Thursday, September 09, 2021

Getting the juices flowing #1

 Here you see a position from Vukovic' tome. It is a tactical position, and I think it is possible to apply the method of transfer. What are the preconditions of Vukovic for this attack? What are the salient points? What concepts can be derived that are transfer worthy to other analogue positions?

Diagram 1. Black to move

r1bqr1k1/ppp2ppp/2n2n2/2bppP2/4P3/1BPP1N2/PP2Q1PP/RNB1K2R b KQ - 1 1 

I will give you some time for analysis and will update the post later in blue.


  • Chessable course: Sac, sac, mate! (GM Simon Williams)
  • Chapter 1: King in the middle 
  • Source of the course: Art of Attack (Vukovic)

Despite these giveaways,  I started to look at the position in my usual obtuse trial and error way. I dismissed Bxf5 as being not forceful enough. Only after quite some time, I revisited the move.

With hindsight it is clear that we have the tabiya of the attack against the uncastled king here. Opening the e-file is the essential goal to strive for. Apparently this tabiya is not part of my database, and hence not of my skill. The concept of opening the e-file is transferable to all analogous positions where the king is stuck in the middle. I expect the same concept to play a role in the other examples of chapter 1.

The concept has even a remote resemblance with this position where two blocked pawns are unleashed by a sacrifice.

Thinking in analogies, even My System seems to be geared around unleashing your hitherto immobile pawn roller. Do you see the resemblance?

I stated somewhere that building transferable concepts is like building a database of goals. The goal of this position is to open up the e-file, and as long as you are not aware of that, no trial and error is going to get you any further.

What other salient points are there? (to be continued. . .)


  1. I found the move within seconds, to calculate everything to the end.. well..

    GM Smirnov says in "Attack and win" Lesson 3 : "Whenever you notice this kind of pattern, when the opponent's king is in the
    center, it always makes sense for you to try to find a way to start an attack, especially
    if you are ahead in development.
    The first rule suggests here that you need to open up the position, especially in the center because that's the only way how you can
    start attacking directly"

    And there is an eye catching tactical weakness: Re8 -> Qe2 Ke1
    So we realy want to open the e file

  2. Something I learned recently (from Aagaard or Romanovsky; I can't remember which one) was that when the pieces are in the proper position for an attack, a piece sacrifice is often required in order to open the critical line(s) because the available pawn breaks just don't get the job done.

    White is woefully behind in development (all the Queenside pieces are doing nothing), and the White King cannot escape via Kingside castling because the WPf2 has moved to f5 AND the BBc5 prevents it as a consequence.

    Looking for the lines of attack, Aox's observation of the tactical weakness (Re8 -> Qe2 Ke1) is spot on. As previously discussed, it helps to visualize the tactical possibilities by starting at each attacking piece and following the "auras" emanating from that piece all the way to the edge of the board, ignoring all obstacles along the paths.

    Calculating is made easier (NOT to say "Easy!") by realizing that there are two obstacles on the attack path: the WPe4 and BPe5. The WPe4 can be diverted off the e-file with 1...Bxf5. If White takes the "sacrificed" Bishop with 2. exf5, then the line-opening of the e-file proceeds immediately with 2... e5-e4 (getting rid of the e5 obstacle), and White will be crushed.

    If White tries to keep the e4-Pawn in place by capturing on d5 with 2.Bxd5, then (again) the e4-Pawn can be diverted to either f5 or d5 after 2... Nxd5, in either case opening up the e-file after 3.exf5 or 3.exd5.

    One of the things that helps is to "SEE" the possibilities at this point (not necessarily a "stepping stone" position, but a similar idea).

    1...Bxf5 2.exf5 e5-e4 and Black gets his piece back, at a minimum, with lots of attacking chances.

    1...Bxf5 2.Bxd5 Nxd5

    3.exf5 Nf4 (and White is in serious trouble)

    3.exd5 e5-e4 (cranking open the LoA; White loses the Queen and Knight after 4.dxc6 exf3)

    After writing the above comment, I gave the position to GM Stockfish on Chess Tempo for a deeper look. There are a lot of things that I missed (as usual).

