Chess Tactics: The story of forgotten history!

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It is said that no chess games are identical. But looking at the two diagrams shown below, you have to admit that it is possible to reach the same position through different routes.

same position but different results

  Janowski-Chajes, New York, 1916   Mikenas-Kashdan, Prague, 1931


The first position was reached after 19 moves in a game with Queen’s Gambit Declined opening, played between David Janowski (White) and Oscar Chajes (Black) in the Rice Memorial Tournament held at New York in 1916. To digress a little bit, this tournament was won by Capablanca with Janowski and Chajes coming second and third. But Chajes had the distinction of being the last person to defeat Capablanca before the latter continued an undefeated run of 63 games over the next 8 years!

The second position was reached after 18 moves in a game with Queen’s Gambit Declined opening played between Vladas Mikenas (White) of Lithuania and Isaac Kashdan (Black) of USA in the fourth chess olympiad held at Prague in 1931.

Would you agree that they look identical? What a strange coincidence! But that is where the similarity ends and starting from the next moves, the players adopt different chess tactics to chart out their own paths with remarkably different results!

We show side by side the moves which brought about the positions shown.

  1. d4 Nf6   1. d4 Nf6
  2. Nf3 d5   2. c4 e6
  3. c4 e6   3. Nc3 d5
  4. Bg5 Be7   4. Bg5 Nbd7
  5. e3 Nbd7   5. e3 Be7
  6. Nc3 c6   6. Nf3 dxc4
  7. Bd3 dxc4   7. Bxc4 a6
  8. Bxc4 b5   8. 0-0 b5
  9. Bd3 a6   9. Bd3 c5
  10. 0-0 c5   10. Qe2 Bb7
  11. Rc1 Bb7   11. Rfd1 Qb6
  12. Qe2 0-0   12. Rac1 0-0
  13. Rfd1 Qb6   13. Ne5 Rfe8
  14. Ne5 Rfe8   14. dxc5 Nxc5
  15. dxc5 Nxc5   15. Bxf6 Bxf6
  16. Bxf6 Bxf6   16. Bxh7+ Kxh7
  17. Bxh7+ Kxh7   17. Qh5+ Kg8
  18. Qh5+ Kg8   18. Qxf7+ Kh7
  19. Qxf7+ Kh7  


After reaching the identical position one move earlier, a 21-year old Mikenas could not find the winning line that was established by 48-year old Janowski 15 years earlier and had to settle for a draw by perpetual check. You can see how Janowski won his game from the same position!

    19. Qh5+ Kg8
  20. Nd7 Nxd7 White attacked Q and
threatened Nxf6+
20. Qf7+ Kh7
  21. Rxd7 Bc6 White threatened Rxb7
as also


21. Qh5+ Kg8
  22. Ne4 Bxb2 22. … Bxd7 23. Nxf6+ Kh6 (or Kh8) 24. Qh5#
22. … Bxe4 23. Qxf6 Rg8 24. Rcc7 wins
22. Qf7+ Drawn due repetition
  23. Ng5+ Kh6  
  24. g4 g6 24. … Kxg5 25. Qh5+ Kf6 26. Rf7#
  25. h4 Rh8  
  26. Qh7+ Resigns 26. … Rxh7 27. Rxh7#


It seems there is a lot to learn from the old-timers!


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