Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

What’s the most thrilling thing that you can do in chess?   To play a former World Champion or a famous grandmaster must go close.   In Australia we are a bit isolated so these opportunities are rare.  Of course grandmaster Ian Rogers, himself once a top 100 player, has played many of the world’s better players, but what about the result of us?

I’ve played Euwe (World Champion 1935-37) in a simul in Melbourne in the early 1970′s.   I lost but the two juniors I was helping on either side of me both won!   When Australia played against Russia in a telechess match in 1977 I played Mikhail Tal (World Champion 1960-61) and on the junior board Guy West lost in a dozen or so moves to a kid named Kasparov!     IM John-Paul Wallace from Sydney was apparently playing some friendly games on the Internet Chess Club on day and he lost two games to one opponent (but had chances to win in one of them).  He found out later that his opponent had been the World Champion – that Kasparov kid again.

Going back a bit earlier in time I’ve been writing an article about Karlis Ozols, (Australian Co-Champion in 1956), who originally came from Latvia and played in some master tournaments in Europe in the late 1930′s.   It was interesting to see that in one of these tournaments Ozols played against the World Champion, Alexander Alekhine.   Must have been a big thrill for him.

In today’s puzzle we have a position from Ozols’ game against Rueben Fine, the USA grandmaster who was in the top half-dozen players in the world in the 1930′s and 40′s.

Fine is White and has just played 1.f3 attacking Ozols Knight.   Normally you would move it back to d6, but Ozols sneakily plays 1…Qc7 as after 2.fxe4 fxe4 he has trapped Fines B on d3.   Is Ozols’ plan sound or does Fine find a flaw in it?

[fen caption="White to Play - can he take the N"]r1b2rk1/ppq3pp/2p1pn2/3p1p2/2PPn3/P2BPP2/1PQ1N1PP/R1B2RK1 w KQkq – 0 1[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

These days the papers are full of stories about the Naplan Test for Australian School children to check their literacy and numeracy levels so it seems appropriate that today we have a little test of our own.   Why should those school kids have all the fun!

Of course if your rating is below 1000 points I suggest that you arrange a “sicky” for today as we don’t want you dragging down the results here at Chess Kids.   After all, there are thousands of dollars of government funding for chess at stake.   We could even lose our new Chess Kids school hall that the government has promised to build us in North Road, Ormond.

To make the test a little easier I have based it on the current World Championship Match just concluded in Sofia, Bulgaria.   Those keen students who have been following the match will have a “head start” on the test.



Look closely at the following diagram.

[fen caption="Black to Play"]b4Rk1/p3r3/6q1/2p4p/6r1/R3N2K/PP5P/5Q2[/fen]

Do you recognise this as being a position from the world championship match between:

A) Bobby Fischer and Bobby Cheng

B) Anatolia Karpov and Garry Kasparov

C) Anand and Toplaov

D) No, I don’t recognise this position.


In this position:

A) Black played 1…Kg7 which was a blunder because 2.Nf5+ forks the K & R.

B) Black played 1…Kg7 which threatens checkmate and forces White to give up his Q.

C) A commentator on You Tube suggested that Black should now play 1…Kh7! as after 2.Qf5 Black can mate in 2 moves.

D) A commentator on You Tube suggested that Black should now play 1…Kh7! as after 2.Qf5 Black can mate in 4 moves.

E) A commentator on You Tube suggested that Black should now play 1…Kh7! but completed missed a surprise response by White.


Topalov’s given name is spelt:

A) Vaseline

B) Veselin

C) Vassily

D) Vishy

Now check your score.

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

Who is the leading chess person in Melbourne?   It would be hard to go past Carl Gorka, Secretary of the Melbourne Chess Club and full-time chess coach.   Carl moved to Australia from England 5 years ago and has rapidly become a vital part of the local chess scene.   He is an active chess players and organiser and, along with Grant Szuveges, has played a big part in the rejuvenation of the Melbourne Chess Club.

One of his innovations has to run a Wednesday night Endgames Group at the Club which is proving to be very popular.   Carl next set his sights on revamping a Victorian Team Competition (which started a few weeks ago) and has attracted many of Victoria’s top players and juniors into competing.   I can remember back to the 1970′s when Victoria’s Interclub Competition was a real powerhouse and all the top players took part in this weekly event.   Since then club chess has been gradually dying so it’s great to see Carl getting things going again.

Carl publishes an entertaining chess blog covering chess at the Melbourne Chess Club and elsewhere and for today’s puzzle I’ve pinched an interesting endgame position from Carl’s site.

[fen caption="Black to Play and win"]8/8/8/8/4b3/7R/4k1r1/7K b – - 0 1[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

At what age should a junior play in his first chess tournament?   Start too early and they may be discouraged by their losses.   Start too late and they may miss out on the chance to improve rapidly whilst they are young.

The RJ Shield last week-end featured several 5 year-olds playing in their first event.   I paid particular attention to Elijah Cordover, son of the Chess Guru, who was making his debut.   He played OK but sometimes forgot to recapture pieces, particularly those on his opponent’s bank rank which were too far away to reach!   Elijah ended up the tournament with only half a point but seemed to enjoy himself and noticeably improved as he played more games.   I’m sure in years to come Elijah Bob will a force in junior chess if he keeps it up.

All these young players who played in the RJ Shield have an advantage over Bobby Fischer!   He did not learn the moves until age 6 and played in his first tournament at age 12.  He did however improve rather rapidly and was USA Champion by the age of 14.

Today’s puzzle is a Fischer combination from the 1960 Olympiad when he was 17 years of age.

