05 February, 2015

Smothered Improvement

How to know that you are improving at chess ?

A complicated question, since it pre-supposes you have a base level, and an ongoing plan or improvement schedule.

As I am not rated via FIDE or national standards, I rely on a general feeling of improvement rather than changes in recognised rating numbers  ( although you could say that at least the Team League rating is a consistent one to benchmark against, albeit not a "recognised" one ).

I had a deja vu feeling when playing this game.....

Not here, where after f3 appeared on the board, I saw the lovely check with Qd4...

Promptng Qd4+

...and expected that White would play Rxf2 to limit his losses.

But instead, that deja vu feeling surfaced here, where White has played Kh1, inviting Nh3 and a discovered check, followed by Nf2+ and a fork of King and Queen.

White thought so too, and resigned after playing Kg1.

However, I had already planned mate, since I remembered a similar position from my blog about a month ago.

The same motif is there with the Queen, Knight , Rook and King.

Instead of going up material, Philidor's mate is available via Qg1+, Rxg1, Nf2#.

This encouraged me to have a look how often this appeared in general, and it doesn't seem to be too rare.

Here's one I found in my database from 1928, Balparda-Anfruns, Mar Del Plata, Argentina...

White resigned.
It even occurred in a correspondence game from 1973, obviously no computer checking of moves there !

A neat combination of a discovered attack plus this motif leads to a win in Roland-Mercier from 2013...

..as White's Queen moves and allows Black to deliver the mate.

Interestingly, a variation on this has been used to force a draw as well.  For example in Huzman-Kruppa, Uzhgorod, 1987

White cannot capture the knight with Rxf2, since mate arrives via Qe1.  

Both the main and the variant are great motifs to remember.