## The King Hunt

This is an article that I wrote back in 1970. I just found it in my closet. I don't think it has ever been published until now.

The process of chasing your opponent's King from a square where he is protected to a square where he is vulnerable is called a "king hunt." The King can be chased perhaps two or three squares or to the other side of the board. He may even be chased out to the center of the board, then back to his original "safe" square, where he is no longer safe. The easiest king hunt to calculate is where you keep checking the King until he is checkmated. Here are some examples:

1. Blake - Hooke, London 1891
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 d6 3 Bc4 f5 4 d4 Nf6 5 Nc3 exd4 6 Qxd4 Bd7 7 Ng5 Nc3 8 Bf7+ Ke7 9 Qxf6+ Kxf6 10 Nd5+ Ke5 11 Nf3+ Kxe4 12 Nc3++

2. Taylor - anonymous, London 1862
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 Bc4 Nxe4 4 Nc3 Nc5 5 Nxe5 f6 6 Qh5+ (to pin Black's Knight eventually!) 6...g6 7 Bf7+ Ke7 8 Nd5+ Kd6 9 Nc4+ Kc6 10 Nb4+ Kb5 11 a4+ Kxb4 12 c3+ Kb3 13 Qd1++

3. Potter - anonymous, London 1870 (remove White's Queen)
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bc4 Nf6 4 Nc3 Na5 5 Nxe5 Nxe4 6 d3 (6 Bxf7+ probably loses because of the missing Queen) 6...Nc5 7 Bxf7+ Ke7 8 Bg5+ Kd6 9 Nb5+ Kxe5 10 f4+ Kf5 11 Nd4+ Kg4 12 h3+ Kg3 13 Ne2+ (or 13 Nf5+) Kxg2 14 Bd5+ Ne4 15 Bxe4++

A king hunt can happen to a castled king, as well (and it need not occur in London, as we will see later). This is a very famous game:

4. Edward Lasker - G. A. Thomas, London 1912
1 d4 f5 2 e4 fxe4 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Bg5 e6 5 Nxe4 Be7 6 Bxf6 Bxf6 7 Nf3 0-0 8 Bd3 b6 9 Ne5 Bb7 10 Qh5 Be7? (10...Bxe5) 11 Qxh7+? (11 Nf6+ mates right away) 11...Kxh7 12 Nxf6+ Kh6 13 Neg4+ Kg5 14 h4+ (or 14 f4+) 14...Kf4 15 g3 Kf3 16 Be2+ (16 0-0 mates faster) 16...Kg2 17 Rh2+ Kg8 18 Kd2++ (or 0-0-0++)

Often, you cannot keep checking the King. Instead the win may require a "quiet move," which prevents the King's escape or brings a new piece into the battle. This often makes it much more difficult to calculate, since the defender probably has a wider choice of moves. Some examples:

5. Bachmann - Kunstmann, Augsberg 1899
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 c3 Nf6 4 d4 Nxe4 5 d5 Ne7 6 Nxe5 Ng6 7 Bd3 Nxf2 8 Bxg6! Nxd1 9 Bxf7+ Ke7 10 Bg5+ Kd3 11 Nc4+ Kc5 12 Nba3 (threatens 13 b4++) 12...Nxb7 (12...Nxc3 loses) 13 Be3++

6. Weigel - Ebert, postal game 1936
1 e4 e5 2 f4 Bc5 3 Bc4 d6 4 Nf3 Nf6 5 c3 0-0 6 fxe5 dxe5 7 Nxe5 Nxe4 8 d4 Qh4+ 9 Ke2 Qf2+ 10 Kd3 Bb6! (quiet move) 11 Rf1 (11 Kxe4 Bf5+ 12 Kd5 Rd8+ 13 Nd7 Rxd7+ 14 Ne5 Nc6++) 11...Nc5+! dxc5 12 Bf5++

