Category Archives: Chess tactics

Chess Tactics: Relevance of all-round play in chess

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The game of chess calls for shrewd analytical skills of positions coupled with calculations to gain control over the game. It is essential that good positional play should be entwined with calculations of moves and deployment of effective tactics assessing the overall position in the board. Having good control over the board positionally will not guarantee you any success over the opponent as long as you do not entwine the tactics effectively to gain control over the board. It is in this context that one should strive to be a good allround player instead of concentrating either only on his tactical skills or in positional factors.

In the following example, you will notice that having good positions will not lead to success as one silly error caused without giving importance to the opponent’s pieces, and due to paucity of time, ended up in losing the game from the winning position.

This is the position after 27 moves. It is the turn of the white to move now.

Position 1
White is a good player in positional chess and now, a cursory look at the board indicates that white has an extra pawn than black.  The game proceeded as follows :

28.    Rc1       h6
29.    Rc8+    Kh7
30.    Rc4       Qe5
31.    Rf4        Qc4

White, using his skills on positional chess has been making satisfactory progress.  The position after 31 moves is given hereunder:

Position 2
Not only is the white rook at f4 supporting the pawn at f2, the queen in b3 is threatening the black pawns at e6 and f7 and blocking their movement.

32.    Kh2    …..            Another good move from White in an attempt to develop his pawns with King’s assistance.

32.    …..        Kg7
33.    Rg4+    Kh7
34.    Rf4        Kg7
35.    Qb4       Qc2
36.    Kg2       e5
37.    Rg4+    …….            This is a wrong move from White that has exposed the pawn at f2.

37.    ……        Kg6            Black tries to capitalize on the wrong move by White.   He could have moved the King to h7 but instead preferred this move.

38.    Qxb6+    …….            White continues to attack with fervor considering the fact that time is running out, and Black tried to confuse the confused white by moving the king to the “f” file.

38.    …….    Kh5

This is the position at the board at the end of 38 moves.

3rd Position
39.    e4+    ……            This is the blunder on the part of White.  He did not assess the winning position correctly and out of confusion and time constraint, deprived himself of a winning move in Kh3 and by calling check on Black, exposed the white rook at g4, and literally threw the game.

39.    ……    Kxg4
40.    Qe3    Rd3
41.    Qxh6    Rxg3            After this White resigned accepting defeat.

This is a clear example of how confusion caused by the opponent and paucity of time can change the whole advantage into a loss.

For any aspiring chess player to grow up the ladder and achieve success, he or she should develop as a complete player having allround skills and not relying on any particular skill as positional play or tactical player.  Positional analysis and calculation of the moves and counter moves are very essential for the deployment of a good successful chess strategy or an effective chess tactics.

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

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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:


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:



Second game –

position after 33 moves:


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+:



Third game –

position after 28 moves:


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:



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:


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:



Second game –

position after 19. … Qa3+:


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:



Third game –

position after 23. … Rd1+:


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:



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.


Chess Combinations: beauties from lesser known masters – 4

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Before starting on this fourth article in this series on chess combinations, please read the boxed note at the start of Chess Combinations: beauties from lesser known masters – 3 to make the best use of the moves and comments in the chess game covered here.

The game was played in the tournament at Bad Woerishofen in 1989. The game employs Ruy Lopez opening about which you have read in Chess Opening basics: Ruy Lopez (or the Spanish opening) and saw another example in Chess Combinations: beauties from lesser known masters – 3.

However, the present game follows the line of Marshall Gambit (ECO code: C89) where Black offers his KP in return for opening of diagonals b7-h1, d8-h4 and the e-file, hoping to use those at opportune time, and removal of White’s KN which normally acts as a defensive piece. The first diagram shows the position after 17 moves which were all played in line with the theories. In fact, you will find identical position in Euwe-Donner game played at Amsterdam in 1950 where the line changed track from move 18 and White won after 42 moves.

Let us see how it goes in the present game.

