Three Pawns for a Piece

This blog was going to feature the Dragon. But one of my correspondence games ended today (12-11-2019), and it inspired the following article.





Most players know a piece is equal to three pawns. Materially, this is even. The advantage, however, is to the side that is attacking.


In a line of the Najdorf Sozin, White sacrifices a piece for those three pawns. Despite some technical problems to solve, he usually does well.


The sacrifice begins with the moves 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bc4 e6 7.Bb3 b5 8.O-O Be7 9.Qf3 Bb7?! 10.Bxe6! fxe6 11.Nxe6.


This is White doing well.

E. Germany, 1989
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bc4 e6 7.Bb3 b5 8.O-O Be7 9.Qf3 Bb7 10.Bxe6 fxe6 11.Nxe6 Qc8 12.Nxg7+ Kd8 13.Nf5 Rf8 14.Bh6 Rf7 15.Qg3 Qe6 16.Rad1 Nh5 17.Qe3 Nd7 18.Bg5 Nhf6 19.Qg3 Ne5 20.f4 Ned7 21.Nxe7 1-0


Wallner (2075)-Pfaffel (1970)
Graz Ch., 1994
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bc4 e6 7.Bb3 b5 8.O-O Be7 9.Qf3 Bb7 10.Bxe6 fxe6 11.Nxe6 Qd7? [This is an error. Better is the more common 11.Qc8. You’ll find this same error (11…Qd7?) in some of the following games.] 12.Nxg7+ Kf7 13.Nf5 Nc6 14.Nd5 Ne5 15.Qg3 Bxd5 16.Qg7+ Ke8 17.Qxh8+ Bg8 18.Qg7 Nxe4 19.Qxg8+ 1-0


Guerrero Rodriguez (2130)-Frias Careaga (1399)
Mexico Ch.
Hermosillo, Mar. 29 2002
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bc4 e6 7.Bb3 b5 8.Qf3 Bb7 9.O-O Be7 10.Bxe6 fxe6 11.Nxe6 Qc8 12.Nxg7+ Kf7 13.Nf5 Nbd7

[13…b4?! doesn’t offer Black too much.

13…b4 14.Bg5 Rg8 15.Bxf6 Bxf6 16.Nxd6 Qxd6 17.Rad1 Bd4 18.Ne2 Nc6 19.Nxd4 Nxd4 20.Qe3 Kc8 21.Rxd4 Qg6 22.g3 a5 23.c3 Ra6 24.cxb4 axb4 25.Rc1+ Kb8 26.Rxb4 h5 27.a4 Re6 28.Qf4+ Ka8 29.Rc5 Rd8 30.Rxb7 Rd1+ 31.Kg2 Qxe4+ 32.Qxe4 Rxe4 33.Rh7 1-0 (N. Aliavdin (2377)-I. Lada (2130), Karkonosze Open A, Karpacz, Poland, Feb. 22 2011.]

14.Bg5 Qf8 15.Bh6 Qd8 16.Nd5 Bxd5 17.exd5 Nf8 18.Bg7 Ng6 19.Bxh8 Qxh8 20.Rae1 Ra7 21.Qe3 Rb7? (22.Qe5+ K~ 23.Qc8+ ~ 24.Qxb7) 1-0


Hengelo U10 Open, Aug. 4 2003
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bc4 b5 7.Bb3 e6 8.O-O Be7 9.Qf3 Bb7 10.Bxe6 fxe6 11.Nxe6 Qd7 12.Nxg7+ Kd8 13.Nf5 Rf8 14.Bg5 Qe8 15.Rad1 Kc7 16.Qd3 Qd7 17.e5 dxe5 18.Qxd7+ Nfxd7 19.Nxe7 Nc6 20.Ncd5+ Kb8 21.Nxc6+ Bxc6 22.Nb4 1-0


Atousa Pourkashiyan (2241)-Irine Kharisma Sukandar (2303)
Rapid Game
Women’s WMSG
Beijing, Oct. 6 2008
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bc4 e6 7.Bb3 Be7 8.O-O b5 9.Qf3 Bb7 10.Bxe6 fxe6 11.Nxe6 Qd7 12.Nxg7+ Kf7 13.Nf5 Qe6 14.Qh3 Bf8 15.Bh6 Rg8 16.Bxf8 Kxf8 17.Qh6+ Kf7 18.Qf4 Rd8 19.Rad1 Bc6 20.Nxd6+ Kg6 21.Rd3 h6 22.Nf5!


1-0 (White’s threat is aimed at h6. If 22…Rh8, then 23.Qg3+ does the trick.)


A. Danin (2570)-Gera Richter (2101)
Schloss Open
Werther, Germany, Mar. 24 2013
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bc4 e6 7.Bb3 b5 8.O-O Be7 9.Qf3 Bb7 10.Bxe6 fxe6 11.Nxe6 Qc8 12.Nxg7+ Kf7 13.Nf5 Nbd7 14.Qg3 Bf8 15.Nxd6+ Bxd6 16.Qxd6 Nxe4 17.Nxe4 Bxe4 18.Bg5 Qc6 19.Qe7+ Kg6 20.Rad1 Bd5 21.Bc1 Nf6 22.Rd3 Ne4 23.f4 Rhf8 24.g4 Bf7 25.Rh3 Kg7 26.Be3 Rae8 27.Qh4 h5 28.f5 Rg8 29.g5 Kf8 30.g6 Re5 31.Qf4 Qd5 32.Rxh5 Ke8 33.Rh4 Kd7 34.Rh7 Re7 35.Qf3 Ke8 36.Kh1 Nf2+ 37.Rxf2 Qxf3+ 38.Rxf3 Bd5 39.Rxe7+ Kxe7 40.Kg2 Kf6 41.Bd4+ Kg5 42.Kf2 Bxf3 43.Kxf3 Kxf5 44.g7 Re8 45.c3 Kg6 46.Kf4 Kh7 47.Be5 Rd8 48.Ke3 Rd5 49.Ke4 Rd2 50.c4 bxc4 51.Bd4 a5 52.a4 Rd1 53.Kd5 c3 54.bxc3 Rd2 55.c4 Rxh2 56.c5 Rh5+ 57.Kc4 Rh1 58.c6 Rh6 59.Kb5 Kg8 60.c7 1-0

Now Black does not have to take the offered bishop. He can simply decline the material. But he is still a pawn down and White has a budding attack.


This is White doing very well.


Germany U20 Ch.
Hamburg, 1993
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bc4 e6 7.Bb3 b5 8.O-O Be7 9.Qf3 Bb7 10.Bxe6 Qb6? (Black is lost. White can just play 11.Be3 and gain a tempo in every line.) 11.Be3 fxe6 12.Nxe6 Qc6 13.Nd5 Nbd7 14.Nxg7+ Kf7 15.Nf5 Bf8 16.Bd4 Ne5 17.Nh6+ 1-0


Najdorf Thematic, 2019
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bc4 e6 7.Bb3 b5 8.O-O Be7 9.Qf3 Bb7 10.Bxe6 Qb6? 11.Be3 fxe6 12.Nxe6 Qc6 13.Nxg7+ Kf8 14.Nf5 Nbd7 15.Nd5 Bd8 16.Bh6+ Kf7 17.Rfe1 Ne5 18.Qb3 [The computer suggests 18.Qa3! (hitting the d6 pawn) Nxd5 19.Nxd6+ Qxd6 20.Qxd6 Bc7 21.Qa3 Nf6 22.Qb3+ Kg6. But there is nothing wrong with the text move which is more direct.]



[Not 18…Qc5? due to 19.Nxf6+ Kxf6 20.Bg7+ Kg5 (20…Kg6? 21.Qe6+ Bf6 22.Qxf6+ Kh5 23.Qh6+ Kg4 24.h3#) 21.Qe6 and Black can’t fight off mate; 21…Qxf2+ 22.Kxf2 Ng4+ 23.Kg3 Bf6 24.Nxd6 Be5+ 25.Bxe5 Nxe5 26.h4+ Kh5 27.Qxe5+ Kg6 28.Qg5#, 21…Nf3+ 22.gxf3 Qxf2+ 23.Kxf2 Bb6+ 24.Ke2 h6 25.Bxh6+ Rxh6 26.Qxh6#, 21…Kf4 22.Bh6+ Bg5 23.Bxg5+ Kxg5 24.Qh6+ Kg4 25.h3#, 21…Bf6 22.Qxf6+ Kh5 23.Qh6+ Kg4 24.h3#, 21…Kg5 22.Qh6+ Kg4 23.h3#, 21…Kh5 22.Qh6+ Kg4 23.h3#.]

19.Rad1 Qd7 20.Rxd5 Bxd5 21.Qxd5+ 1-0 [Black resigned. He’s facing lines such as 21…Qe6 22.Nxd6+ (22…Kf6 23.Bg7+! +-) 22…Ke7 23.Nf5+ Kf6 24.Qxa8 Rg8 25.Bg7+ Rxg7 26.Nxg7 Kxg7 27.Qb7+ Kf6 28.Qxh7 Bb6 29.Qh6+ Ng6 30.e5+ Kf5 31.Qh5+.]


A Gambit in the Dutch

The opening 1…f5 can be played against 1.d4, where it is known as the Dutch Defence. Against 1.c4, it is known as the Anglo Dutch. Against 1.Nf3, it is known as the Reti Dutch. And against 1.e4, it is known as bad move.


Nevertheless, the move 1…f5 leads to many tactical tangles with Black having a fair chance at emerging victorious.

The sequence 1.d4 f5 is the most common way for Black to play the Dutch. It is this approach we will look at now.


White has several ways to reply to Black’s aggressive move. He can play 2.Nc3, 2.Nf3, 2.Bg5 (stronger than one might suppose), 2.g3 (a safe, positional approach), and 3.c4 (a classical reply).


