31 March 2013

Training Log: March 2013

Each month in 2013 I post an update on my personal progress toward my training goals for the year. I posted these goals as New Year's Resolutions on the last day of 2012. My hopes for 2013 are to achieve an Expert class rating and to win the Spokane City Championship. My goals, however, are neither.* Success is a product of training. The training goals are paramount. The rating and the championship title, if achieved, will be a consequence of meeting rigorous training goals.

1. In 2013, I will solve correctly 300 tactics problems each month.

I barely met this goal, completing 370 problems in the month. In March, my pace of tactics work slowed considerably from February. Working through Level 2 on Chess Quest, I am finding some problems challenging, especially as I solve problems while lying in bed falling asleep.

I worked Chessimo for a few days early in the month. Although I have solved over 3000 problems on Chessimo, I count towards the month's total only those problems solved six times. Chessimo's history function is a useful feature for tracking progress. Visible in the screenshot below is the information that I last worked tactics with this app on 24 March 2013, when I completed problem 21 in a set of 150. The app displays my average time per problem in each unit, my total time for the unit, the number of problems completed ("studied") in each units, and the number of problems "learned". Learned means the problem has been completed six times. This repetition is an essential component of Chessimo.

Chessimo History Screenshot
My web-based training (Chess Tempo and Chess.com) remains light. I neglected the Anthology of Chess Combinations in March.

Why is 370 "barely" meeting a goal of 300? The answer stems from the manner of counting. Problems count as "correct" if they have been completed on Chess Quest, Shredder, Chess-wise, or "learned" in Chessimo. Many errors occur in the course of solving these problems. On the other hand, when solving on Chess Tempo, Chess.com, or the Tactic Trainer iPad app, a single error disqualifies the problem from counting. Most of the problems counting for March were with resources that permit errors.

2. In 2013, I will study whole games and whole books.

I continue with a disappointing slow pace through Logical Chess: Move by Move. I returned to Game 23, Van Vliet -- Znosko-Borovsky, several times over the course of two weeks. In my first pass through the game, it was clear that White's passive play gave Black an easy advantage. But, after such passivity, the tactical errors seem more subtle. Logical Chess is not my sole source for whole games. I looked through most of the games of Candidates Tournament in London that concludes tomorrow. Many mornings were spent going through Kingscrusher's next day videos.

In March, I played through many dozens of the games of Wilhelm Steinitz. I am pursuing historical questions concerning the beginning of the so-called Modern School of Chess. I memorized the game that became my source for the final "Lesson of the Week" before the spring break. I have not added this game to my list of "Memory Games" that has now grown to twenty games, but it is in my short-term memory at present.

3. In 2013, I will finish my Pawn Endgame Flash Card project.

I am continuing to use these flash cards in elementary classrooms while teaching beginners chess, and some of the positions came up in the first endgame lesson that I completed in Chessimo. Nonetheless, progress studying Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual and mastering the blue diagram positions must be rated lackluster.

4. In 2013, I will lose fifteen pounds.

Progress seemed hopeful early in the month with more consistent walking. But, when I stepped on the scale, the reality of too much junk food made itself apparent.  I spent less time with Wii boxing than planned, but developed a new upper body workout that my puppies love. They each grab hold of a rope and pull against each other and against me. One afternoon I pulled with the right arm five times, switched to the left, pulled five times, and then back to the right. Keeping up this practice for ten minutes left my arms feeling like jello--always a good feeling when one sets fitness goals.

*While pressuring me to play in the Taxing Quads, local tournament organizer David Griffin suggested that I should have a rating goal of 2013 for the year. He has spent the time using the Rating Estimator at the US Chess Federation website to estimate what my rating would be if I swept a quad consisting of Michael Cambareri, Jeremy Krasin, Nikolay Bulakh, and myself. He's a good organizer and chess promoter, and I must wonder what he said to Jeremy, Nikolay, and Michael as he seeks to make the top quad a strong one. There are two other A-Class players in Spokane who have played in at least one event in the past two years, and one provisionally rated expert, the Washington State High School Champion, an exchange student from China. But, we four are the most active top players in the city. I am the least active of the four.

27 March 2013

Lesson of the Week

Who had the Black Pieces?

