Mike Basman, April 2021

The Belgian player Alain Talon, who heads the adult Invisible Army table, has lead a colourful chess life.

Here he advances his g and h pawns steadfastly towards the enemy position, and achieves a stunning victory in only 17 moves.

White:  Alain Talon (2116) Black: Nemo (2056)

Venue:, Opening: Grob

  1. g4, d5
  2. g5

The legendary GrobMeister, Michael Basman, gained notoriety (and many master and grandmaster scalps) with this opening, but even he did not go this far!

White tickles his opponent in his most sensitive area – the kingside.

2… e5,
3. h4, c5
4. d3, Nc6
5. Bg2, Be6
6. Nc3, f6

Black is occupying the centre while white operates long range with his bishop at g2, and obliquely with his kingside pawns.

Now comes a change of direction – a thrust in the centre.

7. e4, d4
8. Nce2

White could also move his knight to d5, but he prefers to re-route it over to the king’s wing.

8… Bd6
9. Bh3!

Thematically trying to trade off his “bad” bishop (blocked by its own central pawns) for black’s “good” bishop, thus leaving black with a “bad” bishop at d6 (blocked by pawns on c5, d4, e5 , f6. 

Black declines the exchange, but then the bishop at h3 has full sway over a fine diagonal.

9… Bf7
10. Ng3

Hoping for rich pastures on the squares f5 or h5.  10  f4 was also possible laying siege to the black centre.

10… Nge7
11. Nf3, b5
12. h5!!

The pawns march relentlessly on.  There are now threats to break up black’s kingside with h6, or to move the knight on f3 around to h4 and f5.

12… c4
13. h6

Black should now try to block the game with 13 … g6, with the variation, 14 gxf6 Ng8 15 Bg5 Nxf6 and … Be7

So instead 13 Nh4 could have been chosen.

13… gxh6?

This does nothing to challenge white’s outpost square at f5. 

14. gxf6

Black’s kingside is now a smoking ruin.

14… Ng6
15. Bxh6, Qxf6
16. Nh5!

A terrifying quandary for the black queen, who is walking through a tactical minefield.

16… Qe7
17. Ng7+!

Now if the black king moves to f8, the DISCOVERY 18 Nf5+ wins the black queen; if he plays 17 … Kd8, then the PIN 18 Bg5 also wins the black queen.


A real tour de force!

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