BtM 5A: ’78 bishops

June 1988, Position D


White to play
Romanishin - Psakhis, Yurmala 1987

Contributions are welcome in the comments box. I’ll reply with what the Masters have to say about their choice to anybody who suggests a move.



Scroll down to see some commentary from me and the Masters’ feedback.

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A little while ago on twitter somebody* asked if naming things mattered. Did it help to know your Anastasia’s Mate from your Lawnmower and your Blackburne from your Boden?

I tend to think that it does. For rather different reasons, I also strongly believe in creating your own terminology. Words and phrases that may mean nothing to anybody else but function as tags and labels for you.

My endgame words, for example, include Rubinsten Rooks and Ulf’s Spike. In the middlegame I have amongst other things the ’78 Bishop.

A ’78 Bishop is one that can be captured when it arrives on h6**. In its most pure version the bish comes direct from c1 but that’s not essential.



15 Bh6!


78 Bishops are named after the 15th move of Portisch - Radulov, Buenos Aires Olympiad 1978The exact same idea was repeated in Ribli - Ljubojevic at the same event a few days later.

I found this pair of games in James Plaskett’s interesting book, Playing to Win. It must have been a good 30 years ago. Around the time that today’s position appeared in CHESS, in fact.

’78 Bishops aren’t hugely common, but they do crop up from time to time. It was very pleasing to see one in Adams - Grandelius at an Olympiad held 36 years after the original.


I don’t know I can say that I wouldn’t have found 1 Bh6 in the current position if I wasn’t so keen to attach labels to chess things. It’s not like there are any other alternatives to the recapture in the centre and logic suggests there must be an alternative to 1 Nxd4 otherwise this position would never be presented as a puzzle.

I think I found it sooner than I otherwise would, though. Even if I didn’t, adding a new ’78 Bishop to my collection made me happy and doing things that make you happy builds motivation to keep pushing on.

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POINTS
10: Bh6
7:  Nxd4

MASTERS
Bh6: Kosten, Plaskett, Davies, P. Littlewood, Norwood, Conquest, Levitt, K. Arkell, Pein, S. Arkell, Fidelity MM4

Nxd4: Howell 

SOURCE
1 Bh6 Romanishin - Psakhis, Yurmala 1987





* If it was you please let me know. I wanted to link to the tweet but I couldn’t find it.

** As a by-the-by, a queen recapturing on h6 after 1 Bh6 g(or whatever) x h6 could be a reloader - Weteschnik’s term from Chess Tactics from Scratch.

Comments

  1. In a game I don't think I'd find Bh6 (innocuous position, recapture etc) and would play Nxd4. However, because (and only because) the position is given as a challenge I looked for something other than Nxd4 and quickly found Bh6, which is truly a lovely move. (And I only found it quickly because there really are no other viable candidate moves.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jon,
      Thanks for dropping by.

      Yes it’s a lovely little move. In the original article Paul Littlewood makes a similar point to you - in a real game I suspect a lot of us would just recapture on d4.

      It’s interesting to me that most of the masters seemed to think that objectively speaking it didn’t matter much either way whether you went 1 Bh6 or 1 Nxd4. I think that assuming I’d seen the bishop move I’d find it very hard not to play it - on aesthetic grounds if nothing else.

      Delete

  2. Jonathan Bryant
    1:26 PM (50 minutes ago)

    to Jonathan

    11/12 panelists + the computer went for Bh6. Only one distanced themselves with Nxd4

    HOWELL:
    “I simply have an irrational preference for the sort of position reached after the exchange of light-squared bishops”

    The computer, btw, wanted to answer 1 Bh6 with ... Bf6 - as does HIARCS at first many machine generations later. A very inhuman move

    HOWELL & LITTLEWOOD both seemed to think that it was += either way but curiously PLASKETT felt otherwise:

    “1 Bh6. Despite its flashy appearance I do not think this gives White anything so I am not sure why it should outscore 1 Nxd4 which I also propose. Both seem equally good, equally equal.”

    After a while HIARCS stops buggering about with ... Bf6 and begins to favour ... 0-0 and leans towards HOWELL & LITTLEWOOD’s assessment rather than GM JIM PLASKETT’s.

    Interesting that while most of the panel felt it was much of a muchness they nearly all went for Bh6. I suspect most club players would do the same - for the reasons outlined by Angus in the comments yesterday and Jon above.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Forgot to mention:
    The position in the final diagram is Browne - Bisguier, US CH. 1974.

    ReplyDelete

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