Saturday, April 28, 2018

Smoke and Mirrors

There are times when some trickery gets you out of a bind. Trickery dumbs down the technique. Counter-attack would be the appropriate word effecting a great escape. Fischer described Emmanuel Lasker's play as "Smoke and mirrors."  That's pejorative. In fact, Lasker eked out wins and draws through well calculated combinations. 

Immediately after playing 12... Bc5, I saw that thematic attack on a queen that suspends all other threats, consequently losing a piece, since the threat must first be addressed. You might say that I took a big gulp down my throat. 

Well, as the old adage implores us to do, that counter-attack is the best defense, after 13. Na4, I responded with 13...Nd4! In one move, White's queen went under attack with a check to follow, and the knight on a4 hung for the taking. 

If 14.Nb6, capturing my queen, then 14... Ne2+ 15.Be2 ab6 and that's about even material. The game went 14.Nd4 Ba4. Not bad at all. However, White throws away a good game with 15.Bb5+? Bb5  16.Nb5 Be3  17.Nd6+ Ke7  Here, if 18.Qe3, then 18...Qe3  19.fe Ne5 with a good game for Black.

If 18.ef, then 18...Ne5 and Black is better since the knight on d6 needs to escape via the b5 square. In the meantime, Black can line up his rooks on the C file. So, Black neutralized that dreadful 13.Na4. How is that for pulling rabbits out of a hat?

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Cleaning House

After coming back from a hiatus, I checked the links on the sidebar of this website for relevance, and found that most linked sites no longer exists. In the time that I fell by the wayside, so did they. Attrition, chess blogs, like business enterprises, fall victim to its fatal effects. Maintaining a blog requires considerable attention, writing, editing, analyses, and graphic-making. Perhaps, a blog spewing chess gossip or paparazzi-style reports take less effort, but this website deals with the game itself. Bloggers lose interest, get tired, or sick, pursue other forms of self-expression, or outright stop existing. And then they go silently into the night.

The links have been updated. They include the three chess-playing sites that have cultivate a substantial following--,, and the Internet Chess Club. Between these three sites, you can have your fill of competition. When I am lagging in one, another site gives me a reprieve from, say, a 3-game losing streak. It is a conundrum. Don't ask me to explain. 

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Monday, February 12, 2018

Not All Material Gain is Good

It has been a long time since my last post. A medical emergency needed to be addressed in 2014, plus a persistent condition of stasis ( laziness in common language ) are to blame. But, all is well now.

For my next post, I present a situation in chess that occurs often in play. Greed plays a part in the game, and a player in a desperate situation may pin his hopes on his opponent's grabbing of material to get out of a bind. The position below, from one of my games played online, is a prime example.

As you can see, Black was on the verge of checkmating White. In a last ditch effort, I played 21. Ba7+. All Black had to do was to sidestep the attack by not capturing the bishop. Capturing the bishop would only lead to further play by White. Mate on g2 was inevitable if Black played 21...Ka8.

However, the game continued with 21... Ka7  22.Qa5+ Kb8  23. Qd8+ Ka7  24.Qa5+ and White achieved a perpetual check to save his game.

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Thursday, December 25, 2014

The final position of a smothered mate in one of my games, these positions somehow always end up with a peculiarity that borders on the comical. Not only is the Black King and Queen forked, but the Rook on b8 is also en prise. Life just isn't worth living anymore once on the receiving end of a smothered mate.

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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Reversal of Fortune

Having played carelessly, I found myself in this seemingly hopeless position. Not only would I lose the exchange, but end up losing both rooks in two moves. I thought about resigning, but decided that desperation was better than resignation. I could see some kind of counterplay after White was finished picking up material. Play continued with 13...hg  14.Qh8+ Kf7  15.Qa8

Here we were after losing both my rooks. Although this was an online game, my opponents glee was palpable. He was as contented as a fat cow on the range. But now, the counterattack...  15...Qb4+  16.c3 Qb2 threatening the rook and mate on d2  17 Rd1 Qc3+. White would not escape if he played 16. Ke2 because of 16...Qd2+  17.Kf3 Qf2++

We are almost there. White was forced to play 18. Ke2 Bb5+ bringing another piece into the attack. 19. Rd3 Qd3+ (better than 19...Bd3+). 

Checkmate would follow very soon beginning with 20. Ke1 Qd2++ I don't think that my opponent appreciate it.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A position from one of my games at the 2014 Club Championships of the Bergen Chess Mates in Ridgewood, New Jersey, I submitted it to Houdini3 and Fritz13 for analysis and both liked the continuation 28...Nb8. It's a line I didn't consider. I played, what seemed to me, a move that wins immediately. Can you surmise what that move was?

The line that the computers preferred, after some analyses, was more artful and mature than the move I made. It involved some hang time and treading water, teasing White with the possibility of a back rank mate. It required exact play. It went 28...Nb8  29.Kh2 Nc6  30.Rc1 g6  31.Ra1 Nd4  32.Rc1 Kg7  33.Ra1 Nb3 and Black wins. Well, that was lovely. Wasn't it? But it is something an amateur like me shouldn't be fooling around it. As Capablanca advised, go for the simplest win.

So, what move did I play? I played 28...Rd2! I thought it was a nifty move, and one that my opponent didn't expect. Play continued with 29.Ra1 Rd3  30.Ra2 Rd4  31.Ra7 Nf8 and White resigned.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Once in a while, one gets a chance to play a ( Should I dare say?) Tal-like move and get away with it. It's the 23rd move in an online game, and I just had to get to Black's king somehow while the going was good. Doubled rooks on an open E file, a wonderfully entrenched knight on E5 plus Black's pieces were underdeveloped with his king side porous as a sieve. What more do I require to win a position like this?

Quite often, when you can already smell victory, a violent, forcing move will do the trick. I looked at 23. Ng6+. But after 23...Qg6 24. Re7, it seemed that Black could hold his position together. 

So, I found this move, 23.Nc6. I hoped to lull Black into thinking that I committed a gross blunder. It didn't make any sense, did it? Black captured the knight with 23...Qc6 to which I replied 24. Re7. Mate was threatened on h7 and the Black queen had no way to come to the rescue. The knight move proved to be a true positional sacrifice by deflecting a defender away from the action and woefully unable to make it back in time. 

Play continued 24...h5  26. Qe3,Qf6  27.Qh6+ and game over very soon.