04 March 2016

Lesson of the Week

My beginning students continue to work on fundamental tactics. This week, the emphasis was on decoy. They worked through the problems on the worksheet Beginning Tactics 10 (reproduced at "Lesson of the Week [19 December 2012]"). They also saw the decoy tactic that I blundered into in my round two game last weekend (see "Don't Be Clever").

My advanced class drew one card from each of three packets: pawn ending cards, rook endings, middlegame positions (from GM-RAM). The first two are from Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual. We labored together to find the solutions with mixed success.

Black to move

Most of the students were convinced that White was winning the pawn ending. I played Black and slowly convinced the students of the truth of the position.

White to move/Black to move

The rook ending position is two positions--White to move and Black to move. We only looked at White. The students tried several schemes that failed, but with correct play, White can transfer the move to Black. Then, it becomes clear that Black is in zugzwang.

White to move

This position arose in Morphy -- De Riviere, Paris 1863. The students favored Morphy's move (18.g4), which may not be best. However, they struggled with my refutation (18...Rh7). De Riviere played 18...Rxh3, which is superior to 18...Rh7. The group saw 19.Bxf6 Nxf6, but not 20.Ng5!


  1. The R+P position you shared is wonderful and important to the theory of this endgame.

    There is one additional move order to test your understanding. Instead of Dvoretsky's main line 1.Kd6+ Kf6, Black can try 1...Kg6 2.Ra1 Kg7. How do you win now?

  2. Great examples of positions. Everyone who wants to play chess should to know it!