The Joseph Theme

In 1921, David Joseph, then 25 years old, was traveling in a train in England. It was during or about this time (sources differ) that he created a series of chess problems. The one given below appears to be simple to solve, but that is an illusion.



White Wins
[Joseph, 1921; Additional Analysis by Roycroft, The Chess Endgame Study, #145, pg. 104, and Escalante – just to make the notes easier.]




We are going to skip some space here so you can try to solve it yourself.




(You can write some notes here if you want)






(It’s more fun to try to solve a problem that just to look at the answer.)






(The answer is just below.)






1.h8=Q (1.h8=B? a1=Q 2.Bxa1 is not stalemate, but it does not win either.) 1…a1=Q 2.Qg8 (Of course not 2.Qxa1?? because it’s stalemate – RME ; 2.Qe8? Qg7 and soon draws, either by exchanging queens or by perpetual check.) 2…Qa2 3.Qe8 (Again, Black seeks a stalemate by offering his queen – RME ;  3.Qf8? Qa3, with, again, a perpetual, or stalemate if the black queen is taken.) 3…Qa4 4.Qe5+ Ka8 5.Qh8 +- (White wins. – RME)





Swiss Gambit

Most players know of Froms’ Gambit [1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3), with continuation of either 4…g5 (to drive away the knight) or 4…Nf6 (to defend and ready to redeploy the knight to g4 or e4)].


But White can also offer a similar gambit after 1.f4 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.d3. This gambit is known as the Swiss Gambit. Because of its rarity, most players are not aware of it or it’s thematic ideas.


Let’s take a look the gambit after the opening moves (1.f4 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.d3).


If Black was to take the pawn, he would be a pawn up in the game. However, it would be hazardous to do so as both of White’s bishops (after 3…exd3 4.Bxd3) would be activated and his own kingside would be vulnerable. There are two things that slow down White’s attack. The first is the f-pawn, which unlike in the From’s Gambit (which does not have such an advanced pawn), blocks the bishop from going to f4 or g5. The second thing is that Black usually plays an early 4…Nf6, to stop the h5 checks.

Now, lets look at some games.


First, Black does not have to take the pawn. But such a plan can be risky as the d3-pawn can easily capture the e4-pawn and White has a nice center, without having to sacrifice a pawn.


Briansk, 1965
1.f4 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.d3 g6 4.dxe4 e5 5.Nf3 Nf6 6.Bc4 Qe7 7.Nc3 exf4 8.Qe2 d6 9.Bxf4 Be6 10.O-O-O Nc6 11.Bb5 Bd7 12.Bg5 Bg7 13.Nd5 Qd8 14.e5 dxe5 15.Nxe5 Nxe5 16.Qxe5+ Kf7 17.Nxf6 1-0


Priehoda (2404)-Cyprian
Kubin Open, 1978
1.f4 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.d3 e3 4.Bxe3 Nf6 5.Nc3 d5 6.d4 Bf5 7.Bd3 e6 8.Nf3 c6 9.O-O Bb4 10.Ne2 Nbd7 11.Ng3 g6 12.Qe2 O-O 13.Bd2 Bxd2 14.Qxd2 Qc7 15.Rae1 Rae8 16.h3 b6 17.Nh1 Nh5 18.Ne5 Nxe5 19.fxe5 c5 20.Bb5 Rc8 21.g4 cxd4 22.gxf5 exf5 23.Qxd4 Rcd8 24.e6 Qe7 25.Bd7 Nf6 26.Qh4 Qc5+ 27.Nf2 Qe7 28.Nd3 Kg7 29.Qd4 Kh6 30.Ne5 Ne4 31.Qe3+ Kg7 32.Nc6 Qh4 33.Nxd8 f4 34.e7 Rf6 35.Qf3 Nd2 36.Qg4 1-0


Petran (2341)-Veselsky (2200)
Slovakia Ch.
Dolny Kubin, 1979
1.f4 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.d3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e3 5.d4 e6 6.Bd3 Bb4 7.Bxe3 Bxc3+ 8.bxc3 O-O 9.Nf3 d6 10.O-O Nbd7 11.Bd2 Qe8 12.Qe2 Rf7 13.Rae1 Nf8 14.f5 h6 15.Nh4 Bd7 16.Qf3 Qc8 17.Qg3 Nh5 18.Qh3 Nf6 19.Ng6 N6h7 20.fxe6 Bxe6 21.Rxf7 Bxh3 22.Ree7 Nxg6 23.Rxg7+ Kf8 24.Ref7+ Ke8 25.Bxg6 1-0

If Black wants to decline the pawn offer, he must play an early …d5.


Tampere Hervanta, 1987
1.f4 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.d3 d5 4.dxe4 dxe4 5.Qxd8+ Kxd8 6.Nc3 Nf6 7.Be3 c6 8.Nge2 Bf5 9.O-O-O Nbd7 10.Bd4 Kc7 11.Ng3 e6 12.Be5+ Nxe5 13.fxe5 Ng4 14.Ncxe4 Nxe5 15.Be2 g6 16.h3 h5 17.Kb1 h4 18.Nxf5 gxf5 19.Ng5 Re8 20.Rhe1 Rh6 21.Rd2 Bc5 22.Bf1 Nd7 23.Bc4 e5 24.Red1 Nb6 25.Bb3 Be3 0-1


And he must play it accurately.


