THE BLOG
04/07/2014 01:49 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Two Immortal Chess Cavalcades

Often crowned by a queen or other piece sacrifices, immortal games drew crowds of chess enthusiasts ever since the duel between Adolf Anderssen and Lionel Kieseretzky, played in London in 1851. It was the ultimate immortal game. Books were written about it and it was analyzed in great detail. Other players created their own versions.

The Croatian grandmaster Mišo Cebalo, 69, wrote his name into the history of immortal chess games last Sunday at the European Senior Team championship underway in the Croatian coastal town of Sibenik. It took him just 13 moves to defeat the legendary Moscow grandmaster Evgeny Vasyukov, 81, with an astonishing queen sacrifice and pleasing knight mates.

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Cebalo (left) watching Magnus Carlsen

Cebalo plays frequently in various chess competitions. He led his country at the 1992 olympiad and became a world senior champion in 2009.

A six-time champion of Moscow, Vasyukov won numerous international events. He was my opponent in the Prague - Moscow matches in 1966 and 1968 and I witnessed his greatest victory at the 1974 tournament in Manila. He also coached Anatoly Karpov in the world championship matches. Unfortunately, he will now follow Kieseretzky's fate.

Cebalo,Mišo - Vasyukov,Evgeny
European Senior Team championship
Sibenik 2014

1.d4 f5 2.Bg5

Disturbing the usual flow, the move is regarded as unpleasant against the Dutch defense.

2...g6 3.e3 Nh6

Aiming for the square f7 to chase away the bishop on g5 and to prepare advance of the e-pawn.

4.h4 Nf7 5.Bf4 d6 6.Nf3 Nd7 7.Bc4! Bg7?

Losing. Black changes his mind. He must control the square e6 and move the knight from d7 either with 7...Nb6; or 7...Nf6.

8.Bxf7+! Kxf7 9.Ng5+ Kf6

Asking for trouble, but the other move was also losing: 9...Kg8 10.Ne6 Qe8 11.Nxc7 Qd8 12.Nxa8 and white should win.

10.Nc3 c6

After 10...e6 11.d5! black doesn't have a chance.

11.Qf3!

Cebalo is closing the mating net with the help of threats.

11...e5

This leads to a marvelous finish, but mating combinations were in the air.
White had two mating endings in mind:
A. 12.Be5+ 12...dxe5 13.Nce4 mate.
B. 12.Nce4+ fxe4 13.Be5 mate.

2014-04-07-2cebalo.jpg

After 11...Qa5 12.0-0-0 renews all threats, but the game can still go on.

12.Qd5!!

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A beautiful queen sacrifice, threatening 13.Qf7 mate.

12...Qe7

The pretty cavalcade concludes after 12...cxd5 13.Nxd5 mate, but now the finish comes from the other side:

13.Nxh7+ and Vasyukov resigned.

After13...Rxh7 14.Bg5 mates.

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Cebalo's marvelous queen sacrifice is reminiscent of the 19th century encounter Blake vs. Hooke. It was wrapped in controversy: nobody knew when exactly was this friendly game played and how it finished. Sometimes the name Hooke was spelled incorrectly; other times the game was published under different names altogether.

Blake,J. - Hooke,G. A.
London 18??

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bc4 f5 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nc3 exd4 6.Qxd4 Bd7 7.Ng5 Nc6?

Allowing a forced mate. It ends with a queen sacrifice and a wonderful horse cavalcade.

8.Bf7+ Ke7

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9.Qxf6+!!

This astonishing mating sequence is the improvement on the game. Why should this perfect version precede the awkward ending given by other sources? It is safe to assume that the game finished in Cebalo's style with a queen sacrifice on the square d5. 9.Qd5!?

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9...h6 10.Bg6 Ne5 11.b3 hxg5 12.Qxe5+ dxe5? (12...Be6) 13.Ba3+ Ke6 14.exf5 mate.

9...Kxf6

After 9...gxf6 10.Nd5 mates.

10.Nd5+ Ke5

The horses now retreat, performing the final mating strokes.

11.Nf3+ Kxe4 12.Nc3 mate.

2014-04-07-2blake.jpg
An extraordinary dance of knights!

Note that in the replay windows below you can click either on the arrows under the diagram or on the notation to follow the game.