Sorry about the month or so of radio silence – the holiday season was a bit crazy and it was all hands on deck getting all the chess sets to their rightful homes and into waiting hands.
We’re back, and we’ll start with Dennis’ Holiday post. A little late perhaps, but not to bad for a chance to reflect and look back.
Chess Puzzle with FIDE Master Dennis Monokroussos
The Christmas season is upon us, a time of year when we are reminded that it
is more blessed to give than receive. That’s not always true at the
chess board, however. Sometimes we can make a brilliant and successful
sacrifice, but at other times we’re just blundering material or allowing our
opponent to wrest our chess pieces and pawns by force.
Another sort of “gift” that doesn’t leave us feeling particularly blessed is
when we give away half a point or even a full point by our carelessness. We
saw that sort of woe in our initial puzzle, when my opponent spoiled a great
effort with one hasty and incautious move.
With this little intro we come to a new puzzle.
Black to move has just played 8…dxc4, and at first glance it looks
excellent. White’s d-pawn is isolated, and the d5 square may become
available for Black’s pieces. White can’t be very happy with his king
sitting on f1, either, but let’s not be too quick here. Black has some
potential vulnerabilities of his own, like the unprotected bishop on b4 and
his uncastled king. Was Black’s last move a careless error, and if so how
can White exploit it? Remember that you shouldn’t be too hasty either.
We’ll discuss the solution next week, and introduce a new problem then too.
[FEN "rnbqk2r/pp3ppp/5n2/8/1bpP1B2/8/PP2B1PP/RN1Q1KNR w kq - 0 8"]
White is clearly worse in this position unless there is something extraordinary going on. Hence he should probably try
If Black now carelessly recaptures White is very happy: 9... Rxb8 10.Qa4+ Bd7 (or anything else) 11.Qxb4 winning a piece. But Black has the surprising response
Protecting Bb4 and threatening Ne3+. Now, 10.Qa4+ Bd7 is obviously winning for Black but White has one last try.
Now 10... Nxf4 would be a grave mistake due to 11.Qa4+ and 12.Qxb4, but Black retains his advantage with