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Solutions to Emms's Chess Puzzles

Solution to problem  # 1.)

GM Veselin Topalov (2735) - GM Alexey Shirov (2750)
  Linares, 1998. 

[A.J.G. + Emms]


Many chess magazines and books have rated this as the best chess
move of all time. 

47...Bh3!!!;  {Diagram?}  
This is truly one of the more shocking moves ever played. 
It may also be the only move to win. 

I once allowed Fritz 6.0 to run for over an hour here. It did 
NOT find this move!!! 

     [ Most computers play:   47...a3;  in this particular position. ]  

48.gxh3 Kf5!;  
Black must activate his King as quickly as possible. 
(This was the whole point of Black's ...Bh3; but many computers 
  do NOT find this move.)  

     [ 48...a3!? ]  

49.Kf2 Ke4;   50.Bxf6!? d4!;   
 This blocks the a1-h8 diagonal off from White's Bishop. 

     [ 50...Kd3!? ]  

White must prevent ...a3.  

     [ After the moves: 
        51.h5?? gxh552.Kg3? a3;  ("-/+")   
        Black is very much winning. ]   

51...Kd3!;  52.Bc5!? Kc4!;   
Black gains a vital tempo.  

     [ Not as convincing is:  52...Kc353.Ke2
       and White might defend. ]  

53.Be7 Kb3;  ("-/+")  
White Resigns.  0 - 1 

     [ After the very simple moves:  53...Kb354.Ke2 Kc2;  
        55.Bb4 d3+56.Ke1 a3;  "-/+"  {Diagram?}  
        Black wins - the Bishop cannot stop both pawns. ]  

  0 -  1  

I disliked this choice by Emms, but most of the people who responded to the survey disagreed with me and felt that this game - and Black's 47th move - fully deserved to be in the "Top Ten."

Solution to problem  # 2.) 

Brzozka (2400) - GM David Bronstein (2615)
Miskolc, 1963.

[A.J.G. + Emms]


  Certainly one of the most amazing moves of all time ...    
  and a move (and a game!) that deserves to be much better    
  known than it actually is.    

48...Rxb3+!!; (Maybe, probably - '!!!')  {Diagram?} 
A really amazing shot. (Black must break down White's fortress if he 
 is to have a chance of scoring.)

     [ 48...Ke6!? ] 

49.Kxb3 Rb6+;  50.Kc2[],   
The only good move for White. 

     [ Not 50.Kxa3? Rxb1; "/+" ]  

50...Rb2+;  51.Kc1 Re2;  52.Rd1 Rxe3;  53.Rg1 Rc3+; 
54.Kd2 Rxc4;  55.Bc2 d5;   
Black now has three big, fat passers. (All connected, too.) 

In this position, White's Bishop is NOT an effective piece ... 
and the great Bronstein's technique is soooo sweet! 

56.Rb1 d4;  57.Bd1,  
This is close to being forced. 


     [ White looks to be playing passively. 

       But being more aggressive only backfires on White, viz:  
       57.Rb7+!? Kd658.Rb6+? Kc759.Rb1,  
       This is forced. 

          (59.Rb3?! e3+; 60.Kd3 e2!)   

       59...Rc360.Rb5 e3+61.Kd1 e2+62.Kxe2 Rxc2+;  
       63.Kd3 Kc6!;  ("-/+")   with an easy win for Black. ]   


This ties White up. 

58.Rb3 e3+;  59.Ke2 Rc1!;  60.Rxa3 c4;  61.Ra7+ Kd6; 
62.Ba4 Rh1;  63.Rd7+ Kc5;  64.Rc7+!? Kb4;  65.a3+ Kc3!;
66.Bb5 Rh2+; 67.Kf1,  
White has no choice. 

     [ 67.Kf3?? Rf2# ]  

67...d3;  68.Rxc4+ Kd2;  69.Kg1 e2; 70.Kxh2 e1Q;   
White Resigns. 

  0 - 1  

A great choice by GM John Emms! Truly amazing! 

Solution to problem  # 3.)

GM Evgeny Vladimirov (2620) - GM Vladimir Epishin (2530)
Tashkent, 1987

[A.J.G. + Emms]


Here comes a  HUGE  shocker ...  from a game between two 
GM's ...  in a relatively modern tournament.

25.Rdg1 Qxb3;   
Looks simple enough, White has to recapture, and then (maybe) 
Black has time to defend. 

 {I think Emms starts from this position.}   

26.Bh6!!,  (Maybe - '!!!')   
A truly SHOCKING move ... no matter how you slice it!!!  

     [ 26.axb3 Ba3; "~" ]   

Maybe the only attempt at defense.  

