Zwischenzug

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Not to be confused with Zugzwang, meaning a situation where a chess player is forced to move and any move will disadvantage the player..

The zwischenzug (German: pronounced [ˈtsvɪʃənˌtsuːk] "intermediate move") is a chess tactic in which a player, instead of playing the expected move (commonly a recapture of the capturer of a piece that the opponent has just captured) first interposes another move, posing an immediate threat that the opponent must answer, then plays the expected move (Hooper & Whyld 1992:460) (Golombek 1977:354). Ideally, the zwischenzug changes the situation to the player's advantage, such as by gaining material or avoiding what would otherwise be a strong continuation for the opponent.

Such a move is also called an intermezzo (Cox 2007:216), intermediate move (Kasparov 2008:208), or in-between move (Burgess 1997:494) (Horowitz & Reinfeld 1954:180–97). When the intermediate move is a check, it is sometimes called an "in-between check" (Horowitz & Reinfeld 1954:183–85), "zwischenschach" (van Perlo 2006:479), or "zwischen-check" (Mednis 1997:270).

As with any fairly common chess tactic, it is impossible to pinpoint when the first zwischenzug was played. Three early examples are Lichtenhein–Morphy, New York 1857; RosenthalDe Vere, Paris 1867; and TartakowerJosé Raúl Capablanca, New York 1924. The first known use of the term zwischenzug, however, did not occur until 1933, when the prolific American chess authors Fred Reinfeld and Irving Chernev used it in their book Chess Strategy and Tactics.


History[edit]

Lichtenhein–Morphy, New York 1857
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8
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a8 black rook
d8 black queen
e8 black king
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black bishop
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
c6 black pawn
c5 black bishop
d5 black pawn
e5 white pawn
e4 white bishop
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
e1 white king
h1 white rook
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
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Position after 10.Bxe4.

No one knows when the first zwischenzug was played, but it was evident long before the term itself existed.[1] One early example was Lichtenhein–Morphy, New York 1857.[2] In the diagram at right, White has just captured Black's knight on e4 and surely expected the recapture 10...dxe4 11.0-0, when White's king is safe and he has the better pawn structure. Morphy, the strongest player of the day, instead played the zwischenzug 10...Qh4![3] Now White cannot save the bishop, since a move like 11.Bf3?? is met by 11...Qxf2#.[3] Moreover, 11.0-0 would be met by 11...Qxe4 12.Nc3 Qg6 (not 12... Qh4? 13. Nxd5!), when "Black has the two bishops and a compact position without serious weakness" (Reinfeld & Soltis 1974:53). Instead, White correctly played 11.Qe2 (forcing Black to weaken his pawns) dxe4 12.Be3? (after 12.0-0!, Black has only a slight advantage)[4] Bg4! 13.Qc4? Bxe3!! and Morphy went on to win a brilliancy.[2][3] (Réti 1976:32–36) (Reinfeld & Soltis 1974:51–54)

Rosenthal–De Vere, Paris 1867
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c8 black rook
f8 black rook
g8 black king
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
d7 black bishop
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
b6 black queen
e6 black pawn
d5 black pawn
e5 white pawn
b4 white bishop
f4 white pawn
g4 black knight
d3 white bishop
f3 white knight
a2 white pawn
e2 white queen
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
e1 white king
f1 white rook
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
Position after 16.Bxb4.

Rosenthal–De Vere, Paris 1867,[5] is another 19th-century example of a zwischenzug (Hooper & Whyld 1992:107–8). De Vere (Black) had earlier sacrificed a piece for two pawns. White has just played 16.Bxb4. Instead of recapturing with 16...Qxb4+, De Vere first played the zwischenzug (or zwischenschach) 16...Rc1+! After 17.Kd2 Rxf1 18.Qxf1 Qxb4+ 19.Ke2 Qxf4 20.Qg1 Nxe5, De Vere's zwischenzug had netted him two more pawns, leaving him with the material advantage of four pawns for a knight. White resigned after twelve more moves.

