26 August, 2015

Focus on Material ?

We are always warned of being greedy with material captures, and in hindsight its always easy to spot mistakes.

These occur in standard as well as blitz, but the latter gives rise to more of them.

Here's a few from recent games....

In the first White just played QxR on h2

Black to play : should he re-capture with Rxh2 ?

In the second, no capture, but Rc6 threatens the Bishop, leaving Rf8 en prise
White to play : should he play Bxf8 ?
Here White has captured a pawn, with Nxa3. Should Black take the knight ?

Black to play: should here re-capture with bxa3 ?

Not difficult decisions, but in the heat of the moment, and with the focus on your own plans, mistakes can be made !

The secondary point, is to bear in mind spotting mating patterns. 

An obvious one in the first example,in the second its clear, but maybe not obvious.

The third is also less obvious, but quite straightforward.

In fact, the third example could have been much easier for White...

White to play
Black has played c6, what is White's best move ( and its not Nxa3 ) ?

12 August, 2015

Bishop to the rescue

A neat way out here...

White to play

Although at first glance it looks bad for White, in fact the precarious position of the Black King offsets his passed pawn !

I would be extremely happy to be able to find such a combination in a match situation !

Highlight for solution [ 1.Bg5 c8=Q 2.g4+ fxg 3. Bxc1 g2 4.Be3 ]

28 July, 2015

Black to Play, and exchange correctly

As Black, I was presented with this position, after the Knight has captured a pawn on d4.

Instinctively, I felt there was a correct combination here, that would give an advantage to Black.

What would you play ?

My game continued [33...Nxd4 32. Rxc8 Ne2+ ?  33. Kh1 Rxc8 34. Bxe5 Re8 ? 35. Rd5 ?? Nf4 ] which won, but was a bad combination.

22 July, 2015

Improving Tactics

This isn't a complicated " White to play", but from my point of view its more that it shows for me that these days I appear to 'see' things more than I used to.

The idea occurred on the previous move when the Black Queen was on d8, but it didn't work. 

As soon as Qe7 was played, I knew what I would play, and did so...

White to play and win

Solution if required [  1. Rxc6 bxc 2. Qxa5 ]

12 July, 2015

White to Play

The surprisingly summery Summer has distracted me from the blog.

Just to keep things ticking over, here's a simple one for you.

Taken from a blitz game, Black has just captured a Bishop on a4...

White to play
Solution if required [The Queen recapture gives Black a steady win. White should play 29. Rc8+ Rxc8 30. bxa and wins ]

14 June, 2015

Newspaper Endgame, Barden Openings

A simple, but intriguing endgame from the Leonard Barden chess column in the Guardian.

Leonard Barden was one of the two chess authors who enriched my schoolboy days, the other being Harry Golombek. 

Although Fred Reinfeld may be very well known in the US, in Britain in the 1960s and 1970s, I had barely heard of him, and, obviously, stuck with home-grown authors.

My local library appeared full of Barden and Golombek books, and after many borrowings, eventually I bought Golombek's "The Game of Chess" and Barden's "Chess" ( I think those were the titles ). I also dabbled with "Teach Yourself Chess", which in those days was written by Gerald Abrahams, another great chess educator, but frankly, not for youngsters, as it is far too erudite.

I still have the Golombek book, but Barden's book is nowhere to be found in my house, maybe its hidden at my parents'. 

A couple of years ago, I saw and bought another Barden book, his 1957 'A Guide to Chess Openings', in hardback, and in remarkable condition for its age ( it was second-hand ).

It is very enjoyable seeing recommendations from 50+ years ago, along with games by players that are distinctly minor now, but presumably were significant at the time, such as Borodin, Unzicker, von Scheltinga, Kramer , as well as stalwarts of the British chess scene like Milner-Barry, Thomas and Yates.