03 December 2015

The Lesson

Teaching chess to children is a constant search for lessons that will challenge without frustrating. Sometimes the lesson is too easy; sometimes it is too hard. This week's lesson for my advanced students seemed difficult for the young students in my Thursday club. Perhaps the questions were too abstract and they needed more guidance going through the game. Perhaps the questions were clear, but the answers were too complex.

They did answer the first question rather quickly, which did not surprise me as several weeks ago they saw the games in "Patterns".

I presented them with a worksheet that consisted of a game score with one diagram and some text that included questions at the beginning. This game came to my notice while searching a position from The Art of the Checkmate (1953) by Georges Renaud and Victor Kahn. A game won by Ernest Falkbeer via Legall's checkmate is presented there. A search of the ChessBase database revealed three games that reached the diagram position. The best move, which Falkbeer executed, was not played in any of the other three. I chose the game with the highest rated players for this exercise.

Bautista Ballester,Jordi (1885) -- Mejia Fernandez,Josep (1734) [C44]
Roncana Tancats-chT 1st Santa Eulalia de Roncana (1), 23.04.2009

From the diagram position, White has a crushing attack. However, he did not find it. Rather, his move offered prospects of a slight advantage, which he later squandered. Hence, we have some questions:

1) What was the best move 8 for White?

2) How did White let the advantage slip away?

3) Where did Black err, giving White once again the upper hand?

1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Bc4 Nc6 5.Nf3 d6 6.0–0 Bg4 7.Nxc3 Ne5

White to move

8.Qa4+ Qd7 9.Nxe5 Qxa4 10.Bxf7+ Ke7 11.Nxa4 dxe5 12.f3 Kxf7 13.fxg4+ Kg6 14.h4 h6 15.g5 Be7 16.Rf5 hxg5 17.Bxg5 Bf6 18.Raf1 Ne7 19.Rxf6+ gxf6 20.Rxf6+ Kg7 21.Nc5 Nc6 22.Ne6+ Kg8 23.Nxc7 Rd8 24.Nd5 Rf8 25.Rd6 Rf7 26.g4 Kh7 27.h5 Rhf8 28.Rh6+ Kg7 29.Rg6+ Kh7 30.Nf6+ Kh8 31.Rh6+ 1–0

My beginning students worked on recognizing simple forks via a worksheet that had such positions as the following.

White to move

White to move

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