One of the schools where I coach has their big Interschool Competition coming up next week so I’m pondering what advice I can give the team that will help them achieve the best result in the competition.   I think probably the best advice I can give is that if you can avoid blundering you will probably win.

You avoid blunders by not rushing moves, even obvious ones, and when you have decided on your move you ask yourself “what will my opponent reply” and then do a quick check for surprise replies.  As part of this process you would probably have a quick look at all checks and captures (good advice from Cecil Purdy).

Let me show you how this should work.   In today’s puzzle super Grandmaster  Alexander Beliavsky is trying to win as White against a lesser opponent.   Indeed he is a bit better as Black has a weak pawn on c6 and White’s King is closer to the action than Black’s.   Now Beliavsky should start off by determining his candidate moves.   He has three to look at.  1.f6 to lock the Black King in, 1.fxg6+ to open up the Black King to future checks or 1.Kf4 to get White’s King into the action.   Which move would you choose?

[fen caption=”What move should White play?”]8/5p1k/2p3p1/3p1PQp/3P3P/4PPK1/8/1q6 w KQkq – 0 1[/fen]


1.fxg6+ is a bit better for White and 1.f6 Qg1+ 2.Kf4 Qh2+ 3.Qg3 Qe2 is even, so Beliavsky chose 1.Kf4 which looks pretty obvious.  Unfortunately even though he is a super GM he forgot to do that last minute check and ask what his opponent would reply.  He also forgot to look at all checks and captures.   What did his opponent reply?  1…Qb8# of course!