23 February 2017

Cultivating Youth Skills

My chess students range from absolute beginners who have just learned how the pieces move and are beginning to discover forks and pins to some of the perennial trophy winners at local scholastic events. Students who meet with me one-on-one get tailored instruction that includes analysis of their tournament games. They also get a heavy dose of classic games.

This week, both students who meet one-one-one and my advanced after school club worked through some positions on my green cards. These cards have diagrams from Ziyatdinov, GM-RAM: Essential Grandmaster Knowledge (2000). One of these positions is from Schulten -- Morphy, New York 1857.

These positions are presented not merely as a tactical problem to solve, but also as a position to play. I emphasize, as does Ziyatidinov, finding the best plans for both sides. Yes, there is a tactical shot. But, there is also a need to cultivate the skill that converts the resulting advantage into a win.

Black to move

Having seen and learned Morphy's Opera Game last week, some students found the key move quickly after being told it is a Morphy game and we need to look at pins.

13...Rxe2 14.Nxe2 Nd4

In the game, Shulten played 15.Qb1.

We explored how Black might proceed after 15.Qe1. Together, we played both sides trying to find a win for Black and the stubborn defense for White.

One of the interesting lines continued: 15.Qe1 Bxe2+ 16.Kg1 Qb6 17.Be3 Ng4 18.Bf2 Re8 and we played on from here, taking back moves that seems to fail and looking for better tries.

We also looked at this position from one of my online games.

White to move

40.Rh7+ was played in the game, and it worked well because Black did not find 40...Kg6 41.Rxe7 Rxc5, which gives Black excellent drawing prospects.

40.Bxe7 is White's best move, leading to 40...Kg7 41.Bd6 Rc1 42.Be5+ Kg6 and White should win.

My beginning students completed the worksheet Beginning Tactics 3 after seeing an illustration of the power of pins from the game Portisch -- Berger, Amsterdam 1964.

White to move

16.Nxh7 Kxh7 17.Rh5+ Kg7 18.Be5+ f6 19.Rg5.

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