Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

Which part of the game do you think that the majority of players study the most?  Openings, Middle-Games or Endgames?   The answer is “Openings!”  There are far more books on chess openings than any other part of the game and I guess it’s nice to be able to memorise the latest opening theory.   When I was playing competitively I tried to concentrate on always playing the same opening variations (that I knew moderately well) so that I could focus on something much more important.   Endgames!

Yes folks, being good at Rook Endgames (for example) will get you far more points than being an openings expert who then gets outplayed for the rest of the game.

If you’d like to try your hand at a little endgame to see how your endgame skills hold up then have a look at the position below.   White is a Bishop for pawn ahead but Black has a dangerous passed pawn on b2.  Who will win?

[fen caption="White to Play - who will win?"]8/8/2k5/B7/8/r6p/1p5P/1R5K b KQkq – 0 1[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

This week I attended the Primary and Middle School State Finals of the Chess Kids Interschool Competition held at Monash University.   It was a great day with over 400 players competing and a very high standard of play.  I was supervising the top boards in Middle School Competition where Scotch, Brighton and Mazenod were battling hard for top spot.

The critical game saw Brighton’s top player Issac Ng paired against Scotch’s top player Nicholas Liu.  Issac got off to a great start and was a rook ahead but Nicholas won back a piece and then the exchange and a very even rook ending was reached.   Nicholas offered a draw, but with the title in the balance Issac bravely played on and they reached the following position where Issac (White) has just played d5 in response to Black’s f5.  Nicholas must now choose between 1…exd, 1..fxe or 1…Kf6 but surely the result must be a draw???   Nicholas played a line which gave one of the players a chance to make a blunder and sure enough he did!   But was it White or Black?  Can you spot the trap that he fell for.  The State title hinges on your decision!

[fen caption="Should Black play 1...exd, 1...fxe or 1...Kf6?"]3r4/5p1p/4p1k1/3P1p2/4P3/4K3/3R2PP/8 b KQkq – 0 1[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

When you get older you want an easy life and analysing chess variations isn’t much fun.  A nice simple position with a clear line of play that doesn’t require too much thinking would be ideal.  A messy position with lots of promising tactics – captures and checks everywhere sounds like hard work!   That’s why I need your help today.   Have a look at the position below.   I’m Black and my opponent has just played h3 attacking my B on g4 but I can move my N on f3 with discovered check and even double check.  Looks promising but there are just too many possibilities for my poor brain to cope with.  Worse still, a friend has just told me that he thinks that I have two ways to mate in three moves and has challenged me to find both!   Can you help me?

[fen caption="Black to Play and Mate in 3 moves (2 ways!)"]2kr1b1r/pp3ppp/2p5/2n5/P1N1p1b1/2N1PnPP/1P2KP2/R4B1R b KQkq – 0 1[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

Have you ever thought how we compare with chess players of past eras?  How would the current World Champion, Anand, have gone against players from the 19th century such as Morphy and Anderssen?  Surely today we are much better than our predecessors?  We can run faster, jump higher and we live longer.  We must be much smarter as we have invented computers an flown to the moon.

The other day I was reading the war diary of my great uncle who was killed in World War 1.   He was just an ordinary guy but I was surprised to find that he was clearly more literate than I and must have had a very good education.   Are we really better than those who have gone before us?

Let’s put it to the test.  I’d like to take you back to the year 1619 when the Italian chess player Gioachino Greco reached the following position as White.  He didn’t have a computer to help him but he wrapped up the game very nicely in three moves.  Can you do as well?

[fen caption="White to Play and Win"]r1b3nr/pppk2qp/1bnp4/4p1BQ/2BPP3/2P5/PP3PPP/RN3RK1 w KQkq – 0 1[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

I logged onto the Chess Kids Live Games site a few days ago.  It was early in the morning an there was only me and “Luigi 3.0″ rated 922 on-line so I invited him to have a quick game.

Luigi had White and went straight for the kill with 1.e4 c5 2.Bc4 Nc6 3.Qh5 threatening mate on f7.  (See diagram)  Fortunately I noticed the threat as I always follow my own coaching advice and ask “what is he threatening” as soon as my opponent has made his move.   I therefore played 3…e6 and was stunned when my opponent replied 4.Qxf7+.   Unfortunately for Luigi it wasn’t mate and my reply 4…Kxf7 left me with a won game.   After a few seconds of stunned silence Luigi texted me “Opps!  I meant to move backwards rather than forwards!”   “Alas”, I thought.  A mistake common to many juniors who try to attack when the position does not justify an attack.  Had Luigi retreated instead of attacking he may not have won the game, but at least he would have avoiding the embarrassment of me writing this article about him!