    1...Bxf5 is given as the best move (+2.37 for Black). White is recommended to play to accept the Pawn loss and to develop his Queenside as fast as possible, starting with 2. Bg5 dxe4 3. dxe4 Be6.

    I searched for games that reached this position and found none. The only line that got close is 1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 Bc5 4. f4, with none of the remaining White moves used in a game to get to the problem position.

  3. Sometimes I amaze myself in terms of 'ignoring the obvious'. Given that Temposchlucker stated clearly that the position is from Vuković's The Art of Attack in Chess, why not look and see if the game is referenced in it? DUH!

    In my original Pergamon Press version of the book ( don't have the latest version), the position occurs as Fig. 7, page 4. The game was between Mikhail Tchigorin [Chigorin] and Amos Burn at Ostende, 1906. I used this information to find the game in the Chess Tempo database. Note that the date in Chess Tempo is given as 1905.

    Chigorin, Mikhail (2600) vs Burn, Amos (2530)
    Date: 1905
    Event: Ostende, Ostende
    Round: 18
    Result: 0-1
    Opening: King's Gambit, Declined, Classical Variation, General (C30)
    Near Duplicates: 2025675
    1. e4 e5 2. f4 Bc5 3. Nf3 d6 4. c3 Nf6 5. Bc4 Nc6 6. d3 O-O 7. Qe2 Re8 8. f5 d5 9. Bb3 Bxf5 10. Bg5 dxe4 11. dxe4 Bxe4 12. Qc4 Qd5 13. Qb5 White resigns

    I do not know if GM Chigorin was at 2600 strength when this game was played, or what the circumstances were (did he mix up opening lines trying to innovate, was he just tired after 17 rounds in a grueling tournament, had he been out drinking the night before, etc.) but I do know that this game does NOT look like it was played by one of the most creative, strong GMs of that time period. The final tactical mistake (13. Qb5) looks like something I would play. [13... Bf2+ 14. Kxf2 Qxb5 winning the Queen for the Bishop; no wonder Chigorin resigned.]

    I didn't come close to guessing the move order up to the problem position (reached after move 9). I've never played the King's Gambit (with White; I have had the unpleasant experience of playing against it when I was using the Petroff Defense as my primary defense to 1. e4). GM Stockfish indicates that White began to go wrong on the 5th move.

    GM Burn just makes solid developing moves and reaches a winning classical center position in 9 moves. It rapidly goes downhill from there, in spite of Chigorin playing GM Stockfish's recommendation [least worst case in a bad situation] 10. Bg5. Being behind by approximately a Pawn in value this early in the game against another GM, especially one who loved to attack (like Burn), probably was not good opening strategy.

  4. Tempo said : "The concept of opening the e-file is transferable to all analogous positions where the king is stuck in the middle."

    nope , still to special

    1) you play where you are better or can get better (king side, queen side, center)
    in this example : center
    2) you attack when you are better
    3) you need to open the position for an attack (rooks, bishops)

    You keep the position closed at the side you have to defend..

  5. A personal update:

    I've been working through the lichess Puzzle Streak, trying to do two things consistently. (1) CONCENTRATE with full focus. (2) Scan the ENTIRE board before jumping to a solution, even though System 1 is convinced that it is the right solution (usually, but not always). Neither of these two things are "knowledge"; they are "know HOW" - skill.

    Finally, it appears to be penetrating into my System 1 (RCCM). In the last couple of days, I have been able to get up to 48 and 46 puzzles correct. My previous highest "best" was 33.

    If I can do this consistently (Aye, there's the rub!), then I think I have made progress toward better tactics ability, even if it's just a little bit.

    One of the things I've noticed that helps is to categorize and abstract each puzzle immediately after solving it, whether correctly or incorrectly. I've been developing a kind of "sixth sense" as to what is important to "see" in most puzzles, recognizing common aspects from puzzle to puzzle (not necessarily consecutively). I've thought of documenting these "patterns" but, so far, have not done so.

