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An Adventure in the Ruy Lopez

by Dereque

One of the reasons study of the chess openings is so popular is the simple fact that learning openings is as fun as it is educational. When you study the openings (especially classical ones) you gain ever-expanding insight into the key elements of the chess struggle. Principles and platitudes like “establish a pawn center”, “develop your knights before bishops”, and so on, acquire new meaning when you get an opportunity to see the principles in action hundreds of times and the concrete variations which support them. Additionally, the study of opening theory leads to many interesting twists and turns filled with fascinating tactics.

One of my favorite openings to study is the Ruy Lopez. This is a very important opening and has been for hundreds of years. A thorough study of this opening is extremely fun and can also be very rewarding both for one’s results in the openings and for one’s understanding of chess in general.

Today I want to introduce an interesting game in one line of the Ruy Lopez to demonstrate some general ideas. At the same time I want to expose you to the method I use to learn openings (and chess!).

Alexei Shirov – Ivan Sokolov Las Vegas 1999 rapid

The following game was played at the time control g/25 + 10. Both players had 25 minutes on the clock and also gained 10 seconds after making each move. Surprisingly, rapid and blitz games between strong players can be amazingly instructive and interesting since one often sees mistakes and punishments which wouldn’t arise in the longer time controls between such skilled players.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5

Kebu Chess Diagram


These are the beginning moves of the Ruy Lopez. On our excellent sister site I covered the basic ideas behind the Ruy Lopez. You can view a slideshow here:

For our purposes here it’s enough to note that White develops his pieces rapidly while sooner or later creating a threat to capture on e5. Sooner or later, Black will have to play …d6 to cover the pawn. In the meantime, White will expand in the center with c2-c3, d2-d4 yielding him an advantage in space.

In classical openings where Black attempts to take an equal share of the center (1.e4 e5 or 1.d4 d5) it is extremely common for White to seek an advantage by putting pressure on Black’s center pawn forcing Black to make concessions in defending it.


This is not the most common reaction since it will ensure that when White plays d2-d4, White will gain a tempo against the bishop. On the other hand, Black has the benefit of developing his bishop to c5 before he plays …d6.


Only after castling does White’s threat to the e5-pawn become real. Suppose White immediately tries to gain the e5 pawn with 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.Nxe5?

Kebu Chess Diagram

There are two moves which allow Black to recover his pawn. You ought to see the methods of recovering the pawn right away since you’ve been working with KEBU Chess Tactics Software! I’ve put the solution at the end of this short article. Be sure to find both solutions and then also to determine which you think leads to a more advantageous situation for Black.


Now that White has castled, Black defends the e5-pawn. This isn’t necessarily the only move, but it’s the most natural. So what position has arisen?

Kebu Chess Diagram


The stage is now set for the ensuing strategic battle. White will clearly want to play for d2-d4 at some point. It’s easy to dismiss such a position and not recognize just how much one can learn about chess just by delving into the theory and practice of such a simple position.

As soon as White plays d2-d4 he is guaranteed a space advantage. There are many possible ways for play to continue after that. Black may choose to simply retreat his bishop to b6 and leave the White pawn on d4. In this case he must always contend with the possibility of dxe5 or d4-d5. On the other hand if he captures on d4, he either grants White a 2-1 majority of the center (if White plays c2-c3xd4) or an advanced knight with threats on a partially open board (after Nf3xd4). The whole theory and practice of this opening will give us insight into these possibilities and at the same time give us a general understanding of the challenges faced by Black when he is behind in space. Thus, in studying the theory and practice of this opening we study more general chess problems. This is extremely instructive, and also exciting! If we study openings intelligently we learn to connect theory with the study of general chess problems.

I also want to point out that we’re getting insight into another sort of chess problem in studying this opening variation. In the classical Ruy Lopez structure Black usually develops his bishop to e7 behind the pawn chain. It’s true that on c5 the bishop is more active, but as I pointed out this comes with certain drawbacks including the bishop’s exposure to attack. Thus we are also going to get a lot of insight into the advantages and drawbacks of developing one’s bishop outside of a closed pawn chain.