R. Oberlin-R. Berggren
US Open
Los Angeles, 1991
1.f4 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.d3 d5 4.Nh3 Nf6 5.Nf2 exd3 6.Bxd3 Nc6 7.O-O b6? (This setup of the knight on c6 and the bishop going to b7 seems too slow and out of touch with a tactical opening such as this one. Black soon finds himself short of moves.) 8.Nd2 Bb7 9.Nf3 Qd7 10.Ng5 Nd8 11.Bxh7 e6 12.Bg6+ Ke7 13.Re1 Kd6 (Let the King Hunt begin!)


4.f5 exf5 15.Nd3 Qa4 16.Bf4+ Kc6 17.Ne5+ Kc5 18.Qd2 d4 19.b4+! Kd5 20.c4+ 1-0


It is only after 1.f4 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.d3 exd3 4.Bxd3 Nf6 that the real battle begins.

De Groot-Anderssen
Amsterdam, 1875
1.f4 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.d3 exd3 4.Bxd3 Nf6 5.Nf3 e6 6.Nc3 Be7 7.Ne4 Nc6 8.c3 d6 9.Nfg5 Nxe4 10.Nxe4? (>Bxe4) 10…g6 11.Qe2 e5 12.O-O Bf5 13.Ng5 Bxd3 14.Qxd3 Bxg5 15.fxg5 Qe7 16.Qh3 Qd7 17.Be3 Qxh3 18.gxh3 0-1


After the moves 1.f4 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.d3 exd3 4.Bxd3 Nf6 5.Nf3 e6, White has three excellent choices of 6.Ng5 (A brazen attempt at an attack, probably best for a blitz game), 6.Ne5 (a more cautious and shy approach to an attack), and 6.Be3 (a developing move that allows White to castle queenside if the need arises).


Vienna, 1873
1.f4 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.d3 exd3 4.Bxd3 Nf6 5.Nf3 (a very good move as the knight usually finds itself involved in White’s attack.) 5…e6 (this move is the most common as it allows his bishop to develop and bolsters his defense of his weak point on f7.) 6.Ng5!? g6 (not 6…Bc5? because of 7.Bxh7 Kf8 8.Nxe6+, winning) 7.h4 Bh6 8.h5 Bxg5 9.fxg5 Nd5 10.hxg6 Qe7 11.Rxh7 Rxh7 12.gxh7 Qb4+ 13.Kf1 Qh4 14.Bg6+ Ke7 15.Qh5 1-0


IECC, 2000
1.f4 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.d3 exd3 4.Bxd3 Nf6 5.Nf3 d6 6.Ng5 c6 7.h4 Bg4 8.Be2 Bxe2 9.Qxe2 g6 10.Qe6 Qa5+ 11.Bd2 Qf5 12.Qf7+ Kd7 13.h5 gxh5 14.Rxh5 Qc5 15.Rh1 Qxc2 16.Ne6 Qe4+ 0-1


Christian Maltais (2134)-Daniel J. Freire (2047)
DE10A /pr 48
ICCF, 2016
1.f4 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.d3 exd3 4.Bxd3 Nf6 5.Nf3 e6 6.Ng5 d5 7.Qe2 Bc5 8.Nd2 O-O 9.Ndf3 Qd6 10.h4 Nc6 11.c3 h6 12.Ne5 hxg5 13.hxg5 Ne4 14.Bxe4 dxe4 15.g6 Rf5 16.Nf7 Rxf7 17.Qh5 Qf8 18.Qh8mate 1-0


Ivar Jakobsson-Hakan Johansson
Stockholm, 1974
1.f4 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.d3 exd3 4.Bxd3 Nf6 5.Nf3 e6 6.Ne5 d6 7.O-O b6 8.Ng4 Ba6 9.Nxf6+ Qxf6 10.Re1 Bxd3 11.Qxd3 Nc6 12.Qf3 Kd7 13.Nd2 d5 14.c4 Bc5+ 15.Kh1 Nd4 16.Qh3 Rae8 17.cxd5 Nc2 18.Ne4 Qh6 19.dxe6+ Kc8 20.Qf3 Kb8 21.Nxc5 bxc5 22.Qb3+ Nb4 23.a3 a5 24.axb4 cxb4 25.Rxa5 1-0


Schirmer-Schleipen, 1956
1.f4 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.d3 exd3 4.Bxd3 Nf6 5.Nf3 e6 6.Be3 Be7 7.O-O O-O 8.Nbd2 Nd5 9.Ng5 Bxg5 10.fxg5 Rxf1+ 11.Nxf1 Nxe3 12.Bxh7+ Kf8 13.Nxe3 Qxg5 14.Qf3+ Qf6 15.Qh5 Ke7 16.Rf1 Qh6 17.Qf7+ Kd6 18.Rd1+ Kc6 19.Be4+ d5 20.Bxd5+ exd5 21.Qxd5+ Kb6 22.Nc4+ 1-0

Bloodless Victories

A bloodless victory in chess is a win for one of the players in which no pieces are taken.


Games of this genre tend to be short as longer games increase the possibility that a piece being taken or exchanged. The knight, with it’s ability to jump over pieces, and thereby avoid taking a piece en route to an attack, is disproportionally used in these types of games. Smothered mates are often seen.

A simple example of a bloodless victory is Fool’s Mate (1.f3 e5 2.g4 Qh4#)


Another simple example is Fischer-Panno, Palma de Mallorca Izt., 1970. The entire game went 1.c4 1-0. Panno had a dispute with the organizers and resigned here.

There are many more examples. Here is a favorite of mine.

Blindfold game
Havana, 1891
1.e4 e5 2.f4 Nc6 3.Nf3 d6 4.Bc4 Nh6 5.O-O (Interesting to note that the exact sequence of moves also occurred in S. Retout (1808)-S. Burnet, England Open, Charlton 1973 which continued with 5…exf4 6.d4 Qf6 7.Nc3 Bg4 8.Nd5 Qd8 9.Bxf4 Ne7 10.Bxh6 gxh6 11.Nf6# 1-0. But that game had some captures, so let’s get on with this game.) 5…Be7 6.d3 O-O 7.f5 Ng4 8.Nc3 Nb4 9.a3 Nc6 10.h3 Nf6 11.g4 Na5 12.Ba2 b6 13.g5 Ne8 14.h4 Kh8 15.Nh2 f6 16.g6 h6 17.Qh5


(ΔBxh6) 1-0

Even rarer is the bloodless mate. Same conditions, but the game ends in checkmate.


This is a recent game played by two amateurs.


“Daveacksh” (1241)-“bandabou” (1212)
Blitz Game, Feb. 21 2019
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 e6 4.c3!? Na5 5.Na3 a6 6.d4 b5 7.Be2 c4 8.O-O Bb7 9.e5 Be4 10.Ng5 Bg6 11.Bf3 Rb8 12.Ne4 Ne7? 13.Nd6mate 1-0

This type of mate, sans captures, has also occurred in Master (and near-Master) games.

Carl Hartlaub-H. H Rosenbaum
Freiburg, Germany, 1892
1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nc6 3.Nf3 f6 4.Nh4 g5 5.Qh5+ Ke7 6.Nf5mate 1-0

Chris W. Baker-Bernard Cafferty
British Chess Ch., Qualification Tournament
Clacton-on-Sea, 1974
1.e4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.e5 Ne4 4.Nce2 Nc5 5.c3 Nd3mate 0-1



Juan Antonio Palmisano-Guillermo Llanos
Buenos Aires, 1995
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3 O-O 6.Bg5 c5 7.d5 Qa5 8.a4 Na6 9.Ra3 Nb4 10.Nge2 e5 (Black has the advantage so White wants to defend. But his move, while well-intended, allows Black to increase his advantage to a -+.) 11.Bd2?? Nd3# 0-1


Emi Hasegawa-Mi Yen Fong (1885)
Women’s Ol.
Istanbul, Aug. 28 2012
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nf3 Bg7 4.Nc3 d6 5.e4 O-O 6.Bd3 e5 7.d5 Nbd7 8.b4 Nh5!? (8…a5 is more popular. The text move deserves to be investigated more.) 9.O-O Qe7 10.Ne2 c5 11.b5 f5! (The main point of 8…Nh5!?) 12.Rb1 f4 (Black obviously has the advantage.) 13.Kh1 g5 14.Neg1 g4 15.Nd2 Qh4 16.f3 Ng3#


The Word of the Day on Monday, Feb. 25th 2019, for Words With Friends (a popular Scrabble-like game for smart phones), was PAWN. Now Words With Friends (WWF) usually give a brief definition, and sometimes no definition, for their Word of the Day. This time they gave a lengthy definition, or rather several definitions, for PAWN.

Here it is.





1. a chess piece of the smallest size and value, that moves one square forward along its file if unobstructed (or two on the first move), or one square diagonally forwards when making a capture. Each player begins with eight pawns on the second rank, and can promote to become any other piece (typically a queen) if it reaches the opponent’s end of the board.

2. a person used by others for their own purposes.

3. an object left as security for money lent

1. to deposit (an object) with a pawn broker as security for money lent.

No surprise here. After all, chess is popular game!


But it got me thinking. How many of the pieces, usually given as nouns, can also be used as verbs. The list may surprise you.

We have PAWN (+ED, +ING, +S) as shown above.


We  also have QUEEN (+ED, +ING, +S)
1. to promote a pawn in a chess game to a queen.


And KNIGHT (+ED, +ING, +S)
1. to raise one to the level of knighthood, esp. by a queen or king.


Here are three more pieces.

KING (+ED, +ING, +S)
1. to reign as king.
2. to promote a checkers piece to a king (in checkers you can only promote to a king).

to appoint as a bishop (the head of a diocese)


ROOK (+ED, +ING, +S)
1. to deprive of by deceit.
2. to take money or property from by fraudulent means.

… and a bonus piece

Some non-chess players claim that CASTLE is the word for the pieces in the corners at the start of the game. Technically, the word CASTLE is only used as verb among the chess players, publications and lexicon.

But if we grant the non-players the permission to use CASTLE as a noun, then we would have another noun-verb.
In case you need a reminder, here is the definition.

1. a move involving a player’s unmoved king and one of the player’s original unmoved rooks. It consists of moving the king two squares towards a rook on the player’s first rank, then moving the rook to the square over which the king crossed. It is considered a king move.



A Remarkable Move in the Gruenfeld.

There is a remarkable opening move which looks like a White blunder in the Gruenfeld.


And it goes like this:



1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Na4!?



Here’s a diagram.


Bringing up the question, “What benefit(s) does White attain with his knight sitting idly and alone on a4?”


Well, for one, after White gets around with .e4, the Black’s knight has to move. His usual move of …Nxc3 is out of the question as White has no piece or pawn on c3. So where does Black’s knight then move? If …Nf6, then he invites .e5. And …Nb4 puts his knight out of play and is subject to .c3. So …Nb6 is practically forced, where it is partly out of play and but no pawn is threatening it.


The second benefit White has is that with the knight out of the way, his queenside is open for his other pieces, not to mention he can now play .c4 at some point. In fact, most of the action that originates from this bizarre knight move is of a queenside nature.


The earliest master game with this move can be found in the following game.


Ashot Nadanian (2325)-Varuzhan Akobian (2270)
Armenia, 1996
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Na4 e5 6.dxe5 Bb4+ 7.Bd2 Ne3 8.fxe3 Bxd2+ 9.Qxd2 Qh4+ 10.g3 Qxa4 11.Qd4 Qa5+ 12.b4 Qb6 13.Bg2 O-O 14.Rc1 Be6 15.a4 c6 16.Nf3 Rd8 17.Qf4 Na6 18.Rb1 c5 19.b5 Nb4 20.Qh6 Nc2+ 21.Kf2 c4 22.Rbc1 Bf5 23.Rxc2 Bxc2 24.Ng5 Qc7 25.Qxh7+ Kf8 26.Ne6+ 1-0



Here’s some later games showing White’s attacking possibilities.



Alexander Naumann (2385)-Alexander Lytchak (2390)
German U20 Ch.
Apolda, 1997
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Na4 Bg7 6.e4 Nb6 7.Be3 O-O 8.Rc1 f5 9.exf5 Bxf5 10.Nc5 Qd5 11.a4 Nc6 12.Ne2 Nc4 13.Nf4 Nxe3 14.fxe3 Qd6 15.Bc4+ Kh8 16.O-O e5 17.Nfe6 Bh6 18.Rc3 Bxe6 19.Nxe6 Rxf1+ 20.Qxf1 Qe7 21.Ba2 Rc8 22.d5 Nd8 23.d6 1-0

Stepan Lobanov-Leonid Sharikov
Novokuznetsk Open, 1998
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Na4 Bg7 6.e4 Nb6 7.Be3 O-O 8.Nf3 Nxa4 9.Qxa4 c5 10.Rd1 cxd4 11.Nxd4 Qe8 12.Qa3 a6 13.Nb5 Be5 14.Bh6  Bd7 15.Bxf8 Nc6 16.Nc7 Bxc7 17.Bh6 Bd6 18.Qd3 Nb4 19.Qc3 f6 20.Bc4+ +/- Kh8


21.Rxd6! Nc2+ 22.Kd2! b5 23.Rxf6 1-0


Szabolcs Laza, (2173)-Anita Gara (2385)
Hungary Team Ch., Dec. 17 2017
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Na4 Bg7 6.e4 Nb6 7.Be3 O-O 8.Nf3 Bg4 9.Nc5 Nc6 10.Nxb7 Qb8 11.Ba6 e5 12.d5 Nb4 13.Nc5 N6xd5 14.Bb7 Nxe3 15.fxe3 Bxf3 16.gxf3 Rd8 17.Qb3 Bf8 18.Bxa8 Bxc5 19.Bd5 Nxd5 20.exd5 Qxb3 21.axb3 Bxe3 22.Ke2 Bd4 23.Rhd1 Rxd5 24.Rxa7 Rb5 25.Ra8+ Kg7 26.Rd3 c5?! (Black’s bishop is on an overwhelming square overlooking everything in front of it, and because it is supported by two black pawns means it is not forced off going to be driven off its awesome square. Unfortunately, it also means the Bishop can’t move backwards, which make a difference in this endgame.)

27.Ra6 h5 28.h3 Rb7 29.Rc6 Kh6 30.h4 Kg7 31.Rc8 f6 32.Rc6 g5 33.hxg5 fxg5 34.Re6 h4 35.Kf1 Ra7 36.b4 cxb4 37.Rb3 h3 38.Rxb4 g4 39.fxg4 Ra1+ 40.Ke2 h2 41.Rb7+ Kf8 42.Rf6+ Ke8 43.Re6+ Kd8 44.Rg6 Re1+ 45.Kd2 Rd1+ 46.Kc2 Rc1+ 47.Kb3 Rc7 48.Rg8+ Kd7 49.Rxc7+ Kxc7 50.Rh8 Bg1 51.g5 e4 52.g6 e3 53.Kc2 e2 54.Kd2 Bd4 55.Rxh2 Bxb2 56.g7 1-0


However, the move 5.Na4 remained under the radar for years. Until it was played by a three-time challenger of the World Championship who played it a European Zonal Tournament.


GM Korchnoi (2625)-GM Emil Sutovsky (2575)
European Zonal
Dresden, Germany, 1998
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Na4!? Bg7 6.e4 Nb6 7.Be3 O-O 8.Nf3 Nxa4 9.Qxa4 c5 10.Rd1 Qb6 11.Rd2! (This TN is such a good move that it became part of theory.) 12…Bd7 12.Qa3 cxd4 13.Nxd4 Qc7 14.Be2 e5?! 15.Rc2 Qd8 16.Nb5 Nc6(16…Bc6 17.O-O Bxe4 18.Rd2!) 17.Nd6 Qb8 18.Bc4 Nd4 19.Bxd4 exd4 20.O-O Be6 (20…Be5? 21.Nxf7! and White’s attack comes first and fast.) 21.Bxe6 fxe6 22.Rfc1 Be5 23.Rc7 Bxd6 24.Qxd6 Rf7 25.Qxe6 1-0


And now everyone seemed to take notice.


GM T. Gareev (2614)-Ge. Antal (2519)
US Open
Irvine, CA, Aug. 2 2010
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Na4 Bg7 6.e4 Nb6 7.Be3 O-O 8.Nf3 Nxa4 9.Qxa4 c5 10.Rd1 Qb6 11.Rd2 Bd7 12.Qa3 cxd4 13.Nxd4 Qc7 14.Be2 Bc6 15.f3 Be5 16.g3 Bd6 17.Qc3 Rc8 18.Kf2 Na6 19.Nxc6 Qxc6 20.Qxc6 Rxc6 21.Bb5 Rc7 22.a3 Bc5 23.b4 Bxe3+ 24.Kxe3 Rac8 25.Rhd1 Nb8 26.Rd8+ Kg7 27.f4 f6 28.e5 fxe5 29.fxe5 a6 30.Ba4 a5 31.bxa5 Rc3+ 32.Kd2 Rxd8+ 33.Kxc3 Rc8+ 34.Kb4 Na6+ 35.Kb5 Rc6 36.Bb3 Nc7+ 37.Ka4 Rc5 38.Rd7 Kf8 39.Rd8+ Kg7 40.Rc8 g5 41.Bd5 Rxd5 42.Rxc7 Rxe5 43.Rxb7 Re4+ 44.Rb4 Re6 45.Kb5 Re3 46.a4 1-0



GM Hao Wang (2736)-GM F. Caruana (2779)
Paris, Sept. 23 2013
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.Na4 O-O 7.e4 Nb6 8.Be3 Nxa4 9.Qxa4 c5 10.Rd1 Qb6 11.Rd2 Bd7 12.Qa3 cxd4 13.Nxd4 Qc7 14.Be2 Bc6 15.O-O Bxe4 16.Nb5 Qc6 17.f3 Bd5 18.Qxe7 Re8 19.Qg5 Na6 20.Qxd5 Qxd5 21.Rxd5 Rxe3 22.Bc4 Re7 23.Rd2 Bh6 24.f4 Nc5 25.g3 a5 26.Rd5 Ne4 27.Rfd1 Bf8 28.Rd8 Rxd8 29.Rxd8 Kg7 30.Kg2 Nf6 31.Kf3 Rd7 32.Rxd7 Nxd7 33.Nc7 Bc5 34.Bb5 Nf6 35.Ne8+ Nxe8 36.Bxe8 Kf8 37.Bb5 Kg7 38.Be8 Kf8 39.Bb5 Kg7 40.Ke4 1/2-1/2


Saric (2425)-Bo Vujacic (2269)
Serbian Team Ch.
Palic, Sept. 4 2014
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Na4 Bg7 6.e4 Nb6 7.Be3 O-O 8.Nf3 Nxa4 9.Qxa4 c5 10.Rd1 Qb6 11.Rd2 Bd7 12.Qa3 cxd4 13.Nxd4 Qc7 14.Be2 Bc6 15.O-O e5 16.Nb5 Bxb5 17.Bxb5 Nc6 18.Rc1 Rfd8 19.Rdc2 Bf8 20.Qa4 Qd6 21.Bc5 Qf6 22.Bxc6 Bxc5 23.Rxc5 Rd2 24.Rf1 bxc6 25.Rxc6 Qg5 26.Rc2 Rd4 27.Qa5 Qf4 28.Re2 Rxe4 29.Rxe4 Qxe4 30.Re1 Qc4 31.b3 Qc2 32.Rxe5 Rc8 33.h3 Qb2 34.g3 h5 35.Re1 h4 36.g4 Qd4 37.Qe5 Qd2 38.Qe2 Qc3 39.Qe3 Qa5 40.Re2 Rc3 41.Qe8+ Kg7 42.Qe5+ Qxe5 43.Rxe5 Rxh3 44.Ra5 Rf3 45.Kg2 Rf4 46.g5 a6 47.Rxa6 Rg4+ 48.Kh3 Rxg5 49.Kxh4 Rg2 50.f3 f5 51.Kh3 Rg1 52.Kh2 Rb1 53.Kg3 g5 54.Kf2 f4 55.Ke2 Kf7 56.Rd6 Ke7 57.Rd1 Rb2+ 58.Rd2 Rb1 59.Rd1 Rb2+ 60.Rd2 Rb1 61.Kd3 Ke6 62.Ke4 Re1+ 63.Kd4 Rf1 64.Rd3 Kf5 65.a4 Ra1 66.Kc5 g4 67.fxg4+ Kxg4 68.Rd8 f3 69.Rf8 Kg3 70.Rg8+ Kh3 71.Kb5 f2 72.Rf8 Kg2 73.a5 f1=Q+ 74.Rxf1 Kxf1 75.a6 Ke2 76.b4 Kd3 77.Kb6 Kc4 78.b5 Ra2 1/2-1/2




It may be that Black can force a draw. But he has to work for it. Maybe you can find some improvements for White.



Self-Destruction or the Big “Z”

ZUGZWANG is the compulsion to move in chess, where any move would result in loss of position, material, or game.


A player who is forced into this type of position does not want to move as any move by that player only makes winning the game easier for his opponent. In other words, he is forced to self-destruct, literally move by move.

Here are a few (simple) examples.
Blitz Game, Feb. 4 2019
[White made a miscalculation in the middlegame enabling Black to win a bishop. White could resign, but chooses to play on.]

2019_02_14_A46.Kh1 (White puts his king in a stalemate position. Unfortunately for him, he still has pawns he can move.) 46…Kf3 (Black can achieve the same result by …Kg3 or …Kh3. The important thing is to keep the white king trapped in the corner, when he must move his pawns.) 47.a3 bxa3 48.c4 a2 49.c5 a1=Qmate 0-1


Here two more examples, slightly more sophisticated.


Jonny Hector (2465)-Sergei Tiviakov (2490)
Stockholm, 1990
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Bc4 Bg7 7.h3 (A waiting move. More common is 7.Bb3.) 7…a6 8.O-O b5 9.Bb3 Bb7 10.Re1 O-O 11.Bg5 Nbd7 12.Nd5! (White usually does well if he can get this move in.) 12…Rc8 13.Qd2 Rc5 14.Nf3 Re8 15.c3 Qa8 16.Rad1 Nxd5 17.exd5 Nf6 18.Be3 Rxd5 19.Bxd5 Bxd5 20.Nh4 Bxa2 21.Bh6 Bh8 22.f4 Bb3 23.Ra1 Ne4 24.Qe3 Bd5 25.Qb6 Bb7 26.Re3 Bf6 27.Nf3 Ng3 28.Bg5 Nf5 29.Ree1 Bg7 30.Nh4 f6 31.Nxf5 gxf5 32.Bh4 Kf7 33.Re2 Bh6 34.Bg3 Qc8 35.Kh2 Qc4 36.Rf2 Qe4 37.Rf3 Qc6 38.Rxa6 Qxb6 39.Rxb6 Bxf3 40.gxf3 Ra8 41.Rxb5 Ra2 42.Kg1 Bf8 43.c4 Ra1+ 44.Kf2 Rc1 45.b3 Rc2+ 46.Kf1 h5 47.Rxf5 Rc3 48.Rb5 h4 49.Bf2 Bh6 50.f5 Rc1+ 51.Kg2 Rc2 52.f4 Bxf4 53.Kf3 Bg3 54.Be3 (White is still winning after 54.Bxg3 hxg3 55.Kxg3 Rc3+ 56.Kg4. The text move keeps the tension on the board.) 54…Be1 55.Rb8 Rh2 56.Bh6 e5 57.Rb7+ Ke8 58.Bg7 Rxh3+ 59.Ke4 Kd8 60.Bxf6+ Kc8 61.Rh7 Rxb3 62.Kd5 Rb7 63.Rh8+ Kd7 64.Bxh4! Bxh4 65.Rh7+ Be7 66.f6 Ke8 67.Ke6 d5 68.c5 Rc7 69.Rxe7+ Rxe7+ 70.fxe7



Of course, such self-destruction is not limited to pawns only endgames.


GM Spassky-GM Fischer
World Ch.
Reykjavik, July 11 1972
Game 1
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.e3 O-O 6.Bd3 c5 7.O-O Nc6 8.a3 Ba5 9.Ne2 dxc4 10.Bxc4 Bb6 11.dxc5 Qxd1 12.Rxd1 Bxc5 13.b4 Be7 (This position is more or less drawish. Mariotti-Tatai, Match, Rome, 1972 continued with 14.Nfd4 Bd7 15.Bb2 Nxd4 16.Nxd4 Rac8 17.Rac1 Rfd8 18.Bb3 Kf8 19.Rxc8 Rxc8 20.Rc1 Rxc1+ 21.Bxc1 1/2-1/2. Spassky’s move is more dynamic.) 14.Bb2!? Bd7 15.Rac1 Rfd8 16.Ned4 Nxd4 17.Nxd4 Ba4 18.Bb3 Bxb3 19.Nxb3 Rxd1+ 20.Rxd1 Rc8 21.Kf1 Kf8 22.Ke2 Ne4 23.Rc1 Rxc1 24.Bxc1 f6 25.Na5 Nd6 26.Kd3 Bd8 27.Nc4 Bc7 28.Nxd6 Bxd6 29.b5 Bxh2?? (Black, who is the aspiring to be the next world champion, makes a horrible beginner’s move. Black never recovered in this game. And didn’t show up for the next one. Only two games into the match and Bobby was down 0-2. The fact that he won this match, and the world championship, is simply incredible.) 30.g3 h5 31.Ke2 h4 32.Kf3 Ke7 33.Kg2 hxg3 34.fxg3 Bxg3 35.Kxg3 Kd6 36.a4 Kd5 37.Ba3 Ke4 38.Bc5 a6 39.b6 f5 40.Kh4 f4 41.exf4 Kxf4 42.Kh5 Kf5 43.Be3 Ke4 44.Bf2 Kf5 45.Bh4 e5 46.Bg5! e4 47.Be3 Kf6 48.Kg4 Ke5 49.Kg5 Kd5 50.Kf5 a5 51.Bf2 g5 52.Kxg5 Kc4 53.Kf5 Kb4 54.Kxe4 Kxa4 55.Kd5 Kb5 56.Kd6


(White can play Kc7 protecting his pawn while attacking Black’s. Black has no choice but to play 56..Ka6. White will reply with Bd4 and Black can either give up protecting his pawn. or run his pawn down the a-file, and wait for White to play an eventual Bxa1. And then Black has to give up the a6 square.)

1 Q vs. 2 R

I like heavy endings, that is with queens and rooks. Not too many books deal with these types of endings, leaving the student with many questions unanswered.



Here is one type that interests me. It comes in form of a question.



Which is stronger in the endgame, a queen or two rooks? Here’s an introduction.



Let’s first look at four well-established guidelines for these types of endings.



(1) If the rooks are not connected, then the side with the single queen has the advantage.



(2) If the rooks are connected, then that side has the advantage.



(3) The advantage always lies with the player who has the initiative.



(4) Having the advantage that does not mean that side can win the game.



Here’s the first example.


Detroit, 1990
[White, with the single queen, is the one with the initiative but cannot break through the Black’s defence. Neither side is in real danger as Queen versus two connected Rooks endings, with nothing else on the board, are almost always drawn.]
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Na5 6.Bb5+ c6 7.dxc6 bxc6 8.Qf3 Rb8 9.Bxc6+ Nxc6 10.Qxc6+ Nd7 11.d4 Be7 12.Nf3 Rb6 13.Qa4 exd4 14.O-O (Tempting is 14.Nxd4. But after 14… Rb4 15.Nc6 Rxa4 16.Nxd8 Bxd8, Black wins a piece. And after 14.Qxd4 O-O 15.O-O Bc5, White’s queen gets kicked around.) 14…O-O 15.a3 Bf6 16.b4 Ba6 17.Re1 Bc4 18.Qxa7 Qc8 19.Bf4 Rb7 20.Qa5 Bb5 21.Bg5 Bxg5 22.Nxg5 Nb8 23.Ne4 Nc6 24.Nd6 Qd7 25.Qxb5 [Surely better is 25.Nxb5 Ra7 (25…d3 26.cxd3 Rxb5 27.Qxb5 Qd4 28.Nd2) 26.Qb6 Rb8 27.Qc5 +-] 25…Rxb5 26.Nxb5 Nxb4 27.Nxd4 Qxd4 28.c3 Qf6 29.axb4 g6 30.Ra2 Rd8 31.Rc2 Qe6 32.Rec1 Qe4 33.Nd2 Qe2 34.Nf1 Qb5 35.Rb2 Qg5 36.Rbb1 f5 37.c4 f4 38.Rc3 Qf5 39.Rbc1 Rb8 40.Rb3 Qg5 41.Rcb1 Qf5 42.c5 g5 43.h3 h5 44.c6 Qb5 45.Rc3 Kf7 46.Rc5 Qd3 47.c7 Rc8 48.Rbc1 g4 49.R1c3 Qb1 50.hxg4 hxg4 51.R5c4 Qf5 52.g3 fxg3 53.Nxg3 Qd5 54.Rc5 Qd1+ 55.Kg2 Qa4 56.b5 Qa8+ 57.Kg1 Ke6 58.Rc6+ Kd7 59.Ne4 Qa1+ 60.Kg2 Qb1 61.Nf6+ Ke7 62.b6 Rh8 63.Rc1 (63.Nd5+ Kf7 64.Rf6+ Kg7) 63…Qf5 64.Ng8+ Rxg8 65.c8=Q Rxc8 66.Rxc8 Qf3+ 67.Kg1 g3 68.R8c7+ Kd6 69.R1c2 gxf2+ 70.Kf1 Qd3+ 71.Kxf2 Qd4+ 72.Kf1 Qxb6


 73.R7c3 (Simply 73.Rc6+ draws.) 73…Qb5+ 74.Ke1 Qe5+ 75.Kd1 Qh5+ 76.Re2 [76.Kc1 Qh1+ (76…Qg5+ 77.Kd1 Qg1+ 78.Kd2 Kd5 79.Rc5+ Kd4 80.R5c4+ Kd5 81.Rc5+) 77.Kb2 Qb7+ 78.Kc1]76…Qh1+ 77.Kc2 Qa1 78.Rd3+ Kc5 79.Rb3 Qa2+ 80.Rb2 Qa4+ 81.Kc1 Qa1+ 82.Kc2 Qa4+ 83.Kd2 Qd4+ 84.Kc1 Qf4+ 85.Kb1 Qf1+ 86.Ka2 Qf7+ 87.Rb3 Qa7+ 88.Kb2 Qg7+ 89.Rc3+ Kb4 90.Re4+ Kb5 91.Rc4 Qe5 92.Rc8 [Again, a simple draw can be found with a check (92.Rc5+ =)]92…Qe2+ 93.Rc2 Qe5+ 94.Kb1 Qe1+ 95.Kb2 Qe5+ 96.R2c3 Qe2+ 97.Ka3 Qe7+ 98.Ka2 Qe2+ 99.Rc2 (99.Rc5+ is yet another draw.) 99…Qe6+ 100.Kb1 Qe1+ 101.Kb2 Qe5+ 102.R2c3 Qe2+ 103.Kb1 Qe1+ 104.Ka2 Qe2+ 105.Rc2 Qe6+ 106.Kb1 Qe1+ 107.Rc1 Qe4+ 108.R8c2 (Passive, but still enough to draw. 108.R1c2 is better, as White still has a possible check if necessary.) 108…Kb4 109.Ka1 Qd4+ 110.Ka2 Qd5+ 111.Kb1 Qd3 112.Kb2 Qd4+ 113.Ka2 Qd5+ 114.Ka1 Qd4+ 115.Kb1 Qd3 116.Kb2 Qd4+ 117.Kb1 Qd3 118.Kb2 Qd4+ 119.Ka2 Qd5+ 120.Kb1 Qd3 1/2-1/2



Adding a single pawn to either side obviously increases the chances for that side. The plan should always try to push the pawn towards a promotion.


Adding two isolated pawns to the side with the Queen, the result is almost always a win, even without a promotion.


corres., 1991
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.cxd4 Bb4+ 7.Nc3 Nxe4 8.O-O Bxc3 9.d5 Bf6 10.Re1 Ne7 11.Rxe4 d6 12.Bg5 Bxg5 13.Nxg5 h6 14.Qe2 hxg5 15.Re1 Kf8 16.Rxe7 Be6 17.Rxe6 fxe6 18.dxe6 Qf6 19.e7+ Ke8 20.Qc2 c6 21.Ba6 bxa6 22.Qxc6+ Kf7 23.Qd5+ Kg6 24.Re6 Rae8 25.Qxd6 Kf7 26.Rxf6+ gxf6 27.Qxa6 Rxe7 28.g3 Rc7 29.Qd6 Rhc8 30.Qd4 Rc1+ 31.Kg2 R8c7 32.h4 gxh4 33.Qxh4 R1c2 34.g4 Kg7 35.g5 fxg5 36.Qxg5+ Kf8 37.Qd8+ Kf7 38.b4 Ke6 39.Qg8+ Kf6 40.Qd5 Rg7+ 41.Kf3 Rcc7 42.Kf4 Rge7 43.a4 Kg7 44.b5 Kf8 45.f3 Ke8 46.a5 Rf7+ 47.Kg3 Rg7+ 48.Kf2 Rc2+ 49.Ke3 Re7+ 50.Kd3 Rcc7 51.Qg8+ Kd7 52.b6 axb6 53.axb6 Rb7


54.Qd5+ Ke8 55.Qc6+ Rbd7+ 56.Kc4 Kf8 57.f4 Rf7 58.f5 Kg7 59.Qg6+ Kf8 60.f6 Rb7 61.Qh6+ Kg8 62.Qg5+ Kf8 63.Qe5 Kg8 64.Kc5 Rf8 65.Qd5+ Rff7 66.Qf3 Kh7 67.Qg2 Kh6 68.Kc6 Rh7 69.Kd5 Rhf7 70.Ke6 1-0


GM Jansa (2455)-GM A. Soklov (2570)
Gausdal, 1990
[It would be hard to expand on the notation. GM Jansa annotated this ending in I/50, Ending # 13.]



1…Ka7! [1…Rfc5+ 2.Kd4 Rxa5 (2…Ka7 3.Qe7+ +-) 3.Qa8+ +- ; 1…Rf4+? 2.Kd3 +-] 2.a6!? [2.c7 Rfc5+ 3.Kd4 Rd5+! 4.Qxd5 Rxd5+ 5.Kxd5 Kb7 6.Kd6 Kc8= ; 2.Qe7+ Ka6 3.c7 Rfc5+ 4.Kd4 Rd5+ 5.Ke4 Re5+ 6.Qxe5 Rxe5+ 7.Kxe5 Kb7=] 2…Rfc5+ (2…Kxa6? 3.Qa8+ Kb6 4.Qb7+ +- ; 2…Rbc5+? 3.Kd4 Kxa6 4.Qa8+ Kb6 5.Qb7+ Ka5 6.c7 +-) 3.Kd4 Kxa6? [3…Rxc6? 4.Qd7+ Kb6 5.Qb7+ ; 3…Rc1? 4.Qe7+! Kxa6 (4…Ka8 5.c7 +-) 5.Qa3+ +- ; 3…Rc2! 4.Qe7+ (4.c7 Rbc5= ; 4.Qc8!? Rbb2!=) 4…Kxa6 5.c7 Rbc5 6.Qxc5 Rxc5 7.Kxc5 Kb7=] 4.Qa8+ Kb6 5.Qb7+ Ka5 6.Qa7+ Kb4 7.Qe7! (7…Ra5 8.c7) 1-0




With two isolated pawns with the two rooks, a win for that side is the most likely outcome. But examples are hard to find. We’ll cover more in a later post.