Chess Puzzle of the Week (258): Solution

This week’s position was taken from a (very bad) game I played with the white pieces against future GM James Plaskett in the last round of a weekend congress in London in 1976.

Let me take you back first to this position: where I was about to play my 29th move.

James had already missed a few wins, and here I played 29. Rxd7, when after 29… Qxd7 30. Rxc5 h6 Black would have at least enough for the pawn. Amazingly, he blundered with 29… Rxd7??, leaving the knight on f5 en prise due to the back rank mate. Rather less amazingly, I failed to notice 30. Rxf5! and the game continued 30. Rxc5?? Nd4 31. Qf2 f6 32. Ne4 f5, giving Monday’s diagram.

Now I foolishly played 33. Nc3?, resigning after 33… Nxf3! 34. Qxf3 Rd2+. “Huh! Typical Plaskett game!” was my opponent’s remark when I stopped the clock.

Neither 33. Ng5 h6 34. Nh3 g5 nor 33. Nd2 Qxb2 was much better, but the computer immediately points out the startling 33. Rd5!!, not just failing to move the threatened knight but moving the rook where it could also be taken. Now 33… exd5 is met by Nc5!, 33… fxe4 by Rxd4 and 33… Rxd5 by cxd5, and in each case it’s about equal.

Rd5!! is very much a computer move, I think, and perhaps very hard to find over the board. It makes it easier, I suppose, if I pose it as a question, because you know there must be something there.

Congratulations to Andrew (via WhatsApp), Chris (via Facebook Messenger) and everyone else who found the move.

Here, for what it’s worth, is the complete game. Click on any move for a pop-up window.