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Features

May 8, 2014

Counterattack opens a way out of danger

During World War II, Alfred Wetzler and Rudolf Vrba were imprisoned in the notorious Auschwitz concentration camp. Despite their predicament, they were able to escape on April 7, 1944.

Among other things, they hid in a wood pile for four days and masked their trail with Russian cigarettes doused with gasoline.

In this week’s position, white finds itself in a predicament: Black’s rook threatens white’s queen and bishop on d2. But white has an escape route.

This escape involves a counterattack. White returns the queen threat by moving its bishop to a5. If black’s queen takes white’s bishop, white’s d1 rook captures black’s rook on d4, which wins the exchange for white. If black’s rook on d4 captures white’s queen, white’s bishop takes black’s queen. This gives white a winning edge, as both black rooks are in danger while a possible back rank mate is in the air.

Black’s best reply is to retreat its queen to a7. From a7, the black queen defends its rook on d4. White’s queen now moves to e3, which pins black’s d4 rook because its queen is on the same diagonal. Black moves its d8 rook out of danger from white’s bishop and places it on d7, which breaks the pin because the d7 rook guards its queen.

Now the position is even, and white has escaped almost certain death, like Wetzler and Vrba escaping from Auschwitz. 

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