24 August, 2019

A lost endgame

White to play here and complete the victory...

Yes, this is blitz, and I had already accepted that this was a loss after an interesting middlegame where I had gained the upper-hand  and 2 pawns, but had about 10 seconds left against White's 3+ minutes ( time is my biggest issue in blitz !).

Knowing the time for a slow victory was passed I had sacrificed Bishop for 2 pawns, but it was not a sound play !

However, with two active Rooks I played on and saw White switch from stopping my Rook attacks to throwing in a couple of checks : he began to change focus from stopping me, to winning himself.

Here we are, with Black giving up another pawn ( via Kxa6)  to put the Rooks on the same file .

In fact, here there is only one move that wins for White, although I didn't know it or have the time to plan further than my next move.

My opponent didn't play it, we carried on with Black checking and the White king moving, then 4 moves later White resigned before the mate arrived.

A significant lesson !

White to play and win after 47..Rcb7

17 August, 2019

A Queen sacrifice

Two great examples of an Arabian mate motif that unveils itself with deadly effect !

I really enjoy how the pattern arises in so many ways. 

Once learned, it appears, almost by magic, all over the place !

White to play

White to play

06 August, 2019


I liked this problem a lot.

The first move is straightforward, and once you understand the reason why it needs to be played, the remainder slots into place.

The dominant theme is what Chesstempo terms Interference.

I have been focusing on this theme with a number of problem sets of increasing difficulty, although always a maximum of 2 moves, so its the theme that is identified and reinforced during the practice.

Initially, I really couldn't see how Black was supposed to prevent mate.

I took about a minute and a half to play the first move, and a further 3 to ensure that I was correct and really could win as Black !

There are a surprisingly high number of wrong moves, with the major culprit surely a result of mis-calculation.

Black to move after 31...Qg2

20 July, 2019

A combination from 1919

Here's a missed combination from a 1919 game featuring Max Euwe.

 As White, Hendrik van Hartingsvelt is playing against Max Euwe in Haarlem, 1919.

White to play

Van Hartingsvelt misses a nice combination to win a pawn, and a few moves later plays the strange Qe4, which must surely be a fingerfelher, since he captures the pawn next move after 13...fxg 14. Qxg2.

13. Qe4 ??
He then seals his fate with 21.Bf4


None of these are too hard to find, and the combination in the first diagram is a sweet one, so its interesting to see the difference in play ( or maybe that should be in expectations ?) between 1919 and 2019 as van Hartingsvelt was a top player in the Netherlands at the time ( EDO rates him as 2251 and Euwe as 2300 ).

In 2019, would you expect a 2350-rated player to miss a pawn-winning combination just 7 moves into the game ?

In fact, I find the same position 2 more times since Euwe's game and neither plays the best move,although 2039-rated Milan Lizner finds a similar combination after missing it first time around !

14 July, 2019

Drawn ?

I'm playing in a weekend tournament at the moment : last game today.

Saturday's game saw me reach an endgame with just pawns and knights, where I thought it could be drawn, or at least tricky to win.

Black to play on or accept a draw

As White, I was a pawn down and had played my way to this position, exchanging both rooks to reach it, and at this point ( about 3 hours played ) I took a chance on a draw offer, as it looked that way.

It also felt like a Black advantage.

After about 5 minutes thought, my opponent accepted but gave the line of 34...Nd8 35. Ng1 Nf7 36. Nf3 Nh6+ 38. Kg3.

He still thought it a draw.

We had no time to talk further, but I think that Black should play on the Queenside for an simpler win, and probably shouldn't have exchanged down to the single pawn in front of the King.

I his position, I believe I would have played on longer, but circumstances often prevent us from always continuing to the end.

Overall, an enjoyable game versus an Advanced French defence with 5...c4, which I had only ever seen in Blitz !

05 July, 2019

Imagination required

I can fool myself that I solved this, but really, I didn't.

These types of endgames are calculable, but as always, it helps if you don't assume that there is just one way to promote...

Black to play (being in check:)

This is Topalov - Aronian from 2016, and ended in a draw.

Solution if required

27 June, 2019

Not that particular mate

No, this isn't an Arabian Mate, but surely that's the  inspiration ? 

At  least, all those Arabian and Anastasia Mate problems I do pointed me directly at the solution...

Black to play

Solution, if you should need it

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 !