There is great excitement at the chess shop this morning!   We have just got in a new batch of second-hand books so I have been rummaging through them to see if there are any books that may help my students and I’ve found a few beauties.  

Firstly my favourite book “Think Like a Grandmaster” by Kotov which unfortunately is out of print and in descriptive notation, but still a great book for better juniors just to read Kotov’s ideas and comments even if they can’t follow the old-fashioned notation.  Then there is his follow up book “Play Like a Grandmaster” and a similar book by GM Suetin “Plan Like a Grandmaster” which I don’t think I have read yet.  Finally I’ve grabbed “Chess Training” by Nigel Povath and “Capablanca’s Best Chess Endings” which may contain some interesting positions that I can use in my lessons.  I’m not sure that these days juniors actually read books as they are probably too busying doing on-line stuff, but I’ll see if I can interest some students in borrowing a book to read over the holidays.

For today’s puzzle I’ve selected a position from a game in the Noble Park Tournament played last Saturday which strangely reminds me of the debate at the end of World War 2 about the USA using the atom bomb on Japan.   You see the Americans had secretly built this new, incredibly powerful weapon, which no-one knew that they had and which could destroy a whole city in one go.  Should they use it or should they not?  Some advisors said that it was too terrible a weapon to ever be used but one of the scientists who developed the bomb had a different argument.  “If you used the bomb,” he claimed, “you gave away your biggest advantage, namely the knowledge that such a weapon could be produced,” and so he argued for the bomb to remain unused and a big secret.  As everyone now knows, he was probably right as, after bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Russians knew that such a thing was possible and took every step to get their own atomic bomb a few years later.

mushroom cloud

How does this relate to chess puzzles?  Well, in a normal game of chess you are just plodding along, looking at ordinary chess moves, and may be unaware that hidden deep in the position is an absolute killer move that will blow your whole game away.  If, however, you are faced with a puzzle, you know that there is something fantastic hidden in the position and so are on-the look out for such possibilities.

In today’s position Jack Puccini, playing White, was not in “puzzle mode” and was presumably unaware that his opponent had a secret, explosive move ready to be played if Jack fell for the trap.   Jack has many possible replies to Black’s … Nb4 such as a3, Bxb4, Qxd8, Nd6, hxg etc. but one of them is a huge blunder which allows Black to use his secret weapon.  Which move do you think Jack played and what was the explosive reply?

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