Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

Sammy Reshevsky was a child prodigy at chess who toured Europe then America as a young boy giving simultaneous displays to amazed audiences.  “How could this little boy dressed in a sailor suit be so good at chess?”  He won the USA Championship no less than seven times and, according to Kasparov was perhaps the strongest player in the world from 1946-1956 although he never got to play a match for the World Championship.

Today’s puzzle is from the Candidates Tournament at Zurich in 1953, one of the strongest tournaments ever, where Reshevsky is battling to finish ahead of the Russians.  His crucial game is against Geller, where Reshevsky as White has reached the diagrammed position below two pawns ahead.   Surely this is a win?

He has just played his rook to f5 attacking Black’s last pawn.   Black can defend the pawn with either 1…Ra5 or 1…Kg4, but can he save the game?   That is your puzzle for today.   How can Black draw?

[fen caption=”Black to Play”]8/8/5R2/5p1k/5P1P/r5P1/5K2/8 b KQkq – 0 1[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

I get my chess fix each day by trying to solve Leonard Barden’s daily chess puzzle in the Evening Standard on-line newspaper.  I think Barden holds the record for the longest continuous chess column and has been setting puzzles for well over 50 years.   His puzzles, usually taken from grandmaster play, are quite difficult and if you solve them then you can start the day in a positive frame of mind.

I was slightly annoyed when I failed to solve puzzle 9416 (14/6/2011) as, like many good chess players, I have a questioning mind and I like to win!  The puzzle was from a game by Vera Menchik, the strongest female player in the world in the 1930s and early 1940s.  In the diagram below Menchik played 1.Rd8? and lost to 1…Qe5+ 2.Kf3 Qf4+ 4.Ke2 Qf2+ 5.Kd1 e2+ etc.  Barden’s solution was that she should have played 1.Re8! winning as Qe5+ is stopped and next move White queens with check.  Not content with my failure to solve the problem I decided to question this claim and look for other resources that Black may have.  Today’s puzzle is was my search successful?   Can Black win or draw after 1.Re8!

[fen caption=”Black to Play after White plays 1.Re8″]2R5/2P5/8/B6p/2k4P/p2np1K1/6P1/q7 w KQkq – 0 1[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

I don’t read many books these days, it’s more fun playing on my iPad, but I happened to notice some new books in the chess shop the other day and ended up buying one.   My choice was “My Great Predecessors Vol 2” by Kasparov.

The book was very cheap (thanks to the Australian $) and Kasparov has actually written a set of 5 volumes about the world chess champions from Steinitz to himself.  They are absorbing reading and give you an insight into chess at the very top by perhaps the greatest chess player ever.

There is a reason why the players in Kasparov’s books are a lot better than you or I and one of those reasons is “imagination”.  They find moves or ideas that would never occur to the normal player.  Take today’s puzzle for example.

The game is Spassky v Korchnoi 1955 and Korchnoi is clearly on the ropes.   He has no threats and White is about to get another queen.  Perhaps he should resign?   Instead, Korchnoi comes up with a brilliant idea which may win/save the game.   Your first puzzle is to find the move that Korchnoi played.   Your second puzzle is to find Spassky’s reply and then tell me the result of the game.   If it’s all too hard for you maybe you need to imagine yourself buying one of Kasparov’s books!

[fen caption=”Black to Play”]8/4P1k1/6P1/1p6/pB1P1b1q/P6P/5rP1/4R1QK b KQkq – 0 1[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

I was talking the other day to my tennis coach about a promising junior tennis player who apparently had really pushy parents (the “ugly parent syndrome” which affects quite a few sports).   It brought to mind the movie “Searching for Bobby Fischer” where in one scene you see the arbiter giving a talk before the tournament about how to behave properly.  The picture then pans to the audience that he is addressing and it’s not the players!   It’s the parents all locked out of the tournament!

Perhaps it’s best to let the children decide what they are interested in.  This is what Cecil Purdy did with his son John.  Cecil was Australian Chess Champion and John’s grandfather had also been Australian Champion so the pressure was on, but Cecil waited until John asked his dad to teach him chess, then there was no holding him back!   John Purdy won the Australian Junior title then the Australian Senior title and even travelled all the way to Holland to play in the 1955 World Junior Chess Championships.

In today’s puzzle John Purdy is playing White against a Russian junior named Boris Spassky in the World Junior.   Spassky has just played 9…Nd5 threatening to win the e3 pawn.  Purdy must choose between 10.exd or 10.Bc4 or 10.Rd1 (indirectly defending the pawn).  Unfortunately the move he chose turned out to be a big blunder.   What was the move and Spassky’s reply?

[fen caption=”White to Play”]r1bq1rk1/pp2ppbp/2n3p1/2pn4/3p1P2/NP2PN2/PBPPB1PP/R3QRK1 w KQkq – 0 1[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

It’s not often that a chess player wins a “beauty prize”, particularly one as ugly as me.  But, back in 1977, at a chess tournament in Holland, this is exactly what happened!   Actually, I shared the “beauty prize” with my opponent IM Juan Bellon from Spain as we had, so the judges claimed, played the “most beautiful” game in the tournament.  The game was drawn so we shared the prize.

