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Chess Lessons.

A lesson on tactics.

August 6, 2008
ImageA combination is a series of moves that when played in the correct order result (hopefully!) in an advantage. You may have a combination lock for your bike. To open the lock you must spin the dial to not only line up the correct numbers, but you must also have the numbers in the exact order.

In chess, you must calculate and logically sort through all the capture variations in the correct order to find the variation that gains the largest possible advantage.

White to move

White has two capture choices to analyze in this position: 1.Bxb4 and 1.Rxc8+. Both must be analyzed carefully.

Lets start with 1.Bxb4. Black then has the choice between 1. … Qxb4+ and 1. … Rxc1+. If either one is good for Black, then 1.Bxb4 doesn’t work for White. Remember that you must assume that your opponent makes the best move.

At first glance, 1…Qxb4+ looks good for Black since 2.Qd2 fails to 2. … Rxc1+ because the White queen is pinned to the king. If White tries 2.Kd1 to protect the rook, Black can play 2…Rxc1+ 3.Kxc1 Qxf4+ and 4. … Qxe5. If White plays 2.Rc3, Black has several good choices like 2. … 0-0 with a huge lead in development and lots of threats.

1. … Rxc1+ also works for Black since 2.Kd2 fails to 2. … Qxb4+ 3.Kxc1 Qxf4+, as above. It turns out that both these possibilities after 1.Bxb4 work out well for Black! 

Now checking out 1.Rxc8+, we see that it leads to a winning position for White. Black would have to play 1. … Bxc8 to recapture the rook. White could then play 2.Qb5+ as Black loses a bishop with either 2. … Qxb5 3.Bxb5+ with the threat of Bxb4 or if Black moves the king or plays 2. … Bd7 3.Qxa5 Bxa5 and 4.Bxa5.

David Twerskoi (1629)

Black to move

Zander Meitus (1309)

This position is from the 2008 Colorado State Scholastic Champion- ships. Can you find the four move combination that wins for Black?

Picking up tactical clues in this position, White’s rook on c2 is attacked once, defended once. The White knight on b5 is attacked once, protected once, and has only one retreat square: c3. White’s other knight on d2 is attacked once, protected twice.  Notice that the Black queen has mating opportunities by invading on h2, should she get to d6 or c7. Knowing these important clues, can you now find the series of moves that wins the game for Black?

Black played the nice move 22. … Rxc2! which forces 23.Rxc2 recapturing the rook. Black then played 23. … Nxd2! forcing White to recapture the knight. Remember that the queen must defend the knight on b5. Therefore, White recaptured with 24.Rxd2 Black now attacks the knight with 24. … a6! Remember the knight has only one retreat square—25.Nc3. Everything is now set up for the fork 25. … Qc7! attacking the knight on c3 and mate with 26. … Qxh2+ 27.Kf1 Qh1 mate. White must avoid mate and played 26.g3 so Black took the knight with 26. … Qxc3 and went on to win the game. What a nice combination!

Note that changing the move order doesn’t work for Black—22. … Nxd2 23.Rxc8! Rxc8 24.Rxc8+ Qxc8 25.Qxd2 a6 26.Nc3 Qc7 as the White queen defends the knight on c3 and the only threat is 27. … Qxh2+.

If you take the extra time to calculate all the possible move orders and pick up the important clues, you will unlock the secrets in the position and find some pretty variations that lead to victory!

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At The Movies Print E-mail
By Pete Tamburro   
August 6, 2008

Seeing a position in your head (visualization) before you make the moves on the board, is a very important skill for chess players.  “At the Movies” is one way to help you improve that skill. Under each diagram are the next set of moves which you should try to visualize before moving on to the next diagram. And of course, you should have a chessboard set up as well. If you can’t follow a note or variation in your head, move the pieces on the board! Don’t skip over anything!

Most chess fans agree that the most famous game ever played was Paul Morphy’s “Opera House” game. Yet, another American champion, Frank Marshall, played against Levitsky in 1912 what many consider the most famous move ever played. Indeed, the final position has dazzled chess players for years. Legend has it that the fans watching the game threw out gold pieces at the end of the game, thus the nickname the “shower of gold game.” 

