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Surprise in Chess


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Jonathan Tisdall Ivan Sokolov

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Surprise in Chess
Amatzia Avni

With contributions from Eran Liss, Gad Rechlis,

Ronen Har-Zvi, Artur Kogan, llan Manor and Ram Soffer

Copyright Q 1998 Amatzia Avni

First published 1998 by Cadogan Books plc, 27-29 Berwick St.,

London W 1V 3RF

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Surprise in Chess
The Theory of Surprise
The Five Faces of Surprise in Chess
Special Cases of Chess Surprise
More About Surprise in Chess
The Way Players Experience Surprise
Assorted Surprises

Index of Players and Composers

double check
a very strong move; a fantastic move
a strong move
an interesting or speculative move, worth trying
a dubious move, for theoretical or practical reasons
a bad move; a weak move
a horrible move; a blunder
White wins
drawn game
Black wins
nth match game
see diagram 56 (etc.)

Many thanks to Raaphy Persitz, whose sharp and focused think-
ing helped in making the text clearer; to Eran Liss, Gad
Rechlis, Ronen Har-Zvi, Artur Kogan, Ilan Manor and Ram
Soffer, for their contributions; and to my wife and children,
Naama, Yuval, Ohad and Yael, for being there.

Amatzia Avni
Rarnat-Ilan, Israel
October 1997
Twenty years ago, while browsing
through an old issue of Schach Echo,
my eyes rested upon a certain study. I
set up the diagrammed position on
my board and played over the moves.
Somewhere along the line I was star-
tled; the solution contained a bril-
liant combination, with a rare and
unique concept behind it.
The composer of that piece was
an Austrian named Helmuth Sten-
iczka. I started to search for more
studies by him. His total output was H. Steniczka
modest, but contained some mag- Commended, Schach-Echo, 1958
nificent works that filled me with White to play and win
At the time, Steniczka was not re-
garded as a leading study composer
(although in his later years his excel-
lence was internationally recog-
nized). I could not but wonder what
had caught my attention in his stud-
1 Af5+!
1 Eb8? &xe7 2 &b5 Xxg6 draws.
Or l ...&f7 2 Pb8! Pc5 3 Pxb5!
Pxb5 4 Ad7 winning.
2 Xb8
2 Ef8+? Pf6 draws.
2..9f61 4 Xf5!!
A smart defence; 2...Xe6 3 &b5+ An astounding point. The rook is
87f6 succumbs to 4 Xb6! 87xe7 5 captured with check, but meanwhile
Xxe6+ h e 6 6 87e4, etc. White improves his king position.
8 Surprise in Chess

4...Rxf5+ =c4 White loses. Instead, the big

The pawn ending after 4...&xe7 5 surprise is:
Pxf6 &xf6 6 &f4 is also lost. 3 A c ~!!*g3
5 &g4 h e 7 6 h f 5 3...Xf6 4 kd6+!.
White wins. 4 Ad6
A reciprocal zugzwang. Strangely,
Black cannot take advantage of the
move; quite the contrary in fact!
4..&d4 5 &eS! Xb4 6 b e 1 Xbl+
7 &l

From a study by H. Steniczka,

2nd prize, Issenger Tourney 1966
White to play and win

From a study by H. Steniczka,

2nd prize, 2nd Rubinstein
Memorial Tourney, 1972
White to play and draw

The start position appears to be

resignable, as White is about to suf-
fer heavy material losses.
l QgS!
What's this?
On l...hxg5, 2 Rh5 eliminates
The obvious follow-up seems to Black's last pawn: 2...$?g3 3 &f6
be 3 Ad6, but after 3...$?g3 4 Ac7 W 4 4 e3+ with a draw.
Introduction 9

H. Steniczka, 4th prize,

Schach 1991-2
4 e4 White to play and win
White's stalemate idea is clear
enough; what is really incredible, is 3 Ed3!! dl* (8)
that Black cannot win with a rook
and bishop vs pawn.
Or 4...9f6 5 &g5, again leading a
drawn rook vs pawn ending.
5 exf5 P a 6 6 &g5 &f3 7 f6 &e4
8 f7
With a draw.

See diagram 7.
1&f6 Eb7!
White was threatening 2 Xxh7#,
and was ready to counter l ...h6 with
2 Pc5+! dxc5 3 Pd5#, and 1...&h6? 4 gbl!!
with 2 Pcc7. ...and White wins.
2 Xxb7 h 6 Black can only choose the mating
Now the insidious 3 Xe7!? (in- pattern: 4...%#xbl 5 Pd5+; 4...WxM+
tending 4 Pc5+!) will be met by 5 gxM P x b l 6 Pd5#; or, the most ar-
3...Pel4 n d 3 d l w . A glorious com- tistic of all, 4...wxd3 5 g4+! hxg3 6
bination now ensues: Pxhl#.
10 Surprise in Chess

To the question 'what is so spe- opening stage, when a contestant

cial', the answer came easily: Ste- prepares an 'innovation' that forces
niczka's best works possessed an his opponent off his usual track.
element of intense surprise. The Surely, this is too narrow an illustra-
winning or saving moves are not tion of 'surprise' in the battle of
natural, nor obvious, nor in accord- chess.
ance with the logic of the position,
nor congruent with preceding play. Investigating scientific literature,
Rather, they create a sudden shock, I discovered that 'surprise' is re-
an unexpected and unpredictable searched in various professional ar-
turn of events. eas: military combat (where it is
considered among the basic princi-
So, it was the experience of sur- ples of war), international relations,
prise that fascinated me. A question history, and even psychology (under
arose: what, in fact, is a chess sur- the headline 'emotions').
Consulting chess sources pro- The aim of the present book is to
vided disappointing, insufficient an- outline a chess body of knowledge
swers. Comments like 'this move on the subject of 'surprise'. In doing
caught me by surprise' or 'when re- that, I have been assisted by theories
jecting the draw offer, my opponent and ideas from the aforementioned
was taken by surprise' leave the fields. Opinions of strong players,
reader eager to find out why a cer- whom I consulted, were also of help.
tain move was so unexpected. What Still, I feel we are on virgin land;
are the characteristicsof a surprising there is plenty of research to be done
move or idea? What is the connec- before a well-grounded theory of
tion (if such exists) between surprise surprise in chess can be established.
and other factors? How can surprise It is my conviction that the insight
be prevented, or dealt with once it gained through such work is not
occurs? only of theoretical interest, but
The sole instance where chess should bear fruit for the industrious
books and periodicals treat 'sur- student, in the form of tournament
prise' in more depth occurs in the points.
1 Surprise in Chess
Chess is widely regarded as the ulti- From the diagram position, White
mate logical game. exerts methodical pressure against
Basing their play on certain prin- Black's queenside.
ciples and theorems, players make 17 b4
assumptions, deriving from posi- Wisely restricting the black knight.
tional features. They design a plan, 17..984 18 a3 Pad 19 e3 Pc4
taking into account these assump- Better seems 19...h5 or 19...g 5, in
tions and their adversaries' goals. order to seek chances on the other
Decisions are made in an objective wing.
manner; play is (supposed to be) ra- 20 Pacl Xee4 21 -3 Xxcl22
tional, circumspect, flowing natu- Pxcl Re7 23 *c4 h b 8
rally like a river. An attempt to bring the knight
In such an ideally pictured chess back into the game.
world, unexpected moves, upheavals 24 m 4 ! f6
and psychological shocks are un- 24...Xd7? 25 h c 7 ! ; 24...Wd7? 25
heard of. But of course they do exist Qg5 h5 26 Qe4.
in reality. 25 wd4 b6 26 Pc4! Ef7 27 wd2
The face of logical chess is illus- &g7 28 e4 Wd7 29 a d 4 $?g830 *c2
trated in the first three examples. %'c8 31 h 6 32 r(c6
White pursues his plan slowly but
surely. The queen-leaps provoke fur-
ther weaknesses in the black camp.
White's pieces have landed in the
holes that were created. The battle is
32 l#e8 33 Wc4 Qb8 34 &c7
The harvest begins.
34 Pxc7 35 Wxc7 Qd7 36 wxd6
Qe5 37 Wc7 Qf7 38 Wxa7 h5 39
wxb6 wa4 40 Wb8+ &h7 41 wf8
When first looking through this
Mikhalchishin Westerinen game, I was impressed (and I still
Copenhagen 1979 am), by the simplicity and clarity of
12 Surprise in Chess

White's play. Once the goal had been White wins. A satisfying conclu-
set, every move fitted the plan. sion, resembling a mathematical puz-
zle: having systematically arranged
the data and determined our options
(if X, then y), the right solution read-
ily suggests itself.

Logic prevails not only in posi-

tional combats. In many tactical du-
els too, sacrificial actions spring
from solid positional foundations.
Take for instance the next epi-
sode, which won a beauty prize in
the famous Biel festival. The attack
is skilfully handled by White, who
Dr A. Wotawa overcomes his opponent's stiff de-
Deutsche Schachzeitung, 1956 fensive efforts. The game impresses
White to play and win with its flow, harmony and aesthet-
ics. But would you say that there is
White's superiority is clear; yet an idea, plan, or even a single move,
the winning method is very attractive. that can be described as 'unex-
l Afl pected' or 'unnatural'? Hardly.
Avoiding the trap 1 Axa8? stale-
mate, White poses the threat 2 Ab5. See diagram 11.
l...Ac6 2 P c 4 Ad51 3 Qb5 Ae6 18 Ag5 Xd4 19 Qf6+ &g7 20
Since 3...Ac6 4 P x c 6 loses out- we31 Pb4
right, Black is obliged to choose an Not 20 ...Qxf6? 21 Axf6+ &xf6
inferior port for hlr bishop. 22 wxd4+.
4 &a4 1 8 4 S Ab3 Ah5 21 Qxc6 bxc6 22 &c6 %'l18
4 Aa4 war 1 writing move, forc- White wins after 22...% ?6cx! 23
ing Black to 81ve ground. Thiu p m - Qh6+! $?h8(23...&xf6?? 24 wg5#)
ess is now rsperted, 24 wxe5.
6 Aal 23 Ah6+ &h8 24 Exe6 fxe6 25
6 Ac4 and 6 Ad5 arc the same. Qd7 Ad4!
6...Ag6 7 h61 dxe6 A shrewd defence. However, be-
Alternatives are 7...fxe6 8 &xg6 yond this or that tactic, Black's king
and 7...Ah5 8 Axd7+. is too exposed to withstand such an
8 d7+ &xd7 9 &'8 onslaught.
Surprise in Chess 13

ad!? 11&c6 bxc6 12 c4! Eb8 13

Eel Xe8 14 wa4!? I f 8 15 b3 %
16 Ab2 Xd8 17 f5 exf5 18 A d 6
gxf6 19 &h3! dxc4 20 dxc4 Ed2 21
Pe3 Wd7 (12)

Czerniak - Richi

26 wxe6 we8 27 wd6 we4 28

af6! wb7 29 a3 Pc4 30 b3 %#c6
Black continues to find 'only'
moves. Alas, the position just cannot Black's pawn formation makes us
be maintained. White's next cuts shudder. It seems that White has a
short the agony. definite edge. He now relaxes and
31 &g+! $?X@32 we7+ &h6 33 makes a waiting move. The intensity
ag4+ 1-0 and speed of the counter-offensive
that follows are amazing.
This form of 'exemplary chess' 22 &g2??
(logical, sensible, comprehensible, Correct was 22 P a e l , followed by
flowing) is the one advocated in in- 23 Pf3, but Black would have rea-
struction manuals. But frequently sonable chances even in this case.
the chess we know and play assumes Appearances notwithstanding, the
a different form. diagram position is not that bad for
Bertok - DamjanoviC ...
22 wd4! 23 Pael
Yugoslavia 1966 Forced, as both white rooks were
RCti Opening threatened.
23..Pe8! 24 $?g1 f4 25 gxf4 Wd4
26 Xg3+ &h8 27 x f l Eel! 0-1
28 Xg2 r[xfl+ 29 &xfl Wf3 is
curtains. The swift transformation
14 Surprise in Chess

that took place in the last few moves However, the computer has every-
is bewildering. thing under control.
35 &7+ &g7
If 35...wxf7, then 36 '@d8+! Xe8
(36...we8?/@g8? 37 Wf6+) 37 Wxd4+
13 &g8 38 Xxf7 &xf7 39 Wd5+ (also
W 39 wxf2 Xe2 40 &gl) 39...& any 40
wxf3 and White wins.
36as+ &h6 37 Xxh7+ 1-0
He does not bother to wait for
37...&g 6 38 wg8+ Sbf5 39 kf3.
A sensational game. Deep Blue's
performance (impertinently ignor-
ing the enemy's threats, and indulg-
ing itself in pawn-snatching) was
Deep Blue - Kasparov totally unexpected.
Philadelphia match (1) 19%

Shortly before the diagram posi-

dOlr uow,the world champion made
@Wh11 ~ n r r l v eIntentions by
. . ~ 8 C h 8w d ...#c8-g8 .
8urptlrln@ly,tlu machine noncha-
lrolly ourlar on wlth Itr queenrlde
H 4ha6 M 39 b b 7 l
Whlte grab1 a dirtant pawn and
dirregrrdr hIr king's defence. Yet it
Ir the right approach.
29...aeS 30 wd5 f3 31 g3 a d 3 Plaskett - Speelman
31 wf4, with the double threat London Lloyds Bank 1993
32...wxcl+ and 32...Xxg3+, is met
by 32 Xc8!. There are times when a single
32 Pc7 Pe8 move leaves us shaking our heads
Black's initiative assumes fright- with astonishment:
ening dimensions. 8...Qxe5
33 a d 6 1 Xel+ 34 &h2 Qxf2 The apparently pinned knight sud-
Now White's king seems doomed. denly moves: Black is ready to invest
Surprise in Chess 15

an exchange for a pawn and a good Successive inaccuracies. On his

position: 9 Axb7 Qxc4 10 Axa8 tenth move, 10 Wb3 was superior;
wxa8. White tries to interpolate the on his last move, 11dxc3 was better.
exchange... ll...d4! 12 f5 13 QegS (15)
9 Axf6 be stunned by...
How can this work? The vari-
ations are simple (10 Axe5 Axg2 or
10 Axb7 wxb7) but in this particu-
lar case the concept of non-capture
is strikingly original.
l 0 Axe5 b g 2 11 Pgl Axc3+ 12
bxc3 Ab7 13 CS?!d6! 14 cxd6 cxd6
15 Axd6 Pd8 with the better game
for Black (0- 1,25).

And then, sometimes the whole Total underdevelopment of the

set-up of one side generates an il- black army. Yet, although Black has
logical impression: played the opening 'against the
rules', his position is now at least
Gelfand - Shirov equal! (0- 1,39).
Linares 1993
R6ti Opening The last four examples provide
abundant proof that chess is not al-
l c 4 e 6 2 Q f 3 d 5 3 g 3 ~ 6 4 b 3 a 5 5 ways as logical, coherent and ordered
Ab2 a4 6 &g2 a3!? 7 &c3 bS?! as we might like to think. Many
Hasn't the Latvian star heard of games comprise turns, discontinuity,
piece development? even reversals. From here on, we
8 c5 Qf6 9 b4 Q410 0-O?! &c3 shall focus our attention on the un-
11 &c3?! expected, surprising side of chess.
2 The Theory of Surprise:
Definition Other types of classification are
of surprise attack vs defensive (a
Surprise is defined in the dictionary pre-emptive, first-strike operation)
as something unexpected, sudden, surprise; of tactical vs strategic sur-
which occurs without warning. prise.
Broader definitionsin the military The phenomenon may be looked
context are, for example: at as an emotional state; a physi-
"(Surprise takes place) to the de- ological state; a personal vs organ-
gree that the victim does not appre- izational event ... In short, behind
ciate whether, when, where or how this simple word 'surprise' lurks a
the adversary will strike" (Betts, variety of meanings and interpreta-
1982). tions.
"An attack launched against an
opponent who is insufficiently pre- The importance of
pared in relation to his potential re- surprise
sources" (Brodin, 1978).
It follows that the basic ingredient Surprise is sought because it reduces
of surprise, is that it occurs contrary the costs of facing a fully prepared
to the enemy's expectations; and adversary. Experience teaches that
catches him unwary and unready. the ratio between the effort ex-
pended in initiating a surprise and
Various approaches the results obtained with it favours
the initiator.
Being a complex, multi-dimensional Surprise is considered as a force-
phenomenon, attempts have been multiplier; it does not merely en-
made to dissect surprise into compo- hance the value of strong moves or
nents, exploring it from the victim's plans; it multiplies their effect.
angle, as well as from the initiator's In military action, the very pos-
point of view; or analysing it as a sibility of surprising the enemy is a
function of its intensity (on a scale significant consideration in deciding
from no surprise to total surprise). whether and when to declare war.
The Theory of Surprise: Abstract 17

The impact of surprise seem to be guided by a limited set of

principles. Successful surprise re-
Why is surprise so strong a weapon? quires the surpriser to:
Because it has a devastating impact
on an unprepared opponent. Penetrate the opponent's mind,
Surprise "confuses the enemy and understanding what his expecta-
lowers his morale" (Clausewitz). tions are.
It "throws an enemy off-balance Conceive a high-quality idea that
and causes him to react rather than frustrates these expectations.
dictate terms of battle" (Oddell, Support the idea with solid data
1992). and deep analysis of the situation.
When surprised, one's ongoing Plan carefully the execution of
activity is momentarily halted. "The surprise.
mind seems to be blank ... It is a little Manipulate the enemy's sense of
like receiving a mild electric shock... vulnerability, so that he will feel
You do not know exactly how to re- secure.
act. There is a feeling of uncer- Camouflage one's intentions (natu-
tainty" (Izard, 1991). rally, otherwise the effect of sw-
True, surprise alone does not as- prise is diminished).
sure ultimate victory; it is a transient Execute the surprise speedily.
state that comes and goes quickly. If Quickness deprives the enemy of
the surprised party survives its con- sufficient time to organize an ade-
sequences,he may fight on with suc- quate defence.
cess, and even turn the tables. Use surprise only when it is es-
sential (e.g. there is no point in tak-
Principles of surprise ing risks in a winning position).

