Monthly Archives: September 2009

Chess Tactics: The King’s role in attack – part 2

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Filed under Attacking tactics, Chess lessons, Chess Strategy, Chess tactics, Chess Tutorials
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In Chess Tactics: The King’s role in attack – part 1, you saw how one King, while apparently running away from opponent’s checks, was actually moving towards the enemy camp to assist his own pieces for trapping the opponent’s King. By the time the opponent realized what was happening, it was too late to do anything about it.

The three games we have chosen for this article is slightly different from the aforesaid theme. Here a King deliberately steps out of his castled position and marches towards the enemy King to provide support to his own attacking pieces. Of course this was possible because though opponent’s heavy pieces were still on board, the pawn positions severely restricted their free movement and the attacking King deftly maneuvered through the crowded position.

First game –

position after 30 moves:

king-takes-a-walk7

31 Kh2 Rc8 If Black could guess the intention behind the White King’s move, he could try 31. … Bc8. We would have missed the interesting ending, but White could have still won the game by:
31. … Bc8 32. Ng5 Bxd7 33. Rf4. For example:
 
33. … Bc8 34. Nxf7 (threatening 35. Qxg6#) Rxf7 35. Qxf7+ Kh8 36. Qxg6 Qd7 37. Qxh5+ Qh7 (37. … Kg8 38. Rg4+ Kf8 39. Qh8+ Ke7 40. Qf6#) 38. Qxe8+ and Black has to give up his Queen to avoid checkmate.
 
32. Kg3 Rce8 Black is so short of option that he just keeps moving his pieces without much purpose!
33. Kg4 Bc8
34. Kg5 Resigns 34. … Bxd7 35. Kh6 any 36. Qg7#
 
34. … Kh7 35. Rxf7+ Rxf7 36. Qxf7+ Kh8 37. Kh6 with mate in two moves.

 

Position after 34. Kg5:

king-takes-a-walk8

 

Second game –

position after 33 moves:

king-takes-a-walk9

34 f4 Ra2+ 1…Rxd4 2. f5 exf5 3 e6 Re4+ 4 Nxe4 fxe4 (4…Bb3 5. Ke3) 5 Rc7, threatening Rxc6
35. Kf3 Ra3+
36. Kg4 Rd3
37. f5 Rxd4
38. Kg5 exf5
39. Kf6 Rg4
40. Rc7 Rh4
41. Nf7+ Resigns 41. … Ke8 42. Rc8+ Kd7 43. Rd8#

 

Position after 41. Nf7+:

king-takes-a-walk10

 

Third game –

position after 28 moves:

king-takes-a-walk11

29 Kf2 h6
30. Ke1 Re6
31. Qg3 Be8
32. Kd2 g5
33. Kc3 Kf8
34. Kb4 Bf7
35. Ka5 Kg7
36. Kb6 Kf8
37. Kc7 Kg7
38. Kd7 Kf8
39. Qf2 Rg6
40. Qf5 h5
41. g3 Resigns Black is totally tied up and White will soon be able to create passed pawns that will wear down any resistance Black may have in mind.

 

Position after 41. g3:

king-takes-a-walk12

 

You will notice that the oldest game we chose in Chess Tactics: The King’s role in attack – part 1 was played in 1888 (there are even older examples in chess archives) and the latest one in this article is from 2008. So, you now know that such Royal ventures, though not so frequent, have continued to recur for more than a century even when chess theories and styles have undergone a lot of change over these years.

We hope that these games will broaden your thinking on the role of the King and to identify situations where such steps by the King may reap benefits for you.

 

Chess Tactics: The King’s role in attack – part 1

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“The King is a fighting piece. Use it!” is a remark ascribed to Wilhelm Steinitz who is regarded as the first World Champion in Chess. Nevertheless, your common experience may make you think of your King only as a liability, which needs to be protected at any cost and the cost sometimes becomes so high that you give up your efforts! Only when you have been able to survive till an endgame with only pawns around that you possibly appreciate the thoughts behind the remark of Mr. Steinitz!

