Friday, September 19, 2008

Eight Pieces on a File: A Response

Recently, esteemed United States Chess League commissioner Greg Shahade posted several videos summarizing the week's action at

In one of these videos, he showed the RCostigan-SShankland game from the Philadelphia-San Francisco match. In the position after Black's 30th move, there are eight pieces (no kings, no pawns) all on the g-file. Greg claimed that he had never seen anything like that before in a chess game, and challenged viewers to prove him wrong.

Check and mate, Mr. Commissioner.

I found 24 games that had such a set up on the c-file or f-file. In my video response, also posted on, I show how I used the position search dialog box to find these games, and show two of the positions (one from Linares 1991, and the other from a famous USCL player!).

Unfortunately, there's an annoying low hum from the microphone, which you'll have to endure. It was my fourth take doing the video (the first time I messed up the search, the second time the audio didn't record, the third time I had to give first aid to a banged up kid), and I didn't want to do it again!

So, without further ado, here's my response. I hope you enjoy it!

UPDATE: The video got munched in the upload. I'll try and re-upload it tomorrow. Until then, here are the positions.

(above) Ehlvest-Barus (Japfa op Bali 2000) after 12.Qc2

(above) Gelfand-Jussupow (Linares 2001) after 15...Qc7

UPDATE TWO: One more, in response to Shankland's comments, that occurred
on a "random" file, after move 30 -- past all the opening theory.

(above) Praszak-Hausner (Prague, 1990) after the 31st move.


Greg Shahade said...

Hmm I feel like it looked a lot stranger in the Costigan-Shankland game?

Sam Shankland said...

sure they might be there in other games (queen pawn games, where stuff like nc3 and qc2 is perfectly normal)
but this one was 30 moves in, on a completely random file, almost completely symmetric, and not based on opening theory at all (how often do you see bg5 and bg6 in a french?) so yeah mine is the best!! (thanks Richard, you of course get half the credit and glory)

Sam Shankland said...

Ok, touche. The only case I can make for myself now is that in this position white is just getting served, while mine was somewhat more interesting, but clearly the bionic lime rose to the challenge very nicely.