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Shelby Lyman on Chess: A Killer Game

Hint and Explanation: Better Than Rxg5

The recent news of a gruesome murder during a chess game in Blanchardstown, Ireland, is a reminder of how nonviolent chess really is.

Murders at the board rarely happen, one every decade or two in my experience of following such things.

I think that’s rare if we consider how passionately people often play. Of course, people do get angry at each other. But chess and other sports are effective and usually harmless outlets for aggression.

Besides the play itself, kibitzing is a great outlet.

If, after banging a piece down on the board deep in your opponent’s territory, you shout “Take that you idiot,” it’s all part of a tradition of fun and gamesmanship.

You and your opponent both know that, one hopes.

A weird association of chess with murder occurred when the Russian serial killer Alexander Pichushkin explained that his ultimate goal had been to kill 64 people to match the number of squares on the chess board. He was duly dubbed “the chessboard killer.”

I imagine such a connection could be spawned and implemented anywhere. But it is not a surprise that it did happen in Russia, where chess is so widely and deeply rooted in the culture and consciousness of the population.

Below is a win by Ian Nepomniachtchi against Vassily Ivanchuk from the SportAccord Basque Men tournament in 2013 in Beijing, China.

Nepomniachtchi Ivanchuk

1. e4 e5

2. Nf3 Nc6

3. d4 exd4

4. Nxd4 Qf6

5. Nb3 Qg6

6. f3 Bb4ch

7. Bd2 a5

8. Nc3 N(g)e7

9. Nb5 Bxd2ch

10. Qxd2 Kd8

11. O-O-O d6

12. Kb1 Rf8

13. g4 Qf6

14. g5 Qxf3

15. Bg2 Qg4

16. e5 Nxe5

17. Nxd6 cxd6

18. Qxd6ch Nd7

19. R(h)e1 Qxg5

20. Nc5 Black resigns

Solution to Beginner’s Corner: 1. Rh8ch Kc7 2. Nd5ch! (winning the rook).