Letelier v Fischer 1960

[fen caption="Black to play and win"]4r1k1/ppq3bp/2n1rnp1/5p2/2P2P2/4BBN1/PP3K1P/RQ2R3 b KQkq – 0 1[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

Tactics are tricky things.   They are so easy to miss.    Then, when you find one, how deeply do you analyse it to make sure that it is OK?  Does your opponent have any counter-tactics?   It’s all very hard, but this is what chess is about.  Most games are decided by tactics or blunders.  Here is a typical example.

The diagrammed position is from Pokorny v Konecny Prague 1912 where both sides are clearly trying to attack the other side’s King.   It’s White turn and he spots a tactic.  1.Bxf6 and if either 1…Bxf6 or 1…Rxf6 White can play 2.Nxh5 picking up a pawn.   Is this a good plan or not?   How would you advise White?

[fen caption="White to play ... what result?"]r1b2r2/pp4bk/1np2np1/q2p2Bp/3P3P/2NB2N1/PPPQ2P1/2KR3R w – - 0 15[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

Cecil Purdy’s advice to young players who wanted to improve their chess was to study master games. The method he used was to get an annotated game and cover the moves with a piece of paper then try to guess the player’s next move.   Having decided upon a move he would move the paper down to reveal the player’s move and compare it with his own.   In this way he could (in effect) have a grandmaster sitting beside him giving him a free coaching lesson (“No Cecil, I wouldn’t go there, I’d play this move!”)

These days it is even easier!   You log onto the live games section of any international tournament, pick a game you like and try to guess each player’s move before it appears on the screen.

I did this the other day whilst having a look at the Sydney International Chess Tournament which was held in April immediately after the Doeberl Cup.   The game I chose was between grandmaster Abhijt Kunte rated 2528 from India and Junta Ikeda, a 19 year-old player from Canberra rated 2302.

I was barracking for Junta of course, and he had sacrificed a piece for what looked like a promising attack which led to the diagrammed position.   Like Cecil Purdy, I said “what would I play as Black?”

After a few minutes Junta played 1…Qc5+ 2.Ke2 Qb5+ 3.Ke3 and they agreed on a draw.   I was very disappointed as I thought that I had found a win for Black.   It’s pretty hard, but the puzzle this week is to decide whether or not you would take the draw (as Junta did) or can you find a win!

[fen caption="Can Black (to play) find a win?"]5rk1/6p1/4p2p/pq1p4/4P3/1Pp1K1PP/P5B1/2R1Q3 b – - 6 35[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

I’ve always enjoyed reading chess columns.  They are a great way to keep up with the latest news, play through a snappy game or test your mind with a chess puzzle.  When I was a junior the only way to see all the latest columns was to visit the newsagent or the local library and to buy or borrow the national and international papers which boasted a chess column (and most did).   Even such specialized papers as the “Weekly Times” ( a newspaper for country readers) had a chess column which ran for something like 85 years.   It was eventually dumped in the 1980′s and I wrote a letter of complaint to the paper.  The columnist (Emanual Basta) later thanked me but said the paper received only two letters of complaint.

Today of course we can get all the chess columns we want via the internet.  I particularly enjoy Leonard Barden’s weekly column in the Guardian which has been going for a record 53 years non-stop.   Barden’s Wiki entry makes interesting reading.  He was the son of a dustman living in Croydon, England and learnt chess at the age of 13 years in a bomb shelter during a German air-raid during the war!   Barden is an expert at picking junior talent and I think when Kasparov was about 10 years of age Barden predicted that he would become world champion.

Here is a cute little position from one of Barden’s columns.

[fen caption="White to Play - what result?"]8/8/p7/8/K2Nk3/8/Pp6/8 w KQ – 0 1[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

These days we think of China as a huge superpower that is set to dominate the world both economically and in sport.  China hosted the Olympics in 2008 and finished second in the medal tally, and in chess too they are an emerging super-power with very strong female players and up-an-coming grandmasters.

Back in the 1970’s it was vastly different.  No-one had ever heard of a Chinese chess player and we were surprised in 1977 when then sent their first International Chess Team overseas to compete in the Asian Teams Championship in Auckland.  I was playing top board for Australia and was wary of the Chinese, so I played a quick draw with their board one then, despite the language barrier, we ventured outside to play frisbees!

At the Chess Olympiad the following year in 1978 the veteran Dutch Grandmaster Jan Donner was not so circumspect when he expressed the view that “no Western Grandmaster could ever lose to a Chinese player.”   It was interesting therefore when the following day Holland faced China in the Men’s Olympiad and Donner, playing black, reached the following position with his opponent to move.

Was Donner right?   How did the game finish?

[fen caption="White to play"]r2qnr2/pp3kbQ/2npb1p1/2pN1pP1/4P3/8/PPP1BP2/R1B1K1NR w – - 0 1[/fen]

Archive for the ‘Chess Tactics’ Category

How do you think you would go against the highest rated chess player in the world?

In a full game of chess you would clearly lose, but what if you took over a game that was already half-way through?  Perhaps then you have a chance?

The world’s highest rated player is 19 year-old Magnus Carlsen from Norway who will no doubt be world champion before too long.  He has an unfair advantage of course as his coach is a guy named “Kasparov”.

So, let me get you started against Carlsen.  You can play black in the following position taken from one of Carlsen’s games in the Norwegian Championships.  It’s Carlsen’s move and he plays 1.f3 …. now off you go!

[fen caption="White plays 1.f3.  Can you beat him?"]2b3k1/ppp4p/6q1/3pr2r/4p3/1NP1Q3/PP3PPP/4RR1K w – - 0 1[/fen]