13 March 2024

Vulnerable King

An entertaining game from P. H. Clarke, 100 Soviet Chess Miniatures (1963) offers a lesson in vulnerability. White’s king appears more exposed, but Black’s king is in mortal danger on its starting square.

Black to move
The game is Barshauskas — Chesnauskas, Championship of Lithuania 1955. Black’s problems stem from the greater mobility and coordination of White’s forces. As Clarke notes, “It is worth remarking that while the position of the Black king in the centre is of the utmost import, the comparatively exposed state (i.e. to the normal castled position) of the White monarch is of lesser significance. The reason lies, of course, in White’s lead in development” (31).

The game continued 17…Bc5
Clarke notes that 17…Be7 would at least “admit the danger”.
18.Bxe6 Bxe6 19.Nxe6 maintains the advantage.
18…Bxe6 19.Bxe6

Black to move
What would you play as Black? After making the wrong choice, Black resigned four moves later.

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