I can’t wait to get started. The next article will look at how Shirov and Sokolov treated the problems of this position. But before we move on, let’s answer the little puzzle provided earlier.

Kebu Chess Diagram

Congratulations if you saw either or both of the solutions: 5…Qd4! 6.Nd3 Qxe4+ or 5…Bxf2+!? 6.Kxf2 Qd4+.Did you remember to consider which you think is more advantageous for Black? Despite the flashiness of 5…Bxf2+ the strongest option is actually 5…Qd4! In that case White ends up with an awkwardly placed knight on d3 and Black retains the advantage of the bishop pair.


24 February 2011
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How to avoid blunders in chess - part two

by Dereque

In part one of this article, we discussed three principle causes of blunders in chess.

  • A heightened emotional state of some kind (getting close to victory, a feeling of self-satisfaction, excitement)
  • Insufficient skill in tactics and combinations
  • Failure to penetrate the position and account for all its features

In this article we discuss how to work on these three things.

A heightened emotional state

Many chess players flat out refuse to accept that there is emotional arousal during a chess game. This is categorically bad thinking and will only result in a dampening of the results you could potentially achieve. The truth is that a chess game between players of a reasonably close strength is filled with tension. A chess game is complicated, full of surprises and in the case of a tournament game we have invested considerable time and effort into achieving our aim – the prospect of a result (winning OR losing) is very influential on our state of mind.

I’ll assume that you don’t need to be convinced of this and move on to suggesting how to help yourself diminish the blunders which go along with our inherently subjective nature when we examine chess positions.

The most important thing is to be aware of certain tendencies of thought and their corresponding dangers. I’ve already mentioned in the previous article that more than anything, one should be on guard against feelings of self-satisfaction or excitement at the prospect of winning (or equalizing against a stronger player). When you find yourself getting close to achieving a result or even a positional aim of some kind the most important thing is to slow down and insist on accounting for the whole board and for the opponent’s intentions. The surest way to make a blunder is to temporarily forget about your opponent’s right to exist and his inevitable cunning. And by “temporarily” I mean even just one move. For just one move you eagerly pursue your plan, and suddenly the opponent demonstrates that you’ve missed something obvious and devastating – such as hanging a piece. It happens every day.

Thus before every move you must constantly be sure that you’ve asked yourself, “What are his intentions? What are his plans? What will he play after I play that move? What does my move weaken?” You simply must get in the habit of asking these questions during the course of the entire game and always directly before you make your move. The sooner you can develop this as an absolute habit – one from which you never vary – the sooner you will see a drastic decrease in your blunders.

Insufficient skill in tactics and combinations

This is perhaps the simplest problem to correct. The best way to gain skill in tactics and combinations is through solving tactical puzzles on a regular basis. Visit for a low-cost program (which offers a free version) with hundreds of tricky puzzles taken exclusively from recent games.

Failure to penetrate the position and account for all its features

The remedy for this is simple. During your opponent’s clock time (while he is pondering his move) simply ask yourself a lot of questions about the position. I often ask (and attempt to answer) such questions as “What is my opponent’s most principle plan here?” “What features of the position am I not noticing?” “Where are the potential pitfalls in my position?” “If I had to summarize what’s going on here in a single sentence, what would I say?” … you can be creative here, the main thing is that your churning the position around in different ways in bringing attention to your opponent’s intentions, and the salient features of the position.

This may not seem connected with blunders, but you will find that establishing control over your thoughts and feelings about the position in this way will lead you to make far less oversights of a tactical and even strategic nature. Now when the moments of tension arise (and they surely will) you will consciously and subconsciously be able to make a use of all the extra information you’ve gained during your opponent’s time. This has a magical way of reducing mistakes.

