Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Wartime Brilliancy: Zinger - Nagar, 0-1, 1967

Gad "Gadi" Zinger - Shmuel "Shmulik" Nagar (Ruy Lopez, Marshall Attack, 0-1), in Al Horowitz's New York Times chess column, June 9th, 1967. Image credit: The New York Times. (Click on image for larger view).

In 1967, the IDF championship took place just before the Six Day War. Two games from it, including Nagar's brilliancy, were reported in the New York Times' chess column on June 9th, 1967 -- as the war was still raging. Nagar told me in an interview in April 2010 the secret behind this most famous game of his (my comments in square brackets):
In 1967 the IDF championship was in Tel Aviv's Beit Ha'Chayal ['Soldiers' Home', a hostel for soldiers on leave]. Most of the players resided there. The latest issue of [the Israel Chess Federation's magazine] Shachmat, just came out, and featured a game between Daniel Mor and Gad Rafaeli -- not the same Lt. Gad Rafaeli from the famous song, by the way -- where Mor played the Marshall Gambit as Black. I thought I found an improvement to Mor's play.

Sure enough, a few days later Gadi Singer allows me to play the Marshall gambit -- and he follows Rafaeli's game exactly to the critical point! I started to sweat and shake, as I realized that I am now about to make a real-live '!!' innovation over the board (18. ... Bf4!!), a once in a lifetime experience!

By the way, Dov Porat, who played in the tournament, was killed a few weeks later during the Six Day War. I probably played the last serious game of his life with him.
Here is the game, with Horowitz's annotations.

Gad Zinger -- Shmuel Nagar
IDF Championship, 1967
Beit Ha'Chayal, Tel Aviv
Source: New York Times, June 9th, 1967.
Annotations: Al Horowitz (with the exception of the added '!!' on move 18, by Nagar).

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Bf6 5. 0-0 b5 6. Bb3 Be7 7. Re1 0-0 8. c3 d5

The Marshall attack of the Ruy Lopez.

9. exd5 Nxd5 10. Nxe5 Nxe5 11. Rxe5 c6 12. d4 Bd6 13. Re1 Qh4 14. g3 Qh3 15. Bxd5 cxd5 16. Qf3 Bf5

Diagram after 16. ...Bf5 (from Horowitz's column)

17. Qxd5 Rae8 18. Bd2 Bf4!!

Diagram after 18. ... Bf4!!

Spectacular... presented a multitude of knotty problems for the adversaries and annotators. White refused to capture the intruder at this point...

19. Qg2 Qh5 20. f3

...and again refused to take the Bishop after 19. ... Qh5.

Space does not permit the demonstration of the fantastic possibilities for attack and defense had White played gxf4. The line, moreover, probably had been carefully thought out by Black [true! -- A.P.] On the other hand, extreme bravado may have been the motivation.

20. ... Rxe1+ 21. Bxe1 Be3+ 22. Kh1 Bh3 23. Qe2 f5

Diagram after 23. ... f5

Black mounted a fiery attack with 23. ... f5. Here, 24. Qxe3 could have drawn the reply 24. ... Re8, leading to mate or loss of the queen.

24. Bd2 f4

Equally shattering. Black's rook is ready to administer the coup the grace.

25. Bxe3 fxe3 26. Na3 Rxf3

After 26. ... Rxf3, White had only token defense.

27. Rg1 Qd5 28. c4 bxc4 29. Qxc4 Be6 30. Rg2 Qxc4 0-1

For those who want to read Horowitz's original column, click on the picture at the top of this post for a larger version or go here for better-quality photos.

A note about the names: "Gadi" and "Shmulik" are common diminutives of the given names Gad and Shmuel. I spelled Zinger's last name as Horowitz did, though it probably is often written (with the German 's'-sound) as 'Singer'. I couldn't find any of the players mentioned (except Horowitz...) in Jeremy Gaige's Chess Personalia: a Biobibliography, so I used Horowitz's 'Zinger' for consistency and phonetic spelling elsewhere.

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