Sammy Reshevsky was a child prodigy at chess who toured Europe then America as a young boy giving simultaneous displays to amazed audiences.  “How could this little boy dressed in a sailor suit be so good at chess?”  He won the USA Championship no less than seven times and, according to Kasparov was perhaps the strongest player in the world from 1946-1956 although he never got to play a match for the World Championship.

Today’s puzzle is from the Candidates Tournament at Zurich in 1953, one of the strongest tournaments ever, where Reshevsky is battling to finish ahead of the Russians.  His crucial game is against Geller, where Reshevsky as White has reached the diagrammed position below two pawns ahead.   Surely this is a win?

He has just played his rook to f5 attacking Black’s last pawn.   Black can defend the pawn with either 1…Ra5 or 1…Kg4, but can he save the game?   That is your puzzle for today.   How can Black draw?

[fen caption=”Black to Play”]8/8/5R2/5p1k/5P1P/r5P1/5K2/8 b KQkq – 0 1[/fen]


Geller played 1…Rf3+!! as 2.Kxf3 is stalemate and after 2.Kg3 Rxg3+ is the same.   Reshevsky played on with 2.Ke2 Rxg3 3.Rxf5+ Kxh4 4.Kf2 Ra3 but had to concede a draw as his King is cut off from the passed pawn and he cannot make progress.   Poor Sammy had missed his chance to win the tournament and challenge the Russians for the World Championship.

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