14 July, 2023

The obvious move fails to be found

 There are occasions when checking a game that I am surprised at what I see in terms of threats and tactics. 

Other times, it is shameful and even de-moralising, to see how much is missed.

Case in point below...

Move 12, plenty of time in a rapid game and I spend more than a minute to end up not seeing the obvious Qxd4.

I'm not sure that a longer time control would have revealed it to me, since its clear that I am not thinking of the correct approach here, despite the fact that e5 was played on the previous move to attack and (sort of) pin the knight to the queen, so I already have an "attack the knight" thought.

So how come the switch from attack the knight with a pawn, does not switch to "attack with the Queen"? 

Has the attack by the Queen on the King over-ridden all other thoughts ? Has it pushed this king-threat to the top of the priority list and blocked anything apart from 'defend the pawn' or 'prevent the check' ?

12. Qd4

27 November, 2022

Did I recognise the mate pattern ?

I played a short online blitz game yesterday, the first time in a few weeks that I have played online.

We reached this position after 11...a6 was played 

I think it was the below chesstempo problem that I had recalled, consciously or not

Start of problem : White to play

..since after 2.Qxc6 Bxd5 3.Bxb7+ Kb8 4.Ba7+ Kxa7 5.Qa6+ Kb8 6.Qa8#. 

It ends with a Queen and Bishop mate.

How did my game continue ? Obviously, I took the knight, and Black should have accepted the loss and played the Queen out of danger with Qe6. Instead he re-captured on c6 with the b-pawn

After 12...bxc

The rest was simple 13.Bxa6+ Kb8 14. Qb3+ Ka7 with 15. Qb7#

15. Qb7#

Evidently the mate was straightforward and may have nothing to do with solving problems with Queen and Bishop mate, but I'm sure there is some connection.

20 November, 2022

Mowing the lawn

 I can say with complete honesty, that none of my OTB games ( since I joined club in 2018 ) have ended in checkmate.

Every single game that ended in a win, has been the result of a resignation.

Why then should we study "standard" checkmates ?  

Simply put, because these are also patterns that are helpful to know, and the threat of them can produce a gain of material or other concession, which can improve a position or end a game.

I've taken the time to learn , or in some cases refresh my knowledge of, basic mates, such as Q+K, R+K, two Rooks, etc which has been both enjoyable and interesting, since in many cases, I've played them out against a friend.

I've also learned the theory behind some, and strived to mate in the shortest number of moves, rather than just mate. This could be thought of as irrelevant, since mate is mate, but as I learned from Chesstempo tactics, making the best move can sometimes be the difference between an easy win, and a win that you have to work hard for.

I've also begun to look at endgames in more detail, also by playing them out against a real opponent, making mistakes and talking through the exercises. This can really produce interesting results and is very educational, much more so than just studying by yourself.

Below is an example of what I now know is called a lawnmower mate. 

Simple, but an enjoyable combination to aim for. If only I was actually allowed to play it in a real game !

White to play and mate

24 August, 2022

Mate in 11

 I rarely channel my "Inner Tal", but somehow this position spoke out for an attack...

White to play

I chose 19.Bxg7 and there followed Kxg7 20. Qc3+ and then Kf8

White to play : Mate-in-12 !

To be honest, after Qh8+, I think losing with White would be a difficult thing to do, although there is the scary part after the forced response of Ke7 when the White Queen is attacked by two Rooks. 

However, resolving that is probably the only hard part, and you would have to do that before playing Qa8 anyway.

Play continued with 21.Qh8+ Ke7, and with perfect/engine play there is now a mate in 11 to find.

Naturally, my play was not perfect, but Black's was even more flawed and I managed the mate-in-3 that I had visualised with 22. Nf6+ Kd8 23. Rxe8+ Qxe8 24. Qxe8#.

However, Black had given almost no resistance, unlike in the engine variation. 

Enjoy finding it !

10 August, 2022

Know your mates addendum : Practice what you preach !

As an addition to my previous post, usually, I do this, but yes, it happens with me as well.

In blitz, the focus on time is very high, and it can be easy to miss things as time runs out.

Here, I had was planning for an obvious threat, with Bf5, however, I missed the mate-in-one : too much focus on a plan and not eating up move time.

Black to play and win
As its a variation on my favourite mating combination I can feel suitably ashamed.

However, all ended well. The Albin prevailed, although I could have saved myself 14 moves !

A similar focus ( or over-anticipation ?) occurred at the Chennai Olympiad when Sam Shankland touched his king, expecting a certain move, but his opponent played differently.

Its painful to watch his realisation that he had lost, as he was forced to move his King. Thirty seconds, when I probably know what is going on in his head.

03 August, 2022

Know your mates

 It really does help to know mate combinations and be alert to them appearing on the board.

Here, Black played the remarkable 20...f5 ??

..evidently not seeing the back-rank mate !

Same here. 

Black has the choice of Kh8 or Kh6.

Kh8 maybe feels like its bad as it puts the King into a corner, but if you don't know the mate, its not much calculation to see that Kh6 is a worse move and a slightly quicker mate.

After the poor Rf8, White has Nf5+, and Black cannot capture because of the pin so is forced to h5, where Qh4 is mate

Kh8 is , for me at least, a harder mate to see and calculate.


But if you see the end position, you should be able to work out the mate in 5