Long Legged Knight!

Your request for stories about chess reminded me of an incident that I witnessed over 20 years ago. It was a big open in Los Angeles, California. I and four or five friends attended this tournament. We had to car-pool up there on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

I had finished my game early and was wandering around the tournament hall. One of the other players that I travelled with, Mike Carlson, came up to me and said that his opponent had cheated, but he didn't know how or what to do about it. I asked him for more details and was shown the following position from his game:

What's really remarkable about this position is that it's drawn! The black king is trapped in front of his own pawn, which has reached the 7th rank. The white king is in check, but can safely move to c2.  The only piece that black can move is the knight. Now, the knight must change coloured squares on each move, moving from a light square to a dark square.

White can do the same, move his king between c1 and c2, changing coloured squares with each move. Black cannot force white off of these two squares no matter how many moves are made. Mike told me that he had reached this position about 30 moves earlier and that after several moves is became obvious that nothing could be done to avoid the draw. However, the opponent wouldn't take a draw, but decided to go on a tour of the whole chessboard with his knight.

About 20 moves later the knight came back over to the area of the kings, and lo! The knight was attacking the c2 Square when it was white's move and his king was on c1!

White would be forced to yield and let the black king out of the corner. This was when Mike approached me. His opponent, meanwhile, was very excited, exchanging back slaps with his buddies and making references to Ruben Fine's book on chess endings, as if studying this book had allowed him to win this game.

At this point I took over the board next to the actual game (this game was long finished), set up the pieces and proceeded to play through the game. Soon enough I reached the position. Mike had faithfully recorded all of his moves. Now I continue with the game and I'm watching this knight move all over the board. It moves from b4 to d3 to f4 to h5 to g7 to e6 to c5 to b8 to..., b8!! It moved from c5 to b8! That's quite a stretch for a knight. From b8 it continued to move around the board finally coming back to the area of interest. The guy had INTENTIONALLY tried to hide this illegal move in among about 20 other moves, hoping that it wouldn't be spotted!

What a cheater! I pointed out to him that his move Nc5-b8 was illegal and the game would have to revert to that position and continued from there. He immediately said, "I accept the draw", and was on his way. Mike was pleased with the result and we all learned a lesson, don't get sloppy, even when you don't have to do anything but shuffle your king around.

I hope you like this story, I was there and that's exactly the way it happened.  

David Zechiel