Chess Puzzle of the Week (105): Solution

There was a discussion about a particular opening variation on Twitter the other day: Black plays Qe7 and Bb6 in the Giuoco Piano. This reminded me that, many years ago, I’d played a thematic game on the white side of that line, so I decided to dig it out.

This was R James – L Szeri Richmond 2 v Willesden (London League) 1978. I was, uncharacteristically, you might think, tempted to sacrifice: 15. Nxg5 hxg5 16. Bxg5 with ideas of Qf3 and Ne3-d5 to follow, and I later won the game. But we both missed 16… Qf8 breaking the pin because of 17. Bxf6 Qh6+ 18. Ne3 Qxf6 19. Nd5 Qh6+ 20. Kb1 Kd8, when White probably doesn’t have enough compensation.

So, to answer last week’s question, I should have just continued quietly with 15. Bg3, with a clear advantage.

Congratulations to everyone who spotted the Qf8 defence and, as a result, chose Bg3.

Chess Puzzle of the Week (105)

A similar question to last week.

It often happens that you play Bg5 to pin an enemy knight on f6. Your opponent, not liking the pin, tries to drive it back with h6 and g5. You then have a choice: do you prefer a quiet retreat to g3 or do you boldly sacrifice a piece for two pawns? And, if so, do you sacrifice your bishop or your knight?

In this game White, having played a thematic pawn sacrifice (d6) in the opening, is now faced with precisely this decision.

What would you advise?

Chess Puzzle of the Week (104): Solution

A few days ago British Chess News published my latest book review, of Mastering Positional Sacrifices by Merijn van Delft (highly recommended in what has been an exceptional year for chess books).

This position is one of the exercises at the end of the book.

Dautov correctly played 15. Nxb5!, giving him a big advantage and, eventually the full point (Dautov – Hector Gothenburg 2005).

Van Delft comments:

“The correct way to sacrifice the piece, as White remains with a strong bishop pair.

“Almost everyone I tested this position with went for 15. Bxb5 cxb5 16. Nxb5, but here Black has 16… Kd8 17. Nxa7 Kc7 and the position is highly unclear.”

The game continued 15… cxb5 16. Bxb5 Ne4 (“Now 16… Kd8 is refuted by 17. Bc6 Rc8 18. b5 with total domination.”) 17. Bc6 Rc8 18. b5 when Black’s desperate try Nexc5 didn’t work, and Nxd2 would have lost to Rxa7.

Which move did you choose?

Chess Puzzle of the Week (103): Solution

Last week’s position was from a recent online engine tournament game: Stoofvlees (apparently a Flemish beef stew: sounds delicious) against Lc0 (Leela Chess Zero).

The game concluded: 45… Rg5!! 46. Bxg5 (or 46. a8Q Nc5+ 47. Bxc5 Qc2+ 48. Kb5 Rxc5+ 49. Qxc5 Qxc5+ 50. Ka4 Qc2+ 51. Kb4 Qb2+ 52. Kc4 Qxe2+) 46… Nc5+ 47. Kb5 Qb3+ Ka5 Nb7+ 49. Ka6 Qa4+ 50. Kxb7 Qc6+ 51. Kb8 Qc8#

Chess Puzzle of the Week (103)

I’m currently watching an engine tournament on chess.com. I was interested in this game because it featured a variation of the Modern Defence which I sometimes play in online and social games.

Here’s the decisive position: Stoofvlees played the white pieces while the black pieces were conducted by Lc0.

How did Black (Lc0) continue here?