But he also has a gambit he can attempt; the Staunton (1.d4 f5 2.e4!?).


Black almost has to take the pawn. Otherwise White has a greater control of the center and declining the pawn can also easily lead to bad positions from the transposition of other openings.

Amsterdam, 1923
[Notes by ECO and Euwe]
1.d4 f5 2.e4 d6 3.exf5 Bxf5 4.Qf3 Qc8 5.Bd3 Bxd3 6.Qxd3 Nc6 7.Nf3 e6 8.O-O Qd7 9.c4 O-O-O 10.Re1 Nf6 +/- (10…e5 11.Nc3 +/-) 11.Bd2 Re8 12.Na3 Be7 13.b4 Rhf8 14.b5 Nd8 15.Nc2 Nh5 16.a4 g5 17.a5! +/-


Eloy Cantero Ramon (2078)-Jose Munoz Izcua
Montevideo, 1954
[A slight transposition occurs in the first two moves. If you really want, you can assume 1.d4 f5 2.e4 d6? were the moves played.]
1.e4 d6 2.d4 f5 3.Bd3! Nc6 4.exf5 Nxd4 5.Qh5+ g6 6.fxg6 Nf6 7.g7+ Nxh5 8.gxh8=Q Nf6 9.Bh6 Ne6 10.Bf5 Bd7 11.Qxh7 Ng7 12.Qg6mate 1-0


Lidia Semenova (2280)-Olga Ignatieva (2135)
USSR Team Ch.
Riga, 1954
[The first four moves are from the Tarrasch French; 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 f5?!]
1.d4 e6 2.Nd2 f5 3.e4 d5 4.exf5 exf5 5.Ngf3 Nf6 6.Bd3 Bd6 7.O-O O-O 8.Ne5 c5 9.c3 c4 10.Bc2 Qc7 11.Ndf3 b5 12.Re1 a5 13.Nh4 g6 14.Bh6 Re8 15.Qd2 Ne4 16.Bxe4 dxe4 17.f4 Be6 18.Qe3 Nd7 19.Qg3 Nf8 20.Re3 Bxe5 21.fxe5 Qf7 22.Rf1 Qd7 23.Qg5 Qd8 24.Qf4 b4 25.Bg5 Qc7 26.Bf6 Nd7 27.Qh6 Nxf6 28.exf6 Qf7 29.Rg3 Qf8 30.Qg5 Qf7 31.Nxf5 Bxf5 32.Rxf5 bxc3 33.bxc3 Rab8 34.h4 Kh8 35.Re5 Rxe5 36.dxe5 Rb1+ 37.Kh2 Qd7 38.Qh6 Rb8 39.Rxg6 Rg8 40.Rxg8+ Kxg8 41.Qg5+ 1-0

So, Black usually takes the pawn. White can respond a number of ways. One good try is 4.Bg5!?

Kiev, Mar. 2 1914
1.d4 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 c6 5.f3 exf3 (Probably better is 5…Qb6.) 6.Nxf3 e6 7.Bd3 d5 8.O-O Nbd7 9.Ne5 Be7 10.Bxf6 Bxf6

11.Qh5+ Ke7 (11…g6? 12.Bxg6+! hxg6 13.Qxg6+ Ke7 14.Rxf6 Nxf6 5.Qg7+ Kd6 16.Nf7+) 12.Bxh7 Nf8 13.Qf7+ Kd6 14.Nc4+ dxc4 15.Ne4+ Kd5 16.Rf5+ Kxe4 17.Re1+ Kxd4 18.c3+ Kd3 19.Rd5mate 1-0


Rotterdam, 1920
1.d4 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 g6 5.f3 exf3 6.Nxf3 Bg7 7.Bd3 c5 8.d5 Qb6 9.Qd2 Qxb2 10.Rb1 Nxd5 11.Nxd5 Qxb1+ 12.Kf2 Qxh1 13.Bxe7 d6 14.Bxd6 Nc6 15.Bb5 Bd7 16.Bxc6 Bxc6 17.Qe2+ 1-0


Croatia Ch., 1995
1.d4 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 c6 5.f3 exf3 6.Nxf3 d5 7.Bd3 g6 8.Ne5 Qb6 9.Qe2 Qxb2 10.O-O! Qxc3 11.Bxf6 Rg8 12.Qf2! Nd7 13.Bxe7! Kxe7 14.Nxd7 Kxd7 15.Qf7+ Be7 16.Qxg8 Qxd4+ 17.Kh1 Qh4 18.Rae1 Kd6 19.g3 Qg5 20.Qe8 d4 21.h4 Qd5+ 22.Kh2 1-0

White also has 4.f3, paralleling the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit (BDG).

It is usually not in Black’s interest to immediately take the pawn, as these games illustrate.


London, 1899
1.d4 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 d5 6.Bd3 Bg4 7.O-O Nc6 8.Ne2 Bxf3 9.gxf3 Qd7 10.c3 e5 11.Bb5 Bd6 12.dxe5 Bxe5 13.f4 Bd6 14.Nd4 O-O 15.Kh1 a6 16.Bxc6 bxc6 17.f5 Rae8 18.Bg5 Be5 19.Ne6 Rf7 20.Bh4 Ne4 21.Qh5 c5 22.Rae1 Bf6 23.Rf4 Bxh4 24.Rxh4 Nf6 25.Qf3 Qd6 26.Rg1 c6 27.Ng5 Rfe7 28.Nxh7 Re1 29.Nxf6+ Qxf6 30.Rhg4 Rxg1+ 31.Rxg1 Re5 32.Rg6 Re1+ 33.Kg2 Qe5 34.Re6 Qxe6 35.fxe6 Rxe6 36.Qf5 Re2+ 37.Kg3 Rxb2 38.Qc8+ Kh7 39.Qxc6 1-0

corres., 1983
1.d4 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 d5 6.Ne5 Nbd7 7.Bd3 e6 8.Bg5 Be7 9.O-O O-O 10.Qe2 c5 11.Ng6 hxg6 12.Qxe6+ Kh8 13.Rf3 Nb6 14.Rh3+ Nh5 15.Qxg6 Kg8 16.Rxh5 Bxg5 17.Rh8+ Kxh8 18.Qh7mate 1-0


corres., 1988
1.d4 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 e6 6.Bd3 Bb4 7.O-O Bxc3 8.bxc3 d5 9.Ng5 Qd7 10.Nxh7 Rxh7 11.Bxh7 Nxh7 12.Qh5+ g6 13.Qxg6+ Kd8 14.Rf7 Qxf7 15.Qxf7 Bd7 16.Qxh7 1-0


corres., 1988
1.d4 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 g6 6.Bd3 Bg7 7.Ng5 O-O 8.O-O d6 9.Nce4 Nxe4 10.Bxe4 Nc6 11.c3 Bd7 12.Rxf8+ Qxf8 13.Nxh7 Kxh7 14.Qh5+ Kg8 15.Bxg6 Qf6 16.Bg5 Qe6 17.Qh7+ Kf8 18.Rf1+ Bf6 19.Bh6mate 1-0


Instead, Black can try moves such as 4…Nc6 or 4..d5. While these moves are not a panacea, they do offer Black better chances than simply taking the f3-pawn and be defending the rest of the game.


USSR, 1951
1.d4 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 Nc6 5.fxe4 e5 6.dxe5 Nxe5 7.Nf3 d6 8.Bf4 Nxf3+ 9.Qxf3 Bg4 10.Qf2 Be7 11.Bc4 c6 12.h3 Bh5 13.g4 Bg6 14.O-O-O Rf8 15.Qg3 Nxg4 16.Bxd6 Nf2 17.Bxe7 Qxe7 18.Nb5 cxb5 19.Bxb5+ Kf7 20.Qb3+ Qe6 21.Bc4 1-0


Havana, 1965
1.d4 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 Nc6 5.fxe4 e5 6.dxe5 Nxe5 7.Nf3 Bd6 8.Bg5 h6 9.Bh4 O-O 10.Nd5 Nxf3+ 11.gxf3 Be7 12.Nxe7+ Qxe7 13.Qd2 d5 14.O-O-O dxe4 15.fxe4 Qxe4 16.Bxf6 Rxf6 17.Bg2 Qe8 18.Rhe1 Qf8 19.Qd5+ Kh8 20.Qd8 Bg4 21.Qxf8+ Raxf8 22.Rd4 Bc8 23.Re7 c6 24.h4 Kg8 25.h5 R6f7 26.Rxf7 Kxf7 27.Kd2 Kf6 28.Ke3 Kg5 29.Bf3 Bf5 30.c3 Re8+ 31.Kf2 Re7 32.b4 Rd7 33.Rc4 Be6 34.Re4 Bxa2 35.Re5+ Kf4 36.Ra5 Rd2+ 37.Ke1 Rh2 38.Be2 Be6 39.Bf1 Ra2 0-1


corres., 1975
1.d4 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 Nc6 5.fxe4 e5 6.dxe5 Nxe5 7.Nf3 Bd6 8.Nb5 Nxf3+ 9.Qxf3 Be5 10.Bf4 Qe7 11.O-O-O Kd8 12.Qg3 Re8 13.Bxe5 Qxe5 14.Qxg7 Nxe4 15.Qxe5 Rxe5 16.Bc4 c6 17.Nd6 Nxd6 18.Rxd6 h5 19.Rhd1 Kc7 20.Bf7 Re2 21.Bxh5 Rxg2 22.h3 Rg8 23.Bg4 a5 24.a4 Rh8 25.c4 Ra6 26.Rg6 Rb6 27.Kc2 Rb4 28.b3 d5 29.cxd5 cxd5 30.Rxd5 Bxg4 31.Rxg4 Rxh3 32.Rc5+ Kd6 33.Rxb4 axb4 34.Rb5 Rh2+ 35.Kd1 Rh1+ 36.Ke2 Rh2+ 37.Kf1 Rh1+ 38.Kg2 Rh7 39.Rxb4 Rf7 1/2-1/2