There are dozens of internet sites that make reference to a match between Max Lange and Wilhelm Steinitz in Vienna in 1860, although none that I have found offer any details concerning this match. There were three games, all won by Steinitz. Black's play does not reflect the level of skill that might be expected from the editor of Schachzeitung der Berliner Schachgesellschaft, a chess newsletter. The publication was founded in 1846 and became Deutsche Schachzeitung in 1872. It continued publication until 1988. Lange was the editor 1858-1864. In 1860, Max Lange published Paul Morphy: A Sketch from the Chess World, translated into English by Ernest Falkbeer. Lange was an active and knowledgeable chess player in 1860. In 1862, he won the West German Championship.

Did Lange visit Vienna in 1860 and get trounced by Steinitz? It is possible. However, it is easier to believe that Steinitz won these lopsided games against a local Vienna player with the last name of Lang (without the e). Dozens of internet sites have Lang with no first name, but also no details.

Whoever played Black had his mistakes trounced by a sacrificial attack against the king that merits attention by improving chess players. Steinitz understood that material could be given up if it led to the execution of his opponent's king.

Steinitz,William -- Lange,Max or Lang [C44]
Vienna, 1860

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4 Qe7 5.0–0 Ne5 6.Nxe5 Qxe5 7.c3 c5 8.f4 Qf6 9.e5 Qb6 10.Kh1 Be7 11.f5 d5 12.Bxd5 Nh6 13.f6 Bf8 14.Bxh6 gxh6

Black has made several positional errors already in this game. Now the tactics begin. This position appears on the demonstration board in youth chess clubs this week. One young player won a chess pencil for suggesting the correct move (and later revealed that he suggested it because he thought it was "stupid"--the "stupid move is often the correct one in these problems").

White to move

15.Bxf7+! Kxf7

15...Kd8 was a better choice for Black, although White still has a considerable advantage after 16.cxd4 Qxb2 17.Nd2

16.Qh5+ Ke6

16...Kg8 also loses 17.Rf3 Qe6 18.Rg3+ Bg7 19.Qxh6 Kf7 20.Qxg7+ Ke8 21.Qxh8+ Kd7+-

17.Qe8+ Kd5

17...Be7 was possible, leading to 18.Qxh8 Qd8 19.Qxh7 Bf8 20.cxd4+-

18.cxd4 Be6

18...Qxb2 offers more stubborn defense 19.Qd8+ Kc6 20.d5+ Kb5 21.Nc3+ Ka6 22.Rab1 Qxc3 23.Rf3+-

White to move

19.Nc3+!! Kc4 20.d5 Rxe8

20...Kd4 or 20...Qxb2 hold off checkmate longer.

21.Rf4+ Kd3 22.Rd1+ Kc2 23.Rf2# 1–0

25 March 2013

Fischer on Steinitz

Bobby Fischer offered a few short paragraphs of assessment on ten players before him in an article for the short-lived magazine Chessworld. The article, "The Ten Greatest Masters in History," was published in the inaugural issue (January-February 1964). Quotes from this article often appear in publications and on the internet, for instance at Chessgames.com. "Wilhelm Steinitz's Best Games" offers links to that member's selection prefaced be a series of statements sourced only by author. The quotes attributed to Fischer all stem from the article in Chessworld, but contain errors.

"The Ten Greatest Masters in History" runs pages 57-61 in Chessworld, vol. 1, no. 1. Edward Winter reproduced the article in "Fischer's Views on Chess Masters" (updated 9 April 2011) at Chesshistory.com.

It appears that Fischer did not write the article, but expressed his views to Neil Hickey. On the first page of the article, under Fischer's name appear the words, "as told to Neil Hickey" (57).

Fischer observed that Wilhelm Steinitz revised the thinking of chess players concerning the power of the king. While he credits Steinitz as the father of the modern school, he offers disconnected thoughts that do not explain this term. From the power of the king, Fischer shifts to when attacks should begin, and then jumps to the need to hold pawns back.
He is the so-called father of the modern school of chess: before him, the King was considered a weak piece and players set out to attack the King directly. Steinitz claimed that the King was well able to take care of itself, and ought not to be attacked until one had some other positional advantage. Pawns ought to be left back, Steinitz claimed, since they can only move forward and can't retreat to protect the same ground again. (58)
Much of Fischer's comments compare Steinitz to Paul Morphy, about whom he offers high praise.
Steinitz's book knowledge din't compare with Morphy's, and -- where Morphy was usually content to play a book line in the opening -- Steinitz was always looking for some completely original line. He was a man of great intellect -- an intellect often used wrongly. (59)
He understood more about the use of squares than did Morphy, and contributed a great deal more to chess theory. (59)

22 March 2013

Lesson of the Week

Wiliiam Steinitz became the first official World Champion in 1886 when he defeated Johann Zukertort in a match for that title. But after defeating Adolf Anderssen in a match in 1866, many began to refer to him as the World Champion.