If you practice the suggestions listed here you will see a reduction in your “silly” oversights and be in a position to take advantage of your opponent’s!

2 September 2009
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How to avoid blunders in chess - part one

by Dereque

More than anything, chess games are decided by tactical mistakes and blunders. We’ve all had the terrible experience of achieving a “crushing” position after a long drawn-out battle only to blow it in one single move due to a blunder – a colossal oversight.

In my experience with teaching students and improving my own game, eliminating or drastically reducing such colossal mistakes constitutes a huge part of chess mastery – an enormous step forward.

The causes of blunders

The favored explanation for blunders is a “lapse of concentration” – and while this may be true it is almost always only half of the story. Think about your mental state before making a blunder. If you’re honest, you won’t be able to demonstrate that you were clearly less concentrated at that moment than you were at other stages of the game. You weren’t falling asleep, checking out an attractive person, or balancing your checkbook. You were probably engaged in exactly the same behavior as you had been the whole time – thinking about the position. So what is this mysterious lapse of concentration?

In chess, a lapse of concentration is usually preceded by a heightened emotional state of some kind. Probably the most notorious emotional state is to be just around the corner from victory. How many times has it happened? You are close to realizing a plan, a kingside attack, eliminating the opponent’s forces, and it is at precisely this moment that you suddenly … drop a piece, drop a queen, mate in one, or you deliver stalemate! I have found from a thorough investigation of my own games and my experience with students that a huge percentage of blunders come just after a feeling a self-satisfaction or excitement.

If you have some games of your own stored in a database, review those ghastly blunders. And think about what I’ve just suggested. You may also find that the vast majority of your blunders don’t happen in balanced positions where there is still everything left to play for – on the contrary, they often come when you’re sure of victory, or have just equalized against stronger opposition, or are very close to realizing an intention. You probably make very few blunders during the initial phases of a game which are tense and require an obvious degree of concentration.

In the next article, we’ll develop the idea of how to reduce this kind of error.

Another more obvious reason that blunders occur is having insufficient skill at tactics and combinations. Many texts admonish us that nothing, absolutely nothing, can compensate for a lack of tactical ability – and this is true. Dvoretsky mentions this important point in his book Training for the Tournament Player as does Alexander Kotov in his book Play like a Grandmaster. Fortunately, this is an easy problem to correct over time since it mainly comes down to solving tactical puzzles on a regular basis. Visit for a low-cost program (which offers a free version) with hundreds of tricky puzzles taken exclusively from recent games.

A final cause of blunders which is actually quite related to the first is a failure to fully take in the position and its strategic components. While playing a game of chess your task is very simple (though not easy). You must constantly try to penetrate the position at hand through strategic thinking, calculating, guessing the opponent’s intentions, and keeping your mind clear and sharp. You should devote yourself to these tasks during the course of the entire game and try to keep the minimum amount of tension in doing so. The more you penetrate the position (ask questions about it, calculate some interesting variations, etc.) – even while your opponent is pondering his next move – the less you will blunder. Blunders are often related to overlooking some basic strategic component of the position – failure to fully appreciate for example, that the opponent has a bishop on an awkward square – and then moving your queen right in the line of fire (for example)!

Stay tuned for the second segment of this article, where will discuss what actions you can take to reduce or eliminate blunders.

27 August 2009
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Recent Grandmaster Game: Mameydarov-Aronian 2009

by Dereque

The following is adapted from a lecture I gave on the Internet Chess Club a few weeks after Aronian's stunning victory in Nalchik 2009. The majority of the audience was composed of members of the LeChess group. I hope you enjoy this fascinating game!

This blog article analyzes the recent game Mameydarov-Aronian 2009. Throughout the analysis we'll pay special attention to the topic of Modern Chess Tactics and Strategy. This is a lengthy article in which I'll make use of diagrams to hel address key points.