     [ 26...Rxh6 ]  

27.Rh7+! Nxh628.Rxh8+ Kxf729.Rh7+!{Diagram?}  
Black Resigns.  

(After the Black King moves, White can capture the Black Queen - on 
 the b3 square- and win easily.) 

One of the most amazing and shocking moves - especially at a pure 
GM level. Incredible. 

  1 - 0  

I felt this was NOT such a great selection for the list, but almost uniformly the respondents defended Emms's choice here. 

Solution to problem  # 4.)

GM Ratmir Kholmov (2615) - GM David Bronstein (2625)
U.S.S.R. Championship
Kiev, (RUS);  1965.

[A.J.G. + Emms]


The following is easily one of THE most shocking and surprising 
 moves ever played on a chess board.

18.Nc6!! Nxc6;  19.e5!! Bg5+!?;  ('?!')   
 Not the best move.  

     [ >/= 19...Bxe5!20.f6! Bxf621.Bd3 Bg5+22.Rxg5 f6;  
       23.Rg3 f524.Rdg1 Ra725.Ne4!! fxe426.Bxe4 Qf7;   
       27.Bxc6 Qe7; 28.Be4, "--->"  {Diagram?}   
       White has a decisive attack.  - GM J. Emms. ]   

20.Rxg5 f621.exd6 Qf722.Rg3 bxc323.Bc4! cxb2+;   
24.Kb1 Nd8;   
Nothing is going to save Black here. 

     [ Or Black could try:  24...Rg825.Rxg8+ Qxg826.d7 Bxd7; 
        27.Rxd7 Qg1+28.Kxb2 Rb8+29.Bb3, "+/-" ]   

25.Rdg1! , {Diagram?} 
This is the most elegant win.  

     [ After the moves:  25.d7 Bb7!?;   
       This is probably best. 

          ( </= 25...Bxd7??; 26.Rxd7, "+/-"  - GM J. Emms. )      

       26.Rdg1, "+/-"   White is probably winning. ]    

25...Ra7;  26.d7!?,  ('!')    
While this wins for White ... and was given an exclam by 
GM John Emms ... 
   --->  the move of 'Bishop-to-e2' could be even better. 

     [  Instead, the paradoxical retreating move of Be2 
         wins instantly:  
         >/=  26.Be2!! exf5!?27.Bh5,  ("+/-")  {Diagram?}  
         as the Black Queen has no good square to move or 
         retreat to. ]  

26...Rxd727.fxe6 Nxe628.Bxe6 Rd1+29.Rxd1 Bxe6;  
30.Kxb2 Rb8+31.Ka1 Bxa232.Rgd3 Qe733.Kxa2,   

Black Resigns - his game is completely without hope. 

  1 - 0  

A good choice, but I have some slight doubts about the soundness of the whole of the combination carried off GM R. Kholmov here. 23 of you voted against me here, and said this was a great choice. 

Solution to problem  # 5.)

O. Hindle (2245) - G. Mohring (2300)
Tel Aviv, 1964.

[A.J.G. + Emms]


Another brilliant ending.  (But too much like Emms' # 1.) 

69...Be3!!70.Kxh6 g4+!!71.fxe3 g372.Kh7,   
Maybe the only try for White.  

     [ Or 72.Bd5 a2; "-/+"  and Black is winning. ]  

72...g2;  73.h6 g1Q;  74.Kh8 a2;  75.Bxa2 Kxa2; 
White seems to be almost holding.  

     [ 76.e4 Qg6; "-/+" ]  

76...Qg6!; 77.e4 Qf7;   
White Resigns ... it is mate next move. 

  0 - 1  

Definitely NOT a good choice by GM John Emms. This is a game between basically two nobodies. And probably the biggest discrepancy is that it is too similar to the example in the NUMBER ONE choice!! 

I {mistakenly} deleted the e-mails before recording the tally here, but the voting was something like FIVE-TO-ONE that this game - AND the move - did NOT belong in the selection of the over-all "Top Ten" moves. 

Solution to problem  # 6.)

M. Oren (2350) - I. Dyner (2230)
Tel-Aviv, 1952.

[A.J.G. + Emms]


GM John Emms  ranks this as one of the best moves of all time ... 
but I don't buy it.  (!!!!!) 

24.Nb6!,  ('!!' - GM John Emms.)  {Diagram?}  
Black Resigns. 

The point is that after ...QxN/b6; White can respond with Qd4+! ("+/-") 
But such situations are common when you are TWO pieces ahead. 

  1 - 0  

Another case of a poor choice by GM John Emms. 

Over 35 people - who decided to vote - all considered this  NOT  to be a worthy example to be included in the Top Ten. Only 2 people defended Emms's choice here. Not a good selection. 

