30 April 2020


My students this week are seeing a series of positions involving rooks. I present each of these for them to solve, then we look at the sources, where we explore what actually happened in the game (or in the case of the position from Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual, how I failed against Stockfish). As always, our concern is for how the players should have played more than for how they did.

The first two come from a game on a chess website between two fairly weak players, one of whom made some outlandish claims about his endgame knowledge that sent me looking at his games. The skill he claimed was not evident in this game.

White to move

White to move

The next one is from Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual. I skimmed the entire rook chapter in the course of two hours Sunday morning. The elegance of this exercise caught my eye.

White to move

The last two are from a game played at the Spokane Chess Club last Thursday. During the quarantine, the club is meeting online.

White to move

White to move

I might add that errors were made from each of these positions in the original games, except Dvoretsky. I saw the solution before I played it against Stockfish. My errors were much later in the game, after the basic problem had been solved.

19 April 2020

Elementary Checkmates

During the COVID-19 seclusion, organizers in my city are still running youth chess tournaments. We are using a chess playing site and another protected site for posting pairings with the student names linked to the handles they use online. I create the pairings and email them to the tournament organizer. He posts them on the website. Then, the players having the White pieces send challenges to their opponents and the games begin. A group of coaches each watch a batch of games, and post the results in Slack, where we also communicate about problems--games not started, or the wrong time control, or errors reporting, or anything else.

Meanwhile, I have two computers working. One for SwissSys and email. The other for watching the games of those whom I coach. Both computers are logged in to Slack.

I was watching this game, which struck me as a complicated and dangerous position that could go either way.

Black to move


The horror. The horror.

I thought the student should have played 18...Bb4+ 19.Nc3 (19.Kf1 Qd1#) 19...dxc3 20.Qe5+ is White's only chance. (20.bxc3 Bxc3+! 21.Qxc3 Qxh4–+) 20...Kf7 and White can force a draw.

19.Qe7# 1–0

After losing that game, Black had White in the next round and a clear advantage.

White to move


The student overlooked a forced checkmate.

39.Re8+ Kg7 40.Qe5+ Kh6 41.Rh8+ Kg6 42.Rg8+ Kh7 43.Qg7#

39...Qh4+ 40.Kg1 Qd4+

40...Qxe7 White is fighting for a draw.


41.Qe3! wins 41...Qd1+ 42.Qe1 Qd4+ 43.Re3 Qxd5 44.Qf1+ Kg7 45.Rg3+ Kh7 46.Qb1+ Kh8 47.Qb2+ Qd4+ (47...Kh7 48.Qg7#) 48.Qxd4+ Kh7 49.Qh4#


41...Qh4+ 42.Kg1 Qxe7 White is fighting for a draw.

White to move


I was proud of my student for finding this move. There are no more checks other than those that lose the queen.


42...Qf5+ 43.Qxf5+ Kxe7 44.Qe6+ Kd8 45.g4 and the rest is easy.

Now, I am cheering at my computer screen. Find the simple checkmate that I have taught hundreds of times to children over the past twenty years.

43.Re8+ Kg7 44.Rg8+ Kh7 45.Qg6# 1–0

The student found it, and I sent a text message to all the parents of the team that I coach, that this student made my day!

18 April 2020

Avoid This

A common and very well-known tactic led to a rout of one of my students in a chess tournament taking place online today.

A Player (1500) - Another Player (1500) [C20]
Youth Event, 18.04.2020

1.e4 e5 2.Qh5

Black to move


2...Nc6 First protect the pawn. 3.Bc4 Now, prevent checkmate. 3...g6 4.Qf3 Nf6 Again, preventing checkmate. 5.c3

5.Ne2 has been a more popular line 5...Bg7 6.d3

5...Bg7 6.d3 0–0

3.Qxe5+ Be7

3...Qe7 is the last chance to stay in the game. 4.Qxh8 Qxe4+ 5.Kd1 Nf6 and maybe Black can trap the queen.

4.Qxh8 Bf8 5.Qxg8 Qf6 6.d3

Black is already completely lost. White checkmated Black after another 23 moves. 1–0

Some Reference Games

Shaposhnikov,Evgeny (2573) - Vukanovic,Sasa (2351) [C20]
Canarias en Red prel 2nd playchess.com INT (11), 04.05.2004

1.e4 e5 2.Qh5 Nc6 3.Bc4 g6 4.Qf3 Nf6 5.c3 Bg7 6.d3 0–0 7.Bg5 d6 8.Nd2 Be6 9.Ne2 Bxc4 10.Nxc4 d5 11.Ne3 dxe4 12.dxe4 h6 13.Rd1 hxg5 14.Rxd8 Raxd8 15.h4 gxh4 16.Rxh4 Rd3 17.Nc1 Rd7 18.Rh1 Rfd8 19.Nb3 b6 20.Ke2 a5 21.Rd1 Nh5 22.g3 a4 23.Rxd7 Rxd7 24.Nd2 Bh6 25.Nd5 Kg7 26.Nc4 b5 27.Nce3 Nd8 28.Ng4 Bg5 29.Nxe5 Rd6 30.Nxc7 Rd2+ 31.Kf1 Rxb2 32.Qd3 Rxa2 33.Ne8+ Kf8 34.Qd7 Rd2 35.Nd6 a3 36.Nexf7 a2 37.Nxg5 a1Q+ 38.Kg2 Qxc3 39.Qxd8+ Kg7 40.Qe7+ Kg8 41.Qh7+ Kf8 42.Qf7# 1–0

