11 February 2016

Lesson of the Week

My advanced students were presented with an elegant endgame scenario that proved difficult. I found it in the Chess Quest iPad app.

White to move

Some of my students this week also have been presented with an instructive position that arose in a youth tournament game.

Black to move

Chess players who have invested time to learn fundamental checkmate patterns often find that they can solve this checkmate in six moves within a few seconds. There are several excellent books designed to develop this skill. The Art of the Checkmate (1953) by Georges Renaud and Victor Kahn remains my favorite, but there are others that are useful. Murray Chandler, How to Beat Your Dad at Chess (1998) is popular. Chapter four of The Art of Attack in Chess (1965) by Vladimir Vukovic offers a succinct pattern list. In addition, there is a well constructed lesson presenting 26 key patterns in the first chapter of Practical Middlegame Techniques (1997) by Danny Kopec.

All of these texts have their merits, but I am partial to a privately published pamphlet that is currently available as a PDF file: my own "A Checklist of Checkmates," available via a link in the sidebar to the right. My "Checklist" presents 37 key patterns in a manner similar to Kopec's but with an organizational scheme not found in any other publication. The heuristic that I developed for this pamphlet facilitates learning and memory. I sought to build some of the instructional value of Renaud and Kahn. Most beneficial are the 139 exercises in seven sets. When students are working on my Bishop Award, they complete the first two sets of problems from this pamphlet: Corridors and Diagonals.

In the position above, the checkmate pattern that I call Two Pigs suggests itself, but that pesky knight on f3 gets in the way.

Greco's Academy

My beginning students worked through a worksheet that I created as part of my camp workbook for my 2013 chess camp. It is the first of three pages in a section that I call Greco's Academy--fifteen of Greco's model games with simple questions. Their worksheet contained six games.

Many of Greco's games are short illustrations of a single tactical motif. Imagine yourself as one of Greco's students. He composed these games for you. Play through the games, answering the question: What is the threat at the end of the game?

(1) 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.h3 Nf6 4.c3 Nxe4 5.Qa4+ 1–0

Threat: _____________

(2) 1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e3 b5 4.a4 c6 5.axb5 cxb5 6.Qf3 1–0

Threat: _____________

(3) 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.Nc3 c6 4.Qf3 b5 5.Bb3 b4 6.Na4 d5 7.d3 h6 8.Ne2 d4 9.Ng3 Bg4 0–1

Threat: _____________

(4) 1.e4 e5 2.f4 Nf6 3.Nc3 exf4 4.d4 Bb4 5.Bd3 Qe7 6.Qe2 Nc6 7.e5 Nxd4 8.exf6 Nxe2 9.fxe7 Nxc3
10.a3 Ba5 11.Bd2 1–0

Threat: _____________

(5) 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.Ng5 0–0 6.d3 h6 7.h4 hxg5 8.hxg5 Nh7 9.Qh5 1–0

Threat: _____________

(6) 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 5.Ne5 Qh4+ 6.Kf1 Nh6 7.d4 d6 8.Nd3 f3 9.g3 Qh3+ 10.Ke1
Qg2 11.Nf2 1-0

Threat: _____________

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