11 February 2014

Understanding Threats

Lesson of the Week

Rezs┼Ĺ Charousek (1873-1900) created deep combinations. In this position, his opponent Jakob Wollner has material superiority, but a vulnerable king.

Black to move

How should Black play?

In the game, Wollner played 18...Qg8.

How should White proceed?


  1. Perhaps 1. f6-f7. If Black takes the white queen (1. ... Qg8xg5), White plays 2. f8=Q with perpetual check (...Qg8 3. Qf6+ Qg7 4. Qd8+ and back and forth between Qf6+ and Qd8). If instead Black captures 1. ... Qxf7, then 2. Qd8+. If Black plays 2.…Qg8, this transposes into the earlier perpetual-check line; if Black tries to elude the checks with 2.…Kg7, White can either take the Bc8 or try to get a perpetual check on the dark squares, though it's not clearly as forcing as the previous perpetual-check line since the black king has more mobility.

    1. Jim, thanks for the comment. Your line is interesting and not one that I had looked at before posting. It adds helpful additional insight into the position.

      Nonetheless, I must point out that White found a better move in the game. 18...Qg8 was a game losing blunder. Although it does give White a way out of a material deficit with a forced draw, it also gives White a clear win. Charousek found the win.

  2. How about Re1. If ...Qxg5, 2. Re8+ Qg8 3. f7 Qxe8 f7xe8=Q looks like Black will be mated. Perhaps instead 3. … Qf8 (to keep White from queening and giving the black king an escape) 4. Rf8+ Kg7 5. Rxc8 Kxf7 6. Nxd5 (threatening to win Black's rook with Nc7) a5 7. Nc7 Ra2 8. Rxb8 followed by winning Black's knight, leaving White a piece and pawns (plus piece mobility) ahead?

    1. Yes. The game ended at f7 in this line.

      Instead of 18...Qg8, Black should have played 18...Nc6 followed by b6. It is much easier to spot such continuations in the comfort of home without the pressure of facing Charousek's attack over the board.