Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Novotny theme

The last few months I have been playing through games from old issues of the magazine "South African Chessplayer" and also trying to solve the positions from "Test Your Chess" and "Test Your Chess 2". These volumes are all about South African chess, and they were all edited by Leonard Reitstein. You are probably wondering, what is the Novotny theme? I first came across it in puzzle 217 from "Test Your Chess":

Korostenski vs Friedrich, Transvaal League 1978
The solution is given at the bottom of this article. Korostenski is a well known problem composer as well as a former SA champion, so he probably found the winning idea very quickly. According to an article on Wikipedia, "The Novotny theme occurs extremely rarely in actual play." Imagine my surprise to find a previously undiscovered Novotny in the pages of the "South African Chessplayer":

Naylor vs Parkin, Randburg Open 1984, after 36.Rf7
Black has just promoted his passed a-pawn, so he ought to be winning, but is threatened with tricks like 37.Rg7+ Kh8 38.Rxd7 and 39.Rf8#. The game continued with 36... Rxd8 37.Rg7+ Kh8 38.Bxd8 Qf1+? 39.Kh2 Qc1? 40.g5! Nf6? 41.Rxf6 Qa3 42.Bxc7 Qb4 43.Kg3 Be2 44.Rf4 Qa3+ 45.Kg2 and Black lost on time. How can Black escape this fate? The answer is given below.

Solution 1: 1.Bg6! so that White can mate on h7 or g7.

Solution 2: either 36... Nf6!! or 36...Qf1+ 37.Kh2 Nf6!! is a rare Novotny theme, with the Knight en prise to 4 different pieces, but it forces the swap of an attacker and wins on the spot. Some lines are 37.R3xf6 Rxf7 38.Rxf7 Rxd8 or 37.Rxc7 Bf1+ 38.Kg3 Qxe5+ or 37.Bxf6 Rxf7 etc.