19 August 2012

The importance of CCT: example #3 - Szabo-Reshevsky, Zurich 1953

I'm continuing to work my way through Bronstein's Zurich 1953 International Chess Tournament during my lunch hours at work and recently came across the following game (Szabo-Reshevsky, round 19 game 130 in the tournament book).  I have to admit that Reshevsky is one of my all-time favorite players and I always enjoy going over his games.  In this one, on move 20 he overlooks that, instead of the obvious recapture on f6 by White, there is a mate in 2 by his opponent after Qxg6+.  Szabo however also overlooks this and Reshevsky then eliminates the Bd5, which was the source of the tactic.  According to Bronstein, Szabo then realized his mistake and was thoroughly shaken for the rest of the game and for some time afterwards in the tournament.

This is another simple, clear example at the professional level that highlights the utility of CCT (Checks, Captures and Threats) in the thinking process.  There are two possible checks on the board for White on move 21.  Bxf7+ can be calculated very quickly as not working, while Qxg6+ can be calculated almost as quickly as leading to the mate.  Because the g6 pawn is optically protected by the f7 pawn, but is not protected in reality due to the pin on f7 by the Bd5, the capture with check is a non-obvious move unless the pin is explicitly recognized in the thinking process.  The "obvious recapture" on f6 is another distraction from recognizing the critical tactic.

The benefit of CCT comes from literally forcing the player to recognize this type of critical tactical element, which as we see from the game can otherwise be overlooked, even by world-class players.  Once Qxg6+ is contemplated, it immediately becomes apparent that fxg6 is impossible.  This requires very little expenditure of calculating time and energy, in exchange for a great reward.

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