Tartakower–Capablanca, New York 1924
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a8 black rook
b8 white bishop
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
f6 black knight
b4 black bishop
c4 black pawn
d4 white pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
e2 white bishop
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
d1 white queen
f1 white king
g1 white knight
h1 white rook
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
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Position after 9. Bxb8.

Another prominent example that brought the concept of zwischenzug, albeit not the term itself, to public attention was Tartakower–Capablanca, New York 1924.[6] This was a game won by the reigning World Champion at one of the strongest tournaments of the early 20th century.[7] In the position at right, Tartakower (White) has just played 9. Bxb8, thinking he has caught Capablanca in a trap: if 9...Rxb8, 10.Qa4+ and 11.Qxb4 wins a bishop (Tartakower & du Mont 1975:295). However, Capablanca sprang the zwischenzug 9...Nd5!, protecting his bishop and also threatening 10...Ne3+, forking White's king and queen. After Tartakower's 10.Kf2 Rxb8, Capablanca had regained his piece and went on to win in 20 more moves. Note that after 10.Bf4 (instead of 10.Kf2), Black would not play 10...Nxf4??, which would still allow 11.Qa4+, winning a piece. Instead, after 10.Bf4 Black would play a second zwischenzug, 10...Qf6!, attacking the bishop again, and also renewing the threat of 11...Ne3+ (Alekhine 1961:208 note h) (Reinfeld 1974:230). After a move like 11.Qc1, Black could either take the bishop or consider yet a third zwischenzug with 11...Bd6.

a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
c8 black king
d8 white bishop
a7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
g6 black rook
e5 black pawn
f5 black knight
g4 black knight
c3 white knight
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
f1 white rook
h1 white king
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
Euwe–Breyer, position after 27.Bxd8

Alekhine, Reinfeld, and Tartakower and du Mont do not call 9...Nd5! a "zwischenzug" in their books (originally published in 1925, 1942, and 1952, respectively). Instead, they refer to it as, respectively, "a bit of finesse", a "sly interpolation", and an "intermediary manoeuvre" (Alekhine 1961:208 note e) (Reinfeld 1974:230) (Tartakower & du Mont 1975:296).

The earliest known use of the term zwischenzug did not occur until after all of these games. According to chess historian Edward Winter, the first known use was in 1933.[8] Fred Reinfeld and Irving Chernev, annotating the game Max EuweGyula Breyer, Vienna 1921, called Breyer's 27th move, 27...Nge3!, "an important Zwischenzug" (Reinfeld & Chernev 1933:48). The game can be played over here.

Additional examples[edit]

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g8 black king
b7 black queen
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
g6 black pawn
a5 black pawn
h5 black rook
d4 white queen
h4 white rook
g3 black rook
h3 white pawn
g2 white pawn
f1 white bishop
g1 white king
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
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Black now moves 1...Rxh4?; White responds with a zwischenzug

The diagram shows another example. Black, on move, plays

1...Rxh4?

expecting White to play 2. Qxh4, when Black retains a material advantage. However, White has a zwischenzug:

2.Qd8+!

which is followed by

2...Kh7
3.Qxh4+ Kg8
4.Qxg3

and White has won a rook, leaving him with a winning position.[9]

Mieses–Reshevsky[edit]

Mieses–Reshevsky, 1935
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e8 black rook
g8 black king
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black bishop
h7 black pawn
g6 black pawn
b5 white pawn
d5 black queen
a4 white pawn
c4 black pawn
c3 white pawn
f3 white knight
g3 white pawn
c2 white queen
f2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
c1 white rook
g1 white king
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
Position before 29. Nd4

A zwischenzug occurred in MiesesReshevsky, Margate 1935.[10] From the position in the diagram, play continued:

29. Nd4 Bxd4
30. cxd4

White must have expected 30... Qxd4 31. Qxc4 Re1+ and then 32. Kg2 gets him out of trouble, but Black has a zwischenzug:

30... Re4!

Making a double attack on the d-pawn and preventing the capture of his own pawn. Now if 31. Qxc4, 31... Re1+ forces 32. Rxe1 and White loses his queen (Chernev 1965:211).

