Tag Archives: Attacking 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 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


Chess Combinations: beauties from lesser known masters – 2

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Even if you are a very good short distance runner, you probably never dream of running a hundred meter race in less than ten seconds unless you are a Usain Bolt in the making. But in a game of chess, you can always look forward to an opportunity to use various chess tactics for creating a combination which would make Alekhine proud. From a tyro to a virtuoso, the field of memorable chess combinations is open to all.

We harped on this theme in Chess Combinations: beauties from lesser known masters – 1 to encourage you to see how a mundane position transformed into something sublime. In similar vein, we show you another chess game which, without being spectacular, still earned the First Brilliancy Prize in the tournament at Kemeri in 1937. What will probably strike you is that the attack looks like an improvisation rather than the outcome of deep calculations involving complex chess tactics.

The position, after 13 moves have been played, shows that White has gathered most of his pieces in positions from where a concerted attack can be launched. Both Bishops are lined up towards enemy castle, Knight is ready to jump to the g5 square and the Rook on h-file can do its part in targeting the KRP. Once the Knight moves, White Queen can join the force by moving to g4 or h5 square. As against that, only Black Queen and KB has an attacking line to h2 but need much more than that because of White Rook on h-file. Black’s Knight on f8 is the only defensive force but has reduced the freedom of movement of the Black King.

The game continued as follows.

Position after 13. … Nf8:
14. Ng5 h6 The Knight foray was only to provoke the advance of h7 pawn to create a weakness in enemy castle, but Black had to play g6 or h6 because of pressure on h7 pawn.
15. Qh5 e5 White made his expected Queen move and to counter White’s flank action, Black is planning an action in the center – all standard chess strategy.

The Knight at g5 of course could not be taken because of Qh8#, so White could go ahead with his other preparations.

16. Bd2 exd4 The Bishop move was to bring out the Rook to play its role against Black’s center action. In such preparatory stages for attack and counterattack, timing is most important lest the opponent seizes the initiative.
17. Rc1 Qe7 The Rook movement gained a tempo for White in his plans to position the Rook on the 7th rank.
18. Ne4 Ng6 The Knight still had no compulsion to move as explained at move 15, but White was getting ready to spring his surprise! Black’s Knight move was to attack the Rook that was behind all White’s threats and the Rook had nowhere to go without falling victim to Black’s Knight or Bishops.
Position after 18. … Ng6
19. Bg5! The surprise! The Bishop attacked the Queen with impunity, forcing it to move away from the 7th rank as other alternatives were not feasible.

19. … hxg5 20. Qh7+ Kf8 21. Qh8+ Nxh8 22. Rxh8#
19. … f6 20. Nxf6+ gxf6 21. Qxg6+ after which Black’s position will not be tenable.

19. Qe5
20. f4 Qd5 White was not giving any respite to the harassed Queen
21. Nf6+! gxf6
22. Bxg6! 22. … fxg6 23. Qxg6+ Kf8 24. Rxh6 wins
22. … fxg5 23. Qxh6! gxh4 24. Bh7+ Kh8 25. Be4+ wins the Queen
22. Bf8
23. Rc7! Be6
Position after 23. … Be6
24. Bxf6 The threat is: 25. Bxf7+ Bxf7 26. Rg4+ with a hopeless position for Black
24. Qxh5
25. Bxh5 Rec8 25. … Bg7 26. Bxf7+ Bxf7 27. Rg4 loses for Black
26. Bxf7+ Kh7 The Bishop cannot be taken for reason already explained
27. Rxc8 Bxc8
28. Bxd4 Bf5
29. Rh5 Resigns With three connected pawns against one on the King side, the win for White is a matter of routine.
The position after 29. Rh5

You must also appreciate that brilliant attacks and combinations do not always create a threatened or actual checkmate but leave only a winning advantage. Steady play with standard endgame tactics should be enough to convert these advantages into a win which is the ultimate objective.

