On the Origin of Good Moves

Deo volente is not the right expression in this context but if everything goes well, within a few months my new book On the Origin of Good Moves will be published. This book is the result of my research into the history of chess improvement and it partly is an elaboration of the main themes from my book Move First, Think Later, inspired by an evolutionary perspective.

Of course I hope it will evoke as much response and discussion as its predecessor and I'm planning to occasionally give some attention to these reactions in articles here on this site. As well as to additions, like interesting games from the past that escaped my attention and could support (or contradict) my points of view. Or games from the present, if they offer some interesting link to their ancestors from the forgotten days.

One of the games from the recent Tata Steel tournament that caught my eye was the fantastic fight Duda-Artemiev. Complications started with 19.Bh6, a sacrifice Black wisely didn't accept.

The opening of this game was the same as in a game Smagin-Monin from 1986, a very impressive performance of the white player. There Black played 12...h6, which promptly evoked the Bxh6 sacrifice, which is much more regular than Duda's version, without taking a pawn. But Smagin's version was rather sophisticated as well, picking up the h-pawn with the Qg6xh6 manoeuvre. The most common form of the Bxh6 sacrifice follows from a battery like Qd2 plus Be3.

In my research on the origins of the Bxh6 sacrifice I came across a game Williams-Harrwitz from 1846, with an almost identical position as in the Smagin game, and again with the sophisticated queen manoeuvre to pick up the h6 pawn.

However, Williams wasn't the first to execute the Bxh6 sacrifice. I found an earlier game, a really amusing one, but I won't give away which one that was. For finding that out I can only advise you to purchase my new book, as soon as it is available.

" ... well researched, endlessly fascinating, always thought provoking, often digressive, sometimes provocative and sometimes extremely funny. [...] Five stars and a top recommendation from me."
(Richard James, British Chess News)

Adolf Anderssen (1842)
White mates in 5