Chess Puzzle of the Week (100): Solution

Last week I showed you this position from Chess Puzzles for Heroes, asking you whether 1… Qxf3 was a trick or a treat.

Here’s the answer, taken from the book:

1… Qxf3 is a GOOD MOVE (5 points). A beautiful queen sacrifice forcing mate. 2. gxf3 Bd4+ (you have to see this double check) and now 3. Kh2 Bg1+ 4. Kh1 Bxf3# (5 points) or 3. Kh1 Bxf3+ 4. Kh2 Bg1# (5 points) or 3. Kf1 when either 3… Bc4+ 4. Ke1 Rg1# or 3… Rg1+ 4. Ke2 Bc4# (5 points for either or both).

First up with the answer this time was food critic and West London chesser Andy Hayler: congratulations!

Please get in touch if you’re interested in more information about Chess Puzzles for Heroes or any other aspect of the Chess Heroes project.

Chess Puzzle of the Week (100)

I’m currently proofreading Chess Puzzles for Heroes, a puzzle book designed for players between about 1000 to 1500 strength.

The puzzles in this book are taken from my Richmond Junior Club database. The book is designed to teach and reinforce different thinking methods you might use when calculating tactics in your games.

Chapter 2, for example, Trick or Treat, presents you with a series of positions and a suggested move.

Very often you might see a tactical idea, such as a sacrifice, which looks good, but you have to stop and calculate to make sure it works. For each question you score points for correctly identifying the move as a trick (bad move) or a treat (good move) and further points for providing accurate analysis to support your view.

Here’s an example. It’s Black’s move. Is Qxf3 a Trick or a Treat?

Chess Puzzle of the Week (99): Solution

Last week’s puzzle was from Nijboer-Giri (Groningen 2008)

White could have won by blocking the g-file so that the queen can’t get back to defend g7: 35. Rg5!! hxg5 36. Qc7. Congrulations to Chris Baker for spotting this!

Instead, Nijboer played 35. Qd7, when Giri could have forced an immediate draw with 35… Qf1+ 36. Ka2 Qc4. He chose instead to set a trap: 35… Qg2!. Now White has several ways to draw (Rxe5 for example) but he was unfortunately seduced by 36. Rxh6?? Qg1+ 37. Ka2 Qxa7! when he had to resign because 38. Qxa7 would be met by Ra8.

All this and much more in the ECF Book of the Year, The Complete Chess Swindler by David Smerdon.

Survey Results

Perhaps not all of you know that, in a previous life, I worked in the Market Research industry. I was involved in data processing, not (unlike my last OTB opponent before lockdown, who is a real market researcher) on the research side, but I still developed an interest in surveys and their analysis.

So I decided to ask you all a few questions to help me decide if we can provide better online facilities until we can meet up in person again.

Many thanks to the 23 people who have answered our survey so far.

Here’s what I found out.

19 of you play online chess: 16 play on lichess and 11 on chess.com. Other platforms are not popular.

Preferred time limits are blitz (13) and rapid (11), with some interest in bullet and classical. There is no obviously strong pattern of stronger players favouring faster time limits.

Most of you (16) prefer playing with increments.

16 of you are interested in internal online tournaments (but it seems that most of those 16 don’t play in them very often if at all).

12 of you are interested in friendly international inter-club competitions – I’m slightly surprised this figure isn’t higher.

17 of you are interested in online matches against local clubs, 2 of whom would only play if the matches weren’t ECF graded. I understand this is currently being discussed by local leagues and await further information.

The preferred days for online chess are midweek evenings: Thursdays (15) and Wednesdays (14). There is little interest in playing at weekends.

There is quite a lot of interest in online talks by strong players (15), some interest in private lessons (10) and less interest in online simuls (5). Mike Healey has kindly offered to do an online talk: perhaps we could start there and see how it goes. We could also advertise online tuition by our stronger players (and also our GM/IM friends). These are certainly avenues we might want to consider further once we’re able to meet in person again.

8 of our respondents were stronger club players (1750-1999): there were 5 respondents in each of the other 3 categories, intermediate players, average club players and master strength players.

My conclusions:

  1. Continue the online sessions, on Thursday evenings until further notice. Perhaps choosing a faster time limit would attract more players.
  2. Ask Mike to set up an online lesson via Zoom.
  3. Keep in touch with local leagues about their plans for online competitions.
  4. Perhaps I should ask some more questions at some point, in particular about how we can get our less experienced and lower rated players more involved.

Chess Puzzle of the Week (98): Solution

This is from a game between Max Illingworth and Junta Ikeda (Sydney 2012), taken from David Smerdon’s new book The Complete Chess Swindler, which has just been voted ECF Book of the Year. (This would have been my second choice behind Willy Hendriks’ On the Origin of Good Moves, which wasn’t short-listed: one of the ECF judges didn’t share my opinion.)

White lost quickly after 56. e7?? Qd7+ 57. Kf6 Qd6+ 58. Kf5 Nh4#.

Instead he could have won with 56. Kg6!! Qh7+ 57. Kh5, or 56… Nh4+ 57. Kxh6, and, in both cases, his king is totally safe.

Buy the book – and the Hendriks book as well!

Online Chess

Realistically, it seems unlikely that league chess will resume for some time. If a vaccine becomes readily available we might be able to start again this time next year, but if not it could be two years or more before we’ll be able to resume over the board competitive chess.

A few of us have been meeting in person during the summer for chat and friendly games, but, with the second wave now upon us, this is no longer happening, and may not be possible for another six months or so.

We’ve been trying to keep the club ticking over with online events but interest seems to be waning. A session on chess.com proved popular mostly with B and C team players in the short term but didn’t last very long. A parallel session on lichess.org proved more popular, mostly with the first team players, but in recent weeks numbers have declined. Last week we only had five players, two of whom weren’t club members.

I’ve tried to compromise on the time control, but some A team players would prefer a faster time limit, while C team players would rather play at a slower time limit.

Some people said the 2 hour session was too long, but the point of Arena tournaments is that you can drop in and out as you wish, so shorter sessions would likely mean even fewer players.

The purpose of these sessions was not to run formal events but purely to provide an environment where members (of all strengths) could meet up online, chat with their friends and play a few not too serious games.

Is there a better way to do this, or is the interest just not there? Perhaps a different day of the week would be preferable? Thursday, since it’s our club night, or maybe a Saturday or Sunday evening? Please let me know what you think. (Email richard@chessheroes.uk is best.)

Meanwhile, Hackney are looking for more players for their blitz tournaments on Saturday evenings. Looking at last week’s results, all the players are pretty strong so it would be most suited to players about 2000 strength. Again, if you’re interested get back to me for more information.