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Chess Tactics: Relevance of all-round play in chess

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The game of chess calls for shrewd analytical skills of positions coupled with calculations to gain control over the game. It is essential that good positional play should be entwined with calculations of moves and deployment of effective tactics assessing the overall position in the board. Having good control over the board positionally will not guarantee you any success over the opponent as long as you do not entwine the tactics effectively to gain control over the board. It is in this context that one should strive to be a good allround player instead of concentrating either only on his tactical skills or in positional factors.

In the following example, you will notice that having good positions will not lead to success as one silly error caused without giving importance to the opponent’s pieces, and due to paucity of time, ended up in losing the game from the winning position.

This is the position after 27 moves. It is the turn of the white to move now.

Position 1
White is a good player in positional chess and now, a cursory look at the board indicates that white has an extra pawn than black.  The game proceeded as follows :

28.    Rc1       h6
29.    Rc8+    Kh7
30.    Rc4       Qe5
31.    Rf4        Qc4

White, using his skills on positional chess has been making satisfactory progress.  The position after 31 moves is given hereunder:

Position 2
Not only is the white rook at f4 supporting the pawn at f2, the queen in b3 is threatening the black pawns at e6 and f7 and blocking their movement.

32.    Kh2    …..            Another good move from White in an attempt to develop his pawns with King’s assistance.

32.    …..        Kg7
33.    Rg4+    Kh7
34.    Rf4        Kg7
35.    Qb4       Qc2
36.    Kg2       e5
37.    Rg4+    …….            This is a wrong move from White that has exposed the pawn at f2.

37.    ……        Kg6            Black tries to capitalize on the wrong move by White.   He could have moved the King to h7 but instead preferred this move.

38.    Qxb6+    …….            White continues to attack with fervor considering the fact that time is running out, and Black tried to confuse the confused white by moving the king to the “f” file.

38.    …….    Kh5

This is the position at the board at the end of 38 moves.

3rd Position
39.    e4+    ……            This is the blunder on the part of White.  He did not assess the winning position correctly and out of confusion and time constraint, deprived himself of a winning move in Kh3 and by calling check on Black, exposed the white rook at g4, and literally threw the game.

39.    ……    Kxg4
40.    Qe3    Rd3
41.    Qxh6    Rxg3            After this White resigned accepting defeat.

This is a clear example of how confusion caused by the opponent and paucity of time can change the whole advantage into a loss.

For any aspiring chess player to grow up the ladder and achieve success, he or she should develop as a complete player having allround skills and not relying on any particular skill as positional play or tactical player.  Positional analysis and calculation of the moves and counter moves are very essential for the deployment of a good successful chess strategy or an effective chess tactics.

Do not panic – Tactics are present even if they are not visible – Part 3

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Continuing from Do not panic – Tactics are present even if they are not visible – Part 2

Now the position after 31 moves is as follows :


White to Move

Now, it is the turn of White to move. Black has initiated the attack and is in the mood of exchanging pieces and launch an all-out attack on White King. As has been reiterated in our series of articles on tactics, assessing the vulnerability of opponent attack and exploring the possibility of checks and captures gain prominence in an attack or counter attack.

We have already seen that the black King at g7 is vulnerable. The next option would be to explore the possibilities for checks. What are the options available for White to threaten the Black King with check?

Option #1

White can threaten the Black King with check by moving the rook at f4 to f7. The Black King will capture the rook. Then, the Queen at d2 can be moved to d7 to threaten the Black King. In response, the Black might move its Queen at g5 to f7.

a.Rf7+ Kxf7
b.Qd7+ Qf7





No more options are there for the White to continue exert pressure by threatening the Black King with checks. So, the option#1 does seem to be promising enough.

Option #2

We have already seen that the diagonal a1 to h8 can be exploited for threatening the Black King placed at g7.

a.Qc3+ Kf8




The Black Queen at d2 might be moved to c3 to threaten the Black King with a check. In response, the black King might move to the back rank at g8. Surprisingly, you find that there are no more opportunities for check on Black King as the squares c8 or d8 from where the checks might become possible are covered by the Black bishop at b7 and the Queen at g5.