Ed Lasker-Alekhine
London, 1913, Game 3
1.d4 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 d5 5.fxe4 dxe4 6.Bg5 Bf5 7.Qe2 Nc6 8.Bxf6 exf6 9.O-O-O Bd6 10.Nxe4 O-O 11.Nxd6 cxd6 12.Qf2 Qa5 13.Bc4+ Kh8 14.Ne2 Nb4 15.Bb3 Rac8 16.Nc3 Bg6 17.Rhf1 b5 18.Rd2 Nd3+ 19.Rxd3 Bxd3 20.Rd1 b4 21.Rxd3 bxc3 22.Kb1 Rfe8 23.bxc3 Rxc3 24.Qd2 Rxb3+ 25.cxb3 Qf5 26.Kb2 Qf1 27.Re3 Rxe3 28.Qxe3 Qxg2+ 29.Ka3 h6 30.Qe6 Qc6 31.h4 h5 32.Qf7 Qe4 33.Qf8+ Kh7 34.Qxd6 Qxh4 35.d5 Qe4 36.Qc5 Qe5 37.b4 h4 38.d6 h3 39.Qc2+ f5 40.d7 h2 41.d8=Q h1=Q 42.Qc4 Qhe4 43.Qdg8+ Kh6 44.Qa6+ Kg5 45.Qxa7 Qc3+ 46.Qb3 Qexb4mate 1-0


Minsk, 1952
1.d4 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 d5 5.Bg5 Bf5 6.fxe4 dxe4 7.Bc4 Nc6 8.Nge2 Qd7 9.O-O e6 10.d5 exd5 11.Nxd5 O-O-O 12.Nxf6 Bc5+ 13.Kh1 Qxd1 14.Raxd1 Rxd1 15.Rxd1 gxf6 16.Bxf6 Rf8 17.Rf1 Bg6 18.Ng3 Nb4 19.c3 Nd3 20.Bd4 Rxf1+ 21.Nxf1 Bxd4 22.cxd4 Nxb2 23.Be2 Kd7 24.Kg1 Nd3 25.Bxd3 exd3 26.Kf2 Kc6 27.Ke3 Kb5 28.g4 Kb4 29.h4 h6 30.h5 Bh7 31.Kf4 Kc3 32.Ke5 d2 33.Nxd2 Kxd2 34.Kf6 Ke3 35.Kg7 Bb1 36.Kxh6 Kf4 37.g5 Bxa2 38.Kg6 Bf7+ 39.Kh6 Kg4 40.g6 Bd5 0-1


Yugoslavia, 1976
1.d4 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 d5 5.fxe4 dxe4 6.Bc4 Nc6 7.Nge2 e5 8.Bg5 Nxd4 9.O-O Bg4 10.Qe1 Bxe2 11.Nxe2 Qd6 12.Rd1 Qc5 13.Nxd4 Qxc4 14.Nf5 Rd8 15.Bxf6 gxf6 16.Qh4 Rxd1 17.Rxd1 Qf7 18.Qxe4 Qg6 19.Qd3 Bc5+ 20.Kh1 Rg8 21.Qd7+ Kf8 22.Qd8+ 1-0


Italy, 1992
1.d4 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 d5 5.fxe4 dxe4 6.Bg5 Bf5 7.Bc4 Nc6 8.Nge2 Qd7 9.d5 Na5 10.Bb5 c6 11.dxc6 Qxd1+ 12.Rxd1 bxc6 13.Ba4 Rc8 14.Bxf6 gxf6 15.Rd5 1-0


B. Miller-M. White
CCLA Team Ch., 1995
1.d4 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 d5 5.fxe4 dxe4 6.Bg5 Bf5 7.Bc4 Nc6 8.Nge2 e6 9.O-O Qd7 10.Qe1 O-O-O 11.Rd1 Na5 12.b3 Bb4 13.a3 Nxc4 14.axb4 Nb6 15.Ng3 Bg4 16.Rd2 Nbd5 17.Ncxe4 Rdf8 18.Rdf2 Kb8 19.c4 1-0



An Introduction to Chess Poetry



Many poems and the like have been written about chess. They range from the simple to the epic, from the silly to the serious, and can include the profound and philosophical.


We’ll start with the simple, and sometimes, silly limerick.





The first two are from NM Bill Wall.



There once was a player from Maine,
Who played chess on a fast train.
He took a move back
And was thrown off the track,
And he never played chess again.



Postal chess is still played today
And no reason why I shouldn’t play.
It is nice and slow,
And I can use my ECO,
It’s the postage I can’t afford to pay.


With the Internet now, you don’t have to pay postage.



Here’s an old classic, first appearing in Chess Potpourri by Alfred C. Klahre (Middletown, 1931). It’s titled, “The Solver’s Plight


There was a man from Vancouver
Who tried to solve a two-mover;
But the boob, he said, ‘“Gee”,
I can’t find the “Kee”,
No matter HOW I manouvre.’

Like most people, I also prefer original material, always searching for something new.

A short poem that perfectly illustrates the frustrations of that search.
Some Editors – pretend to edit –
Use scissors and paste and give no credit.

(Columbia Chess Chronicle, 20 August 1887, page 66.)


Another short one. This one is slightly whimsical and yet, very accurate.


Chess is such a noble game,
How it does the soul inflame!
Ever brilliant, ever new,
Surely chess has not its due;
Sad to say, ’tis known to few!


Poem written by W. Harris and printed in the book, “A Complete Guide to the Game of Chess”(1882).


By The Way (or BTW in Internet lingo), the poem is also an acrostic. We’ll let you figure it out! =)



For another poem that is simply a delight, here is one by Alan Hall and printed in CHESS POST, Volume 33, No. 3 (or the June 1995 issue).


The Game of Chess


A poem about chess? Well, there’s an idea.
Hopefully this one will be one to hear.
What of the pieces? I’ll take them in turn.
And try to tell how each it’s living does earn.
The pawns can move straight or diagonally
Depending on whether it’s taking, you see.
Next comes the bishop – it moves across,
Of diagonals it is the boss.
Then there is the knight – some call it a horse
From its siblings it pursues a quite different
One square diagonally, then one straight.
It’s so crafty, you start to hate
It when you’ve lost to its smothered mate.
Stronger still than all these is rook.
If you’ve got two of them, you’re in luck.
The you may even beat the might queen.
A rook and bishop combined, she reigns

Last, but not least, is the humble king.
When you’ve mated him, you can sing.
Well, that’s all the pieces that make this game
of chess.


The playing of which can bring happiness.




We’ll end here with an appropriate form of poetry; the epitaph.


Surprisingly, chess epitaphs are more common than you might believe. Here is the best on I could find. It was written by Lord Dunsany (who was a chess player among many other inspired pursuits) and it was for Capablanca, first published in the June 1942 issue of CHESS (pg. 131).


Now rests a mind as keen,
A vision bright and clear
As any that has been
And who is it lies here?
One that, erstwhile, no less
Than Hindenburg could plan,
But played his game of chess
And did no harm to man.


If we could only aspire to be so talented and noble.



Here’s two games related to the poems, or rather the poets that created them.


Jim Murray (1876)-Alan Hall (1746)
Isle of Man Open – Major, Sept. 26 2017
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5!? (The Budapest is a surprising response for Mr. Hall, who regularly employs more solid and safe openings such as the London System. Nevertheless, he makes a fair attempt at winning the game.) 3.dxe5 Ng4 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.e3 Ngxe5 6.Be2 Bb4+ 7.Bd2 Bxd2+ 8.Qxd2 d6?! (Black usually plays either 8…O-O or 8…Nxf3+. The text move allows White to simplify with 9.Nxe5!? dxe5 10.Qxd8+.) 9.O-O Be6 10.b3 O-O 11.Nc3 h6 12.Rad1 Qd7 13.Nxe5 Nxe5 14.f4 Ng6 15.e4 f5 16.e5 Rfd8 17.Qe3 Qe7 18.Bh5 Nh8 19.Nd5 Bxd5 20.cxd5 g6 21.Be2 a6 22.g4 Rf8 23.Kh1 Rae8 24.e6 c6 25.gxf5 Rxf5 26.dxc6 bxc6 27.Bg4 Rf6 28.Qd3 Ref8 29.Qxd6 Qxd6 30.Rxd6 g5 31.Rd7 Ng6 32.f5 Ne5 33.Rd4 Nxg4 34.Rxg4 Rxf5 35.Rxf5 Rxf5 36.Rc4 c5 37.Ra4 Kf8 38.Rxa6 Ke7 39.Kg2 h5 40.a4 Re5 41.Kf2 g4 42.Rc6 h4 43.a5 Rf5+ 44.Kg2 Rd5 45.a6 Rd2+ 46.Kg1 Rd1+ 47.Kf2 Rd2+ 48.Kg1 1/2-1/2


Capablanca-Lord Dunsany
Selfridges, London, Apr. 12 1929
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 b5 5.Bb3 Nf6 6.Ng5 d5 7.exd5

[After 7…Nxd5 8.Nxf7 Kxf7 9.Qf3+ Ke6 10.Nc3 Nce7 11.d4, we reach a position very similar to the Fried Liver Attack. Capablanca decided not to play into it. Apparently he remembered this game:

Capablanca-Pagliano & Elias
Consultation Game
Buenos Aires, June 1911
7.exd5 Nxd5 8.Nxf7 Kxf7 9.Qf3+ Ke6 10.Nc3 Nce7 11.d4 Bb7 12.Bg5 c6 13.O-O-O h6 14.Ne4 Qc7 15.Nc5+ Kd6 16.dxe5+ Kxc5 17.Be3+ Kb4 18.Bd2+ Kc5 19.Bxd5 Nxd5 20.Be3+ Kb4 21.Bd2+ Kc5 22.Be3+ Kb4 23.a3+ Ka4 24.b3+ Kxa3 25.Bd2 Bb4 26.c3 Qxe5 27.Kc2 Bxc3 28.Bxc3 Nxc3 29.Rhe1 Qc5 30.Qxc3 Qxf2+ 31.Rd2 Qf5+ 32.Kc1 Qf6 33.Qa5+ Kxb3 34.Re3+ Kc4 35.Rc2+ Kd5 36.Qd2+ Qd4 37.Rd3 c5 38.Rxd4+ cxd4 39.Qd3 Rab8 40.Qf5+ Kd6 41.Qc5+ Ke6 42.Re2+ Kf7 43.Re7+ Kg8 44.Rxb7 Rxb7 45.Qd5+ Kh7 46.Qe4+ Kg8 47.Qxb7 Kh7 48.Qe4+ Kg8 49.Qxd4 Kh7 50.Qe4+ Kg8 51.Qa8+ 1-0.]

