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]


1…d4+ 2.Kxd4 Rf2!!

Now if 3.Qxc3 e5+ 4.Ke3 Qe2#

If 3.Rxc3 e5+ 4.Ke3 Qb6+ 5.Kd3 Qd4#

If 3.Kxc3 Rxg2 and Black is winning.

Or 3.Qxf2 Qb6+ 4.Kxc3 Qxf2 5.Rc2 Qxg3+ 6.Kb2 e5 and Black will win comfortably by advancing his King and Kingside pawns.

So it looks like Junta missed his chance to defeat the grandmaster.   2…Rf2!! seems to be the winning move and my computer agrees so it must be true!

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