1.e4 e5 2.Nc3


The Vienna Game. This can be classified as a sort of waiting move. By avoiding development of the kingside pieces White reserves the option of a timely f2-f4, or a development scheme involving g3, Bg2, Nge2. In addition to that, he can still play Nf3 or Bc4 and so remains somewhat flexible. Though the Vienna Game is not popular at this level, one interesting modern trend is towards “flexibility”. Increasingly, modern players value systems which don’t commit key pieces until the opponent has clarified his or her intentions. This is usually a tool used by Black. Modern handlings of the Sicilian and Slav (we’ll see an example next week!) come to mind.


Already Black has a decision to make. If he plays the more natural 2…Nf6, then he is better prepared to deal with a system such as 3.g3 because he has immediate access to 3…d5! 2…Nf6 also gives Black the opportunity to try 3…Nxe4!? In the event of 3.Bc4. But as we said, one of the advantages of “flexibility” is being able to decide on one’s own strategy *after* the opponent has already declared his setup. Here Black’s last move encourages the aggressive 3.f4, because 3…exf4 ? 4.e5! is a disaster – after 4…Qe7 5.Qe2 , Black has no choice but to put the knight right back on g8. With Aronian’s 2…Nc6 Black can healthfully capture on f4 but can’t take advantage of an early …d5 break if White plays g3. Even on move two this topic of flexibility turns out to be quite interesting! Okay, let’s move on…

3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d3

White makes it clear that he’s aiming for a Bishop’s Opening. Black still has to be on the lookout for a sharp f2-f4, but on the other hand, the bishop on c4 is a sitting duck.

4…Na5 5.Nge2 Be7 6.O-O O-O 7.a4 Nxc4

Not a moment too soon, otherwise the bishop would escape to a2.

8.dxc4 d6 9.b3

The only other game in which White has tried the Bishop’s Opening at this level was Morozevich-Leko 2001. There White continued 8.Ng3. There has to be a reason so few elite players have been keen to go into this position as White. Let’s take stock.

Black has snapped White’s bishop off the board rather quickly and therefore wields the bishop pair. He’s even doubled White’s pawns in the process. But White has a semi-open d-file and either an outpost on d5 or a backwards pawn on d6 (if and when Black pushes …c6). White still has the option of striking with f2-f4 as well.

The real key comes when we try to assess what actions should be taken. The bishop pair and better pawn structure are long-term advantages which, if consolidated, could bear fruit in the late middlegame and endgame. Thus, Black’s job is to consolidate and make it difficult for White to achieve any aggressive intentions. White, on the other hand, should try to rapidly utilize his strengths and attacking chances before Black is able to do this – a very common scenario in modern chess. White has accepted a slight positional inferiority in the long run and so must play accurately to compensate with this by the initiative.

9…Be6 10.a5?!N

10.a5 is a completely new move here, seeking to put pressure on Black’s queenside with a6. But this is not a very serious threat, and as we’ll see the pawn actually becomes rather vulnerable on a6, demanding protection from the rook on a1.

10…c6 11.a6 b6 12.Ba3 Qc7

Development is basically completed, Black will transfer a rook to the d-file, and may then search for a breakthrough with …d5. In the meantime, it seems, Mamedyarov’s queenside initiative has accomplished very little. At this point I think the game is about equal if White continues with a sensible plan and doesn’t alter the structure too much. One idea is 13.Ng3!? Rad8 14.Qe2 g6!? 15.Rad1. White doesn’t have an initiative, but he at least contains Black’s chances and hasn’t harmed his structure. Instead, Mamedyarov continues to look for swift action.


This is quite a natural move, but it suffers from serious defects. Firstly, as White tries to get his attack underway he will find that his previous maneuver (a4-a5-a6) leaves his rook on a1 tied to the defense of the a6 pawn. This little fact makes it difficult for his a-rook to participate in the crucial fight for the d5-square (where Black could suddenly open the center) or to swing it over to the kingside. But the biggest problem with f4 will turn out to be the damage to the e4-pawn who now is without a potential pawn-defender and may very well end up on an open file. This e4-weakness, the constant threat of explosion in the center (…d5), and the a6-pawn spell a difficult position ahead for Mamedyarov.

