Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

One of my students yesterday told me that he was playing in a big tournament the next day and asked what advice would I give him.    ”That’s easy” I replied, “All your games will be decided by blunders so you need a system of moving and checking that will help you to avoid mistakes.”

My system goes like this.

1. Your opponent has just moved so you ask yourself “what is he threatening?”

2. You decide on your candidate moves, analyse each one in turn, then chose the best move.

3. If you think there may be some tactics around you look at all checks and captures.

4. Before you make the move you have decided on, you quickly check for possible replies that you may have missed.

5. You make your move!

If you use this system hopefully you will reduce the number of mistakes that you make and you may even spot surprise tactics that you may otherwise have missed.  Try using this system in the position below.  It’s Black’s move and he has 3 candidate moves, 1…gxf+, 1…gxh, and 1…Rxh2.   Today’s puzzle is which one would you chose and why?

[fen caption="Black to Play"]rnbqkb1r/pp2ppp1/2p5/4B3/3P4/6p1/PPP2PPP/R2QKBNR b KQkq – 1 8[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

IM Greg Hjorth sadly passed away from a heart attack in Melbourne in January this year aged 47 years.

He rose to prominence in the 1980 Australian Championship, finishing runner-up to Ian Rogers, was Commonwealth Champion in 1983 and represented Australia in two Olympiads in 1984 and 1986.  Unfortunately for chess he decided to concentrate on a career in Maths and was a Professor of Maths at both UCLA in the USA and Melbourne University.

I remember Greg as a very talented, fresh-faced young kid who was a vegetarian, went around in bare feet and wouldn’t hurt a fly.  It is a tragedy that he has been taken from us so early.

Greg had a number of victories to his credit over prominent players, such as Tony Miles, but even though he lost, I rather like his game against Kasparov from the 1980 World Junior Championships in Dortmund.  Greg has just sacrificed the exchange for a pawn and he now has a dominating B on d5 and threatens to play 1…Qc2.   Is future World Champion Gary Kasparov in big trouble, or can you find a way for him to turn the tables and win?   That is today’s puzzle.

[fen caption="White to Play"]6k1/ppr2ppp/8/3bP2Q/q1pP1R2/2P3P1/7P/5RK1 w – - 0 22[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

One of the qualities of a good chess player is imagination.   Everyone examines the obvious candidate moves and generally picks one of them to play.   Imaginative players also look at “silly” and “obviously bad” moves that the rest of us would dismiss out-of-hand.  They look beyond the obvious and occasionally find something beautiful and surprising.

Have a look at the position in the diagram for instance (Black to play).   If this was a lightning game I would immediately smash out 1…Bxe5+ 2.Kh1 Bxh3! and expect a quick win – but I am a practical player, not a a seeker after beauty.   Someone like Doug Hamilton, who always strove to find the very best move, would perhaps find a continuation that was a lot more artistic and could induce White to immediately resign.

Today’s puzzle is therefore to find the most beautiful finish to the game.

If you are into chess puzzles then have a look at Leonard Barden’s daily puzzle in one of the English papers at—

[fen caption="Black to Play"]r1b2rk1/ppp2ppp/8/3pP3/B2b4/2N4P/PPPP1qPK/R1BQ4 b – - 1 13[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

A couple of years ago I was at an Australian Junior Championship in the analysis room going over one of the games that had just finished.  White had sacrificed a pawn and did not appear to have any counter-play to justify the sacrifice.   There was a young Chinese boy standing next to the player of the white pieces and he insisted that White did in fact have a strong attack and spent sometime trying to demonstrate that to me.   Needless to say I took an instant dislike to this insistent boy who I later found out was Ly Moulthun from Queensland.

Perhaps confidence and stubbornness are desirable qualities for a top chess player as Ly is now one of the top players in the country and recently finished =1st in the 2011 Australia Open Championships.

In today’s diagram from the Open Ly is black against Illingworth who has just played the spectacular move 86.Bc5! trapping black’s N.   Should Ly:

a) Resign.

b) Offer a draw.

c) Storm out in disgust and let his opponent win on time.

