Blindfold finish

Blindfold finish

Ashley-N.N., New York 2013
9 board Blindfold Simultaneous Exhibition

White to move and mate in 3

Mating skills!

Lynch-Halstead 1986, White to move and win

Lynch-Halstead 1986, White to move and win

Brilliance or Blunder?

Kral-Cubok 2005, Was 30…Rh6 brilliance or a blunder?

Nasty chess move!

Montheard-Toulzac 2005, White to move and win

(Click image for article)

Nasty Chess Move!

I recently discovered a new data-mining technique that I’ve been employing over the last year to cull positions from my over 4 million game database. It has allowed me find hundreds of incredible and instructive combinations and ideas to share with my students and potentially for future books or DVDs. Here is one my favorites:

Montheard-Toulzac 2005, White to move and win

Black’s last move 24…h4 traps White’s queen, and might cause most players to panic. White remained calm and played a logical move 25.Bxe5, and, even went on to win the game due to a serious error by his opponent(see below). However, White could have gone down in history with the mind-blowing 25.Nxf6!!

It’s hard to wrap your mind around such a move. At first blush, it’s not obvious what the point is. Only through careful analysis does it all become clear.

Let’s start with 25…hxg3, accepting the queen. Now White plays the cold-bloodied 26.Nxg4! going down a queen for a mere knight. However, a brief look is enough to see that White’s ostensibly weaker forces are a perfect picture of powerful centralization. The threat is now 27.Bxe5+ (or, even better, 27.Rxe5!), winning back the queen with interest and maintaining a blistering attack on the king. None of Black’s moves will help.

  1. a. 26…Re8 27.Rxe5! wins.
  1. b. 26…Rxh3+ 27.gxh3 Rxh3+ 28.Kg2 Rh2+ 29.Nxh2 ends the madness.
  1. c. 26…Bf6 27.Rxf6! Nxg4 (27…Re8 28.Rxe5! wins nicely; 27…Nxd328.Rff1+ Kg8 29.Re8 mates) 28.Rxc6+ Kf8 29.Bc5+! Kg8 30.Bc4+! Qf7 31.Rc7! is just mean.

These lines are short and sweet and prove that the queen is untouchable. Despite their brevity, it takes a lot of creativity, calculating skills and clarity of vision to see that the queen sac is simply crushing. Did I say queen sac? Actually, 25.Nxf6!! is a knight sac. Let’s see what happens if Black takes the knight instead:

25…Bxf6 (25…Nxf6 26.Qxg5 is over) 26.Qf4!

A cool waiting move. Black is completely helpless against all the threats to capture one of his three minor pieces, starting with the knight on g4. Black’s main attempts both fail:

  1. a. 26…g5 27.Bxe5!! (Queen? What queen?) gxf4 (27…Qxe5 28.Qxg4 wins) 28.Bxc7 Ne3 29.Rxf4 Nd5 30.Rg4+ wins.
  2. b. 26…Kg8 27.Bxe5! Nxe5 (27…Bxe5 28.Qf8 mates) 28.Qxf6 Rf7 29.Bc4! Nxc4 30.Re8+ is over.

All these variations belong to the calculating powers of super GM’s (or computer programs!). As I mentioned earlier, from the diagram White played the more mortal move 25.Bxe5. (It should be noted that 25.Nxg5 does not work because of 25…hxg3 26.Ne6+ Kh6! 27.Nxc7 Rxc7 28.hxg4? Rch7!! when White will lose!)The game proceeded with 25…Nxe5 26.Nxg5 hxg3 27.Ne6+ Kh6?

Correct was 27…Kg8! 28.Nxc7 Rxc7 29.Rxf6 Kg7! with sudden equality.


White is a master after all! This in-between mate threat wins the game.


28…g5 29.Rxf6+ Ng6 30.Nxc7 Rxc7 31.Ree6 wins

29.Rxg4 Qe5 

There is no other way to stop mate.


Winning, but more tasty was 30.Rh4+! Qh5 31.Rxh5+! Kxh5 (31…gxh5 32.Rxf6 mate) 32.Be2+ Kh6 33.Rf4! g5 34.Rxf6 mate.

30…Kh5 31.Nf4+ Kh4

31…Qxf4 32.Rxf4 is just an extra piece.

32.Rg4 mate


Mating skills

Lynch-Halstead 1986, White to move and win

Lynch-Halstead 1986, White to move and win

Sometimes it takes real skills to finish off a powerful attack. After 33 moves, White has chased the Black king out into the open and now can end the game with a few deft strokes.


A devastating shot that White unfortunately missed, most likely due to time trouble. Instead, he played 34.Nf7+? and allowed the Black king to help conquer its counterpart by marching all the way down the board after Kf4 35.Nd6+? (Best was 35.Qh6+ Kf5 36.h4 when White can still play for a win) 35…Ke3! 36.Qe7+ (Now 36.Qh6+ no longer helps because of 36…Ke2! 37.Qc1 Qd1+! trading queens with a dominant king in the ending; 36.h3 doesn’t help either because of 37…Kf2!) Kf2! 37.h3 Qd1+ 38.Kh2 Qg1#


34…Kh5 35.g4+ Kh4 36.Qh6#; 34…Kh4 35.Qh6#

35.h4+! Kh5

35…Kxh4 36.Qf4+! (White could have won the queen with 36.Qh6+ Kg3 37.Qh2+ Kf2 38.Qg1+, but mate is probably better) Kh5 37.g4+ Kh4 38.g5+ K-any 39.Qg4#


Quiet, simple and crushing. The threat to mate on g5 is merely a prelude to the killer pawn advance. The less patient 36.g4+? doesn’t work because of 36…Kxh4 37.Qh6+ Kg3 38.Qh2+ Kxf3 and Black has slipped the noose.


36…Qd1+ 37.Kh2 or 36…h6 37.g4+ ends in the same way.

37.g4+ Kxh4 38.g5+ K-any 39.Qg4#


Brilliance or Blunder?

Kral-Kubak 2005 Was 30…Rh6 a simple blunder of a piece?

Black (rated 1650) played the intriguing 30…Rh6. White played 31.gxf5 upon which Black decided that he had blundered and played 31…Nxd6?? He should have asserted himself with 31…Rxh4! when 32.Qxe4 can be met with the ultra-brilliant 32…Rxe5!! (32…Rg4+? 33.Kh1 Rxe5 34.Qf3! wins for White) 33.Qxe5 Rg4+ 34.Kf2 (34.Kh1 Qc6+) Rxf4+ 35.Qxf4 Qxf4+ and Black has a winning advantage.