Monthly Archives: May 2009

Attacking Chess Tactics: Hounding the enemy King

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When you consider that White as a player had the highest Elo rating ever achieved while Black reached the next highest spot, you might expect the game to be a close tussle and a long, slow process till one pips the other at the final post. You will therefore wonder at White’s attacking force that made the Black King run all over the chessboard to seek final futile shelter in White King’s domain! It is therefore no wonder that the game ranks as one of the greatest display of attacking chess tactics.

The diagram below shows the position after 23 moves and the next move by White that started it all can surely be considered as one of the best moves ever played on the board! Try to follow the moves with an analytical mind to understand the chess tactics deployed and also the possible alternatives with their consequences. That is the best way for you to learn from great players and raise your own game.

Position after 23 moves

start of a king hunt

Your initial assessment of the position will show that the Black King is severely hemmed in with very few squares available to it. The White Queen and Bishop are looking along open diagonals to the Black King’s position with the Knight poised menacingly. The only open file is under the control of White Rook. In contrast, none of the Black pieces pose any threat to White King with all of them lying in their own territories. The only weak point in White’s position is the unsupported QP that is under attack by as many as 4 Black pieces (you may know about ‘overprotection’, is this a case of ‘overattack’!?) but Black still needs a move to get rid of this ‘protruding thorn’ to roll forward his united Q-side pawn phalanx!

Now see how it all proceeds in the context of above positional factors.

24. Rxd4 cxd4   The Rook sacrifice comes as a rude shock but you may agree that it suddenly turns the formidable pawn phalanx looking like a tattered army, giving Black a weak QP the fall of which will open another diagonal leading to the Black King.
25. Re7+ Kb6   2. … Qxe7 3. Qxd4+ Kb8 4. Qb6+ Bb7 (or Qb7) 5. Nc6# – all Black moves are forced.
26. Qxd4+ Kxa5  
27. b4+ Ka4  
28. Qc3 Qxd5   Black removed the White QP and guarded against the threat of Qb3#. If instead 5. … Bxd5 6. Kb2 Bc4 8. Qb3+ Bxb3 9. cxb3#
29. Ra7 Bb7   If 6. Kb2 (with the idea 7. Qb3+ Qxb3+ 8. cxb3#) then 6. … Qd4 forces exchange of Queens
30. Rxb7 Qc4  
31. Qxf6 Kxa3  
32. Qxa6+ Kxb4  
33. c3+ Kxc3   10. … Qxc3 11. Rxb5#. It is strange how White throws away all the Pawns guarding his King!
34. Qa1+ Kd2   11. … Kb3 11. Qb2+ Ka4 12. Ra7#. Black will lose his Queen on 10. … Kb4 11. Qb2+ Qb3 12. Rxb5+ or 10. … Kb4 11. Qb2+ Ka5 12. Qa3+ Qa4 13. Ra7 or 10. … Kb4 11. Qb2+ Kc5 12. Rc7+
35. Qb2+ Kd1  
36. Bf1 Rd2  
37. Rd7 Rxd7  
38. Bxc4 bxc4  
39. Qxh8 Rd3  

Qa8 c3  
41. Qa4+ Ke1  
42. f4 f5  
43. Kc1 Rd2  
44. Qa7 Resigns   R.I.P.


Position after 44. Qa7

end of king hunt


Chess Tactics in Middle Game: Give up Queens to get Passed Pawns!

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If you suspect that the title is a mix up putting Queens and Passed Pawns the wrong way around, then rest assured that it was not so. Giving up Passed Pawns for Queens can be an excellent chess tactics for mere mortals like us, but the reverse makes for chess immortals like Alekhine! His play with Black pieces amply demonstrates the power of passed pawns, some examples of which as a chess tactics you have already seen.

The interesting point is that Alekhine gives this ‘brutal’ lesson on the power of a passed pawn to his opponent Bogoljubov who was a Grandmaster of fair standing with a style of play considered ‘brutal’ and who never accepted that Alekhine was a better player!

The other amazing fact is that Black not only gives up his original Queen, but also two more Queens promoted from Pawns during the course of the game! Only when he sets the way for getting a fourth Queen that White decided he had had enough of Black Queens!

The position after 28 moves is shown below.

queens for passed pawns for queens

The game proceeded:

