Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

Last week’s puzzle created quite a bit of interest with Chess Kids coach Tim Broome finding a mate in 6, only to be trumped by someone else have found a very beautiful mate in 5.   Have a look in the comments to Puzzle #48 if you missed it.

This week’s puzzle is from Magnus Carlsen, the world’s highest rated player, who finds a nice tactic in a Rook and Knight endgame.   See how quickly you can spot it.

[fen caption="White to play and win"]8/5npk/pp6/3N1P2/P5R1/6K1/1nr5/5R2 w – - 0 1[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

Each week I go to great lengths to try to find you a new position, hopefully something a little bit different, so I hope that you haven’t seen this position before. (See Diagram).   It looks vaguely familiar to me.

I used this position in one of my classes today.   The students’ task was to find a way for Black to mate in 6 moves by promoting a pawn to a R.   One rotter managed to do it in 5 moves so I had to come up with something a little harder.   I went back to an old 19th century game where White had lost in 7 moves with the checkmating move being a pawn promoting to a N.  Could they replicate this mate?  Fortunately this one was too hard for them, but, perhaps dear reader, not for you?   Have a go and see.

[fen caption="White to play and help Black mate on move 7 by promoting a pawn to a N."]rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq – 0 1[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

Everyone makes mistakes.  I remember back in 1974 when I was the newly crown Australian Chess Champion and was about to play in the first round of the A Grade Interclub competition.  Eddy Malitis stood up and made a short speech congratulating me on my win; everyone clapped; then we sat down to play our games.  I was paired against John Hanks and I had decided to try an new opening with 1…b6.   Five minutes and 12 moves later I had blundered and resigned the game.  Such is life.  It even happens to World Champions!

Take a quick 5 second look at the position below.   What would you play as White?

This position is from the game between Larry Christiansen, the USA Grandmaster, and Anatoli Karpov, the former World Chess Champion and one of the most solid players of all time.   A win against Karpov was something rare and to be treasured.   Karpov has just played 11…Bd6 so as to be able to answer 12.Be2 with 12…Nf4.   Christiansen did not play 12.Be2.   Can you spot the move he played which resulted in Karpov’s immediate resignation?

[fen caption="White to play]r2qk2r/p2p1ppp/1pbbp3/7n/2P1P3/P1N1B3/1PQ2PPP/R3KB1R w KQkq – 4 12[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

I was talking to my friend Sam the other day.  He’s trying to make a come-back to chess after a 10 year break.   He’d just blundered horribly against Rujevic and was bemoaning his new-found tactical ineptitude.   “I just make so many mistakes” he complained.   I know the feeling.   As you get older your brain does not want to analyse variations and tends to lack its former decisiveness.

The worst type of positions we oldies could get is a Q+P v Q endgame.  There are just so many checks to look at and the game drags on for ages.  I remember Botvinnik once winning with Q + knight pawn v Q after about 90 moves going around in circles.

Take the following position I was looking at the other day.  I’m Black and I’ve nearly got my pawn through to queening but how do I avoid those nasty checks?   What I need is someone like you with a young brain who can work it all out for me quickly.   So off you go.  What should I play?

[fen caption="Black to play]8/8/2Q5/7q/8/4K3/6p1/7k b – - 0 1[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

Chess, like life, is all about decision making.   We have a number of options, but which do we choose?  How do we decide how we make decision – what are the criteria?   What if we make a mistake?

It’s all pretty difficult, so today I thought you might like a chance to fine tune your decision making skills.

Have a look at the position below.  White has just played 1.e6+ and now Black must decided between 1…Nxe6 to get his pawn back; 1…Kc8 to hide his King away in the corner or 1…Kc6 to keep his a8 rook in the game.  (I’ll ignore 1…Kc7 as even I can see 2.Bxd8+ is no good for Black).  One move is OK, one is pretty bad and one is a shocker!   Which would you choose?

[fen caption="Black to play]r2q1bnr/pp1k1Bpp/3pP3/2p3B1/3nP3/3P1b2/PPP3PP/RN1Q1RK1 b KQkq – 0 1[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

Playing a top player is always a thrill and gives you a chance for a moment of fame should you pull off an upset.