[fen caption="Black to Play"]2n5/2P5/1Pk5/2B5/8/p7/8/1K6 b KQkq – 0 1[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

Well, he came back! And I don’t know if I’m pleased or not…He managed to find the words “No English” and again motion with his hands that he wanted to play chess.

I showed him to the chess board and again he setup a position. This time he mumbled a few things in Russian and was seemingly trying to tell me something. The hand gestures were familiar too… “Draw?” I said and he nodded, smiled and left.

So I guess White can somehow salvage a draw from this position… can you work out how?

[fen caption="White to Play and Draw"]2R4K/7b/8/8/4k2p/6p1/8/8 w – - 4 20[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

With Jammo away on holidays we thought there would be no puzzles this month. Lucky for you I was at Chess World today when an old Russian man came in. He spoke no English at all, but motioned that he wanted a chess board. I showed him to one and he setup the following position and then left.

[fen caption="White to Play and Win"]5k2/4p2p/6P1/3K4/8/4B3/8/8 w – - 4 20[/fen]

I hope he comes back soon to show me the answer!

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

Carl Gorka just popped in to the Chess Kids Shop a few moments ago, fresh from the 2010 Australian Masters Championship, so I took the opportunity to ask him if there were any interesting games from the tournament.  (The tournament incidentally was a big win for IM Stephen Solomon from Queensland.   That’s him in the banner clutching his trophy.)  He said that Cheng v Teichmann was the best game (so I’ll publish that in “On The Move”) but noted also the interesting finish to Rujevic v Morris.

James apparently was coasting along two pawns to the good as Black and has just played 19…Nd6 in the following position in response to Rujevic’s 19.Qf3.  Perhaps he was expecting 20.Qxc6 in reply but instead Rujevic found something a bit better that won him the game.  Can you find the winning move?

[fen caption="White to Play"]r4rk1/p3pp1p/2pn2p1/4bb2/8/1B2BQ1P/PqP1N1P1/4RRK1 w – - 4 20[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

I like to think that I know a fair bit about chess but I have never heard of a player named Domenico Ercol del Rio.   Admittedly, he was a little before my time having lived in Italy from 1718 – 1802.  The reason that I mention him is because I have recently joined and last night was browsing through their site to see what was on offer.   I came across a section on “articles” and one was titled “The Anonymous Modenese” which apparently was the name used by Ercol del Rio when he wrote a chess book in 1750.  He was a player/problemist and the article gave a number of examples of his problems/games which were both difficult and really beautiful.

For this week’s puzzle I’d like to show you one of Ercol del Rio’s compositions which appealed to me.  It’s quite hard so I’ll give you a hint.  To win at chess normally one piece alone, even a powerful piece like a Queen, needs some help to force checkmate.  Piece co-operation is a very important principle in chess.

In the diagram below White has lots of pieces but is faced with the loss of his N on a5, or if the N moves he will lose the B on c4.  What can he do to achieve a draw?

[fen caption="White to Play and draw"]k7/2q5/3p2N1/N5P1/2B5/8/2K5/8 w KQkq – 0 1[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

In the heat of battle sometimes strange things happen on the chess board.  I can remember a lightning game between Solomon and Smerdon where one of the players lost on time but most of the remaining pieces had been knocked onto the floor in the time scramble.  The arbiter had to rule as to the result bearing in mind that the rules of chess say that the player must have mating material left on the board to claim a win.  What happens if the mating material is on the floor????

A strange thing also happened to Darryl Johansen some months ago which was well publicised overseas and made Australian chess a laughing stock around the world.   I witnessed a similar event on Sunday in the finals of the RJ Shield.   In the diagrammed position below White is clearly on the verge of winning but he found a move that was so surprising and devastating that his opponent immediately resigned.   Today’s puzzle is what was the move?

[fen caption="White to Play and win"]4rk2/5pp1/p2P1b1p/1p3N2/P7/2PB4/1P3PPP/4RK2 w – - 0 1[/fen]