Senor Bellon was a colourful player, famous for his innovative attacks as well as his flouro coloured scoresheets which he coloured in with texta pens before each game.   He stars in today’s puzzle from his game against GM Garcia in 1976.  Bellon, playing Black has R+N+P for a queen so material is even but both sides seem to be attacking.  Can you help the Spanish IM finish off his opponent in a colourful fashion?

[fen caption=”Black to Play”]6k1/7p/4p3/1p1n1Pp1/8/7K/Pr5P/3Q4 b KQkq – 0 1[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

One of the schools where I coach has their big Interschool Competition coming up next week so I’m pondering what advice I can give the team that will help them achieve the best result in the competition.   I think probably the best advice I can give is that if you can avoid blundering you will probably win.

You avoid blunders by not rushing moves, even obvious ones, and when you have decided on your move you ask yourself “what will my opponent reply” and then do a quick check for surprise replies.  As part of this process you would probably have a quick look at all checks and captures (good advice from Cecil Purdy).

Let me show you how this should work.   In today’s puzzle super Grandmaster  Alexander Beliavsky is trying to win as White against a lesser opponent.   Indeed he is a bit better as Black has a weak pawn on c6 and White’s King is closer to the action than Black’s.   Now Beliavsky should start off by determining his candidate moves.   He has three to look at.  1.f6 to lock the Black King in, 1.fxg6+ to open up the Black King to future checks or 1.Kf4 to get White’s King into the action.   Which move would you choose?

[fen caption=”What move should White play?”]8/5p1k/2p3p1/3p1PQp/3P3P/4PPK1/8/1q6 w KQkq – 0 1[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

I have a number of eBooks on my iPad but only one chess book “Chess History & Reminiscences” by H.E.Bird.

Henry Edward Bird had a impressive CV.  He played in the first International Chess Tournament (London 1851) as well as most of the other great tournaments of the 19th Century such as Vienna 1873, Hastings 1895 and London 1899.  He even play a short match against Paul Morphy (“The Pride & Sorrow of Chess”) plus games against World Champions Anderssen, Steinitz and Lasker.

In Bird’s time the aim was not so much to win your game but rather to create a brilliant sacrificial attack which would then bring credit on you and perhaps end up as a famous chess masterpiece.

In today’s puzzle Bird is playing White against the World Champion, Steinitz, in 1867 and he is well on the way to creating a famous chess game.  Steinitz has to choose between 17…Kf8 which allows mate in 1; 17…Re7 which allows mate in 1; 17…Be7 which allows a very pretty mate in 2 (as in the game) or 17…Qe7 which allows mate in 6.

Your puzzle today is to find the mate in 6 moves after 17…Qe7.

[fen caption=”After 17…Qe7 find mate in 6 moves”]1rbqk3/p1pp1rpQ/1p3P2/1Bb5/8/8/PPP3PP/nNB1R2K b – – 1 17[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

Being an older chap I find it hard to think of India as a great chess nation.  Back in my day they had only one International Master, Manuel Aaron, who was their leading player for many years, but in the last few weeks in Australia a player from India has just won the Sydney International Open in a very strong field containing grandmasters from around the world.

The best Indian player of all of course is Vishy Anand, the world champion.  Apparently he owes his success to solving chess puzzles as he stated “I started when I was six. My mother taught me how to play. In fact, my mother used to do a lot for my chess. We moved to the Philippines shortly afterward. I joined the club in India and we moved to the Philippines for a year. And there they had a TV program that was on in the afternoon, one to two or something like that, when I was in school. So she would write down all the games that they showed and the puzzles, and in the evening we solved them together.”

In today’s position Anand uses his puzzle solving skills to good effect to finish off the strong Russian GM Lev Polugaevsky (Monte Carlo 1993).   Can you find his winning line?

[fen caption=”Black to Play and Win”]8/1r3k2/6p1/p4bP1/8/B7/P2qp3/K1R3Q1 b KQ – 0 1[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

One reader has commented on puzzle #77 “I think this puzzle is really interesting. Can you put more puzzles by Bobby Fischer?”  I’d love to publish more Fischer puzzles but the trouble with very good players is that their games are widely known and they don’t often make unusual mistakes which could be the subject of a “puzzle.”

Not so lesser players!   Take the recent Doeberl Cup in Canberra for example.   I was following the games in the Premier Division live on the internet (it was very strong with 6 grandmasters playing) but they also showed the top game from the Major and Minor Divisions as well.  I was watching the game between Badar Zoud 1591 and Peter Grinyer 1489 (top board in the Minor) but it was boring as White was just romping it in with an extra exchange and a pawn and with his Q + R both attacking.   I was just about to move on to the next game when White made a move and Black’s reply caused me to burst out laughing!    Black had swindled a draw from a totally lost position.

Let’s assume that White was choosing between 1.e5, 1.g3 and 1.Rc8.  Which one of these was the huge blunder that allowed Black to draw and what was Black’s reply?

[fen caption=”White to Play and blunder!”]4R3/5p1k/5qp1/3Q3p/P2pPb2/7P/1P3PP1/6K1 w KQkq – 0 1[/fen]