1. Rxa5 b4   The first passed pawn on the move!
2. Rxa8 bxc3  
3. Rxe8 c2   Black’s first Queen falls and more pieces are on the guillotine, but he does not care. This move by Black is a contender for a place among best chess moves in history!
4. Rxf8+ Kh7  
5. Nf2 c1=Q+   Black gets is second Queen!
6. Nf1 Ne1  
7. Rh2 Qxc4  
8. Rb8 Bb5   The Bishop move blocks the Rook from joining other White forces on the base rank, while threatening 9. … Qxf1#. Other lines like 9. Bg2 Nxg2 10. Nd2 Qc1+ or 9. Nd2 Qc1 to be followed by 10. … Nf3++ do not help White
9. Rxb5 Qxb5  
10. g4 Nf3+  
11. Bxf3 exf3  
12. gxf5 Qe2  
13. d5 Kg8   White was in a kind of zugzwang. 13. Ng4 (or Nh3) Ng4 14. Rxe2 fxe2 and Black gets his third Queen on the next move! Others like 13. Rh1 (or Rh3) Ng4 14. Nxg4 Qg2#
14. h5 Kh7   Black’s King moves to force White’s hand in taking a move he wanted to avoid!
15. e4 Nxe4  
16. Nxe4 Qxe4  
17. d6 cxd6  
18. f6 gxf6   White made those pawn moves as he was still constrained and in the process, had to allow another passed pawn to Black
19. Rd2 Qe2   Black offers the second Queen also!
20. Rxe2 fxe2  
21. Kf2 exf1=Q   Black gets his third Queen just to give it up immediately! Through all these queening processes, he decimated White’s pawns and pieces to ultimately emerge with one extra pawn but a passed one at that!
22. Kxf1 Kg7  
23. Ke2 Kf7  
24. Ke3 Ke6  
25. Ke4 d5+  
26. Resigns   White King has to retreat and with other White and Black pawns blocking each other, the endgame reduces to King and Pawn vs King with Black getting the opposition. You know from your knowledge of endgame tactics [ ] that it is a won position for Black with the certainty of getting a fourth Queen!


Chess Tactics: Power of a Bishop pair on long open diagonals to enemy castle

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In telling you about winning chess strategies, we stated that if your bishop can control the long diagonal towards your opponent’s castled position, it can give you considerable leverage in your attack on the king. If you can place both your bishops on two such side by side open diagonals leading to the enemy King’s position, the force multiplier becomes more than double.

If your chess tactics make good use of this power, those can be enough to win the game for you. In many cases, these bishops are sacrificed as battering rams to break open the castle or used as long-range support to enable your other pieces or even pawns to get in and deliver the coup de grace to the enemy King! Many brilliant games owe their eminence to the power of such bishops.

To make you understand how these chess tactics are used, we describe here a game by a player who is often described as the best player never to win the World Championship. Amongst his many brilliant games, this one played by him as Black in 1908 includes two successive moves (22 and 23) both of which can easily find place among the best chess moves ever made! We hope this game shows you what chess tactics are all about.

1. d4 d5  
2. Nf3 e6  
3. e3 c5  
4. c4 Nc6  
5. Nc3 Nf6  
6. dxc5 Bxc5  
7. a3 a6  
8. b4 Bd6  
9. Bb2 0-0  
10. Qd2 Qe7  
11. Bd3 dxc4  
12. Bxc4 b5  
13. Bd3 Rd8  
14. Qe2 Bb7  
15. 0-0 Ne5  
16. Nxe5 Bxe5   You can see how the bishop pair on two long diagonals are taking shape in Black’s game. This should ring an alarm bell for the defender. Instead, the KN which normally can perform an excellent sentry duty as described in basic chess strategies Part 2, has left its post to get exchanged with Black’s QN.
17. f4 Bc7   White is planning for a King-side attack, but at the cost of further opening up the Black Bishops’ diagonals.
18. e4 Rac8   But do you as yet see any imminent threat? Can you blame White at this point for remaining so blissfully unaware of the brooding storm?
19. e5 Bb6+   Seeing that the b8-h2 diagonal is getting blocked, Black KB shifts to the a7-g1 diagonal, opening up the c- and d-files already occupied by Black Rooks. Black’s KN is poised to jump towards the enemy King’s position which will open the lines for Black Queen to join in the fray when necessary. All in all, Black pieces are menacingly poised with plenty of open space for their movements.
20. Kh1 Ng4  
21. Be4 Qh4   21. Qxg4 Rxd3 and Black Rook is ready to occupy the 7th rank. With hindsight, this may have been a relatively better course for White. But he tries to exchange Black’s QB and Black immediately counters it with a mating threat by bringing in his Queen. With so many Black pieces placed so effectively with focus on White King’s position, it is only a matter of time for the fireworks to start! But White probably did not anticipate it to start so fast and in the way it did!


Position after 21 moves:

bishop pair on long diagonals

22. g3 Rxc3   With his pawn move, White brought support to his KRP while threatening the Black Queen. But Black caught him totally by surprise with his Queen sacrifice.
23. gxh4 Rd2   Another deadly surprise to remove White Queen’s support for the KB by creating a threat for checkmate at h2 if the Rook offer was not taken by White. See the way the Black Bishop pair is working as a long-range artillery!
24. Qxd2 Bxe4+  
25. Qg2 Rh3   The Queen tries to interpose but it is all too late and Black is in no mood to relent.
26. Resigns   There is no way to stop Black delivering Rxh7 checkmate


You will hardly ever see such a smooth-flowing attack with ALL the Black pieces participating in such a grand orchestration!


