15 February 2017

Basic Tactics: Pins and Forks

Yesterday, my beginning chess club saw an obscure miniature and then completed the worksheet Beginning Tactics 3.

Beginning Tactics 3

Find the correct move for White in each diagram. Draw an arrow showing the correct move.

These positions all employ pins and forks--some use pins, some forks (the links offer definitions and examples of these tactical themes). Pins and forks are also evident in the miniature that I showed the students on the demonstration board.

Soultanbeieff,V -- Dybina [E14]
Liege, 1950

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.e3 Bb7 5.Bd3 Be4 6.Nc3 Bb4

In the battle for the e4 square, Black pins White's knight.

7.Qc2 Bxd3 8.Qxd3 d5 9.cxd5 Nxd5 10.0–0

Castling eliminates the pin.

10...Nxc3 11.bxc3 Be7 

White won the battle for e4 and now controls the center.

12.Ne5 0–0 13.f4 c5 14.f5 exf5 15.Qxf5 Qd5?? 

Black should have played 15...Bf6 and fought on in a slightly worse position. Now, White wins material by force.

White to move


This discovered attack against the queen also threatens the bishop at e7. If Black captures the knight, he loses his queen (16...hxg6 17.Qxd5 Na6). If he captures the queen, then the knight captures the bishop with check, forking queen and king (16...Qxf5 17.Nxe7+ Kh8 18.Nxf5).


Black tries to escape the unfavorable exchanges.


Again, White seeks to exchange queens and gain the bishop (17...Qxd5 18.Nxe7+ Kh8 19.Nxd5).

17...Nc6 18.Qxc6 1–0

After 18...Qxc6, White's knight forks still pick up additional material. 19.Nxe7+ Kh8 20.Nxc6. Seeing this, Black opted to resign.

I found this game in Encyclopedia of Chess Miniatures (2015), but not in the other usual sources. Some information is available about Victor Soultanbeieff, the player of the White pieces. The Oxford Companion to Chess (1996) has a short entry on a variation of the Slav Defense that bears his name, and Wikipedia has an entry on him. I could find no information about his opponent, who was probably a local player who was below master strength.

Tomorrow, barring another weather incident. my advanced students will get last week's planned lesson (see "Inspired by Morphy"). Last week, we had a snow day.

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