Today’s 5-second tactics
The following examples are from the World Team Championship , taking place this week in Turkey. Good Luck!
THE POISON APPLE
im Labib, Ibrahim Hasan
gm Petrosian, Tigran L
Position after White’s 30th move. The game has been wild and complex, with opposite side castling and uncompromised fight for the initiative. Now it is time for Black to play safe and exchange Knights on g4. INSTEAD, Black got greedy and took the d-pawn
Sometimes (but more often than one would want to admit!) it is easy to lose one’s objectivity in the middle of a passionate struggle and grab material that is poison. Here Black was only counting on White immediately exchanging Queens on d6…he is in for a surprise!
WHITE TO PLAY AND WIN!
gm Sokolov, Ivan
gm Mamedov, Nidjat
A deceptive-looking position where Black seems to have a reasonable game, but infact the truth is different. White must have thought that he had nothing special, also , for after the relatively tame game continuation 27.Nc7!? Nxc7 28.Qd7 Qf6 29.Qxc7 Ba8 the game was unclear. White eventually won, but I suspect this was due to time trouble.
INSTEAD, starting from the above position, White has a much stronger continuation that leads by force to a winning game. Do you see it?
WHITE TO PLAY AND WIN!
Position after 39 moves of play. Kramnik’s last move was 39…a4, threatening to Queen in just a few moves. If White now plays 40.Nxb6(?) then he loses after 40…a3 41.Nd7 a2 42.b6 a1(Q) 43. b7 Qa7+! etc.
HOW DOES WHITE STOP THE PAWN?
Position after 26 moves of play. White has an extra Pawn, but with all the Pawns on only one side of the board it is not at all clear that he has any real winning chances, especially since Black has 2 good Bishops. HOWEVER, the Armenian grandmaster is not thinking of an ending: the slightly weakened Black Kingside pawns (h5) combined with the fact that most of Black’s pieces are poorly positioned gives White the opportunity for a direct attack.
THE GAME CONTINUED:
27. Nxh5!? gxh5 28. Qxh5+
Where should Black play his King?
Later is was determined that Black has reasonable chances to hang on with 28… Kg7! The idea is that if now 29. Kh1 (to allow his Rook to play along the g-file) then 29… Rd6! holds. The best White would have for the piece is an initiative with 29. Qg5+ Kh7 30. Qh4+ (30. Kh1 Rd6) 30… Kg7 31. e5 Rfe8 32. Rg1+ but there appears to be no win against correct defence.
INSTEAD, Black played what appears at first sight to be an even better defence
Black’s idea is that he will be able to cover the White Queen checks with …Bg7.
WHITE TO PLAY AND WIN!
ANOTHER MISSED OPPORTUNITY
Position after 35 moves. White has a marked advantage with his strong passed e-pawn and dominating Queen and Knight. In the game continuation White allowed Black to escape with a repetition after 36. Qe5? Qa7! (Hitting both the e-pawn and the f-pawn) 37. Ne6+ Kf7 38. Nd8 +Kg7 39. Ne6+ Kf7 40. Ng5+ Kg7 41. Ne6+ [½:½]
INSTEAD, there is a clear enough way for White to win this game.
WHAT IS IT?
Petrosian, Tigran L–Labib, Ibrahim Hasan: 31.Nxh6! Rxh6 32.Bxg7+ 1-0
Mamedov, Nidjat–Sokolov, Ivan: 27.Ne7+! Kf8 ( 27…Rxe7? 28.Qd8+! Nf8 29.Qxe7 or 27…Kh8? 28.Bxe6 fxe6 29.Qd7! ) 28.Nf5! Ba8 ( 28…Rd8? 29.Qxd8+ ) 29.Qd6+ Kg8 30.Bxe6 fxe6 31.Qd7 Rf8 ( 31…Kf8? 32.Nd6 is a quick mate ) 32.Qxe6+ Kh8 33.Qe7 Rg8 34.Rd8! with a position that White must win.
Nakamura, Hikaru–Kramnik, Vladimir: 40.Nc5!! a3 If Black takes the Knight then the White b-Pawn will Queen with check. 41.Nb3 a2 42.Ke3 Kf7 43.Kd4 and White won effortlessly. 43…Ke7 44.e4 e5+ 45.fxe5 Ke6 46.Na1 fxe5+ 47.Kc3 g5 48.Kb2 gxh4 49.gxh4 Kd6 50.Nb3 1-0
Akopian,Vl –Shoker,S: 29. Kh1! (To use the g-file for the Rook) 29… Bg7 (Insufficient would be 29… Rd6 30. Rg1+ Bg7 (30… Rg6 31. Rxg6 fxg6 32. Qxg6 Bg7 33. Bc4) 31. Rxg7 Kxg7 32. Qe5+ etc) 30. Rg1 Qd4 And now the fastest win is 31. e5! Cutting off the Queen. If now 31… Rfe8 32. Rxg7+ Kxg7 33. Rg1+ Kf8 34. Qh8+ Ke7 35. Qf6+ Kf8 36. Rg7! Rd7 37. Qg5 and there is no defence.
Instead Akopian played the slightly less exact (but still good enough to win) 31. Rxg7+ Qxg7 32. Rg1 Rd6 33. Rxg7+ Kxg7 34. Qe5+ Rf6 35. f4 and Black resigned on move 57.
Sargissian, Gabriel–Nepomniachtchi, Ian: 36. Re1! Bringing in the Rook and giving protection to the e-pawn. Black is now in a sort of Zugzwang. If now 36… Qc8 37. Qd6 Qd7 38. Ne6+ Kf7 39. Ng5++ Kg7 40. Qxa6 Qd2? 41. Qxf6+; Or if 36… Qf3 37. Kg1 Qb7 (37… c3 38. Qe5 c2 39. Ne6 Kg8 40. Nc7) 38. Qd6! Qd7 39. Ne6+ Kf7 40. Qxa6 and Black has no good move; Finally, 36…Qa7 (as in the game) 37. Re2!? Qb7 (37… Qd7 38. Qxa6 Rxe7 39. Rxe7 Qxe7 40. Qxb5 is an easy ending to win; 37… c3 38. Qe5 Kf7 39. Ne6+ Qxe7 40. Ng5+ Kf8 41. Nxh7+ Kf7 42. Ng5 Kf8 43. Qd4+ etc) 38. Qd6 Qa7 39. Ne6+ Kf7 40. Nc7+