Steinitz played in the reckless attacking style of his contemporaries until his play went through an observable change in the Vienna tournament of 1873, in which he tied for first with Joseph Henry Blackburne. Steinitz explained the principles of his new manner of play in his chess columns for The Field, and later for the International Chess Magazine, and in books, such as The Modern Chess Instructor (1889). He called his new ideas the Modern School, but sometimes it is called the Steinitz School today. Rather than a direct attack on the king from the beginning of the game, he advocated slowly building up an advantage and then striking at the optimum moment for attack.

This week's key position comes from a game in which Steinitz sacrificed a knight to gain two connected passed pawns on the queenside. It is from a game played in the Vienna 1873 tournament.

Steinitz,William -- Fleissig,Maximilian [C11]
Vienna Vienna (2), 29.07.1873

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.Nce2 c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.f4 Qb6 8.Nf3 Be7 9.Ng3 Nf8 10.Bd3 Bd7 11.Bc2 0–0–0 12.dxc5 Bxc5 13.Qe2 a5 14.a3 Qa7 15.Rb1 a4 16.Nh5 g6 17.Nf6 h6 18.Nxd7 Kxd7 19.Qb5 Ra8 20.Bxa4 Qxa4 21.Qxb7+ Ke8 22.b3 Qa6 23.Qxa6 Rxa6 24.a4 Ba7 25.Bd2 Nd7 26.Ke2 Ke7 27.Ra1 Na5 28.Rhb1 Rb8 29.b4 Nc4 30.a5 Rb7 31.Kd3 Nb8 32.Bc1 Kd7 33.Nd2 Nxd2 34.Bxd2 Kc6 35.c4 dxc4+ 36.Kxc4 Rb5 37.Rb3 Nd7 38.Rd3 Bb8

White to move 

39.Rxd7 Rxb4+ 40.Bxb4 Kxd7 41.Kb5 Ra8 42.a6 Ba7 43.Rd1+ Ke8 44.Kc6 Be3 45.Ra1 Kd8 46.Ba5+ Kc8 47.Bb6 Bxf4 48.Rd1 Bg5 49.a7 f5 50.Rd7 1–0

Beginning Tactics 18 (sample)

The final beginning tactics worksheet for 2012-2013 proved difficult. In each position, White's best move constitutes the correct answer.

20 March 2013

Principles of Chess Training

According to Wilhelm Steinitz

In The Modern Chess Instructor (1889), Wilhelm Steinitz* explains some principles for proper training to develop chess strength.

1. The learner should eschew playing at odds, but "should seek as much as possible to play on even terms with superior players" (xxix). Playing at odds develops habits that are counter-productive. The weaker player learns to simply exchange pieces, and misses the opportunity to observe "the finer points of play of his adversary" because of the sort of strategy that must be adopted by the player with inferior forces. Even the openings adopted in odds games differ from those in even games. The learner receiving odds misses the opportunity to advance in opening knowledge.

2. Practice should be regular. One hour per day for six days is better than six hours in one day. Steinitz recommends strengthening memory and chess perception by memorizing games. He advocates playing through one's own games from memory, but suggests that it would be even better to memorize well-annotated games from master play.

3. Play should be strictly in accordance with the rules. Steinitz advocates the touch-move rule for beginners must guard against the temptation to take back moves. He suggests that playing for a small stake encourages "greater care in play" and discouraging interference from spectators (xxx).
The game of Chess is so utterly unsuited for gambling that no danger is incurred by the practice, and the players usually know each other's strength, and either the score is about even or the weaker player fully expects to lose, but is willing to pay as a fee for the amusement and instruction which he receives from his adversary. (xxx)
4. Study problems. While there may be several ways to win in play, composed problems require "exactitude of calculation" (xxx). He advocates playing through the solution and all variations over the board. Through extensive practice ("three or four problems per day"), "the student will soon become familiar with many leading ideas in very difficult problems, and after sometime he will be able to solve them almost at a glance from the diagram" (xxxi).