Military theoreticians of the former

Soviet army treated surprise as an Psychological factors
evasive concept, difficult to catego- that make surprise
rize. "It is impossible to recommend feasible
... permanent methods of achieving
surprise ... Its forms, methods and Based on historical analysis, re-
techniques ... are altered ... depend- searchers conclude that surprise at-
ing upon specific circumstances" tacks have a very good chance of
(Kirian, 1986). succeeding. Experts, headed by M-
While no two strategies of sur- ing (1992), emphasize two predomi-
prise are exactly alike, all surprises nant variables that account for a
18 Surprise in Chess

victim's receptivity to his enemy's difficult, complex, uncertain situ-

planned surprise. These are percep- ations.
tion and cognition. A tendency to project one's own
preconceptions, beliefs and ration-
On the perceptual level, there are ale to the enemy, assuming he will
certain biases that influence recep- look at things the way we do.
tivity to new data: A tendency to assume that the fu-
ture will be an extrapolation of the
People tend to ignore information past, e.g. that the enemy will con-
that does not fit the frame of their tinue to act as he had done pre-
preconceptions. viously.
Alternatively, they distort that in-
formation, to make it comply with Among otherfactors that may lead
their expectations. They assimilate us astray when trying to predict an
ambiguous data in a way that reaf- impending surprise are:
firms their established views.
They find it difficult to distinguish A limited imagination (which can-
a vital piece of data from a vast not fathom what lies in store).
amount of information (to decom- An inherent difticulty to understand
pose 'signal' from 'noise', in an- one's opponent's character, his mo-
other terminology). tives, his willingness to take risks...
A shortage of data regarding the en-
On the cognitive level, there are emy's strength, the weapons in his
certain biases of the human brain possession, etc.
that affect the processing of infor-
mation in irrational ways: So, we receive and absorb infor-
mation in far from objective, ra-
A tendency to project attributes in tional ways.
one area to other spheres (e.g. con- This, naturally, creates blind spots
cluding, on the basis of a poor at- that make us prone to surprise at-
tacking operation, that the opponent tacks. Fortunately, the same biases
is weak also in his defensive ability). apply to our adversaries, thus assist-
A tendency to cling to former views, ing us to spring our own surprises!
in order to appear consistent.
A tendency to recall vividly frwluent The faces of surprise
events, or events that stand out.
A tendency to be more coddent than Surprise may appear in many forms.
is warranted by facts, especially in That is one reason why it is difficult
The Theory of Surprise: Abstract

to forestall. One can realize the exact Sutprise in technology

location where the enemy will strike,
and still be caught unprepared as to Using innovative types of weapons;
the timing of his attack, or to the implementing novel forms of logis-
type of weapons he will be using. A tics, transportation, etc.
customary classification of various
surprises is presented below: The many facets of surprise re-
flect its multidimensionality. Each
Surprke in intention side in a war asks himself:

Causing our opponent to misjudge What will the enemy do? (inten-
our ambitions; making him believe tion)
that our aim is peace, when in reality Where will he attempt a break-
it is war; or vice versa. through? (location)
When will he attack? (time)
Surprise in location How does he plan to do it? (doc-
Choosing unexpected points for at- With what means does he intend to
tack, or conducting a battle on unex- carry out his plans? (technology)
pected terrain.
Surprise can take any of these
Surprise in time forms. It can also appear as a combi-
nation of several aspects. This is not
Timing our attack at an unlikely mo- incidental - since a chain-reaction is
ment (considering the enemy's ex- likely to ensue: "Erroneous assump
pectations). 'Unlikely' can be, for tions about whether the attack will
example, at a very early stage, be- occur, must lead to erroneous expec-
fore the troops are well organized; or tations with regard to its timing; and
too late, e.g. when the forces are sometimes, to its location and the
there, but we still continue to ma- way it is canied out" (Kam, 1988).
Related variables
Surprise in doctrine
Deception and surprise
Changing our ordinary conduct of
battle; devising new ways of deploy- Deception, defined as "measures in-
ing one's forces, a different outlook tended to fabricate, confuse, distort
on the concept of deterrence, etc. or deny information that could be of
20 Surprise in Chess

value (to the. enemy)" (in Hybel, will not dare to attack, bearing the
1986), is an important contribution consequences.
to achieving surprise. Means of de- Paradoxically, exactly this line of
ception include masking (conceal- reasoning tempts the weaker side to
ing what is done) and misleading deliver a surprise attack. The chances
(creating a false impression, sug- of it being a real surprise are very
gesting to the enemy that something good! (Handel, 1976). Hence, the
else is done). chances of a powerful army with
Techniques such as disinforma- awesome weapons being surprised,
tion and transmitting calming mes- are ambiguous.
sages are used. It is agreed that the
number of stratagems used to achieve Warningsignals and surprise
surprise is quite small.
Successful surprise depends, by defi-
Risk and surprise nition, on the failure of the enemy's
warning systems. Such failure can
Planning a surprise usually involves stem from lack of information; when
a certain degree of risk. Our adver- one is ignorant of the enemy's inten-
sary may be fully prepared, or the tions. It can also take place when in-
idea underlying the surprise may formation exists, but is wrongly
turn sour. evaluated.
Researchers have noted that risk Hence, knowledge of the enemy's
evaluation is totally subjective. What plans is a necessary condition for
appears to one side crazy and irra- avoiding surprise, but is insufficient
tional, may seem viable to the other. in itself. Understanding one's rival's
As Betts (1982) correctly points out, general strategy does not mean that a
when weighing the pros and cons of particular action will be anticipated.
alternative ways of action, the cost
of the 'risky' way should be com- Confronting surprise
pared to the cost of not taking any
risk (which is sometimes greater). Preventive measures

Deterrence and surprise How can surprise be avoided? The

common-sense approach would be
As a rule, the stronger one's posi- to adopt an ever-alert, suspicious
tion, the less one is afraid of being state of mind. But as Betts (1982)
surprised, one tends to believe that if mentions, slogans as 'anything can
the enemy has some sense left, he happen' or 'be ready for everything'
The Theory of Surprise: Abstract 21

may be good in principle, but not one's professional skills should help
very helpful in practice. It is hardly decrease the number of situations,
possible to prepare and devise plans and tactical operations that
counter-measures against every con- will come as a surprise.
ceivable threat. Third, is building hypothetical
Understanding the logic and pat- scenarios of what the enemy might
terns of surprise does not guarantee do [in chess terms, that means trying
that a sudden attack shall be re- to guess the choice of his opening;
pulsed. "Its repeatedness and the his ambitions for the game (ranging
cognition that it will arrive, does not from 'winning at all costs' to 'losing
make us less vulnerable to its im- with dignity'); anticipating the way
pact" (Karn, 1988). the game will evolve (tacticaVposi-
Is prevention possible, then? tional, closed/open...)l and prepar-
Twining (1992) states that behav- ing specific courses of action against
ioural experiments, empirical data various options.
and historical case-studies point at Fourth, is developing a warning
the inherent difficulty of preventing system: signals that will assist in
surprise. "In most cases, it simply identifying an approaching danger.
cannot be done" - he concludes, Fifth, there is deterrence: leading
pessimistically. one's opponent to believe that if he
Others, like Hybel(1986). believe tries to catch us by surprise, he will
that understanding the phenomenon pay dearly.
of surprise can minimize its occur- Finally, there is the option of
rence. striking one's own surprise first
It seems that at least some preven- (pre-emptive defensive measures),
tive methods can reduce the prob- forcing one's adversary to diverge
ability of future surprise. from his intended plans, before he
One is awareness: assimilating unleashes his prepared surprise.
the cognition that an opponent may This first blow may be goaded by
always have a surprise in store for fear rather than bravery.
us. As long ago as 1944, the Soviet
army's 'regulations' included a para- Countering measures
graph stating that the enemy will
seek to spring a surprise, and that a Researchers from non-chessic worlds
high degree of vigilance, prepared- do not lay much store on preventive
ness and security must be kept. methods. They see more promise in
Second, there is training and devising plans and strategies de-
specializing: exercising and raising signed to deal with surprise, once it
22 Surprise in Chess

occurs, thereby minimizing its ef- In real life, hostility breaks out
fects. from a state of peace; in chess, it is a
Oddell (1992) suggests planning war from the first move. The game
a force-structure that will survive a commences from an equal position
surprise attack, and rebound quickly (well, OK, White is a little better); a
with counterattack, manoeuvre and real war does not. In chess each
initiative. player sees the whole 'battlefield' in
Another recommendation, psy- real time; no piece of data escapes
chologically oriented, is to develop a him. In war, even in this technologi-
measure of toughness: not getting cal, fast-communicating age, the
too excited or upset when encoun- commanding general has to rely on
tering a surprising manoeuvre or an secondary sources in order to grasp
unforeseen tactical step. the whole picture. Chess players
This advice is geared towards move alternately, one move at a
fending off the impact of surprise by time; the antagonists in war can
intrapersonal means. make several moves in succession.
An essential trait in combating Another important difference is
surprise isflexibility. He who sticks that the will to take risks in real war,
blindly to his master-plan may be where people's lives and political
destroyed by surprise, since he has careers are at stake, is not quite the
not left options open for himself. He same as in a chess battle.
who is ready to switch plans to suit
changed circumstances, will have Therefore, our mission from now
better chances to survive. on will be to take a close look at the
phenomenon of surprise in the con-
Conclusion text of the royal game, trying to
produce valuable and relevant in-
We have presented a summary of sights.
current knowledge on surprise, em-
bedded in military context'. It should Bibliography
be viewed as a guide, but we had
better remember that the analogy be- 1. Surprise Attack / R. K Betts / The
tween chess and war is not perfect. Brookings Institution / USA, 1982

1 Amongst interesting applications of surprise in other domains, we would mention i+s

use in devising critical interventions in psychotherapy, that give a new direction to
treatment, or to a patient's life (Omer, 1994); and the rules that determine demarcation
of boundaries in which surprise can take place, in the theory of play (Rapp, 1984).
The Theory of Surprise: Abstract 23

2. Strategic Surprise in the Age of 10. Aspects of Consciousness and

Glasnost 1 D. T. Twining / Transac- Personality in Terms of Differential
tion Publishers 1 USA, 1992 Emotions Theory / C. E. Izard and S.
3. The Logic of Surprise in Interna- Buechler / from Emotions: Theory,
tional Conflict l A. R. Hybel / Lex- Research and Experience, Vol. l /
ington Books, 1986 R.Plutchik and H. Kellerrnan (eds.) /
4. Surprise Attack 1 E. Kam I Har- Academic Press, 1980
vard University Press, 1988 11. Encyclopedia of Psychology 1 R.
5. Surprise: The Korean Case-Study J. Consini (ed.) I 2nd ed., Vol. 3 1
1 P. Oddell / Naval War College, John Wiley and Sons, 1994
Newport, USA, 1992 12. Clausewitz, on War l M. Howard
6. Principles of War / from War and and P. Paret (eds.) / Princeton Uni-
Strategy l Y. Harchaby / 1980(in He- versity Press, 1976
brew) 13. Surprise Attack: The Case of
7. Surprise: Getting the Enemy Of- Sweden / K. Brodin 1 Journal of Stra-
Balance l G. Rotem (ed.) / IDF, 1992 tegic Studies, Vol. 1 1 1978
(in Hebrew) 14. Perception, Deception and Sur-
8. Surprise in Offensive Operations prise 1M . Handle l Jerusalem, 1976
of the Great Patriotic War / M . M. 15. Critical Interventions in Psycho-
Kirian / Science Publishing House / therapy l H. Omer / Norton, 1994
Moscow, 1986 (in Russian) 16. The World of Play 1 U. Rapp /
9. The Psychology of Emotions 1 C. n>F Publishing House, Israel, 1984
E. Izard 1 Plenum Press, 1991 (in Hebrew)
The Five Faces of Surprise in

Psychologists regard surprise as sharp deviation from, or even a re-

having no a priori valence. It cannot versal of, expected behaviour.
be classified as 'good' or 'bad'. Only Let us now review the five faces
past experience will crystallizeone's of surprise, introduced in the preced-
attitude to future surprises. ing chapter.
Yet in the specific context of the
game of chess, where a competent A. Surprise in
player is required to see some moves intention
ahead, surprise is definitely a loaded
concept: to be surprised is, in most The game begins. Our opponent
cases, a negative event 1. makes a move and starts the clock.
As a testimony of that, we need We wonder: What are his ambitions?
only consider that it is a chess player's Will he try for a win, or be satisfied
occupational nightmare to be caught with a draw? And perhaps, when
in the opening by a new, carefully there are large differences in rating,
planned move, that alters the assess- has the enemy mentally reconciled
ment of a position2. himself to eventual defeat, and is
Do you recall the definition of only seeking to exhibit prolonged
surprise? Its main characteristic was resistance, putting up a hard fight?
unexpectedness. Therefore it seems Suppose the adversary strives for
a good idea to clarify to ourselves victory. Is everything clear now?
what is expected in chess: what does Not quite. Some questions remain:
a player expect his opponent to do? how much does he want to win, and
If we can understand this, we how far will he strain to attain it?
shall gain a better insight into what After his return match against
constitutes a surprise in chess, i.e. a Botvinnik in 1961, in which he lost

1 Even when the opponent falters and we are pleasantly surprised, the immediate, re-
flective emotion is negative.
2 In this respect, chess players are like managers; their fear of being surprised is re-
flected in their desire to be in total control, at all times, in all places.
The Five Faces of 'Surprise in Chess 25

his title, Mikhail Tal was asked what had given up the tournament ...
he thought was the main reason for (During resumption) the Argentin-
his defeat. The ex-world champion ean drearily, seemingly without a
answered swiftly: "Botvinnik's deter- spark of interest, stared at the posi-
mination! I never could have irnag- tion. My impression was that ... he
ined that he could be so resolute in was dozing. Ilivitsky chose an active
play!" (Vasiliev, 1975). and very committal move. Guimard
roused himself. He changed beyond
A I ) Expected behaviour: The en- recognition, his eyes became deci-
emy's efforts to win are dependent sive ... he began an attack ... it was
upon the rewards he stands to obvious that he was thirsting for bat-
gain. tle. [he won]" (Krogius, 1976).

A player will try hard for victory, if A1.3) Some players are so cautious
it will assist him in attaining a cov- that they will not play for a win in an
eted goal: overall victory in the tour- equal position, even when victory is
nament, a money prize, qualifying to vital for them.
the next stage, or fulfilling the re-
quirements to a higher grade. Even A2) Expected behaviour: A player's
the inner satisfaction derived from ambitions in a game are greatly
an original idea or combination will affected by his assessment of the
raise his motivation. position and by the strength of his
Possible surprises:
Victory cannot be attained by mir-
Al. 1) Some players (Bobby Fischer acles. If one's position is objectively
was a notable example) always play worse, and one's opponent strong,
to win, regardless of incentives. there is no sense in playing for a
win: a draw is the most one can real-
A1.2) Motivation level can rise dur- istically hope for.
ing play, if one feels challenged:
"At the 1955 Interzonal in Go- Possible surprises:
thenburg, Ilivitsky's game against
Guimard was adjourned ...Ilivitsky If a player ignores objective consid-
decided to try to win, in view of all erations, and his aims are to head for
the misfortunes which had pursued victory at all costs, then his oppo-
Guimard in the previous rounds and nent is likely to be surprised! He
his apparent indifference, as if he might have doubts, may become
26 Surprise in Chess

anxious ... Alternatively he may get

irritated, upset, or even feel of-

A3) Expected behaviour: A player

who offers a draw is peacefully in-

The assumption appears tautologi-

cal: he who offers a draw wants to
split the point - right?

Possible surprises: Fishbein - D. Root

American Open 1990
Much has been said and written on
the topic of draw offers. In a contro- 25 Qg4 h5! 26 Qf2 h6! 27 &3?
versial and thought-provoking arti- Axf3! 28 gxf3 Pxf3
cle, GM Fishbein (1993) looks at The white knight is trapped.
draw offers as psychological ploys. 29 P a c l P x c l
He goes as far as to suggest that But not 29...Pxa2? 30 '&h1 ! Pxh3
"sometimes, when playing for a win, 31 P g l + when White wins.
offering a draw is the best move you 30 P x c l Pxh3
can make" (!). His rationale is that ...and Black eventually won.
stirred by the offer of a draw, one's "It is highly doubtful that I would
opponent tends to become overcon- have invented the manoeuvre Qg4-
fident and starts playing for a win. f2-h3, had not [my opponent] of-
Here is one of his examples (see fered a draw" (Fishbein).
diagram 16):
The f6-pawn seems to give White Here is another example (see dia-
an advantage in the ensuing middle- gram 17). White, in a strategically
game. However.. . inferior position, has just captured a
22.. .Ab5! 23 Qe5 Ae2! black knight on d5 (16 Qxd5) and
...prevents White from activating offered a draw.
his rooks. Anand's refusal was certain, dic-
24 f 3 X8c31 tated by the match score. So, why
Here Black offered a draw. Objec- the offer?
tively, White had no reason to de- "Kasparov claimed after the game
cline. that he had never expected Anand
The Five Faces of Surprise in Chess 27

After about 8- 10ordinary moves,

White offered a draw. Black deliber-
ated and decided to reject the offer.
White was stunned by the refusal
and lost without resistance.

I n conclusion: Regarding the en-

emy's goals in a particular game, we
expect him to behave rationally (that
is, according to our logic): to be mo-
tivated in linear relation to the gains
he expects from a win or draw; to
Kasparov Anand - head for a win only if justified by
New York World Ch match (14) 1995 the position andlor strength of oppo-
nent; to behave in accordance with
to accept the draw offer, but he was his objectives (fighting hard for a
using it to probe Anand, and see how win; playing solidly and negotiating
confident he was at that moment. for peace when aiming for a draw).
(Since Anand pondered before de- By acting in a different manner,
clining the offer, Kasparov) could the enemy will try to surprise us.
tell that Anand was not sure of him-
self ..." (Wolff, 1995). Discussion

A4) Expected behaviour: Given So far, we have treated 'intention' in

what he needs (win or draw), a its broader meaning, relating to our
player will settle for it. opponent's ambitions. Another way
to view the phenomenon of 'inten-
Possible surprises: tion', is in its short-term interpreta-
tion; that is, the intermediate goal of
In 1984, I witnessed a strange inci- a series of moves.
dent: two masters were paired in the Here we can meet the following
final round of the semi-finals of the types of surprise:
Israeli championship. Both needed
half a point to qualify. A victory Routine moves, dkguking non-
didn't matter; a loss was insufficient. routine intentions
There were no additional incentives
(such as money prizes) for either See diagram 18.
player. 12 h4
28 Surprise in Chess

Black has sacrificed a pawn to

open the b-file for his major pieces.
13 h4 was?
A standard reaction, but inappro-
priate here.
14 WgS! WdS
Regrettably, Black has to lose two
tempi. 14...wxg5+? 15 hxg5 would
leave him with a weakness on h7
and no compensation for the sacri-
ficed pawn. Note that White's 13 h4
was directed precisely against the
In this type of position, where queen sortie.
kings find shelter on opposite wings, l 5 e5 Qh5 16 exd6 Axd4 17 Xxd4
pawn-storms are the order of the wb6 18 we5 ...with a considerable
day. In 99 out of 100 games, the in- plus for White (1-0; 37).
tention of the text-move is to ad-
vance the outer pawn, to open the
h-file for an attack by White's major
pieces. However, there are other pos-
sible meanings for the pawn advance

Larsen Bareev
Hastings 1991

14 h4! Xac8 15 Eh3 &S 16 Qb3!

Here the apparently aggressive 14
h4 was, in fact, a prelude to entering
B. Lalid - Hgi an advantageous endgame!
Manila OL 1992 16...wxe3 17 Xxe3 h a c 4 18 Xf3
f6 19 exf6 Xxf6
The Five Faces of Surprise in Chess 29

Or 19...gxf6 20 f5!. l...W&

20 a d 4 Pcf8 21 Axc4 &c4 22 The same move, but here Black
b3 with an edge (1-0; 40). has a vicious idea in mind ...
2 &2? QdxcS! 3 d x d &X&+ 4
Another example of a natural &h1 axg3+ 0-1
move that conceals a surprising in-
tention is the following: Routine moves that conceal the ex-
istence of a fat-reaching plan

Black plays 8...w&.

A standard move in the Dutch, Hertneck - J. Polgar
aiming to transfer the queen to h5. Munich 1991

22 g4 Qe7
After 22...&4? 23 Qh2! Black's
knight is doomed.
23 a h 2 b5 24 Ae4 Ab7 25 P(a3!
Hertneck's instructive comment:
"Note that with his last moves,
[White] has silently and secretly
emptied the third rank for the rook...
Black must always be on the watch
for Eh3 or even Axg5 with Ph3".
The importance of camouflage is
demonstrated here beautifully, each
Chapman - Halliwell move being logical in itself: 22 g4
England 1953 scared away the well-posted black
30 Surprise in Chess

knight; 23 Qh2 provided a defence 25 WxdS AxdS 26 Exd5 wa6 27

to the pawn on g4, and was appar- P f d l P e 3 28 Xg5&
ently the start of a journey towards Avoiding the suicidal28...9xf3??
g3, eyeing the squares f5 and h5; 24 29 Pd8+ Lkf8 30 f i g 7 + .
Ae4 guarded d5 against future at- 29 Ex@+ ($f8 0-1
tacks. The enemy was given no clues
as to the 'grand plan'.
25...Pf6? 26 E h 3 *g8 27 cxb5!
...with a significant plus for White: 25
d5 is taboo, in view of the pin along
the a2-g8 diagonal (1-0; 39).


Anand Kasparov
New York World Ch match (11) 1995

This seemingly routine move,
abandoning the defence of e7, masks
Grwten Miles a deep trap.
Bie11985 27 &l5 A&!? 28 b4?
As subsequent analysis has shown,
20,Pfe8! 28 a x e 7 P e 8 29 a d 5 Axd5 30 b4!
"You would not think so" - grins grants White a small advantage.
the loser - "but the point of this 2S...axb4 29 axb4 P c 4 30 a b 6 ?
move is ...gel#!". Pxb4+ 31 &a3 Xxc2!! 0-1
21 g4? d5! 22 cxd5 exd5 23 exd5 32 &xb4 Pxd2 or 32 Pxc2 Pb3+
OxdS! 24 h d 5 PxdS! 33 &a2 Pe3+ is hopeless.
Now 25 Axd5 Pd8 leaves White
helpless. 25 Wc3 is no help: 25...Pd4! B. Surprise in location
26 Pxd4 Axf3+ 27 &g1 (27 Pxf3
Wxf3+ clarifies the preceding note) As mentioned before, spotting the
27 ...Xe2! 28 f i f 3 Pxb2! winning. enemy's intentions does not exclude
The Five Faces of Surprise in Chess

surprise. One of the most common Possible surprises

forms surprise can take, concerns
the place where it is initiated. Here, BI. l )Moving backwards
too, we have to unearth our ulterior
assumptions, in order to figure out Dzindzichashvill - Sakharov
what makes us disposed to surprise. USSR junior Ch 1957
c3 Sicilian
BI) Expected behaviour: Movement
of pieces will be directed (1) for-
ward and (2) towards the centre.

Recently I devised a simple experi-

ment: I asked a subject situated in a
square room to stand at point A (see
illustration 1). His goal, he was told,
was to reach two balls at the other
side of the room. In the limited
number of groups I tested, all sub-
jects chose to move forward, to-
wards the centre (see illustration 2).
This is the most direct way, and the
shortest. But it is certainly not the
only way! Illustration 3 shows that
there are other possible means of
reaching the target. You will recog-
nize these patterns when playing
over the next set of chess examples.
32 Surprise in Chess

16 hxc6 Axfl17 Axfl! bxc6 18

&cl &a3 19 h b l ! (27)

B1.3) Moving to and fro

An artistic finale: White forced

victory by retreating his entire army
to base.

