Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Zsuzsa on Zwischenzug

America’s top chess celebrity shows you the moves

Here in the U.S. most people call her Susan, but back in her native Hungary the grandmaster and four-time women’s world champion is known as Zsuzsa Polgar.

Whatever name she goes by, though, Ms. Polgar is certainly on a roll. She’s just been elected chairman of the U.S. Chess Federation, she has the top chess blog in the galaxy, and she is the most famous chess personality in the country.

It’s a delicious paradox, is it not, that in a game dominated by men, America’s top chess celebrity is a woman?

As popular as she is, Susan does have her critics, of course. Some people think she’s too self-promoting, and others don’t like her because . . . well, they don’t really say; they just don’t. Such is the nature of fame, nez-pah?

Despite everything, however, Susan and her husband/second/business partner/sidekick FM Paul Truong together manage to sustain a veritable putty factory of chess “content,” as it is called today, churning out columns, blog posts, puzzles and events, etc. They’re everywhere.

One of the many places Susan’s writing regularly appears is in Chess Life for Kids, the magazine for junior members of the USCF. In the most recent issue she focuses on zwischenzug, that wonderful tactic involving surprising “in between” moves that interrupt a sequence of seemingly natural captures and recaptures to win material for the attacker. Though she avoids using the tongue-torturing German word itself in this particular article—an act of mercy, perhaps, given that her audience is kids—this is clearly the tactic she is talking about. Here’s a sample.

It's Black to move. The White knight has just captured on c6, and you might expect Black to recapture with the b-pawn: 1. … bxc6. But no. Here’s the sequence:

1. … Qxc3! 2. Qxe2 Qxc6.

And Black wins a piece.

Want to see more? Join the U.S. Chess Federation and get Chess Life for Kids six times a year, with Susan’s column and a lot more.

So, what's next: Zsuzsa on zugzwang? Stay tuned.


Bill Brock said...

very nice, Tom!

Minor typo: should be 2...Qx*c*6

Tom Panelas said...

Oops. Thanks, Bill. Fixed.

Polly said...

Zwischenzug is a great little tactic which I have managed to use to my advanatge, but also have been victimized by it. It's too easy to overlook when you simply analyze a series of recaptures without looking at the possibility that the opponent is not going to recapture right away.