Traps, Tricks & Mistakes: Theatrics

Most readers probably see traps as chess tactical resources for winning or getting some advantage (positional or material).
Nevertheless, there are players who use off-the-board traps and tricks. Those can also influence the result of a game.

Very likely, experienced players have seen their opponents restlessly move on the seat when facing a desperate position.
It usually happens when they can not bear the exerted pressure over their pieces. It is a sign of worry because the opponent is uncomfortable. In these cases, the probability of making mistakes is high.
But also the opposite can happen. One player who acts nervously not because his/her position is bad, but to confuse the opponent.
The opponent may wrongly understand that his/her position is good and be overconfident.

Recently I read about one of those tricks and the player involved is not other than the GM Miguel Najdorf.

Miguel Najdorf (1910-1997) was a Polish chess master. After II World War, he exiled in Argentina.
He is best known for his contribution to chess theory in form of the popular Najdorf variation in the Sicilian Defense.

Today’s game corresponds to the 10th Chess Olympiad which took place in Helsinki 1952.
That event was the debut of the USSR team which won the event. Argentina and Yugoslavia finished second and third respectively.
In round 5, Najdorf (Argentina) played against Yugoslavian GM Svetozar Gligoric on first board.
The position below appeared after Black’s 38…d3.

It is worth reading what Gligoric himself wrote after the game:

“Najdorf ‘the king of South-American chess’ tried to defeat me with White on top board. But I put up a stubborn defence. When, in the decisive phase of the game, I was thinking about my reply, I was unexpectedly subjected to a cheerful conversation in Spanish between Najdorf and somebody else, right behind my back. Nevertheless, I managed to find a good move and Najdorf, as if in a trance, sat down, played his move offering me a pawn and then at once slapped his forehead as if realizing he had just made a ‘blunder’. I naively fell into the trap and, being in time pressure, grabbed the pawn [39…Nxe4??] after which Najdorf grabbed – a whole piece.
Even the conservative Paul Keres, who watched the whole scenario, couldn’t stop himself from laughing. And perhaps I would have seen the funny side, too – since the bubby Najdorf’s childish pranks were in a way cute – if it hadn’t been me who was the victim!”

So, dear readers, believe it or not, acting plays also a role in the game of chess.

In these uncertain times of COVID-19 pandemic, chess fans can not enjoy games over the board. But our virtual club organizes online tournaments and matches.
Some team matches are scheduled for next days and a new tournament will start on Nov, 21st. Register now and join them. Limited slots!!
Check regularly the website World Health Organization for updates about COVID-19. Stay safe!

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