I’ve decided I might stick short chess-related snippets here, in order for them not to clutter up the blog pages. (Assuming I ever get around to adding any new posts…. ).
This new page is partly because I’ve found myself posting these chess snippets on Facebook now and again for the chess club ‘wall’, and I thought my scientific chess friends might be interested too. These will mostly be (hopefully) interesting or amusing (that latter term will only apply to chess fans!!) positions or problems from games, maybe with the occasional “What happened next?!”
So here goes:
This one comes from a 10 minutes-a-side game last week. It is White to play:
Now, I REALLY wanted to sacrifice something on b7. In my mind there was a variation that ran:
1. Rb7:! Kb7: 2. Rb1+ Ka8 3. Qc7 threatening unstoppable mate on b7, or 2. …Kc8 3. Ba6+ Kd7 4. Rb7+
HOWEVER… there is a rather obvious snag with this brilliancy. Can you spot it?
I actually picked up the R on b1 and was half-way to b7 when I realised what was wrong. Luckily my opponent is a gent and we don’t play touch-move in casual games. So I got to have a re-think. However, there are actually at least two quick forced wins for White in this position. For one of them the first move (which I spotted and played after I’d ‘undone’ 1. Rb7:) is fairly easy, the continuation a bit less so, but quite pretty. Suggestions?
BTW, if you are a non-chesser who has strayed here, and is mystified by this idea of timing chess games or ’10 minutes for your moves’, Dominic Lawson (yes, that Dominic Lawson) explains in an article here.
Ten-minutes-a-side for all your moves is a common way to play casual club chess, suitable even for us older gents. When I was a teenage chess fiend, I used to play endless 5 minutes-a-side games (5 minutes to make ALL your moves, sometimes known as ‘Blitz’), notably in my school lunch hours. However, I now find that 5 min is just TOO fast – ageing synapses, I guess.
The quicker you have to make all your moves, of course, the greater the potential for tactical oversights. To show just what a lottery a 5 minute-a-side game can be with players as bad as me, here is a comedy of errors from Tuesday night:
It is White to play.
The game actually finished: 1. Nd5: Nd5: 2. Nh6+? Kh8?? 3. Nf7:+ Black resigns.
What had both players missed?
21st June – STOP PRESS:
Playable chess board…. well flash!
Our resourceful blog overlord RPG tells me we now have a “Chess Flash” plugin installed, hopefully enabling you to actually play through games that I post up here on a virtual board! As a test, here is one of my ‘time handicap’ rapid games from a club tournament last month. Since I had a whopping 16 minutes thinking time to my opponent’s (distinctly meagre) 4 minutes, you could call it a bit of an uneven contest, though he is rated rather higher than me, and is an excellent rapid player.
Anyway, let’s see if the plugin works! I am playing Black.
I played a (Summer) League game on Monday night, so by club night on Tuesday I was a bit “chessed out”. We spent most of the evening analysing games people had played the previous week or at a local chess congress at the weekend, rather than actually bashing out the rapid games. So I’m slightly stumped for a interesting ‘what happened next?’ problem for this week. But here’s an easy-ish one, from a 10 min-a-side game a month or two back.
One of the things I’ve noticed since starting to play chess again, and which I think is directly attributable to the ubiquity of computer chess and playing online, is that tactical awareness has gone up a lot. People play much more for tactical combinations, and far less for strategic objectives. This is quite noticeable in normal time-limit games (where you have, say, 65-95 minutes to make all your moves), so it is all the more noticeable in rapid games (10 minutes or less for all your moves), which are always more tactics-based. Trying to grind out a logical strategic victory in a 100-move marathon is a high-risk strategy in speed chess, as there is a good chance you lose on time whilst trying to make your extra pawn count in the endgame.
Now, I had to try and remember this particular game afterwards (You don’t usually record moves when you only have 10 min to think of them all in!), so I am not 100% sure whether the Black pawn was on b4 or b5… though it’s not a critical point.
White – me – is clearly better in this position, which chess aficionados will spot as arising from a typical open Sicilian set-up. Objectively, White probably needs to protect his c2 square before embarking on any adventures. However… it’s a 10 minute game, and as this was around move 20 we were probably down to under half that time. So direct threats are hard to resist. Anyway, I went for:
1. Rh3 (threatening Qh7:+, obviously)
- and the game continued
2. Rg1 Kh7
So the easy question: how did the game now finish? And a slightly more taxing one; could Black have played better moves than 1. ..h6 and 2. …Kh7?
A Tricky End (ing)
For something a bit more refined, I can’t resist sticking up this one, which we were kicking about on the Club Facebook page last week. I should say that it wasn’t me that posted this there, but one of my club sparring partners, local historian and author Graham Phythian. He tells me that it is a 1985 problem study by one H. Valkevitz. Now, normally I don’t care much for composed chess studies, as they often show positions it would be utterly impossible to get in a real game, which I find rather dims my interest in them. This one, however, would be at least be feasible as a ‘real’ endgame position. White has Queen and Bishop vs Queen and Pawn, but the Pawn is only one square from becoming a Queen.
As Graham says, White’s first move is fairly easy to spot, but there are many ways for White to draw, and only one way to win.
8th July – mixed results…
Two games in the Summer League now gone, with one win and one loss. The loss (last week) was a bit frustrating – partly because I’d previously lost to the same 154/1900-ish graded opponent in the Winter League, so I was hoping for revenge, and partly because I got a better and perhaps even winning position and then blew it in time trouble. I might put the game up with some annotations when I have time.
Meanwhile, here is another rapid-play puzzler, from a 10 min game (well, 10 min for me and 15 for my opponent) played after my League loss last Tuesday. This one comes from a Sicilian Dragon Yugoslav Attack.
Now, in this position Black (me) has earlier sacrificed the exchange (R for N) but without getting much compensation, though the White King’s position is a little bit draughty. Anyway, White is trying to consolidate and convert his material advantage. First question, what moves should White consider to consolidate and why?
In the game White actually played 1. Ra7, and I replied 1. …Nxe4?! So the next question: what do you think happened next? And was 1. …Nxe4 Black’s best shot?
11th July – a game…
I didn’t have a league game this week, but made it down to the club later on yesterday for some kibitzing and a few rapidplay games. Here’s one of the latter:
And finally, also from Tuesday, another little puzzle, taken from a different rapid game (not too hard):
White has just responded to the threat on f2 by playing his Knight from h2 to f3.
First question: what SHOULD White have played?
Second question: what does Black play now? And what happened?
Moving on a few moves in the game over the board (and giving away the answer) we reached the following position (Diagram 7):
There is now a neat finish leading to checkmate or win of even more material. Can you spot it?