What is the worst thing that could happen to a chess coach? Losing to one of your pupils rated 1200 rating points below you would go close. Let me set the scene.

I’m coaching a small group of players at one of Melbourne’s Grammar Schools and today we have an uneven number of players. After the lesson we usually play a tournament game and so I end up having to play the extra player myself so that everyone gets a game. The spare player today is rated around 1200 and let’s call him “Jack”.

We start our game with me having the white pieces a Jack plays the French defence. After a while a blocked position is reached so I decide to sacrifice a B for two pawns and a check to make it interesting. After a few more moves I have his rook bottled up and my pawns are moving forwards nicely. Jack asks me if he should play bishop from c7 to h2 to put my King in check and I explain how this would not only be a waste of time but my N on f3 could take the bishop for nothing. A few moves later I a have a number of good options and casually decide on Ng5 to further embarrass his trapped rook on h7.

Suddenly “BANG!” Jack smashes down Bh2+ uncovering a discovered attack on my unprotected Queen and winning the Q for a B. He raises his arms in triumph and storms around the room doing a lap of honour for his surprise coup. I can see the headlines now in the next issue of the Grammar School Newsletter – “Chess Coach smashed by student.” I try to keep my cool. They don’t call me poker face for nothing. Calmly I take the B and Jack captures my Queen on c2. Fortunately my R can take an undefended B to give me something in return for my Q and then I realise that I am threatening a back rank mate. The only way Jack can stop the mate is to give back his Q and then his position is hopeless.

Jack is crestfallen. “Did you plan that?” he enquires. “Perhaps,” I reply sarcastically “You should check your combinations before you play them just in case you fallen into a devious TRAP!” Jack shakes his head. I can see him thinking “Gee, I have a strong coach.” I won’t tell him the truth if you don’t!

Here is the game.

RJ v Jack 24.8.09
French Defence
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nf3 g6 6.h4 h5 7.Be2 Nh6 8.a3 Bg7 9.Bg5 Qb6 10.b4 c4 11.a4 Bd7 12.O-O Nbd2 a5 13.b5 Ne7 14.Bxc4!? dxc4 15.Nxc4 Qc7 16.Nd6+ Kf8 17.c4 Nef5 18.c5 b6 19.Rc1 Nxd6 20.cxd6 Qb8 21.Rc7 Ra7 22.Qc2 Nf5 23.O-O Nxd4 24.Nxd4?! Bxe5 25.Be7+ Kg8 26.Nf3? (best was 26.Rxa7 Qxa7 27.Nc6) 26…Rxc7 27.dxc7 Bxc7 28.Bf6 Rh7 29.Rd1 Qc8 30.Ng5 Bh2+ 31.Kxh2 Qxc2 32.Rxd7 Qc8? (32…Be8 was necessary)
33.Ng5? (33.Rc1 wins immediately but I wanted to make a point about Black‚Äôs rook being out of play.) 33…Bh2+ 34.Kxh2 Qxc2 35.Rxd7 Qc8 36.Rd8+ Qxd8 37.Bxd8 and White won easily.

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