One of the skills needed to be a good chess player is to understand your strengths and weaknesses as well as those of your opponent.  IM James Morris has just had a very successful tournament at Ballarat scoring 6.5/7, and he won the tournament by aiming for complicated positions where he could demonstrate his tactical flair whilst his opponents only became more confused.

I followed with interest his game as White against Lee Jones and when James’ 25th move (25.Ng7) came up on the screen I could only presume that it was a clerical error!   True, it was a blunder, but it resulted in a messy position that suited James and eventually the players arrived at the position in the diagram with Black to move.

[fen caption=”Find the mistakes”]3kr3/pR6/3r4/7p/8/7P/P5P1/5R1K b – – 0 42[/fen]

Play continued 42…Ra6 43.Rff7 Rxa2.  In this sequence of moves White had missed a winning opportunity and Black had made a big blunder.   Today’s puzzle is what was Black’s blunder and what was the opportunity that White missed?

ANSWER:

Black’s 43…Rxa2?? allowed mate in one with 44.Rb8#.  He should have asked himself “what my opponent will reply” before making his move.

White’s 43…Rff7 was not the best as Black can reply 43…Kc8 and struggle on but 43.Rb8+ would have picked up a rook after 43…Kd7 44.Rd1+.

At least things still worked out well for James.  Hopefully this good result will signify a leap forward for the young IM who is battling with Bobby Cheng to be our most promising young player.

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