One of the interesting things about chess is the different playing styles of players.  Some players love attacking and analysing imaginative lines of play; others prefer a positional style and try to just outplay their opponents by accumulating small positional advantages; others love the endgame and will swap off into an equal endgame confident that they can outplay their opponent and some are perfectionists who always look for the best move then get into time trouble and usually play a few imperfect moves.

In tennis some of the best matches to watch are between players of different styles, for example a base-liner (Borg) against a serve-volleyer (McEnroe) and I guess it’s the same in chess.  I’ve just been watching and playing through the games of the 2018 Doeberl Cup and when I see a pairing Solomon v Ikeda for example the question arises will Ikeda get crushed in the endgame or will Solo fall victim to a vicious attack before he can swap off into his beloved endgame?  Come to think of it the same applies in my chess lessons.  You could clasify me as a positional “Boa Constrictor” sort of player so one of the most enjoyable lessons I have is with my student Amit who favours tactics and attacking.  The clash of ideas is always stimulating.  As we play through some games in our lesson Amit invariably is hitting me with attacking ideas whilst I am suggesting that he slows down and builds up a bit more before trying to attack.   A good chess player has to be able to handle all types of positions and to treat each position according to it’s needs rather than the player’s own preferences.

One strategy that I use with attacking players is to select an attacking game for our lesson then, at various stages throughout the game, I turn the board around and get the student to take the role of the defender.  There was an amusing incident in my last lesson with Amit when we had switched roles and I, as Black, was trying to find a winning attack whilst White was trying to hang on to his extra material and swap off pieces.  Have a look at the diagram with Black to play.  I played 1…Qa5+ 2.Qb4 Qa2 3.Qb2 Qa5+ 4.Qb4 then it happened.  “Scoresheet!” I cried at the top of my voice and people came running from everywhere to see what had happened.   [This cry harks back to my days at Monash University Chess Club where the club would be packed with players playing lightning chess and if anyone played a brilliant move they would scream “scoresheet!” so as to write the position down for posterity.  Everyone rushed over to admire the brilliant combination.]

So your puzzle for today, dear reader, is to see if you can spot the brilliant move that we had both missed.   I may be a positional player but, as they say in America, “even a blind squirrel may sometimes find an acorn.”

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