23 March, 2018

Anastasia's Mate

Recently, I discovered Anastasia's Mate ( as well as others, such as the similar Arabian mate). Of course, I mean I discovered how the pattern was named.

Anastasia's Mate ( apparently named after a novel by Johann Jakob Wilhelm Heinse) involves Rook and Knight combining, often with a Queen involved.

The example I learned from starts below...

Black to play
...and after 1...Ne2+ 2. Kh1 Qxh2+ 3.Kxh2, we have....

a Rook check, and the knight blocks the escape squares. Very neat.

I must have remembered it well, as in the below problem, after dismissing the first move that came to mind, the knight + Rook pattern emerged. 

Checking the options, I was convinced, played for it and was correct. A neat solution :)

White to play

Solution if required 

Its not that rare, as I saw a similar pattern later.

White to play
The learning point is to know your mating combinations, as they do more than give mate : the mate threat can be devastatng !

17 March, 2018

Time and Tactics

My continued practice of tactics, mainly through the use of Chess Tempo, appears to be paying off for me, despite the difficulty of measuring this precisely.

I find that I can calculate better, and that I see more ideas. 

However, wanting to be confident that I have the correct solution often means that I spend more time than 'the average', which isn't bad per se ,as it means I am re-examining, re-calculating and probably reinforcing positions and variations that I see : extended practise, so to speak. It does mean that I look at fewer problems/positions per session though.

I notice this is in OTB play as well : thinking too long,  I tend to fall into time-trouble towards the end, often being 15 minutes behind my opponent, which naturally increases the risk of mistakes.

Lack of time is not always helped when I forget to stop my clock, since opponents ( especially in League matches ) will rarely remind you. 90 minutes with a 15 second increment sounds like a huge amount of time, but it can be eaten up very quickly.

In a recent game, I was a pawn up, I still had to win it, and it didn't look that simple when you have about 9 minutes to the opponent's 15.

After 34...Rb3

Eventually, after my opponent also burned time thinking, pushed the king-side pawns aggressively and gave me an opening, I ended up in the position below.

White to play after 48..Kxb7

Easy to win, I'm sure you will think, but with about a minute left, and with the Black King in front of the doubled pawns it looks daunting.

In reality, once I had decided on a plan, I just played quickly for 6 or so moves gaining time on the clock, and with a mistaken Kh8 from Black turning up, I could stop and spend some time to make sure of the win, and even more importantly, avoiding the stalemate !

Finally, just to show I can still fail miserably, I spent about 5 minutes staring at the following before making the wrong move. I just didn't consider the White response fully, but it was nice to have the correct idea !

Black to play

Solution if required

08 March, 2018

Over 1700 at Chess Tempo

I managed to creep over 1700 at ChessTempo.

In fact ,I achieved this earlier in the year, but then, even though I kept above 1700 for some time, I  hit a very variable streak, rocketing up, but just as quickly dropping back to almost 1600.

Its taken me a month to edge up to within 1700, but somehow just not quite making it.

However, re-focusing in the last week has allowed me to regain the last of those 100 points to go over that 1700 limit again.

In the process, I have managed a continuous 42 weeks of problem solving, and have just completed 89 consecutive days as part of that. Technically, the number of days is almost double, but a software glitch linked to a being in a different time-zone cost me a missed two days.

Below is the problem that took me above 1700 ( to 1700.9 to be precise ), and it is a satisfying one.

White to play
The pawn, Knight and Rook combine to suggest a confinement of the King, but is there enough to force a mate ? 

That is the question to be answered, and although it took me more than the average of 6:20, I found that the answer was "Yes", and proved it.


To show that pride does indeed come before a fall, the below diagram shows me as over-confident, assessing both the solutions I had found, but through a lack of proper calculation and blindness, over-looked an obvious Black response, chose the wrong move, and dropped nicely under 1700 again.

White to play

Solution if required.

Now, though, I'm back above the line and on a slow and steady upward course.