Emory Tate’s Immortal Game

U.S. Masters

Oak Brook, Illinois

White Emory Tate

Black Leonid Yudasin

Result 1-0

1.e4 c5

2.Nf3 d6

3.d4 cxd4

4.Nxd4 Nf6

5.Nc3 a6

And we have Sicilian, Najdorf. Black’s last move prevents white from placing his knights or bishop on b5. Named after Miguel Najdorf, this opening has become one of the most widely studied in all of chess.


With 6. Bc4, Emory chooses the Fischer-Sozin Attack where which was a specialty of Bobby Fischer. Invented by Veniamin Sozin, this line was hardly worth mentioning until Bobby Fischer played it in several key victories.


Yudasin wisely plays e6 to remove the influence of white’s bishop from f7.


Fischer and Tate both preferred this precautionary retreat as the bishop will almost undoubtedly end up on b3 after black plays pawn to b5.


Historically, The second most popular move behind 7… b5. Black’s position remains flexible and the knight on d7 can now reposition to c5 to threaten the bishop on b3 and pawn on e4.


Here the queen is setting the stage for an pawn thrust to the center with pawn to f4 followed by e5


Black seems to be scoring well with this plan in the 21st century.


This chaotic attack had only been seen once in 1967 (Garcia-O’Kelley, Costa Del Sol) and once in 1968 (Messing- Minic, Belgrade) and white did not win either encounter.


Daaim Shabazz states: (page 126)

“Black must react quickly. It is interesting that usually one would counter a flank attack by a central thrust, but Yudasin tries a flank attack of his own.”

            9…e5 $6 10.Nf5 g6 11.Ne3

11.g5 12 Nfxe4 


11…Ncxe4 12.Nxe4 Nxe4 13.Qc4

9…h6 10.g5 hxg5 11.Bxg5 Be7 12.h4 Nfxe4 13.Nxe4 Bxg5 14.Nxg5 Qxg5 15.hxg5 Rxh1+ 16.Kd2 Rxa1 17.Nf5

is a line Emory calculated during the game.


Maintaining the initiative.



After staring at the position for over 30 minutes, Emory Tate dares his formidable opponent to take the bishop offering.


Yudasin decided against accepting the offering as capturing would have allowed Emory to enter the complexities he desired.

For example:

11…exd5 12.Nc6 Qb6 13.exd5+ Ne5

Here, Emory told me that he would have continued with:

14.f4 Bg4 15.Qe3 Nd3+ 16.cxd3 Qxe3+ 17.Bxe3 Nxd3+ 18.Kd2 Nxb2 19.Kc2 Nc4 20.Bd4

Where he felt the better player would win. and “I’ve always liked those odds.”

12.Bxb7 Nxb7

Emory enjoyed the fact that he compelled both of his opponent’s knights to retreat and felt like he was gaining the upper hand.


Another fork in the road for black and both paths offer Emory something he desired.


Capturing here as Yudasin does gives Emory a golden opportunity to be creative with a rook lift, a motif Emory loved to use with great effect. avoiding the capture with 13… b4 would have resulted in:

13…b4 14.Nd5

and then if:

14…exd5 15.Nc6 Qc7 16.exd5+ Ne5 17.f4

and certainly Tate is playing with initiative for the win.


And Tate was happy to have his rook enter the game.


Yudasin brings his knight back to c5 with a threat.


But of course Emory preferred the Rook on the much more open third rank anyways.


With every move, Yudasin is catching up on development.


Emory stated that he considered

16. Nd5 but wasn’t comfortable with:

16…. exd5 17.exd5+ Ne5 18.f4 Qb4+ 19.c3 Nd3+ 20.Kd2 Qb7 21.fxe5 Nxe5 22.Re1 Be7 23.Qe4

23.Kc2 O-O

as black would have better piece organization and king safety.



Daaim Shabazz states: (page 128)

“This move is twofold: It increases king safety and now makes the g-file available for a rook battering ram. According to ancient Chinese philosopher and military strategist Sun Tzu, ‘To surrounded enemy, you must leave a way of escape. Show him there is a road to safety, and so create in his mind that there is an alternative to death. Then strike.’ Tate gives a glimmer of hope, and Yudasin flees . . . to safety?”



It’s hard to imagine that playing pawn to b4 here is actually the beginning of an attack on black’s castled king. Attacks like these are literally out of this world which is why Emory’s friends sometimes joked and referred to Emory Tate as extraterrestrial or E.T.


