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 chess.com 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]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

Double Trouble!

We all know that doubled pawns are bad …. but what about two lots of doubled pawns side by side in a nice block?  I’ve only had this once before, against Stewart Booth in the 1980 Australian Championship.  He had a piece and I had a “block” of 4 pawns.  The piece won!

It was therefore with a sense of deja-vu that I was playing on chess.com the other day and transposed into an ending a knight to the bad but with an impressive block of 4 pawns together.  Would my pawns be enough for a draw or a win on this occasion I pondered?   We reached the diagrammed position with White to play.   White is tossing up between 1.Rf1 and 1.Ne6+.

Today’s puzzle is which move is better and what should be the result of the game?

[fen caption="White to Play"]5k2/p7/3r4/1PN3p1/5pp1/1K3p2/P4P2/4R3 w – - 0 33[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

“Robert, Robert!”  Checkmate exclaimed.  ”I think I’ve played a really good game!  Can you play through it and tell me what you think?”  I played through the game up to the diagrammed position and play continued 1.b4 b6 2.a4 Kb7 3.a5 Kc7 4.a6 b5 5.Qf2 Kb8 6.Nxf6 Qxf6 7.Rxf7 Qxf2 8.Rxf2 and White won the time scramble.

“Checkmate” I replied.  ”You had a good win but I think that you missed something just before the rook ending.”

Today’s puzzle is what did the players miss?

[fen caption="White to Play"]8/ppk1qp1R/2pp1br1/4pQ1N/2P1P3/1P6/PP6/1K6 w KQkq – 0 1[/fen]

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]