30 May, 2020

Pinning for Mate

I mentioned how powerful the pin is in so many situations, but I think this is the first time is has occurred with mate following in one of my games.

Its a blitz/10-minute game, but still a first for me.

Not so strangely, the initial reaction was Qxg5, since the bishop is hidden on a2, but the practise of suppressing the automatic reaction pays off, and the winning move of Qxg6 was played. 

Luckily my opponent made it easy with a reply of Kf8.

White to play, Mate 

26 April, 2020

Same difference...?

This is a position where you can believe that there are two moves that end up with the same result, at least if you only view it from your own perspective, and without great thought.

In fact one of them loses, the other doesn't.


Which capture ?

My initial view was that Kf8 was no good : the White pawn promotes and the game is over.

That leaves Nxd7 or Qxd7.

If you think only in terms of immediate captures and exchanges, Black wins a pawn after either capture : Qxd7, Qxd7, Nxd7. 

If exchanges are the intention it doesn't matter whether the Queen or knight captures : "same difference", so-to-speak.

However, look a little deeper than the focus of the pawn on d7, at more than just captures, and the difference between the two becomes more clear.

What does Nxd7 achieve ? What does it give up or stop doing ?

What does Qxd7 do ?

What response does White have to each of these moves ?

What are White's lines-of-attack ? Especially with the Rooks ?

Chess is so much more than an 'I take this, and he re-captures, and I take that, and he moves there' sort of game. Even simple positions will repay thought and should accumulate experience that can be re-used in different circumstances.

I made the correct move in this position, and for broadly, the correct theoretical reasons, but without seeing all the implications.


19 April, 2020

Triangulation ?

Problems with many pieces on the board, can sometimes seem overwhelming.

However, using a thought process that looks for Lines of Attack, and for motifs such as pins, skewers and forks, can direct your attention to the correct areas.




White to play


Part of the thought process should also include asking : what did their last move do ?


12 April, 2020

Pin Power

Tactics involving the pin motif are among the most common simple tactics that I see during my chesstempo practice.

From these, the Bishop+Queen duo seems one of the most regularly occuring pins leading to mate, either directly, or in a 2 or 3 move combination with the pinned pawn or piece providing the shield for a check, followed by mate


Once you have this fixed in your tactic toolbox, it can be easier to see other types in pin-mates.


Here's the two-move Queen and Bishop combination...


Black to Play

Followed by a related pin-mate"": don't be distracted by the material on offer, as Nigel Short is often quoted "Mate ends the game ! "


Black to play

Another example below...a first glance suggest Black's defence is more than adequate, but the power of the pin ( maybe Pin Squared ?) overcomes this to deliver mate.


White to Play

The deceptive pin is more powerful than you think....First thoughts give Qh8 as the move, but then you see the Bishop guarding the vital square, and supported by the Rook. 

Is there a Pin coming to your rescue ? 

White to Play 

Another example, and yes, there is a winning pin, if you resist the Rook capture.



White to play

A further example of a pin, but careful how you take advantage of it....

Black to Play

Finally, another example where a pin overcomes the defence of two Queens and a Rook.

White to play



10 April, 2020

A nice Candidate !

A very cute mate.  

Simple, but if you are not careful it could slip away from you...

Also made more interesting in that the game it came from was Maxime Vachier_lagrave - Tiemour Radjabov !

White to play

05 April, 2020

Faulty board vision.

This is a simple problem, but yet I have failed it a couple of times.


White to Play
Even though I know I registered the Queen pin, I played the very bad Rxd6.

I can only think that I saw the pin from the Black Queen to the White Queen ( maybe because my natural view is up the board ?), so imagined that it was my piece that was pinned.

Having thought that, I didn't switch my mind around to view other points of view, nor did I calculate White's response, which is evidently NOT Rxe5, but is the deadly Qe1+, winning the Bishop. !

Clearly, I need to make sure I look at all possibilities, and not just focus on what I want to happen.



The below is also a common issue.


White to play

My mind has immediately focused on the mate pattern with Qb3->Qh8, and even though it doesn't work, it seems I cannot stop focusing on it, so I try to MAKE it work, play what my faulty thinking has made me believe must be right, and I fail.

Of course the reward on offer here is not an immediate mate, but gain of material, which is a simple thing to see if you can look clearly and without a 'mate obsession' !

Its also the situation you are more likely to experience in a real game, so an encouragement to shape a thinking process to use.