    For example, the focal point for a checkmate with a protected Queen is a recurring pattern. The named pattern is the Dovetail or Epaulette mate. The two potential escape squares not covered by the attacking queen are blocked by the opponent's own pieces OR controlled by the side with the Queen. The little "twist" is to visualize the two potential escape squares as being a Knight's distance away from the Queen's focal point. This holds true for both types of mate.

  6. The September 21 issue of Chess Life (the USCF official magazine) has the usual 6 tactical puzzles by GM Andy Soltis. The second problem is an analogous position to the one given by Temposchlucker. Yet, at first glance, it might be assumed that the two positions have nothing in common. The Black King is NOT stuck in the middle, and the disaster occurs on the d-file, not the e-file.

    But there is an abstract structural similarity that is important. The similarity is in the alignment of forces along a file, and the opening of that file by force, resulting in a pin which wins material. There is no sacrifice to open the d-file; a simple exchange forces the file open, with the "stinger" coming after the exchange.

    IMHO, this is the kind of abstraction that is needed in order to "prime" System 1 with "triggers" so that we can "SEE" the connection between the two totally different positions.

    [Of course it is entirely possible that I'm imagining a connection where none exists. It's one of those things that we "SEE" or we don't "SEE".]

    UNRELATED: there also is an example of Alekhine's Gun after White's 25th move. It does not play any role in the final denouement.

    FEN: 3r4/pp1r1pkp/2pnp1p1/q7/2PP4/1P1R2NP/P3QPP1/3R2K1 w - - 2 32

    Temposchluker: a diagram would be nice to have here for easy visual comparison!

    The first thing to observe is that d6 is a B.A.D. square [2:2]. Please recall the importance of "SEEing" through obstacles (whether Pawns or pieces is irrelevant) along the lines of attack to the edge of the board. Conveniently (but not accidentally), there is a forcing move that opens the LoA to d6 for White: the Black Queen is "loose" (LPDO) AND there is a possible fork of the Black Queen and the Black King by the White Queen - on the e5 square.

    32. Qe5+ Black resigned

    After 32...Qxe5 (forced, because the Black Queen is LPDO) 33. dxe5 and the BNd6 is pinned and bayoneted by the newly minted e5-Pawn; if BNd6 moves, White wins a Rook on d7.

    The game is in the Chess Tempo database and also on I've taken the game score from Chess Tempo.

    GM Stockfish "thinks" that Black should have played 31...Kg8, with a slight disadvantage (about half a Pawn). GM Grischuk's 31st move is worse than about 25 other legal moves in the position.

    GM Grischuk was the higher rated player. The game was a blitz game, and there is no indication of how little time he had to make his moves toward the end of the game. That is irrelevant for adult chess improvement TRAINING purposes. If we can't "SEE" it, we can't play it, except by accident.

    Nepomniachtchi, Ian (2707) vs Grischuk, Alexander (2764)
    Date: 2012-12-29
    Event: Piterenka Blitz 2012, Moscow RUS
    Round: 2
    Result: 1-0
    Opening: Caro-Kann Defense, Two Knights Attack, Mindeno Variation, Exchange Line (B11)
    1. e4 c6 2. Nf3 d5 3. Nc3 Bg4 4. h3 Bxf3 5. Qxf3 e6 6. d4 dxe4 7. Qxe4 Nf6 8. Qh4 Nbd7 9. Bd3 g6 10. O-O Bg7 11. Ne2 Nd5 12. Qg3 Nb4 13. Bg5 Nf6 14. Rad1 Nxd3 15. Qxd3 O-O 16. c4 Qa5 17. Bd2 Qa6 18. b3 Rfd8 19. Qc2 Ne8 20. Bf4 Qa5 21. Rd3 Rd7 22. Bd2 Qb6 23. Rd1 Rad8 24. Bg5 Rc8 25. Qd2 Qa6 26. Ng3 Nd6 27. Bf4 Rcd8 28. Bg5 Rc8 29. Bh6 Rcd8 30. Bxg7 Kxg7 31. Qe2 Qa5 32. Qe5+

  7. Another problem from the September 2021 issue of Chess Life, problem #3 from GM Andy Soltis.

    FEN: 2r1nrk1/5pp1/2q1p3/p3B3/3p1P2/1Q6/PPP5/2K1R1R1 w - - 2 27

    Perhaps there is a recurring "pattern" lurking inside this position.

