Some Puzzles from the US Senior Championship
I just finished playing in the US Senior Chess Championship (I'm a senior! Which is age 50+) where I was representing the state of Georgia. Each state sent one person to play. All of my games were against strong players and it was a tough tournament for me. That said, I scored 3 wins and 3 losses and gained some rating points.
Here are some positions that occurred in my games where it's someone to move and get a significant or winning advantage. See if you can solve them and I will have solutions in the last bullet point on this list.
Btw, see how each board has coordinates. a-h on the bottom and 1-8 on the right. So you can specify moves like e2-e4 or h7-h5, etc. If a Rook is taking a piece on F3 then one says RxF3 or Rxf3. If a Pawn is moving from d4 to d5 you just write, "d5".
1. Black to Move and Get a Significant Advantage. There is only one answer.
I was playing black in this game.
2. White to move and get a significant advantage
I was white.
3. From the same game as above. White to move and WIN
4. Black to move and get an unstoppable winning advantage.
White just made a mistake by moving his queen from d1 to h1. He did that because Black (me) has significant pressure with my rooks and queen bearing down on the g2 square. The game was equal before that.
How can Black now take advantage of this?
I would do more but tournament just finished and I'm a little tired.
6. SOLUTION #1
Black (me) plays Ng4! Which looks ridiculous. Nothing is protecting it and the queen can just capture it. (See the attached position).
On g4, it attacks the B on E3 so White has to take it with his queen.
Qxg4 then the other Knight goes NxP. Qe2 Nxd3 and Rxe3! and if QxR (which he has to do) then Bd4 pinning the queen against the King and winning.
7. SOLUTION #2
Before each round we are told who we are going to play. I had about an hour to do some research. I saw that ten years ago he lost a game to a strong grandmaster and I was curious if he remembered the game. So I repeated the moves the grandmaster played and my opponent made the same moves today that he did ten years ago but then he didn't remember the game anymore and made a weaker move.
This is why it's important to study losses. If he had studied that loss from ten years ago he would've had an improvement on his play. But he didn't.
In any case, we reached the position above and I did Nc3xD5 pawn. Now if he does QxQ I do Nc7 (check), Kd8 (attacking my knight and I have to also take back my queen and my bishop is being attacked by the pawn on f6 but...) NxE6 (check!) and then I take back the queen with my bishop which is being attacked.
8. SOLUTION #3
This is from the same game as above. I won a pawn in the above puzzle but sometimes it's hard to win just being a pawn ahead.
I took more time on this move than any other move in the game. And to see the win is about 16 half-moves ahead.
1. BxN RxB 2. RxR KxR 3. KF4 KG6 4. KE5! KG5 5. Pawn to D5 (this is written normally as "D5") F4. 6. D6 F3 7. D7 F2. 8. D8 (turns into a queen) and NOW he can't do F1 (making his own queen) because my brand new queen has his king in check. So I have time to stop his pawn from queening and he resigned.
He resigned when I did KE5 and he saw that I would queen with check.
9. SOLUTION #4
Even though the position was about equal before he moved the Queen from D1 to H1, I was on the attack. Sometimes it's a bit easier to play when you are attacking than defending.
Because although his pieces were all protecting the vital squares, one small mistake and you can distract the pieces away from their royal duties.
In this case, the square g2, which is right next to his king and my 2 rooks and queen are "looking at" needs defending. If I take his pawn on F3 with my pawn, he HAS to retake with his bishop in order to protect the G2 square.
But when his Queen moved to H1, it no longer protected the vital D3 square.
So the solution is P moves to D3 (see attached position).
If his Bishop takes the pawn then he instantly loses because Gxf3 followed by rook invading the G2 square and I'll eventually mate him.
So has to pull his Bishop back to D1 instead of taking the pawn.
But now a vital open line has appeared so Black (me) can do Qc8 and then check his king on C5 plus I now have a powerful pawn that could go to the finish line. And his Queen and Rook are cut off from the action.
The game continued:
34. Bd1 Qc8 35.Rc1 Qc5+. 36.Kf1 Bxd5. 37.exd5 d2 38.Rc2 Qe3. 39.Be2 gxf3 and he resigned because mate is unstoppable.