Chess Tactics in Middle Game: Might of united Passed Pawns

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You have seen how chess tactics was used for utilizing the power of a passed pawn to settle the outcome of a chess game. Let us now look at another game showing the greater might of united passed Pawns that Black obtained by sacrificing his pieces.

If you sit back and think, you will realize that such sacrificial moves, though looking so spectacular, are essentially not a sacrifice but only a long-term investment. Giving up one Rook for a Pawn and another Rook for a Bishop to get a passed Pawn that becomes a Queen is actually getting better of the bargain (Queen and bishop against two Rooks)! The brilliancy lies in identifying the possibility and deploying suitable chess tactics to make it a reality.

The position shown below was reached after 26 moves and Black initiated his combination with a stunning move that earned its place among the best moves in chess history.

chess tacics in middle game for united passed pawns

As suggested before, see if you can find the move on your own after White played 27. Ng3, though this time it should not be difficult with the hint that you have got already. But finding the sequence of moves in the combination may prove to be more difficult.

Here is how the game went from the above position.

1. Ng3 Rxe3  
2. Bxe3 Rxe3  
3. Nxh5 Nxh5  
4. Qxh5 Bc6  
5. Qg5 Rxc3   From a semi-passed QNP, Black has now got united QNP and QBP, albeit by giving up Rook against Bishop and Pawn and another such exchange to follow in next two moves
6. Qd2 Rxc2  
7. Rxc2 Ne6   Black threatened the last of White’s center pawns and White has to guard it
8. Rd1 b4   The passed pawns have started exerting their power
9. Rb2 b3  
10. Qc3 Nc7  
11. Re2 Qa7  
12. Qb4 Nb5  
13. Re7 Qa3   With those menacing passed pawns having the support of the Knight, Black could afford to exchange Queens, but not White
14. Qe1 c3   But the Pawns go marching in! Black does not care if White wants to exchange his Rook for Black’s Bishop and Knight in the supreme confidence that two connected passed pawns on their 6th rank cannot be blocked by a Rook and Black Queen is there to take care of any interference by her counterpart!
15. Re8+ Bxe8  
16. Qxe8+ Kh7  
17. Qxf7 Qa8   But White had a more sinister plan to salvage a draw and so went for Black’s KBP rather than his Knight! Black rose to the occasion to thwart White’s plan of salvaging a draw. For example: 17. … c2 18. Qh5+ Kg7 19. Qe8+ Kh7 20. Qh5+ Kg7 and draw by perpetual check. It shows that you can never be too careful even in a won position!
18. Re1 Nd6   Threatens the Queen and guards the vulnerable e8 square
19. Qc7 c2   With immediate threats taken care of, Black resumes the pawn march without bothering about the Knight
20. Qxd6 b2  
21. Qf4 Qc6  
22. Resigns  


Chess Tactics in Middle Game: Power of the Passed Pawn

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In our article on planning your chess strategy and chess tactics during the middle and end games, you learned that the techniques for using pawns to the best advantage should be part of the chess tactics in your arsenal. The creation of a protected passed pawn is one of the most important among such tactics.

Though the opportunity of creating passed pawn(s) is more during the endgame, you will be able to identify such possibility and the chess tactics to create such passed pawn(s) even during middle game as you gain in experience. Going through games of chess masters where such tactics were successfully employed will be a great help to you in seeing and exploiting such situations. You have already seen an example in Chess tactics: vision to combination

The potential power of a protected passed pawn is so great that such masters have resorted to piece sacrifice and/or exchange sacrifice just to create such passed pawn(s). In this process, many of such games have earned a place in the hall of fame for brilliant chess games and the move that started the combination became a justifiable contender for the best moves ever played in chess history.

Of course, a single move does not win a game but only sets up the process that leads to victory. Creating a passed pawn gives only a good start. How you nurture it and utilize its promotion threat to bring down the opponent constitute the essential chess tactics that bring you the reward.

In the following position reached after 29 moves, you can see that White has already got a passed KP. It now needs the tactics to promote that Pawn. You should first try to find out on your own that all important move to start the process and may be the continuation that will need to be followed thereafter. This type of analytical practice will open your eyes to identify such situations in your own games.

middle game tactics with passed pawn

The actual game proceeded as under.

1. Ba3 Qxa3  
2. Nh5+ gxh5  
3. Qg5+ Kf8  
4. Qxf6+ Kg8   4. … Ke8 5. Qf7+ Kd8 6. Qd7#
5. e7 Qc1+   Black has nothing else to do but keep giving checks to White King as long as possible!
6. Kf2 Qc2+  
7. Kg3 Qd3+  
8. Kh4 Qe4+  
9. Kxh5 Qe2+  
10. Kh4 Qe4+  
11. g4 Qe1+  
12. Kh5 Resigns   Black has run out of checks


In the next article, you will see the might of united passed pawns and the sacrificial chess tactics that have been used by Black to create that advantage, thereby producing a notable move in chess history!