This option is also not much encouraging enough.

Option #3

One of the essential aspects of tactics in attacks or counter-attacks is to explore all possible options and foresee the possible response from the opponent. One should always look for the best possible alternative, which will open up new horizons and make it easier for adequate and strong response to the Black’s move.

Having explored two options, one should not lose heart or leave the advantage to the opponent and wait for his counter moves,

a.Rd8+ Qxd8



This option is also not very promising enough.

Option #4

What are the other possible options for threatening the Black King with check?

a.Qd4+ Kf8
b.Qd8+ QxQ




This will result in exchange of queens and nothing concrete leading to checkmate will arise with this option.

What will happen if the Black King, instead of moving to the back rank, decides to move sideward to h7?

Option #4a

a.Qd4+ Kh7
b.Rf7+ (This seems to be promising as the King has no other
option but to move to h6 and then the Queen at d4
can move to h8 and say “checkmate”)

Option #4b

If, in response to Qd4+, the black King moves to h6, then, Qh8+ will be checkmate. As such the move by Queen from d2 to d4 seems to be very promising.





Having evaluated all possible options, the White finally decides to go with the option#4 discussed above which seems to be more promising than other three options.

32. Qd4+ …..
32. …… f6 The best possible option for Black is to move the pawn as any
move might become vulnerable as we have seen in option#4

The position after move 32 will be as follows:


White to Move

Contrary to White’s calculation that Black King, which is under threat, will be moved, the resilient black moved the pawn to defend its King and kept the King unchanged at g7. However, you might see that the 7th rank is opened up and the Black King is vulnerable for attack from the 7th rank. What would be the options for White to consider?

Option #1

a.Qd7+ Kh6



b.Qxb2 ….. As there is no possibility for enforcing check on Black king


Now, it is the turn of Black to move, and having given some leeway in that there is no threat of check on its King, the Black might continue to begin its attack.

….. Rg1+
a.Ke2 Rxd1
b.Kxd1 QxR






Now, you see that after a series of exchanges, White’s position will become weaker in that the Black has one extra pawn. As such, this option is not feasible.


What might be the other option that will ultimately lead to checkmate and does not allow any leeway for the black pieces to continue its attack.

Again looking at the options for threatening the Black King with check, White might find that Qxf6+ will be an option, sacrificing the Queen in the process.

a.Qf6+ Qxf6



Despite losing the Queen, White turns out to be in an advantageous position. A check by moving rook at d1 to d7 will force the black King to move out of g7 and thus expose the Black Queen for capture by rook at f4. Sacrifices are also part of the tactics and have equal importance. The value of the piece is immaterial and it is the positional advantage that get first preference than the value of the pieces.

Having foreseen the various alternatives, White has decided to capture the pawn at f6 and threaten the Black King with check.

33. Qxf6+ Qxf6
34. Rd7+ Kh6
35. Rxf6 Black resigns




This is yet another example of how tactics can convert a literally losing position to a winning one.

The position of White King was precarious and Black was launching an all-out attack, probably out of desperation to win the game in the knock-out stage to remain in the contest. For White, a victory would be a passage for the next round.

Tactics, in this context, has been necessitated out of sporting behavior and the urge to move up in a knock out tournament.

This beautiful example will once again emphasize the importance of tactics. There is no reason for panic at any point of time. Counter attacks of these sort does require critical analysis of all possible alternatives. Not only should the counter attacks be strong and decisive, but it should also be timely and should not allow the opponent, who is launching an all-out attack, is allowed an opportunity to implement his attacking strategy.

Do not panic – Tactics are present even if they are not visible – Part 2

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Continuing from Part 1 of Do not panic – Tactics are present even if they are not visible.

In response, the black moved the rook from d5 to g5.

29. Rd4 …..
29. ….. Rg5

Fig. 1

Fig. 2


The move by White to safeguard his queen and rook, and the response by Black by moving the Black rook to g5 unveils the grand plan of Black to launch an attack on the White King.

