The Chess Variant Pages

Makruk match 2: Gralla - Mendel

During a training tournament at the new informal group of Makruk enthusiasts who are gathering from time to time at the Luk Tung Thai Imbiss, Hamburg/Germany, there has been a winning match as follows.

White: Dr. René Gralla, Hamburg/Germany

Black: Torsten Mendel, Hamburg/Germany

Training tournament on June 29th, 2003, at Hamburg/Germany

This match is demonstrating an interesting difference between Western Chess and Thai Chess. In Western Chess it is nearly impossible that a doubled Pawn will have a kind of dynamic power - on the contrary, that constellation can be a decisive weakness, during the final phase of a match especially. In Makruk - which is, as a result of the somewhat restricted dynamic capabilities of its armies, a kind of extended end-game, in comparison with Western Chess - a doubled Pawn can exert great influence. As this match is demonstrating quite strikingly: the creation of the doubled Pawn at move no. 26 is the decisive maneuver of White to penetrate the position of Black.

The Amazing Powers of a Doubled Pawn
- English Opening - Thai style -
 1)   c 3 - c 4      c 6 - c 5
 2) N b 1 - c 3    N b 8 - c 6
 
One could call this the English Opening - Thai style.
 3) B c 1 - c 2    N g 8 - e 7
 
During the match Rumluek Theerapong vs. Surasak Chuachavalit, having been played at the Thai Games / Sports Festival Bangkok, March 2003, Black has continued: 3. ... f 6 - f 5 . The game has developed as follows: 4. N g 1 - e 2 e 6 - e 5 5. R a 1 - b 1 B f 8 - f 7 6. b 3 - b 4 . Black resigned after move no. 92 by White.
 4) N g 1 - e 2      d 6 - d 5
 5)   d 3 - d 4      d 5 x c 4
 6)   b 3 x c 4    B f 8 - f 7 
 7) R a 1 - b 1    B c 8 - c 7
 8) B f 1 - f 2      f 6 - f 5
 9) R h 1 - g 1    B f 7 - f 6
10)   g 3 - g 4      e 6 - e 5 ?! 
11)   d 4 - d 5 !? N c 6 - a 5 !
 
The black Knight is zeroing in on the weak white Pawn c 4.
12) B c 2 - d 3    R a 8 - b 8
13) N e 2 - g 3    B c 7 - d 6 ?
 
Black is missing his big chance: In order to blockade the white Pawn d 5, Black should have let gallop his horse via c 8 to the ideal position on d 6. From there - a maneuver that is typical in Western Chess as well - the cavalry unit would menace the hapless white Pawn c 4.
14)   g 4 x f 5     g 6 x f 5
15) N g 3 - h 5     ...
 
A bizarre coincidence: Both parties - Black as well as White - are trying to start an attack at the outer periphery. That strategy would be quite dubious in Western Chess, but it can work out in Makruk.
15)  ...           K e 8 - f 7
16) K d 1 - c 2    R h 8 - g 8
17) R g 1 x g 8    N e 7 x g 8
18) Q e 1 - d 2    Q d 8 - c 7
19) B f 2 - g 3    N g 8 - e 7
20)   e 3 - e 4 ?!?!    ...
 
White has a strange plan to break through - by risking, on the other hand, an interdiction of the center. Whether that concept will work out, remains to be seen ...
20)  ...             f 5 - f 4
 
The fixation of the central Pawns - but on the other hand, there is now opening up an in-road via g 4 for the white Bishop g 3.
21) B g 3 - g 4     ...
 
That has been the idea of 20. e 3 - e 4 ?!?!.
21)  ...           R b 8 - g 8
22) N c 3 - e 2    N e 7 - g 6
23) Q d 2 - c 3     ...
 
White is flirting with the idea of the sacrifice 24. Q c 3 - b 4 !?. But the only chance that this Harakiri-move could work out would be the acceptance of the offer by Black: 24. ... c 5 x b 4 ?!? 25. a 3 x b 4. And now the bayonet-assault could start.
23)  ...           N a 5 - b 7 (!)
 
