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Monday, October 20, 2014

Q-sac by Rossolimo

     Rossolimo once bitterly complained that by FIDE rules in effect at the time that he had become listed as ‘inactive’ which made it almost impossible for him to get invitations to tournaments. He also complained that despite his many previous successes in international tournaments, many brilliancy prizes and Queen sacrifices, that when he went to publish a book of his best games, he was told by publishers that they were not interested because he ‘did not score points.’ Rossolimo was so frustrated that he added he thought that in each tournament a committee should be formed to judge the games and award points based on ‘beauty.’ He added that in some cases it may be possible for the loser to score more points than the winner if he played ‘more beautifully.’
     The following game contains one of Rossolimo’s Q-sacs that was played in a game listed as being played in New York, but no further information about the tournament or his opponent is known. According to chess historian Edward Winter, B.H. Wood first published it in his Illustrated London News column in 1961. Winter adds that Chess Life did not list any New York tournaments in which Rossolimo played in 1961. Of course, Chess Life went through some pretty rough times where it was nothing more than a useless rag, so that means nothing and they did not publish news on every event that was played.  Winter also points out that it is possible the game the game was not played in a serious event. Nobody knows. It could have been a local tournament or, possibly, even from a simultaneous held at Rossolimo’s Chess Studio at the corner of Sullivan and Bleeker Streets in Greenwich Village. Here are a couple of views of the location of his chess club, but since it’s has been 50 years I can’t be sure of the exact location of the Studio. I think it was in the store front on the right in the looking north view.
Looking South

Looking North 
    I analyzed the game with today’s engines which are all in agreement that the Q-sacrifice was not white’s best and it was, in fact, unsound. But because of the unbalanced material situation I was not entirely convinced that black really stood better. I let Houdini 2, Stockfish 5, Komodo 8 and Critter all analyze the position for several minutes after 18.c4 and they all were in agreement that the Q offer was a poor move. A blitz shootout resulted in a win for black.  So it seems that Rossolimo’s Q-sac appears flawed. Another but…the subsequent play after black’s 21…c5 leads to positions where it seems the engines are not able to reach a clear cut opinion regarding the result. 
     I am sure that if one had the time to devote to a thorough analysis with several engines and a strong enough computer a clear opinion might be reached, but a casual analysis such as I did does not do the position justice. 
     That said, even if Rossolimo’s Q-sac is flawed and the subsequent play is not perfect, it does not take anything away from the enjoyment of playing over the game.

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