*Wilhelm Steinitz became William Steinitz when he became a naturalized United States citizen in 1888, the year prior to publication of this book. The title page and copyright of The Modern Chess Instructor lists only W. Steinitz.

17 March 2013

Aronian -- Gelfand Critical Position

Kingscrusher suggested that finding Levon Aronian's move in this position makes for a nice tactical puzzle. This position is from Aronian -- Gelfand in the 2013 Candidates Tournament in London. In the second round, Aronian and Teimour Radjabov scored the first wins and moved into the early lead.

White to move

2rb4/pb3pkp/4p1p1/4N3/1P1P4/4B2P/1P3PP1/2R3K1 w - - 0 26

14 March 2013

The Exposed King

A claim that I read in a forgotten text several months ago keeps running through my mind. Some chess master claimed that he had read the Encyclopedia of Chess Openings (ECO) cover to cover. Does this assertion mean the master has read and played through all of the main lines? Did the reading enterprise extend to the footnotes? In either case, the task seems daunting.

I started with volume D and quickly got caught up in the footnotes. The game Hodgson -- Van Wely, Horgen 1995 has occupied my thoughts while sipping my morning coffee.

The game was published as Chess Informant 65/350 with Hodgson's annotations. It is clear that Loek van Wely, who is a much stronger player today, defended well in a difficult position. Indeed, it seems that his game went awry in the first couple of moves, and then he avoided many pitfalls.

Hodgson -- Van Wely

1.d4 d5 2.Bg5

This opening is called the Levitsky Attack, or sometimes the Hodgson Attack. Julian Hodgson had notable success with it in the mid-1990s. Sometimes, it is incorrectly called the Trompowsky Attack (1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5) to which it can transpose. Andrew Soltis, The Trompowsky Attack (1995) includes lines after 1.d5. Michael Jefferys calls it the Trompowsky in his video about some traps in the line. Jeffreys calls 2...c5 a blunder, but this move was played by van Wely. 2...Nf6, transposing to the Trompowsky, is the main line in ECO. The main line after 2...c5 is Hodgson -- Sokolov, Groningen (Informant 68/325), which ends in a slight advantage for White, according to Hodgson. Jeffrey's assertion must be regarded as hyperbole.

2...c5 3.dxc5 f6 4.Bh4 e5 5.e4 dxe4 6.Qxd8+ Kxd8

White to move

Here the game starts to become interesting. Black has a five to three pawn majority on the kingside, but his king is stuck in the middle. The e4 pawn cannot be protected, but the majority seems secure. White's bishop does not appear capable of getting at the exposed king, and yet, Hodgson shows that it can, and in doing so creates some serious checkmate threats.

7.Nc3 Bxc5 8.O-O-O Nd7 9.Nxe4 Be7 10.f4

The footnote in ECO ends here with the evaluation that White has a significant advantage.

Black to move

If I were reading the print version of the Encyclopedia, I might have done no more than glance at the footnote while playing through the moves of the main line on a chess board. In the electronic edition of ECO, however, it is easy to play through all of the lines relegated to footnotes. Moreover, if one has the proper Informants installed, it is easy to right-click in the game score and open the reference game. This ease of access promotes distraction that inhibits reading ECO cover-to-cover.

My first USCF rated tournament game was the Black side of a Trompowsky (I lost). My only win among the small selection of my correspondence games that can be found in the Chessbase online database is the White side of a Trompowsky. A few months after that correspondence game, I played the Levitsky against a player rated nearly 300 Elo above me, and drew. It would seem reasonable to be able to crank through ECO D 00.

Instead, I became caught up in a fascinating game that made the footnotes.

The exposed Black king and sacrificial attacks the exploit his vulnerability have not been my experience in the Levitsky nor Trompowsky. Hodgson's sacrifices faced stubborn defense, and van Wely's king escaped the onslaught. Instead, White ended up with a material advantage and retained the initiative through to the end.

10...exf4 11.Nf3

Hodgson, in his annotations, offers an improvement for White beginning with 11.Ne2.

11...Kc7 12.Nc3 Nb6 13.a4 Bb4 14.a5 Bxa5 15.Nb5+

Black to move


15...Kc6 steps into a mating net, where the Black king may get pushed to a2.

