Exercise in assessing the position in a chess game

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In different topics discussed earlier, we have stressed the need to understand what is happening in any particular position during your game. Beginners often make mistakes in this regard. We give below three positions arrived through some common and some uncommon moves amongst these games, but nonetheless a common theme exists in all three. Black of course played some bad moves and White decided to lay a trap for Black that would give him a decided advantage if not outright win! White is to move and can you guess what he played next?

common chess traps

It looks that Black Bishop has created a pin on the White Knight as any move on its part will expose the Queen. But it was at best a short-sighted move by Black as he did not assess the danger to his King due to the positions of White’s minor pieces!

Try to find the common theme and then take a look at the pointers in the diagram below to find if you have guessed correctly.

identifying common chess traps

White took advantage of Black’s poor development and the cramped position of his King by playing Nxe5 offering his Queen to the Bishop!

Let us see what could be the result if Black did not realize his danger and tried to grab the Queen. The likely sequence of moves for the three positions could be:

1. Nxe5 Bxd1 1. Nxe5 Bxd1 1. Nxe5 Bxd1
2. Bxf7+ Ke7 2. Nxf6+ gxf6 2. Bxf7+ Ke7
3. Nd5# 3. Bxf7+ Kf8 3. Nd5#
4. Bh6#

You will be surprised to know that this “Blackburne Trap” dates back to early eighteenth century, but even now beginners fall prey to it! So keep this theme in mind so that you can apply or avoid it, depending on which side of the board you are!

But the same theme can occur in GM level also as can be seen in the following game that took place about two centuries later!

a chess trap

Here the game proceeded in the following line to yield a winning advantage to White.

1. Nce5 Nxe5
2. Nxe5 Bxd1
3. Bxb5+ Nd7
4. Bxd7+ Qxd7
5. Nxd7 Bh5
6. Ne5 wins

Take a look at the position in the diagram below that occurred in a game in 1858 where Paul Morphy, the best player of his time (and many consider him to be among the greatest in chess history) was playing as White. You should try to grasp the theme as this type of situation still arises due to mistakes by Black.

another chess trap

Also take note of the beautiful combination that brings about the downfall of Black King and understand how this tactics work!

1. Nxb5 cxb5
2. Bxb5+ Nbd7
3. 0-0-0 Rd8
4. Rxd7 Rxd7
5. Rd1 Qe6
6. Bxd7+ Nxd7
7. Qb8+ Nxb8
8. Rd8#

You can also see how Bishop and Rook can combine for an 8th rank checkmate! Other points of interest are how White continued to maintain the Bishop’s pin on the Black King as long as possible, the other Bishop’s pin on the Queen, gain of tempo to bring Rook through castling to take control of open d-file, and the other Rook ready to take over when needed.

Can you find the same modus operandi in the following game that took place about a century later? I am sure you will now automatically see the Bishop-Rook combine on 8th rank.

yet another trap

The moves went:

1. Qxc6+ bxc6
2. Nxc7+ Rxc7
3. Rd8#


One Comment

  1. arbz says:

    “i’ve learn a lot…i’m interested so much to improve my level to a master level….


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