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]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

The other day I dropped in to watch the exciting last round of the Victorian Chess Championships in which any of four players could have won the title.  Young guns Christopher Wallis and Dusan Stojic came through to tie for first place whilst IM’s Igor Goldenberg and Mirko Rujevic ended up half a point behind.   The arbiter, Gary Bekker, was kind enough to send me a file of all the games which I’ve been playing through in the search for new puzzles for you, dear reader.

Easily the strangest game was Morris v Stojic in which Morris seemed to been down a Q for a R for most of the game with little compensation.  Stojic traded this advantage for 3 extra pawns in a Q+R endgame and they reached the position below with Morris (White) to move.

Play continued 40.Qf4 Rf5 41.Qd2 Qd5 42.Qe2 Qd4+ 43.Kh2 Rh5+ 44.Kg3 Qh4+ 45.Kf3 Rf5+ 0-1 as expected.  My computer however tells me that White can draw the position in the diagram if he finds the correct move.   See if you can do better than IM James and salvage the half-point.

[fen caption="What is the best move for White?"]6qk/2Q1R2p/6p1/2pr4/1p6/8/6P1/6K1 w – - 2 40[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

In theory endgames should be the easiest part of the game as there are few pieces left on the board.   In practice they can be very complex and require calculation of lengthy variations as well as the ability to come up with a winning “idea.”   Because of this they are often an area where humans have an advantage over computers if the length of the winning variation is beyond the horizon of the computer’s analysis.

I enjoyed last’s week’s puzzle where Tal came up with a cute stalemate idea that two other grandmasters had missed and I’ve used this position in a couple of my lectures at schools already.

This week I thought you might like a go at a “simple” position with only six pieces on the board.   To win White will obviously have to queen a pawn but Black seems to have them both covered.   Can you find a solution?

[fen caption="White to Play and win"]7K/8/8/P7/7B/4k3/4P2b/8 w KQkq – 0 1[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

Here at Chess Kids we are constantly looking for ways to improve our coaching services to help get our message across to the chess students.  In a few day’s time we are having a coach training session where the focus will be upon trying to present an interesting story or anecdote as part of each lesson.   I had one of our coaches pop in last week whilst I was typing “Knight Times” and he commented how much he had enjoyed my presentation at the National Schools Finals Prize-giving where I had told the story of the “Trojan Horse” and related that to the position I was demonstrating.

So, to put this policy it practice, let me tell you an interesting anecdote I came across the other day about former World Champion Mikhail Tal (that’s his pic in the banner giving his opponent the “evil eye”).

Tal was watching a game between two strong grandmasters (Firmian v Smejkal) at the Tallin Tournament in 1971.  White is losing and can choose between 1.Ne4+ or 1.Nb3.   Today’s puzzle is which would you choose and how should the game finish?   If you don’t get it right I’m sure that Tal will be happy to help you!

[fen caption="Should White play 1.Ne4+ or 1.Nb3?"]8/8/8/2b4p/8/p5k1/3N4/7K w KQkq – 0 1[/fen]