What’s absolutely fascinating about this game is that from here on Aronian takes virtually perfect advantage of White’s one little mistake. Watch how much Aronian makes his opponent suffer for this slip.


Very logical, Black prepares the retreat …Bc8, which highlights, in the first place, the weakness of a6. It also takes the sting out of a potential f4-f5. Now f4-f5 would just fix the structure and would make the breakthrough …d5 all the more delicious.

14.Kh1 Bc8!

Threatening the a6-pawn. Notice how Aronian achieves his strategic aims from here on while delivering threats on each move.

15.Bb2 Ng4

This is the beginning of a beautiful plan designed to free Black’s position and take immediate advantage of his better structure. Of course, the immediate threat is …Ne3. (Again: strategic aims fulfilled while creating threats!)

16.Qd3 exf4!

With the knight on g4, Black finally alters the structure. The knight is ready to plop into the unattended e5 square. I would mention the fact that Nimzovich first told us about all of this when he said “restrain, blockade, destroy!” … but then I might be accused of not fulfilling my promise to reveal the secrets of modern chess. Apparently, some things haven’t changed ;)

17.Nxf4 Bh4!?

Strong players (and computers) wring the maximum out of the unique placement of their pieces. Before bringing the knight to its dream square on e5, Black first uses …Bh4!? to create the threat of …Nf2+. By doing so he gains time to stick a rook on e8. Aronian insists on achieving his aims by creating threats every step of the way.


White isn’t keen to weaken his light squares with g2-g3, and so defends against the threat in a more tame fashion.

18…Rfe8 19.h3 Ne5


Almost as if by magic, Black has lifted his rooks to the central files, and removed both bishops from the e-file and his knight has floated to the wonderful e5 square. Meanwhile there is the nagging pressure on the a6 pawn. I think Black’s combination of tactical threats and strategy has already been very instructive.


One should not forget the opponent’s right to exist. At this point, White may not have actually been too concerned. His plan is simply to bring the knight to the kingside and continue the kingside attack which he has been plotting. But strangely, I think that White has to assume a defensive posture. We’ll see this in a moment.

20…Bg5 21.Nh5!? Qe7

Aronian has restrained. He’s blockaded. Now he’s working on destroying the poor e4-weakness.


It wasn’t too late to have a change of heart and switch to a defensive setup. After 22.Nc3!? Black still has a significant pull, but converting it is not going to be easy. 22…Nd7? 23.Nxg7! would be a disaster. And 22…g6!? Is not as strong as after the move played in the game. White can calmly continue 23.Nf4 Nd7 24.Nd3, when his position isn’t delightful, but it’s definitely playable. The cold-blooded 22…f6 (removing Nxg7 sorties) 23.Ng3 Ng6 24.Qf2 still offers Black a nice position.

22…g6 -/+ 23.Nf4

23.Ng3!? is not much better. One sharp option continues: 23…Bh4 (23…Qf8!?) 24.Kh2 Qg5 25.Qf2 f5! 26.Bc1 fxe4 27.Nxe4 Bxf2 28.Nxg5 Bh4 29.Ne4 d5! -/+



24.Nh5?! This if the final stage of White’s attack, which by now can be classified as a kamikaze attack. Before we move onto Aronian’s rather heavy-handed destruction of this sacrificial assault – I’d like to really investigate this position.  I highly advise working through the following variations on a chessboard - the variations are very beautiful and instructive.