B1.2) Moving sideways

Pritchett - Ristoja
Groningen European
Junior Ch 1969/70
Modem Defence

le4g62d4Ag73&3~64&dd5 Ragozin - Lilienthal

5 exd5 b5 6 &b3 b4 7 ace2 cxd5 8 USSR Ch (Tbilisi) 1937
Ad2! h a 6 9 a3 bxa3 10 Pxa3 Qc7
11wal! a6 12 Aa5! Qf6 13 Aa4+! 13 Efdl b a 6 14 Xd4! Qc5
(28) 14...f5 is preferable. Now the mok
A picturesque position. White en- will be useful along the rank as we:l
joys a definite edge. as along thefile.
13 Ad7 14 PQ Pc8 15 Qf3 0-0 15 *c2 Qe6 16 Eh4! (30)
16 &xd7 wxd7 17 &5 wd8 18bc6 ...
16 h f 8 17 P d l PabS 18 c5
wd7 19 b 7 &A 20 &CS &c3 21 Black is left guessing as to pre-
Qb6 and White wins material (1-0; cisely where White will deliver the
32). death-blow.
The Five Faces of Surprise in Chess 33

For a start, two black pawns dis-


B2) Expected behaviour The main

battle will take place where mas-
sive forces are concentrated.

This could be rephrased as a reversal

of cause and effect: the parties will
mass their major forces where a col-
lision is likely to occur.

Possible surprises

19 k b 5 20 Pg4! B2. l ) Outjlanking
After 20 Pxa5 Pa8 Black obtains
some counterchances. With the text, See diagram 33 on the next page.
a divergence on the king's wing, ...
43 9133
White gains time to force matters in Black has a clear advantage, de-
the centre or on the queenside. spite being a pawn down. With the
20 &h8 following moves he increases his
The most striking line is seen af- pressure.
ter 20...Qg6 21 c4 &a6 22 Xe4 Wd8 44 &l Pb2+ 45 &g1 Ae7 46 E b l
23 Ped4! (32)when the black centre X x b l 4 7 a x b l w b 8 48 Qc3 k c 4
collapses. 49 k f l &d4! 50 u x d 4
21 c4 Aa6 22 Wc3 1-0 50 k x c 4 kxc5.
34 Surprise in Chess

Soto Larrea Ortega MatuloviC - Tsvetkov
Cuba 1953 Varna 1966

pressure on the weak point f7. How-

ever, the direct 32 h5 will not do, be-
cause of 32...gxh5 33 gxh5 axd4+!.
Strangely, victory is gained on the
opposite flank:
32 *cl! &d4+
Otherwise the white queen settles
on c7, molesting Black's queenside
33 &d3 Wxe5 34 Wc8+ &g7 35
Wh8+! &xh8 36 Qxf7+ &g7 37
Yet another surprise, and the real
point of White's combination: the
black knight has no flight square.
What has happened? It transpires ...
37 Qf5 38 gxf5 gxf5 39 Qc6 a6
that if 53 &g2 wh7!! then after all 40 &d4 &f6 41 f4 1-0
the wrestling on the queenside, the
coup-de-gr&e comes on the king- B2.2) Sneaking behind enemy lines
side! A spectacular finish.
Wapner - Varga
In diagram 35 White enjoys a Budapest 1994
considerable space advantage and Sicilian. Rossolimo
The Five Faces of Surprise in Chess 35

1 e4 c5 2 Qf3Qc6 3 Ab5 d6 40-0 White appears to be obsessed

a6 5 kxc6+ bxc6 6 h3 g6 7 Pel e5 with this corner: 15 Qa7, 17 wag,
8 c3 &g7 9 d4 cxd4 10 cxd4 exd4 and now this ...
11e5 dxe5 12 h e 5 Ae6 13 Qxc6 ...
27 wd7 28 wxe8+ Wxe8 29
The beginning of an enterprising Ad6+ we7 30 Axe7+ &g8 31 d6
journey. Ad7 32 &h4 Af8 33 Ee7! Axe7 34
13 wd6 14 wf3 dxe7 Ae8 35 Af6 1-0
Not 14 wa4? wd7!.
14...Pc8 15 Qa7! (36) B3) Expected behaviour: A player
will try to gain an advantage in the
area where he is stronger.

In a lot of cases, the protagonists

pursue independent strategies: White
develops an initiative on the king-
side, Black on the queenside (or vice
versa); or one side gains control over
certain squares, while the other gets
a firm hold over an open file. It is as
if both parties tacitly agree that nei-
ther will invade the other's territory
and assets.
An heroic beast.
15 Ec5 16 Af4 wb6 17 was+ Possible surprises
&d7 18 &3!!
The justification of 15 Qa7. Now B3.1) Invading the enemy's strong-
on 18...dxc3,19 Eadl+ is very pow- hold
erful; and if 18...Qe7 then 19 Qa4!
is a killer. See diagram 37.
18 Pxc3 19 bxc3 Qf6 20 Wf3 Black's last move, 12...f7-f5, was
Ad5 21 wd3 Wxa7 designed to avert the break e3-e4
The knight has loyally fulfilled its once and for all. Well ...
duty, but the time gained enables 13 Pael! wb4 14 e4!!
White's heavy artillery to join the This break, at an apparent forti-
battle. fied point, has reappeared in analo-
22 Ae5 Qe8 23 We2 Ae6 24 gous positions in recent years. The
Pad1 &e7 25 cxd4 &?f826 d5 Af5 black monarch stays in the centre,
27 Ab8! and White tears open his defences.
36 Surprise in Chess

K. Richter - Baratz Shirov - Lutz

Prague Olympiad 1931 Munich 1993

14...dxe4 15 axe4 fxe4 A star move, threatening 21 k d 2

15...%'xd4+? 16 Pf2 fxe4 17 with a most annoying pin.
*h5+ g6 18 Axd4 gxh5 19 k x h 8 U)... 0-0
and White wins. 20...Xa4 21 Wxa5 Xxa5 22 &c4
16 wxe4 wd6 17 wf5! wxd4+ is not much fun either.
17...e5 18 dxe5 wg6 19 wh3 is 21 Ad2 Pa4 22 b4! '#c7
more stubborn, but White's attack 22...wb6 23 wb3 traps the rook.
prevails in any case. 23 &b2!
18 &h1 a e 7 19 Wxe6 0-0-0 20 The queenside, which just a few
Axe7 Phe8 21 wh3 wxb2 22 moves ago was the launching pad of
Axd8 1-0 Black's activities, has now been
transformed into a death-bed for his
See diagram 38. troops. Black is helpless against
14 a3 &b3, capturing the rook.
One is normally advised not to ...
23 axd5
move the pawns around one's king, Or 23...wd7 24 Wc6.
but here the move is connected with 24 Wxc7 Axc7 25 &b3 h b 6 26
an interesting idea. Ae3 a5 27 c3 axb4 28 kxb6 1-0
14...b5 15 h4 b4 16 Qd5 Axd5
17 exd5 Pb8 18 &bl Ads? C. Surprise timing
Protects his queen and prepares
19...bxa3; nevertheless, a faulty move. One of my childhood memories harks
19 axb4 Pxb4 20 *c3! back to 1964, when the sports-world
The Five Faces of Surprise in Chess 37

witnessed Sonny Liston, the ex-world complete and the respective forces
heavy-weight boxing champion, los- have occupied suitable outposts.
ing his fight against Cassius Clay
(later known as Muhammad Ali). Graphically, this expectation is
It was not the outcome that was charted in illustration 4. A player is
shocking, but the course of battle. In expected to take action when his
heavy-weight professional boxing, forces are ready. No soonel; no later.
antagonists generally compete for
many rounds (up to fifteen), each
round lasting three minutes. Now, in
this particular fight, Clay did not
beat around the bush: as soon as the
gong was heard, he pounced on Lis-
ton and punched him with all his
might. The battle was over in a
knockout within two minutes; it was
one of the shortest duels on record.
Pressing for victory, Clay was
sure to attack his rival. But he was
not expected to do it so soon!

In chess (and in other sports), the

real fight does not normally com- Possible surprises
mence at the very start. At the onset
of the struggle the two parties gradu- C I ) Early assault: Heading for a
ally organize their armies, in prepa- smashing blow from the very first
ration for the clash. Beginners who moves.
try for a Scholar's Mate are told that
this is too direct a method, that an at- This type of surprise features in
tack should be well-founded, and gambit play, or in a quick advance of
that the deployment of troops should the h-pawn, opening lines on the
precede attempts at annihilation. kingside. It can also be achieved by
building an offensive structure, as in
Expected behaviour: The com- the following example.
mencement of chess combat is
but an overture to forthcoming Mukhin - Katalymov
events. The real fight will flare up Tashkent 1979
after a while, when developmentis Spanish, Berlin
38 Surprise in Chess

1e4 e5 2 af3h 6 3 Ab5 a f 6 4 0-0 C2) Abrupt change of modes: Occa-

a x e 4 5 P e l a d 6 6 a x e 5 Ae7 7 sionally, the character of a position
Ad3 0-0 8 f4!? h 8 9 a c 3 a x e 5 10 is transformed: a positional battle be-
fxe5 d6 11&5 dxe5 12 *h5 comes tactical; a middlegame turns
There is no sophistication in the into an endgame, etc. The acceler-
way White deploys his army; he is ated pace of such a transformation is
quite blunt about his aims. in itself capable of generating sur-
12...f5 prise.
If 12...g6 13 wxe5 Ad6/f6?, then
14 '&xe8!. -
Yandarbiev Zagalov
13 fie5 Af6 1985
13...Ad6 14 Ac4!. Caro-Kann, Classical
14 & f 6 + a d 6 15 '#h4 c6
15...Ee8 seems better.
16 b3
Continuing the same naive and di-
rect approach: all White's forces are
targeted at the black king.
16 wb6+ 17 &h1 Qe4?
Losing by force.

So far, ordinary play; nothing to

write home about.
16...c5?! 17 Ph4! cxd4 18 Pxd4
20 Wxf2! Wxf2 21 Pe7 h5 Pxd4 19 a x d 4 a6?
Or 21...988 22 Axg7+ mates. White has gained some initiative,
22 Axg7+ &h7 23 Ad4+ 1-0 but after this mistake (19...a d 5 was
The Five Faces of Surprise in Chess 39

correct) he develops a crushing as-

20 kf41 wb6
20...*c5 21 axe6!.
21 wc4+ WcS 22 axe61 (41)

Flohr - Grob
Zurich 1934

21 Pfel Ad7 22 Pe2 g6 23 Ael

&g7 24 Ag3 Pe7 25 Pc1 Pae8 26

C3) Delayed action: Deferring the

offensive, although the required re- 43
sources for an immediate operation
are available.

Research indicates that hesitancy by

the aggressor, whether premeditated
or not, tends to deceive the defender,
thus facilitating surprise.

See diagram 42 opposite.

White's two bishops give him a White has transferred his bishop
minute advantage. If he wants to to the important diagonal h2-b8,
make something out of them, he while his king and rook provide the
must try to open up some files. The necessary defence for his e-pawn.
obvious plan in such positions is the 26...h6 27 b4 a6 28 a4 d?f6 29
minority attack: the advance b4, a4, Pc3 Pe6 30 &c2 96e7 31 Ad1 Pe6
b5. However, Flohr is not in a hurry. 32 Xb2 g5 33 Ae2 &g6 34 Jkfl(44)
40 Surprise in Chess

We shall pause to reflect upon The end is approaching. Predict-

White's play. Since the previous dia- ably, White bides his time.
gram, he has freed his kingside rook 54.. .&e7 55 &f4! b5 56 Pg7+
from its defensive duties; this now is &d8 57 f6 b4
the role of the queenside rook. The White has only one worry left: the
light-squared bishop has returned enemy's passed pawn.
to its original post, not interrupting 58 Ph7 b3 59 P h l Ab5 (46)
the co-operation between the other
pieces. The advance b4-b5 is held in
34...Xf6 35 hxg5 hxg5 36 &c7
a d 6 37 Ad3!?
Enabling his rival to simplify
matters, but still keeping an edge.
37 Qe4+ 38 Axe4 fxe4 39 f4 g4
40 Pc5 Xf7 41 Ae5 r$f542 &g3 Eh7
43 P b l Pg8 44 b5 axb5 45 axb5
Xa8 46 bxc6 l x c 6 (45)
47 Pccl!
It is time to regroup again, in this
slow-motion picture. White now gains 60 E l ! &c4 61Pal! '&d762 h 4
control over the more important The final regrouping. The rook
open file. will stop the passed pawn from be-
47 Xa3 48 Eel Pf7 49 P a l hind.
xxal50 Xxal Xf8 51 Xhl Ad7 52 ...
62 '&e6 63 Xb4 Pa8 64 Xb7
Xh5+ &g6 53 Xg5+ M 7 54 f5 Pe8 65 &xg4 Ae2+ 66 &f4 b2 67
The Five Faces of Surprise in Chess 41

Xxb2 &h5 68 Xb7 Ad1 69 g4 Ae2 of pieces' relative value; 2) estab-

70 Xh7 Ad1 71 g5 k e 2 72 g6 Ab5 lished principles of development;
73 f7 Xf8 74 Pg7 1-0 and (3) accepted positional princi-
White never really attacked his ples.
adversary! Looking back, it is diffi-
cult to pinpoint a critical moment Possible surprises
where Black erred.
D I ) Opting for disadvantageous
D. A Doctrinal Surprise material imbalance

Chess being a thoroughly investi-

gated and researched subject, a sur-
prise in doctrine is most difficult to
achieve. It is exceptionally hard to
contrive completely new schemes of
development, let alone new tactics,
in our ancient game.
Admittedly, some changes have
occurred in basic chess theory: a
bishop is nowadays preferred to a
knight (not long ago, they were con-
sidered equals); the advantage of the
first move is recognized and backed Khuzman - Yurtaev
statistically; certain computer-dis- Tashkent l987
covered positions require adaptation
of the 50-move rule ... ...
14 Qxe4!?! 15 kxd8 Qxc3 16
Nevertheless, a revolution on the wd2 Paxd8
scale of Steinitz's principles, or the Note that Black embarked on this
hypermodern school (Breyer and variation voluntarily: the queen sac-
RBti), is not likely to recur. Modern rifice was not obligatory at all.
concepts tend to take a more diffi- 17 Xael c5 18 Qe3 d5 19 cxd5
dent form, of a local nature: a new QbxdS 20 axd5 Pxd5 21 *cl b5
twist in a fashionable variation of a with ample compensation (l/z-l/z,25).
familiar opening; a changed verdict As Burgess (1995) notes, the same
in a five- or six-piece ending... Yurtaev repeated a similar sequence
in a later game. Presently, others fol-
Expected behaviour The enemy lowed suit, wading a queen for two
will act according to: (1) the table minor pieces and just one pawn.
42 Surprise in Chess

Naturally, after a while, such sac- Griinfeld Defence because of the

rifices cease to surprise. But on their danger presented by the g7-bishop.
first appearance, their effect is often 17.. h e 6 l 8 P b 3 Qxg5 19 hxg5
thunderous. nab8 20 Eh3 wb7 21 we3 m 5 22
f4 e6 23 Wf'2 Efe8?
0 2 ) Devising a new interpretation Correct was 23...we2. Now the
to well-known schemes white attack gains strength.
24 Pd2 Af8? 25 g4! hxg4 26
Korchnoi - Khuzman P h l Pg7 27 wh4 c5 28 f5 exf5 29
Beersheba 1993 m 7 + &l? 30 Wxg7+! 1-0
Exchange Griinfeld

1d4 &6 2 c4 g6 3 Qc3 dS 4 cxd5

a x d 5 5 e4 Qxc3 6 bxc3 Ag7 7 49
Ab5+ c6 8 &c4 b5 9 Ab3 b4 10
Pb2!? b x d 11Pxc3 Qd7 12 a f 3
Qc5 13 Pc2 &a6
Preventing short castling, appar-
ently casting doubt on White's pre-
ceding plan.
14Wd2 0-0 15h4 h5 16 Qg5 Wd7
17 0-0-O! (48)

Sutovsky Kudrin
Philadelphia 1993

White has a very promising posi-

tion, but the direct 25 wh6? enables
Black to defend with 25...We5+ 26
c3 P4b6, when the queen functions
like a Dragon bishop.
25 d! g4b6 26 &l!
Protecting b3 and clearing the
way for Xd2, in order to join his col-
league on the h-file.
So, this was White's intention: cas- 26...a4 27 g4 axb3 28 a3!
tling long, accompanied by a pawn A fantastic conception: the white
storm on the kingside, is rare in the king shelters behind a black pawn!
The Five Faces of Surprise in Chess 43

Now White is free to carry out his 0 4 ) Another kind of surprise takes
own attack. place when encountering a player
28 &c4 29 Pdh2 e5 30 *g5 1-0 with a unique, peculiar style.

0 3 ) Developing a playing-style that An example - the style of Ulf An-

diverges from common methods ami dersson
In the old days, players concentrated
This can be accomplished on a small on attack. Means of defence were
scale, for example by assigning lesser, not yet well-developed. Indeed, the
or greater importance to a certain whole concept of defending against
principle. the enemy's plots was regarded as
"In [some] games, Short had de- dishonourable; gambits were - had
liberately mutilated his own pawn- to be - accepted, on principle; it was
structure ...In the seventeenth game not a brave man's business to in-
he voluntarily saddled himself, right dulge in what was associated, in
out of the opening, with a pawn struc- people's minds, with passivity and
ture so ugly that it reduced visiting avoidance of positive action.
grandmasters to shudders of disgust Naturally, the modem player's
...Short had been experimenting (in view is different. We all recognize
his preparations) with just such a the importance of good defensive
provocation" (in Lawson, 1993, de- skills. However, subconsciously,de-
scribing the match Kasparov-Short). fence is still regarded as a tempo-
rary expedient (until the time comes
A doctrinal alteration can be con- to switch over to attack), a chore im-
fined to a certain game, or touma- posed upon us by the transient re-
ment. One explanation for Zsuzsa quirements of particular positions.
Polgar's overwhelming victory over Only a handful of players choose
Maia Chiburdanidze, in the ladies defence as a way of life, aiming at
world championship Candidates' fi- defensive, restricted positions. The
nal 1995 (5%- 1'12) is the following: Swedish GM Ulf Andersson is a no-
'The key to victory lay in two sur- table representative of this group.
prises Polgar prepared for her oppo-
nent: playing, uncharacteristically See diagram 50 on the next page.
for her, in an aggressive style; and As Botterill confessed, at this
choosing opening systems that she juncture he felt very happy with his
had almost never used." (Shutzman, position. Black is faced with the
1995). advance 16 b5, and if 16...axb5 17
44 Surprise in Chess

Botterill - Andersson White sacrifices a pawn, but does

Hastings 197819 not get sufficient compensation.
25...exd5 26 exd5 Qxd5 27 b x d
AxbS, then he would be confronted Pe7 28 wd2 d x d 29 &c4 Qc7 30
with the positional threat 18 a6, driv- wxd8 Pxd8 31 &g7
ing the b7-bishop home. ...and Black won.
Now 16 b5 fails, because after
16...Pfa8! ! the a5-pawn will prove to
be a weakness rather than a strength.
16 we3 we7 17 Pa2!? Pfa8
"It is quite extraordinary that
Black can afford to pile up his rooks,
apparently inactive, in one corner of
the board like this" (Botterill, in
Harding, 1982).
l 8 Qb3 Qf6 19 Ad3 &c6 20 Pc1
k e 8 (51)
21 h3 Xb7 22 we1 wd8 23 Qal
Af8 -
Kasparov Andersson
Like no other player, Andersson Moscow 1981
uses his back ranks for waiting ma-
noeuvres. 13...Exe3!? 14 h e 3 g6 15 0-0
24 h 2 d!25 d5? we7 16 wd4 kg7 17 wf4 Qe8
Failing to find a promising plan, In return for the exchange, Black
as his idea of b4-b5 came to nought, is assured of good piece-play and a
The Five Faces of Surprise in Chess 45

fm control of the key square e5. One 29 e4 Q6d7 30 Pc2 Qe5 31 Qxe5
presumes that he will try to attack Axe5 32 wf2 a d 7 33 b4 %#d834
the weak e3-pawn. However, as the Ae2 Ag7
game progresses, we witness Black ...and the game ended in a draw
apparently doing nothing active! on move 83.
"Black's plan [is] not altogether
usual: voluntarily to spend the entire
game defending" (Polugaevsky and
Damsky, 1988).
18 Pacl Ae5 19 wf2 Qdf6 20
Ad3 h5 21 age2 Qh7 22 Qf4 Qf8
23 a b 5 a6 24 Qd4 Ad7 25 Xc2
kg7 26 *g3 Pb8
Black's ongoing strategy is ori-
ented towards parrying his enemy's
potential threats. 20 ...h5 was a pre-
caution against a possible g2-g4-g5
advance. Later, Qf6-h7-f8 was de-
signed to guard g6. His last move -
Adams Andersson
supplied a defence to the b7-pawn. It Biel1991
can be quite depressing for a player
to face an opponent who takes pre- Here White has created some con-
cautions even against his future, po- crete threats, but Andersson stays
tential plans. calm and concentrates on mobilizing
27 Xe2 a f 6 28 &3 Ae8 (53) defensive recruits.
23...&h8 24 Eel Ab7 25 Ee5
Pg8 26 &h2 Wd6 27 &c2
Tries like 27 Peg5 or 27 &xe6!?
were suggested after the game, but it
appears that Black can hold his own
in either case.
27...wf8 (55)
In a position where one side is ap-
parently so passive, it is rare that the
other side can prepare his break-
through in leisurely fashion, and yet
be unable to find a convincing way
through the defence.
46 Surprise in Chess

