21 February, 2020

A visit from Anastasia

My chess life moves on at a slow pace ( at least in rating terms ).

I enjoy playing the game most of all, which explains the slow pace, as the work to improve has to fit around the work to pay for the creation of the time to do the improvement in, if you understand me.

I play much less blitz these days, as I realise that it is not my forte to calculate at blitz speed, but it is easier to find the time for a blitz game...quite a conundrum !

Here's a nice ending sequence from a recent blitz game...

1. I play Ne7 threatening to win a pawn, but also to cover g6 and g8

2. A suitable response of Ba6 creating a greater threat to my Rook, but easily resolved with Rf3

3. The strange Ne6 ( is he aiming at Nxd4 ? even though its protected ?) allows a visit from Anastasia, who is always welcome

4. One of my favourite checkmates, and it was planned !

26 January, 2020

Gibralter Masters ...a great move

Apparently White ( Bela  Khotenashvili ) had about 20 seconds left when she played the great move Kf1.

Black to Play
Black ( a 2600-rated GM ) responded very quickly, presumably to keep time pressure on his opponent, but unfortunately fell into a well-designed trap.

1...Rd2 failed completely and Black resigned after  2. Rxg5 hxg5 3.Bd3

Wonderful chess !

24 August, 2019

A lost endgame

White to play here and complete the victory...

Yes, this is blitz, and I had already accepted that this was a loss after an interesting middlegame where I had gained the upper-hand  and 2 pawns, but had about 10 seconds left against White's 3+ minutes ( time is my biggest issue in blitz !).

Knowing the time for a slow victory was passed I had sacrificed Bishop for 2 pawns, but it was not a sound play !

However, with two active Rooks I played on and saw White switch from stopping my Rook attacks to throwing in a couple of checks : he began to change focus from stopping me, to winning himself.

Here we are, with Black giving up another pawn ( via Kxa6)  to put the Rooks on the same file .

In fact, here there is only one move that wins for White, although I didn't know it or have the time to plan further than my next move.

My opponent didn't play it, we carried on with Black checking and the White king moving, then 4 moves later White resigned before the mate arrived.

A significant lesson !

White to play and win after 47..Rcb7

17 August, 2019

A Queen sacrifice

Two great examples of an Arabian mate motif that unveils itself with deadly effect !

I really enjoy how the pattern arises in so many ways. 

Once learned, it appears, almost by magic, all over the place !

White to play

White to play

06 August, 2019


I liked this problem a lot.

The first move is straightforward, and once you understand the reason why it needs to be played, the remainder slots into place.

The dominant theme is what Chesstempo terms Interference.

I have been focusing on this theme with a number of problem sets of increasing difficulty, although always a maximum of 2 moves, so its the theme that is identified and reinforced during the practice.

Initially, I really couldn't see how Black was supposed to prevent mate.

I took about a minute and a half to play the first move, and a further 3 to ensure that I was correct and really could win as Black !

There are a surprisingly high number of wrong moves, with the major culprit surely a result of mis-calculation.

Black to move after 31...Qg2

20 July, 2019

A combination from 1919

Here's a missed combination from a 1919 game featuring Max Euwe.

 As White, Hendrik van Hartingsvelt is playing against Max Euwe in Haarlem, 1919.

White to play

Van Hartingsvelt misses a nice combination to win a pawn, and a few moves later plays the strange Qe4, which must surely be a fingerfelher, since he captures the pawn next move after 13...fxg 14. Qxg2.

13. Qe4 ??
He then seals his fate with 21.Bf4


None of these are too hard to find, and the combination in the first diagram is a sweet one, so its interesting to see the difference in play ( or maybe that should be in expectations ?) between 1919 and 2019 as van Hartingsvelt was a top player in the Netherlands at the time ( EDO rates him as 2251 and Euwe as 2300 ).

In 2019, would you expect a 2350-rated player to miss a pawn-winning combination just 7 moves into the game ?

In fact, I find the same position 2 more times since Euwe's game and neither plays the best move,although 2039-rated Milan Lizner finds a similar combination after missing it first time around !