I had an unusual experience at the chess camp last week.   For the last lesson, rather than being the chess coach, I was the assistant coach to Smari, our new coach from Iceland.  We have a strange connection as, unbeknown to me, he is staying in student accommodation at my sister’s place!  She noticed the “Chess Kids” logo on his car and asked if he knew me.

Smari showed an interesting game from the Lasker v Tarrasch World Championship Match in 1909 where Lasker blundered a pawn and appeared to be in a bad position but all his pieces were grouped together with potential to change the course of the game.

Today’s puzzle is such a position also.  White is two pawns down but his four pieces are grouped menacingly in the centre of the board and must surely have potential to turn the tide.  The player of the White pieces was an unusual character called Ortvin Sarapu.  Sarapu was a minor master in Estonia at the end of the Second World War who decided to leave Europe in search of a better life.  He apparently researched all the countries in the world and settled on New Zealand as being the best place to migrate to.  A fortunate choice for NZ Chess as Sarapu became an IM and won the NZ Championship a record 20 times (surely a world record for a national championship).  He played a memorable game against Bobby Fischer at one Interzonal, which Sarapu claimed he should have drawn, and which was perhaps his favourite story, closely followed by many others!  He was an arrogant but entertaining man who I was fortunate to play 3 or 4 times.  I well remember our last game in an Australian Masters, where I optimistically declined a draw, only to have Sarapu offer a draw again shortly thereafter with the comment “you better take it as this is he last time I shall offer.”  I took the draw.


Ortvin Sarapu

So, for today’s puzzle let’s see if you can match Sarapu’s tactical ability.  It’s White to play and win.

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