E. Surprise in
The conduct of war is governed by
tacit rules: there are things you can
do, and there are things you cannot
or, anyway, are not expected to do
(like harming women and children).
Even total war has its limitations:
unconventional means are regarded
as unacceptable, outside the realm of
'fair play'.
Annotating another Andersson
game, GM Seirawan expressed his Expected Behaviour: One's oppo-
amazement: "Andersson seems to nent's moves will be drawn from
know exactly how far he can bend a reservoir of familiar theoretical
without breaking" (1990). realizing ideas and combinational motifs.
the bounds of the risks he can under-
take. Possible Surprise: Usage of new, or
28 Pe2? rare weapons can generate surprise.
Adams recommends 28 Pge3 or
28 Ab3. Four types of such weapons, in the
28...PdS 29 Pg5 wb8 30 &g1 context of a chess game, are illus-
wd8 31 Pxd5 WxdS 32 Ab3 wd6 trated below:
33 Pd2 wc7 34 P d l Pd8 35 wf2
Ad5 36 E e l b5 37 PxdS Pxd5 38 El) Novelties in the opening
We3 &g8
The attack has evaporated. Black When commentators refer to sur-
remains with a slight plus, due to his prise in chess, this is their most com-
superior pawn structure. Play con- mon example.
tinued: In the modern era, an opening
39 Qf3 Qd7 40 Qes? a x e 5 41 novelty is frequently a one-time shot.
fxe5 as! 42 Pe2 *c4 43 a3 Pd3 44 After its first appearance, the inno-
wf2 P d l + 45 Eel Xxel+ 46 wxel vation may get published and be-
wd3! 47 b3 *c2 48 b4 a4 49 We3 come common knowledge, hence
wa2 50 wd3 wxa3 losing its unexpected, unfamiliar
...and Black won on move 60. features.
The Five Faces of Surprise in Chess 47

Since the topic is well covered in

literature, we shall content ourselves
with two examples and move on.
M. Ashley - A. Shabalov
A. Feurstein J.E. Bennet New York 1993
USA c o n 1953 Exchange French
Fianchetto King's IndianIGriinfeld

At the time this correspondence All this had happened in a game

game took place, the variation was Waitzkin-Shabalov earlier that year.
evaluated as advantageous for There White chose the continuation
Black; Pachman gave 8 bxc3 P g 8 12 we1 wxd3 13 h x c 3 + but after
with 9...Ag7 to follow. 13...Ae6 14 we3 Pd8 Black ob-
8 &d2! Wxd5 9 Wxc3 h 6 tained a fine game (0- 1'27).
White was threatening mate in White's twelfth move appears to
one. If 9...f6 10 %xc8+ &f7 (with be compulsory, for example Black
the double threat 1 l...Wxhl and wins after either 12 @d2? Axe2 13
1 l...Wxd2+!), then 11 &f3!, pre- Axe2 wxd2 or 12 '@c2 Axe2 13
venting both, wins. Axe2 a d 4 .
l 0 Wxh8 Qd4 12 wc2! Axe2 13 Eel! wd4
An attempt to fish in troubled wa- 13...0-O? 14 Axh7+ '&h8 15Wxc3
ters. 10...wxhl fails to 11 Ah6. nets a pawn.
48 Surprise in Chess

Let there be no misunderstanding:

the majority of opening novelties are
not crushing in nature. Rather, their
effect is enhanced (more precisely,
multiplied) by the confusion they
wreak in the enemy camp. -
Fuchs Honfi
corr: 1962
E2) Surprise tactics
The length of a combination is not
Basic tactical themes are well- an essential element of surprise, as
known and few in number: forks, the following one-movers will tes-
pins, double attacks, square and line tify:
clearances, obstructions, deflections
and some others. A tactical surprise
occurs either by using really rare
tactics, or by implementing an origi-
nal version of a well-known motif.
There follow some examples.

E2. l ) Rare ideas

See diagram 58 opposite.

12 Ah6?
An ordinary move that is coun-
tered energetically and decisively:
12...bbc4! 13 Wg5 e5! 14 m e 2 NN - Mannheimer
Or 14 Wxd8? Axh6+. Frankfurt 1921
14...Af6! 0-1
15 '@g3 Ah4 is amusing, but not After l...Xe4! Black ends up a
for White. piece ahead.
The Five Faces of Surprise in Chess 49

S. Hawes S. K e n -
Mabbs Mohrlok
London Lloyds Bank 1979 1959

26 &e4!! Next we look at fresh variations

This move wins. White avoids 26 of a worn-out concept: the pin. Al-
c4+? d4+!, when it is Black who though the basic idea is familiar to
wins. After the text-move, 27 c4+ is every novice, the combinations be-
not to be denied (26 h 6 27 dLxd5). low have an original flavour, and their
occurrence constitutes a surprise.
In order to create surprise, an idea
doesn't have to be profound. Its E2.2.1) Multiple pin
scarcity value and efficacy are more

See diagram 61 opposite.

8...wc7 9 we2?
Disliking 9 b3 (9 Qe3!) 9...b5!,
he walks into a mine.
Most unusual, but totally crush-
ing. As 10 &d2 &c4+ l l &el Qe5
is unplayable, White tried 10 a d 5 in
despair (0- l , 16).

E2.2) Rare variations of familiar -

Y.Kagan L. Shmuter
themes Israel 1995
50 Surprise in Chess

26 Qd4!! 27 exd4 cxd4 28 Ec5
Pinning on the file, as well as on
the rank. White continued 29 Pxc7
xxb5 and succumbed on move 45.
Returning to the position after
Black's 26th, White can diverge with
27 Qxd4 cxd4 28 Pc5 but then
28...k 7 ! ! 29 exd4 b6 wins just the
same: 30 Wb2!? bxc5 31 dxc5+

E2.2.2) Exchange of pins

Dembo - Ratner
Paris 1926
Alekhine Defence

k e 7 5 Qxd5 exd5 6 d4 0-0 7 A d 3
d6 8 0-0 &g4 9 h3 &h5 10 Re1 Qc6
11 c3 Re8 1 2 k f 4 dxe5 13 dxe5
P x f 3 14 wxf3 &g5 15 Pad1 kxf4
16 wxf4 we7 17 W@!
The e5-pawn looks secure.
Fearing the advance of the white
f-pawn, Black walks into a danger- E2.2.3) Self-disruption of pin
ous pin.
l8 Re31 (63) See diagram 65 on the next page.
Not 18 f4? wc5+. 26..R&
18...f6 19 f4 W&! 20 fxe5 fie5 "My opponent rose from his seat"
Notwithstanding his material ad- - recalls Yosha - "under the impres-
vantage, White is so tied up that he is sion that the game was over".
hardly able to move. 27 &&h3 l!! 28 Qg3
21 E e l Pae8 22 &'2 g5 Now if Black plays 28...kxg2,
Anticipating the freeing manoeu- the bishop blocks his rook, enabling
vre wg3-f4-d4. 29 &h5 (29 ...k f 3 + 30 Qg3).
The Five Faces of Surprise in Chess 51

A. Yosha T. Haines Polugaevsky - Gufeld
Berlin 1983 MoscoW 1979

Objectively, Black still has a "The psychological basis of Po-

strong initiative. However, stunned lugaevsky's plan was: surely Gufeld
by White's resource, he played badly won't decide to give up his favourite
and lost (1-0,37). bishop" (Gufeld, 1994).
It proved very effective.
E3) Choice of an off-beat weapon 20Axe5 f6 21 &h2 CS!with Black
having the more comfortable game
Sometimes the enemy pursues ordi- (0-1'46).
nary schemes by employing rare (at
least for him) weapons. A defensive
player may play aggressively; a
player with a tendency for combina-
tions suddenly heads for a technical
endgame; and so on.

See diagram 66 opposite.

19 Axe51
GM Eduard Gufeld is known for
his predilection for King Indian for-
mations, and, even more, for his de-
votion to the g7-bishop. Hence his
decision to trade this piece for a
knight is surprising.
Winants Kasparov
Brussels SWIFT 1987
52 Surprise in Chess

42 Wf5 43 f3 Og5! 44 hxg5
*X&+ 45 &g1 Wdl+ 46 &g2 we2+
47 &h3 wxf3!!
One would think that in return for
his sacrificed rook, Black intends to
mate his rival's king...
48 Wxa7 Whl+ 49 &g4 h5+ 50
($f4 Wfl+ 51 s$e5 wf5+ 52 &d6
we6+ 53 &c7
Black wins after 53 &CS?wxe3+
54 Ed4 c2.
53 We7+ 54 &b6 Wxa7+! 55
h a 7 (68) Makarychev - Naumkin
Moscow Ch 1983

28 Ec7 Wxa3
The threat was 29 Ab4. Now 29
%%l0-O!30 k b 4 Wf3! is unclear.
29 '##cl!!
White opts for an ending, not a
mating attack!
29 wxcl+ 30 Axcl &d8 31
Xxa7 Xe8 32 &a3 (70)

It transpires that the decisive role

is played by another 'player': the ad-
vanced c-pawn; and that the combi-
nation commencing on Black's 47th
was aimed at ...exchanging queens!
55 c2 0-1

See diagram 69 opposite.

White is a pawn down, but Black
has not finished his development.
We expect White to commence an Zugzwang. Black is bound to lose
attack. material when he runs out of moves.
The Five Faces of Surprise in Chess 53

"I always find it a pleasure to

meet him in a tournament, since I
had won my previous two encoun-
ters with him ...The move l ...c5 (in
answer to 1 e4) showed me that Mr
E4) Deploying non-chessweapons Adams was afraid of me and didn't
know what to play ... In his first in-
As familiarity with chess weapons dependent move in the game (13...b5)
grows, the role of psychological coups he commits a serious error ... [on
increases. Psychological ploys often move 371 Here he resigned, bringing
affect one's opponent's mood, his my score against him to 3-0"
self-assurance, his equanimity, or (Tiviakov, commenting on his game
his objective standpoint. against Adams, Groningen 1993).
Childish and inept as it may
E4.1) Behaviour that shows con- sound, such commentary may occa-
tempt towards the enemy sionally affect one's enemy in future
battles; it is unexpected and confus-
E4.1.1) Being late for the start of the ing; one is not sure how to react to it.
E4.2) Behaviour directed to distract,
In the VSB tournament, Amsterdam annoy, or disinform the opponent
1996, the game Lautier - Kasparov
began in a strange way: "Lautier This weapon can manifest itself in a
turned up 5 minutes late for the verbal or non-verbal interchange. It
game, and Kasparov 15 [minutes]. can take place before the match or
Evidently, this is a kind of ritual - during play.
who can arrive latest?" (Algra and Recently I learned that similar
Crowther, 1996) ammunition is used in tennis. "I'm
really tired after last night, but I'll
E4.1.2) Making demgatory or lordly give it the old college try" is a char-
remarks about one's adversaries in acteristic warm-up ploy. Dressing
public. extravagantly, or exuding confi-
dence, are well-known in this sport
This can be done through a speech in (Weinberg, 1988), as they are in
a closing ceremony, in a journalistic chess.
interview, or simply by interspersing
offending notes in annotations to a E4.3) Behaviour intended to inflict
game. extra pressure on one's opponent
54 Surprise in Chess

E4.3.1) Repeating the position Approaching the end of our sur-

vey, I feel that we have left aside a
Nigel Short describes, through Dom- matter of great importance, namely:
inic Lawson (1993), a common ploy
of strong players: in a dominating
position, they repeat the position Surprise in the
twice, "partly to demonstrate that Evaluation of Hostile
they were toying with their oppo- Potential
nent and partly to tantalize him with
the hope of a draw". He goes farther Identifying the location of the clash
to dub this behaviour as a "sadistic between both armies, or the type of
trick". weapon in use, is secondary in sig-
nificance to the following funda-
E4.3.2) Lengthening the fight on mental query:
purpose Is our opponent capable of
causing us serious damage?
This weapon is geared towards fu- Frankly, we have to admit that our
ture fights with the same rival. In a answer to this query is occasionally
game Ioseliani - Xie Jun from their negative. Either (A) our opponent is
women's world championship match assessed as too weak to pose us prob-
in 1993, the Chinese player made lems; or (B) play results in a position
the following comment: that we consider solid enough to with-
"[in a won position] For psycho- stand an assault by (any) adversary.
logical reasons I wanted the game to It is my impression that quite a
last as long as possible. I wanted to few chess surprises occur when a
give her some hope, create the impres- player simply denies the possibility
sion that there still were chances. of a negative result. Common ex-
Playing on in such a position in a pressions 'How could I lose to such
match leaves a very bad memory". a woodpusher?' or 'How could I
These phenomena have become have lost from such a position?'
frequent in high-level chess. Some strongly support this view.
of these weapons border on the un-
ethical, while other ploys are dis- Underestimating the enemy's
tinctly illegal. Unlike pure chessic power: an upset by weak
weapons, they are rarely mentioned opposition
in instruction manuals, and thus may
unnerve and surprise the unpre- Every player is very familiar with this,
pared. having several painful experiences
The Five Faces of Surprise in Chess 55

in his personal collection. Logically,

we know that the stronger side does
not always triumph; but psychologi- 72
cally, a 'rabbit' is often identified as
someone incapable of inflicting

Overlooking a position's
hidden resources

A number of positions are deceptive

in appearance. For example, we feel
that there must be a win; we believe black king heads for the opposite
a winning path exists; we know that, corner...
for sure. But then a cold, objective 4 Qf6+ &h4 5 k e l + &h3 6
analysis contradicts our instincts. Qf4+ $?h2 7 Qg4+ &g1 8 .&Et#
Yet his fate is the same. Black's
queen and bishop self-block flight
squares for their monarch.

D. Gurgenidze, 2nd Prize,

~eskoslovenskySuch 1973
White to play and win
Murey - N. Grinberg
1 &ff h2 2 g7 h l w 3 g8Q+! (72) Ramat Gun 1980
Can this win for White?
3...&h5 The diagram was reached after
Alternatively 3...&h7 4 Qg5+ &h8 the moves 1 e4 c5 2 Qf3 Qc6 3 d4
5 .&c3#. With the text-move, the cxd4 4 Qxd4 e6 5 Qc3 a6 6 &c6
56 Surprise in Chess

bxc6 7 Ad3 d5 8 0-0 h f 6 9 Af4 22...Af5 23 wh8+ &e7 24 Axc8

Ae7 10 we2 0-0 11 Pad1 Xe8 12 Pxh8 25 Axf5 cxb4 26 c5 Pb8 27
a a 4 c5 13 c4 Ad7 14 Qc3 d4 Pd6 a5 28 Pa6 Pb5 29 Pdl g6 30
White's position seems OK, but Pc2 1-0
would you describe it as winning?
Surprise lies here, as in the former Bibliography
example, in the disparity between
the initial assessment and the ensu- 1. Tigran Petmsian, His Life and
ing play. Games l V.C. Vasiliev l Batsford,
15 e5! dxc3 16 exf6 Axf6 London 1974
16...g xf6 17 Axh7+ &xh7 18 2. Psychology in Chess l N . Krogius
wh5+ with 19 Pd3 to follow is dis- I RHM Press, USA 1976
astrous for Black. 3. The Psychology of the Draw Offer
17 Ae4 h 7 / A. Fishbein l Inside Chess No. 5,
17...Pc8 18 Ab7 cxb2 19 bxc8 1993
Wxc8 20 b e 5 is not easy for Black. 4. The Inner Game l D. Lawson 1
Maybe 17...e5!? is somewhat better. Macmillan, London 1993
18 *h51 e5 5. Towards the Women's World
Surprisingly,after 18...g 6 19wxc5 Championship/ J . Shutzrnan/Schah-
Black loses a whole rook. mat No. 2, 1995 (in Hebrew)
19 wxh7+ *f8 20 Ae3 *c8 21 6. Why You Lose at Chess / T.Hard-
b4! Pc7 (74) ing / Batsford, London 1982
7. The Art of Defence in Chess l L.
Polugaevsky and I. Damsky / Per-
garnon Press 1988
8. The Mental Advantage / R. S.
Weinberg / Leisure Press / USA

Quotations from Game


9. Kasparov - Anand / P. Wolff /

New in Chess No. 7, 1995
10. Hertneck - J. Polgar 1G. Hert-
22 Ab7!! neck 1New in Chess No. 5,1991
Charming. Now 22...Wxb7 23 11. Grooten - Miles 1H. Grooten /
Pxd7 would be curtains. New in Chess No. 10,1985
The Five Faces of Surprise in Chess 57

12. Sexy Chess Openings / G. Bur- -

16. Tiviakov Adams 1 S.Tiviakov 1
gess l Kingpin No. 25,1995 New in Chess No. 1,1994
13. Tilburg 1990 / Y. Seirawan / I n - 17. Ioseliani - Xie Jun Xie Jun I
side Chess No. 2 1,1990 New in Chess 1994
14. Yosha - Haines l A. Yosha 1 18. Polugaevsky - Gufeld / My Li,fe
Schahmat No. 9,1983 (Hebrew) in Chess / E . Gufeld 1 ICE, Seattle,
15. 10th VSB Tournament / J. Algra USA 1994
and N. Crowther l Chess No. 6,1996
4 Special Cases of Chess Surprise
Moving from the abstract to the con-
crete, is it possible to classify certain
chess positions as 'prone to sur-
Well, yes and no. It is feasible to
distinguish some chess phenomena
that appear infrequently, have uncom-
mon attributes and contain elements
that contradict basic assumptions of
chess players.
This, however, should be done
with definite reservation: surprise
possesses strong individualistic in- Plaskett - Hebden
gredients. What constitutes a shock- England 1982
ing surprise for one, may be clear Now Black's attack is insuffi-
and obvious to another. Bearing this cient, e.g. 30...Pxf2 3 1 Pxh6 w d l +
in mind, here are some positions that 32 &e2! Wxe2+ 33 &h3 and White
most of us would find surprising. wins.
30 Wg6 31 Ad31
The target runs away An echo of the previous note: the
bishop commits suicide to deflect
In diagram 75 Black has succeeded, the black queen. Now 31...wxd3 32
by imaginative sacrificial play, to pose Pxh6 and 31...f5+ 32 &xf5 both
serious threats to the white monarch. lose.
By continuing 28...g4 !he could cage
in his king, when perpetual check
31 Wg7 32 Wxg7+ h@ 33 &f3
would be inevitable. Instead, he tried
for more with: See diagram 76 on the following
Intending 29 Xb2+ 30 &3 wdl+ Black devised a plan to put pres-
31 &e4 f5+. However, the white sure on White's weak e-pawn:
king refuses to be a sitting duck and 24...Xe6 25 kfl XfeS 26 k g 2
rushes forward: &7 27 f4 &5!?
29 M31 P b 2 30 &g4! Carrying on with his plan, but...
Special Cases of Chess Surprise 59

Pa8 we6 31 d5 wd7 32 c6, etc.