16.Rd4 Nd7

16...g5 opens up Black to some combinations along the b8-h2 diagonal.

17.Rxf4 a6

17...g5 is still losing.

18.Bg3 axb5 19.Ra4

Black to move


19...Ne5 blocking the check does not gain the rook, but loses the king.

20.Bxc7+ Kxc7 21.Rxa8

White has a decisive advantage, according to Hodgson. He is up the exchange, has the initiative, and a less vulnerable king. The game went on to move 79.

13 March 2013

A Twist on Smother Mate

This twist on the smother checkmate idea popped up in Level 3 on Chess Quest, an iPad tactic training resource.

12 March 2013

Lessons from Steinitz

Lesson of the Week

The 2013 Washington State Elementary Chess Championship is less than two months away. This event marks the conclusion of the scholastic chess season, although I will offer a chess camp in June as I have for the past six years.

The weekly club lessons this year have come from the games of Akiba Rubinstein, Paul Morphy, Siegbert Tarrasch, and now for the rest of the season, Wilhelm Steinitz. The position this week cropped up in one of my routine training resources. I solved it, and now pass it on to the youth who look to learn from me.

Steinitz,William - Blackburne,Joseph Henry [C77]
London, 17.02.1876

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.d3 d6 6.c3 Be7 7.h3 0–0 8.Qe2 Ne8 9.g4 b5 10.Bc2 Bb7 11.Nbd2 Qd7 12.Nf1 Nd8 13.Ne3 Ne6 14.Nf5 g6 15.Nxe7+ Qxe7 16.Be3 N8g7 17.0–0–0 c5 18.d4 exd4 19.cxd4 c4 20.d5 Nc7 21.Qd2 a5 22.Bd4 f6 23.Qh6 b4 24.g5 f5 25.Bf6 Qf7 26.exf5 gxf5 27.g6 Qxg6 

White to move

28.Bxg7 Qxh6+

28...Qxg7 29.Rhg1 Rf7 30.Rxg7+ Rxg7 31.Bxf5+-

29.Bxh6 Rf6 30.Rhg1+ Rg6 31.Bxf5 Kf7 32.Bxg6+ hxg6 33.Ng5+ Kg8 34.Rge1 Nxd5 35.Re6 1–0

11 March 2013

Win a Pawn

In the French Defense, Black seeks counterplay by attacking White's backward d-pawn. If White fails to defend this vulnerability, Black might gain an endgame advantage out of the opening. These two games illustrate the game going badly for White when the d-pawn falls. Black does not win with dramatic attacking tactics, but with a simple and comfortable game.

These two games were played at correspondence time controls. The first started two weeks ago and ended this morning. The second was played a bit over six years ago.

Internet Opponent (1734) -- Stripes,James (2020) [C02]
chess.com championships - Round 3 Chess.com, 26.02.2013

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.f4

5.Nf3 is considered best

5...Qb6 6.Nf3 Bd7 7.Be2

One way to protect the d-pawn involves moving more pawns: 7.a3 Nh6 8.b4 cxd4 9.cxd4 Nf5 10.Bb2.


7...Nge7 is another route to f5. I have played both. In six games from the position after 7.Be2, I have five wins with Black and one loss. In that loss, I played Ne7-f5 prematurely, permitting the g-pawn to drive the knight back. In the other five, I won the d-pawn easily. Most of these games were online blitz.

White to move

8.h3 cxd4 9.cxd4 Nf5 10.a3 Ncxd4 11.Nxd4

Black to move


11...Nxd4 is stronger, but I was playing for an easy endgame.

12.Qxd4 Nxd4 13.Bd1 Rc8 14.Be3 Nc2+ 15.Bxc2 Rxc2 16.0–0 b6 17.b4 Be7 18.Rc1 Rxc1+ 19.Bxc1 0–0 20.Bb2

Black to move


It seemed important to give my bishops some mobility through pawn exchanges.

21.exf6 Bxf6

And then I opted to get more pieces off the board, trusting that my center pawn majority would rule.

22.Bxf6 gxf6 23.Nd2 Kf7 24.Rc1 Rc8 25.Rxc8 Bxc8 26.Kf2

Black to move


26...e5 seems better in retrospect.