7. Ohman - Buck, Omaha 1942
1 e4 e5 2 Nc3 d6 3 f4 exf4 4 Nf3 Be7 5 Bc4 Bh4+ 6 g3 fxg3 7 0-0 gxh2+ 8 Kh1 Bg3 9 Bxf7+ Kxf7 10 Ne5+ Ke6? (10...Ke8 is good) 11 Qg4+ Kxe5 12 d4+ Kxd4 13 Be3+ (13 Qd1+ mates quicker) 13...Kxe3? 14 Rad1! Bxg4 15 Rd3++

8. Noordijk - Landau, Rotterdam 1927
1 e4 Nf6 2 e5 Nd5 3 Nf3 d6 4 Bc4 Nb6 5 Bxf7+? (5 Bb3 is the book move) Kxf7 6 Ng5+ Kg6? (6...Kg8 should survive) 7 Qf3 Kxg5? (7...Qe8) 8 Qf7! g6 9 d4+ Kh5 10 Qf4 h6 11 h3 (or 11 g3) 11...g5 12 Qf7+ Kh4 13 g3++

Logic would suggest that sometimes the hunted King escapes. Therefore it is wise to calculate rather than base your sacrifices on intuition alone. Here are two opening variations in which the King escapes:

1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Bc4 Nxe4 5 Bxf7+ (5 Nxe4 d5 is more usual) 5...Kxf7 6 Nxe4 d5 7 Neg5+ Kg8 and Black is in no danger.

1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bc4 Nf6 4 Ng5 d5 5 exd5 Nxd5? 6 Nxf7 (6 d4 is better) 6...Kxf7 7 Qf3+ Ke6 8 Nc3 Nb4 9 Qe4 c6. The King can now wander to safety on either the King side or the Queen side.

This is a famous game:

9. Spielmann - Tartakover, Copenhagen 1923
1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 exd5 cxd5 4 c3 Nc6 5 Bf4 Nf6 6 Nd2 g6 7 Ngf3 Bg7 8 h3 Ne4 9 Nxe4 dxe4 10 Nd2 f5 11 Bc4 e5! 12 dxe5 Nxe5 13 Bxe5 Bxe5 14 Qb3 Qb6! 15 Bb5+ Ke7! 16 Nc4 Qc5 17 Nxe5 Qxe5 18 0-0-0 Be6 19 Bc4 Bxc4 20 Qxc4 Rhd8 21 Qb4+ Kf6 22 Qxb7 Qf4+ 23 Kb1 Qxf2 24 Qc6+ Kg5! 25 h4+ Kg4! 26 Rdf1 Qb6 27 Qc4 (27 Qxb3 may draw) 27...Rd2 28 b4 Qe3 29 Rh3 Qb6 30 Rhf3 Rxg2 31 Rf4+ Kg3! 32 Qd5 Rc8 33 Qd7? (33 Rxf5! gxf5 34 Qe5+ Kh3 35 Qxf5+ Kh2 36 Qxc8 draw? Loy) 33...Qa6 0-1

The king hunt is not very common in international tournaments. But sometimes the great ones get caught off guard, especially if the trap is very complicated and subtle. Here is an example:

10. V. Smyslov - Florian, Moscow vs. Budapest 1949
1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 d5 4 Nf3 Bg7 5 Qb3 dxc4 6 Qxc4 0-0 7 e4 Na6 8 Be2 c5 9 d5 e6 10 0-0 exd5 11 exd5 Qa5 12 a3 Bf5 13 Qh4 Rfe8 14 Bh6 Ne4 15 Bxg7 Kxg7 16 Ng5 Nxc3 17 Qxh7+ Kf6 18 bxc3 Kxg5 (18...Rxe2 19 f4) 19 Qg7 Re4 20 f4+ Rxf4 21 Rxf4 Kxf4 22 Rf1+ Ke3 23 Qe5+ Kd2 24 Bc4 Qxa3 25 Rf2+ (25 Qe1 mates faster) 1-0

Bobby Fischer's "Game of the century" against Donald Byrne is another good example. I will annotate that eventually.