29 d5 e3 30 wd3 Xa6
After 30...Pg6 3 1 Pa8 White's in-
itiative clearly precedes Black's.
31 h 6 bxa6 32 d6
32 'YYxfS was a different path to
32...e2 33 Eel wxf4 34 d7 Xd8
35 c6 Qd4 36 %c'3 Qb5 37 Xxe2!
Qc7 38 WcS Pb8 39 Pel g6 40 Pfl
wh4 41 we5 wd8 42 Ad5 h d 5
Now that the blockade is re-
Hennigan - M. Gurevich moved, Black collapses.
Philadelphia 1989 43 WxdS wb6+ 44 &h1 Xf8 45
9m -I+ 46 nfi+1-0
S e4!!(77)
Black has laid siege to the back- An immediate
ward pawn, but the dynamics of the switch-back
position permit this very pawn to
make a breakthrough! Personal experience has taught me
that a switch-back - returning a piece
back to a square it had just vacated -
is quite an unexpected scheme.
Bearing in mind the element of
'surprise in location', and our prem-
ise that direction of movement will
beforward, an immediate switch-back
appears paradoxical. I think you will
agree that after White hasjust played,
say, a h 2 - f l , the very last move his
opponent expects is Qf l-h2!
I've managed to execute this idea
several times in my games. My op-
S...dxe4 ponents' reactions left no room for
Owing to the vulnerability of his doubt: they were surprised!
back rank, Black cannot make an
otherwise promising exchange sac- In this complicated position (dia-
rifice: 28 Xxe4 29 Axe4 dxe4 30 gram 78). Black holds the advantage,
60 Surprise in Chess

33...Pxa6 34 -8+ $?h7 35

Pxg7+ $?xg736 Wf8+ $?f637 Ae7+
*S 38 wxf7+ &g4 39 wf4+ $?h3
40 wfl+ &g3 41 Wf4+ &h3 l/z-l/z

And here the same theme appears

in a study:

Avni - Porper
Israeli Ch 1992

due to the weakness of White's king-

side pawns. 32 Ef4? Ag5! is bad.
32 Rxf6!? Ra8?
32...g xf6 is correct, when White
has no time for 33 Wd6? r(xf5. Bet-
ter is 33 wf4, though after 33...we2! From a study by A. Avni,
34 '@X&(but not 34 Ae7? Xxh4+!) Schakend Nederland 1978
34. .*f l+, with 35...Xxf5 to follow, White to play and draw
Black has the upper hand.
With the text-move, Black hopes 1 Ad+!!F$C5
for 33 &f7? P a l + 34 *g1 Pxgl+ After l...&e5? 2 d4+ &f4 3 Ad3
35 &xgl m l + 36 & any '@a,+; 33 Af5 4 e3+ &g4 5 e4 it is Black who
wg2 w a l + 34 w g l gxf6 35 Pg8+? is in danger of losing.
Pxg8 36 Wxal Pxh4#; or 33 Pxg7? 2 Aa6!! Sbd5
Ral+ 34 Wgl W 4 # . Black has two other plausible
Oddly, it was precisely on Black's choices:
actual reply that I had counted, when a) Z...blW 3 d4+ F$d5 4 Ad3!
playing 32 k f 6 . with the double threat 5 e4# and 5
33 Xa6!! ikxbl, and White manages to force a
A common remark in game anno- draw.
tations is 'you should have seen his b) 2...&5 3 e4! Axe4 4 d4+ $?dS
face when I played this move!'. 5 Ab7+ $?c4 6 Axe4 $?xc3 7 d5
Such was the case here. &d4 draws.
Special Cases of Chess Surprise 61

3 &c4+! As a last resort, White starts a des-

Not falling for 3 d4?! &f5!, win- perate attack:
ning. The same trap existed, of course, 21 Pxg7+ &ha!
on move one. Both 21...&xg7? 22 P g l + and
3...&c5 4 &a6! 21...&xg7? 22 %x' d8+ Exd8 23
With a draw by repetition. Pxd8+ Af8 24 &h6 lose.
22 Pg8+ &xg8 23 P g l + &g7 24
Recurrence of surprise Pxg7+
We have seen this before, haven't
By definition, a certain surprise can we?
take place only once: after that, it is ...
24 &ha!
surprising no more. D4d VU. 24...&xg7 25 wxe5+ &g8
Sometimes, though, the same mo- 26 wg3+ &f8 27 &h6+ h e 7 28
tif does recur in the same game ...if we5+ &d7 29 wd5+ draws by per-
one's opponent operates under the petual check.
impression that he can't be fooled 25 Pxh7+
twice ... then, paradoxically, he is Alas, 25 wf6 permits mate in one.
bound to be surprised once again! ...
25 &xh7 26 wh6+ &g8 27 *h5
Wdl+ 28 wxdl Xxdl+ 29 &xdl Pc4

Tompa Andruet
Bagneux 1982
Bryson - Sher
A simple withdrawal of the white Hastings 1996
queen will lead to the fall of one of
the unprotected pawns at e4 and a2. ...
21 was!! 22 bxc3 bxc3 23 & b l
2 1 %'xf6? is foiled by 2 1...Pxd l+. Pb2+ 24 $?cl w a 3 25 Wxf8+ wxf8
62 Surprise in Chess

26 Jkc5 wg7 27 Xd3 h 2 28 Xedl?

wg5+ 29 h 3 (82)
29 &bl Xb2+ 30 &a1 Xxb3 31 83
cxb3 wxc5 is winning for Black.

I. Shigapov, 2nd Honorable

Mention, Rustavi 1986
White to play and win

I have explained my reluctance to

29 wa5! 0-1 define and outline chess surprises in
"Having overlooked Black's queen the first paragraph of this chapter. I
sacrifice the first time round, I man- am sure readers will enjoy - and be
aged to miss it again" commented surprised by - long moves (diagram
the loser, ruefully. 84), unforced king-moves in the
opening (diagrams 85 and 86) and
Our final example of a repetitive the helplessness of the queen (dia-
surprise involves a suicidal piece. gram 87). Beyond that, I advise the
reader to deduce from his own expe-
See diagram 83. rience what kind of positions he
1 Xb5+! &c4 finds surprising.
Forced, to avoid the loss of his
queen. See diagram 84 on the next page.
2 Xxb3! d3 3 Xxd3! Black has just sacrificed his
The third successive offer of this queen. White's rejoinder casts doubt
rook. If it is left untouched this time, over this ploy.
White will win prosaically. 28 wal!!
3...F$xd3 4 &4+ h e 3 S JkfS! A long move, with another long
The stalemate defence is beauti- move in store.
fully countered. The threat 6 a c 2 # 28...Xhb8 29 &cl X2b4 30 Xc3!
decides the issue: White wins. Ab6 31 Xb3! Qxb3+ 32 axb3
Special Cases of Chess Surprise 63

With his last move, 7...wd8-e7,

Black assumes that the response 8
we2 is obligatory.
8 m!
It transpires that 8...Wxe4 fails to
9 Ab5+ d?d8 10 Eel !. Once the cap-
ture is forbidden, the black set-up is
inappropriate for future develop-
8...Ag4 9 h5 h 4 10 kxf4 &6
11Ab5 0-0-0 12h c 6 bxc6 13lb'd3
Qxf3 14 gxf3 Af5 15 Wa6+ &'b8
B. Perenyi - L. Portisch 16 h 5 &c8 17 Wxc6 Xxd4 18
Budapest 1988 Xael! Exf4 19Wb5+ &a8 20 Wc6+
&b8 21 Xxe7 Axe7 22 Xdl (1-0,
Now the point of 28 Wal!! is re- 32).
vealed. With the aid of ng3-b3! (with
a short break at c3), the frail black a-
and d-pawns come under too much
32...a5 33 &c4 Qe7 34 kxd4
Qc6 35 Axb6+ R8xb67 36 c3 Exb3
37 Axb3 Pnb3 38 &'c2 1-0

Reshevsky Seirawan
Lugano 1987

The position arose after the moves

g6 5 d4 cxd4 6 wxd4 Qf6 7 h 3 d6
8 &S Ag7 9 &g5 Qbd7 10 &U.
Spassky - Seirawan Black is under some pressure on
Montpellier Candidates' 1985 the hl-a8 and al-h8 diagonals.
64 Surprise in Chess

10...0-O? loses to 11 axe7(f6)+,

while moves such as 10...Axd5 and
10...e5 have obvious drawbacks.
10 &f8!
An original and strong solution to
the problems. Now Black threatens
l 1 ...a x d 5 , since the g7-bishop is
protected. Besides, 11 a x f 6 , being
no longer check, allows l l...Axg2.
11 a b 3 b d 5 12 Ah6 h7f6 13
Axg7+ &xg7 14 cxd5 e5! 15 wd3
We8! 16 Qd2 Wa4 17 0-0 Aa6 18
we3 P a d and Black took over the From a study by B. Gusev and
initiative (0- 1,43). An. Kuznetsov, special prize,
Tsereteli 150, 1991
See diagram 87. White to play and draw
1 h7 Axh7
l...Ae6 2 Xe7! with the threat of
3 Xe8+ draws, e.g. 2...Wxg6 3 Exe6
@g1 4 Xf6+ &e7 5 Pf7+. Bibliography
2 Xf7+! wxf7
Expecting 3 gxf7 g5, when Black Quotation from Game
wins. Annotation
3 gxh7!
Black's extra queen is useless and 1. Bryson - Sher / from Chess No. 4,
the draw is clear. 1996
5 More About Surprise in Chess

Effect of Surprise A surprising move. Not that it

saves Black: a miracle is required for
Once a surprise has been unleashed, that. Still, it is remarkable that Black
the play of the surprised party fre- can keep on resisting in a seemingly
quently suffers: an advantage gradu- resignable situation.
ally evaporates; an equal position 35 %S?
becomes worse; mistakes abound. 35 wg4! intending 36 Eh5 clinches
matters. 35 Af6 is less convincing
due to 35...&h7!. But what's wrong
with the text-move?
3s l & !
The miracle has happened! Here
White meditated for over half an
hour, but found no way to repair the
damage. A curious position.
36 &h6+ gxh6 37 &f6+ &h7 38
Exg8 &xg8 39 Xe3 Ag6 (112-1/2,63)

It is amazing what a single un-

foreseen move can do to one's confi-
Ghizdavu Timman dence. The following examples, in
Jerusalem World Junior Ch 1967 which psychological blows affect
pure chess reasoning, are typical.
If ever there was a completely
winning position, it is the diagram See diagram 89 on the next page.
position. White's pieces are ready 28...f5 29 we2 Xe7
for the final assault, while Black is Deflecting the queen, Black en-
powerless, with no counterplay. visages a 'grand finale': 30 Wxe7
33 h6 h f 2 + 31 &g1 Qxh3++ 32 &h1
A safer winning method consists wgl+33 k g 1 Qf2#.
in trebling the heavy pieces on the g- Taken aback, White lost his fight-
file, and transferring the bishop to ing spirit and resigned. Instead, 30
e5. Exh7+! forces perpetual check:
33..&8 34 Ae7 Wh6! 30 ...Xxh7 31 we8+ &g7 32 we7+
Surprise in Chess

The situation has been trans-

formed into a queen ending. The ba-
sic assessment remains the same
though: White can throw in the towel
with a clear conscience.
57 wd4+ &e2 58 wc4+ d?f2 59
Wf4+ &g2
Perhaps now is the time to call it a
60 e4! a2 61 Wd2+ &h1 62 &g4
At this point Black must have
been amazed: White keeps finding
A. Camel - Y.Grunfeld new counter-chances, even in this
Tel-Aviv 1989 apparently barren position. This tends
to have a negative influence on one's
62 wxe4+* would subject the black
monarch to a long series of checks.
So, Black prefers a simpler path:
63 &h3 wf5+ 64 &h4 a l l 65
wel+! (91)

Sutovsky Beim
Rishon le Zion I994

Black has two advanced passed

pawns; White has only one. The
game is decided. Oh dear! Where did this come
53 1963 Zxe3 54 fxe3 b2 55 h7 from? Here Black, probably in a
blw 56 h8w+ &d2 state of shock, agreed to a draw.
More About Surprise in Chess 67

(65...Wxel is stalemate). In a calmer "Suddenly it was obvious that in

emotional state, he would doubtless my analysis I had missed what Fi-
have found 65...Wfl (!!), winning scher had found with the greatest of
easily. ease at the board. The reader can
Personality characteristics are guess that my equanimity was
closely related to the effect a surpris- wrecked" (Botvinnik, in Fischer,
ing moment has on one's play. A 1972).
player with a weak character may Yet the veteran fighter got over
ruin an entire tournament following this major embarrassment and went
a shocking surprise. Tough. seasoned on to put up tough resistance. He
professionals do not allow them- eventually drew the game!
selves to fall apart, just for missing a
single move. Surprise and Risk
An instructive case was described
by ex-world champion, Mikhail Bot- Chess is a game of continuous deci-
vinnik. Playing against the rising sion-making. Some of these deci-
star Bobby Fischer, he followed hissions involve taking risks.
prepared analysis, when a nasty ac- I believe that the concept of risk
cident occurred: in chess is not fully understood.
Authors have expressed strong opin-
ions on the topic of sacrificialattack.
But that is not synonymous with
Asked if he had certain rules as to
when a player should sacrifice mate-
rial in an attack, the late ex-world
champion Mikhail Tal said:
"[In a discussion with GM Efim
Geller] we generally agreed that in
intuitive attacks there is a limit to the
amount of material that can be sacri-
ficed ... If for an attack on the king
Botvinnik Fischer you have to give up a piece for one
Varna Olympiad 1962 or two pawns, and there is the pros-
pect ...of winning two pieces for a
17 Wxf4! rook, then [you should go for it].
Wins a pawn as 18 @xb6? loses to [However,] if you sacrifice a rook
18...we4 19 f3 wh4+ 20 Af2 %l+ for. a pawn, it would be good to be
68 Surprise in Chess

sure of at least perpetual check" (in

Tal and Damsky, 1994).
Rudolf Spielmann, another bril-
liant attacker, stressed the relative
value of pieces and the uselessness
of prescriptions for successful sacri-
fices. Discussing the pros and cons
of an exchange sacrifice over two
full pages, he reached the not very
helpful conclusion that practically, it
all 'depends'. (Spielmann, 1935).
A major consideration when mak-
ing a sacrifice is the extent of risk in- -
Zhukhovitsky Petkevich
volved. Assessing it is frequently USSR 1968
neglected in chess literature. Take,
for instance, the next two episodes: l...Xa7 2 Wxa7 Ah3 3 &l!
Not 3 g3? We4 4 M '@xe3+ 5 &h1
Wf2 6 P g l hS!, intending 7...r(e2!,
when Black develops a powerful at-
tack. After 7 wxa6 (7 Pc2? kg2+!)
7...'@xd4 White is in difficulties, de-
spite his material advantage.
3...Wxg2+ 4 &el wfl+ 5 &d2
%'xf2+ 6 $?c3 c5
Or 6...r(xe3+ 7 &b4.
7 Wxc5 r(c8 8 Oc6
...and Black resigned shortly.
In both cases, Black sacrificed a
Leonhardt - Mieses great quantity of material. Both tries
London match 1905 were objectively incorrect. The fact
that in the first example Black gained
l...Acs 2 WXh8 A B + 3 5kxf.21 success, is beside the point. Never-
3 &g2! wb3 4 wxg7 wins for theless, both sacrificialattemptswere
White. totally justfled.
3...wb3! 4 Wd8 wf3+ 5 &el The reason for this seemingly
we3+ 6 &dl wgl+ 7 $?d2 wf2+ 8 contradictory assertion lies in the in-
&c3 wc5+ 112-=/2 itial state of affairs: in both diagrams
More About Surprise in Chess 69

Black is clearly in a hopeless situ- risky actions may jeopardize vic-

ation and has nothing to lose. R e tory: the gamble may lead to disas-
member what we have learned from ter.
military and international relations:
the decision whether to take a risk
should be evaluated with regard, in-
ter alia, to the cost of taking no risk 95

at all.
Pursuing this line of thought, the
players with White in the two exam-
ples above should not have been sur-
prised when their opponents initiated
a desperate onslaught. Actually, this
reaction should have been antici-

Be it in a clearly winning position, -

Boersma Douven
be it in a clearly losing position, the Dutch Ch (Hilversurn) I985
risk-dimension resolution is simple:
take no risk when victory is in sight; 20 W&!
opt for a high-risk strategy when an The simple 20 n d l keeps a big
ordinary approach will not do. plus: Black's queenside is weak and
Things are more complicated in undeveloped; his kingside pawn for-
double-edged positions, when the mation is shattered; moreover, White
game's outcome is unclear. In such holds the two bishops. Indeed, it
circumstances, when considering a should be possible to achieve victory
precarious operation, a player should by commonplace means.
weigh relevant variables, such as al- High self-confidence and a ten-
ternative options, the desired out- dency towards the romantic style in
come, both players' playing styles, chess may have induced White to
the enemy's strength, and more. take this spectacular plunge.
In the following two cases, play- 20... A x c l 2 1 Pxcl WxbS
ers took substantial risks in a domi- From now on, it is all tactics:
nating position. Such decisions are ...
21 a6 22 &h6 &h8 23 wf4 we7 24
controversial. On the one hand, one %g4 with mate to follow.
is afraid to let an advantage slip by 22 wg4+ F$f8
not being firm enough in keeping Or 22 ...&h8 23 &h6 Pg8 24
up the pressure. On the other hand, &g7+, mating.
70 Surprise in Chess

23 d5! &l7 Asked to pick a colour, I believe

Guarding against 24 &c5+ &e8 the reader would still prefer White.
25 @g8+. ...
20 Aa6! 21 Axa8?! Qd3+ 22
24 d6! Qe5 25 Ah6+ &e8 26 &bl Wxa8
Pc7 w b l + Jumping the fence with 22...Xxf2?
26...a g 6 27 wxg6 hxg6 28 ae7# backfires after 23 '@a4!.
is one way to go out with a bang. A 23 c4 &5 24 *c3 I f 5 25 f4?!
similar variation occurs in the game. Burning his bridges. If his assault
27 Afl h f 3 + 28 &g2 Wxfl+ 29 fails, there will be no returning. Cor-
&ifl &h2+ 30 &g2 k g 4 31 Xe7# rect is 25 b3, with advantage.
25...gxf3 e.p. 26 Xel
The end?
26...f2! 27 XxeS d?g8!!
Notquite! Evidently, White reck-
oned only with 27...%
?+!lf 28 Eel+!.
28 Sfl?
28 Xeel is the lesser evil.
B... wg2 29 Wd3 P x d ! 30 wxc4
Xxe5 31 w d 3 Wxfl+ 0-1

In conclusion: We entertain cer-

tain beliefs about our rival's willing-
ness to take risks. We do not expect
Stolt. Colle him to go for bold sacrifices when it
Bled 1931 is possible for him to attain his goals
by ordinary means. We predict that
In this opposite-wing castling po- he will not play hazardously, if it is
sition, things are not as clear-cut as not his usual playing style. We be-
in the preceding position. White is lieve that he will refrain from gam-
definitely on top: 17 Wd2, a sug- bling, with its attendant uncertainty
gestion of Tartakower's, would have and excitement, if he is not highly
kept the edge, if not augmented it. confident in the outcome of his plan.
Apparently, Stoltz wanted to finish We trust he will avoid dubious open-
off the game quickly: ings and dangerous experiments that
17 g4?! hxg4 18 Edgl Axg5+ have failed him in the past.
Not co-operating with 18...gxf3? But if, contrary to our expecta-
19 Axg6! wxg6? 20 Ah6+!. tions, our opponent behaves differ-
19 Qxg5 Qe5 20 P e 4 ently, then surprise occurs.
More About Surprise in Chess 71

Surprise, Deception
and Warning Signals 97
In our survey of the theory of sur-
prise, we saw that surprise is made
possible through lack of early signs
that signal to the enemy that some-
thing may be wrong.
A warning system may malfunc-
tion because a player is not as vigi-
lant as he should be. He may also be
lulled into a false sense of security
by a cunning opponent who masks Timrnan - Khalifman
his intentions, or misleads him to Amsterdam Donner Memorial 1995
adopt false premises.
Surprise, deception and (lack of)
warning signals are closely related
variables. I have treated the last two
subjects in depth elsewhere'. Here
we shall settle for a light illustration,
for those readers who are unfamiliar
with these themes.

See diagram 97.

26 &c3
The plan associated with this
move, so it seems, is to dislodge the
black queen fromits post. 26...&X&?
loses to 27 dxc5 wxc5 28 &b4.
26..&6? 27 &a5 wa7 28 wcl!! Bouwrneester - Pirc
Threatening not only 29 h e 6 , 1954
gaining a pawn, but also the deadly
29 &d2!, capturing Black's knight in ...
15 Qe7!
broad daylight. Watch how the inno- Shedding the c7-pawn to protect
cent line-up @&+&c3 is transformed d5. Is this a desperate attempt to ob-
into the destructive Wcl+&d2. tain some counter-chances,or a trap?