Levitsky, Stefan

Marshall, Frank James [C10]

DSB–18.Kongress Breslau (6), 1912

Marshall had Black, so we will look at the game from his side of the board. The opening scene starts out calmly enough with the moves 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 c5

Marshall’s own line with the French Defense. White’s best is probably 4.exd5 exd5 5.Bb5+. Marshall loved open positions where he could develop his pieces quickly. 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.exd5 exd5 6.Be2 Nf6 7.0-0 Be7
Both sides have developed quickly and now White gets an idea: make the black bishop move again with 8.Bg5 0-0 9.dxc5 Be6 10.Nd4 Bxc5
  White may think he’s clever because he is now threatening to take the bishop on e6. Do you think that’s a good idea? Why or why not? 11.Nxe6 fxe6

This is what the position looks like after Levitsky does, indeed, play 11.Nxe6 fxe6. He follows this up with 12.Bg4 Qd6 13.Bh3 and Marshall finishes developing with
13. … Rae8
Do you now see why Nxe6 wasn’t so hot? Marshall has an open line for his king rook, and he will threaten e5 with a beautiful center. Levitsky tries to complete his development with 14.Qd2, but Marshall’s reply 14. …  Bb4 14...Bb4.jpggives him another problem—a pinned knight!
Levitsky knows he’s in trouble, so he tries to prevent e5 by increasing the pressure on d4 with 15.Bxf6 Rxf6 16.Rad1; however, Marshall increases the pressure on c3 with 16. ... Qc5 16...Qc5.jpg
White figures that Black’s threatened 17. ... Bxc3 18.Qxc3 Qxc3 would give him a lost endgame because of the doubled c-pawns, so he decides to make his queen more active with 17.Qe2 and Marshall wins a pawn with 17. ... Bxc3 18.bxc3 Qxc3.18...Qxc3.jpg
You have to love Levitsky! Even though his position is not as good as Marshall’s, he keeps trying! The reason he chose e2 for his queen is that now he can play 19.Rxd5 19.Rxd5.jpg
because the e-pawn is pinned. If it takes the rook, White can play Qxe8+! And he does take the pawn! OK ... you’re Marshall. What is your move here? Do you push the pawn or do something else? Marshall plays: 19. ... Nd4. Levitsky replies 20.Qh5 [Better was 20.Qe4 Rf4 21.Qe5 h6] and Marshall doubles his rooks with 20. ... Ref8.20...ref8.jpg
White now has to figure out a safe square for his rook. Can you see Black’s threat here? If it were Black’s move he would be able to play 21. ... Rxf2 22.Rxf2 Qe1+ with mate next, so White plays 21.Re5
to defend e1.Interestingly enough, Black can still play 21. ... Rxf2 22.Rfe1 (22.Rxf2 Qa1+!!) 22. ... Nxc2 23.Bxe6+ Kh8 24.Bf5 g6 25.Bxg6 Rf1+ 26.Rxf1 Qd4+, which would be exciting as well, but Marshall has a greater treat in store and plays 21. ... Rh6. Levitsky moves his queen away from the pesky rook with 22.Qg5 22.qg5.jpg
but there’s a problem with going there. Can you see it? Marshall did! He chops off the bishop on h3 with 22. ...  Rxh3. White can’t take the rook because of 23. ... Nf3+, forking king and queen, so Levitsky counters with 23.Rc5,
and we thank him for that! Now Marshall plays a move all of us would love to play once in our lives! The shower of gold move 23… Qg3!!! – threatens Qxh2#

White Resigns

Levitsky sees that 24.Qxg3 Ne2+ 25.Kh1 Nxg3+ 26.Kg1 Ne2+ [26...Nxf1] 27.Kh1 Rc3 leaves Black a piece up and 24.hxg3 Ne2 is mate, as is 24.fxg3 Ne2+ 25.Kh1 Rxf1#


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