15 November, 2017

White to Play, and win a .....?

Black saw the discovered check from the Rook, but missed it was a double-check, so his intended Bxd6 isn't possible and Kd8 is forced.

White to play and win a ...

White to play after 18.Nd6+ Kd8

08 November, 2017

White to play 11 : Queen exchange !

 One of those tactical puzzles that its good to see in real life !

White to play and win

01 November, 2017

Great Combinations

Maybe 'combination' isn't the precise word here, as I'm sure it has a particular definition, but its good enough for me.

The European Team Championship is on in Crete at the moment, and, in the time I found to watch it I was lucky enough to see a very nice finish by Sophie Millet in her game against Borka Franciskovic.

Black has just played Qd8 and after a couple of minutes thought White replies with a simple move, but a devastating combination follows...mate in 5.

White to play

Solution [ 31.Qd6+ Kc8 32.Na7+ Nxa7 33.Rc1+ Nc6 34.Rxc6+ bxc6 35.Ba6#    ]

Another good combination, this time from me.

I've mentioned before that, although I don't always play them, these days I tend to see more interesting moves bubbling up from my subconscious.

This time I calculated a bit more and decide to try it. Not a mate, but more than enough to win, and very enjoyable to play.

Black didn't play the optimal moves, but that's what happens in amateur chess, especially when surprised with an unexpected thrust !

I managed to calculate 4 and half moves on this, which put me in a winning position, so I gave it a go !

15... Nc4  White to play

Subsequent moves16.Nxd7 Kxd7 17.Nxd5 exd5 18.Bh3+ Kd8 19.Bxc8 hxg5 ? 20.Qf5 Nf6 21.hxg5 Nd6 22.Rxh8+ Nde8 23.gxf6  1-0  ]

27 October, 2017

The downside of Blitz

I'm sure we've all experienced the downside of blitz chess.

Not the mistake you make because of a lack of time or calculation, but the painful game where you realise after a few moves that your opponent is a complete novice  at chess and either you choose to resign, to save more suffering on both parties, or you play on and prove that you know what you are doing !

Below a recent 'play on' choice which produced the obvious result in 8 moves. It was Rh3 that confirmed I was up against an almost complete novice, although the big clues were 1.h3 and 2.a3, despite the fact that these are sometimes played by bullish players as a psychological prod to the opposition.

A blitz mate !

As minor compensation the next game in the session gave an opportunity for a nice mate. Yes, I realise Black is way ahead on material, but serious blitz players rarely give up !

Black to play


18 October, 2017

Calculation in Chess

Calculation in chess is a wonderful skill to develop, as well as being an essential one in almost any position.

Its probably a major difference between the various levels of chess player, with a GM seemingly displaying a grasp of calculation that is far in excess of anything an amateur can achieve.

This is perhaps the key : a GM is a professional chess player, so although a GM displays this incredible skill, it is probably not innate. 

There might well be a natural core available, but I suspect it is extensive practice and experience that allows the skill to develop to the levels seen in GM-play.

I found the below demonstration and exposition of calculating skills by GM Nadezhda Kosintseva to be quite amazing.

She takes a position (shown below) and proceeds to analyse it deeply and fully, bringing out a remarkable amount of information from what appears to be a straightforward position at first glance.

Its a long video ( an hour ) but worth watching for the way she analyses and how the methods can be learned.

Helpful ( or maybe, educational ) to think about the position first, before watching. 

White to play [1rb3nr/1pN1kppp/p7/4p3/3nq3/4B3/PPP1BPPP/R2QK2R w KQ - 0 1]

Chess calculation by Nadezhda Kosintseva


11 October, 2017

Tactics : White - Queen's Play

I am told that variety is needed in training, so, as a change from my usual d4 & London System I have started to play 1.e4 as white, .

It is quite pleasant meeting king pawn openings again, though I admit that since I am playing e4 to aim for my own choice of openings, although I do encounter the Sicilian at times ( met by a twist of the Réti Gambit ) or the French ( met with the plain Réti Gambit ), I usually see e5, and end up playing a variation of the Centre Game, at one time the preferred way for me to avoid main e4 openings.

An enjoyable, and tactic-filled opening, especially if Black follows the 'main line' and accepts the gambit pawn. 

Declining it, or playing less known variations allows a more placid and manoeuvring game, which is perfectly enjoyable.

In a recent 15 minute game, I had much the better of the play, but in the position below, I missed a lovely opportunity to display my tactical genius, as well as take a significant advantage in the game.

White to Play
As I was putting the focus on my Queen, and the plans around the attack down the g-file, I missed the best move.

I had considered Black's response of b4, so that was uppermost in my mind, but the major failing was not to replay previous analysis, and sticking with a pre-planned and fixed idea.

I played the decent move of Qe3, but if I had looked all around the board and thought a bit more I would have found a much better move, as I am sure, dear reader, you will  !