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Three puzzles to improve your analytical skills; ChessWITH THE KNIGHT.

ANALYSING positions during a game is harder than solving puzzles. In a game you do not know if something dramatic or conclusive is possible. Most puzzles are designed to give the reader a specific solution to find. Should you be looking for checkmates, or attacks, or ways of dealing with your opponents threats, or just trying to improve the position of your pieces? The answer is all of these.

PUZZLE A Did you immediately see that the black queen can be captured by the white knight, giving White a huge material advantage which would probably lead to a win ? Less conclusive is capturing the black knight with the pawn. Again this improves White's chances but not as much. However, neither of these is the best answer because 1.Qb8 is checkmate! I have used this position in training sessions and capturing the black queen (which is an obvious move) is a frequent wrong first choice. If the starting position is altered by placing the white queen on e3 instead of b3 the one-move mate is seen more often. Many players see moves up and down the board more easily than along diagonals or side to side. The clue here is to see that Black's back rank is not guarded, which would be true wherever the white queen is placed. Having seen that, you would be prompted to seek a route for the queen to deliver mate. It always pays off to look at all possible checks.

Attempting, sometimes puzzles is mind-and PUZZLE B White clearly is a lot of material behind. However, Black's king is on the same file as White's rook, which immediately attracts the interest of a regular player. Better still (for White!), the only thing between the black king and the white rook is the white knight. Moving this knight would put Black's king in check. Usually then, Black would have three choices, to capture the piece delivering check, to move out of check, or to block the check by interposing something. However, in this position White can move the knight to either d6 or f6, making it a double check: one from the knight and one from the rook. Double checks are a very powerful weapon. It is impossible to capture two pieces in one move and impossible to block two checks with one move. So Black is left with only one choice, to move the king. And the bad news for Black is that after king to either f8 or d8, White can play Re8 mate. Again, looking at the checks pays off.

and solving, like these challenging, expanding great fun!

PUZZLE C This is much harder. It is a position from a game where Gary Kasparov was playing White. Kasparov was especially good at analysing positions and visualising options lesser players might not consider. Playing through this game, I was trying to predict his moves. I had the moves covered with a postcard and was gradually revealing them. I wasn't having much success! Here I was very conscious that he was a pawn down and that his rook on f1 was attacked by the bishop on b5 and it couldn't move. I did have the advantages of knowing that Kasparov won the game and it didn't last much longer. So I changed my attention to the position around Black's king, which is a bit loose. For example, 1.Nxg6 and if hxg6 then Bxg6 wipes out the remaining pawn cover and forks the black rook and knight. But what if Black does not play hxg6? Kasparov chose the much better Bxg6 - not so easily ignored. You might want to look at what happens after 1.....hxg6 2. Qe4 or 1....Nf6 2. Bxh7ch Kxh7 3.Qb1ch and invasion by Qb6 etc. Attempting, and sometimes solving, puzzles like these is challenging, mind-expanding and great fun!

diagonals or side to is to see that not guarded, wherever is of However, same file as immediately playing White. Kasparov good at analysing visualising options might not Playing game, I predict had the them. Here I pawn down his rook on f1 by the bishop on couldn't move. I did have of knowing that Attempting, and sometimes solving, puzzles like these is challenging, mind-expanding and great fun!


A What is White's best move?

B White, to move, is a lot of material down but...

C. White to move
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jul 7, 2017
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