Solution to problem  # 7.)

M. Fehling (2200) - U. Rutschi (2200)
Biel, 1983.

[A.J.G. + Emms]


A game for which I can find no reliable record of ... it looks more 
like a composed problem than a real (OTB) contest. 

It also is  NOT  stunning enough to be included in ... 

1...Kh6!!;  2.Qd3!? d1Q!;  3.Qxd1!? Qxh3+!!; 4.gxh3,  
4...Rh2+!;  5.Kxh2[],  {Diagram?}   
White had no choice but to take the Rook.  

( A GREAT drawing combo, but the play prior to this had 
  been absolutely pitiful!! 

  {If the game score I found is correct.}  

  There are also {BIG} questions of the soundness of the 
   whole combination! )


Another very poor choice by GM John Emms. Really! 

Almost 70 people (67 actually) who decided to vote, all agreed with me that this was not a good selection by GM Emms, and did NOT belong in the "Top TEN" group. One reader - who also bought this book - said Emms should lose this turkey and replace it instead with the example from the game, Tal - Lutikov. (Chapter # 7, puzzle # 139, page # 122.) I cannot disagree, as I am a big Tal fan!! And simply any choice would have been MUCH better than this one!! UGH! 

And NOT ONE person defended EMMS's choice in this case! 

Solution to problem  # 8.)

Bura (2200) - Puric (2000)
Yugoslavia, 1982.

[A.J.G. + Emms]


Now comes a nice idea ...  but also logical once you realize 
that the straight-forward capture of the Black Queen is no good. 

1.Qh8+!,  ('!!')  {Diagram?}   
A unique idea.  

 ('!!' - GM John Emms.)   

     [ </= 1.Rxa1 Nxd4; 2.Bxe7 Rfe8; "=/+" ]  

1...Kxh8;  2.Rxa1 Nd4;  3.Bxe7 Rfe8?;   
This is probably a mistake. 

     [ Better was to simply move the Knight, but after: 
        3...Nc64.Bxf8 Rxf85.Re1, ''  White should win. ]

4.Bf6+,  ("+/-")   
White wins. (easily) 

While this is a pretty idea, I can hardly believe that this is one 
of the greatest moves of all time!! 
(The names and the strengths of the combatants leaves something 
  to be desired as well.) 

  1 - 0  

Response on this one was kind of lukewarm. 

About 20 people felt that this example did NOT belong in the "Top Ten" group, but a small handful (around 7) felt it was an adequate choice. 

I still feel it was a game between two nobodies, and that it could have easily been replaced by some of the more beautiful examples from the book.

Solution to problem  # 9.)

GM Vassily Ivanchuk (2745) - GM Artur Yusupov (2650)
(FIDE) Candidates Match

 Brussels, (BEL);  (Round/game # 9), 1991.

[A.J.G. + Emms]


A tense position - on and off the chess board!    
(The "Russian Revolution" was taking place at the same time as this match was being fought.) 

After the regular schedule of eight games, the match was tied. 
(This game was a tie-breaker played at the extremely accelerated time-control of the first 45 moves in 1 hour!!) 

This is easily one of the most astounding and complex positions in all of chess. Black ... already down TWO whole pieces ... proceeds to offer an entire Rook as well. And the threats are NOT obvious!! 


 28...Rg6!!!;    (Maybe even - '!!!!')   {Diagram?} 
A truly amazing move, easily one of the most wonderful and surprising moves ever played on a chess board. (!!!) 

     [ I expected something like:  28...Rg8!?;  the first time I went over this game. ]   

29.Qxa8+! Kh7;  30.Qg8+,  (BOX!!)  
Believe it or not, this is forced! 

     [ White gets mated after:  
       30.Nce7!? Qh1+!!31.Bxh1 Nh2+!32.Ke1 Rg1#Unbelievable!! ] 

30...Kxg8;  31.Nce7+ Kh7;  32.Nxg6 fxg6;  33.Nxg7,  
This also looks forced. 

     [ White could try </=  33.c5?!,  here ...  but I don't think it works. ]   

Now in a contest where Yusupov has already pulled more than enough rabbits out of his hat, Black uncorks another stunner. 

33...Nf2!!;  (Maybe - '!!!')  {Diagram?}  
Too much. A true bid for chessic IMMORTALITY!! 

Black ignores the material situation and threatens ...Nh3 & mate!

     [ After  33...Kxg734.Rab1, "~"  White fights on. ]   

Now White must return material. 
34.Bxf4,  {Box?}  {Diagram?}  
The annotators all say that this is forced. 

     [ 34.Rdb1!? ] 

34...Qxf4;  35.Ne6,   
Practically the only move for White. 

