Chess Puzzle of the Week (261): Solution

Monday’s puzzle elicited some lively discussion on WhatsApp and elsewhere.

It was taken from the final of the Metropolitan section of the 1938 Kent Individual Championship, with Reginald Charles Noel-Johnson playing White against Francis George Tims Collins.

More experienced players would have identified the position as ripe for a double bishop sacrifice: a standard tactical idea with which everyone should be familiar. But before you go around giving up your pieces you have to calculate whether or not it works.

In this case, you’ll be gratified to hear, it does.

It goes like this.

20. Bxh7+! Kxh7
21. Qh5+ Kg8
22. Bxg7!

Now if 22… Kxg7 23. Qg5+ Kh8 24. Rd3/4, Black can give up his queen by playing f6, although White should still be winning. White does better here to throw in 24. Qf6+ Kg8 before playing 25. Rd4 (but not 25. Rd3? Bxh2+ 26. Kh1 Qf4). Here White is winning too much material, so Black chose to decline the second bishop.

22… f6

White found the strongest continuation.

23. Qh8+ Kf7
24. dxe6+ Kxe6
25. Re1+ Kf7
26. Bxf8 Rxf8

Or 26… Kxf8 27. Rd4

27. Rxd6! Qxd6
28. Qh7+ Ke8
29. Re1+

Black resigned: he’ll be two pawns down with his king still exposed.

Thanks to all who contributed to the discussion and well done everyone who worked out most of the analysis.

If you haven’t seen a double bishop sacrifice before you’ve learnt an important idea. If you have, you were presented with what I hope was an interesting analytical exercise.

You can find out more about the winner here. Part 2 will be following some time next week.

Here’s the complete game: click on any move for a pop-up window.

Chess Puzzle of the Week (261)

Like last week, this is a puzzle demonstrating an idea which will be second nature to experts, but perhaps new to less experienced players.

White to play: how would you continue.

It’s not enough just to see the idea here: I want full analysis to demonstrate that it works.

Have fun!

The Chess Heroes Project: Clubs

The second strand of the Chess Heroes project involves promoting community-based social chess clubs for children and young people.

In this area at the moment there are excellent professionally run centres of excellence for ambitious young children such as Richmond Junior Club, but these aren’t for everyone. Not everyone can afford them. Not all children will benefit from this approach. Not all children require formal group instruction, rated games and competitions.

When Mike Fox and I started Richmond Juniors back in 1975 it was specifically promoted as a social club where children could come along to meet their friends and make new friends. Many of our early members are still active. Bertie Barlow, Sampson Low and Simon Illsley all played in our last TVB match: Gavin Wall and Caspar Bates played in our last LL match, while Mark Josse recently played for Surbiton against our TVA team.

Parents now sign their children up for chess because they believe their children will gain extrinsic benefits, not because they see it as a long-term hobby.

Perhaps the tide is slowly turning and there is once again a demand for the sort of junior club that RJCC originally set out to be.

Marie Gallagher (a former RTCC member) and I started a club on these lines in Twickenham Library in September which is going really well. I’m also talking to a fairly local community centre about starting a club there, and we might also think about running a junior session at the Adelaide from, say, 5:30 to 7:00, for children who are either too young or not experienced enough for RTCC..

We need volunteer coaches who:

  • are passionate about chess
  • enjoy working with children
  • have DBS clearance
  • have spare time to work for free.

If you’re interested please get in touch!

Richard James

Chess Puzzle of the Week (260): Solution

Here’s the solution to Monday’s puzzle, which is an important and instructive lesson on the OPPOSITION in pawn endings. Click on any move for a pop-up window.

The Chess Heroes Project: Books

I have a new website,, which you might like to look at.

There are two strands to the Chess Heroes Project.

The one which will be of most interest to you will be the Chess Heroes books, which you might have seen at the club.

This is a series of books aimed at anyone up to about 1500 rating. If you fall into that category please take a look and, if they appeal, you might want to support me by buying them and writing 5* reviews on Amazon.

  • I’ve been teaching chess successfully for more than 50 years
  • These books offer a unique method for intermediate players to improve their chess
  • There are many books on the market for beginners, and many more for 1500+ rated players, but very little which will take you from one to the other
  • The books emphasise active rather than passive learning, with many puzzles to solve and positions to play out
  • The books are based on sequential teaching: learn and master simple skills before moving on to more complex skills
  • The books are designed to develop your chess thinking skills as well as your chess knowledge
  • Many of the examples and puzzles are taken from my database of almost 17000 games played at Richmond Junior Club over 30 years
  • The books are also ideal for all chess teachers
  • They are available either as paperbacks or as free pdf downloads

You can find out more about the books, along with links to buy them on Amazon, here. There’s also information about some of my other books.

