SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
Everyone loves an unexpected attack, a successful sacrifice, a clever idea or a wicked zwischenzug…chess can be a very spicy game at times! Witness the examples below from actual games played at some time in the past 2 weeks or so. Try your hand at solving them before reading the solution!
From the game Jones vs Eames played at the recently concluded British Championships at Canterbury. White had just played his 21st move. Something had gone terribly wrong with White’s impulsive attack and he has been pushed back. Fortunately for him, he has managed to maintain even material. But the awkward position of his Knight dangling on c6 as well as the vulnerable first rank gives Black an opportunity to win in one move. Do you see it?
BLACK TO PLAY AND WIN
21…Ne4 ! (White resigned)
From the game Eng vs Henricks played at Vissingen , Holland. This is the position before White’s 20th move. Black has an active game, fully compensating for his isolated pawn on e6. At this point White’s sense of danger must have failed him, for he walks into a horrible trap. Do you see it?
WHITE TO PLAY AND LOSE!
A seemingly natural move, putting the Bishop onto an active square and attacking the Black Rook on f8. No doubt Eng had forseen that if Black now plays 20…Bh4 then he has 21.Qd3!. However, he must have fallen out of his chair when Black played his next move! Can you see it?
Winning a piece! White’s back rank is very vulnerable. If now 21. Rf8ch Rxf8 22. Bxe5 Black mates with 22…Rf1ch! Eng, no doubt in a state of shock, played one more move before resigning: 21.Qe1 Bxd6!
From the game Nijs vs Oosterom, also from the same Vissingen tournament as our last example. This position occurred after White’s 22nd move (Rcf1). The position is about equal, though you have to admitt that Black’s Kingside pawn structure leaves a bit to be desired. Nevertheless, Black is quite fine here and should he double his Rooks on the f-file (for example) then he could look to the future with confidence.
Instead, Oosterom made a horrible move: 22…Nd7 ?? that loses in just one move ! Do you see it?
Curiously, this move was not even a threat on the previous move! The Black Queen has no escape (his previous move cut off her retreat!). Black resigned
From the game Grant vs Chapman played at the British Championship in Canterbury this month. Black had just taken the White Rook on h1, a poor move that overlooks a remarkable refutation! Do you see it?
12. Qd6! Threatening mate
The Knight can not move because of mate on d8, and if Black instead gets greedy and takes the White Knight on g1, White simply moves the King and leaves Black with nothing better than to resign. However, Black had forseen White’s last move and he castled!
12… O-O ! Really the only move, but unfortunately for Black, insufficient.
13.Qg3ch! Ng6 (forced) 14.Bf3!! Surpise!
The Black Queen is checkmated. Black resigns!
From the game Kantans vs Huschenbeth played in the World Junior Championship taking place right now in Poland. White has just played his 19th move (19.Qe2) and no doubt feels confident about his position. Black gets nowhere with the attacking 19…Ng4 because of simply 20.h3! If Black does nothing then White will play 20.Bb2.
BLACK TO PLAY AND WIN!HUSCHENBETH
A beautiful and unexpected move! If now 20. gf Qh3! 21. Kh1 Nxf3 ends the game immediately, as White must give up the Queen to avoid mate.
20. Rd4 There is no other try
20… Qxd4 ! Lasker termed this kind of move a ‘desperado’. Black wins material
21. ed Bxe2 22. Bxe2
The smoke has cleared and Black is an exchange up with a winning position. All he need do is put his Knight on c6 and place his Rooks on the c and d-lines. Discouraged, White threw in the towel.
Another example from the World Junior in Poland! Botta vs Lewtak, after Black’s 22nd move. It is clear that Black’s position is a bit loose, but everything seems to covered. White found the vulnerable point in Black’s defence. Do you see it?
WHITE TO PLAY AND WIN!
23.Rxd7! Rxd7 24. Bb6ch! Kc8 25.Bg4! This pin is decisive
Black can not take the Knight because of mate in one move!
25…Nd4 (what else?) 26.Bxd4 ed4 27. Nb6ch! Kc7 28. Nxd7
The smoke has cleared and White is up a piece. The game continued just one more move ( 28…Rd8 29. Nc5) and Black threw in the towel
This example comes from the game Degraeve vs Bricard from the French Championship taking place at this very moment. White is about to play his 32nd move. The position is complicated, but probably White stands a bit better. The White d-pawn is just as weak as the Black e-pawn. However, I feel that White’s Knights have more opportunities to probe the Black position than Black’s minor pieces. Even so, it is a tight game too close to call.
