I’m very busy these days with a good range of private students and a few schools that I coach it.  What is the hardest job of a chess coach?   It’s probably trying to encourage your students to use their imaginations rather than just coasting along and playing the “obvious” move.

Chess is such a complicated game and there are so many possibilities that most of us are inclined to seek the easy way out and limit our analysis to a couple of routine moves.   He takes us…so we just take him back…nothing to think about there …. but what if we had a brilliant queen sacrifice available and we just failed to look at it because one doesn’t normally look at “silly” moves like losing your queen.   Most times we miss a good continuation either because we don’t look at that line at all or we reject it after a cursory glance.   To be an imaginative player we need to either look wider (more candidate moves) or deeper or both!  I’m constantly stressing to my students that chess is a battle of ideas and your job, if you want to win the game, is to find ideas that your opponent has missed.

I stumbled across a good example of this the other night when I was playing through some games in the Batavia Open which is on in Holland at the moment.   My interest in this event is sparked because of the participation of Australia’s Moulthun Ly who is spending some time in Europe in an effort to gain the grandmaster title.   I was playing through one of Moulthun’s games and he reached the diagrammed position as White.  His predicament of course is that Black has the powerful threat of 1…Ra1# so White’s options are limited.   Is he lost?   Can he get a draw?   Can he win?   What do you think?   Let me just say that one of the players missed a clever idea that would have won the game.   Perhaps you can do better?

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