The American grandmaster William Lombardy died last week (4 December 1937–13 October 2017). He was an amazing talent in his youth, winning the Junior World Championship of 1957 with a 100 per cent score. During the early 1960s Lombardy had the potential to rival the American genius Bobby Fischer, but he decided instead to abandon chess and become a Catholic priest, though he also later renounced that vocation. As a chess-playing man of the cloth, Lombardy was the strongest since the Revd John Owen in the 19th century, who was a regular opponent of Paul Morphy.
Having abandoned his religious calling, Lombardy returned to chess but never quite recaptured the promising sparkle of his youth. This week’s game demonstrates that he nevertheless remained a formidable competitor against high-class opposition.
Lombardy-Polugaevsky: Reykjavik 1978; English Opening
1 c4 Nf6 2 Nc3 e6 3 Nf3 Bb4 4 Qc2 c5 5 a3 Ba5 6 g3 Nc6 7 Bg2 0-0 Polugayevsky had previous experience with this variation namely in the game Polugayevsky-Korchnoi, Sochi 1966, where Korchnoi played 7 ... d5 and went on to lose. Polugayevsky must have been impressed with the concept and seeks to improve on Korchnoi’s continuation. 8 0-0 Qe7 9 d3 h6 10 e3 d6 11 b3 Bd7 12 Bb2 Rab8 13 d4 Establishing a space advantage in the centre. 13 ... cxd4 14 exd4 Rfc8 15 b4 By trading pawns on move 13 the Soviet World Championship candidate allows his dark-squared bishop to be driven into a passive situation. 15 ... Bd8 16 Rfe1 Qf8 17 Qd3 Ne7 18 Nd2 b6 19 Nb3 a5 20 d5 (see diagram 1) A further attempt to squeeze the life out of Black. 20 ... e5 21 Nb5 Ne8 22 Rac1 axb4 23 axb4 Rb7 24 Nd2 Ng6 25 h4 White attacks on the wrong side of the board. He should seize immediate control of the open a-file with 25 Ra1. That precaution would then permit White to relocate his king’s rook on c1. In that case if Black were ever to play ... Bxb5, then cxb5 would create an automatic and powerful outpost for a white rook coming to c6. 25 ... f5 26 Ra1 e4 27 Qb3 Worth consideration is the piece sacrifice 27 Nxe4 fxe4 28 Bxe4 27 ... Bf6 Black should prefer 27 ... Bxb5 28 cxb5 Bf6 29 Rac1 Rxc1 30 Rxc1 Bxb2 31 Qxb2 Ne5 preparing to invade the white camp via d3 when Black would stand better. 28 Na7 This knight manoeuvre disrupts Black’s camp. 28 ... Bxb2 29 Qxb2 Rcc7 30 Nc6 Bxc6 31 dxc6 Rxc6 32 Nxe4 (see diagram 2) Now the capture on e4 is not even a sacrifice since many of Black’s pieces are spectacularly lined up within the radius of White’s remaining bishop. 32 ... fxe4 33 Bxe4 Ne7 34 Ra8 Rcc7 35 Bg6 Black resigns 35 ... Nxg6 36 Rexe8 wins.