1 Danger in Chess / Amatzia Avni / Cadogan 1994

72 Surprise in Chess

If it is a trap, what does Black get for enemy is manipulated to assume that
this pawn? a move has been played with a defi-
1 6 Wxc7? g5 17 a d 3 &a6 18 nite goal, while in fact, its true object
Uel is completely different.
Trying to avoid the continuation
18 @c2 Pc8 19 Wdl(bl), in which Graphically, this can be seen in
Black develops some initiative, White the illustration below:
plays into Black's hands. X, Y, Z and T are plausible ways
18 Qc~!! to interpret the aims of move A. As
A skilful 'switchback' which en- the number of possible interpreta-
traps Her Majesty. One is reminded tions grows, the probability of our
of certain animals that incite their enemy picking a mistaken one in-
victims to approach them, and then creases (provided no clues are given).
close their escape routes. The imrne-
diate threat is 19...Ad8, winning. Planning a surprise
19 wxb6 &c4
This covers the flight-square b3, Reading so far, it must have been
and threatens to win by 20...9 a 6 21 clear that the author does not share
*c7 Pf7. the view that a surprise operation is
20 h 5 9 b 8 21 wc7 Qxc5 something that just falls from a clear
Even stronger than 21...9f7 22 sky. On the contrary, it is (or should
&e4. be) a planned action, carefully de-
22 d x d &e5 0-1 signed to disrupt the enemy's strategy,
shaking his beliefs and expectations,
Evidently, multi-purpose moves thus undermining his self-confidence
(like Timman's 26 &c3 and Pirc's in the correctness of his assessments
15...a e 7 ) are ideal deceivers: the and in his overall abilities.
More About Surprise in Chess 73

Strangely, annotators scarcely re- him with an object; choosing a par-

fer to the planning stage of surprise. ticular object that suits the enemy's
The following description is, there- playing style.
fore, a piece of wisdom to treasure: ...
22 a b 6 23 &h2 Xd7 24 Pgl
a g s ! W wxf7
This "brilliancy" was executed by
Bernstein "without a moment's hesi-
tation" (Vidmar). In fact, since the
bishop at h6 cannot be protected, the
move is forced.
25 6f6!!
Suddenly the mating squares g7
and h7 are guarded, and the white
queen finds itself trapped; the idea
underlying Black's 22nd and 23rd
moves is now revealed.
26 Wf8
0. Bernstein Dr Vidmar Black wins after 26 we6 wd8.
St Petersburg 1909 ...
26 Xe7 (I00)

"White's last move, 22 wdl-D,

revealed to me the opponent's inten-
tion to keep f7 under heavy pressure
...I knew that Bernstein was inclined
to take any pawn not obviously poi-
soned; I also knew his predilection
for 'elegant' sacrificial moves. My
task was, therefore, to poison the f7-
pawn in a manner not easily seen
through, and at the same time en-
courage Bemstein to win it by means
of a seemingly brilliant sacrifice"
(Vidrnar, quoted in Kirby, 1963). 27 ae6 m 7 28 Wxe7 h e 7 29 g5
Note the components of the plan: Qg8 30 Qf5 gxf5 31 gxf6 -6 0-1
identifying the rival's intentions; Later, Dr Emanuel Lasker pointed
taking the opponent's preferences out that chess-wise, the result of Vid-
and idiosyncrasies into account; lur- mar's 24...088 was not overwhelm-
ing him into action by presenting ing; from diagram 100, with 27 &5!
74 Surprise in Chess

Qd7 (27...g xh5?? 28 gxh5 Qd7?? ...and White cashed in his mate-
29 a f 7 + ! mates) 28 h f 6 Qxf8 29 rial advantage (1-0,38).
Axf8 wa7! 30 k e g ! Pxe8 3 1 Axd6
White could have emerged from Readers may raise an objection: is
the chaotic intricacy with a position the concept of surprise essential
which was far from lost. But all this when expounding this episode? Isn't
is irrelevant to our subject. the old, familiar terminology suffi-
cient here? Indeed, may it not be ar-
gued, simply, that White had set a
trap, or conceived a pretty combina-
Well, I regard this standpoint as
oversimplistic: the move 13 Ph2
evolved from penetrating the adver-
sary's mind, anticipating his in-
tended 13...f6. After that, it was
imperative to discover an unusual
tactic that would rebut this idea.
Thereafter, the link between a mod-
est shift of a kingside rook and
Shirov - Agdestein queenside expansion was hard to
Oslo 1992 foresee. It certainly did not flow
naturally from the characteristics of
13 Ph2! f6? the position. Finally, the great speed
As Black was soon to find out to in which developments unfolded af-
his cost, the peculiar 13 Eh2 was ter the surprising 15 b4!! afforded
aimed against precisely this move. the black army no time to regroup.
14 exf6 gxf6 15 b4!! axb3 e.p. The fate of the battle was decided,
What else? 15...Ph5? 16 g4 Eh6 literally, within a few moves.
17 f5 is not appetising.
16 a x b 3 Xa4 17 b 5 Wxe2+ The following endgame (diagram
Reluctantly, he settles for the loss 103) has become a classic. In an
of an exchange. 17...Pa5 18 Qxa6 analogous position, with colours re-
Xxa6 19 c5 is worse (19...a d 5 is an- versed and with the omission of both
swered by 20 @xe7+ and then 21 h-pawns, Dr Emanuel Lasker won
Axa6). against Rubinstein, at St Petersburg
18 Xxe2+ W 7 19 h 4 am4 20 1914. A black win was expected
Pc2 here too, but during adjournment,
More About Surprise in Chess 75

analysis, then he would not be able

to adjust to the new situation ...With
downcast head I appeared in the hall
... (In answer to Euwe's greetings) I
nod my grief ..." (Botvinnik, 1981)

In this episode we meet the se-

crecy component of surprise, and
also a related factor: deception. Sur-
prise was implemented as suppor-
tive tool, a back-up to a possible
failure of chessic decisions.
Botvinnik - Dr Euwe
Groningen 1946 Surprise in Defence
Botvinnik discovered a marvellous The notion of surprise is closely as-
saving idea: sociated with the concept of attack.
41 &e3 &e5 42 Pc21 Q 43 &d3 However, surprise can also be part of
Now Euwe found out to his dis- brilliant defence.
may that his intended 43...Pc7 would True, the range of possibilities is
be met by 44 Pxc3!! when the pawn markedly confined in this instance:
ending after 44 ...Xxc3+ 45 &xc3 The defensive party must often re-
&xe4 46 &c4 &f4 47 &d4 &g4 48 spond to specific threats. All the
&e5 &xh4 49 &f6 is only a draw. same, brandishing implausible, un-
In the game Black tried 43. ..Pd8+ predicted replies to the enemy's
44 &e3 P d 4 45 Pxc3 Pxe4+ 46 threats. is viable.
$?f3 E h 4 but after 47 Pc6! was un-
able to win (1/2-'/z, 5 1). See diagram 103 on the next page.
Here we witness a case of pure The absence of dark-squared bish-
chess means meeting ends; thus, no ops tempts White to initiate an of-
surprise weapons are required. Nev- fensive against the black king.
ertheless, White deemed that an ap- 16 Qe4 wd8 17 Wd2 $?g7 18
plication of surprise could increase Pe3 a e 7 19 Eh3 a g 8
his chances of success: White is allowed a free hand in
"(Veresov and I) agreed that we developing his assault. Black's set-
would keep (our saving find) a secret up looks passive.
-what if we were wrong? If the op- 20 a g 5 h6 21 k e 4 Xb8 22 1 1 4
ponent got to know nothing of our Ad7
76 Surprise in Chess

Krays Kataev -
Calvo Addison
Tel-Aviv Czerniak Memorial 1994 Havana Olympiad 1966

Poor Black. No time to breathe, position. His immediate threat is 29

he is kept busy parrying White's Pxg6! (29...fxg6? 30 &g6#).
threats. Right? 28..9c6!!
23 &3 e5!! An outstanding resource. If now
A bombshell. 29 Qxc6 (29 Pxg6? Pxf6! 30 Exf6
24 wxe5+ f6 25 wg3 g5 wxe7 is a win for Black), 29 ...%d6!
Naturally, 25...Axh3?? permits forces advantageous simplifications:
mate in two. Now White is a pawn 30 Axg7+ xxg7 31 exd5 wxd5,
up, but his h3-rook makes a pitiful winning. In the game White chose
sight. Perhaps 26 Eh5!?, with com- another course:
plications, was best here. Black can 29 Qxd5 & c'5' 30 Axe5 WE2 31
force a draw, if he likes (26...Ae8 27 wf4 Xe8
Eh3 Ad7), or take some risks to win And when Black disentangled
material (26...we8 27 a x g 5 !?). himself eventually, his material su-
26 Ac2? Ec8 27 Qd2 Axh3 28 periority told (0- 1,46).
Wxh3 Xc7 29 Wf5 &h8
...and Black realized his material See diagram 105 on the next page.
advantage (0- 1,45). A strange affair: With his last move, 17...we5-d5,
White made all the running - and Black has posed a serious problem
then, suddenly, he was lost. for White. 18 P d l Af5 19 e4 &e4!
20 fxe4 Axe4 21 & g5. Axd3 22
In diagram 104 White has sacri- Axd8 Axc2 23 Exd5 Axbl is bad.
ficed a rook to attain this promising An attempt to improve with 2 1 Axe4
More About Surprise in Chess 77

In our next example, surprise

moves serve both in defence and in
counterattack against the enemy king.

Najdorf - Unzicker
Santa Monica 1966

will not do because of 21 ...wxdl+

22 &f2 wg4! with a mighty attack. Matulovit - Hume
l 8 kfl! k f 5 19 e4 h e 4 20 Helsinki 1981
"A very surprising salvation. I Black threatens both 32...r(dh7,
count this among the most interest- eyeing h2, and 32...Pg7, intending
ing moves I met with in my chess ca- 33...g 2+.
reer" (Ivkov, 1968). 32 xbl! Eg7 33 wg2 &d7
Indeed, the idea of refraining from Defending against 34 Eb8+, and
recapturing a piece that has cap- threatening 34...g xh2 35 wxg6 (now
tured material is rare. From Naj- not check!) 35...hxglw++ 36 &xgl
dorf's notes, one can surmise that he Pxg6+.
was as surprised as his opponent that 34 ka4!!?
his tactic worked! Play continued: "[In acute time-trouble] played
2O...Qxc3 absolutely instantly" - marvels eye-
20 ...wxb3 21 Xxb3 a d 6 22 witness GM John Nunn. 34 Rxf5
Exe8+ Exe8 23 k f 4 ! even favours @xf5 35 &a4 is a safe draw.
White. 34...RcS?
21 Ex&+ Ex& 22 wxd5 Q X ~ S 34...g xh2 35 Axc6+ (35 Pb7+?
23 Pxb7 (87f8 24 s$Et &c8 36 Exg7 Wxg7! wins for Black)
And White has full compensation 35...&xc6 36 I x g 6 hxgl%'++ 37
for the pawn. The antagonists shortly &xgl Exg6+ 38 &f2 leads to an
agreed to a draw. ending that White should hold.
78 Surprise in Chess

A pawn sacrifice that paves the
way to the king's invasion.
Surprise in the 2 &c4 dxc4 3 Rxc4 &d5 4 Pc8
Endgame &e4 5 Re8+ &d3 6 Rxe2 fxe2+ 7
I have not been able to detect many "At this point one would suppose
surprises in the final phase of the that White could secure at least a
game. Upon reflection, this seems to draw. The actual termination is there-
be due to the fact that several as- fore a great surprise" (Dr Em. Las-
sumptions, made during the opening ker, in Brandreth and Hooper, 1975)
and the middlegame, are not appli- 7...Ac7 8 Af4 Aa5 9 Ad2 (108)
cable to the endgame. Here, one
generally does not expect a break-
through, or a quick decision; it is
also extremely difficult to conceive a
new doctrine or unusual weapons,
owing to the limited material.
As a rule, endings are conducted
in positional, somewhat technical
ways. One form of endgame-sur-
prise is, then, use of tactical de-

This tactic had to be foreseen in
l 0 gxf4 Ad8 0-1

A mutual pawn race is a common

occurrence in endings. The first side
to promote almost always emerges
victorious. Anomaly creates surprise.

In a bleak situation (see diagram

Ettlinger - Capablanca 109), White makes a desperate bid to
New York 1907 reverse the game's fortunes:
More About Surrprise in Chess 79

promotion of his a-pawn cannot be


A new theoretical finding in the

endgame is rare. Chess computers
have made some discoveries; they
are interesting, but like the following
position, have limited application to
practical over-the-board chess.

Davies Khalifman
London I991

45 wxa5 bxa5 46 g4!? hxg4 47

PxfS gxf5 48 h5
Since Black's pieces are far away,
this sprinter cannot be stopped. How-
ever.. .
48...g3 49 &e3 g2! 50 &f2 &c4
51 h6 a4 52 h7 a3 53 h8w a2 ( I 10)

J. Pletanek and E. Vlasak,

5th Honorable Mention,
Bohemian RT 1983-4
White to play and win

White has two queens and Black

has none, but curiously, it's not that
simple. l Wa8? Pc1 +! demonstrates
the difficulty.
1 &b2!! g l w 2 wa8+ wg2+ 3
Amusingly, the win is assured just
Despite trailing in the pawn race, when the balance of queens becomes
Black has the last laugh: the squares equal.
a8 and h1 are guarded, while the 3...wxa8 4 wfl#
80 Surprise in Chess

Generating Surprise 99 A b 7 k d 3 100 &f2 &e7 101

k c 8 &d6 102 &e3 Ae4 103 &d4
by Habituation &c7 104 k e 6 &d6 105 A f 7
Our opponent will be surprised White's only winning attempt
when facing a move, or a plan, that consists of arriving at the following
seems impossible or unlikely to oc- diagram position (113), when it is
cur. Black's turn to move.
One way to reach such situations
is to design a routine situation, where
repetitive ordinary actions produce
dynamics of habit. Our opponent
will gradually become accustomed
to constantly attending our threats in
certain positions, and to recurring
manoeuvres. Perceptibly, his alert-
ness will wane. At exactly this point,
our surprise has good chances to

Reciprocal zugzwang

It is a zugzwang: a black bishop

move loses a pawn, and a king move
enables a decisive penetration by the
white king. However, the position is
reciprocalzugzwang: with White to
play, it is a draw, since there is no
way to keep the-domjnating position
of the king and.bishop and pass the
move to Black.
J. Pinter -B. Alterman So, Black must take care not to
Beersheba 1991 fall into this reciprocal zugzwang.
105...lfLc%106k W A d 5 107k d l
The position is drawish; in fact, A b 7 108 k b 3 Lke4 109 k d l A b 7
many a player would abandon a de- l10 ke2 k c 6 111 Afl Ae8
sire to win and split the point. Unde- Naturally not l l l ...k d 7 ? ? 112
terred, White carried on: Ad3! and White wins.
More About Surprise in Chess 81

112 &g2 A M 113Af3 Ae8 114 Before surprise is unleashed

A d 5 Ad7 115 Ag8 &c6 116 A h 7
Ad7 117 &g6 Ae6 118 F$d3 It is worthwhile to sustain a frame
White has failed to make pro- of mind in which a surprise is likely
gress. With this strange move, he in- to occur.
vites Black to fall into 118...$?d5??
119 Ae8!. We should take into consideration
l 1 8 Ad7 119 &h5 Ae6 120 &c3 that: 1) our opponent is constantly
a d 5 121 Af3+ F$d6 122 $?d4 Af7 trying to outsmart us; 2) chess is ex-
123 Ag2 l& 124 Ab7 tremely complicated, containing nu-
Haven't we been here before? merous options; 3) being human,
124...Ad7?? there is a limit to what, and how far we
Finally Black tires of this appar- can see ahead. It is only natural that
ently pointless messing around. In- ideas, plans and specific moves are
stead 124...An draws: 125 &c8 Ag6 overlooked, or incorrectly evaluated.
leads nowhere. Once we come to terms with these
125 Ads! facts of life, our future reaction to sur-
Unexpectedly, a different recip- prise will be less severe, confusion
rocal zugzwang! White forcefully will not inflict a paralysis of mind.
brings about the winning scheme.
125 A& Smelling an approaching surprise,
Or 125...P c 8 126 &f3! Ad7 127 a player may deviate from well-
Ad1 !, as in the game. trodden paths.
126 Ab3! A d 7 127 Adl! 1-0
127...Ae6 128 Ae2 Ad7 129 Ad3 Typical danger signals are: our op-
wins a pawn and the game. ponent selects an unusual (for him)
opening line; plays uncommonly
Countering surprise quickly and confidently; or steers
into a position evaluated by theory
Surprisingly (sic!), first-hand evi- as inferior.
dence on the theme of countering a Obviously, if one has great confi-
chess surprise is scant. Constructing dence in oneself and is very familiar
hypothetical speculations, describ- with the opening in question, one
ing how player A avoided surprise might not want to side-track.
in position X, is, I'm afraid, mere
quackery. The best we can do, then, I n his pre-game preparations, a
is to point out some theoretical, yet player may be wise to contemplate
applicable, observations. several scenarios.
82 Surprise in Chess

By doing this, the likelihood of be- If a player is reputed to be 'cham-

ing surprised is, by definition, de- pion of the French Defence', or he is
creased. known for his illustrious tactical
Imagine one is playing a last- skills, then any future opponent will
round game, with an opponent in a think twice before engaging him in
'must-win' state. What will such an these domains.
opponent's game-strategy be? Admittedly, if one does concoct a
A useful list should probably in- surprise in one's opponent's pet line,
clude the following plausible alter- or in a field that is supposed to be the
natives: enemy's expertise, it is going to be a
real surprise (not that it is sure to
He will storm ahead from the very guarantee success).
first moves.
He will try to engage us in a long, During occurrence of surprise
manoeuvring battle, in an attempt
to wear us down. At the moment our opponent springs
He will concentrate his efforts on his (prepared) surprise, we are prone
accumulating small advantages, to a cognitive trap of magnification
hoping to overcome us in the end- (Barns. 1989): a tendency to exag-
game. gerate one's problems and short-
He will be content with an equal comings, while underrating one's
position, assuming that a draw is defensive resources.
undesirable for us as well as for Hence it is essential to remain
him, provoking us to force matters. cool-headed and keep calm. This
He will complicate, hoping that we opinion is held, inter alia, by GM
err in the ensuing time-trouble. Artur Yusupov. In a deep and inter-
esting article, entitled 'Unexpected
Naturally, there are other scripts. moves in the opening', he advises:
One can't be sure which scenario "A great deal depends on how
will actually come true. But if one quickly you recover and adjust your
prepares for these five options, de- frame of mind to the full-blooded
ciding in advance how to respond to struggle. Mental disarray can lead to
each of them, one's chances of being a quick collapse ...The main thing is
caught off-guard are narrowed. not to lose your self-control ... not to
lose your head, not to panic" (1994).
Specializing in certain areas in In the process of calming down,
chess may deter our opponentfrom the technique of 'positive self-talk'
initiating a surprise in these areas. is of great help. Listening to our inner
More About Surprise in Chess 83

voice, whether it transmits logical wrong with it. So, they set out to find
statements ('You haven't committed a clear 'refutation' of his scheme.
a single mistake, so your position is Says GM P. Benko:
no worse'; 'He couldn't have thor- "When you find yourself on the
oughly checked every variation'); or receiving end of an opening surprise
just supportive, encouraging fond- sound developing moves! ...
lings of our ego ('You are a strong Searching for a sharp refutation over
player, he will be sorry for playing the board in an unfamiliar position
this nonsense'; 'Hang on, everything would be asking for trouble ... [it]
will be fine') are typical confidence- may not even exist. [You should]
builders. save time, and a lot of grief, by look-
ing merely for healthy moves to
After a surprise has been keep the position in balance" (in
unleashed Benko and Hochberg, 1991).

The surprised party should give In conclusion of this section, let

himself some time to recover from us present a rarity: a candid descrip
the initial shock. tion of a player who found himself
facing an unpleasant surprise.
Some players respond quickly to a
surprising move, thus disguising
their unpreparedness. More often, it
is better to give oneself a pause for
reflection, digesting the unexpected
blow, evaluating its consequences.

Once a player recovers, he should

proceed with his game as if every-
thing were normal.