Chess Combinations: beauties from lesser known masters – 1

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In Chess Combinations: the eternal beauties of chess, we tried to examine our fascination for beautiful combinations. We also made the point that you do not always have to look at the games by the likes of Morphy, Marshall, Capablanca, Alekhine, Tal, Kasparov and others of their ilk for unearthing such beauties. Even amateurs at local clubs or tournaments are known to have produced brilliancies. In fact, in this series of articles we only want to look at such combinations from games of players whose names may not be universally familiar.

Besides the enjoyment you may derive from such combinations, these may also help you to understand the tactical ideas that gave rise to those surprising moves. Once you get to analyze the situations that produced it, you may be able to create some beauties of your own, who knows?

In the position shown below, you do not see any immediate danger for Black King even though White Queen is in readiness to pounce on h7 pawn if his Knight could come to g5. Most of White’s attacking pieces are on the Kingside, and either of White Rooks could come to g-file or h-file via third rank when the opportunity arises. Against this offensive battery, Black’s close defensive pieces are the Knight at e7 and Rook at f8, other pieces being mostly on the Queenside. If Black had a knight on f6 square, it would greatly help the defenses but his Knight at d4 cannot go there now as an exchange attack by White Knight at e4 will break up the castle. Let us see what transpires now.


Position after 18. Qh3:
18. Nf4   An attempt to drive the Queen away and to reposition Knights.
19. Qg4 Ned5   White threatened the Knight while shifting focus on g7 pawn and creating a pin on that pawn. Black brings support for his attacked Knight and is ready to advance his KBP to chase away the White Knights.
Here is a point on chess strategies. It is not considered a good practice to make the knights support each other except during the process of positioning or where situation precludes other options. Knights play much better when they are side by side (like what can be seen for White Knights) with support from other pieces.
20. Ra3 Ne6   White’s intention to bring a Rook to g-file or h-file is clear now. Apprehending a lineup of White Queen and Rook along g-file, Black makes his Knight ready to guard the g-pawn and g5 square against White’s N4. But he missed (or felt that he could tackle) the other threats by the Knight, exploiting the pin on g7 pawn. Black also missed some other defensive resources.
21. Bxd5 cxd5   We talked about the value of defensive posting of Knight on f6 square. White takes care to eliminate that scope and the exchange enabled White Knight at e4 to move without any loss of tempo.
22. Nf6+! Kh8   Once the King moved, the g7 pawn got unpinned and was ready to capture the Knight which was a threat to Black’s h7 pawn if White’s Rook came to h-file.
Position after 22. … Kh8
23. Qg6!   The bolt from the blue! White threatened 24. Qxh7#.
Let us see the possibilities:
23. … fxg6 24. Nxg6+ hxg6 25. Rh3#
23. … hxg6 24. Rh3#
23. … gxf6 24.Qxf6+ Kf8 25. Rg3+ Ng5 26. Rxg5#
23. … gxf6 24.Qxf6+ Ng7 25. Rg3 Rg8 26. Nxf7+ Qxf7 27. Qxf7 wins
23. … Ng5 24. Qxg5 g6 25. Qh6 with mate to follow.
23. Qc2   The only option left out!
24. Rh3 Resigns   24. … Qxg6 25. Nxg6+ fxg6 26. Rxh7# or
24. … h6 25. Rxh6+ gxh6 26. Qxh6+ Qh7 27. Qxh7# or
24. … Ng5 25. Qxg5 gxf6 26. Qxf6+ Kg8 27. Rg3+ Qg6 28. Nxg6 fxg6 29. Rxg6+ hxg6 30. Qxg6+ Kh8 31. Qh6+ (to guard against … Rc1#) Kg8 32. Re7 Rf7 33. Qg6+ Kh8 34. Qh5+ with mate in two moves.


A very effective demonstration of the power of pin and the mobilization/coordination of pieces.