Unfortunately for White, he became fixated on an idea of giving mate by sacrificing his Queen on e6 and then playing Rc8. Degraeve lost his objectivity for a brief moment and played a silly move. Objectively best seems 32.Ne1 (defending the Rook). Then Black could not take the d-pawn because finally White’s Queen sacrifice would indeed work! If Black were to play something like …h6 (luft), then White could slide over his Queen to d3, and then follow up with Nef3 and start pressing.
INSTEAD, DEGRAEVE PLAYED A BLUFF 32.b3?
A really silly move! White is hoping that Black will take the b-pawn so that he could play the pretty 33. Qe6ch!! (right)
INSTEAD, BRICARD TOOK THE a-PAWN!
Now White’s Queen sacrifice would not work because at the end of things Black has …Qf8 stopping the mate. The game continued for another 20 moves, but in the end the extra Black pawn made all the difference: Black won!
The following example is from the decisive game of the Tromso (NOR) tournament between GMs Kobalia and Van Wely. It is White’s 26th move and he has a strong attacking position.
It has been an interesting game up to a move or so ago when Van Wely made a slight but serious imprecision, allowing Kobalia to create direct threats against his opponent’s King. The Rook-life (via d3 or f3) is begging to be played, but Kobalia calmly and accurately prepares it:
26. Bf6ch !
The check is important because it prevents Black’s …f5 and …Rf7 defensive idea. Note that Black can not take the Bishop because then he would lose his own Bishop!26… Kg8 27. Rd3! Threatening Rh3
Black is helpless against the attack. All Van Wely can do is make it as difficult as possible for White to proceed.27… Nxf6 28. Rxf6
The Queen is best left to operate along the h-file28… Be7
what else? 29. Rh3
The game ends quickly now29… h5 30. Qxh5!
Very pretty! Black is mated no matter what he does
The following position occurred in the game Eljanov vs Carlstadt from the tournament in Copenhagen that just finished. White is about to play his 27th move
Classic 2-Knights versus 2-Bishops struggle? No way! White has a neat tactic that that wins material and gets into a relatively simple ending to win. Do you see White’s idea?
White exposes the Black King in order to…trap the Black Queen!
27… Kxg7 28. Qe7 Kg8 29. Bd3!
The whole point! Black must give back the Queen in order to avoid mate. If now 29… Qf3? 30. Bh7 Kh8 31. Bg6 etc finishes the game immediately.
29… Rd7 (forced) 30. Bxf5 Rxe7 31. Bxc8
White has emerged a pawn up and every single one of Black’s pawns is a weakness. Eljanov had no trouble winning
This position occurred in the game Ivanisevic vs Ziska from the Tromso (NOR) tournament. White is about to play his 22nd move.
White has compensation for his pawn minus in the form of Black having a vulnerable King position. But it is not so easy to exploit this: if White tries the direct 22. Qc1 then Black can defend with 22…Bg7 23. Nxg7 Kxg7 24. Qf4 Qd8 25. Qxd4 Qf6!. Therefore Ivanisevic looked deeply into the position and found a really strong idea. Do you see it?
22. b4 !
A very clever idea that forces the Black Queen to move from its strong position on a5. Note that Black can not take the pawn with his Knight: 22… Nxb4? 23. Qd2!, threatening both a3 (winning a piece) and taking the h6 pawn.
Do you see the difference (from White’s perspective) of having the Black Queen on b4 instead of a5?
23. g5! Excellently played!
With the Black Queen on a5 he could simply take the Bishop! Now White threatens both Qg4 and taking on h6. Black can not defend with 23… hg 24. Qg4 f6 because after 25. Re7! there is simply no stopping the attack.
Relatively best chance, but there was no defence.
WHITE TO PLAY AND WIN
24. Nf6! Bxf6 25. Rxe8! Rxe8 26. gf
White threatens Qg4ch. And if Black tries 26…Kh8 then 27.Qc1 wins (amongst others)
BLACK PLAYED 26… d3 AND THEN RESIGNED WITHOUT WAITING FOR IVANISEVIC’S Qg4 THAT FORCES MATE.[1:0]
SPRAGGETT ON CHESS