Ever backwards!

Smejkal-Hracek 1996, White to move and win

Smejkal-Hracek 1996, White to move and win

My good friend Ronald Simpson, ever the attacking play, used to always say, “Ever forward, never backward!” With due respect to Ronnie, in chess, backward moves can have incredible potency, as seen in this diagram. White to move played:

33.Rxf6! gxf6 34.Bd5! Qa1 35.Rd4?

Unfortunately missing the killer retreating move 35.Rd1!, which nets the queen. After the move actually played, the game continued in dramatic, if blunder-filled, fashion.

35…Qg1!! 

The only move! White dare note take the queen.

36.Kh3

36.Kxg1 Bxd4+ and 37…Rxc2

36…Qf1?

Black had to weather the storm with 36…Qxd4! 37.Qg6+ Kh8 38.Qxh6+ Kg8 39.Qg6+ Kh8 40.Bxf7 (40.Qh5+? Kg7 41.Qxf7+ Kh6)  Qd7+ 41.g4 Be3 42.Qxf6+ Kh7 and White has to take the perpetual check.

37.Kh4??

Missing a new win by another retreating move 37.Bg2! (threatening catastrophe with 38.Rg4+ and 39.Qf5 or 39.Qh7) Qf2 38.Rf4! Qe3 39.Bd5! (Shuttling back and forth. The threat of Qg6 is reignited.) Kh8 40.Qf5! Rg8 41.Qxf6+ Rg7 Rg4 +-

37…f5!

And now a devastating retreat will end the game in Black’s favor.

38.Rf4 Qxf4+

Pretty, but even more final was 38…Be7+ 39.Kh5 Qh3+ 40.Rh4 Bxh4 41.ghx4 Qg4+ 42.Kxh6 Qg6#

39.gxf4 Be7+

White resigned on pain of losing his queen.

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