 Better is 24.Qf2!? Qf8!

a) 24...Nc5 25.Ned5! cxd5 26.Nxd5 Qe6 (only move) 27.Rae1 Nd7 28.Qg3 unclear

b) 24...Qxe4 25.Nd3 f5 26.Ng4! Qe2 (26...-- 27.Rae1!+-; 26...fxg4 27.Qf7#) 27.Qd4 Ne5 28.Rf2 Qe4 (only move) 29.Qxe4 fxe4 30.Ndxe5 dxe5 31.Nf6+ Bxf6 32.Rxf6 Black has a slight advantage;

c) 24...Bh4 25.Qd2 Nc5 26.Ned5! cxd5 27.Nxd5 Qf8! (27...Qxe4? 28.Qh6; 27...Qe6? 28.Qh6) 28.g3! Nxe4! (28...Bxg3? 29.Nf6+; 28...Bxh3 29.gxh4 Nxe4 30.Qd4 Re5 (only move) 31.Qxe4! Rxe4 32.Nf6+ Kg7 33.Nxe4+ Kh6 34.Bc1+ Kg7 35.Bb2+=) 29.Qd4 Nxg3+ (29...Re5) 30.Kg2 Re2+ 31.Kg1 Re5 32.Qxh4 Nxf1 33.Rxf1÷; 25.Ng4 (25.Qg3 Bf6! Black is much better) 25...Rxe4! 26.Qg3 f5 27.Nd3 (27.Nxg6 Rxg4! (27...hxg6?! 28.Nf2! Bf6 29.Nxe4 Bxb2 30.Nxd6!µ) 28.hxg4 Qh6+ 29.Qh3 hxg6–+) 27...Qe7 28.Nb4 fxg4 29.Nxc6 Qe6 30.h4 Re3 31.Nxd8 Bxd8 32.Rae1 Rxe1 33.Rxe1 Ne5 34.Bxe5 dxe5 35.Qxe5 Qxe5 36.Rxe5 Black is much better; 24.Rae1 Shipov 24...Bxa6 Black is much better

Of course after the fantastic 24…Qf8! Black still has a near-decisive advantage. But the moves shown here demonstrate how every factor of a position must be exploited. Just as Aronian has combined all of the resources in his position, Mamedyarov also missed an opportunity to set a serious practical problem for his opponent using every factor which was in his favor. Even after the correct 24…Qf8, White is still “more alive” than he is after Mamedyarov’s move.

24…Qxe4 -+

Just ten short moves ago White played the aggressive f2-f4. In that short time, Black has achieved total coordination, and cooly picked off the weakness which was created by the move. Black is winning.

25.Qf2 f5 26.Ng4

A valiant effort, but it is easily thwarted.

26…gxh5 27.Nh6+ Bxh6 28.Qg3+ Kf7 29.Rae1

White has invested two pieces and a pawn for his attack. Aronian now finds a nice way to simplify the position – but even the greedy 29…Qxc2 is fully playable here.

29…Rg8 30.Qf2 Qxg2+!  31.Qxg2 Rxg2 32.Kxg2

Black has two pawns and two pieces for the rook. More importantly his pieces will quickly dominate the endgame. A sample continuation is: 32…Rg8+ 33.Kh2 Nc5 followed by …Nxa6. Before waiting for Black to make his move, Mamedyarov resigned.

A beautiful game! In it we saw a carefully constructed net of tactics and strategy. We also discussed, if only briefly, one of the newer concepts in opening strategy. I hope you’ve enjoyed this game (and analysis)! 


14 August 2009
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by Dereque

A pin occurs when a piece of lesser value cannot move because its movement would expose a piece of stronger value behind it. The piece is then said to be “pinned”. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples…

Stupak(2458) – Tihonov(2460)

Ch-BLR, 2009 

In this position White played 30.Bxc5! and now if 30…dxc5 31.f4! would lead to White recovering the minor piece and holding onto his extra pawn with a crushing position. In the position after 30.Bxc5 the knight is pinned to the rook since its movement would mean the rook is exposed to Rxe8. Here is a somewhat trickier example:

Zhao Xue(2517) – Beliavsky(2638)

6th Gibltecom Masters, 2008 

Black to move, Beginner puzzle from KEBU Chess Tactics Software 2009

In this position the grandmaster made use of the pin two times. After 32…Bxg4! The bishop cannot be captured by the knight because Black could then capture the queen. (A queen and pawn is usually stronger than a rook and bishop) Thus, the knight is “pinned” to the queen. But what if 33.Qxg4 is played? That is what was played in the game but then Black played 33…Rg8! Another pin. The queen is lost because moving her would expose the king (and this is illegal).