27.a4 Bd3 28.g4 Kg6 29.Ke3 Bc2 30.a5 h5 31.Nf3 hxg4 32.hxg4 Bd1

White to move


33.Nd4 retains a small chance. The pawn ending is too easy for Black.

33...Bxf3 34.Kxf3 e5 35.fxe5 fxe5 36.axb6 axb6 37.b5 Kg5 38.Kg3 e4 0–1

My opponent on GameKnot made the same opening error, but followed it with more vigorous play.

Internet Opponent (1641) -- Stripes,James (1782) [C02]
Team match http://gameknot.com, 27.09.2006

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.f4 Bd7 6.Nf3 Qb6 7.Be2 Nh6 8.0–0 cxd4 9.cxd4 Nf5 10.Bd3

Moving this bishop a second time does not seem unreasonable.

Black to move

10...Ncxd4 11.Nxd4 Qxd4+ 12.Kh1 Ne3 13.Bxe3 Qxe3 14.Nc3 Bc6 15.Bb5 Qb6 16.Bxc6+ bxc6 17.Qc2 Rb8 18.b3 Be7 19.Na4 Qb5 20.Rac1 Rc8 21.Nc5 Bxc5 22.Qxc5 Qxc5 23.Rxc5 Kd7

I made several inaccuracies getting to this position, but retain a clear advantage.

White to move

24.Rfc1 h5

After the game, my opponent praised my h-pawn thrust.

25.Kg1 h4 26.Kf2 Rh5 27.Ra5 Rc7 28.b4

Black to move

28...g5 29.g4 hxg3+

The en passant capture.

30.hxg3 gxf4 31.gxf4 Rh2+ 32.Kg3 Rb2 33.a3 Kc8 34.Rac5 Kb7 35.R1c3 Rc8 36.Kf3 Rh2 37.a4

Black still had some work to do before this error.

Black to move

37...Rh3+ 38.Kg4 Rxc3 39.Rxc3 a5 40.Rb3 Ka6

Following a strong move with a weak move. Sometimes easy endings prove difficult when they invite carelessness.


41.b5 gives Black more trouble.

41...axb4 42.Rxb4 c5 43.Rb5 c4 44.fxe6 fxe6

Although still only down one pawn, White's few remaining hopes have disappeared.

White to move

45.Rb1 Ka5 46.Kg5 Rf8 47.Rb7 Kxa4 48.Kg6 Rf5 49.Re7 Rxe5 50.Kf6 Re4 51.Rc7 Kb3 52.Rb7+ Kc2 53.Rc7 c3 54.Ke7 Kd2 55.Kd6 c2 0–1

Was 5.f4 the decisive error, or did it come a few moves later? I have faced 5.f4 once in over the board play. That, too, was an easy win for Black.

08 March 2013

Lesson of the Week

Tactics, Tactics, Tactics

The sources for this year's lessons--the games of Rubinstein, Morphy, Tarrasch--are grounded in positional considerations. However, my students must learn to recognize simple double attacks: forks, pins, skewers. Seeing a checkmate in one does not come easily to many of them.

The position on the demo board comes from Tarrasch's game against Simon Winawer.

Siegbert Tarrasch - Simon Winawer [C51]
Berlin, 1881

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4 Bb6 5.0–0 d6 6.a4 a5 7.b5 Nce7 8.d4 exd4 9.Nxd4 Nf6 10.Nc3 0–0 11.Bg5 Ng6 12.Nd5 Ne5 13.Bxf6 gxf6 14.Nxb6 cxb6 15.Bd5 Kh8 16.Ra3 Rg8 17.f4 Ng6 18.Nf5 Qc7 19.Rh3 Rg7 20.Nxg7 Bxh3 21.Nh5 Be6 22.Nxf6 Qc3 23.f5 Bxd5 24.fxg6 Qe3+ 25.Kh1 Bxe4 26.Qa1 Bxg2+ 27.Kxg2 Qg5+ 28.Kh1 fxg6

White to move

29.Ne8+ Qe5

29...Qf6 30.Qxf6+ Kg8 31.Qg7#

30.Rf8# 1–0

Before discussing this position, students completed a worksheet.

Beginning Tactics 16

Find the correct move for White in each position.