7…Ne7 8.d6 Ned5 9.dxc7 Qxc7 10.Nc3 Bb7 11.a4 b4 12.Nxd5 Bxd5 13.Bxd5 Nxd5 14.O-O Be7 15.d4 O-O 16.dxe5 Qxe5 17.Re1 Qd6 18.Ne4 Qc6 19.Bg5 Bxg5 20.Nxg5 Rac8 21.Qf3 Nf6 22.Re2 h6 23.Qxc6 Rxc6 24.Nf3 a5 25.Nd4 Rc5 26.Nb3 Rd5 27.Rae1 Nd7 28.Re4 Nb6 29.Re5 Rfd8 30.Rxd5 Rxd5 31.Kf1 Nxa4 1/2-1/2


Blindfold Games


blindfold+ Chess_Board_Start


In a blindfold game, at least one of the players is not allowed to see the board. Most of the time, however, this means one player is playing a simul of which he cannot see either the boards or the players. And while the term “blindfold” may imply that the said player is wearing a blindfold, he does not. Instead, he would usually have his back turned to the players and boards, calling out his moves to the game.


A “caller” would then announce the moves of the other players while a “referee” would make the moves on the boards on behalf of the blindfold player.


If a blindfold is used, it is usually to amuse the participants. After all, such blindfold feats are performed for amusement, amazement, and enjoyment for the participants and promotion of the game.

Here are some of my favorites.


Blindfold Simul
Birmingham, Aug. 27 1858
[J. Lowenthal]
1.e4 h6 2.d4 a5 3.Bd3 b6 4.Ne2 e6 5.O-O Ba6 (This series of unusual moves was no doubt adopted with the view of embarrassing the blindfold player, in place of which it served to allow him to bring out his pieces and secure victory in a shorter space of time.) 6.c4 Nf6 7.e5 Nh7 8.f4 Be7 9.Ng3 d5 10.Qg4 O-O 11.Nh5 g5 12.fxg5 hxg5 (Black has indeed placed himself in a deplorable condition in vainly attempting to puzzle his antagonist.) 13.Bxh7+ (Nf6+ would also have led to a speedy termination.) 13…Kh8 14.Nf6 dxc4 15.Bc2 Qxd4+ 16.Qxd4 Bc5 17.Qxc5 bxc5 18.Bxg5 Nc6 19.Rf3 (Threatening mate in two moves.) 19…Kg7 20.Bh6+ Kxh6 21.Rh3+ Kg5 22.Rh5+ Kf4 23.Kf2 (Terminating the game in masterly style, and giving it an interest, from the nature of the opening, which we had not looked.) 1-0


Blindfold Game, 1880
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.O-O d5 6.exd5 (This move opens the game too much for Black. Safer is 5…d6.) 5…Nxd5 7.Nxd4 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Be6 9.Re1 c6 10.Nc3 Nxc3 11.Qxc3 Qd7 12.Bg5 Be7 13.Rad1 Qc8 14.Qxg7 +-

14…Bxg5 15.Qxh8+ Ke7 16.Qg7 Qg8 17.Rxe6mate 1-0


Casual game
London, 1884
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ (Note – I used to call this the Kentucky opening. For a while after its introduction it was greatly favored by certain players, but they soon grew tired of it.) 6…g6 7.Qxe5 d6 (Not to be outdone in generosity.) 8.Qxh8 Qh4 9.O-O Nf6 10.c3 Ng4 11.h3 Bxf2+ 12.Kh1 Bf5! 13.Qxa8

13…Qxh3+ 14.gxh3 Bxe4mate 0-1


Blindfold Exhibition, 1885
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Nxd5 6.Nxf7 Kxf7 7.Qf3+ Ke6 8.Nc3 Ne7 9.d4 h6 10.O-O c6 11.dxe5 Nf5 12.Rd1 Ne7 13.Be3 b6 14.Rd2 Bb7 15.Rad1 Qd7 16.Qh3+ Nf5 17.Nxd5 cxd5 18.Bxd5+ Bxd5 19.Rxd5 Qc7 20.Qg4 g5 21.Qe4 Be7 22.Rd6+ Kf7 23.Qxf5+ Ke8 24.Rd7 Rd8 25.e6 Rxd7 26.Rxd7 Qxd7 27.exd7+ 1-0


H. Mela Jr.-Franco de Freitas
Blindfold Simul – 2 boards, 1996
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Nxd5 6.Nxf7 Kxf7 7.Qf3+ Ke6 8.Nc3 Nb4 9.Qe4 a6 10.d4 c6 11.a3 Qa5 12.axb4 Qxa1 13.Nxd5 Qxc1+ 14.Ke2 Qxh1 15.Qxe5+ Kd7 16.Qc7+ Ke8 17.Nf6+ gxf6 18.Bf7mate 1-0


Blindfold Game
Odessa, 1918
1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 c6 4.Qe2 Be7 5.f4 d5 6.exd5 exf4 7.Bxf4 O-O 8.Nd2 cxd5 9.Bb3 a5 10.c3 a4 11.Bc2 a3 12.b3? (White creates a fundamental weakness in his castled position. But what else can he do? If he doesn’t play this move, then Black can put tremendous pressure on his queenside with moves like …Qa5, …Be6, and White is forced to play defence for the rest of the game.) 12…Re8 13.O-O-O Bb4 14.Qf2 Bxc3 15.Bg5 Nc6 16.Ngf3 d4! (Black entombs the king. The rest of the game is a completion of the task – which Alekhine does in a most spectacular way.) 17.Rhe1 Bb2+ 18.Kb1

18…Nd5! (The Queen is offered for the first time.) 19.Rxe8+ (Naturally 19.Bxd8 fails to 19…Nc3#) 19…Qxe8 20.Ne4 Qxe4! (The second offer!) 21.Bd2 Qe3 (The third offer!) 22.Re1 (Now White gets into the act!) 22…Bf5 23.Rxe3 dxe3 24.Qf1 exd2 25.Bd1 Ncb4! (And White finally realizes that he cannot stop Nc3#) 0-1


Blindfold Simul
Odessa, 1916
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.exd5 Nxd5 (The more modern move is 5…exd5.) 5.Ne4 f5? 6.Ng5 Be7 7.N5f3 c6 8.Ne5 O-O 9.Ngf3 b6 10.Bd3 Bb7 11.O-O Re8 12.c4 Nf6 13.Bf4 Nbd7 14.Qe2 c5

15.Nf7!! Kxf7 (15…Qc8 16.Qxe6 and White threatens 17.Nh6+, with mate to follow.) 16.Qxe6+!! (He goes there anyway!) 16…Kg6 (16…Kxe6 17.Ng5#) 17.g4 Be4 18.Nh4mate 1-0


George Koltanowski-Enrique Garcia
Blindfold Simul
Havana, 1939
1.e4 c5 2.b4!? (Koltanowski used the Wing Gambit against unsuspecting opponents in simuls. He knew the theory; they usually didn’t. This game is an example.) 2…e6 3.bxc5 Bxc5 4.d4 Bb4+ 5.c3 Be7 6.Bd3 Nf6 7.Ne2 Nc6 8.O-O O-O 9.f4 d6 10.h3 Re8 11.Nd2 Bf8 12.Nf3 d5 13.e5 Ne4 14.Qc2 f5 15.exf6 gxf6 16.Bxe4 dxe4 17.Qxe4 f5 18.Qb1 Re7 19.Ba3 Rg7 20.Bxf8 Kxf8 21.Qb3 Na5 22.Qb4+ Kg8 23.Nc1 Qd5 24.Nd3 b6 25.Rf2 Bb7 26.Re1 h6 27.Nde5 Kh7 28.Qb1 Kh8 29.Kh2 Nc4 30.Nxc4 Qxc4 31.Qb3 Bd5 32.Qxc4 Bxc4 33.Ne5 Bd5 34.g4 Rag8 35.c4 Be4 36.Re3 Rd8 37.Rd2 Rdg8 38.d5 exd5 39.cxd5 Rc7 40.d6 1-0


George Koltanowski-Humphrey Bogart (yes, that Bogart!)
Blindfold Exhibition
San Francisco, 1952
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.Bd3 Nf6 5.Ne2

[This is a tricky position. White varied with the seemingly better 5.Bg5, but lost after 5…Bd6 6.Ne2 O-O 7.Nbc3 c6 8.Qd2 b5 9.O-O Bg4 10.Rae1 Nbd7 11.Nd1 Qc7 12.Ng3 Rfe8 13.c3 Ne4 14.Nxe4 Bxh2+ 15.Kh1 dxe4 16.Bxe4 Qd6 17.Qd3 Bf4 18.Bxf4 Qxf4 19.Bxh7+ Kf8 20.Be4 Re6 (White has a problem – how does he stop 21.Rh6+?) 21.Bf3 Rh6+ (He doesn’t.) 0-1 (Garcia Galan Ruiz-Ortega Gonzalez (1905), Malaga Open, Spain, Feb. 23 2010).]