    First of all, it is White to move. That means that Black is behind in making forcing threats against the White King. Black has c2 under "attack" which is B.A.D. [2:2]. Unfortunately, Black has no long range piece that can be added to the attack on c2 for several moves. White, on the other hand, has a similar "attack" on g7, which is also B.A.D. [2:2]. The important difference is that White can sacrifice twice on g7, leaving a "naked" King AND can still bring two major pieces into the direct attack on the Black King with the g-file and h-file wide open. Unfortunately. Black has no reserve defenders to bring to the aid of his King immediately.

    Since forcing moves should be tried FIRST, White can sacrifice twice on g7, beginning with 1. Bxg7. Since this "attacks" the BRf8 [WHICH IS IMMOBILE], and threatens to gain an exchange, that's about as forcing as it can get without a direct check. Since Black cannot recapture first using the King, he is forced to take with the Knight 1...Nxg7. White follows up by stripping all defenders from the Black King position: 2. Rxg7+. Not recapturing does not look appealing. . ., so 2...Kxg7.

    Now the onus is on White to show that the exposed Black King is about to get killed from overexposure.

    The first consideration is that White cannot just play his Rook to h1: the Black Queen controls that square! So the White Queen must be maneuvered so that the Rook comes into play on the g-file, not the h-file. Since White has already sacked a Rook, if Black could get two Rooks for his Queen, he would be out of the woods (at least as far as immediate checkmate is concerned).

    So, let's look for a check, to force the Black King into a very difficult choice. 3. Qg3+ forces the Black King to choose his poison.

    Let's assume his first inclination is to escape from the "box" and maneuver (via f6 and e7) away from the "kill zone." 3...Kf6 and now White (if he recognizes the focal point) has immediate mate with 4. Qg5#. [Note: this is the pattern I commented on previously, where the two squares NOT covered by the Queen (AND a Knight's distance from the focal point) are blocked by the opponent's pieces/Pawns. It is the Dovetail or Epaulette mate pattern.]

    The Black King can also choose to move somewhere on the h-file but naked Kings rarely find any safe haven with two major pieces on the attack on wide-open lines. Since h1 is not available, we have to exchange the position of the Queen and Rook with respect to the files controlled. After 3...Kh6 [or 3...Kh7 or 3...Kh8] 4. Qh4+ and the Black King is forced back to the g-file with (perhaps) 4...Kg6, hoping to sneak out via f6. Alas! 5. Qg5+ Kh7 6. Qh5+ Kg7 7. Rg1+ (FINALLY!) Qg2 (forced) 8. Rxg2# seals the deal.

    It is not just the mating pattern moves that require inculcation into System 1 (RCCM). The preconditions associated with the focal point must also be inculcated.

    The game is available on Chess Tempo and

    Nepomniachtchi, Ian (2520) vs Chebotarev, Oleg (2505)
    Date: 2006-09-09
    Event: 59th ch-RUS 1st League, Tomsk RUS
    Round: 7
    Result: 1-0
    Opening: Sicilian Defense, Paulsen Variation (B46)
    1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Nxc6 bxc6 7. Qd3 d5 8. Bf4 Nf6 9. Be2 Bb4 10. O-O-O O-O 11. exd5 cxd5 12. Qg3 Bb7 13. Be5 Rc8 14. Ne4 Ne8 15. Ng5 h6 16. h4 Qe7 17. Qd3 hxg5 18. hxg5 Qxg5+ 19. f4 Qg6 20. Qb3 d4 21. Bd3 Be4 22. Qxb4 Qxg2 23. Qb3 a5 24. Rhg1 Qf3 25. Bxe4 Qxe4 26. Rde1 Qc6 27. Bxg7 Nxg7 28. Rxg7+ Black resigned

  8. Repetition of a recurring theme:

    Key to Improvement: Upgrading Your Thinking Skills by RoaringPawn

    (Sorry if this is a repeat: I searched for the topic [using key words] through this blog and did not find this article.)