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]


White chose 1.Ne4+ and resigned after 1…Kf3 2.Nxc5 a2 3.Nb3 Ke4 4.Kg2 Kd5 as the N will be chased away from the defence of a1.

When the game ended Tal, asked Smejkal “What were you going to play on 1.Nb3?” Smejkal said “1…a2, of course” but he was shocked when Tal showed him 2.Nc1!! and if 2…a1=Q it’s stalemate.   “Ah!” he exclaimed.  “But I can play 2.a1=N! and I’m still winning.”   Tal, one of the greatest tacticians of all-time calmly played 2…Nb3!! and left Smejkal to ponder his lucky escape.

2 Responses to “Jammo’s Chess Puzzle #51”

  1. September 05, 2010 at 4:09 pm, Anon said:

    isnt black still winning after be3?


    • September 10, 2010 at 11:46 am, Robert Jamieson said:

      Yes, but the point is he said he would play …a2.