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]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

What makes a good puzzle?   I think it is the element of surprise.   You study the position for ages but can’t find a winning move then you look up the solution and go “Wow!”   ‘Why didn’t I see that?”   That’s why I don’t like easy puzzles.  It’s no fun if you can find the solution quickly …. and you don’t learn anything.

Leonard Barden had a great puzzle the other day in the “Evening Standard Newspaper” where he asked the reader to find mate in 1 move.   Should be easy, but like most readers I couldn’t find it.   Then he said “set up the position on a chessboard” and the trick became apparent.   In fact there were 9 mates in one as Black had 9 pawns in the position and every time you took away an extra pawn there was a different mate.  A great trick!

I can’t match that, but the other day I was playing through a Fischer game on my iPad over lunch and I came across the “Wow” factor.   Fischer made a great move that stopped his opponent Pal Benko in his tracks.

For today’s puzzle, let’s say you are Benko and you are considering either 1…Qe5, 1…Qd6 or 1…Qc8.  One of these moves is a big blunder that allowed Fischer to unleash his combination.  Which move did Benko play and what was Fischer’s surprise reply?

[fen caption="Black to Play"]3r2k1/6Pn/p4pQ1/1pq2P2/2p1Bp1P/2P2P2/PP6/6RK b KQkq – 0 1[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

I’ve recently been reading a book “Endgame” by Frank Brady about “the Spectacular rise and fall of Bobby Fischer” which is a fascinating account of Fischer’s progression from chess prodigy and World Champion to paranoid recluse living in Iceland.  I thought it would be nice for today’s puzzle to have a Fischer combination but, whilst trolling the internet for a suitable puzzle, I stumbled across a fascinating Fischer story.

Apparently back in 2006 there was a chess match being televised  live in Iceland (which is a chess-mad country) and the players reached the following position.  In time trouble Black touched his King and started to play 1…Kg8 but then realised that 2.Qxg7 was mate so instead he played 1…Qd7.  Unfortunately for him the arbiter was watching and enforced the touch move rule so White played 2.Qxg7# and won the game.

At this point a viewer rang in to the TV station and suggested that Black had missed a spectacular win.  The viewer was chess recluse Bobby Fischer, probably the greatest player of all-time.  Today’s puzzle is can you spot the move that Bobby suggested (fairly easy) and after White’s best reply what is Black’s killer second move (quite hard)?

[fen caption="Black to Play"]8/2p3rk/2q1pQ1p/4pN2/3br3/7P/5PP1/5RK1 b – - 0 1[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

Chess, along with Maths and Music, is one of the few activities that produces prodigies.  The history of chess has a number of examples of diminutive children in short pants playing against experienced masters and winning, or even playing simuls against a number of adults at the same time to demonstrate their prowess.

Here in Australia we have been thrilled with the exploits of Bobby Cheng, who won the World 12U Championship in 2009 and is now often beating some of our leading adult players, but Bobby may now have a rival prodigy!   11 year-old Karl Zelesco, a small, pale little boy with piercing eyes who plays at the Box Hill Chess Club (and anywhere else he can) has been showing great promise and the other night actually defeated former Australian Champion, International Master Guy West, in the Melbourne Chess Club Championships.

Imagine that you a seated next to Karl in the big game.   You have a strong passed pawn in the position (see diagram) but can you find the win against your experienced opponent.  It’s your move.   Good luck!

[fen caption="White to Play"]3r1bk1/p2P3p/p1b1p1p1/2N2p2/8/1N6/PP4PP/3R3K w – - 2 30[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

One of the skills needed to be a good chess player is to understand your strengths and weaknesses as well as those of your opponent.  IM James Morris has just had a very successful tournament at Ballarat scoring 6.5/7, and he won the tournament by aiming for complicated positions where he could demonstrate his tactical flair whilst his opponents only became more confused.

I followed with interest his game as White against Lee Jones and when James’ 25th move (25.Ng7) came up on the screen I could only presume that it was a clerical error!   True, it was a blunder, but it resulted in a messy position that suited James and eventually the players arrived at the position in the diagram with Black to move.

[fen caption="Find the mistakes"]3kr3/pR6/3r4/7p/8/7P/P5P1/5R1K b – - 0 42[/fen]

Play continued 42…Ra6 43.Rff7 Rxa2.  In this sequence of moves White had missed a winning opportunity and Black had made a big blunder.   Today’s puzzle is what was Black’s blunder and what was the opportunity that White missed?

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

Some things it seem are better with age.  Red wine springs to mind.   And perhaps chess ratings!   I’ve just received an email suggesting that I look at the new (revised) Australian Chess Federation ratings which apparently list me as the highest rated Victorian.   Seeing that I haven’t played a rated tournament game in many years this is a great effort.   Who says the ACF Ratings Officer isn’t doing a great job!   (Answer: just about everyone!)

My mission these days is not to improve my own rating but to help others improve theirs.   Last night, for instance, I was giving an on-line lesson to a boy in Brisbane on the topic of tactics.   I had some really tough puzzles for him and he actually solved some of them, with just a couple of hints from me.   Today I’m off to a school in Brighton for their lunch-time chess lesson so I thought that I’d give them a tactical puzzle also.   See how you go with it.   The solution is quite pretty but you need a bit of imagination to find the winning move.

[fen caption="White to play and win"]rnbk1b1r/ppqpnQ1p/4p1p1/2p1N1B1/4N3/8/PPP2PPP/R3KB1R w KQ – 6 11[/fen]