12 March 2015

Lesson of the Week

My chess lessons this week have been tailored for different groups and individuals.


Watching one of my young pupils chase a lone king with a queen and a knight until I, as the tournament director, stepped in and called the game drawn by the fifty move rule influenced my choice of lessons for the groups comprised mainly of beginners. Two after school clubs worked on elementary checkmate with queen and king vs. lone king (see "Teaching Elementary Checkmates").


Last Thursday, my copy of the Encyclopedia of Chess Combinations, 5th ed. (2014) arrived. I immediately put it to work. My advanced club that meets on Thursday afternoon was offered some incentive to work through the first six problems in the volume. Two students took home chess books after solving all six correctly in one hour's labor. At the March Madness youth tournament on Saturday, I created a problem solving contest featuring eight problems from this text. The two participants who scored best (four correct answers) each won a copy of John Nunn's Chess Puzzle Book.

One of these two winners meets with me on Wednesday afternoons for individual lessons. We spent a fair portion of our time looking at some of the tactical alternatives at two critical positions in Bird -- Morphy, London 1858 (see "Hitting the Books"). An abbreviated version of this exercise will be used today and tomorrow with other groups and individuals.

Bird,Henry Edward -- Morphy,Paul  [C41]
London, 1858

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 f5 4.Nc3 fxe4 5.Nxe4 d5

White to move


White should have sacrificed the knight on e4 for an attack. 6.Nxe5!

6...e4 7.Ne5 Nf6 8.Bg5 Bd6 9.Nh5 0–0 10.Qd2 Qe8 11.g4 Nxg4 12.Nxg4 Qxh5 13.Ne5 Nc6 14.Be2 Qh3 15.Nxc6 bxc6 16.Be3 Rb8 17.0–0–0 Rxf2!

17...Bg4 should win easily. The merits of Morphy's brilliant attack are measured by White's defensive resources that Bird missed in the next diagram.

18.Bxf2 Qa3 19.c3 Qxa2 20.b4 Qa1+ 

White to move


After 21.Kc1, Black has a draw by repetition. Does Black have anything better? This position is worth playing out with a teacher or fellow student.

I like 21...a5, which Garry Kasparov claims is unclear. Kasparov suggests 21...Bf5 with a slight advantage for Black.

21...Qa4+ 22.Kb2 Bxb4 23.cxb4 Rxb4+ 24.Qxb4 Qxb4+ 25.Kc2 e3 26.Bxe3 Bf5+ 27.Rd3 Qc4+ 28.Kd2 Qa2+ 29.Kd1 Qb1+ 30.Kd2 Qxh1 0–1

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