L. Steiner–Helling, 1928
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a8 black rook
c8 black bishop
f8 black rook
g8 black king
c7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
a6 black pawn
d6 black bishop
b5 black pawn
d4 white pawn
h4 black queen
b3 white bishop
c3 white pawn
f3 white queen
h3 white pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
f2 black knight
g2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
e1 white rook
g1 white king
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
Position after 15...Nxf2

L. Steiner–Helling[edit]

L. Steiner–Helling, Berlin 1928,[11] provides another example of the zwischenschach (in-between check). Black has just captured White's pawn on f2 with his knight. White responded with 16.Qxf2, expecting the skewer 16...Bg3??, which he would refute with 17.Qxf7+! Rxf7 18.Re8#. Instead, Black first played the zwischenschach 16...Bh2+! Now 17.Kxh2 Qxf2 loses White's queen. The game continued 17.Kf1 Bg3! Not seeing the point, White blithely continued with his plan: 18. Qxf7+?? Rxf7+ Now White realized that he is in check (that was the point of 16...Bh2+!), so his intended 19.Re8# is illegal. The forced 19.Bxf7+ Kxf7 would leave Black with queen for rook, an easily winning material advantage, so White resigned (Horowitz & Reinfeld 1954:178–80) (Golombek 1977:354).

Kerchev–Karastoichev[edit]

Kerchev–Karastoichev, 1965
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a8 black rook
f8 black rook
g8 black king
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black bishop
h7 black pawn
d6 black pawn
g6 black queen
d5 black pawn
c4 white pawn
e4 black knight
f4 white pawn
e3 white pawn
f3 white rook
h3 white pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white queen
e2 white bishop
h2 white king
a1 white rook
e1 white bishop
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
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Black to move.

In the game between Zlatozar Kerchev and Emil Stefanov Karastoichev, Black moved

1... Ng5

discovering an attack on White's queen. White moved:

2. Qxg6

(If White moves the queen to another square, Black's knight captures White's rook on f3, winning the exchange.) Instead of immediately recapturing the queen, Black played

2... Nxf3+

and White must get out of check. After

3. Bxf3 hxg6

Black had won the exchange (Burgess 2000:47).

Carlsen–Anand, WCC 2013, game 5
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a8 black rook
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
d7 black bishop
e7 black king
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
b6 white pawn
c6 black pawn
e6 black pawn
e4 black pawn
a3 white pawn
e3 white pawn
f3 white bishop
b2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
c1 white king
d1 white rook
h1 white rook
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
Position after 20...fxe4

Carlsen–Anand[edit]

In game 5 of the 2013 World Chess Championship match, Carlsen had captured a bishop with 20.cxb6, and Anand maintained material balance by capturing a knight with 20...fxe4, also attacking White's bishop (see diagram). Instead of immediately taking the pawn with 21.Bxe4, which would have given Anand the opportunity to fix his queenside pawn weaknesses with 21...axb6, Carlsen played the zwischenzug 21.b7. After the necessary 21...Rb8 and 22.Bxe4 Rxb7 Anand's a- and c-pawns remained isolated. Black's weaker pawn structure was an important factor to Carlsen's initiative in this first decisive game of the match.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ National Master Dennis Monokroussos observes that "just because authors didn't use the word 'zwischenzug' doesn't mean they didn't use the concept – perhaps they simply used 'in-between move' instead". Fred Reinfeld and the Zwischenzug
  2. ^ a b Lichtenhein–Morphy, New York 1857
  3. ^ a b c Lichtenhein–Morphy, First American Chess Congress, 1857
  4. ^ Encyclopedia of Chess Openings, Volume C, Third Edition, Šahovski Informator, 1997, p. 301 n.72.
  5. ^ Rosenthal–De Vere, Paris 1867
  6. ^ Tartakower–Capablanca, New York 1924
  7. ^ Chessmetrics ranks New York 1924 as the ninth strongest tournament between 1900 and 1930. Strongest Tournaments 1900–1930
  8. ^ Edward Winter, Earliest Occurrences of Chess Terms. Retrieved on 2009-04-27.
  9. ^ Tutorial
  10. ^ Mieses–Reshevsky, Margate 1935
  11. ^ L. Steiner–Helling, Berlin 1928

Bibliography