Long before they become the world champions, Mikhail Tal, Boris Spassky, Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov took part in student olympiads. These international team competitions, which began in 1954 in Oslo were held in the summer. It was a breeding ground for many young talented players who would not otherwise meet each other. It is a pity that they do not exist anymore.

Forty Years Ago

In 1965 I went from national master to international master and finally to international grandmaster in six months. Somewhere between chasing these titles we played the student olympiad in Sinaia, Romania. Chess was fun there, at least to me, as can be seen from the two following games. The Paulsen Sicilian game against a Soviet master, German Khodos, won the prize for the most brilliant game of the competition.


1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Bd3 (White develops all his light pieces quickly, not spending too much time on pawn moves.) 7...b5 8.e5!? (Sacrificing a pawn for a quick development and a lasting initiative.) 8...Qxe5 (Black has to take the central pawn with his strongest piece, and it becomes vulnerable to all kind of attacks.) 9.Qf3 d5 10.0-0-0 Bd6? (Blocking the retreat and making the queen vulnerable in the center. Better was 10...b4 11.Na4 Qc7.) 11.g4! (Closing the net around black's queen.) 11...Bb7 12.Qh3 (Threatening to win the queen with 13.f4.) 12...Be7 13.f4 Qc7 14.g5 Ne4 15.Bxe4 dxe4 (White will now accelerate the attack.)

16.g6! (Preventing a kingside castle, because of 17.Qxh7 mate, and at the same time undermining the pawn on e6. White also threatens 17.Qxh7!, e.g. 17...Rxh7 18.gxh7 queening.) 16...fxg6 (Khodos's position is collapsing, but the defense 16...Bf6 is crushed by a double knight sacrifice 17.Nxe6! fxe6 18.Nxe4!!, leaving black defenseless, for example18...Bxe4 19.Qxe6+ Kf8 [19...Qe7 20.Qc8+!] 20.Bc5+! Qxc5 21.Qf7 mate; or 18...Bd5 19.Rxd5! exd5 20.Nxf6+ gxf6 21.g7! Qxg7 22.Qc8+ Kf7 23.Qb7+ Kg8 24.Qxd5+! wins; or 18...Nd7 19.Qxe6+ Be7 [on 19...Kd8 20.Bb6 wins] 20.Nf6+!! gxf6 21.Qf7+ Kd8 22.g7 wins.) 17.Nxe6 Qc8 18.f5! (Not 18.Nxg7+ because of 18...Kf7 and the knight has problems.) 18...Kf7 19.fxg6+ hxg6 20.Rhf1+ Bf6 (After 20...Kg8 white finishes the attack with 21.Qg4 Qe8 22.Nxg7!, for example 22...Kxg7 23.Bd4+ Kg8 24.Qe6+ Kh7 25.Qh3+ Kg8 26.Qxh8 mate.) 21.Ng5+ Kg8 (Black chooses a different path to defeat. After 21...Ke7 22.Bc5+! Qxc5 23.Qe6+ Kf8 24.Rd8 mates.) 22.Rd8+! (A decisive deflection leading to a mate either after 22...Qxd8 23.Qe6+ Kf8 24.Qf7 mate; or after 22...Bxd8 23.Qxh8+! Kxh8 24.Rf8 mate.) Black resigned.

The Richter-Rauzer Sicilian game against a Danish master, Svend Pedersen, featured white's line-clearing with a double pawn sacrifice and a devilish trap by black that almost worked.


1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Nge2 d6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nf6 6.Bg5 e6 7.Qd2 a6 8.0-0-0 Bd7 9.f4 Be7 10.Be2 (This quiet developing move was not popular at that time, but in 1972 it made it to the world championship match Fischer-Spassky.) 10...b5 11.Bf3 Rc8 12.Nxc6 Bxc6 13.Bxf6 gxf6 14.f5 0-0 15.Ne2 e5 16.Kb1 a5 17.g4 Kh8 18.h4 Rg8 19.Ng3 b4 (The stage is set for attacks on the wings. Who comes first?)

20.g5! (Prelude to a double-pawn sacrifice that opens lines on the black king.) 20...fxg5 21.f6! Bxf6 22.hxg5 Bxg5?! (Black is mated after 22...Be7? 23.Rxh7+! Kxh7 24.Qh2+ Kg7 25.Qh6 mate. But he should have tried 22...Rxg5!?, for example 23.Qh2 Qg8 24.Rxd6 Rxg3 25.Rxf6 and now 25...Rc7! to meet 26.Rh6 with 26. . . . f5.) 23.Qh2 h6 24.Nf5 (Threatening 25.Qxh6+! Bxh6 26.Rxh6 mate.) 24 . . . Rg6 (It seems that all threats are covered, but white breaks the wall with a little combination.) 25.Nxd6! Rxd6 26.Qxe5+ Qf6 27.Qxd6 Qxf3 (After 27...Qxd6 28.Rxd6 Kg7 white's material advantage should decide.) 28.Rxh6+! Kg7 (On 28...Bxh6? 29.Qxh6+ Kg8 30.Rg1+ wins.) 29.Rg1 f6 30.Rh4! (The most precise way to victory, threatening 31.Qe7+ or 32.Rf4. After 30.Rxg5+ Kxh6 31.Rg1 Qf2! black beats the attack. For a few moments I thought about 30.Rhh1 with the idea to meet 30...Qxe4 with 31.Re1, until I spotted an incredible queen sacrifice turning the fortune around: 31...Qxc2+!! 32.Kxc2 [On 32.Ka1 Bxh1 wins.] 32...Be4+ and white is mated either after 33.Kb3 Bc2 mate; or after 33.Kd1 Bf3+ 34.Re2 Rc1 mate.) 30...Qe3 (The defense 30...Kf7 is refuted with a rook sacrifice 31.Rh7+ Kg6 32.Rxg5+!, for example 32...Kxg5 33.Qd2+! Qf4 34.Qg2+ Qg4 35.Rg7+ winning easily. And after 30...Be8 31.Qe7+ Bf7 32.Rxg5+ fxg5 33.Qxg5+ Bg6 34.Qh6+ Kf7 35.Rf4+ wins.) 31.Qe7+ Kg8 32.Rhg4 (Threatening to win with 32.Qxf6. White also wins with a brute force: 32.Qh7+ Kf8 33.Qh8+ Ke7 34.Rh7+ Kd6 35.Rd1+ Kc5 36.Qxc8 etc.) 32...Qd4 33.Qe6+ Kh7 34.Qf5+ Kh6 35.Rh1+ (After 35...Kg7 36.Rxg5+ fxg5 37.Rh7+ Kg8 38.Qf7 mates.) Black resigned.

Solution to today's problem by I. Mikan (White: Kf3,Qb6,Be5,Nd3; Black: Kd5,P:c5,d7,e7,f4,f5): 1.Qa6! c4 2.Qa8+ Ke6 3.Qg8 mate; or 1...e6 2.Qb7+ Kc4 3.Nb2 mate; or 1...d6 2.Nxf4+ Kxe5 3.Qa1 mate.

White mates in three moves.