But a search through chess archives will show you many games where a player did use his King as a fighting piece who traveled all the way into the opponent’s territory to capture pieces and pawns and to provide support to his own attacking forces for delivering checkmate!

I have picked up six such examples and divided those into two groups. In this article, we present three games with a little ironic twist because it was the opponent who was mostly attacking but the fighting King took opportunity of these checks to move where it wanted to go without loss of tempo! The opponent ultimately realizes that he has brought the doom upon himself by his failure to see the intention of the King taking a walk!

In the second article Chess Tactics: The King’s role in attack – part 2, we show another three games where the King boldly stepped out on his own by taking advantage of opponent’s constricted position and took the battle to the enemy King to create a winning position.

First game –

position after 31 moves:

king-takes-a-walk1

32 Bc4+ Kg7
33. Re7+ Kg6
34. Bb3 Rg2+
35. Kh1 h3
36. Rd1 Rc8
37. Rd6+ Kf5
38. Rxa7 Rc1+
39. Bd1 Ne2
40. Ra5+ Kf4
41. Rf6+ Ke3
42. Re5+ Kf2
43. Rxe2+ Kf1 White looked at 44. … Rg1# or 44. Rxg2 hxg2# and resigned.

 

Position at the end of Black King’s journey:

king-takes-a-walk2

 

Second game –

position after 19. … Qa3+:

king-takes-a-walk3

20 Kd1 Nb2+
21. Ke2 Qa6+
22. Ke3 Nc4+
23. Kxe4 gxf6
24. Qxf6 Qb6
25. Kf4 Qc7+
26. Kg5 Bd5 26… Rfe8 27.Kh6 Kf8 28.Qh8+ Ke7 29.Rxe6+ Kxe6 (29… fxe6 30.Qg7#) 30.Nc5+ Ke7 (30… Kf5 31.g4#) 31.Re4+ Kd8 (31. … Ne5 32. Rxe5+ Qxe5 33. Qxe5+ Kd8 (33. … Kf8 34. Nd7+ Kg8 35. Qg7#) 34. Qd6+ Kc8 35. Qd7+ Kb8 36. Qxb7#) 32. Qxe8#
 
27. Kh6 Resigns Black cannot prevent Qg7#

 

Position at the end of White King’s journey:

king-takes-a-walk4

 

Third game –

position after 23. … Rd1+:

king-takes-a-walk5

The analyses are as given by Shashin himself, who considered this as the best game of his life.

24 Kh2 Qd6+ Shashin considered this as the losing move and according to him White could force a draw here by repetition of moves with the following line of play. (But if Korchnoi thought he was winning, he would not go for this!)
24. … Ng4+!! 25. hxg4 Qd6+ 26. Qg3 Nxg3 27. Rd7+ Kf8 28. Bxg7+ Kc8 29. Rxd6 Nf1+ 30. Kg1 Nd2+ 31. Kh2 Nf1+ 32. Kg1 Nd2+ etc.
25. g3 Ng4+
26. Kg2 Nh4+
27. gxh4 Qh2+
28. Kf3 Qxf2+
29. Ke4 Qe2+ Not 29. Kxg4 because of 29. … Rg1+ 30. Kh5 g6+ 31. Kh6 Qxh4#
 
Black’s 29. … Qe2+ is a losing move. After 29. … Re1+ 30. Kd5 Rd1+ 31. Kc4 Kxf7 32. hxg4 Ke8, the game is still open.
30. Kf4 Rf1+
31. Kg5 h6+
32. Kg6 Ne5+
33. Qxe5 Rg1+
34. Qg5 Qxb2
35. Rxg7+ Resigns 35. … Kf8 36. Rg8#

 

Position at the end of White King’s journey:

king-takes-a-walk6

 

In Chess Tactics: The King’s role in attack – part 2, you will see examples of one King stepping out to approach and corner his opponent.

 

Online chess helps improve the skills quickly

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The game of chess is a thinking game. More than providing just fun and entertainment, the game stimulates the mind and trains the mind in such a way that a person can face the life with more confidence, take wise decisions and have a better quality life.