5…Bg4 6.O-O Bd6 7.f3 Be6 8.Bf4 O-O 9.Nd2 Nc6 10.c3 Ne7 11.Bxd6 Qxd6 12.f4 c5 13.Nf3 Nf5 14.Qd2 Ne4 15.Qc1 Rac8 16.dxc5 Qxc5+ 17.Ned4 Nxd4 18.Nxd4 Rc7 19.f5 Bd7 20.Bxe4 dxe4 21.Qf4 Re8 22.Rae1 Re5 23.Rxe4 Rxe4 24.Qxe4 Bc6 25.Qe3 (White has the advantage due to the open lines.)

25…Re7 26.Qg3 Re8 27.f6 g6 28.Qh4 h5 29.Re1 Rxe1+ 30.Qxe1 Qd6 31.Nxc6 Qxc6 32.Qe7 Qc8 33.h3 Qc6 34.b4 Qxc3 35.Qe8+ Kh7 36.Qxf7+ Kh6 37.Qe7 Qc1+ 38.Kf2 (The game is drawn after 38.Kh2?? Qf4+.) 38…Qf4+ 39.Ke2 Qc4+ 40.Kf3 Kg5 41.f7+ 1-0

Lesser GM?

Like most chess players I am a fan of some of the greats; namely Fischer, Alekhine, and Tal.


But I also enjoy the lesser known greats, those IMs and GMs who occasionally can take an original route in the opening, explore what is there to find, and promote original theory.


One of those is the Finnish GM, Jouni Yrjola. He won his country’s championship in 1985 and 1988. And his flair for unexplored openings didn’t prevent him from earning the IM title (1984) or the GM title (1990).


More importantly, at least to this blogger, is that today is his birthday.


Happy Birthday Jouni!



Here is Yrjola, playing against a former World Champion.


IM Jouni Yrjola-GM Mikhail Tal
TV exhibition game, 1986
1.d4 e6 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 c6 5.Bg5 dxc4 6.e4 b5 7.e5 h6 8.Bh4 g5 9.Nxg5 hxg5 10.Bxg5 Nbd7 11.g3!? (Unusual. More common is 11.exf6. Perhaps Yrjola didn’t want to get into a tactical tussle with a Tal.) 11…Rg8 12.h4 Rxg5 13.hxg5 Nd5 14.Qh5 Nxc3 15.bxc3 Qa5 16.Rc1 Ba3 17.Rc2 Qa4 18.Kd1! (Effectively closing off the White’s queenside. Now Black must worry about his kingside.)
18…Nf8 19.Qf3 Bb7 20.Rh8 Be7 (Black wants to castle queenside but first he needs to shore up his defenses on the kingside.) 21.Bh3 Bxg5? 22.Bxe6! 1-0



IM Julian Hodgson (2480)-IM Jouni Yrjola (2425)
Tallinn, Estonia, Apr. 8 1987
1.e4 c5 2.f4!? (The Grand Prix Attack, a very popular way of meeting the Sicilian around this time.) 3…d5 (A strong defence, and one that almost put the Grand Prix out of business.) 3.exd5 Nf6 4.Bb5+ Nbd7 5.c4 a6 6.Ba4 b5 7.cxb5 Nxd5 8.Nf3 g6!? (The fianchetto on Black’s kingside usually leads to unbalanced games, perfect for both Hodgson and Yrjola.) 9.Nc3 N5b6


[This game, heading rapidly into more craziness, now forms theory.


Vladislav Zernyshkin (2319)-Yuri Yakovich (2539), Lev Polugaevsky Memorial, Samara, Russia, July 9 2011, continued with 10.d4 Bg7 11.Bc2 cxd4 12.Nxd4 O-O 13.O-O axb5 14.Ndxb5 Ba6 15.Bd3 Nc5 16.Be2 Nba4 17.Qc2 Nxc3 18.Nxc3 Qd4+ 19.Kh1 Nd3 20.h3 Rfd8 21.a4 Bc4 22.Ra3 Nb4 23.Qb1 Bd3 24.Bxd3 Nxd3 25.Qc2 e6 26.Nb5 Qe4 27.Nc3 Qc4 28.Qe2 Qb4 29.Na2 Nxc1 30.Nxc1 Bxb2 31.Rb3 Qd2 32.Rxb2 Qxe2 33.Nxe2 Rxa4 34.Rc1 Rd7 35.Kg1 e5 36.fxe5 Re4 37.Rc5 Re7 38.Kf2 R4xe5 39.Rxe5 Rxe5 40.Ng1 h5 41.Nf3 Re7 42.Ng1 Kg7 43.Kf3 Ra7 44.Rb3 Ra5 45.h4 Ra4 46.g3 Ra7 47.Nh3 Re7 48.Ng5 Kg8 49.Re3 Ra7 50.Ke4 Kg7 51.Kd5 Kf6 52.Kc6 Kf5 53.Kd6 f6 54.Ne4 g5 1/2-1/2]


10.d4 Nxa4 11.Qxa4 Bg7 12.Be3 Nb6 13.Qa5 O-O 14.O-O-O axb5 15.Qxb5 Ba6 16.Qxc5 Nc4! (Black has penetrated White’s position and his knight will prove to be impossible to dislodge.) 17.Rhe1 Qb8! (Forcing the next move.) 18.b3 Rc8! (White’s queen is trapped. Hodgson grabs the best deal he can make for his queen …) 19.Qxc8+ Bxc8 (…and then promptly resigns.) 0-1



GM Jonny Hector (2535)-GM Jouni Yrjola (2460)
Nordic Ch.
Ostersund, Sweden, Aug. 1992
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Bc4 O-O 9.Qe2 Bd7 10.O-O-O Na5 11.Bd3 (11.Bb3!?) 11…Rc8 12.h4 Rxc3 13.bxc3 Qc7 14.Qe1 d5 15.e5 Qxe5 16.Nb3 Nc6 17.g4 h5 18.g5 Ne8 19.Bd4 Nxd4 20.cxd4 Qd6 (Black could, of course, play 20…Qxd1 21.Rhd1, but that kills his play and he has to respond with 22…e6, which further limits his play. On 20…Qd6, his queen can at least travel to a3 and say “Boo!” Forgive this jest- it’s close to Halloween.) 21.Qc3 b6 22.Rhe1 Nc7 23.Rxe7 Ne6 24.Rxe6 Bxe6 25.Qd2 Rc8 26.c3 a5 27.Kb1 a4 28.Nc1 b5 29.Ne2 Rb8 30.Qf4 Bf8 31.Qxd6 Bxd6 32.Kc2 b4 33.cxb4 Rxb4 34.Rb1 Rxb1 35.Kxb1 Kg7 36.Kc2 f6 37.gxf6+ Kxf6 38.Kd2 g5 39.hxg5+ Kxg5 40.Ke3 h4 41.Nc3 h3 42.Bf1 Kh4 43.Kf2 a3 44.Nb5 Be7 45.Bd3 Bf6 46.Be2 Bd7 47.f4 Bg7 48.Bd3 Kg4 49.f5 Kf4 50.Kg1 Kg3 51.Kh1 Be8 52.Be2 Bd7 53.Bd3 Bf6 54.Nc3 Bc6 55.Ne2+ Kf3 56.Kh2 Ke3 57.Ba6 Bd7 58.Kxh3 Bxf5+ 59.Kg2 Be4+ 60.Kf1 Bxd4 61.Nxd4 Kxd4
(Here, Black’s king is more centralized than White’s and he has an extra pawn. But it’s a draw as White can block the queening of the center pawn and Black’s other pawn is on a rook’s file, Right? Wrong!) 62.Ke1 Bb1 63.Kd2 Bxa2 64.Kc2 Kc5 65.Bb7 d4 66.Be4 Kb4 67.Bf5 Bb3+ 68.Kb1 Kc3 69.Ka1 Bc2 70.Bg4 d3 71.Ka2 Kb4
0-1 [Incredibly Black wins after 72.Bh5 Bb3+ 73.Ka1 d2 74.Kb1 Kc3 75.Ka1 Kd3 76.Bf3 Ke3 77.Bg4 Kf2 78.Kb1 Ke1 79.Bh5 Bc4 80.Kc2 (with the idea of Be2) -+ , or 72.Ka1 d2 73.Ka2 Bb3+ 74.Kb1 Kc3 75.Be2 Kd4 76.Bf3 Ke3 77.Bh5 Kf2 78.Bg4 Ke1 79.Bh5 Bc4 80.Kc2 -+, or 72.Bf3 Bb3+ 73.Kb1 d2 74.Bh5 Kc3 75.Ka1 Kd3 76.Bf3 Ke3 77.Bg4 Kf2 78.Kb1 Ke1 79.Bh5 Bc4 80.Kc2 -+. Now, I had to run the position through a chess engine just to make sure my main ideas had some validity. It’s astonishing what a GM can figure out over the chessboard!]


Mikhail Tal (1936-1992), was a tsunamic and torrential tactical player. Known for his surprising speculative sacrifices and brilliant follow-ups, he made a name for himself even as a young player.


His style of sacrificial play introduced a new and novel way of creating play for one’s own pieces.


But exactly what is this new style? What type of pieces are used in this new style?


The second question is easy to answer; “All of them”.


