Entries in tactics (16)
Wednesday was a rest day for the participants in the Sinquefield Cup, and before that was round 5. In the two previous rounds all the games were drawn, and the first four (of five) games to finish on Tuesday also finished peacefully. One game remained, between Veselin Topalov and Ding Liren, and although Topalov was winning earlier and still had some advantage, it seemed to be headed for a draw as well. But that's when it got interesting, as you can see for yourself.
Round 6 is today, with these pairings:
- So (3) - Topalov (3.5)
- Aronian (3) - Vachier-Lagrave (2)
- Giri (2) - Anand (3)
- Nakamura (2.5) - Caruana (2.5)
- Ding Liren (2) - Svidler (1.5)
It's a very interesting idea: trying to figure out what a player's worst win was at a point when they were already a reasonably mature player. Brian Karen offers this horrid game as Fischer's worst, played when Fischer was already a grandmaster, and it certainly looks like a good candidate. To take just two very obvious points, Fischer could have forced instant resignation after White's 21.Rc1?? by playing 21...Qxe3. After missing this, he lost an exchange a few moves later, and even as late as move 39 White in turn could have forced instant resignation with 39.Qd4+. Instead, he resigned two moves later after blundering into mate.
Can you think of alternative candidates for Fischer's worst win, or extend the conversation to include other players' worst losses?
A few weeks ago I mentioned the puzzle book by Vlastimil Hort and Vlastimil Jansa, The Best Move. It is a fine old work (from 1980), rightly acclaimed and featuring a nice mix of positions to solve. Almost all of them are reasonably challenging, but their character differs: some focus on judgment, some on a deep tactical point, some involve little tricks, and so on. Even the way the tasks are posed is often clever, managing to perform that most difficult of tasks in a tactics book; namely, not giving away half the solution in the question.
Here's an interesting puzzle I came across a week or two ago, #60 in the book.
Here's the task:
Black to move.
1. Black is (a) better, (b) equal, (c) worse.
2. Black's best move is (a) 1...Bc8, (b) something else.
The solution is here.
I recently posted a link to part 1 of an interview with Boris Gelfand, and in that work he praised a number of books including the old, excellent The Best Move by Vlastimil Hort and Vlastimil Jansa. It's a book I had as a young expert and maybe went through one time. The book was long lost, but I picked up a used copy several years ago and decided to give it a gander on Gelfand's say-so.
It's an excellent work, based on positions from the two Vlastimils' games, which is itself useful as their games will be unfamiliar to almost everyone. (It probably shouldn't be so, at least in the case of Vlastimil Hort, who was one of the very best players in the world in his heyday, but that's how it is.) On the other hand, they were both great players and analysts, so the puzzles are of high quality. It's definitely worth picking up a copy if you can find one that's reasonably priced, though I'd warn players rated below 2000 that you'll be in for a lot of frustration. (One grows, in part, by persevering through challenges, but the challenges shouldn't be altogether out of one's grasp.)
Here's an early position in the book I was pleased to solve. (Don't worry, there's no progress from easiest to hardest; if this were one of the trivial puzzles the book would be impossible!) It's Black to move, and the assignment is to "[s]uggest the most aggressive continuation for Black."
The solution is here.
Irving Chernev's old book Logical Chess: Move by Move is a pretty good book for the post-beginner. There is lots of explanatory prose, and the simple attacking and positional themes in the games offer useful oversimplifications for new players looking for some way of imposing structure on the chaos of a chess game. For this reason I occasionally use the book when working with low-rated students who haven't seen many (sometimes any) examples of professional chess.
As I said, the book oversimplifies, which is okay, but already in game one there are some more serious errors as well. The first two took me only a couple of moments to spot when I showed the game to a student, but the last one was a real surprise. The game is Von Scheve-Teichmann, and White resigned in this position.
It certainly looks lost, doesn't it? Von Scheve obviously thought so, Teichmann probably thought so as well (he could have varied earlier had he seen a problem here), Chernev goes with the flow and while I thought of an interesting idea while waiting for my student to come up with Black's last move (17...Bxf2) I assumed it was just a last joke before dying. Nope! While running an engine later to confirm that my earlier thoughts about the game were correct, I discovered that the seemingly conclusive finish was in fact anything but. See if you can work out where flesh has faltered and silicon succeeded. The answers, along with the full game and the earlier errors I alluded to, can be found here.
On Saturday I played well and successfully in a rapid tournament, coming in second place in a small but strong field. After an early loss to the eventual winner, I defeated an IM in the penultimate round and had to beat a 2300+ rated opponent in order to have any chance at tying for first. My opponent played a very provocative opening - we transposed into a St. George! - and in the following position White is not lacking for good moves.
I'm sure you'll find some effective solutions that differ from mine, which you can replay for yourself over here. Happy analyzing!
Yesterday I offered a couple of positions from the recent praxis of the strong Ukranian grandmaster Alexander Moiseenko for your solving pleasure (the positions are here), and now it's time for the solutions. Both come from the combinations section of Informant 122, which I hope to review for you within a day or two.
The solutions are here, with some variations and comments added (prefaced with "DM") to the first position for clarity's sake.
[UPDATE: The solutions are now linked.]
Both can be found here, and in both cases it's White - Moiseenko - to play and win. (The second position can be accessed by means of the arrow above the board.) Solutions tomorrow, though I think many of you will successfully solve them on your own well before the follow-up post.
Evgeni Vasiukov (the victim of the famous "hippopotamus in the marsh" game) may not be the player he once was, but he's still pretty darned good. Although he is 81 years old, he still has a 2451 FIDE rating, and as such isn't a guy to be taken lightly. Of course, he can have his bad days - can't we all? - and when one's opponent plays as incisively as Miso Cebalo did in this game, disaster can strike.
(A P.S.: Vasiukov beat many great players, but to show that even in his older years he has remained a dangerous opponent check out this 2002 demolition job on Loek van Wely.)