Now with the advent of technology and the spread of Internet at a faster pace across the world, the number of people taking advantage of online chess is on the rise. Online chess has many advantages. There is no need to go in search for a partner as was the case earlier before the advent of Internet.

One more disadvantage in chess in earlier days was that a chess player, in his novice stage, would not get more opportunities to play with other novices and invariably there would be a mismatch between the two players playing in academic and amateur tournaments or games. Lack of encouragement at the early stages of the learning process also diminishes one’s appetite for the game and many people lose out in early stages due to this recurring problem.

It is in this context that online chess comes to the assistance of the chess player. He can find partners across the net at any point of time. He need not worry or go about searching for a partner to play the game. The skill set of the partner can also be decided in advance and such partner who is at par with your skill or slightly better than you can be chosen from the Internet. In this way, you can have a better experience and excitement playing with a player of equal skill than a game involving a mismatch of skill sets.

With online chess, a player can find the right partner to compete with and this helps in a long way in mastering the skills and improvising on the same at a relatively quicker time.

As there is no room for chance, luck or other outside influence in this game, the player will be ultimately responsible for all that he does in the game of chess. If he makes a wrong move or overlooks a threat to one of its pieces, then he is bound to lose that piece and ultimately the game itself.

The onus lies on the player to think, concentrate, calculate, analyze and then make an appropriate move aimed at cornering the opponent’s King. This practice of thinking before acting and taking wise decisions helps a player not only win the game, but also take important and wise decisions at real life. The more one practices the game of chess, the more matured and intelligent he will become in his approach towards the game, and towards the life in general.

Online chess has other advantages as well. The internet is storage for vast number of games played by grandmasters and others and some millions of games are available in the Internet.

A person aspiring to excel in the game of chess, can exploit this vast storage of data in the Internet to look at the great games played by grandmasters since the 1900s when the first professional championship tournaments began up to the latest tournament. Looking at those games, playing out those moves, analyzing the moves and their ultimate objectives will go a long way in helping a player gain the much-needed insight about the game. This will help in understanding the game to its core and help in improving the skills.

20+ ways Chess is beneficial for You and Your Children

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baby_chess

The numbers are only to draw attention, they do not tell the real story. If you are genuinely curious about it, don’t keep counting but keep reading on …

Several months earlier, we made an attempt to show how chess is beneficial to your mind. But that was aimed at beginners and amateurs so that they may seriously pursue their interest in chess not only for just fun and enjoyment but also for its other beneficial effects. Here we are trying to take it one step ahead to address parents with young children on how playing chess can be good for the whole family.

We firmly believe that any caring and sensible parent will like to see their children growing up to be intelligent, rational human beings who will make a success of their lives and be pillars of the society. The level and quality of interaction between the child and parents have a profound impact on the life and outlook when the child reaches adulthood. Developing an interest in chess and sharing it with children can be one of the ways, an enjoyable one too, which can help in this pursuit. We are trying to put our thoughts on areas where chess can make a positive contribution.

However, only at a few places we have referred to the child, leaving other benefits to be understood by parents and then to be explained by examples to their children. For example, without looking at the board at the start of a game, you can tell the child that if he moves his KP, his KB can go to the white square on the fourth row in front of his QB, from where it can target your black KBP on its white square. The child looks at the board, tries to play it out and accepts that what you said is true. You explain how visualization and planning works and encourage him to do that – you can make it a new kind of game between you and your child. You have to use your ideas on how to expose him to the other areas of the game so that he can reap the benefits.

1. Inquisitiveness – fueling the urge to learn

If you have observed the growing years of a child, what is sure to strike you is the unbounded inquisitiveness of a child. This lies behind the learning of any new subject or ideas. It is like a fire inside which needs constant supply of fresh fuel to sustain it. When he throws a toy, he is not being ‘naughty’ but trying to find out what happens if he throws it (a rubber ball bounces a lot, the toy car does not) or the kind of sound it makes. He puts things in his mouth to find out the difference in tastes. When he breaks a toy, he is trying to find out what lies inside or what makes it ‘tick’! But he may also be doing it simply to draw attention and seek company. You may have also noticed that a child soon loses interest in something that only a few weeks earlier was the dearest item. Why? Because he has learnt everything that was to know about it within his realm of experience and now looks for something fresh!

