26 July, 2017

Tactics : Desperado

Another tactical motif weakness has shown itself and it is proving a slippery one to grab hold of and digest.

Its important to understand how ChessTempo defines it, since that will affect the way you view such problems. In particular it's the phrase "...in order to gain a more favourable material balance at the end of the sequence of captures" that I feel is key.

It may be obvious, but the action of solving problems on ChessTempo should be to arrive at the solution via a large dose of logical analysis, with perhaps a sprinkling of intuition/experience, rather than the other way around.

In which case a Desperado problem might seem to be the opposite, ie illogical and emotional, as its name suggests a situation where you hit out desperately for a solution.

Actually, as I have discovered via my many initial failures, it isn't illogical at all.  

Unlike the historical  "Desperado", the outlaw of the American West, the solution is  to gain a benefit via planning and analysis of exchanges that eliminate the main threat, and leave you with material up or an overwhelming position.

That's the clue as to why this has arisen as a weakness for me, because most of the time it will involve the motif of counting, and ensuring that the move order of the exchanges is correct as well.

After all, there's no point in blowing a hole in the jailhouse, if the timing means that the prisoner is still standing against it !

Here are a couple of examples of the motif in action...

White to Play
The White Queen is under attack, while at the same time White hits the Black Queen, both involving a knight. You can just exchange the Queens, but that won't fulfill the requirements of the motif, namely "more favourable material balance at the end of the sequence of captures".

I saw the key idea, but jumped to a conclusion and didn't re-check. I was wrong via a move -order error.


Black to play
Seemed to me that I couldn't go wrong in this case, and I didn't !

Since Desperado reminded me of the Eagles, and I couldn't find their BBC "Whistle Test" performance, here's something even better !


19 July, 2017

Black to Play 3

Maybe practicing tactics does pay off ....

From a recent game

Black to play
 Solution [  23...Nxc5   ]

12 July, 2017

Tactic : ChessTempo 2

Here's an example of one of my 'problem areas', classed as "Pins" by ChessTempo.

Black to play
The current problem rating is 1455 and average time to solve is 2 minutes .


I took a little longer than average, and saw the main thread and solution, but not the depth that chesstempo gives as the full continuation after the solution (and here I mean 11 moves in this case ).

Its also worth noting that the tactical motif  isn't always straightforward. It will be there, but not always the obvious one you see on display (or even if it is on display).  Often the solution is to extract yourself from it, or to create it for your advantage, all of which add variation to the solutions.

The comments, as always, are illuminating, in that there is a wide range of thinking on display. 

As a paid up member I see the full solution, with all ( well, a lot ) of incorrect moves and variations available to check, which answer many of the comments posted.

However, there is often an instructive comment giving an underlying explanation, expanding on the variation solutions given : well worth reading.

05 July, 2017

White play : mate in 4

I realised I have posted many 'Black to Play' positions, so for a change, here is 'White to Play": and mate in 4, courtesy of the London System and a naive opponent.

White to play

Yes, this is just a blitz game, but it was still amazing to see Black's last move of 9...f5. 

I didn't need to think much before moving, and after that, the mate just played itself.

This is a simple, and obvious, example of not thinking in the opening. Black just wanted to set up his "system" of crenellated pawns, saw a direct attack possible on the bishop , and played it. Result misery...at least eventually.

You don't need me to post the solution !