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Daily Chess Puzzle

August 4, 2017

A day’s break from my usual posting from Matni Udar. Today is a dear friend’s birthday, so I’ve chosen to publish my prettiest finish so far of 2017.

The solution is slightly flawed (it isn’t a forced mate, but with best defence White gets Komodo’s +- assessment): in human terms, best play seems to be to a very comfortable ending for White, which I think would be a win in normal practice. As it happened, Black crumpled after the sacrifice.

White to play and win

481

Allan Beardsworth v NN, Bramhall, 30 minute Rapidplay 13/6/17

Solution

This was the second game of a two-match Rapidplay match, 30-30 each side, then change colours, and I was considerably higher rated than my opponent. The first game had been prosaic; a structural advantage of better minor piece (N) on a lovely e4 outpost, converted into a pawn-up ending; this time, as White, I wanted something faster, and had earlier taken a risk in order to generate an attack.

Here, I couldn’t decide which way to take on d7, or whether to keep control and play a N to d3, until I saw something special. I’d just the previous weekend finished proof-reading the next Quality Chess book on the life of Tal, and so, even though I knew it might not be objectively the best, 1 played:

1 Ncd7 Nd7 2 Nc6!?

482

My opponent thought for a while, and eventually chose 2…Rc6, which loses the exchange for nothing, and I then mopped up in a few moves. 1..bc is of course far more interesting: Black’s best is to return the piece: 2 bc Nb8 3 Qb5 Nc6, and White gets a favourable to winning ending.

483

This is as far as I could see when deciding on 1 Ncd7 and 2 Nc6, but I felt the position was “better than the position before 1 Ncd7” and the QRP ending must have good winning chances, especially since the a pawn would fall, in a way in which my Q wouldn’t be trapped.

So, the tactic was sound, and prettier than playing steady. Happy birthday!

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