Thursday, June 19, 2008

Flohr-Grob, 1933: Spot the Differences

In this position (after 25. ... Qb5 from Salo Flohr - Henry Grob 1933 match, 1st game), Flohr (White) resigned due to the obvious threat of 26 . ... Qf1#. According to George Koltanowski in his 1968 book TV Chess, Flohr was told "by a schoolboy", "a few years after that particular game", that 26. Kh1 prevents mate and wins the game. In fact, points out Edward Winter in Chess Notes #2857 (also in Chess Facts and Fables, p. 228), the possibility of 26. Kh1 "had been pointed out by almost all magazines which published the game".

But does 26. Kh1 win? Not according to Mordechai Bronstein in his article "The Pathology of Chess Games" (Ha'Sachmat, June/July 1966, pp. 163-165). He claims the famous grandmaster David Bronstein looked at the game "and discovered the resignation was justified" due to 26. Kh1 Qf1+ 27. Bg1 Bxd4+ 28. Qxd4 f3! "with unavoidable mate".

And indeed it would be unavoidable mate... if only the pawn on f4 were black, as in the diagram Mordechai Bronstein provides as the basis for David Bronstein's analysis:

The purpose of Mordechai Bronstein's article, as he says, was to show one must not trust published analysis blindly. He seems to have proved his point in a way he didn't expect.

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