As to the first question, let his games demonstrate this style.




Kliavinsh-GM Tal
Latvian Ch., 1958
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bc4 e6 7.Bb3 Be7 8.O-O O-O 9.f4 b5 10.a3 Nbd7 11.Be3 (If you are thinking about 11.Bxe6, please remember there are three type of sacrifices; there are good sacrifices, bad sacrifices and Tal-like sacrifices. This move is neither a Tal-like, or even a good sacrifice, as after 11.Bxe6?! fxe6 12.Nxe6 Qb6+ 13.Kh1 Rf7 Black is a little better. Black can also play 12.Nxe6 Qe8. In either case White is down material with very little compensation.) 11…Bb7 12.Bxe6?! fxe6 13.Nxe6 Qe8! (This, however, is a Tal-like sacrifice. The Black rook will stay en prise for the next few moves until White takes it. For that, Tal will get exactly what he wants – very active pieces.) 14.Qd4 Rc8 15.Rae1 Rc4 16.Qa7 Qc8 17.Nxf8 Bxf8 18.Bd4 d5 19.Kh1 dxe4 20.Rd1 Qc6 21.b3 Rxc3 22.Bxc3 e3 23.Rf3 e2!
[This is just a good move and nothing special. However, a good sacrifice is just around the corner. We would like to see it on the scoresheet. But White resigned so we’ll have to see it in the analysis. After 24.Re1, Black has 24…Qxf3! (It’s both a good sacrifice and a Tal-like sacrifice for sure!) 25.gxf3 Bxf3+ 26.Kg1 Bc5+ 27.Qxc5 Nxc5 28.Kf2 Bh5, and Black wins!] 0-1


Isaak Birbrager-Tal
Kharkov, 1953
[Notes based on NM SamCopeland’s excellent article, “Mikhail Tal’s Most Spectacular Queen Sacrifice – Birbrager vs. Tal, 1953”,, Sept. 9 2019]
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.e4 g6 7.Nf3 Bg7 8.Bd3 (White has several alternatives here; 8.Nf3, 8.Bg5, 8.Nd2, and even 8.h3.) 8…O-O 9.O-O Na6?! 10.Nd2 Nb4 11.Be2 {11.Bb1! +/-. This would have contained the knight more effectively and kept an eye on possible kingside actions.) 11…Re8 12.a3 Na6 13.Re1 Nc7 14.Qc2 Rb8 15.a4 b6 16.Nb5? a6 17.Nxc7 (17.Na7!?. The text move practically forces Black’s response.) 17…Qxc7 18.Ra2 Qe7 19.f3? Nh5! (Getting ready to steamroll the kingside pawns with the knight providing cover.) 20.Nf1 f5! 21.Bd3 f4! (The plan of …Be5, and …g5-g4 with a mating attack is deadly.) 22.g4! Bd4+ 23.Kh1 (23.Kg2? Qh4 24.Re2 Bxg4! 25.fxg4 Qxg4+ 26.Kh1 Qg1#.) 23…Qh4 24.Re2 Qh3? 25.Rg2 Qxf3 26.Nd2 (26.gxh5 Rxe4! -+ is a beautiful and punishing blow.) 26…Qe3 27.Nf1 Qf3 28.Nd2 (draw?)
28…Bxg4!! (No draw! Tal chooses to sacrifice his queen instead! This is a perfect example of a “Tal” sacrifice; there is not a clear idea to regain the material, but Tal’s pieces are alive and crackling with energy while White’s pieces struggle to find meaning in the position. Objectively, MAYBE White can defend, but there’s no clear refutation, and White collapses almost immediately.) 29.Nxf3 Bxf3 30.h4 Rf8 31.Be2?? Ng3+ 32.Kh2 Bxg2 33.Kxg2 Nxe2 34.Qxe2 f3+ 35.Qxf3 Rxf3 36.Kxf3 Rf8+ 37.Kg3 Be5+ 38.Kg2 Bf4 […Rf4 (before or after trading on c1) wins another pawn and the game.] 0-1


GM Tal-GM Velimirovic
USSR vs. Yugoslavia
Teslic, 1979
[A complete analysis by Tal can be found in Informant 27, game #64]
1.c4 c5 2.b3 Nc6 3.Bb2 e5 4.g3 d6 5.Bg2 Be6 6.Nc3 Qd7 7.Nf3 Bh3 8.Bxh3 Qxh3 9.Nd5! Qd7 10.e3 Nce7 11.Nc3! Nf6 12.0-0 e4 (12…Ng6 13.d4 +/-) 13.Ng5!? d5!? 14.cxd5 Qf5

15.Nxf7! Kxf7 16.f3! Nexd5 17.fxe4 Nxc3 18.Bxc3 Qxe4 19.Qh5+ Ke6 20.Qh3+ Kd6 (20…Kf7! 21.Rf5! is unclear but the advantage probably lies with White.) 21.b4!! Kc7 22.Rac1 +/- Rc8 23.Rf5!! Qg4 24.Be5+ Kd7 25.Qf1 Qe4?  26.Rc4 Qc6 27.Qh3 (27.Bxf6 gxf6 28.Rxf6 Qd5 29.Qh3 Kc7 30.Rf8 +-) 27…Qe6 (27…Kd8 28.bxc5+-) 28.Bxf6 gxf6 29.Re4! +- Qa2 30.Rxc5+ 1-0


World Junior Team Ch.
Varna, 1958
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3 O-O 6.Nge2 c5 7.Be3 Nbd7 (Another move is 7…Nc6!?) 8.Qd2 a6 9.O-O-O Qa5!? (Aggressive, provocative, and encourages piece play by Black.) 10.Kb1 b5 11.Nd5
11…Nxd5! (Not only is it unexpected, it is also among of his most sound sacrifices. Tal’s pieces really come alive!) 12.Qxa5?

[Tal’s sacrifice is so well known that IM and GM players avoid taking the offered queen and instead play 12.cxd5 to liquefy the possibilities, but apparently not necessarily the stress brought on by Black’s active piece play.

Here are two games for future study of this game.

Abraham Neumann-Israel Gelfer (2340)
Israel Ch., Dec., 1967
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3 O-O 6.Be3 Nbd7 7.Qd2 c5 8.Nge2 a6 9.O-O-O Qa5 10.Kb1 b5 11.Nd5 Nxd5 12.cxd5 Qxd2 13.Bxd2 f5 14.e5 Bb7 15.Bg5 Rfe8 16.dxc5 Nxc5 17.e6 Na4 18.Bc1 Nb6 19.Nf4 Be5 20.Be3 Na4 21.Rd2 Rac8 22.Ne2 Rc7 23.f4 Bf6 24.g3 Rec8 25.Rg1 b4 26.Rg2 Bxb2 27.Rxb2 Nxb2 28.Kxb2 Rc2+ 29.Kb1 Bxd5 30.Rf2 Bxa2+ 31.Ka1 Bc4 32.Nd4 Rxf2 33.Bxc4 Rxh2 34.Bd5 Rc3 35.Nf3 Rh1+ 0-1

Cicirone Spulber (2326)-Boris Itkis (2474)
Homorod, Romania, 1993
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3 O-O 6.Be3 Nbd7 7.Qd2 c5 8.Nge2 a6 9.O-O-O Qa5 10.Kb1 b5 11.Nd5 Nxd5 12.cxd5 Qxd2 13.Rxd2 f5 14.dxc5 Nxc5 15.Bxc5 dxc5 16.Nc3 c4 17.Be2 Bd7 18.exf5 gxf5 19.f4 b4 20.Nd1 Rfc8 21.Rc2 c3 22.b3 a5 23.Ne3 a4 24.Bc4 Rxc4 25.Nxc4 axb3 26.axb3 Bb5 27.Rhc1 Rd8 28.Ne3 Bd3 29.Rd1 Be4 30.g3 Ra8 31.d6 exd6 32.Rxd6 Re8 33.Nd5 Bxc2+ 34.Kxc2 Re2+ 35.Kc1 Bf8 36.Rd8 Kf7 37.Rb8 Rxh2 38.Nxb4 Bc5 0-1.

Back to the Tal game.]

12…Nxe3 13.Rc1 Nxc4! (The strong knight threatens the queen and she doesn’t have good square to move.) 14.Rxc4 bxc4 15.Nc1 (White, despite giving back some of the material, finds his king stripped of defensive pieces and pawns and sitting on an semi-open file.) 15…Rb8 16.Bxc4 Nb6 17.Bb3 Bxd4 (Among other threats, the move …c4! wins at once.) 18.Qd2 Bg7 19.Ne2 c4 20.Bc2 (Not 20.Bd1? as White may need to move his rook to the queenside.) 20…c3 21.Qd3 (Winning for Black is 21.Nxc3? Nc4! 22.Qc1 Bxc3 -+.) 21…cxb2 22.Nd4 Bd7 23.Rd1 Rfc8! (There is no escape for White’s king.) 24.Bb3 Na4 25.Bxa4 Bxa4 26.Nb3 Rc3 27.Qxa6 Bxb3 28.axb3 Rbc8 29.Qa3 Rc1+ 30.Rxc1 Rxc1+ (This position deserves a diagram.)





Perhaps the most popular games ever published are those in which a player sacrifices his one and only Queen. Bravery is required for that player who thrusts his most valuable piece into the fight, sometimes with no hope of ever seeing her alive again.


In the over 500 years of chess, fewer topics have been more exciting, more spectacular, and more aesthetically pleasing to the player than when he freely sacrifices his powerful Queen. In all cases, the desired result, whether immediately or indirectly, is to gain something more valuable; the enemy King.


Basically, there are three types of tactical Queen sacrifices. The first type is the one made for material gain. Sometimes called a pseudo-sacrifice, the Queen is given up and won back a few moves later.


