07 April, 2021

Crazy ? Illogical ?

 I spent 3 minutes or so looking at this ChessTempo problem.

At least the question to ask is obvious in this problem : can  the Rook on b6 be captured or not, since there is no direct mate, or mate threat to consider.

Simply put, the answer must be "Yes, I can capture " since there are very few other constructive moves available, but then you are stuck with how to meet the obvious Qa7 reply from White.

What do you do ? as now the knight is pinned to the undefended Queen and the attacked Rook can only be defended by a knight move to d5, where it will be captured by a pawn ?

Remarkably there have been 19 incorrect first moves played, with Ncd5 , Nce8 and even Nxb5 as the top failures.... there are also 29 failed moves on the second move ( after Rxb6 ).

Black to play

The solution is neither crazy nor illogical, its just that you have to see, or imagine it, and do a bit of thinking, and, if this was an OTB game , you have to play it as well !

26 March, 2021

Antenna Alert #1

 A lovely problem....

As one commentator at ChessTempo remarked, the tactic is so simple to see, but it doesn't work. 

The trick ( or perhaps more accurately, the skill ) is to find the moves that make it work !

A recent purchase ( Nieman - "Chess Tactics Antenna" ) would classify this as either "Unprotected Piece" or more likely "Alignment", two of the 'Seven Signals' that he uses to describe patterns/situations that should trigger your 'tactics antenna'.

White to play

24 March, 2021

Remember your thinking process : Reminder #271

The title says it all. 

Practising tactics ( or any element of chess ) is helpful and, usually, productive.

It improves your ability to see patterns, and hopefully to see them quicker or more accurately.

However, if you do not practise a thinking method or process when playing, then you can fail to obtain the maximum benefit from your training. 

I succeeded in gaining material in my solution, but I failed. Why so ? 


Top of the thinking process should be the King : the safety of your own, and the vulnerability of your opponent's.

I missed the mate.

I'm sure, reader, that you won't , but that's either because you are better at tactics than me ( highly likely ) but you also have a clue that material is not what is a stake here.

White to play and Mate

23 March, 2021

Missed this....

 Sad to say, but in the position below, I missed the winning move in this blitz game, even though I had registered and played a variation of it a few moves later.

Proof, not only that you should always be looking, but that however much you are practising, you can always do more.

Black to play and win

08 December, 2020

Repeat Pattern

 This motif has turned up in, I believe, three CT problems so far.

Its unusual enough for me to remember it clearly ( I think I took a long while finding the move when I first saw it ) and if that made me see it again for this problem it can only be a good thing.

As seems to happen a lot in chess,  the pin is a powerful weapon at any point in the game, but this has a good twist in the solution !

White to play after 1...Rf7

05 December, 2020

Another good pattern

 I posted about a (mate) pattern that I practised for a time and now, I can usually see these when they turn up.

Below is a similar pattern ( or idea or motif ) that turned up in a Chess Tempo session

After Rb1, Black to play and mate

My eye was drawn to the white Bishop and pawn on e7/d6 almost immediately, probably because its "out of place"in the Black camp.

This is a distraction, since the target is the King, and by the Queen..

Do coloured arrows help? 

Black to play and mate
Even more obvious now.

One bishop pins the g2 pawn to the king ( cue that the pawn cannot capture ), the other Bishop attacks the h2 square.

Distraction is over, and the winning move appears : White cannot prevent mate !

(Footnote : Chess Tempo refers to this mate as "Damiano's Mate" specifically "Damiano's Bishop" 

"Damiano's mate has the opponent king restricted on the back rank by an attacking pawn, while the queen delivers mate with support from the pawn, and an opponent piece blocks horizontal escape on the opposite side to which the queen is checking." )