Last week I left you with this position where Jonathan Rowson had the black pieces against M Kavanagh (Dundee Open 1996)
Jonathan found the best move: 28… Rc8. The first point is that after 29. Bxc8 Bb5 the white queen is trapped. The second point is that 29. Qxa4 is met by 29… Rxc3 30. bxc3 Qxa6 and Black keeps his extra piece safely.
So the game continued 29. Qxc8+ Rxc8 30. Rxc8+ Ka7 when Black had a material advantage. It was far from the end of the game, though. Perhaps due to time trouble inaccuracies, Jonathan lost control of the position and eventually this position was reached with White to play.
Now White has several ways to draw. Simply 42. Rc2 Qd1+ 43. Rc1 Qd2 is a repetition. Also 42. Be8 Nd3 43. Rb5+ Ka6 44. Rc6+ leads to a perpetual check as 44… Kxb5 45. Rc2+ costs Black his queen.
But instead White erred: 42. Bc6 Nd3, and, as the c6 square was no longer available to the rook he had no way to prevent mate.
Chess tactics is mostly about spotting tactical points, not, as you might think from most books and YouTube videos, about brilliant sacrifices.
This week’s puzzle features another two distinguished RJCC alumni. Our position comes from a Gavin Wall simul back in 1987, where he took the black pieces against a very young Richard Bates. Both players, of course, are now IMs.
Gavin, a rook and pawn behind, played the obvious Rxh8. He eventually managed to overcome his material disadvantage and beat his inexperienced opponent, but did he have anything better here?
You tell me. Answers on a Christmas Card…