The white pawn at g2 is vulnerable and it is this pawn that is targeted by the Black in a double threat – one from the rook at g5 and then from the bishop in b2. The Queen at f6 is also exerting pressure on f2, as can be seen in the diagram given below.

Fig. 3


The Black has launched an attack on the White and it is the turn of White pieces to counter this attack by defending his pieces or exploring possibilities to counter attack the Black King.

One important point worth bearing in mind is not to get panic when faced with an attack by the opponent as is the situation in the present case. The situation calls for a careful analysis of the position and various alternatives that might be employed by White to thwart the attack.

It is very important that before deciding on a particular move, an analysis of the possible counter moves or consequences should be assessed.

The White pawn at g2 is at threat. If white considers moving the pawn at g2 to g3, what might happen?

The black queen at f6 might be placed at f3 thus opening up the diagonal a8-h1 for checkmating the White King, placed precariously at g1.

Fig. 4

Fig. 5

Fig. 6


Now, White has to consider other alternatives to come out of the precarious situation. The most important point worth considering is that there is no reason for panic, when faced with such an attack from the opponent.

If the Black rook captures g2 and threatens with check, White King can move to f1 and in turn, the black rook might capture the pawn at h2.

Fig. 7

Fig. 8

Fig. 9


There is no imminent threat of mate to the White King, and White has some time to develop its own pieces and try to force a counter-attack on the Black King.

In any case, there is absolutely no reason for panic. It is here that the need for counter attack and tactics arises.

What are the options available to White at this juncture – not only to defend his pieces but also counter-attack the Black King – as the saying says – Attack is the best form of defence – in this case counter attack on the part of White.

A closer look of the position makes it clear to the naked eye that the Black King is placed at g7 and the only option available to White to attack the Black King is through the diagonal a1-h8.

Fig. 10

Fig. 11


Realizing that point, white preferred to move the rook at d4 to f4. In response, Black, as anticipated, black rook at g5 captured the pawn at g2 and threatened the white king with a check. The white king at g1 promptly moved to f1. The Black Queen, further exerting pressure on the White pieces, moved the Queen from f6 to g5.

30. Rf4 Rxg2+
31. Kf1 Qg5 (with an idea of moving the rook to g1)

Fig. 12


Fig. 13


Fig. 14


Fig. 15


Continue reading Part 3 of Do not panic – Tactics are present even if they are not visible..

Do not panic – Tactics are present even if they are not visible – Part 1

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The game of chess is all about tactics and tactics alone. There is tactics in every aspect of the game and it is the understanding of the tactics and effective implementation of the tactics after careful analysis from all angles is that differentiates the grandmasters from ordinary players of chess.

In one of the games played in the FIDE Championship tournament, in the Knock out stage, one of the two grandmasters, playing White, by using the tactics to his advantage, converted a literally losing position to a winning one and went on to advance to the next round.

We shall now analyse the game and see how we can profit and learn from the games played by the Grandmasters in Chess.

Given below is the position after White completed his 27th move and it is the turn of the Black to make the move.


Black to Move

A cursory look at the position indicates that the White has an extra pawn. However, the black can capture that extra pawn. It has been exerting pressure on the white pawn at d5, as can be seen here.


It might also be found that there is nothing concrete in the form of positional factors to apply tactics on the part of Black. However, in this knockout game, having lost the first game to the White player, it becomes imperative on the part of Black to force a win.

One point worth considering is that the Black bishop placed at b7 can be used effectively to exploit the diagonal b7 – g2 as the White King is placed at g1 and the Black queen is placed at f6.


Now, Black takes the initiative and tries to exploit the b7-g2 diagonal.

27. …… Rxe4 Captures the bishop lying at e4
28. Rxe4 …… White captures the black rook
28. …… Rxd5 Black captures the pawn in d5

and the position now is given hereunder:


White to Move

Now, a closer look at the board reveals that the ploy of Black to exploit the diagonal seems to be working.

The White’s position seems to be vulnerable at this juncture, with the rook at e4, rook at d1 and the queen at d2 all hanging or vulnerable.

