21 June, 2019

Think differently

I see the mate that is available, but then I'm distracted by the Queen threat to the Bishop and pawn.

As I cannot make the mate work, I switch to the distraction and decide that it must be the main point at issue.

I am wrong, of course. 

Although I am correct that the mate that I tried doesn't work, it is still available, just not in the obvious combination I envisaged.

Lesson available ( and learned, I hope). Think differently.

White to play

Solution if required

14 June, 2019

End of Season

A bit of a "slow lane" or "back seat" for chess recently, with things like work and illness clawing at my time.

However, I had steady results ( in fact 50% ) during the season as a backup for a league team, plus some enjoyable games at the club as well.

I've continued with tactics at Chess Tempo and found the below problem interesting, not particularly for the solution which, for me, was quite straightforward given my predilection for the type of mate threat involved, but rather for a nice pattern that appeared in the continuation.

Black to Play after 39...Rxa5

In both the engine-continuation (ChessTempo's solution isn't always the actual game continuation. but rather the 'best' one via an engine ) and the actual game, the same pattern turned up.

Here's the two positions, first from the actual game, 

From the game after 43. Rd5

and now from the engine continuation.

Engine continuation after 44. Rf5

Both have the same idea : Black cannot take the Rook in either case, since it will allow White to draw (in the engine line )  or win ( in the human line, since the white king has threats against both Rook and Knight).

Although the Rook protects the f-pawn in one diagram, its the fact that the d-pawn will control the c8-square that adds spice to the position.

In the actual game, the result was a draw ( although not because Black took the Rook ! ) most likely due to White's determined and active play.

A good motif to remember.

16 February, 2019


Recognising patterns or tactic from your practice is very satisfying : it gives an indication that things are becoming embedded in my "Chess RAM".

That these memories are accessed in Blitz is even better...

In the below I saw the move to play almost immediately, and despite the limited time.

Black to Play
After the game, I saw that there was actually a better move than the one I made, although still using the same idea.

08 January, 2019


...it's always great to solve a tactic problem correctly, no matter the level it is at.

Even better to get it right and know that you recognised the pattern as well !

Black to play

Solution if you need it 

01 January, 2019

Blitz and Black to Play

I missed the tactic in this position, as I recall being focused on the b3 square, until I realised the knight covered it.

Having little time left I played the innocuous Kg8.

Black to play

Knowing a tactic is present it is relatively easy to find. 

If only there was a reliable way to signal a "tactic alert" in a game, rather than the playing through of thousands of problems to force patterns into your head !

Until that discovery, its back to ChessTempo !

19 December, 2018

Is this an Arabian Mate that I see before me ?

As well as the standard problem sets at Chesstempo, you can create sets based on themes or tags or other criteria, such as number of failures.

Naturally, this gives a clue to the solution when you pick a 'themed set', but since chess is about recognising and re-using themes and patterns, although you receive what it says on the tin, sometimes its not the way you expect.

A case in point....the below turned up in my set of Arabian and Anastasia mates.

Black to play: Arabian Mate ?
This isn't, evidently, a real Arabian Mate, since there is no immediate way that Black can whip up that flavour of Mate in a short time, but you can use the idea !

I solved this in the average time ( 1m 31s ) but I had also put some thought into how a mate could be achieved.

For me, Nxe3 was something to be considered, removing the defence of the c1 square, but it doesn't reach a mate.

However, Nxe3, as a pre-cursor to the main idea, leads to a beautiful combination, with a sweet twist to it. Its the sort of combination that could leave Black worse off psychologically if he had over-looked it.

Have a try, its not that hard to find when you know.