15 October 2015

One Position, Two Games

Heinrich Wolf won an instructive miniature from this position in 1910.

Black to move
After 16.Qh3
16...Ng3+ 17.Qxg3 Qxg3 and White resigned in the light of 18.hxg3 Rh8#.

However, White could have played 17.hxg3, leading to 17...Rg6 18.Bxd5! Bxd5 19.Nc3 Bc6 20.Rxf2 Rh6 21.Kh2 and White has a slight advantage.

This same position appeared in another game in 1958. Denis Victor Mardle had Black and found the move that today's chess engines confirm is the best move, leading to checkmate in seven moves.

What was Black's improvement?

I have been presenting this question to my advanced students this week.

Bonus Position

One of the keys to White's defense after 16...Ng3+? stems from understanding when it is best to give up one's queen for pieces other than the opponent's queen.

A recent game between two players among the world's elite illustrates the exchange of queen for two rooks. This position arose in Grischuk -- Aronian, Stavanger 2015. I found this game while reading Chess Informant 125.

White to move


Grischuk understood Aronian's plans and took countermeasures.

22...Rxg2! 23.Kxg2 Rg8+ 24.Qg4!

Putting the queen in the line of fire is the only defense. After 24.Kf1 Qh2, the queen must go to g4 anyway, but now Black's threats are more serious.

Black to move

24...Rxg4+ 25.fxg4 Qxg4 and Black opted to force a draw by repetition.


  1. If 16...Ng3+ doesn't work, then maybe 16...Rg6 intending Rh6 ?

    White is very tied down anyway

    1. Perhaps White can meet 16...Rg6 with 17.Nc3. In any case, 16...Rg6 was not Mardle's move.

      I found this game in Barden and Heidenfeld, Modern Chess Miniatures (1960). I don't have the book, but have a database with the games from it.

  2. 16 ... Qxe5 Providing protection for Rook on h8. White can muck a bit but I see no way for White to defend. JD

    1. 16...Qxe5 is a very strong move, but the engine finds two stronger moves leading to checkmate in 7 and 8 moves respectfully. 17.Nd2 appears to be White's best defense after 16...Qxe5.

  3. That's the best move that's been suggested here or on Facebook. The move played in the game checkmates one move faster.