Pe­nal­iz­ing mis­taken touches

Los Angeles Times - - PUZZLES/HOROSCOPE - By Bill Cornwall

In a se­ri­ous tour­na­ment game once, I had achieved a nearly win­ning po­si­tion by sac­ri­fic­ing a bishop. All I needed to do next was to move my rook to at­tack my foe’s queen, which could not es­cape be­ing cap­tured on my next turn. With­out thought, I quickly picked up a rook to make my decisive move. It was then I re­al­ized that my hand was hold­ing the wrong rook, one that would not win the queen. My op­po­nent looked at me as if to say, “What do you plan to do with that?” His un­spo­ken but im­plied mes­sage was, “you touched it; you move it.” I was about to be vic­tim­ized by the “Touch-Move” rule and would be down a full piece.

One of this col­umn’s read­ers re­cently shared a rel­e­vant story. His op­po­nent had made a los­ing move in­stead of an ad­van­ta­geous one that he could have played in­stead. Our reader then took a bath­room break. He re­lates: “When I re­turned, lo and be­hold the move that had trou­bled me was on the board, and my op­po­nent was do­ing ev­ery­thing he could not to make eye con­tact.” Know­ing that a spec­ta­tor had viewed the un­law­ful switch, our reader de­cided on a cre­ative way to avoid “un­called-for em­bar­rass­ment.” “Ex­cuse me, sir, you pre­fer this move to the one you orig­i­nally played?” he asked. “To which he [the op­po­nent] mut­tered some­thing un­der his breath, and a few sec­onds later re­turned the board to the orig­i­nal po­si­tion.”

The TM rule is in­tended to hold us re­spon­si­ble for our ac­tions. If you in­ten­tion­ally touch one of your men, you must move it if you can. If the man you touch be­longs to your op­po­nent, you must cap­ture it if you can. TM makes sub­se­quent chang­ing of the mind or hav­ing se­condthoughts ir­rel­e­vant.

Ev­ery so of­ten, even the great­est of cham­pi­ons have found them­selves pick­ing up a piece too quickly. A fa­mous ex­am­ple oc­curred in 1966 at the Pi­atig­orsky Cup, a meet­ing of top world grand­mas­ters held in Cal­i­for­nia. In the last round, Bobby Fis­cher had achieved a likely win­ning edge a pawn ahead. Spot­ting a nat­u­ral at­tack­ing move of a bishop, he touched the piece pre­ma­turely to move it. At that point, he sud­denly re­al­ized that the move would al­low a tricky draw.

An ex­am­i­na­tion of that mem­o­rable en­counter (in- cluded with this col­umn) shows that Fis­cher nicely sur­vived the Mar­shall Gam­bit, keep­ing Black’s sac­ri­ficed pawn. On move 30, he had good choices; for in­stances, Qe2 or Qb1. His Bd3 al­lowed ... Rxc2 and a trade into a draw­able bish­ops of op­po­site col­ors end­ing.

His op­po­nent later said: “Af­ter touch­ing the bishop, Fis­cher sat for sec­onds with his fin­ger on the piece des­per­ately look­ing for another move ... but there is no other move!” That lost half-point cost him a tie with fu­ture World Cham­pion Boris Spassky for first place.

In 1992, for­mer World Cham­pion Ana­toly Kar­pov was a queen ahead in a queen and rook ver­sus rook endgame against for­mer Soviet Cham­pion Alexan­der Ch­ernin. He did not no­tice that his op­po­nent’s last move had cre­ated a check. He touched his queen to move it and sud­denly re­al­ized the only way he could get out of check was by block­ing with, and los­ing, his queen. Prob­a­bly rat­tled, he ended up los­ing the game.

Game of the week Robert Fis­cher-Jan Donner Sec­ond Pi­atig­orsky Cup Santa Mon­ica July 21, 1966

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0–0 8.c3 d5 9.exd5 Nxd5 10.Nxe5 Nxe5 11.Rxe5 c6 12.d4 Bd6 13.Re1 Qh4 14.g3 Qh3 15.Be3 Bg4 16.Qd3 Nxe3 17.Rxe3 c5 18.Qf1 Qh6 19.Nd2 Rad8 20.Nf3 Bxf3 21.Rxf3 cxd4 22.cxd4 Qd2 23.Rd3 Qg5 24.Rc1 Rc8 25.Rdc3 Rxc3 26.bxc3 Ba3 27.Rc2 Rc8 28.c4 bxc4 29.Bxc4 Qf5 30.Bd3 Rxc2 31.Bxf5 Rc1 32.Qxc1 Bxc1 33.Kf1 Kf8 34.Ke2 h6 1⁄2–1⁄

2

ccsknight@bell­south.net

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