What Are the Most Amazing Draws in Chess History?

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July 23 2013 2:27 PM

What Are the Most Amazing Draws in Chess History?

This question originally appeared on Quora.

Answer by Hagop Taminian, chess fan:

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The Swindle of the Century

In the 1963-64 U.S. Chess Championship, a young Bobby Fischer was widely regarded as the overwhelming favorite to win. He did so in spectacular style, winning all of his 11 matches without a single loss or draw.

In that tournament, a famous draw was played between Sam Reshevsky, an eight-time U.S. champion and by then the godfather of U.S. chess, and Larry Evans, like Fischer a sharp New York native, and also a former U.S. champion. The game would come to be known as "The Swindle of the Century," in reference to the highly unlikely ruse that Evans used to get a draw from a losing position.

With the position below, it was Evans, playing with White, to move. The situation looked bleak: Black (Reshevsky) was up a knight and should have easily gone on to win:

130715_QUORA_taminian1

As Evans put it, however, instead of resigning, he “offered a little prayer” by playing 47. h4:

taminian2

The game continued: 47...Re2+, 48. Kh1, Qxg3, with Reshevsky still unwitting to the predicament he had gotten himself into:

taminian3

Here came Evans' spectacular touch: sacrificing his queen, Evans played 49. Qg8+, Kxg8:

taminian4

After 50. Rxg7+ (below), the match ended in a stalemate: if Black chose not to capture the rook, it would perpetually check the Black king; if Black captured the rook, White had no more legitimate moves and the game ended. Both players quickly agreed to a draw.

taminian5

The draw was not inconsequential either: although Fischer had won the tournament by then, it allowed Evans to finish in second place.

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