[fen caption="White to Play]r1bqkbnr/pp1p1ppp/2n1p3/2p4Q/2B1P3/8/PPPP1PPP/RNB1K1NR w KQkq – 0 4[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

Imagine this scene.   It’s the 2010 Chess Olympiad  at Khanty-Mansiysk (Siberia) and the last round is nearly finished.   Everyone is hanging around waiting for the prize-giving to start but one game is still going. Grandmaster Darryl Johansen 2420 (Australia) is trying to grind down Charles Campbell (unrated, Nigeria) to give his team a 4-0 clean sweep in the vital last round.

It has come down to a Knight ending with Darryl having an extra pawn but he has just sacrificed the pawn to achieve the following position with Black (Johansen) to play his 127th move.

Today’s puzzle his did Johansen win the game or did Campbell find a tricky way to draw?  How do you think play continued?

[fen caption="Black to play - what result?]8/8/8/5n2/4p1p1/4P3/4kP1K/7N b KQkq – 0 1[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

The Chess Olympiad is on at the moment and I’m following the games live each night at 7pm.  Apart from the Aussie games I like to watch Magnus Carlsen play as he’s the world’s highest rated player.

There was a small sensation in one of Carlsen’s early games at the Olympiad when Carlsen as White reached the position in today’s diagram.  Should he take the N and try to win on material or should he keep attacking with 36.Qd8+ and try for checkmate?   Carlsen made the wrong decision and missed a pretty continuation (but he still won anyway).   Today’s puzzle is what move should he have played?

Given that Carlsen missed it, you’d have to say that this is a hard problem … so I’ll give you some hints.

When looking for combinations try to look at all checks and captures, and when a line looks silly just look a couple of moves deeper in case there is a trick a little down the path.   The key moves are the fourth and fifth moves.   Can you see them?

[fen caption="Should White take the N or play 1.Qd8+]7k/pp4qp/1np3p1/6N1/1n1Q1P2/5BP1/7P/7K w – - 2 36[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

The 39th bi-annual Olympiad is currently being played from September 19 to October 4 in Khanty-Mansiysk which I gather is somewhere in Siberia (Russia).   Doesn’t sound like the ideal holiday destination but it could be worse.  They could be playing in New Delhi!

It’s a good time zone for Australia with the live games being broadcast from 7pm each evening.  I’ve certainly been tuning in and following Australia’s fortunes.  In round two the Men’s team was matched against the defending champions Armenia, but only Smerdon came away with half a point.   In the following round he was paired as black against IM A.Montalvo 2250 from Puerto Rico and the game appeared to be evenly balanced.  Smerdon was obviously planning to play …Re4 followed by doubling on the “e” file so his opponent was tossing up between 1.Rbe1 and 1.Ree1.   After 1…Re4 he planned to play 2.Bg1 and swap off rooks.  Today’s puzzle is which move would you advise him to play?

[fen caption="Should White 1.Ree1 or Rbe1?]r3r1k1/pp4bp/q2p2p1/3P1p2/5P2/1P2B3/P2QR1PP/1R5K w KQ – 0 1[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

I’m so happy!   I’ve just found a new chess application for my iPad called ChessDB HD which I’ve download for the princely sum of $8.99.  It’s a database of chess games/positions which comes loaded with such things as “1000 great short chess games, 773 mates in 1-4 moves, annotated immortal games, middle game lessons” and so on.  It won’t let you play through variations, only the actual games with notes shown beside the board, but there is just so much material – and the short games are ideal for my chess coaching lessons.  No more late nights trolling the internet for a good games for tomorrow’s chess lesson!

For today’s puzzle I’ve picked out one short game (see diagram).  Black has just played 6…Be7 and White is pondering whether or not the sacrifice 7.Nxf7 works.   He needs your help!   How would you advise White?

[fen caption="Should White play 7.Nxf7?"]r1bqk2r/pppnbppp/4pn2/6N1/3PN3/8/PPP2PPP/R1BQKB1R w KQkq – 5 7[/fen]