The Fabulous 00s: A Unique Lego/Pancake Pattern?

Unique, Maybe? Rare

Fresh from drawing an exciting game against FM Mehmed Pasalic in the North American FIDE Invitational (Chicago), I decided to unwind with some ICC blitz. And lo and behold a very bizarre tableau appeared on the chessboard. Here it is, an ICC blitz game played May 21th, 2008. It features a piece/pawn configuration that is certainly very rare in the history of tournament or blitz chess.  Let’s see it.

Norfin (1967) – Aries2 (2284) Game/5, 5/21/08. Sicilian Defense.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Bd3 Nc6 6. c3 d6 7. O-O Be7 8. Be3 O-O 9. Nd2 e5 10. Ne2 d5 11. f4? And here it is. Time for the diagram so we can gawk.

The Pancake Formation aka The Lego Tower

The rare pattern has, moving up one rank at a time from white’s 2nd to white’s fifth: 2 adjacent white knights, then 2 adjacent white bishops, then two adjacent white pawns, and topping it all off two adjacent black pawns. They are stacked like a precarious pancake stack. I suppose it also looks like a Lego stack. Sort of like visualizing living creatures in the clouds?

Of course, white’s 11th move is a horrible blunder . But it gave us this precious formation. The game rudely ended 11…Ng4! 12. Bf2 Nxf2 13. Kxf2 Bc5+ 14. Kg3 exf4+ 15. Nxf4 Qg5+ Ut-oh. 16. Kf3 Bg4 is a sick mate. And white resigned.


Readers, Help

Is there any ‘pattern match’ database/computer program search clever enough to find this pattern or something close to it in prior games? It is certainly rarer than the Pawn Diamond of the famous Wolff-Ginsburg encounter of 1983 or the Exploded Pawn Box in my epic 1985 battle with young Ilya Gurevich. In news of the weird, shortly after writing this, I achieved a Compacted Pawn Box vs. IM Emory Tate in the 11th North American FIDE invitational tournament, May 22, 2008.

I would also like help naming this bizarre piece and pawn stack.


Tags: , , , , , ,

3 Responses to “The Fabulous 00s: A Unique Lego/Pancake Pattern?”

  1. Anthony Boron Says:

    Chess Assistant 8.1 (and perhaps earlier) can do the search easily.
    I had never done before but vaguely remembered reading about it.
    So, it took about a minute to rip through over 2 million games and came up with 13 results. The only game with two names I recognized was Tolush – Parma, Polanica Zdroj 1964.
    Also Mokry-Movsesian Zlin 1995
    Switching colors, we get 3 more results including Hanssen-Tartakower Prague 1931 (with 3 pawns abreast on both the 4 and 5 rank), and Eriksson -Hector Skara 2002.
    I will nominate the bad pun, “The TartakTower formation”.

    MG Note 5/22/08: Bravo. I like categorizing chess games by their strange patterns. There’s an English chessclub website, Streatham and Brixton, that also has its historical pawn formation pattern fans.

  2. signalman Says:


    A bit late in reply, but I reached this page after following articles concerning the recent 4-pawn centre in Howell-Neilsen at the NH tournament.

    I also used Chess Assistant and the trivial search produced a remarkable 441 games from 4,2 million, and that is White only !

    There’s a Janowski -Albin, Budapest , 1896 and one from Wijk aan zee from 1985 with Friso Nijboer.

    The earliest was 1883 and the last April, 2010 (Huschenbeth – Olzewski ).

    150+ of them arose from the Pirc/Modern opening, and the English player Sarah Hegarty has the most with 3 !

    Doubtless there will be more if the search was for Black as well, and maybe in different positions.

    The CQL ( for White only ) is pretty simple…

    (position Nd2 Ne2 Bd3 Be3 Pe4 Pf4
    …but for non-CA users you’ll probably have to add some extra stuff to run over a PGN file. I’m not sure if Chessbase supports CQL.

    What happens when we run the query that specifies both white and black pieces that compose the Lego/Pancake pattern as described in the article?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: