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Daily Chess Puzzle

February 5, 2018

Today’s problem is from the recently concluded Gibraltar chess congress, which I enjoyed watching from home: but I thoroughly intend to visit again, as I once managed to do to spectate some years ago. Stuart Conquest and his team run a thoroughly top-notch tournament.

Since the start of 2018, I have decided to adopt the style of only saying which side is to play: and not giving an idea if the move wins or otherwise, unless on occasion I think signposting would be helpful. Instead, the problems are posed with the instruction to decide what you would play, as in a game.

Black to play

This was a variation from Var Akobian’s game against Gagare. If 1…Nb3 White can either play 2 Qd3 (likely met by 2…e5 threatening 2…e4 “potassium cyanide“) or he can play 2 Qd1.


What was Black’s intention after 2 Qd1?

(for those readers who would prefer a slightly easier task, I have shown the position after 2 Qd1 below the heading “Solution”: it should be possible to look at this latter diagram without revealing all).

Akobian v Gagare, Gibraltar 29th January 2018



Position after 2 Qd1: Black to play?

Var analysed this game in a wonderful MasterClass hosted by Tania Sachdev.


I highly recommend the Gibratar chess MasterClasses, which are on YouTube. Really high class; whilst I  personally liked the “route to the candidates” lecture by my friend Nigel Short the most, I quickly realised that Var Akobian had the knack of lecturing. It didn’t surprise me at all to learn later in the lecture that he now gets much of his income from chess training, including lecturing at the St. Louis club.

I highly recommend the MasterClass. I intend watching it again, and am sure I will learn more from it.

In the diagram position, 2…Nc1! is the wonderful move which Gagare must have prepared. The Qd1 is tied to defending the Rd6, and the Be2 can’t move, so Black achieves an exchange of his “knight on the rim” for the bishop.


A very surprising motif. But for a player who follows Purdy of always looking for pins, nets and ties, Nc1 is a move which exploits the tie.



r4rk1/pb1pqpp1/1p1Rpn1p/n7/1PP5/P1N1PN2/3QBPPP/5RK1 b – – 0 1

From → Chess

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