These examples were taken from games played very recently (last year) directly from KEBU Chess Tactics Software. You can download a free version here for more puzzles like these.

15 July 2009
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Discovery Attack

by Dereque

Discovery attack occurs when the attacker unveils a line-moving piece (rook, bishop, queen) by moving another piece out of the way. This unveiled piece attacks something and so is called a discovery attack. Unveiled attacks against the king are called discovery checks. An example will make this more clear.

Nalbandian(2476) – Oleksienko(2588)

Kavala open 17th, 2008

Black to move, Intermediate puzzle from KEBU Chess Tactics Software 2009

Here White played 15…Nh2! Attacking both the king and queen. Ordinarily such a piece would merely be captured with 16.Kxh2 but then 16…e4+! Is a “discovery check”. The bishop is unveieled giving check, and in the mean time White’s queen comes under attack. Thus White would have to lose the queen after capturing on h2 thanks to the discovery check.

Here’s another example:

Van Oosterom(2420) - Adly(2593)

Enschede open, 2008

Black to move, Beginner puzzle from KEBU Chess Tactics Software 2009

Black played  31…Bh3!! By moving the bishop Black uncovers the queen, adding force to the threat on d1. Thus if White were to capture with 32.gxh3 Black would simply play 32…Rxd1! thanks to the unveiled power of the queen.  Just as in the last example the piece which moved out of the way (the bishop in this case) generates a threat of its own (…Bxg2+). The game continued 32.Rxd3 and now Black could have won easily with 32…Bxg2+ 33.Kg1 Bxf1+ (a discovery check!) 34.Kxf1 Qxd3+

These examples were taken from games played very recently (last year) directly from KEBU Chess Tactics Software. You can download a free version here for more puzzles like these.

9 July 2009
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by Dereque

Deflection refers to the tactical device of removing a piece from its defensive task by enticing it to move. In combinations, this is usually done by some sacrifice.

Girya(2342) - Vasilkova(2359)

Russia Championship, Girls u20, 2008

Black to move, Beginner puzzle, KEBU Chess Tactics Software 2009

If White’s queen were off the board, Black would deliver mate with …Qxf3+, …Rg6+, …Qh1#. Of course removing the queen for the board is a tall order, but deflecting the queen from defense of f3 is not so hard. Black played 42…Re1+! And White resigned because of: 43.Qxe1 Qxf3+ 44.Kg1 Rg6+ 45.Kf1 Qh1#

Here’s another example of deflection:

Safin(2510) – Sargissian(2642)

1st Asian Clubs, 2008

White to move, Beginner puzzle from KEBU Chess Tactics Software 2009

Here Black’s queen and king are ripe for a double attack via Nf5+, but Black’s bishop defends against this possibility. Therefore 32.Bf3! was decisive. Now Black cannot help but lose material.

These examples were taken from games played very recently (last year) directly from KEBU Chess Tactics Software. You can download a free version here for more puzzles like these.

4 July 2009
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by Dereque

Decoy refers to enticing a piece (usually through sacrifice) to a specific square. This is normally done so that some tactical operation – such as a double attack or pin will be successful after that.

Here is an example:

Almeida Quintana(2527) – Ibarra Chami(2369)

43rd Capablanca Memorial Open, 2008

White to move, Beginner puzzle, KEBU Chess Tactics Software 2009

Here White played 22.f7+! when the pawn acts a decoy to attract the king to the f7 square. And now after 22…Kxf7 23.Bh5+! Kf8 24.Bxe8 and White has won a rook for a bishop and pawn. Of course, after 22.f7+ Black cannot refuse to capture the f7-pawn since this would result in the loss of his rook for a single pawn.

