Chess Puzzle of the Week (237): Solution

Monday’s position came from Zukertort – De Vere (London 1874).

Black continued 17… Bxd5 18. cxd5 Qe7, eventually losing the game after the weak pawn on e4 fell off. Neither player nor later analysts, including Steinitz and Blackburne, who, along with Zukertort were arguably the three strongest players in the world at the time, spotted that De Vere had missed a hidden resource.

17… Bxd5 18. cxd5 was correct, but now the computer move 18… Bf4!! is just winning because the white queen has no squares. 19. exf4 Nxf4 traps the queen, and if, say, 19. Nc4 or Rfe1, Black just replies Bxe3 followed by Nxf4. White has nothing better than resignation.

This position was again taken from The Ink War: Romanticism versus Modernity in Chess by Willy Hendriks (New in Chess 2022): my review will be appearing on British Chess News very shortly.

Hendriks repeatedly makes the point that, compared to today’s grandmasters, players of a century and a half ago were very weak tactically as well as strategically. In this example, the best players in the world, even analysing after the game, all missed an admittedly surprising two move tactic which Stockfish, of course, spots immediately. I hope you found it as well.