USSR, 1967 (D24)
1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 a6 5.e4 b5 6.e5 Nd5 7.a4 Nxc3 8.bxc3 Bb7 9.e6 fxe6 10. Be2 Qd5 11.Ng5 Qxg2 12.Rf1 Bd5 13.axb5 Qxh2?! 14.Bg4 h5 15.Bxe6 Bxe6 16.Qf3 c6 17.Nxe6 Qd6 18.Qf5 g6 19.Qxg6+ Kd7 20.Nc5+ Kc8 21.Qe8+ Qd8 22.b6! 1-0


The Queen pseudo-sacrifice sacrifice for gain may turn into a mate if the opponent tries to hold on the extra female material.


Compuserve, 1996 (B57)
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.Bc4 g6 8.e5 Nd7 (Certainly not 8…dxe5?? 9.Bxf7+. Best is 8…Ng4) 9.exd6 exd6 10.O-O Nf6 11.Re1+ Be7 12.Qf3 O-O 13.Qxc6 Bf5 14.Bh6 Re8 15.Nd5 Rc8


16.Qxe8+! Qxe8 17.Nxe7+ Kh8 18.Nxf5 Ne4 19.Nxd6 Qc6 20.Nxf7+ (20…Kg8 21.Ne5+) 1-0


Breslau 1912 (C10)
[Chernev says that spectators showered the board with gold pieces after Black’s 23rd move. Soltis says it was bettors who lost the wager on the outcome.]
1.d4 e6 2.e4 d5 3.Nc3 c5 (The Marshall Gambit, as played by its inventor.) 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.exd5 exd5 6.Be2 Nf6 7.O-O Be7 8.Bg5 O-O 9.dxc5 Be6 10.Nd4 Bxc5 11.Nxe6 fxe6 12.Bg4 Qd6 13.Bh3 Rae8 14.Qd2 Bb4 15.Bxf6 Rxf6 16.Rad1 Qc5 17.Qe2 Bxc3 18.bxc3 Qxc3 19.Rxd5 Nd4 20.Qh5 Ref8 21.Re5 Rh6 22.Qg5 Rxh3 23.Rc5 Qg3!!


[O.K. Here are the variations: 24.Qxg3 Ne2+ 25.Kh1 Nxg3+ 26.Kg1 Nxf1 27.gxh3 Nd2 and extra piece wins. If White tries to hold onto the Queen, he tries loses his King. 24.hxg3 Ne2#, or 24.fxg3 Ne2+ 25.Kh1 Rxf1#.] 0-1


A second popular Queen sacrifice is made solely for to checkmate an opponent. The mate may be immediate as these short games show.


De Legal-Saint Brie
Paris, 1750? (C40)
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bc4 (3.d4 is now considered to be the best move when facing Philidor’s Defence. But then we would miss all the fun of this classical trap!) 3…Bg4? 4.Nc3 g6 5.Nxe5! Bxd1 6.Bxf7+ Ke7 7.Nd5mate 1-0


Rome, 1620?
1.e4 b6 2.d4 Bb7 3.Bd3 f5 4.exf5 Bxg2 5.Qh5+ g6 6.fxg6 Nf6? (If Black plays 6..e5?, then White has the beautiful 7.g7+ Ke7 8.Qxe5+ Kf7 9.gxh8=N#!) 7.gxh7+! Nxh5 8.Bg6mate 1-0

Paul Morphy-Duke of Brunswick and Count Isouard
Paris, 1858 (C41)
[A short classic that displays all the qualities that make up a great game; rapid development, pins, sacrifices, and slightly inferior moves by the opponent.]
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Bg4? 4.dxe5 (Simple enough. White threatens 4…dxe5 5.Qxd8+ Kxd8 6.Nxe5, netting a pawn.) 4…Bxf3 5.Qxf3 dxe5 6.Bc4 Nf6 7.Qb3 Qe7 8.Nc3 c6 9.Bg5 b5 10.Nxb5! (The whole mating sequence begins with a Knight sacrifice.) 10…cxb5 11.Bxb5+ Nbd7 12.O-O-O! Rd8 13.Rxd7 Rxd7 14.Rd1 Qe6 15.Bxd7+ Nxd7 16.Qb8+! (And ends with a Queen deflection sacrifice!) 16…Nxb8 17.Rd8mate 1-0


Queen sacrifices for the checkmate may also be slightly more involved and take longer to execute the mate.


Minsk, 1969 (D01)
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Bg5 (The often neglected Veresov’s Opening.) 3…Nbd7 4.Nf3 g6 5.e3 Bg7 6.Bd3 c5 7.Ne5 O-O 8.Qf3 Qb6 9.O-O-O e6 10.h4 Nxe5 11.dxe5 Nd7 12.h5 Nxe5 13.Qh3 f5 14.hxg6 hxg6 15.Be2 d4 16.Na4 Qb4 17.f4 Qxa4 18.fxe5 Qxa2 19.Qh7+ Kf7 20.Bf6 Qa1+ 21.Kd2 Qa5+ 22.c3 Rg8

23.Qxg6+! Kxg6 24.Bh5+ Kh7 25.Bf7+ Bh6 26.Rxh6+ (with the idea of Rh1#) 1-0

The third type of Queen sacrifices are those initiating King hunts. The Queen is given up so that the enemy King is brought out into the open. The checkmate, if there, comes many moves later.

These sacrifices differ from the mating sacrifices in that, while a mating sacrifice can be usually calculated out to the end, a King Hunt is made on a player’s belief that he can find a mate somewhere down the line. In other words, a King Hunt is made more on intuition rather than calculation.


D. Byrne-Fischer
Rosenwald Memorial
New York 1956 (D97)
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.d4 O-O 5.Bf4 d5 6.Qb3 dxc4 7.Qxc4 c6 8.e4 Nbd7 9.Rd1 Nb6 10.Qc5 Bg4 11.Bg5 Na4 12.Qa3 Nxc3 13.bxc3 Nxe4 14.Bxe7 Qb6 15.Bc4 Nxc3 16.Bc5 Rfe8+ 17.Kf1 Be6!!

18.Bxb6 Bxc4+ 19.Kg1 Ne2+ 20.Kf1 Nxd4+ 21.Kg1 Ne2+ 22.Kf1 Nc3+ 23.Kg1 axb6 24.Qb4 Ra4 25.Qxb6 Nxd1 26.h3 Rxa2 27.Kh2 Nxf2 28.Re1 Rxe1 29.Qd8+ Bf8 30.Nxe1 Bd5 31.Nf3 Ne4 32.Qb8 b5 33.h4 h5 34.Ne5 Kg7 35.Kg1 Bc5+ 36.Kf1 Ng3+ 37.Ke1 Bb4+ 38.Kd1 Bb3+ 39.Kc1 Ne2+ 40.Kb1 Nc3+ 41.Kc1 Rc2mate 0-1

Zurich, 1953 (A55)
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 d6 3.Nf3 Nbd7 4.Nc3 e5 5.e4 Be7 6.Be2 O-O 7.O-O c6 8.Qc2 Re8 9.Rd1 Bf8 10.Rb1 a5 11.d5 Nc5 12.Be3 Qc7 13.h3 Bd7 14.Rbc1 g6 15.Nd2 Rab8 16.Nb3 Nxb3 17.Qxb3 c5 18.Kh2 Kh8 19.Qc2 Ng8 20.Bg4 Nh6 21.Bxd7 Qxd7 22.Qd2 Ng8 23.g4 f5 24.f3 Be7 25.Rg1 Rf8 26.Rcf1 Rf7 27.gxf5 gxf5 28.Rg2 f4 29.Bf2 Rf6 30.Ne2

30…Qxh3+!! 31.Kxh3 Rh6+ 32.Kg4 Nf6+ 33.Kf5 Nd7 34.Rg5 Rf8+ 35.Kg4 Nf6+ 36.Kf5 Ng8+ 37.Kg4 Nf6+ 38.Kf5 Nxd5+ 39.Kg4 Nf6+ 40.Kf5 Ng8+ 41.Kg4 Nf6+ 42.Kf5 Ng8+ (These last few moves were apparently played to reach adjournment.) 43.Kg4 Bxg5 44.Kxg5 Rf7 45.Bh4 Rg6+ 46.Kh5 Rfg7 47.Bg5 Rxg5+ 48.Kh4 Nf6 49.Ng3 Rxg3 50.Qxd6 R3g6 51.Qb8+ Rg8 0-1

Mating threats may occur more than once in a game. Which also means a player can sometimes a player can offer his original Queen more than once.

USSR 1977 (B05)
1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.Nf3 Bg4 5.Be2 c6 6.c4 Nb6 7.Nbd2 N8d7? (ECO suggests 7…dxe5.) 8.Ng5! Bxe2 9.e6!! (White offers his Queen for the first time. This offer can be turned down.) 9…f6 (9…Bxd1? fails to 10.exf7#) 10.Qxe2 fxg5 11.Ne4 +/- Nf6 12.Nxg5 Qc7 13.Nf7 Rg8 14.g4 h6 15.h4 d5 16.c5 Nc8 17.g5 Ne4 18.gxh6 gxh6 19.Qh5 Nf6 20.Nd6+ Kd8 21.Qe8+ (The second offer cannot be refused.) 1-0


Odessa 1918 (C24)
1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 c6 4.Qe2 Be7 5.f4 d5 6.exd5 exf4 7.Bxf4 O-O 8.Nd2 cxd5 9.Bb3 a5 10.c3 a4 11.Bc2 a3 12.b3?! (12.Rb1 is better. Lusin-Morgado, corres.1968 continued with 12…Bd6 13.Qf2 Ng4 14.Qg3 Re8+ 15.Kd1 Ne3+ 16.Kc1 Nf5 17.Qf2 Bxf4 18.Qxf4 Re1+ 19.Bd1 Ne3 20.Ngf3 Rxh1 21.Qxe3 axb2+ 22.Rxb2 Nc6 23.a4 Rxa4 24.Qe2 Ra1+ 25.Rb1 Rxb1+ 26.Nxb1 h6 27.Nbd2 Qe7 28.Kb2 Qxe2 29.Bxe2 g5 30.Nf1 Bg4 31.Ng3 Bxf3 32.Bxf3 Rxh2 33.Bxd5 h5 34.Kc1 Kg7 35.Kd2 Ne5 36.d4 Ng4 37.Ke2 h4 38.Nf1 Rh1 39.Bxb7 h3 40.gxh3 Rxh3 41.c4 f5 42.c5 Kf6 43.c6 Rc3 1/2-1/2) 12…Re8 13.O-O-O Bb4 14.Qf2 Bxc3 15.Bg5 Nc6 16.Ngf3 d4 17.Rhe1 Bb2+ 18.Kb1 Nd5! (The Queen is offered for the first time.)