Certainly not:

18…Qxb4 $2 19.Nc6 Qb7 20.Nxe7+



Emory was extremely proud of this positional sacrifice and enjoyed stumping classes of advanced young students on this move. I took notes during one of these occasions and what follows is Emory’s own analysis of moves suggested by students:


is worth investigation but after

19…Qxd4 20.Bb2 Bxg5 21.Rg1 Bf6 22.Nd1 Qb6

leaves black a pawn up.


was also suggested

19…Nxc3 20.Rxc3 Qb7 21.Nc6 Rfe8 22.Nxe7+ Rxe7

is ok but still not as good as the move from the game.

19.Nxa4 Qxd4 20.c3 Qa7

and white has created too many weaknesses without compensation.


is clearly a big mistake.

19…Nxc3 20.Rxc3 Qxd4


Emory smiled when 19Nd5 was suggested by a young master.

19…exd5 20.Nf5 Rfe8 21.Rxa4 Bf8 22.Be3 Qb7 23.Rfa1

but upon close inspection is not as good as 19. Nf5 as black’s king remains secure.


Certainly not:

19…Nxc3 20.Nxe7+ Kh8 21.Rxc3 Rfe8 22.Nc6 Rac8 23.Be3


A most powerful knight move exposes black’s weaknesses on both sides of the board.


Black must retreat.


Suddenly it becomes easy to see how all of white’s pieces can attack black’s king.



has been suggested.

22.Bxg5 Qxg5 23.Rg1 Qh4 24.f4 Rae8 25.Qg2 g6 26.Rh3

but is something Emory was more than ready for.


When there is blood in the water, Attack!


Leonid Yudasin falters under the pressure.


22…g6 23.fxg6 fxg6 24.Qg4

and Emory would have had to pause his attack to relocate the queen because Qh6 doesn’t work.

24.Qh6 Nab6


25.Nxb6 Qxb6 26.Qxd7 Bf8 27.Rf3 Re7 28.Qa4 Qb5 29.Qxb5 axb5 30.Rd3 Ra1 31.c3 Bg7 32.Rg1

Leaves white with winning prospects.


And now Yudasin must hang on for dear life.



Emory is assaulting his opponent’s castled king with surgical precision.


24…Bxf6 25.Nxf6+ gxf6 26.gxf6 Qxf6 27.Rg1+ Qg6 28.Bb2 Re1 29.Rxe1 Qxh5 30.Rxh5 Ng6 31.Ra1

25.fxg7 Kxg7

Far from satisfactory for black but so are the other options:

25…f5 26.gxf8=Q+

25…Bf6 26.gxf6 Nxf6 27.gxf8=Q+ Kxf8 28.Bh6+ Ke7 29.Bg5 Kd7 30.Qxf7+ Qe7 31.Qxf6 Qxf6 32.Bxf6

25…Nf6 26.gxf8=Q+ Kxf8 27.Qh6+ Kg8 28.gxf6 Bxf6 29.Rg1+ Bg5 30.Bxg5 Qd7 31.Bf6+ Qg4 32.Rxg4#

26.Bb2+ Kg8


Just a brutally perfect attacking technique on display.


28.gxf7+ Kh8


Emory’s only inaccuracy in this attack was missing a mate in 6:

29.Qg4 Ne6 30.Rg1 Ng5 31.Qxg5 Re5 32.Qh6 Rh5 33.Qg7+ Bxg7 34.Bxg7#

But even this slightly inaccurate play leaves Yudasin with no chance of recovering.


30.Rxe1 Bxb2

31.Re8 Nf6

32.Rxd8 Rxd8

33.Qh6 Ne4

34.Qh4 Nf6

35.Rg3 N8d7


And Yudasin is left with no way to stop the inevitable mate.


Published by chessmusings

Chris Torres is a nationally renowned scholastic chess coach working in the San Francisco Bay Area. His classes have attracted players of strengths ranging from rank beginners to world champions. A chess professional since 1998, Chris is widely recognized as one of the main driving forces behind the explosion in popularity and sudden rise in quality of scholastic chess in California. Chris Torres served as the President of the Torres Chess and Music Academy from 2005-2020 and currently is recognized as a correspondence chess master with the United States Chess Federation. Since 1998 Chris Torres has taught 6 individual national champions as well as led multiple school teams to win national championship titles. In addition, Chris Torres has directed and taught at 10 different schools which have been California State Champions at chess. In 2011 and 2012, several former and current students of Chris Torres have been selected to represent the United States at the World Youth Chess Championships. Mr. Torres’ hobbies include playing classical guitar and getting his students to appear on the national top 100 chess rating lists.

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