10 year-pld Karl Zelesco had his moment of fame in round one of the Lidums Checkmate Open in Adelaide last week when he was paired with IM James Morris in the first round.  James was the exchange ahead in winning comfortably even though his rook was not yet in play.   Karl was desperately trying to find some threats when suddenly James blundered!    In the diagrammed position James was tossing up between 30.a4, 30.Qh5 and 30.Qd1.

Today’s puzzle is which move did he choose and why was it a blunder?

[fen caption="White to play and not blunder!]7k/1pq3b1/7p/p7/4p1Q1/1B1bP3/PP4PP/K6R w KQkq – 0 1[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

If you are no good at tactics you are no good at chess.  I’ve just come back from a private chess lesson where my student showed me some of her games and several times she had chances for an immediate win but she missed the tactic.  I suggested that she should play some lightning (5 minute) chess to help develop her ability to spot those tricky combinations.

Chess Kids now has it’s own on-line chess games site where you can play lightning (or longer) chess games at any time against other chess kids.   Our beloved leader, the “Chess Guru” was playing on www.play.chesskids.com.au last evening and he demonstrated that his tactics were finely tuned in a nice attacking game against the best junior in Tasmania.

In the following position the Guru (playing White) is a piece down but he is about to get back the exchange.  Can he find a way to exploit Black’s exposed King before the two black Bishops can make their presence felt?   What would you play as White?

[fen caption="White to play and win"]r1b4r/1qN1kppp/p3p3/4b3/2R5/3Q4/PP3PPP/3R2K1 w – - 5 20[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

I was spectating at the Vic. Open the other day and watched two young boys reach the following position.   Have a look at the diagram and Black’s N in particular.   What a shocking piece!   It has nowhere to go other than aimlessly between b7 and d8.   I keep telling my students to place their pieces on good squares but the message doesn’t always get through.  Worse than that both players seemed to think that you have to always be doing “something” and the game continued.

1…Nd8 2.g5? (1.Be4!) fxg5 3.Rxf8+ Rxf8 4.Rxf8+ Kxf8 5.Kg2 Ke7 6.Kg3 Kf6 7.Kg4 e4?? (Just sit tight and White can’t make progress)  8.Bxe4 Ke5 9.Bb1 Kd4 10.Kxg5 Kc3 11.h4 Kxb3 12.h5 Kb2 13.h6 gxh6+ 14.Kxh6 Ka3 15.g7 Nf7+ 16.Kh5 Kxa4 17.g8=Q and White won.

It would have saved us all a lot of time if (in the diagrammed position) Black had simply decided to bring about a help-mate.  Can you help him mate himself in the shortest possible time?

[fen caption="Black to play and self-mate"]4rrk1/1n4p1/3p1pP1/p1pPp3/PpP3P1/1P5P/2B2R2/5RK1 w kq – 0 1[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

In the 1960′s the Melbourne Chess Club occupied a small premises in Finders Lane in the city.   It was very much an old-world gentleman’s club with old books, leather armchairs, crusty old men and lots of smoke!    In 1965 my school chess team played one of our Interschool matches in the MCC as it was a “central venue” and we were playing a team from the other side of town.

I have only dim recollections of that day.  I can remember Kon Raipalis being there (he virtually lived at the chess club) and someone came up to me and said, “you see that guy with a beard in the corner, that’s the Australian Champion, Doug Hamilton!”

Last week-end, some 45 years later, I popped in to have a look at the Vic. Open Chess Championship being played at the Box Hill Chess Club in Canterbury and was warmly greeted by club stalwarts Gerrit Hartland and Trevor Stanning. There, still sitting in the corner, was Doug Hamilton happily taking on players one fifth his age and doing quite well.

Doug has always been a good tactician and in the following position from his game against Dragicevic he has just played 1.Nf3 attacking the “e” pawn.   Now Black could player either 1…Nd7 or 1…Bd6 to protect the pawn but instead he sets a trap for his opponent with 1…Nf4.   Todays puzzle is what was the trap and how did Doug refute it?

[fen caption="What should White play after 1...Nf4?"]r4r1k/1bq1bp1p/ppp1nnp1/4p3/P3P3/2N2NQP/BPP2PP1/2BRR1K1 w q – 0 1[/fen]