Mede,Istvan (2262) - Laszlo,Janos (2282) [C20]
HUN-chT2 Maroczy 1112 Hungary (1), 25.09.2011

1.e4 e5 2.Qh5 Nc6 3.Bc4 g6 4.Qf3 Nf6 5.c3 Bg7 6.d3 0–0 7.h3 d5 8.Bb3 Be6 9.Nd2 d4 10.Ne2 Nd7 11.Ng3 Nc5 12.Bc2 b5 13.0–0 Qd7 14.Nb3 Na4 15.cxd4 Nxd4 16.Nxd4 Qxd4 17.Ne2 ½–½

Nakamura,Hikaru (2657) - Filippov,Anton (2466) [C20]
Champions Challenge 92nd playchess.com INT (5.1), 30.04.2005

1.e4 e5 2.Qh5 Nc6 3.Bc4 g6 4.Qf3 Nf6 5.Ne2 Bg7 6.d3 d6 7.h3 a6 8.Nbc3 Na5 9.Bg5 h6 10.Be3 Nxc4 11.dxc4 Be6 12.b3 0–0 13.a4 Nh7 14.g4 f5 15.gxf5 gxf5 16.exf5 Bxf5 17.Rg1 Bxc2 18.Qh5 Ng5 19.Bxg5 hxg5 20.Rxg5 Rf7 21.Kd2 Bh7 22.Rag1 Qf8 23.f4 Kh8 24.R1g4 Bh6 25.Rh4 Bxg5 26.fxg5 Rg7 27.g6 Qf6 28.gxh7 Rg5 29.Qh6 ½–½

Nakamura,Hikaru (2657) - Filippov,Anton (2466) [C20]
Champions Challenge 92nd playchess.com INT (5.3), 30.04.2005

1.e4 e5 2.Qh5 Nc6 3.Bc4 g6 4.Qf3 Nf6 5.Ne2 Bg7 6.d3 d5 7.exd5 Nb4 8.Bb3 Nbxd5 9.h3 0–0 10.Bg5 c6 11.Nbc3 h6 12.Nxd5 hxg5 13.Ndc3 a5 14.a4 Qe7 15.Qe3 Nh5 16.g4 Nf4 17.Nxf4 gxf4 18.Qe2 Qh4 19.Ne4 Kh8 20.Nd2 e4 21.0–0–0 exd3 22.Qxd3 Qxf2 23.Ne4 Qe3+ 24.Kb1 Qxd3 25.Rxd3 Be5 26.Re1 f6 27.Nd2 g5 28.Nf3 Re8 29.Bf7 Re7 30.Rd8+ Kg7 31.Bb3 b5 32.Nd4 Rb7 33.axb5 Bxd4 34.Rxd4 Rxb5 35.Re7+ Kh6 36.Rd6 Kg6 37.Bc4 Rb7 38.Bd3+ 1–0

Nakamura,Hikaru (2657) - Filippov,Anton (2466) [C20]
Champions Challenge 92nd playchess.com INT (5.5), 30.04.2005

1.e4 e5 2.Qh5 Nc6 3.Bc4 g6 4.Qf3 Nf6 5.Ne2 Bg7 6.d3 0–0 7.h3 d5 8.exd5 Nb4 9.Bb3 Nbxd5 10.Nbc3 c6 11.Bg5 Qa5 12.Bd2 Qb6 13.g4 Nxc3 14.Nxc3 Be6 15.Be3 Qa5 16.Bxe6 fxe6 17.Bd2 Nd5 18.Qe4 Qb6 19.0–0–0 Rxf2 20.h4 Qd4 21.Qe1 Raf8 22.Ne4 Rg2 23.h5 Qa4 24.a3 Nb4 25.Kb1 Qxc2+ 26.Ka1 Nxd3 27.Bc3 Nxe1 28.Rdxe1 Re2 29.Rxe2 Qxe2 30.Nd2 e4 31.Nb1 Qf3 32.Re1 e3 33.Bxg7 Kxg7 34.Nc3 Qf1 35.Rxf1 Rxf1+ 36.Ka2 Rf2 37.Ne4 e2 38.Nxf2 e1Q 39.Nd3 Qe2 40.Nb4 Qc4+ 41.Kb1 Qxg4 42.hxg6 Qxg6+ 43.Kc1 h5 44.Nc2 h4 45.Ne3 h3 46.Kd2 h2 47.Nc4 h1Q 48.Ne3 Qd5+ 49.Kc3 Qgd3+ 50.Kb4 a5+ 51.Ka4 Q5c4+ 52.b4 Qcc2+ 53.Kxa5 Qxe3 54.a4 Qb6+ 55.Kxb6 Qxa4 56.Kc5 Qb5+ 57.Kd6 Qxb4+ 58.Kxe6 c5 59.Kd6 c4+ 60.Kc7 c3 61.Kc8 c2 62.Kb8 c1Q 63.Ka7 Qa5+ 64.Kb8 Qcc7# 0–1