Only problem is that such inquisitiveness may get on to the nerves of the harassed young parents, increasing their household chores to clear up the ‘mess’. By teaching and playing chess with them, you can give them something that will sustain the interest for long, become more intriguing as they learn more, provide a challenge and at the same time ensure companionship (you cannot play chess with yourself!). You thus channel their energy in lines that help both the child and you as parent to develop …

chess_kid

2. Understanding and learning – one branch leads to another

Any exercise of the mind helps in its growth and what better exercise than trying to learn the intricacies of chess! Basically, chess is not at all a complicated game as far as rules are concerned. All you need to know is:

  • the initial arrangement of pieces and pawns
  • White’s first move
  • check and checkmate
  • capture as a part of movement
  • 15 types of moves
    • 6 for six types of chessmen with their individual but single rule of movement
    • 4 more for the King (K-side castling, Q-side castling, not moving to a square controlled by opponent’s piece, immunity from capture)
    • 5 more for the Pawn (initial double step forward, no backtracking, diagonal capture, en passant, promotion)

Other rules are for tournaments and can be disregarded in your family game. Therefore, starting on chess is much less daunting than what the uninitiated may think! But its pursuit builds up the ability to learn and understand. These mental faculties can be used in any other walks of life provided these can be retained in …

3. Memory – the mental links

It is said that all we have experienced in life – seeing, reading, tasting, hearing, feeling and so on – from the first day of our life get stored somewhere in our brain. Unfortunately there is no direct link from our conscious mind to most (possibly 90%) of these and we are unable to recollect the information. Our memory covers only those for which such link can be traced readily. The more links we can establish, the more we approach a super-memory and the benefits are easy to perceive. It has been held by memory experts that repetition or regular exercise of mind to recollect the links helps in improving the size and strength of this memory domain. Chess provides an opportunity in this as you and your child try to learn from past experience (which is memory) and from studies of chess openings, chess tactics, master games and so on. Once a child understands that paying attention, mulling things in your mind and repeated practice help in remembering, he can apply it to his other studies also. It will also become apparent that though there are some items that need to be learnt by rote (like multiplication tables) before you understand them, most others are easier to remember if you try to see the underlying meaning and principle like the chess opening theories. In short, you start looking for the …

4. Logic – making sense of things apparently incoherent

In chess, every strategy, every opening, every move, tactics, combination has a logical thinking behind it. There are no imponderables – only a flaw or deficiency in the logic or limitation to the depth of analysis. These shortcomings start getting remedied with experience when the right logic builds up to replace the flawed ones. The development of logical ability is all-pervading, with practice it comes into play in whatever activities you may undertake. Arising out of this logic comes …

5. Analytical ability – understanding cause-effect relationship

The correct sense of logic leads you and your child to carry out analysis to read any situation even if it is something unfamiliar. In chess, all the brilliant combinations that one sees are the end results of the deep analysis by the player concerned. To improve your game, it becomes incumbent on you to read any position in your game to identify strong and weak areas, possible moves and counter-moves, and to select the line that is expected to yield an advantage for you. This kind of analysis becomes a habit which supports …

6. Problem solving – the tactical ability

The techniques that you apply over the board in a game of chess help to give you a sharp mind and this incisiveness can cut through obstacles in other fields of activity. This also paves the way to anticipate problems rather than getting caught unawares. This ability to foresee prompts you to look for an appropriate course of action that calls for …

7. Planning – the strategy before the tactics

It is thinking ahead to consider the different possibilities (the lines of play for your game of chess) so that you are ready beforehand and can take control of the direction the events should take. You are in charge of the situation rather than the other way round. When you are planning, everything is happening in your mind and yet to become a reality. This ability develops the power of …

8. Abstract thinking – seeing it in your mind’s eye

This tends to be a weak area for most people and those who can do it naturally enjoy an upper hand vis-à-vis the others. If you apply your mind to it, you will realize that practice of chess and gaining proficiency in it necessarily involves thinking of this type. You may argue that all thinking is abstract as compared to reality! Here we do not mean a thought in isolation like what to have for your dinner, but thinking about a series of moves and counter-moves and the resultant board positions before we put them into action. Once you are adept at this, you can see yourself before an interview board and answering their questions! But such a sustained thought process needs you to develop your …

