Tag Archives: chess combinations

Chess tactics: Which masters to study?

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There is no doubt about the necessity to become familiar with the elements of a combination which we understand as chess tactics. In the article gameplan part2, we have listed the elements for you to find examples on each item and study those thoroughly to build up your repertoire. However good you may be in chess strategy and planning your game, you need to employ tactics to give effect to those.

So the question in any beginner’s mind will be: how do I learn to use chess tactics? My answer will be: after you know the elements, study the games of chess masters who excel in combinational play and chess tactics. That is why we have already shown you many such games where the tactics reigned supreme. There are quite a good number of articles at this site and trying to put a link to all those will clutter up this article. You have to search those out through the site map.

The next question obviously is: which masters to study? There are hundreds of Grandmasters and International masters, past and present, and it is true that all of them deploy chess tactics in their games. If you have to study all those, when will you get the time to use those in your play? That is why we need to be selective and choose games from players who excelled in the area of chess tactics and complex combinations. Different people have their own favorites but I am quite sure that some of the names we suggest will occur in every such list! Their names are given in chronological order

Adolf Anderssen (1818-1879)

No one has ever played chess like Adolph Anderssen, nor won as much fame and glory for his charismatic style. Anderssen’s hallmark is the direct (and often spectacular!) Kingside attack.

Emanuel Lasker (1868-1941)

The main contestants of his time like Tarrasch and Janowski complained that they could not understand his play and implied that Lasker’s success was due to dubious tricks. Fact is, Lasker was much ahead of his time in his style of play, which found acceptance with later generation of players.

Frank J. Marshall (1877-1944)

He earned a lot of brilliancy prizes by virtue of his daring gambits and sacrificial play. One of his moves is held as one of the top three best moves ever played on a chessboard! Though spectators enjoyed his slash-bang techniques, purists held that some of his moves produced results by virtue of their shock value and not because of deeply calculated combinations. That may be the reason why he never became a world champion but managed to defeat all top players of his time.

Rudolf Spielman (1883-1942)

He was a master of attack with beautiful ideas and brilliant daring play full of sacrifices.

Alexandre Alekhine (1892-1946)

He is one of the greats among world champions and was at home in different styles of play. He was a master of complex positions and well-calculated combinations. Many of his games are still analyzed and experts have not reached a common verdict because of the complexities involved.

Mikhail Tal (1936-1992)

He is one player who probably earned the maximum admiration from the contemporary greats in chess. Tal used some self-derogatory comments about his own play by saying that there were two kinds of sacrifices – the sound ones and those used by him! Botvinnik, a world champion, said that it was not possible to tackle Tal if his pieces were mobile and active with some space and that is why he used to play close positions against Tal. He went on to say that if Tal could have some self-control, it would be impossible to play against him. A player of the stature of Kramnik went so far as to say that analyzing Tal’s game was like discussing what God looked like! When you play through his games, you will wonder if those bolts from the blue were results of intuition or pre-calculated combinations!

Bobby Fischer (1943-2008)

He was a chess genius and many experts believe that had he not gone into self-exile, he could have been the undisputed top player in chess history! He has produced many beautiful games with a long combination the results of which were not easy to see even by top masters. Boris Spassky who played Fischer in the famous championship match commented that playing Fischer was not a question of your win or loss, it was a question of your survival!

Garry Kasparov (1963- )

Another chess genius and holds the highest ELO rating among chess Grandmasters. He is also a versatile player and can play well-calculated combinations.

Alexei Shirov (1972- )

Among the mew generation players, he is noted for his attacking style and creating complications that remind one of Tal, not surprisingly, because he studied under Tal.

Now you know the names of some of the chess masters who have consistently produced great combinations in their plays. But many of them have played hundreds of games, so which ones to study? Go for their best games, some compiled by other chess authors or chess masters and some by the players themselves. These books generally include about 50 to 100 of the best games in their career and studying those few is not a very massive task! Keep a note of the basic principles that have been applied or violated in these games (many brilliancies arose to exploit mistakes by the opponents). These types of controlled study will not only help you to improve your play, but will also provide enjoyment for many years to come!

Chess tactics: A move worth some gold pieces?

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Frank J. Marshall was US Chess Champion from 1909 to 1936 and was regarded as one of the strongest chess players of his time. But he is much better known as a highly attacking player with a penchant for sacrifices at the drop of a hat! Many experts contend that a number of his gambits and sacrifices were more the result of an impulse depending on their surprise value for success than the outcome of a deeply thought out combination. Whatever may be the truth, his games had immense spectator appeal and you can still enjoy playing through his games if you are not a puritan in chess!

In the following game against Russian Master Levitzky (with White pieces), Marshall’s 23rd move had such an electrifying effect that spectators were reported to have thrown gold pieces on the chessboard. The truth of the matter is still debated and some say that the gold coins were only payments against wagers on the game! Without going into those arguments, we can say that the move was one of the best ever played in a game and different experts have held that the move is certainly among the top three if not the top in chess history!

Position after Black’s 18th move

prelude to a sacrifice

19. Rxd5 Nd4
20. Qh5 Ref8
21. Re5 Rh6
22. Qg5 Rxh3 If 23. gxh3 Nf3+ captures the Queen
23. Rc5 Qg3
24. Resigns Black poses too many threats besides 24. … Qxh2#. If 24. hxg3 Ne2#. If 24. fxg3 Ne2+ and mate next move. If 24. Qxg3 Ne2+ 25. Kh1 Nxg3+ 26. Kg1 Nxf1 with Black a whole Rook ahead

Position after Black’s 23rd move

a memorable queen sacrifice

Do you feel like throwing a few pieces of gold this way?