Chess Puzzle of the Week (9)


Last week’s puzzle was taken from my game from this match.  I had the black pieces and, up to this point, I had inadvertently outplayed my much higher graded opponent. I now had to decide on my 29th move. We were playing 30 moves in an hour, and I had, probably, about 10 minutes left to reach the time control at this point.

I looked at various tactical ideas such as trying to get Bf1 to work but couldn’t see anything. As I always panic and lose in quickplay finishes, and knowing that my opponent was a lot stronger than me, I chose to play Nf6, forcing a queen trade. My opponent duly played Qxh5, accompanied by a draw offer, which I immediately accepted. I was intending to offer a draw myself on recapturing the queen.

The easiest way to reach a winning advantage is to play 29… b5 30. cxb5 c4 31. Nb2 Rf2 32. Qxf2 Nxf2 33. Kxf2 Bg4 when, although material is about equal, White is totally lost.

Finding this was way beyond my capabilities within the time I had available: I wasn’t looking at the queen side at all.

But I’m rather more interested in the position which could have been reached if I’d just waited: 29… Rf7 30. a4 a5. Move 30 would have been adjudication in the distant past when I first played in the Thames Valley League. For this week’s puzzle, I’d like you to adjudicate this position. It’s White’s move. Your decision – and your reasons – please!



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