19.Rxe8+ (Naturally 19.Bxd8 fails to 19…Nc3#) 19…Qxe8 20.Ne4 Qxe4! (The second offer!) 21.Bd2 Qe3 (The third offer!) 22.Re1 (Now White gets into the act!) 22…Bf5 23.Rxe3 dxe3 24.Qf1 exd2 25.Bd1 Ncb4! (And White finally realizes that he cannot stop Nc3#.) 0-1


E. Z. Adams-C. Torre
New Orleans 1920 (C62)
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 (Ah!, there is the better move in Philidor’s Defence) 3…exd4 4.Qxd4 Nc6 5.Bb5 Bd7 6.Bxc6 Bxc6 7.Nc3 Nf6 8.O-O Be7 9.Nd5 Bxd5 10.exd5 O-O 11.Bg5 c6 12.c4 cxd5 13.cxd5 Re8 14.Rfe1 a5 15.Re2 Rc8 16.Rae1 Qd7 17.Bxf6 Bxf6

18.Qg4! (The first offer) 18…Qb5 19.Qc4! (The second offer) 19…Qd7 20.Qc7! (The third!) 20…Qb5 21.a4! Qxa4 22.Re4 Qb5 23.Qxb7 (This, the fourth offer, is too much for Black to handle.) 1-0


There seems to be some confusion about underpromotions. Some players believe the rule for underpromotion goes something like this: “a pawn, upon reaching the eighth rank can be promoted to any piece”. This definition can produce some rather interesting problems. For example, it is White to move and mate in the following two problems.


White to Mate in 1




White to Mate in 1



White’s first move in both problems is, of course, an underpromotion. Just not to his own color. In the first diagram, White checkmates with 1.g8=black Knight, while in the second, he mates with 1.bxa8=Black Rook.


The exact rule for underpromotion is that a player may promote to a Queen, Rook, Bishop or Knight of his own color.



There is at least one more misunderstood area of underpromotion. Some players insist that you may not legally promote to a piece that did not come with the original set. That means you could not promote a pawn if you still had your original seven pieces (Not counting the King; if you need to promote to a King it probably means that you’ve already lost the game). And you certainly could not have three Knights on the board at the same time. The pawn then must remain immobile after reaching the 8th rank.


However, the rule clearly states that you may have three (or more!) Knights. You can promote to a dark colored Bishop, even if your original one is still on the board. You may also have as many as nine Queens at the same time (eight promoted pawns plus the original Queen). In fact, the biggest obstacle to having nine Queens at the same time may be your opponent, who may not want to defend against the armada!


This may seem simple enough, but there is still confusion out there in the tournament arena.


The following is a game played by the author;


Southern California Open, 1996



47.Nd3+ Kb1 48.Ke1 [48.Nc1? and Black can either play 48…Nf3+ or 48…Nf6 (with the idea of Ne4), winning in either case. Now back to the underpromotion theme. If Black promotes to a Queen, White would be forced to take the Queen with 49.Nxc1 Kxc1. The two Knights versus none are overwhelming, but if Black underpromotes then White could conceivably ignore the new piece. In any case, Black loses nothing by underpromoting.] 48…c1=N [Now White went off to the Tournament Director (TD), complaining that Black could not have three Knights on the board at the same time. And I should promote to a Queen. What did he expect to win by that argument!? The TD told him my move was legal and sent him back to the game. Where he promptly erred.] 49.Ne5? (Now three Knights versus one are better odds for White’s survival than two Knights versus none. But when White starts moving his Knight away, it becomes three knights versus none. And the White King is soon overwhelmed.) 49…Kc2 50.Kf1 Nd3 51.Nf7 Ne3+ 52.Kg1 Nf3+



0-1 And mate next move.




Back to School!

Labor Day has traditionally been the last day of summer vacation. It’s a time to go back to school and re-engage the brain.


Perhaps you already started school. But whether you did or not, it’s time to exercise more than a suntan. We have to get you ready for your daily quizzes, your tests, and your exams.


What better way start than a short, but not-so-easy chess quiz?




Here it is! You can’t use the Internet, nor books, and no help from your friends. It is a quiz, after all!


(well…. ok – you can use friendly help.)


Answers and explanations available on PDF file, should you need them (and you will).








1) Where did the word, CHECKMATE, come from?


a) The Australians had morbid, slightly amusing, phrase that was most popular during WWII.  It was, “CHECK ON THE MATE PLEASE. HE’S DEAD”.

b) A term in which a sailing ship would briefly hit (or “checked”) another boat in order to board it, esp. in acts of piracy.

c) A Sanskrit phrase meaning “THE KING IS DEAD”.

d) An ancient Pharaoh’s curse.



2) Which chess piece is also the name of a GM?

(a) KING


(c) ROOK




3) Who was not a World Chess Champion from the United States before Bobby Fischer?




(d) Trick Question! – Fischer was the first World Champion from the United States




4) Which word does not belong?





(e) DRAW


5) Which word does not belong?

(a) KING




(e) PAWN

(f) ROOK



(i) ELO



6) Which word does not belong?







7) A “RINGED PIECE” refers to:

(a) A pendant that hangs from the neck that is, or features, a chess piece.

(b) A piece of art created by Ringo Starr, who was inspired by Lennon’s chess set that featured two sets of white pieces to indicate harmony.

(c) A piece on the chessboard with a ring around it, indicating that this piece was to be the one to deliver the checkmate.


8) What is the definition of SCACCHIC?

(a) [n. the Computer World Champion for 1981.]

(b) [n. a famous correspondence player of the 1950’s who came up with a new move in the Two Knights Defence.]

(c) [adj. of or relating to chess.]

(d) [adj. referring to the queenside in chess.]

(e) [adj. referring to a dive into the ocean by leaping far off the side of a cliff.]



Answers below : 




Wikipedia defines the horizon effect as: a problem in artificial intelligence whereby, in many games, the number of possible states or positions is immense and computers can only feasibly search a small portion of them, typically a few plies down the game tree. Thus, for a computer searching only five plies, there is a possibility that it will make a detrimental move, but the effect is not visible because the computer does not search to the depth of the error (i.e., beyond its “horizon”).


What it means, in more understandable words, is that when a chess computer finds a move, or a series of moves, that loses material, or some other advantage, it stops analyzing that move or series of moves. This can lose the game, or at least the advantage, as it fails to see a strong reply or the continuation of play that will allow it to retain or increase its advantage.

An early example of the horizon effect can be found in this game.

De Legal-Saint Brie?
France, 1750
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bc4 Bg4 4.Nc3 Nc6

5.Nxe5 Bxd1?? (There were many computers in the early 1980’s would simply take the offered queen, as it was taught that being up a queen would lead to victory and would therefore stop analyzing. This simple trap caused consternation and scorn by some players as they wanted a “serious” chess computer. By the way, this trap is known as De Legal’s mate.) 6.Bxf7+ Ke7 7.Nd5mate 1-0

A more recent example can be found in this game:


Escalante-“andersonwillians” (1511)
Najdorf Thematic Tournment, July-August 2019
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bc4 g6 7.f3 Bg7 8.Be3 O-O 9.Qd2 Nc6 10.O-O-O Bd7 (The Najdorf has transposed into a Dragon, B77 to be exact.) 11.g4 Rc8 12.Be2 Ne5 13.h4 Nc4 14.Bxc4 Rxc4 15.h5 Qc7 16.Kb1 Rc8 17.hxg6 hxg6 18.Nde2 (This is an important move as it provides another piece to guard c3 and puts a stop to Black’s attack.) 18…Be6 19.Bh6 Bh8?
20.Bf8! (This keeps the Black’s king from escaping to the center.) 20…Kxf8 (Not 20…Rxf8 21.Qh6! +-. Best for Black is 20…Nh5 21.Rxh5 gxh5 22.Qh6 Rxf8 23.Rh1 Bg7 24.Qxh5, and now if 24…f5 25.Nf4! wins on the spot.) 21.Rxh8+ Ng8

22.Rxg8+! (The computer recommends 22.Qh6+ Ke8 23.Rxg8+ Kd7 24.Rxc8 Qxc8 25.e5 Kc7 26.exd6+ exd6, when White is obviously winning. But the text move is better as it leads to a forced mate. So why did computer miss this move? Probably because it saw that White loses the exchange and concluded that’s not a good way to proceed. So it stopped analyzing.) 22…Kxg8 23.Qh6! f6 (Black is in Zugzwang, as his king is paralyzed and he can’t get help in time. 23…d5 24.Rh1 +-) 24.Qxg6+ Kf8 25.Rh1 1-0 (25…Bg8 26.Rh8 e6 and now either 27.Qxg8+ or 27.Rxg8+ mates.)