Chess Sacrifice as a Chess Tactics: diverting opponent’s piece from a square to gain advantage

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Chess is a game of war, isn’t it? So it is no surprise that a lot of attacking chess tactics take their ideas from actual fields of war. Those who keep some information about how important battles were conducted will definitely be aware of ‘diversionary attacks’. Such an attacking tactics is actually a sham, but the enemy doesn’t know that! Presuming the diversionary attack to be a serious thrust, at least some of the enemy forces move to face a supposedly new threat, thereby vacating certain positions which can be used to advantage by the main attacking group! The idea is basically the same in some chess attacks where the diversion is often created by the sacrifice of a piece or pawn to draw away some enemy pieces that could otherwise block the main attack.

The game that we have chosen to illustrate the aforesaid chess tactics was played between Victor Ciocaltea (pronounced Cho-calta-ya) and Rashid Nezhmetdinov.

Ciocaltea (1932-1983) was a Romanian champion who earned his IM title in 1957 and became a GM in 1978. You have already been introduced to Nezhmetdinov in Importance of chess strategy – Part 1.

In that tribute to Nezhmetdinov, I made a guess that not many in Western Countries would probably have heard of him. One possible reason for this relative anonymity could be that the Soviet Chess Authorities allowed him to play in only one tournament outside USSR and that too in an East European country (at Romanian capital Bucharest in 1954 where the illustrative game was played). Honestly, I came to know of ‘Super Nezh’ fairly recently. But if you remember Averbakh’s comment that “…if he had the attack, could kill anybody…”, then play through his games where he had the attack and I assure that you will get bemused!

In the game, a relatively short one of 27 moves, the theme of offering a piece sacrifice occurs after 20 moves. When I was playing through the game to reach that position for creating the second diagram shown below, something hit me suddenly when I had completed 13 moves. So much so that I started laughing by myself to the utter surprise of people around! I cannot resist the temptation of sharing that position in the first diagram and tell me how you feel by looking at it!

Position after 13 moves.

where are the white pieces

Do you see what I saw after almost half the moves in the game are over? I love country music and twisting an old favorite, I could say ‘Where have all the White pieces gone?’ Was Black playing all by himself, otherwise how are his pawns and pieces scattered all over the chessboard? I do not recollect ever seeing such a situation close to a middle game and I wonder if you did! If you cannot believe what you see, play the moves once again (I did)!

Well, that was a ‘diversion’! To get on with the main show, here is the position after 20 moves.

diverting a piece from a square

You can see that Black’s KB, KN and KRP are ready to create some difficulties for White at f2 but White’s KR is acting as the spoilsport! Hmmm, if that could be diverted from f1 …

The game proceeded:

21. Bf4 Nxh2   So the Black Knight steps in! White’s problem is: if 22. Kxh2 then 22. … hxg3+ (a double-check, so King has to move! It goes
23. Kxg3 Qh3# or
23. Kg1 Qh3 (threatening 24. Qh2#) 24. Bxg3 Qxg3+ 25. Bg2 Qh2#
If White tries to create an escape square by 24. Re1, then 24. … Bxf2+ forces loss of White Q to prevent mate
22. Re1 Ng4  
23. Bf3 Nxf2  
24. Be3 hxg3  
25. Bxc5+ Nxc5  
26. Bxc6 Nh3+   White tried desperately to get some counterplay hoping 26. … Qxc6? 27. Qe7+ etc.
27. Kf1 Qf5+  
28. Resigns   If 28. Bf3 g2+ 29. Qxg2 (29. Kxg2 loses Q after 29. … Nf4+) Rd3 30. Nd2 Rxd2 31. Qxd2 Qxf3+ and mate next move.