by grandmasters be it due to fatigue or the belief that such rarities are just fantasy fiction creatures to be found mainly in Endgame studies…

Posted: May 10 - 2013

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