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End game Tactics: Visualizing the moves is key to tactics

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The game of chess involves tactics and only tactics. Tactics need not be employed only in the opening game or the middle game. Even in end games, tactics plays a very vital role. Effective implementation of the tactics is very important. Equally important is the counter-moves. If the tactics is not properly understood and visualized, then the tactics of the opponent succeeds and you will end in the losing side.

Let us discuss an example from the World Championship tournament, which unfolds yet another interesting dimension of tactics, especially at the end game.

Given below is the position at the end of 46 moves:

White to Move

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As is the case always in our articles on tactics, let us analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the relevant pieces.

Black has two bishops as against two white Knights and they are well centralized. The rook at b2 is also well developed. As this is an end game, bishops stand to have a better advantage than Knight. A closer look of the black pieces would also reveal that the King at c7 is vulnerable. Also the rook at e7 is very weak in that it cannot be moved to any other places other than g7.

The diagram given below depicts the same:

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Tactics in chess is all about exploiting the vulnerabilities of the opponent, and taking advantage of those vulnerabilities.

It is the turn of the white to move. We have already considered the weaknesses and strengths of the black pieces. The black King at c7 is vulnerable. The White might consider checks and other attacking options, as it is in a weaker position and any slackness on his part might lead the black to take advantage of his bishops.

What are the checking options available to White now?

A check by Rook at d8 is one option. What will happen then?

Option #1

1 R8d7+ RxR
2 Ne6+ Kc8

By this option, nothing concrete can be achieved for by the White to gain positional advantage.

What is the next option available to White now?

A check by Rook at d3 is one more thing worth considering for giving check on Black queen.

Option #2

1 R3d7+ RxR
2 Ne6+ Kb7
(After black’s move, White finds that the black’s bishop at c5 is vulnerable and the White Knight can capture that one and give a check – Nxc5+. By doing so the Black rook at d7 is also forked by Knight)

2. ….. Kb6 (suppose if Black king moves to b6, White can consider check by rook at b8 for which the Black can block by moving the rook from d7 to b7. But White gets an interesting point worth noting. – The black’s rook at b2 might become vulnerable as well.

The two options considered above did provide interesting insights.

Among the other options available for giving check on the black King is the move by Knight to e6.

White precisely did that move, presuming that Black’s rook will capture the Knight and then pave the way for the two black rooks to attack the black queen as planned earlier.

47. Ne6+ Rxe6
48. R3d7+ Kb6
49. Rb8+ Ka6
… and the game went on with finally White winning at the end.

This illustrates the importance of tactics and the need for visualization of the moves and counter-moves, at least the next 2 or 3 moves is very essential. This is the beauty of tactics in chess.