Some players carry on passively,

trying to minimize the damage. Oth-
ers resign themselves to an air of in- Pachman - Doda
evitable defeat. By doing this, they Havana 1965
help the enemy. And then, there are
others, who believe that just because 26..9f8! 27 Ze3?
they have failed to foresee the en- White has fair compensation for
emy's plan, there must be something his material deficit. However, his
84 Surprise in Chess

last move ignores a trap. Black grabs Going back to the winner's com-
the opportunity: mentary, we can clearly identify the
27...QeS! phases he went through:
"I was suddenly aware that my 1) Shocked by surprise, his spir-
position was in ruins" - says Pach- its fall.
man. 28 fxe5 fxe5 29 %d'2 exd4 30 2) Overcoming the bad feeling,
wxd4 Xxb2 loses. If the black knight he starts to examine the position,
remains untouched, it will land on looking for counterchances.
d3 (assuming that the crude threat - 3) Objectively assessing the situ-
28 ...Qg4 - is prevented), eyeing b2 ation, he devises a plan.
and f4 - a sad state of affairs. 4) Regretfully, he concludes that
"My first reaction was to consider his scheme does not stand much
immediate resignation ... but I then hope. To increase its chances, he
saw a glimmer of a chance: if ...( ) ... searches around for another possible
then ... ( ). However, it seemed too ingredient.
slender a prospect that my opponent 5) Subconsciously probing for
would readily fall in my plan Was tacit expectations, Pachman realizes
there any way of 'bluffing' [him] that:
into [my trap]? If I were in time- a) Black anticipates an easy vic-
trouble, he might imagine that [my tory;
move] was a blunder In order to b) A strange move by White will
attempt this ploy I sat quietly at evoke suspicion, causing Black to
the board for a whole hour ... I al- probe into the position and most
lowed myself a mere three minutes likely fathom his intentions;
for the remaining 13 moves ...Mean- c) A strange move by White,
while, he was walking about on the while in time-trouble, is likely to be
stage, no doubt pleased with his po- considered a blunder.
sition" (in Pachrnan, 1978). 6) Finally, White implements his
28 wd2 Qd3 29 a d 1 axf4? 30 plan very carefully, concealing any
Qfs! signs that may give his adversary
A happy ending. Black fell for reason to worry.
this counter-surprise. Depressed, he With all this, a significant co-op
committed more mistakes, and lost. eration from Black was required, in
30...gx f5 31 Xg3+ $?h832 wxf4 order to let White of the hook. Let us
Xb3? 33 0 c 3 Xxb2 34 exf5 a5 35 remind ourselves that the weapon of
Qe4 Xe2 36 Qxf6 Xxf61 37 *g5 surprise can only support chess de-
Eel+ 38 $?h2 1-0 cisions, not replace them.
More About Surprise in Chess

Bibliography Quotations from Game

l . Attack with Mikhail Tall M. Tal
and I. Damsky / Cadogan, England 7. Bernstein - Vidmar 1 Kirby /
1994 South Afn'cm Chess Player 1963
2. The Art of Sacrifice in Chess / R. 8. Najdorf - Ivkov / in Second Pia-
Spielmann / McKay, USA 195 1 tigorsky Cup / I . Kashdan (ed.) /
3. Achieving the Aim 1 M.M. Bot- Dover, USA 1968
vinnik / Pergamon Press, England 9. MatuloviC - Hurme / J. Nunn /
1981 British Chess Magazine 1981
4. Unexpected Moves in the Open- 10. Ettlinger - Capablanca / in The
ing / A. Yusupov / in Opening Prepa- Unknown Capablanca / D. Hooper
ration / M . Dvoretsky and A. and D. Brandreth / Batsford, London
Yusupov / Batsford, London 1994 1975
5 . Winning with Chess Psychology / 1 1. Pachman - Doda / in Complete
P. Benko and B. Hochberg / McKay, Chess Strategy. Part 3 / L. Pachman /
USA 1991 Batsford, London 1978
6. The Good Feeling Handbook / 12. Botvinnik - Fischer / in My 60
D.D. Burns / William Morrow, Memorable Games l R. Fischer / Fa-
1989 ber and Faber, London 1972
6 The Way Players Experience

Throughout the book, one hindrance

pops up time and again: the shortage
of authentic accounts on chess sur-
prises by the parties involved.
In an attempt to overcome this
handicap, I have asked several
strong players to choose a memora-
ble game (or an episode from it),
that is preserved in their memory as
a surprising experience.
The following esteemed contribu-
tors [at the time of writing (1997),
they are all rated above 2500 Elo] White has emerged from the open-
generously agreed to share with us ing with a marked advantage; he has
their thought-processes during sur- a clear plan on the kingside (f4)
prising moments. Their varied expe- while Black's play on the queenside
riences should serve to enhance our is neutralized.
understanding of the phenomena of 21 ... b4
surprise. 22 c4 Pa3?!
Leading, eventually, to the loss of
Eran Liss Bela Lengyel a pawn.
Budapest FS 1992 23 Pxa3 bxa3
Ruy Lopez 24 Pal gas
Notes: GM Eran Liss 25 Xa2 Wd8
26 a e 3
164e52&'3&63bbSa64Aa4 Preferable is 26 a f 3 , reactivating
a f 6 5 0-0 be7 6 Pel b5 7 b b 3 d6 the knight and saving a tempo com-
8 c3 0-0 9 h3 h 5 10 bc2 c5 11d4 pared to the game.
We7 12 Qbd2 Qc6 13 d5 Qa5 14 26 ... Pa6
& hl4 15 a g 3 g6 16 a4 a d 7 17 27 *c1 Wa8
b3 Qa5 18 axb5 axb5 19 &g5 Qb7 28 Wal ae8
20 Wd2 Efc8 21 a h 2 (I15) 29 &cl Qc7
The Way Players Experience Surprise

30 h 3 Ad8 38 g4! is stronger.

31 h 1 (116) 38 ... m7
39 Ad2 m6
40 Pc2 Pf5
41 Axf5 gxf5
42 Was!? W&?!
Trading queens is the lesser evil.
43 Qg5!
Suddenly the exposed black king
is under powerful pressure. It is quite
surprising that with scant material,
White heads for an attack against the
king. Interestingly, White changes
direction once again: this time, from
the queenside to the kingside.
White drops his original kingside 43 ... Qxg5
plan (21 a h 2 intending f4), direct- 44 Axg5 ae4
ing all resources at the queenside. 45 Ph6 wd7
Black, for his part, switches his ef- The threat was 46 wa7.
forts from the queenside to the other 46 wa8+ &f7
wing, seeking some play for the lost 47 Wf8+ &g6
pawn. 48 h4! (117)
31 ... Ah4
32 h 3 Pxg3
33 fxg3 f5
34 Pxa6 Wxa6
35 Wd!?
At this stage I thought that leav-
ing the queens on board afforded
better chances than entering an end-
35 ... fxe4
36 Axe4
37 Ah6?!
Inaccurate. 37 Pg5! was far bet-
ter, completely paralysing Black. 48 ... &?!
37 ... Qd8 Loses immediately, but the posi-
38 &'3 tion cannot be held. A more stubborn
88 Surprise in Chess

defence against White's threat of 49

Ae3, coupled with 50 wh6+, or 50
h5+ &xh5 51 @h6+ &g4 52 %'h3#,
was 48 &h5 (not 48 ...'@f7?? 49
h5+ &f6 50 Ag7+). Then 49 Ag7!?
&g6! 50 Ah8!? h5! or 49 Ae3 &g4
50 h5 &xg3 5 1 Wg8+ (5 1 h6 f4 52
wg7+ %'g4!) &h4 52 h6 f4 53 %'g7
wg4! does not work. Correct is 49
During the game I examined the
continuation 49.,&g4 50 wg8+ &h5
51 Ae3 we7 52 &h3 wd7 and failed Discussion (by A.A.)
to find a win. 53 A g l !? is very inter-
esting: if 53...f4+ 54 g4+ &h6 55 The game is rich in several manifes-
g3 !! Black is in zugzwang (55.. .we7 tations of surprise.
56 g5+ &h5 57 g4#). However,
Black has an antidote: 53...h6! when A) Surprise in intentions
the situation is unclear.
Further analysis shows that White On move 35 White refrained from
can nonetheless win with 50 Ag7!; exchanging queens, despite holding
if 50...Oxg3 then 51 $' g' 8 f4 52 a material advantage. Later (move
we6+ is decisive (52...wxe6 53 dxe6 43), he turned his attention to the en-
Qf5 54 Af6). emy's king, although at this stage
By the way, diverging from this the limited material did not favour
with 49 ...a f 2 will transpose into the such an operation.
game after 50 Wg8!! Og4+ (not
50...Oe4? 51 &g7 and White wins) B) Surprise in direction
51 &g1 we7 52 Af8.
49 Ag5 Og4 White changed the direction of his
50 Wg8+ &h5 ( 118) forces' movement on several occa-
51 Ah6!! sions, causing confusion in his ad-
A key move in White's plan. The versary's camp.
expression of surprise on my oppo-
nent's face was unmistakable. C ) S witch-back moves
51 ... We7
52 Aft3 Oh6 The manoeuvre LfLg5-h6 was re-
5 3 Axe7 1-0 peated time and again. All in all, the
The Way Players Experience Surprise 89

dark-squared bishop visited both Now 9...h6 is a good move, but

squares three times. after five minutes' thought, I discov-
ered the following devilish trap:
D ) The target runs away 9 ... a6!
10 cxd5 exd5
This rare theme appears in vari- 11 h d 5 axb5!
ations that were left behind the 12 %a8 (120)
scenes in this example (e.g. Black's
possible defence with 48...&h5 and
49...&g 4).

Guy Heller Gad Rechlis
Beersheba Ch 1981
English Opening
Notes: GM Gad Rechlis

4 &id4 e6
5 Qa Ab4 12 ... wxd5!!
6 Qb5 d5 The last two moves came as com-
7 Wa4 ac6 plete shock to my opponent. I was
S &g5 0-0 only fourteen years old when the
9 0-0-0 (119) game was played; I still look at it
with affection.
13 Pxd5
Or 13 kxf6 Wc5+ and wins.
13 ... hdS
14 a3 Ad6

Discussion (by A.A.)

After White's eleventh move, Black

is a pawn down, and apparently suf-
fers from two pins: on the h4-d8 di-
agonal, and along the a-file. Then,
90 Surprise in Chess

with two successive sacrifices, Black

blasts his enemy. The target of his
sharp combination is not the rela-
tively exposed white king, but his
queen! An ingenious tactical trick;
in the final position White is de-
fenceless against ...&7 or ...Qb6.

29 Pxdl? .kxb2+ 30 &bl Aa3+

wins for Black after either 31 &a1
Wc7! or 31 Ab5 wc5.
29 ... Axes!
30 g4 &b3!!
31 Xh5 f5
32 Re1 (123)
32 gxf5 Axa2 33 fxe6 Axbl 34
Yona Kosashvili Gad Rechlis Rxe5 Axd3 wins for Black.
Israeli Ch 1986
Notes: GM Gad Rechlis

In this position, which arose from

an Open Sicilian, Black holds some
advantage, but White's position ap-
pears solid.
23 ... Aa4
24 P d f l &e3!
The start of a series of startling
moves. White should have prevented
this bishop incursion by 24 Xd3.
25 Eh4 Pc4
26 A d 3 Pxd4 32 ... Ac~!!
27 a d 4 Axd4 A calm position (the one before
28 P b l Adl!! (122) Black's 23rd move), has given rise to
29 wd2 a fierce sacrificial onslaught. I must
The Way Players Experience Surprise 91

admit at being amazed at how every-

thing went smoothly, 'like clock-
33 Wxc2 Pxb2+
34 &bl wd4!
35 a4 ka3+
36 $.b5 axb5
37 w b 3 kb4
38 P d l Wxg4
39 E h 3 bxa4
Following this game, Kosashvili
abandoned the Open Sicilian for a Yochanan Afek - Ronen Har-Zvi
while. Tel-Aviv 1996

Discussion (by A.A.) Earlier in this game, my adver-

sary had missed a chance to close
A bright game, which won the tour- the queenside, thus assuring himself
nament's beauty prize. Each move in a significant advantage. At the cost
itself is not exceptional: the theme of of two pawns, Black opened up the
deflection is a well-known tactical position. In the diagram, Black's
device. However, some factors lend chances lie in the passed a-pawn,
this aesthetically pleasing attack a aided by two raking bishops.
surprising nature: the sudden change Now White had five minutes to
in the position's character; the fact reach the time-control; and Black
that (almost) every tactic worked in only two or three.
Black's favour (a surprise for both 33 ... kc5+
sides!); the never-ending blows that 34 F$d3 Pd4+
the black bishops inflicted upon 35 &e2
White. Not 35 &c3? Edl! when White
Perhaps the disparity between must shed material to avert 36...Ad#.
positional evaluation ('White is 35 ... Ec4
slightly worse') and tactical calcula- Assuring the draw: what a relief,
tions ('White loses by force') also having regard to past events. Weaker
generates a sense of surprise. is 35...a4 36 P f l (36 Qd5+? $?d6!).
36 d?d3
The notes of the following game 36 a x c 4 ? loses to 36...kxc4+ 37
are by GM Ronen Har-Zvi. F$el Axf2+ 38 &xf;! a4.
92 Surprise in Chess

36 ... Pd4+ 42 Eal

37 $?e2 (125) 42 c3 Eb2+ 43 &d3 Axe3 44
&xe3 a2 comes to the same thing.
42 ... Axes!
43 xxa3
Or 43 &xe3 a2 followed by
44...9b1, winning.
43 ... Ad4
The e5-pawn falls; White's posi-
tion is hopeless.
44 Pa6+ &b5
45 EaS Axe5
46 &7? Pb2!
47 &dl Pf5
48 Xe8 Pf4
White accompanied this move 49 h f 6 Pxc2-k
with an offer of a draw, expecting 50 &el Ad3
37 Pc4 38 &d3 with repetition. But 51 a d s ?
after I had made my 35th move, I 5 1 g4 was compulsory, though in-
had found an interesting possibility: sufficient. Now White is mated.
37 ... &d6!! 51 ... Ebl+
One exclamation mark is for the 0-1
move's strength; the other is for its
excellenttiming:just when White has Discussion (by A.A.)
reconciled himself to the idea that
the game was heading for a draw. Black's 37th move combines sur-
38 &g4 prise in intention (going for the full
The only move. Both 38 Qd3? point, while two pawns down) with
Pxd3! and 38 Qf3? bc4+ 39 r$el surprising timing (in mutual time-
&b4+ lose outright. trouble, immediately after his oppo-
38 ... a4 nent's offer of a draw). Maximum
39 e5+ effect is ensured through a mislead-
39 c3!?. ing operation (displaying an appar-
39 ... $?c6 ent willingness to aim for a three-fold
40 &3 a3 repetition).
41 Xfl Pb4 Earlier developments are perti-
4l...a2 42 Xal Pb4 43 &d5 nent: having missed chances to gain
complicates Black's technical job. an edge (see Ronen Har-Zvi's initial
The Way Players Experience S u ~ r i s e 93

comment) White regards a draw as

an unsatisfactory result. Reluctantly,
he comes to terms with it, only to re-
alize that Black is intent on winning:
a crushing blow.

Rafael Vaganian - Artur Kogan

Antwerp 1996
English Opening
Notes: IM Artur Kogan

1 Qf3 c5
2 c4 b6 Following a surprising sequence
3 g3 Ab7 of moves, White finds himself in a
4 Ag2 86 somewhat tricky situation. In order
5 d4 cxd4 to defend against 13...a h 6 , he reluc-
6 Wxd4 Qf6 tantly exchanges an important cen-
7 0-0 ag7 tral pawn.
8 h 3 ac6 13 c5 bxc5
I selected a line I had never 14 wc4+ &h8
played before: an unusual move-or- 15 Wxc5 d6
der leading to a known theoretical 16 *c4 &S!
position, in which it is customary to Although Vaganian is reputed to
proceed with 8...d6 followed by be one of the best endgame players
9...Qbd7. Black's main problem in in the world, I believed that the en-
this line is that after he castles, suing queenless position offered me
White plays wh4, Ah6. with an in- good chances.
itiative on the kingside and in the 17 YYkCS xfxc8
centre. 18 h3 m6
The move I chose forces White to 19 &l4 Axg2
determine his queen's location: 9 20 k g 2 QC4
YIYh4 is strongly met by 9...h6!, and 9 21 &cl Xab8
wf4 @b8! enables Black to solve A critical juncture. After my last
most of his problems. move, I assessed the position as good
9 we3 0-0 for me, because of the harmonic and
l 0 Xdl W&! active co-operation of my pieces.
11 Aaz Qg4 Nevertheless, because of the weak-
12 Wf4 fS! (126) nesses in Black's pawn structure (e7,
94 Surprise in Chess

a7), the e6-square could easily pro- 23 ... m!!

vide a splendid post for the white My opponent was stunned, but
d4-knight. Another consideration is didn't lose heart and began to exam-
that should the rooks be exchanged, ine carefully the various possibili-
White's queenside majority could ties. After the game he claimed to
become dangerous. The natural 22 have seen 23 ...Qa3, but: A) thought
b3 Qb6 23 Ab2 (not 23 Ad2? Qe4! that it could not possibly work; B)
24 a x e 4 Axd4, winning material) assumed, on general grounds, that
23 ...Qc4 24 &cl Qb6 25 k b 2 re- the resulting position, where he
sults in a draw by repetition, which would have a strong central knight
was sensible and congruent with the plus a pawn against Black's rook,
my assessment of this position. would be at least equal for him.
22 Xbl? m! It should be mentioned that the
23 h e 4 (127) immediate 23 ...Axd4 (intending to
win by 24 Pxd4 Qa3 25 Xal &2)
is not i s strong, because of 24 b3!.
24 h d 6
Alternatives are:
a) 24 P a l ? Axd4.
b) 24 Qb3 a x b l 25 Qg5 Pc2!.
C) 24 Qc3 h b l 2 5 k b l Axd4.
d) 24 Ae3 Qxbl 25 Qxd6 exd6
26 h b l r(b4 27 Qb3 Pc2.
24 ... exd6
25 kh6! (128)

White doesn't sense the approach-

ing danger. Vaganian thought a long
time over his 22nd move. He now
expected 23...fxe4 24 b3 with k g 5
and Qe6 to follow; in this variation
White frees his position and even
creates some pressure on Black's
weaknesses. I rechecked my calcu-
lations and rubbed my eyes in disbe-
lief when it was clear that the
following tactic worked:
The Way Players Experience Surprise 95

A counter-surprise that had es- &e5 35 Pc7 Ph8! 36 gxh5 gxhS 37

caped my attention. I now understood Ef7 Sbe4 38 Xf4+ a d 3
White's defensive plan, and realized [The rest of the game is not rele-
that the ending would be difficult to vant to our topic. Black won (0-1,
win, especially against such a formi- 69.1
dable opponent! But I believed there
had to be a way to achieve victory, Discussion (by A.A.)
and indeed...
25 ... Qxbl After two small surprises (8...Qc6,
26 Axg7+ hg7 diverging from the usual 8...d6 and
27 Xxbl Pc4! (129) ...Qbd7; and 16...Qa5!, initiating a
queen exchange), Black unleashed a
major coup with 23... ad!!.
What I find remarkable in this in-
genious tactical fracas, is both sides'
calmness under fire. Neither Kogan's
23...Qa3!, nor Vaganian's 25 Ah6!
caused them to lose their coolness,
or distorted their objectivity. Sur-
prise is a potent weapon, but, as
mentioned before, not overwhelm-
ing in itself. In this game, I feel that
its effect was minimal. Rather, it was
the intrinsic strength of the moves
With this move, Black wins an- that decided the issue.
other pawn. Even then, laborious
technical work is required to score -
Ilan Manor Rune Djurhuus
the full point. Gmningen European Junior Ch 1986
28 e3 Xa4 Exchange Slav
29 b3 Notes: GM llan Manor
After 29 a3, 29 Xxa3 30 Qc6!
r(b7 31 bxa3 gives White good
drawing chances, but, according to
the computer program Fritz3. Black
can maintain winning chances by
29...Xb6 30 h 2 &6.
29...Xxa2 30 Xcl as! 31 g4 fxg4
32 hxg4 Sbf6 33 &g3 h5 34 r(c6
96 Surprise in Chess

23 Pxb7 gxf4
24 &7+ &g8
25 Pxb4 1-0
10 e4!! I'm not sure if the play is analyti-
My opponent expected an ordi- ...
cally correct [l0 dxe4 (11 a b 5 a e 6 ;
nary move such as 10 0-0-0,10 P c 1 l 1 Qxg4 Qxg4 12 Qb5 e5; 11 f3
or 10 P d l . The text-move, disre- exf3 12 0-0-0 Qc6) and 13 Qxb5...
garding Black's forking threat, came (14 Qc7+ &d8 15 Qxf7+ &d7 16
as a surprise. Qxa8 g5!) are two possible im-
10 ... Qc2+?! provements for Black]. Anyhow, my
11 &d2 Qxal surprising tenth move achieved its
12&b5+ Ad7 aim.
13 Qxd5! Qxd5?!
14 &xd7+ &d8 Discussion (by A.A.)
15 exd5 (131)
15 ... e6 The preceding game, Vaganian-Ko-
It transpires that after 15...f6 16 gan, witnessed surprise in a minor
Ae6! fxe5 17 &xeS Black is para- role. Here, on the other hand, it plays
lysed. the first violin. Manor adopts a prac-
16 dxe6 Ab4+ tical approach: his 10 e4 may not be
17 &e2 fxe6 100% sound, yet he relies on its un-
18 P x a l Pf8 familiar and unexpected features to
19 g3 &e7 gain success.
20 P d l Pf5 His opponent is bewildered by the
21 Aa4 85 novel situation and fails to find the
22 Pd7+ &f8 right path.
The Way Players Experience Surprise 97

Ram Soffer - Mark Tseitlin At times, the resulting positions are

Israeli League 1993 so complicated that it is virtually im-
Griinfeld Defence possible to arrive at an accurate con-
Notes: GM Ram Soffer clusion without practical experience.
There is more: it can happen that
[The bulk of the following commen- a player fails to recall his prepared
tary is taken, with permission, from analysis. As a matter of fact, this has
the Israeli magazine Schahmat, where happened even to the current world
it was first published in 1993. At my champion, Garry Kasparov (on sev-
request, GM Soffer kindly supplied eral occasions!). Even more frustrat-
additional notes, which appear in ing is when a 'novelty' that took us
italics. (A.A.)]. many hours to conceive, turns out to
be familiar to our opponent!
Almost every chess player has, on All these factors align in the fol-
occasion, fathered a theoretical nov- lowing game.
elty; to do that, it is sufficient to hit
upon a move that does not appear in 1 d4 m6
books or databases. Sometimes the 2 c4 ga
move turns out to be superior to well- 3 m d5
known 'theoretical' moves; some- 4 m3 &g7
times not. 5 m3
A new idea may be discovered At the time, this was my main line
during analysis of a topical opening against the Griinfeld. Until the pre-
variation. Alternatively, a novelty is sent game, I had never lost a tourna-
found when a player is dissatisfied ment game with it.
with the outcome of the opening in a 5 ... dxc4
certain game, and attempts to im- 6 Wxc4 0-0
prove this variation in the comfort of 7 e4 a6
his home laboratory. Black's most ambitious line. It is
Not all prepared innovations suc- aimed at dislodging White's queen
ceed. The factor of surprise and the with ...b5, followed by ...c5: a tem-
work done before a game are sup- porary pawn sacrifice that gives Black
posed to give the innovator an edge, an active game.
but other factors may work against 8 eS b5
him. During his home-analysis he 9 m3 Qg4
may get carried away, become over- 10 h3
enthusiasticand overrate his chances, The variation 9...Qg4 was con-
ignoring his opponent's resources. sidered for many years to be one of
98 Surprise in Chess

Black's strongest ripostes to the 5 drawbacks: it relinquishes a bishop.