Position after 17. … Kh8:
18. Qf1 Qh5   Black had to avoid Queen exchange as it did not leave him with any compensation for his sacrificed pawn
19. Nd2 g5  
20. Bxd5 cxd5   White removed the Knight to reduce pressure on f4 pawn to avoid the need to break up his castle.
20. fxg5 f4 21. gxf4 Nxf4 (threatening 22. … Nh3+) 22. Bxf4 Bxf4 with all kinds of threats.
Position after 20. … cxd5:
21. a4 bxa4   White is desperate to open some lines for movement of his pieces.
22. Rxa4 Rae8   White’s pawn structure totally immobilized his QB which also had to support the f4 pawn. Black exploited this to place his Rook on the open e-file (one of the objectives of his opening strategy).
23. Raa1 Re6    
24. Rxa6   White hoped to pin the Bishop to safeguard his f4 pawn ………
Position after 24. Rxa6
24. gxf4   ……… but Black timed his exchanges perfectly to quash White’s ideas.
25. Bxf4 Rxe1  
26. Qxe1 Bxf4  
27. gxf4 Be2!   White was ultimately forced to break up his castle and open the g-file. Black was prompt in utilizing this advantage.
The position after 27. … Be2
White resigned as he has no defense against coming 28. … Rg8+ without giving up his Rook. If the Rook moves, then 28. … Rg8+ 29. Kf2 (29. Kh1 Bf3+ 30. Nxf3 Qxf3#) Qxh2+ 30. Ke3 Re8+ 31. Ne4 Rxe4+ 32. Kd2 Bc4+ 33. Kd1 Rxe1+ 34. Kxe1 Qe2#


Chess Combinations: beauties from lesser known masters – 3

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Please note:

The best way for beginners to get better at chess and learn these ideas is to setup the position on a chessboard and go through the moves instead of trying to picture it. At this stage, understanding the ideas is more important than taking the burden of memorizing the positions.

As you keep gaining in experience, you do need to develop your power of visualization as without that, you won’t be able to work out deep combinations in your actual play.

In fact, in these articles on chess combinations, that is the purpose behind showing the positions after every few moves as the game progresses. Starting from one diagram and noting the moves till you reach the next one, check if your mental picture of the board tallies with that next diagram.

Continuing our theme on creating chess combinations, played out at a tournament at Bad Pistyan in 1922. Black chose the Neo-Steinitz defense which enhances Black’s chances in the Ruy Lopez opening that normally tends to be more in favor of White. But Black went one step further to take up initiative for a King side action based on his center control of e5 and d4 squares. White’s last move 12. Qd2 indicated his intention to bring a Rook to d1 for increasing control on d4. Black intended to undermine it by attacking the White Knight at f3 with 12. … Bg4. The Bishop would also pin the Knight against the Rook when it came to d1. Because if Black’s initial center control and King side pawn actions, White pieces have been somewhat restricted in their movement.

You should examine how Black continues his campaign from this point onwards.

Position after 12. … Bg4:
13. Rfd1 Nd4   The threat is 14 … Bxf3 15. gxf3 Nxf3+ attacking the Queen also.
14. Bxd4 exd4  
15. Ne2 c5   Knight retreated as 15. Nxd4 Bxd1 would lose the exchange. Black brought more support for the pawn which further strengthened his hold on the center..
16. Ne1 Ng6    
17. f3 Be6   White was able to drive away the irritating Bishop but at the cost of weakening his castle. Black immediately shifted attack from flank to center.
18. Rac1 Ne5    
19. Bb3 b5   Black keeps raising the ante!
Position after 19. … b5
20. cxb5 c4   Black was not wasting time to restore his pawn balance. He pressed home his attack expanding his center control
21. Ba4 Qb6!   Black again used one of his central pawn as bait to create a pin on the King.
22. Nxd4 axb5   White obviously could not capture with his Queen because of 22. … Nxf3+ which loses the Queen. Black timed his pawn capture to maintain his tempo though it meant losing another pawn.
23. Bxb5 Rfd8   Now Black creates a two-way pin on the Knight! It is an exemplary chess tactics on how to use the center control by pawns to launch attacks and then giving them up to bring the pieces into attack.
24. a4 White is still unaware of Black’s plan to exploit the pin.
Position after 24. a4
24. Nd3!   With one move, Black cuts off all the support for the Knight at d4. 25. Rxc4 Bxc4 26. Bxc4 Qxd4+ 27. Kf1 (27. Kh1 Rf2+) Qxc4 28. Nxd3 renews two-way pin on Knight and a solid Rook extra for Black
25. Bxc4 Qxd4+ 26. Kf1 Bxc4 (27. Nxd3 Bxd3+ 28. Qxd3 Qxd3+ 29. Rxd3 Rxd3) 27. Rxc4 Qxc4 28. Nxd3 gives same position as above
25. Nxd3 Qxd4+  
26. Qf2 cxd3  
27. Rxd3 Qxd3!   27. … Qxf2+ 28. Kxf2 Rxd3 29. Bxd3 Rxa4 leaves White with two extra pawns against a Bishop – still a fighting chance. But Black’s move takes away a Rook against two extra pawns as shown below and White resigned.
28. Bxd3 Bd4 29. Qxd4 Rxd4 30. Bb5 Bb3 loses the a4 pawn also.
The position after 27. … Qxd3