    [ </= 35.Rdb1!? (This is probably refuted by ...Nh3.) ] 

35...Qh2!;  (Maybe - '!!')   
Back to the same idea (threats!) as before!! 

     [ Interesting was: 35...Qf5!? ]  

36.Rdb1 Nh3!;  37.Rb7+!?,   
White is running out of moves.

     [ 37.Ke1 ] 

The correct move here. 

 There is a great deal of confusion here as to what move was actually played in this game.   GM Emms gives the WRONG MOVE ...  but he is not the only one!!! (Several on-line databases and books also give Black as playing ... Kg8 here as well.)  But according to a book on tactics and attack, (by GM Larry Christiansen); a book on chess brilliancies, (by GM Yasser Seirawan); and the  INFORMANT  ... ... ... Black actually played 37...Kh8 here. 

     [ If 37...Kg8!?; then simply 38.Rg7+, etc. ]  


38.Rb8+, (!?) 
Otherwise, how does White prevent mate? (A trick?) 
(According to several chess magazines, Ivanchuk was desperately short of time, and his flag may have been close to falling.)

     [ Or 38.Ke1, Qg1+; "-/+" and Black wins easily. ] 

38...Qxb8;  39.Bxh3 Qg3, ('!')  {Diagram?}   
White Resigns,    ....................................   
Ivanchuk has absolutely no defence to the mate on f2.

A modern classic and one of Yusupov's all-time best games. 


  0 - 1  


I did quite a bit of research as concerns this game. Although it is only about 12 years old, it is already in at least 10 books of mine. 
Additionally, it is also in many of my old magazines like: 'Chess Life,'  'New In Chess,'  'Inside Chess,' ... and many others.  

Authors and annotators have given DRASTICALLY different and even CONFLICTING  analysis of this game. And I have decided I must try to annotate this game ... and discover the real truth for myself!!! Thursday;  October 23rd, 2003. 

  (I will try to remember to put a link here when I finish this game.)   

A fantastic choice by GM John Emms in this case. 

But to be completely honest, several people dissented, and felt that because it came from an unsound game, it did not belong in the "Top Ten" group. (I personally don't think this is adequate grounds for dismissing this example!) 

Solution to problem  # 10.)

GM Garry Kasparov (2840) - GM Veselin Topalov (2720)
"Super-GM" (Invitational) Tournament
Wijk aan Zee, (HOL), 1999.

[A.J.G. + Emms]


What follows is the tail-end of what I believe to be the greatest game of chess ever played. 

36.Bf1!!!,  (Maybe even - '!!!!')  {Diagram?}   
One of the greatest ... and most surprising moves ever played. It has the added benefit of looking like a blunder.  

     [ 36.Ra7!? ]  

36...Rd2!,  (Really - '!!')   
A fantastic defense ... and one that looks to hold everything together. 

     [ At first it ALMOST looks as if Black should just grab the B: 
       36...Qxf1?37.Qc2+ Ke138.Re7+ Qe2[]39.Qxe2#. ]   

Now Garry - like a ruler from the Mount of Olympus - unleashes yet another bolt. 
37.Rd7!! Rxd7;   
This looks to be forced.  

     [ All of Black's alternatives lose ... and lose horribly:  
        # 1.)  37...Qxf1??; 38.Qxd2#;   

        # 2.)  37...Rd8??; 38.Qxd2#;  

        Or  # 3.)  37...Qc2+??{Diagram?}   
        This looks OK ... but forgets about the pin.  
         38.Qxc2+ Ke139.Rxd2, "+/-" ]   


Now Garry's fabulous technique never gives his opponent even a ghost of a chance. 
38.Bxc4 bxc4;  39.Qxh8 Rd3;  40.Qa8 c3;  41.Qa4+! Ke1; 42.f4 f5;  43.Kc1! Rd2;  44.Qa7!,  ("+/-")  {Diagram?}   
The end of one of the most fabulous chess  games  ever played.  

  1 - 0  

A great choice by Emms here!!

How can I disagree? I rank this as the greatest chess game of all time!! 

Each box - at the end of each of these solutions, (above) - tell you more or less what I thought of the game. In many cases, I would agree with GM John Emms. With many I liked his choices, in a few I disagreed. 

I also sent out a survey ... about these top ten moves ... to about 130 friends, students, etc. (Via e-mail.) I have also tried to indicate their (general) responses in the boxes. (Just below the analysis/solutions.)

Very often times I asked people to decide or vote on a move or example ... and judge "Yes" it should be in the Top Ten ... or "NO!," it should not be included in the selection of the "Ten Greatest Moves Ever Made." 

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This page was created in September of 2003.   This page was last updated on 01/06/13 .  


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