Wednesday, August 20, 2008

En passant

I have long enjoyed the convenience of using PDA chess programs as electronic boards for analysis, but software wasn't always written to "understand" en passant.

The © 1997-98 Deep Green freeware program (for the long-since discontinued Apple Newton PDA) plays chess, and rather decently, at that. However, Deep Green doesn't seem to understand en passant, so to compensate you need to move the "eatable" pawn one square instead of two. Not so great for an accurate record of moves, but usable enough as I played through various en passant games including Short-Speelman London (4) 1991, Slive-Paschall Boston 1994, and Kasparov-Short Zurich 2001. (Alex, how do you like your name in there with the big boys? ;-) )

But I also think about this 1985 game, in which I had black against good old N.N. (boy, that player really gets around!). A couple of months earlier, in my first ever tournament, I had gone 4-0 in the bottom section (I was B. Scott Anderson's mysterious 4th round opponent from a semi-recent Chess Horizons story) . Just out of the gate in round 1, my hopes for another such successful tournament were already looking washed up. I had just played 38...Rf5-f6, and was glumly waiting for my 1540-rated opponent to take all my queenside pawns.

Unexpectedly, N.N. played 39 f4+??, which I gladly answered with 39...gxf3+ en passant 0-1. (N.N.: "You can do that?")

23 years ago, they didn't make chess players who understood en passant, either!

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