07 March 2013

Exploiting Weaknesses

Lessons from Blitz

After his lecture on the eve of the David Collyer Memorial chess tournament, IM John Donaldson was asked about internet blitz. He admitted to playing thousands of games, but not the tens of thousands to which many blitz addicts must confess. He offered advice (from a fellow IM) to limit games to four at a time, and to do postgame analysis of each one.

I sometimes limit myself to five games per day, and may go weeks or even months with no online blitz at all. But, I am one who has played tens of thousands of games. Sometimes I heed Donaldson's advice and analyze my games afterwards. Last night, after a win that required me to crank out 70 moves on the iPad in under three minutes, I spent some time looking at a critical position from the game. It seemed to me that my opponent missed a clear win.

In the first diagram, Black is in serious trouble.

Internet Opponent (1873) - Stripes.J (1749)
Live Chess Chess.com, 06.03.2013

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.Bd3 Bd6 5.f4 Nc6 6.Nf3 Nf6 7.c3 Bg4 8.0–0 0–0 9.Be3 Re8 10.Re1 Nb8 11.Nbd2 c6 12.Qc2 Nbd7 13.Ne5 Nf8 14.h3 Bc8 15.Ndf3 Nh5 16.g4 Nf6 17.Ng5 h6 18.Ngxf7 Qe7 19.Nxd6 Qxd6 20.g5 hxg5 21.fxg5 Nh5 22.Qe2 g6

White to move

During the few seconds that I waited for my opponent to move, I anticipated his exploitation of the weaknesses on g6 and h5. I was certain that I would lose my knight and what remained of my pawn shield in front of my king. Some of the moves that flitted through my mind: 23.Bxg6 Nxg6 24.Qxh5 Bf5 25.Rf1 (25.Nxg6?? would be a disaster for White 25...Qg3+–+).

My opponent was looking at my king, and played a better move.

23.Qf3! Qe6

23...Ng7 was better

24.Rf1 Qxh3 25.Qf7+ Kh8

White to move


White missed checkmate 26.Nxg6+ Nxg6 27.Qxe8+ Kh7 28.Qxg6+ Kh8 29.Rf8#

26...Rxf8 27.Nxg6+??

Black's advantage is difficult to cultivate with 27.Rxf8+ Kg7 28.Rf7+ Kg8 29.Rf3 Ng3 30.Rf6 Qh1+ 31.Kf2 Qh2+ 32.Kf3 Bf5

27...Kg7 28.Rxf8

Black to move

Now Black holds all the trumps.

28...Qxe3+ 29.Rf2 Qxd3 30.Ne5 Qg3+ 31.Rg2 Qe3+ 32.Rf2 Nf4 33.Raf1

Black to move


Black missed an easy checkmate

33...Ne2+ 34.Kh1 (34.Kg2 Qh3#) 34...Qh3+ 35.Rh2 Qxf1#

34.Kg2 Nxf2 35.Rxf2 Qxg5+

Easier was 35...Bh3+ 36.Kg1 Qg3+ 37.Kh1 Qxf2 with checkmate on the next move

36.Kf1 Bh3+ 37.Ke1 Qc1+ 38.Ke2

Black to move

Black finds a plan that is easy to play in time trouble.

38...Qxb2+ 39.Ke3 Qxc3+ 40.Ke2 Qb2+ 41.Ke3 Qa3+ 42.Ke2 Qxa2+ 43.Ke3 Qb3+ 44.Ke2

Black to move

And now a simplifying combination. What started as a complex and difficult position that both sides handled incorrectly ended as a race against the clock.

44...Bg4+ 45.Nxg4 Re8+ 46.Ne5 Qc4+ 47.Ke3 Rxe5+ 48.dxe5 Qe4+ 49.Kd2 Qd4+ 50.Ke2 Qxf2+ 51.Kxf2

Black to move

51...Kf7 52.Ke3 Ke6 53.Kf4 b6 54.Ke3 Kxe5 55.Kd3 c5 56.Kc3 Ke4 57.Kd2 d4 58.Kc2 c4 59.Kd2 b5 60.Ke2 c3 61.Kd1 Ke3 62.Kc1 b4 63.Kd1 d3 64.Kc1 c2 65.Kb2 Ke2 66.Kb3 d2 67.Kc4 d1Q 68.Kxb4 c1Q 69.Ka5 Qa3+ 70.Kb5 Qda4# 0–1

05 March 2013


Attacking the King

Find the best moves for Black in the following positions.