9. Concentration – focusing your mind

If you sit back and think, you will realize that your untrained mind is like a monkey jumping from tree to tree, branch to branch, without spending any length of time anywhere. Only with intense thinking on a subject, as happens when you are working out a set of moves on the chessboard, you develop the ability to concentrate. We are not talking of a single subject, rather a line of thinking related to the subject covering different possibilities. The power of concentration is a requisite for …

10. Vision and Imagination – beyond the routine

With more experience, you can take any activity to a certain level but sequential thinking can take you only that far. To go beyond the mundane, you have to break out of routine and develop ‘tangential’ thinking. A deep study of chess games by brilliant masters exposes you to this lateral thinking and the beauty of such ‘unpredictable’ moves. All great ideas and inventions some way involve such vision on the part of the proponent. Chess can be a conduit for developing your child’s mind towards …

11. Inventiveness and Creativity – something out of nothing

As your child keeps learning, playing, improving his game and enjoying the free flow of his ideas, his mind is ready to add that 1% inspiration to his 99% perspiration, all possible through your active support and guidance. When that happens, you get a genius in your family! The realization of his ability gives your child …

12. Self-confidence – standing on his own

To be successful in any field, a person needs to do away with all doubts nagging his mind and to be confident in his own abilities. Do not be indulgent, let him fight it out with you over the board. If you become easy meat, let him not be complacent. Take him over to local chess club, encourage him to join school tournaments and do similar things to throw new challenges in his path. This will develop his ability to …

13. Face Challenges – toughening the steel inside

As they say, life is full of challenges and the sooner a child learns to face up to it, the better he can rise above his surroundings. Mankind has always revered the winner and your child will soon …

14. Earn peer respect – incentive to grow

That is what you hopefully expected of your child, didn’t you? He stands tall and you are proud of him. Being the school champion, town champion, state champion …. Earning admiration in one field opens many doors to other fields for him to explore and excel. This can stand him in good stead towards …

15. Choice of careers – prestige of being a ‘brainy’ person

The perception of chess players as men of high intelligence makes such people to be welcomed by many organizations. After all, you want a success for your child in the material world also! But this is probably too far down the road. What is now more important and precious for you and your child is …

16. Fun and enjoyment – release from tension

Going back to where we started – how to manage your child without stress – and to bring more fun and enjoyment in the family life and the great feeling of togetherness that can last for years to come through …

17. Family bonds – the closeness to one another

In these days when more and more families seem to be breaking up and the communication gap between children and parents become barriers in understanding, the worth of family bonds does not need to be stressed. These bonds prevent children from going astray and inculcate in them a respect for values in life. Such children grow up to be better adjusted human beings who contribute to …

18. Positive social interaction – sign of a good society

The value system today’s children learn affect their behavior as parents of future and more positive the outlook, the better is the community. Such a society induces the children and youth of impressionable age to remain happily a part of it and is the most effective …

19. Deterrent to bad habits and company

Birds of same feathers flock together – be it well-adjusted people or ill-adjusted people. The better the parents contribute to raise their children creating a sense of belonging, the less is the chance of such children becoming social misfits.

If all this induces you as a parent to make chess a source of family entertainment, go ahead but don’t forget to take care of two pitfalls. Chess may be considered a sedate activity by many but experienced tournament players can tell you that intense competition can sap energy like any other grueling physical activity. Examples abound where top grandmasters fared poorly when they were lacking in fitness. So you must ensure that side by side with chess, your children participate in outdoor games and activities also. The other issue is to see that the child does not remain so much engrossed in chess as to become a recluse. Sharing indoor and outdoor activities with your child can avoid these side effects.

20. As a side issue related to mental development of your child, I would like to bring a topic that interested me greatly. I am quoting from memory, so there may be some difference between the original text and my interpretation of it. I apologize in advance if someone finds such discrepancy.