Here’s another example:

Dinstuhl(2436) - Richter(2421)

Bundesliga, 2009

Black to move, Beginner puzzle, KEBU Chess Tactics Software 2009

Black played 27…Rc1! White declined the decoy sacrifice since if 28.Rxc1 Qxe3+ Black not only regains the rook and emerges ahead a pawn – but also will deliver mate shortly thereafter. Therefore White had to continue 28.Rdd1 Rxd1 29.Rxd1 Qxe3+ And Black was ahead a pawn with a decisive advantage.

These examples were taken from games played very recently (last year) directly from KEBU Chess Tactics Software. You can download a free version here for more puzzles like these.

1 July 2009
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Clearance Sacrifice

by Dereque

A clearance sacrifice occurs when the attacker deliberately sacrifices material in order to “clear the way” for one of his pieces. This can mean freeing a diagonal, a file, a rank, or a square so that a piece can make use of it for attacking purposes. Here are some examples.

Hess(2445) - Ivanov(2554)

10th Foxwoods Open, 2008

White to move, Intermediate puzzle from KEBU Chess Tactics Software 2009

Black’s king position is very exposed and if the d4-pawn was magically removed from the board Bc3+ would be decisive for White. Thus, White sacrifices the pawn with tempo, clearing the necessary diagonal for his bishop. 30.d5! Qxd5 and now 31.Bc3+ Kh6 32.Rxf8 would win a full piece, but White found an even more accurate move first. 31.Rf7+! Black resigned.  31…Qxf7 32.Bc3+. The bishop reaches the coveted diagonal and White wins a queen in the process.

Here’s a more somewhat trickier example:

Shishkin(2510) – Pavlov(2418)

6th V. Nabokov Memorial, 2008

Black to move, Beginner puzzle from KEBU Chess Tactics Software 2009

Here Black cleared the way for his dark-squared bishop (while simultaneously defending against Qxg7#) with 27...Re7!! And White resigned. He will be mated after 28.Qxe7 Bc3+ 29.Bd2 Bxd2+ 30.Kd1 Be3+ 31.Ke1 Qd2+ 33.Kf1 Qxf2#.

These examples were taken from games played very recently (last year) directly from KEBU Chess Tactics Software. You can download a free version here for more puzzles like these.

28 June 2009
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Removal of Defender

by Dereque

Removal of defender occurs when one side (usually through sacrificial means) captures a piece which was important for some defensive purpose. This is different from deflection in which the defending piece is merely distracted from its main task. In this case the defender itself is destroyed. Here is an example:

Astaneh Lopez(2346) – Collins(2394)

Masters Bunratty IRL, 2008

White to move, Beginner puzzle from KEBU Chess Tactics Software 2009

Black’s pawn on d5 holds the position together, so White annihilates it. 38.Nxd5! Nxd5 39.Bxd6+ Rxd6 (if 39…Nxd6 40.Rxe8+ Nxe8 41.Bxd5 +-) 40.Rxe4. This example demonstrates removal of a defender as White simply captured the key defender (the d5 pawn) even though this seemed to cost him a full knight. In the end it is White that ends up ahead a pawn and with a winning game.

Here’s another example:

Lavrik(2387) - Vorobiov(2550)

Zvenigorod open, 2008

White to move, Beginner puzzle from KEBU Chess Tactics Software 2009

White is oh-so-close to delivering mate in h7 via Rxh7#. However, the pesky knight on f6 prevents this dream from becoming a reality. Therefore: White played 25.Qxf6!! and Black resigned because of 25…Bxf6  26.Rxh7#.

These examples were taken from games played very recently (last year) directly from KEBU Chess Tactics Software. You can download a free version here for more puzzles like these. 

24 June 2009
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