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Daily chess puzzle

October 15, 2016

A break from my daily puzzle from Matni Udar.  Today, an occasional one: I have long (decades) had a habit of cutting out, tearing out, photocopying…puzzles I can’t solve, and saving them for a rainy day, dog walk, hill walk…

I came across today’s problem a while ago, and it really stumped me. I eventually solved it, but only by setting the pieces out and moving them around: I would never have found the win in a game.

White to play and win

socko1

 

B Socko v S Brunello, Italian Team Championships, 2015

Solution

I looked at the problem many times, each time my first thought being 1 Nf5 gf 2 ef, but not being able to crack 2…Rd6

socko2

 

I also looked at 1 Ng6, finding it insufficient, and 1 f4, which I thought was strong.

1 f4

socko3

In fact, 1 f4 leads to some White advantage, but not much. The key is noting that the Rd8 is LPDO.

1…ef 2 Qf4+ Kh7

socko31

3 Ng6! Ng6 4 Rg6 Qg6 (4…Kg6 5 Rg1+ Kh7 6 Rg4! mates, a computer line)

socko32

5 Qc7+ with a double attack on the King and LPDO Rd8: the game is equal, with White a pawn up but his King exposed after 5…Kh6 6 Qd8 Qe4 7 Qd2+

So, my judgement on 1f4 was sour: maybe White is a pawn up, but the opening up of his King should dissuade White from entering the line.

Back to 1 Nf5!

1 Nf5!

In a game, I would have tried, tried and tried again to make 1 Nf5 work; I would have failed, and then reluctantly made a lesser move. But this is what I should have seen:

1…gf 2 ef Rc6 (the move played in the game: 2…Rd6 or 2…Rb6 are the same).

3 Ra4! – as far as I could see, but I felt that Black had sufficient resources.

socko4

In fact, I was wrong: Black is lost, with White having multiple threats.

The easy one first 3…Qh5?? 4 Qg7 mate.

The harder one next: 3…Rg8. Evenually, by setting up the pieces in this position, I found 4 Qh4+ Qh5[] 5 Rg8! Ng8 6 Qg3!

socko6

and, to my surprise, found that it is 1-0: Black can’t stop 7 Rh4 winning the Queen: if 6…Qg5 then 7 Rh4+ Kg7 8 Rg4 wins the Queen all the same.

But there is even better after 3…Rg8: 4 Qg8!!

socko7

Black’s Queen is tied to defending h5 (against Rh4+) so 4…Ng8[] 5 Rh4+ Qh5[] and now a move I missed, 6 Rg6+!

 

The prettiest one: 3… Rd2, played in the game, 4 Qg7+!! and after 4…Qf7, 5 Rh4 mate: the LPDO Queen makes this tactic work.

socko5

So, wonderful play by Socko, and, alas, an example of how the depth of calculation and evaluation was beyond me. I hope I have learned the lesson of how defenceless Black was with his King on the open g and h files.

FEN

3r4/1pp1nq2/p3rppk/4p3/4P1QN/1PP4P/1P3P1K/R5R1 w – – 0 30

 

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