Dr. Hans Jürgen Eysenck (1916 –1997), a British psychologist of German origin, was noted for his work on intelligence and personality and as per Wikipedia, he was the most frequently cited psychologist in science journals before he passed away. In the preface to one of his popular books on self-testing IQ, he made a comment that should be of utmost interest to parents who would like to see their children attaining high level of intelligence.

He said that the innate intelligence in a person, like his other physical abilities, continues to grow with age as a normal process. But what is significant is that the growth continues up to an age of about nineteen after which it remains more or less at same level for some years and then a decline starts. What is even more astounding is that 50% of this total intelligence is said to develop within the first four years and the remaining 50% in the next 15 years. In other words, if we could nurture the child to reach above-average intelligence by four years of age, he/she would have doubled that higher intelligence at nineteen making for a super intelligent person! Unfortunately, most parents leave their children to grow in their own fashion during these initial years and start paying attention to the child’s mental growth only when he/she is ready to enter the kindergarten and by that time, a substantial opportunity for the child’s mental development has been lost!

Chess Games: Giving up in a Won position

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Filed under Chess Tutorials

Have you ever lost a chess game which you should have won? We are not asking about some elaborate chess combination that you could not calculate properly nor about any gross oversight which forced you to capitulate. Rather, we are talking of inability to see a resource that would have completely turned the table in your favor. Though in Chess tactics: Some days are really not yours! we have shown some errors of judgment even at top levels, what we are discussing below are different from such cases.

In all the three examples, the player who resigned was convinced that his position was hopeless. But later analysis showed that if he made a particular move in that apparently lost position, he would have surely won the game!

 

win_or_lose_1

The above position was reached in a simultaneous display by a GM playing as White. Both players had passed pawns on the respective 7th rank. It was White’s turn to play but he thought that while Black’s Rook at d8 prevented his pawn promotion, he had no defense against Black’s threat of … Rc1+ followed by … d1=Q+. He therefore resigned without making any move.

He did not realize that he had a winning move in Rd6!

1. Rd6! Rxd6   White was threatening to capture that all important Black pawn and Black had to capture with his Rook
 
2. g8=Q+   It is White who first gets to promote his pawn with check!

 

All White needed now was to maneuver the Queen to capture one of the Rooks and Black would not be able to promote his pawn. White could then push his f-pawn and Black would have to give up his other Rook to prevent this pawn promotion. White King would capture Black’s d-pawn and with the help of the Bishop would be able to promote one of his remaining pawns to win the game!

 

win_or_lose_2

This was the position after 23 moves in a game played out between a GM (with white pieces) and an IM (with black pieces). See what happened next.

24. Bxd5 h6   Black could not capture the Bishop because of the threat 25. Qe8# 
25. Qe4 Qb5   White now realized that he was facing a threat of checkmate (26. … Qf1#) against which he could not find any defense!
 
26. Qe1 Qxd5 would allow Black to play 27. … Qg2#. So White decided to resign without making any move.
 
White was possibly blinded by this sudden threat to miss the simple defensive resource of 26. Kh1! After 26. … Qf1+ 27. Bg1, Black had no more threats and White had a better chance to win because of his extra passed pawn.

 

win_or_lose_3

White had the move in this position after 34 moves in a game between two fairly strong players. The motif here is somewhat similar to the above. Only, here Black thought that he was losing material after White’s 36th move and resigned. Fact is, he had an opportunity to attack and gain enough material to force a win!

35. Nf5 Qxe5  
36. Rd1 Resigns   It looked to Black that he was going to lose his KB.
 
In fact, it would be White who would lose material if Black played 36. … Bg1 with the threat of 37. … Qxh2#.
 
After that, it would be either
37. Qg3 Rxd1 38. Qxe5 Bd4# or
37. Kxg1 Rxd3 38. Bxd3 Bxe4 39. Bxe4 Qxe4 with an easy win

 

We hope the above examples will help you to realize that a battle is not lost till your opponent has won it! In a difficult situation, examine all possibilities however futile they may look. Think of giving up only when you are certain that you have explored all avenues and failed to find an escape route.