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Cordingley puzzle 184 #chess

October 2, 2013

White to play and win

(Even if you 'know' the position, it is very well worth while solving it a fresh, and working out lines against black's alternative defences)






A famous position, instantly recognised, and I knew the solution involved Rh7+ and Qh1+. But the puzzle was hard for me.

The move my hand wanted to play was 1 Rd4, which would certainly be the move I would play in a game; and I would probably do with relatively little calculation. I would have also spent less time on this puzzle had I not known that Rh7+ comes into it, since black has spoilsport defences 1…Re7 or 1…h5. In view of these spoilsports, and whilst I knew that white was better after each, I spent a lot of time on (what I suspected was inferior) 1 Rh7+.

Basically, 1 Rh7+ loses; after 1…Kh7 2 Qh1+ Kg7 neither of white's checks, 3 Qh6+ or 3 Bh6+ are quite good enough of: Kf6 and black will muddle out; and the other check, 3 Bd4+ is clearly insufficient, as 3 Rd4.

When I look at such long, tactical lines, I always look for 'stepping stones': positions with some stability, perhaps at the end of a forcing sequence, where I can concentrate, and re establish in my mind where all the pieces are. One of my character flaws is that I want these stepping stones to be places of safety, by which I mean I like to be able to visualise how I can, if I want, I can bale out for a draw. Alas, I realised some years back that one thing which limited me as a teenage chessplayer was my fear of losing, and I too easily took draws: my school friend, team mate, and lifelong friend Nigel Short had far more fighting spirit and a stronger will to win.

Eventually, I gave up. In the line with 3 Qh6+, I was most afraid of black trapping my queen with Rh8: and the engines confirm my fear was right. So, I plumped somewhat reluctantly for 1 Rd4, since if 1…Nd4 2 Rh7+ 3 Qh1+ work far better, and checked the answer. I was surprised to see that 1 Rd4 was indeed played, and that Chigorin didn't try to defend staunchly with Re7: but it was the 1890s, I guess.

The part of the solution I didn't look at, to my pity, was how precisely to purse the attack after 1 Rd4, 2 Rh7+, 3 Qh1+: my judgement was that the control of the black diagonals, and also of the a2-g8 one, would either be terminal or require black to return at least an exchange: in fact, Cordingley's answer correctly shows that 4 Bh6+ is terminal, with a hard to see mate in the centre of the board after 4…Kf6 5 Qh4+ after which it is mate in two. However, 4 Qh6+ is also terminal, too.

A very worthwhile exercise.

Game 184


From → Chess

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