Wb3 variation. The cure was found After hours of analysis, I came to con-
a year latec 10 &d3! (with the idea clude that with correct play, White
10...c5 l l Ae4). which I used in sev- was assured of an edge in all vari-
eral games in 1994. This move ations. Therefore...
changed the theoretical evaluation 11 Axh6!? Axh6
of the variation. Afrer Black's best 12 a4 c5
continuation, 10...A67 l l h3 Qh6 I expected my novelty to unsettle
12 Axh6 Axh6 13 Ae4, White ob- my opponent's tranquillity, but he
tains a small, yet solid advantage. proceeded confidently and quickly;
In retrospect, all the work I had it was White who soon found him-
invested in this variation inprevious self in time-trouble. After the game I
years was redundant; looking back found out, to my astonishment, that
I can only marvel how I failed to de- precisely this continuation had been
tect I0 Ad3 long ago. played in the game Dydyshko-Ma.
10 ... Qh6 Tseitlin, St Petersburg 1992!! All I
My first encounter with this posi- had done was to 'rediscover the
tion arose in a friendly five-minute wheel'.
game vs GM Kudrin in 1987. I re- 13 dxc5
member that he sacrificed a pawn If 13 wd5 then 13...cxd4! 14 Wxa8
with c5, and after I accepted this dxc3 15 wxb8 cxb2 16 Ebl Was+
sacrifice, he followed with ...Ae6, and Black wins. 13 d5 WaS! is also
...Qc6 ...W& and my position quickly unattractive.
fell apart. 13 ... &e6 (132)
It took a lot of work to revive the
variation. Against M. Hoffrnan, Bad
Wirrishofen 1991, I played 11 Af4
c5 12 wd5!? cxd4 13 wxa8 dxc3 14
b4 % c7' (112-112, 48). In search of a
better move, 11 a4 seemed natural,
but I didn't fancy 1l...Qf5. Perhaps
this knight should first be liquidated
by 11 Axh6!?.
This move has some advantages:
it prevents ...Qf5, deflects the black
bishop from the long diagonal, gain-
ing time to bring the rook to d l , if
necessary. Admittedly, there are also
The Way Players Experience Surprise 99

Here I made a basic error, deviat- Tseitlin. Dydyshko chose 18 P x b ~

ing from my prepared line, 14 Wa3, and after 18...a x e 5 19 wd4 f6 20
which is the only try for advantage. Qxe5 fxe5 Black's advantage was
It is dificult, three and a half minute; the game ended in a draw. I
years afrer the event, to reconstruct was more concerned about 18...Ab3,
one's feelings during a game. Clearly, but it transpires that after 19 Xbl
the fact that my opponent responded Ac2 20 0-0 Axbl 21 Xxbl White
unhesitatingly, indicated that the obtains counter-chances.
position was not new to him. What With my next move (played after
happened during this game did not long deliberation) I decided not to
correspond to my experience in ear- give up the exchange, but lost an-
lier games, in which I had employed other tempo, enabling Black to initi-
prepared innovations. In those games ate an attack on my uncastled king.
my opponents deliberated a long Many compliments to my opponent
time. It seems to me that Tseitlin's for his superb play from now on.
behaviour psychologically shook my l 8 Ad3?! Ab3
confidence. I was afraid of a trap, did 19 Xbl Pads!
not rely upon my home-analysis ( I 4 The right rook. If now 20 we4?
wa3) and wrongly deviated from it. f5! 21 exf6 e.p.+ exf6, the other rook
14 ... h 6 occupies e8.21 we2 &d3! 22 wxd3
15 m 4 *g7 P c 4 is also unappetising.
16 X d l u'c7 20 Axb5 b e 5
17 axb5 axb5 (133) 21 O d 4
The attack on the bishop gener-
ated some optimism, but that soon
vanished after...
21 ... Adh!
22 &e2 (134)
22 a x d 2 Wxc5 23 &e3 f5 wins
for Black. 22 &f l is more stubborn,
but even then Black maintains excel-
lent chances.
22 ... Aa2!!
I must admit that this move was,
to me, like a thunderbolt from a clear
sky. If now 23 a x a 2 wxc5 Black re-
All this was played in the afore- gains his material with adevastating
mentioned game Dydyshko - Ma. attack, e.g. 24 b4 wb6 25 we4 f6 26
100 Surprise in Chess

1 hope that the fate of this 'nov-

elty' will not deter readers from try-
ing new ideas in their own games.

Discussion (by A.A.)

The game is a captivating illustra-

tion on the theme of 'the initiator
gets caught in his own plot'. This is a
risk inherent in every attempt to sur-
prise one's opponent. We think it
will come as surprise, but can never
Qe6+ wxe6 27 Pb2 f5. Nor will 23 know for sure.
x b d l save the day, due to 23...kxc3 We certainly endorse Soffer's ad-
24 bxc3 wxc5, with the double vice - to refrain from deducing from
threat 25 ...Wxc3 and 25...Pxd4. a single failure that innovative play
In time-trouble I selected an infe- in the opening is not profitable.
rior defence: Tseitlin's reputation as a theoreti-
23 P a l ? Wxd cian, plus this gloomy experience,
24 Qa4 Ad+ generated in Soffer a deterrence ef-
25 &dl Wxd4 fect: he will no longer engage this ri-
...and after a few moves, 0-1. val in a theoretical duel. This seems
I don't recall thinking during the sensible: as the Latvian Gambit (1
game that I had fallen into a self- e4 e5 2 Qf3 f5) may be appropriate
spun net. It was only after 22...ka2!! to employ against some opponents,
that I realized I was lost. Until that so the weapon of surprise should be
moment I believed in my chances. used against particular opponents,
After the game I concluded that not as a universal weapon.
against an adversary known for his Instances where an apparently
sharp theoretical innovations, it is 'new' move has already been played
too risky to get involved in such vari- and analysed, are common. The need
ations. In my later encounters with to be familiar with recent publica-
Tseitlin, I adopted a saner approach tions is evident. Of course, human
to the opening, and was rewarded memory and the number of working
with several consecutive victories. hours at our disposal are not lirnit-
A painful defeat; still, it was inter- less. Playing a move that our oppo-
esting to be involved in this game, nent has encounteredjust recently is,
even on its losing end. perhaps, simply bad luck.
7 Summary
In the last quarter of the twentieth methods of opening preparation are
century, the body of chess knowl- implemented regularly by young as-
edge has expanded enormously; the pirants; original ways of attack,
rate of spreading this knowledge found 40 years ago (for instance,
took an accelerated pace; the ability knight or bishop sacrifices on d5, b5
of chess enthusiasts to digest and or e6 in the Sicilian Defence) have
make sense of great chunks of data, become stock weapons of beginners.
having been enhanced by a host of Strangely, the fact that so many
sophisticated computerized tools. are able to attain a high level, creates
All this has apparently made the a new problem. If everybody knows
task of the ambitious chess player how to handle 'hanging pawns'; if
somewhat easier. Emanuel Lasker the ending of P+A vs X is perfectly
declared, in his time, that he could assimilated by all; if the theory of
elevate an ordinary man with no spe- the Slav is at the fingertips of any
cial gifts for chess to the level of a child; what, then, are the weapons
first-category player within a short left to decide the fate of chess battles?
period of time. It appears that in the As I see it, non-chessic weapons
present age, this 'ordinary man', pro- have become deciding factors. Play-
vided he is earnest; a hard-worker, ers who possess advanced skills of
helped by a dedicated trainer, spon- withstanding pressure; with a supe-
sored to compete in various tourna- rior acquaintance of deception tech-
ments and assisted by modem niques; who show a subtler grasp of
learning tools, can reach the rank of psychological ploys; with an apti-
an IM within three or four years tude for 'learning how to learn', will
from having taken up competitive dominate the field.
chess seriously. In a world where pure chess
Browsing through modern maga- weapons are in the possession of a
zines, it is striking to notice that wide public, nuances in non-chess
what was, until recently, accom- weapons can make the difference
plished by only a selected few, has between success and failure.
become a common knowledge. Ru- Surprise is such a weapon.
binstein's magic play in rook end- It is a relatively little-explored and
ings has been mastered presently only partly understood phenomenon.
by lesser mortals; Botvinnik's deep An expert on surprise claims that:
102 Surprise in Chess

"Even after nations find them- is expected, can surprise (the unex-
selves on the receiving end of nasty peered) be defined, planned and
surprises, they abstain from delving countered.
into the question 'why were they In the process of the present ex-
caught by surprise'. Instead, they are ploration of chess surprises, some
satisfied with drawing some situ- interesting observations were made.
ational lessons (so as not to repeat We came to appreciate:
similar mistakes)" (Lanir, 1989).
the impact of surprise, disregarding
The more I became engrossed in the move/planls objective merits
this work, the more I realized how the various forms surprise may
little we understand the phenome- take
non of a chess-context surprise. The the viability of planning ahead a
following anecdote will illustrate surprising operation, thus viewing
my point: 'surprise' not only in retrospect
At my request, a respected GM the distinction between risk-taking
had sent me a game of his, that he and sacrifice of material
valued as surprising. I returned him the role of multi-purpose moves
a phone-call: "Thank you for the advantages of a peculiar playing-
lovely game" - I said - "can you style
please tell me why you find the play feasibility of surprise in situations
surprising?" where nothing, apparently, is hap-
The GM was clearly annoyed: pening (delayed action; surprise by
"Why, it looks surprising to me" - habituation)
he said - "it is, well, unexpected ... benefits of psychological ploys
my opponent thought so too ...Don't identification of certain situations
you agree?" that are liable to catch most of us
"Yes, I do" - I concurred - "but unaware
why? What causes the surprise?" coping with the enemy's schemes
To this (stupid?) question, the by imagining possible scenarios
GM had no answer. the vital function of good nerves in
To my mind, to say that an idea or reacting to surprise
a move is surprising because it is un- ...and more.
expected (or vice versa), is not very
helpful. To infuse meaning into such Understanding underlying mecha-
a phrase, we have to unravel the tacit nisms of surprise (in chess and in
assumptions and expectations of the other fields), its effect and the reasons
contestants. Only if we identify what behind it, is invaluable. Acquiring
Summary 103

the capacity to plan and execute an Bibliography

unexpected operation that will sub-
vert the game from its course is a l. Z . Lanir l Intelligence as a myth /
more important skill than it has ever Politics 511989 (in Hebrew).
been before.
8 Assorted Surprises
In our final chapter, the reader is invited to see if he can spot the following se-
lection of surprises.

From a study by Alexander

@ Sarychev, 3rd Prize,Szachy, 1972
White to play and win

White's task is two-fold: to bring

his knight to safety and, at the same
, time, to conserve his only remaining
pawn. Forming a battery along the
d-file comes to mind: 1a d 6 + &d7?
# 2 gdl 3' a e 4 + ; but what if
Black improves with l...&e7! in-

de Firmian - Benjamin
USA Ch 1988
White to play and win

Black has just captured a pawn on

b2. The means that White employs
to force victory are quite surprising.
Assorted Surprises 105

From a study by P.Arestov, 2nd

Prize, Shakhmaty Vestnik, 1993
White to play and draw

Pursuing a difficult goal, one is

supposed to play actively and vigor-
ously. However, sometimes the solu-
tion takes a different course.

Ullrich - Spengler
Berlin 1948
White to play

The white queen cannot move on

account of mate. Surprise tactics by
both sides lead to an unexpected re-

From a study by
A. Maksimovskikh and V. Shup-
letsov, 2nd Commendation,
Magadan Komsomolets, 1985
White to play and win

Black's plan, to capture the a-

pawn, appears unanswerable: 1Qa4
c$d8 2 h b 6 only draws after 2...&c7
3 as'@ Axa8 4 Qxa8+ &b7. Drastic
measures are required.
106 Surprise in Chess

Uhlmann - Clarke
Hastings 1959
White to play

A remarkable idea to remove the

blockading black queen starts with
an absurd-looking move.

Hiibner Beliavsky
Munich 1990
Black to play

White has sacrificed a piece for

two pawns and enduring pressure.
Particularly annoying is the pin
along the h4-d8 diagonal. Black's
forthcoming plan is original and un-

J. Kricheli, 1986
White to play and win

Do you remember our discussion

about positions in which the enemy
seems incapable of doing any harm?
Here is a case in point. It looks im-
probable that White can draw with a
rook and bishop vs queen + two
pawns; can he possibly win?
Assorted Surprises 107

Hommeles - Skoblikov
Dutch team Ch 1992
Black to play

White has invested material in or-

der to achieve an attacking position.
21...0-O? is not on due to 22 Axe7,
21...Axc5? 22 Wxc5 is too danger-
ous, and if 21...dxe4 22 wxe4, White
regains his material, e.g. 22 ...0-0 23
Axe7 @a5 with equality. Uncon-
vinced by White's compensation,
Black went after the winning attempt
21...&B, expecting 22 Axd5 W X ~ S
23 wxe7+ &g8. What was the reply
to 21 S m?
Dizdar - Chandler
Jurmala 1983
Black to play

Black played l...Xxg2+ 2 &xg2

wg4+ 3 &h1 wf3+ and a draw was
agreed. Doesn't 3...wf4 win?

Krasenkov Hickl
Jakarta 1996
White to play

White exerts strong pressure

against Black's weak f7-point; the
direct 23 wxf7+ suggests itself, but
after 23...&h8 there is nothing deci-
sive for White. However...
135) 1a d 6 + ($e7 2 Qxf5+ &e6 137) 1Xh3! w g l
2...&f6? 3 Qg3 and White wins. White draws more easily after
3 m 4 + &d5 either 1...wxfl? 2 Xf3+ or 1...Wxg2?
Notice how, during the first three 2 Ph2.
moves, the composer leads us to ex- - 2Xc3!!
pect that the correct idea lies in cre- It transpires that Black cannot dis-
ating a vertical battery, against the entangle the royal couple.
black king. 2...&e2 3 Qg3+ &d2 4 Ec2+
4 Xb2!! &e3
4 P d l ? Pxf2 draws; the text- 4...&dl 5 &l+! draws.
move forms a horizontal battery, tar- 5 XQ+ &a
geting the rook. Forced.
4...F$xd4 5 Xd2+ &e4 6 &l!
Or 5...&e5 6 f4+. Back to base.
6 f3+ 6...Whl7 E h 3 *g18 Ec3! b 4
White wins. 9 Xc2+ & e l l 0 Xcl+ &2
10...&e2? 11 Q@+.
136) 22 Pe2! -5 11Xc2+
He has to defend against 23 exf6 With a draw.
and 23 Axh7+. 22 ...%cl+ 23 &h2
Qd7 loses to 24 Axh7+ &xh7 25 138) 1Pb5!
Wxf7. 1 xdl?? %'xdl+.
23 gal! l...Xe8!
Fresh threats: 24 &a4 and 24 &d. This threatens both 2...Pel# and
23 Qd7 24 Aa4 Wa5 2...wxb5.
24...a x e 5 25 %'xa8!. 2 Xbl!
25 e6! fxe6 26 Peel! Strangely, the only move.
Reuniting his rooks, White wins 2..Sg8
material and the game. It is not often ...and after 3 xb5! it is a draw by
that retreating moves like Ea4-al! repetition!
and Xe2-el! are so powerful.
26 Wd5 27 Wxd5 exd5 28 139) 1&a6!!
Pxe8+ Pxe8 29 &xd7 Xd8 30 &c6 What a move! White wins in
P d 6 31 Xxa6 1-0 every line:
Solutions 109

a) l..&a8 2 h 4 $?d8 3 Qb6.

b) l...Axa6+ 2 Qc4! k b 7 (or
2...kxc4+ 3 & moves) 3 Qd6+.
C) l...kcii 2 !& l!!
&d8 (2...dxc4 142) 1P d 3 *a7+
3 kb5!) 3 Qa5 &a8 4 Ab7. This is forced, on account of the
double threat 2 Ph3# and 2 Axg7+.
140) 1g&! fxg3+ e.p. 2 &gl! 2 Ad4 wd7
2 d?xg3? *xd6+; or 2 &g2? Ah3+ Forced again.
3 &xg3 %xd6+ 4 &xh3 *d7+! with 3 & g + ! wxg7 4 Ph3#
a draw. So simple, yet unexpected and cu-
2...Ag6 rious.
There was no other way to protect
the vulnerable g5-pawn. 143) As we demonstrated, some
3 Qg2! Wf5 ideas are surprising only because
In the game Black chose 3...&h6 they are rare. White showed the fal-
4 Wh8+ &h7 5 %f6+ Ag6 6 %x' g5+ lacy of Black's last move by a mag-
and resigned (6...&g7 7 Ac3+). nificent one-move shot, seldom seen
4 '#ha+ Ah7 5 Wd4! Wd7 6 in practical play:
Wg&! wxg4 7 fxg4+ 22 Ah7!!
... and 8 d7, winning. A quiet, non-capturing move, leav-
ing material en prise. Now 22..Axc5
141) 23...&g 6!! 23 Wxc5+, 22 ...Pxh7 23 kxe7+,
It turns out that the pin cannot be and 22 ...Ad6 23 We8+! wxe8 24
maintained: 24 h4 Ag4! (formerly &xd6+ are all hopeless.
impossible, due to 25 &xf6 check!) ...
22 wd7 23 kxe7+ &e8 24 Af5
25 Axf6 Wd7! traps White's queen. wb7 25 Ab4+ &d8 26 &as+ 1-0
24 Qf5 &xg5!
Audacious and strong. Now after 144) After l...xxg2+ 2 &xg2
25 h4+ Pxh4 26 &h4 &xh4, White wg4+ 3 &h l wf4 White succeeds,
is unable to exploit the black king's through a series of zwischenzugs, to
precarious situation: 27 wg3+ &h5 extricate his monarch:
28 A d l + &g4 and Black wins. 4 Wa4+
25 *g3+ Qg4 26 h4+ &6! 4...&f7 5 %d7+ &xf6 6 wh3.
He is alert to a counter-surprise: 5 AeS!! Axe5
26...&h5? 27 %'xg4+!! &xg4 28 Or 5...@xe5 6 f4.
A d l + &f4 29 g3#! 6 Wa3+! F$M 7 Wg3
27 Wxg4 *g8 28 wf3 Axf5 Or 7 Wh3. Hence, the result was
Black is winning. justified.
110 Surprise in Chess

145) The delayed action W wc7!! wxf7+!.~musingly,victory is gained

proves deadly. Black's rook is short by forcing Black to cover f7! The
of a good square: 23 ...Pa8 24 Pb8+; ...
game continuation was 23 wd4 24
23 ...9 e 8 24 &xf7+; or 23 ...P f 8 24 Ads! 1-0.
Index of Players and Composers
Numbers refer to pages. When it appears in bold, the player had the white pieces.
Those in italic are for compositions.

Adm Doda
Addison Douven
Afek Dzindzichashvili
Agdestein Ettlinger
Alterman Euwe
Anand Fewstein
Andersson Fischer
Andruet Fishbein
Arestov Flohr
Ashley Fuchs
Avni Gelfand
Baratz Ghizdavu
Bareev Grinberg
Beim Grob
Beliavsky Grooten
Benjamin Grtlnfeld, Y.
Bennet Gufeld
Bernstein, 0. Gurevich. M.
Bertok Gurgenidze, D.
Boersma Gusev
Botterill Haines
Botvinnik Halliwell
Bouwmeester Har-Zvi
Bryson Hawes
Calvo Hebden
Capablanca Heller
Carmel Hennigan
Chandler Hertneck
Chapman Hick1
Clarke Hpi
Colle Hommeles
Czerniak Honfi
DamjanoviC HUbner
Davies Hurme
de Firmian Kagan
Deep Blue Kasparov
Dembo Kataev
Dizdar Katalymov
Djurhuus Kerr
Surprise in Chess

Khalifman Ragozin
Khuzman Ratner
Kogan Rechlis
Korchnoi Reshevsky
Kosashvili Richi
Krasenkov Richter, K.
Krays Ristoja
Kric heli Root
Kudrin Sakharov
Kuznetsov, An. Sarychev
LaliC, B. Seirawan
Larsen Shabalov
Lengyel Sher
Leonhardt Shigapov
Lilienthal Shirov
Liss S hmuter
Lutz S hupletsov
Mabbs Skoblikov
Makarychev Soffer
Maksimovskikh Soto Larrea
Mannheimer Spassky
Manor Speelman
Matulovii. Spengler
Mieses Steniczka
Mikhalchishin Stoltz
Miles Sutovsky
Mohrlok Timman
Mukhin Tompa
Murey Tseitlin, Ma.
Najdorf Tsvetkov
Naurnkin Uhlmann
NN Ullrich
Ortega Unzicker
Pachman Vaganian
Perenyi Varga
Petkevich Vidmar
Pinter Vlasak
Pirc Wapner
Plaskett Westerinen
Pletanek Winants
Polgar, J. Wotawa
Polugaevsky Yandarbiev
Porper Yosha
Portisch Yurtaev
Mtchett Zagalov
Rabar Zhukhovitsky
ISBN 1-85744-210-