Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

If you want to be the best at anything then chances are that you will have many rivals who would like to be the best also.   How do you get to the top ahead of them?   Perhaps you are smarter than them but usually the one who makes it is the one who puts in the most effort.   To be better than your rivals you do that bit extra that they aren’t doing.

I remember many years ago when I was coaching a squad of promising Victorian Juniors I ask them all how many chess books they had.  Most had 10 or 12 but a little kid named Ian Rogers had 100!   You guessed it.   He made it to “grandmaster” and most of the others did not.

I was reminded of this last Saturday when I popped in to have a look at Chess Kids Australian Junior Squad which has a training session each Saturday from 10.30 am.   I was early, it was only 10.00 am, but I found William Maligin there already sitting at a computer solving chess problems.   “Yes” said David Cordover, “William always gets here an hour early to solve some chess tactics problems (on a site called Chess Tempo)”.    William has also started playing in adult week-end tournaments even though he’s only 9 years of age.

Here is one problem from “Chess Tempo” that William struggled to solve.   Can you do better?

[fen caption=”White to Play”]4b2Q/1p1nkp1N/p2rp2p/5P2/Pq6/3r4/6PP/2R2RK1 w – – 0 1[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

Many years ago, when I was flying to Athens to play in the World Junior Chess Championships, guess which chess book I took to read on the plane.  I took “Rook Endings” by Smyslov and Levenfish, which was the most comprehensive book available on that subject.   Why Rook Endings?   Well rook endings are by far the most common form of endgame and if you could chose to be good at any part of chess, skill at rook endings would be the most useful to you.   Openings come and go, but rook endings will always be there!

Even endings with just R+P v R can be quite tricky.  We all know that if you are the side with just the R you must try to get your King in front of the pawn to stop it queening, but where do you put your rook?  There is a saying “rooks belong behind passed pawns” which is often the best spot, but sometimes you need to defend with your rook from the side or even from in front of the pawn.   If instead you go by the saying “rooks operate best from a distance” you can’t go too wrong.

What happens however if your King can’t get in front of the pawn?   Can you still draw?  Have a look at today’s puzzle and see how you go.  Can Black find a way to draw, even with his King cut-off, or will White still emerge victorious?

[fen caption=”White to Play”]3r4/8/8/8/k2P4/3K4/8/1R6 w – – 0 1[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

The Victorian Junior Chess Championships finished last week with IM James Morris dominating the U/18  section with 9/9 and Karl Zelesco doing like-wise in the U/12 with 7/7.   The time control was 75 minutes plus 30 seconds per move which is a fairly leisurely rate compared with the 15 minute games that most players play these days.  This should give players plenty of time to check their moves before they play them but, alas, many young players just rush their moves and suffer the consequences.

In today’s puzzle, Max Lee Chew is playing David Cannon in the U/18 section.   Max finished runner-up, a very good result, and in the position below he has already castled and has a lead in development.   However, it is Black to move.   Should he too rush to castle with 1…Bg7, or perhaps control a bit of the centre with 1…Nbd7 first, or just go for broke with 1…h5 and start an attack on White’s King.  The move chosen by Black turned out to be a blunder.  The puzzle is which move did he chose and why was it a blunder?

[fen caption=”Black to Play”]rn1qkb1r/pbp1pp1p/1p1p1np1/8/4P3/2N3P1/PPPPNPBP/R1BQ1RK1 b – – 0 1[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

There are many aspects to becoming a good chess player.  Rudolph Spielmann, a famous attacking player at the start of the 20th century, once bemoaned that he could see combinations just as well as the world champion (Alekhine), the only trouble was that he didn’t have Alekhine’s ability to achieve the positions where the combinations were possible.

Spielmann perhaps under-rated his ability in this area as today’s position demonstrates.  The position is from one of his simultaneous games in 1912.   Spielmann is a pawn down but his pieces are all attacking whereas his opponent’s pieces are not co-ordinated.   Were I White I would look at 1.Ra7 Qe7 2.Qxc6+ which leads to a R ending where White has a very active R and is probably winning.  Perhaps Spielmann can do better?   Can you?

[fen caption=”White to Play”]1rk4r/1p3pp1/1Qpp3p/R3pP2/2P1P2q/8/2P3PP/1R5K w – – 0 1[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

Akiba Rubinstein was a shy man (that’s why you can’t see his full pic above) who was possibly the best player in the world just before World War 1 the onset of which prevented him from playing a match for the World Championship against Lasker.   His win against Rotiewi in 1907 is acclaimed for containing the best combination of all time, but Rubinstein’s fame rested largely on his ability in the endgame.   He seemed to have a unique understanding of endgames, particularly rook endings, and would often convert even endings into victories for Rubinstein.

Irving Chernev said “Rubinstein’s games flow along so smoothly and easily, and are so pleasant to play over, that one is apt to forget that they also offer valuable instruction” so I thought that today we would see what we can learn from a Rubinstein ending.  Let’s see if you have the same “feel” for endings that Rubinstein had.

Rubinstein is Black in the following position and his opponent plays 1.Qxb7+.  Now you have to choose between 1…Kf8, 1…Kg8 or 1…Kh6.   Which would you choose and why?

[fen caption=”White plays 1.Qxb7+ what does Black reply?”]8/1p4kp/1p3pn1/3Q4/6P1/2P2N1q/PP2K3/8 w KQkq – 0 1[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

Have a quick look at the diagram below and think what move you would play for Black.

Decided?  I’ll bet most of you just thought “now what can I attack” and started analysing.  Kotov, in his book “Think Like a Grandmaster” says that we should first decide on our candidate moves (i.e. moves that are worthy of consideration) then analyse each in turn once, then make our final decision after checking it for unexpected replies.   So, with the benefit of this new advice, let’s go back and decide on our candidate moves.   You must pick 3 candidates.  Today’s puzzle is to find the 3 candidate moves that a grandmaster would look at and then choose the best one.  The grandmaster playing Black (in 1931) is future world champion Mikhail Botvinnik, so the chances are good that he came up with a three very good candidate moves and chose the best one.  Can you do as well?

A.Yurgis – M.Botvinnik 1931

[fen caption=”Black to Play”]6k1/p3b1pp/4p3/4Pp2/Pp1r1P1P/1P4P1/2p2R2/5RK1 b – – 0 1[/fen]

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]