Fig. 1


Fig. 2


Fig. 3


White is in a precarious position and staring at the defeat, though it may have more pieces. Consider the following :

If Queen captures the Black rook at d5, Black bishop at f7 will capture the White Queen. The rook at d1 can capture back the Black bishop at d5.

Fig. 4


Fig. 5


Fig. 6


White seems to be having two rooks as against only one Queen and no more powers for Black. But the position is not so good for White pieces.

Consider the following – The black queen placed at f6 might exploit the open diagonal f7-a1 and capture the pawn at b2. Given the weak first rank where the White King has three pawns in front of it in the front row, the pawn in a2 also being vulnerable and the rooks at d5 and e4 unable to assist, White stares at defeat, if nothing is done by White to avoid, or if White overlooks the impending threat.

Fig. 7


Fig. 8


Fig. 9


Fig. 10


Having realized the precarious position in which he is placed, White has no other option but to move the rook at e4 to d4, protect the Queen and the rook at d1 apart from saving itself from the threat of bishop at b7.

Continue reading Part 2 of Do not panic – Tactics are present even if they are not visible

Importance of positional factors in chess tactics

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In an earlier article about tactics and strategies (Simple tips to master tactics and strategies), we discussed in general about the importance of tactics and strategies. Let us try to understand the importance of tactics through a practical example. This is a game from Bundesliga tournament in 2001:

Look at the position given hereunder, where it is the turn of Black to move.


On a curious look at the above position, you will find that the number of pieces each player has is the same. Apart from King and Queen, both players have 1 bishop (in same color), 1 knight, 2 rooks and 6 pawns each.

The black pieces are well developed, especially with Knight at c3 in a very good position, controlling more number of squares, the rooks are more centralized and the bishop is also in a good position. In contrast, the white rooks are not in favorable position and the white bishop at g2 is more or less blocked by the knight at f3. The King at f1 is also vulnerable relatively moving closer to the center.

In the normal course of thinking, one might be inclined to make the following moves:

1.….. Qxf4 – (if black does not take the queen, white may capture the queen)
2. .gxf4 b5 (to support the Knight at c3)

Now, let us pause for a moment and think of any possible moves that can give an opportunity to make it advantageous to the black pieces.

Some tactics that might be of use must be explored. Tactics need not be a long one. They might not yield the desired results always, simply because the opponent will also think on similar lines and try to have his own tactics based on his own intuition.

So, tactics basically are for a short duration of may be two or three moves with some target in mind. Let us see whether we can use any such tactic and deviate from the normal course of moves. This is what Grandmasters make – consider the positional factors, analyze and foresee the moves and then make a move.

Let us revisit the pieces and consider them in a different angle – positional factors.

Take a look at the back rank of White – the 1st rank. The King at f1 is protected by two rooks – one at a1 and the other at c1. Look at the rook at c1. It is vulnerable given that the protection for that rook from Queen at f4 might not be there once the queens are exchanged. The rook at c1 is protected by rook at a1 as well. Now, taking advantage of the probable vulnerability of the back ranks of white, we can think of a tactic to disturb the back rank of White.

Again, look at the black rook at c8. If the knight at c3 is removed, black rook at c8 can attack the white rook at c1 and give a check by distracting the other rook. So, black might consider distracting the rook at a1 by taking the pawn at a2 by Knight at c3.


The white has two options here – either it can take the black knight by rook at a1 or else use the rook at c1 to remove the black rook at c8. If white resorts to c8 x c1, then instead of taking the white rook at c8 by black rook at d8, black can consider taking the rook at a1 by queen at f6. In such a way, more than one move and counter move must be considered as tactics.

In this case, black knight decided to take up pawn at a2 and the tactics of distracting the rooks at back rank worked out well.

Black went on to win the game as given hereunder:

22 ….. Nxa2
23 Rxa2 Qxf4
24 Rxc8 Qxf6
25 Rxd8+ Qxd8
26 Rxa7 Bxb3
27 Nd4 Bd5
28 e3 g6
29 f4 b5
30 Bxd5 Qxd5
31 h4 b4
32 Rc7 b3
33 Nxb3 Qf3+