Now even the chance - of the bluff 24. Q c 3 - b 4 !? - is gone.
24) R b 1 - g 1    N b 7 - d 8
 
The result of the fact that White has a slight spatial edge in the central region: Black has difficulties to mobilize the cavalry.
25) B g 4 - f 5 !     ...
 
The breakthrough - Black is getting strangled now.
25)  ...             B f 6 x f 5
26)  e 4 x f 5       ...
 
A big difference to Western Chess: this doubled Pawn is not weak, but very strong - the formation is pressing Black dramatically.
26)  ...              N g 6 - e 7
 
The raid 26. ... N g 6 - h 4 would lead to nowhere-land. 27. R g 1 x g 8 K f 7 x g 8 28. B d 3 - e 4.
27) R g 1 x g 8       K f 7 x g 8 ?
 
A severe blunder: Black should have tried 27. ... N e 7 x g 8.
28) B d 3 - e 4       K g 8 - f 7
29)   f 5 - f 6 = Q   N e 7 - g 6
30)  N e 2 - c 1     ...
 
White is planning 31. N c 1 - d 3.
30) ...             N g 6 - h 4 ?!?
 
A kind of giving himself up: After 31. N c 1 - d 3, the black Pawn e 5 would have got lost anyway, in the end.
31) Q f 6 x e 5      B d 6 - e 7
 
The black position is crumbling now.
32) N h 5 x f 4      Q c 7 - d 6
33) N c 1 - d 3      N h 4 - g 6
34) N f 4 x g 6      K f 7 x g 6
35) N d 3 - f 4 +    K g 6 - g 5
36) N f 4 - g 2 (!)    ...
 
White has read the teachings of the classic strategic thinkers from China: "We retreat - to advance". White is preventing any attempt of the black King to sneak in via the left black flank; simultaneously White is preparing the advance of the infantry on the right flank of White.
36) ...             N d 8 - f 7
37) f 3 - f 4 +     K g 5 - g 6
38) K c 2 - d 3       a 6 - a 5
 
Black has a big problem: his hands having been forced - without having any meaningful moves anymore.
39) K d 3 - e 3          h 6 - h 5
40)   f 4 - f 5 +      K g 6 - g 7
41)   f 5 - f 6 =Q +   B e 7 x f 6
42) Q e 5 x f 6 +      K g 7 x f 6
43)   h 3 - h 4        N f 7 - e 5
44) B e 4 x e 5 +      Q d 6 x e 5
45) K e 3 - e 4
 
A match of Western Chess would have been lost for Black right now.
45)   ...                a 5 - a 4
 
The hands of Black - having been forced still.
46) N g 2 - e 3      Q e 5 - d 6
47) N e 3 - f 5      Q d 6 - e 5
48)   d 5 - d 6 = Q  Q e 5 - d 4
49) Q c 3 x d 4        c 5 x d 4
50) N f 5 x d 4      K f 6 - f 7
 
Now the big problem for White: how to win a game - that seems to have been won already?!
51) K e 4 - f 5    K f 7 - e 8
 
Due to a special rule during this training tournament, the rest of the match has been played by blitz-chess speed.
52) Q d 6 - c 7    K e 8 - d 7
53) Q c 7 x b 6    K d 7 - d 6
54) N d 4 - e 6    K d 6 - c 6
55) c 4 - c 5      K c 6 - b 5
56) K f 5 - e 5    K b 5 - c 4
57) Q b 6 - a 5    K c 4 - b 3
58) Q a 5 - b 4    K b 3 - c 4
59)   c 5 - c 6 = Q    ...
 
White has won the match by check.mating Black. The match was going on by blitz-chess speed - so the recordings of the next moves have got lost. But the final position - before the last five moves of White to check-mate Black - could have been reconstructed.

White:
King g3; Queen e2, f3; Knight c4

Black:
King h1

Now White is check-mating Black in five moves: For students of Makruk the final moves are quite instructive.
1) N c 4 - d 2     K h 1 - g 1
2) N d 2 - e 4     K g 1 - h 1
3) N e 4 - f 2 +   K h 1 - g 1
4) N f 2 - h 3 +   K g 1 - h 1
5) Q f 3 - g 2 mate.  1 : 0
 

Written by René Gralla.
Webpage created: August 7, 2003.