02 February 2014

Assessing Threats

In Exner -- Charousek, Szekes Fehervar 1898 Black has just played 31...Be6. He strikes at the h3 pawn, but threatens to promote his b-pawn. Whose threat is more credible?

White to move

My source for this game is Chessgames.com. It is another of the many Charousek gems available on that site, but not present in the ChessBase database.


  1. According to me its Bc3 !!!
    M I right ???

    1. Are you suggesting that White's b-pawn becomes a credible threat after yo sacrifice your bishop? That's an interesting line, but I am skeptical that it is best.

  2. I would change that around to say "Whose _position_ is more credible?" The tactics in this simplified position are easy to find, except in time-pressure.

    After 1.b7 or 1.Kh1, 1...Rh6 is mating, this is why 1.Bc3 (I would give it exclams for cleverness, and could work against an opponent who is in extreme time-pressure and not suspecting this move) was found. 1.Bc3 QxBc3, 2.b7 Qe5, 3.Rab1 Rb8 (Qb8?? 4.QxQ) should hold and win rather easily.

    The only credible try to me for White, who is in positional zugzwang, would be 1.Qa3 Qxb6, 2.Bf2 Rfc8, 3.Rf1c1 Rg5, 4.Rb1 Qc6 followed by ...c4, or 4.Rc3 Qc6 5.Rac1 c4 is still holding the extra pawn.

    The thing that I quickly assessed, without the feeling that I needed to analyze lines to back it up, is that Black has an enormous positional advantage in the diagram. So the part that took a long time was the analysis rather than the evaluation, which is probably what you were trying to get at with the threats motif.

    1. Thanks for the detailed response, linuxguy. I like how you have thought through the position. The star move for White, which may not be so easy to see, is 1.Bh4 creating interference to disrupt Black's attack. However, it will then be some time before the b-pawn becomes a credible threat.

      I played the position out against the computer and blogged about it at "Playing it Out".