If you can’t afford to buy them, or you want to print off the lessons for your students, or the quizzes for repeated use, you can download the pdfs, along with other coaching materials and chess stationery, here.

I’ve put a lot of time, thought and effort into these books: do please take a look.

Richard James

2023-24 Results Bulletin (6)

Four matches to report this week: two wins, a draw and a loss.

Our C team started the week with a visit to Ealing B, who outrated us on every board. Excellent wins from Jack and David, but we went down on the other four boards.

Our London League team reached 3/3 with a solid win against Streatham 1, where our top 4 boards all won their games. Sterner challenges await later in the season, but this is an excellent start.

Our B team welcomed Maidenhead B, and here it was the lower boards who gave us the win, Alastair, Pablo and Simon all winning quickly. Sampson agreed a draw to give us the match, but Bertie and Jon went down in tactical positions. Thanks to Sampson for captaining the team on the day.

Our E team shared the points against Surbiton D, helped by our opponents being a player short.

As always, thanks to all for playing, congratulations to all the winners, and thanks also for the captains who recruited the teams.

2023-24 Results Bulletin (5)

Last week’s results in the Thames Valley League.

Our C team had a hard fought match against a Surbiton C team who matched us closely on most boards. An excellent win for Jack gave us a draw.

Also in Division 3 on the same evening, Richmond D were, not unexpectedly, beaten comprehensively by a strong Wimbledon B team who look like the strongest in the division.

Wimbledon beat us again on Thursday when, headed by an IM, they scored a narrow victory against our A team.

Maks reports:

A very close match. Wimbledon turned up with a strong team, with the majority of their players around 2000 or higher and also with a higher team-average grading. Fortunately boards 3 to 6 were fairly evenly matched with rating differences of about 40 or less. Ashley, up for the challenge of playing on the top board, was the only one facing against a large rating plus of over 200 points.

The match started and although many of us arrived 10 minutes or so late, the board positions developed nicely within the first 40 minutes. Chris on Board 5 was playing against an Alekhine defence and already had a nice initiative with Q-side castling and an open g-file against his opponents’ opposite-side castling kingside. Andrew on Board 4 also had a very interesting position from the Pirc. From the opening, his opponent had traded his queen for three minor pieces but had also lost two central pawns giving Andrew a bit of an edge. Ashley on board 1 was also fairing nicely with a symmetrical English opening and typical a3+b4 plans. Maks’s and John’s position looked at least equal and Mike’s position was experiencing a bit of a hic-cup, after a miscalculation defending against a closed Sicilian.

Towards the end of the night, results started coming in, and as expected Andrew and Chris both won.  Maks on board 6 had a very playable position, in a closed benko/benoni position but with only 8 minutes for each side and less than half the game played out decided to agree on a draw. John’s result followed shortly afterward, he had lost after losing control of his 2nd rank to heavy pieces, although he was a pawn up and perhaps winning right before his last blunder. Mike also lost on board 2. He had managed to get two minor pieces, a rook, and queen against two rooks and a queen, but his opponent had several pawns in compensation. 

Lastly, Ashley who was quite pleased to get somewhat of an edge against his International Master opponent, tried to go for the win, but unfortunately got tricked along the way and ended up in a lost endgame, and lost.

Statically the close loss of  2½- 3½, isn’t too surprising and was also a very respectable score especially given their strength and the fact it was an away match. Many thanks to those who played.

Congratulations to Chris and Andrew for their wins.

Chess Puzzle of the Week (260)

Another pawn ending from a puzzle, sent by Maks.

Perhaps not too hard, but, I think, an exceptionally instructive position.

White to play and win.

Chess Puzzle of the Week (259): Solution

On Monday I presented you with a mate in 6 composed by Albert Grigoryan (StrateGems 2004).

I hope you managed to find the solution. You can play through it here: click on any move for a pop-up window.

Steven Dowd pointed out on Facebook that moving the pawn on h2 to g2 produces a twin – also mate in 6, but with a completely different solution.

Congratulations to everyone who solved both problems.

Chess Puzzle of the Week (259)

A Rex Solus direct mate problem is one where Black has no pieces apart from the king.

American problemist Steven Dowd has just started a Rex Solus group on Facebook to demonstrate problems of this nature.

This is a mate in 6 composed by Albert Grigoryan (StrateGems 2004).

Steven pointed out that moving the pawn on h2 to g2 produces a twin – also mate in 6, but with a completely different solution.

So you get two problems this week for the price of one.

Good luck in solving them!