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Make a Connection!

  • GM Gserper
  • | Dec 8, 2013

I decided to write on this subject after I saw the discussion in the comments section of last week's article where we talked about the tricky B+N checkmate. Somebody asked the question "why not Kd1 ??? what must we do after 58.Kd1 ??" Let's look at the position in question:

Indeed it looks like after the unavoidable 59...Kc2 the black king runs away from the cage. This is a very popular misconception and precisely the reason why sometimes even strong chess players cannot deliver a checkmate in this relatively simple endgame. They see that the opponent's king escapes and dismiss the whole variation even though it is the correct technique.

To avoid this serious speed bump on your way to victory, I addressed the issue in my article: "There is one trick which you must know. When you push your opponent's king from the 'wrong' corner to the 'right' corner at some point it looks like he just escapes. But this is just an illusion. The knight and the bishop create a firm barrier, so the king is still locked." After which I gave the game:

Of course this game answers the reader's question, because the position is pretty much identical to the Ivanchuk game. I expected someone to point out the correct solution:

And yet, people suggested some other solutions (and some of them were not particularly correct). Yes, when you have two extra pieces then there are many different ways to solve the problem, but why look for complicated ways when the simple solution was already described in the article?

Here we face a very interesting phenomenon which I encounter many years ago. The year was 1996 and I had a lecture followed by a simul in Madison, Wisconsin. The subject of my lecture was combinations and as an example of a combination in a very early stage of the game I used the next game:

You can imagine my amazement when one of my games in the simul reached the next position:

I just couldn't believe how it was possible for my opponent who played White in this game to fall into the combo that we discussed pretty much 30 minutes before the game. Then I realized that many people enjoy chess the same way most people enjoy art or any kind of creative activity. It is similar to many people that I personally know who go to a movie, enjoy it and a year later cannot even recollect if they watched the movie.

I guess my opponent from that game enjoyed the combinations the same way and just forgot about it 30 minutes later. My recommendation is simple: whenever you encounter a beautiful chess concept, enjoy its aestetic value first. Then ask yourself a simple question: "How can I benefit from this concept?" When I was a kid I even had a notebook where I would draw diagrams with the ideas that I could use in my games. Of course I am talking not just about opening ideas. Look for example at the next game of a young Tal:

This middlegame idea has nothing to do with the opening. Black wanted to push his 'f' pawn to effectively stop White's attack, so Tal prevented this move even if it could cost him a rook.

Now look at the next famous game of Fischer and try to find the correct move:

I hope that from now on whenever you learn a new chess idea, you will be able to recognize the pattern and use it in your own games.

Good luck! 



  • 4 months ago


    I love your articles because they contrinute to the intermediate player like myself a lot.

    Can you do a series about the Q+K vs R+K endgame? I find it a lot more difficult than the B+N. The reason is that when you mess something up in B+N you may lose about 5 or 6 moves towards the mate. When you do it in a Q v R you can lose more than 10 easily with a single mistake which is very likely to result in a draw. Also you have to watch out for pins and skewers and a lot of stalemate patterns and dangerous positions like these ones:

    If it is black to move it's a draw after Rg6+! because if king moves to the h file then it is perpetual, and if to the f file, then Rf6! pins the queen.

    Black to move, after Rf2+! White has to be careful as the obviously looking Ke6?? draws to Rf6+!

    In B+N you have to be very deconentrated or a moron to allow the opponent king the double attack on your pieces and I think it is just as hard to stalemate than the checkmate itself.

    There used to be a website called queenversusrook.com and it contained lots of useful information starting from the Philidor position, through Harrassment defense, and second rank defense, and Javelin position and everything, but it has been taken down. And I can't seem to find  a good review about the subject when I want to revise the topic anywhere.

  • 4 months ago


  • 4 months ago


    TQ SIR

  • 4 months ago


    And here my friends is the best game EVER played displaying the strength of pawns....Smile....Thanks Grigory !!
  • 4 months ago


    You could always fix the typo right?

  • 4 months ago


    My Dearest Gregory,

    Thank you so much for this sublety my Darling. And you were fabulous in your game against Nikolaidis in 1993. IMO (my opinion's aren't humble), one of the nicest games I've ever looked over. Congrats and be proud my sweetness. It gets my 5E rating: Enchanting, Enticing, Eloquent, Exciting, and most of all, Entertaining !....Smile....

    Your Good Ghostess Lola

  • 4 months ago


    Laughing its chess..or not?

  • 4 months ago


    on the Tal game on the white combo on white's move on move 22 white should play Qh7#.

  • 4 months ago


    In the Tal v Leonov game, it seems to me that 19. Rf6 was actually inferior. 19. c4 instead seems to be better, as it essentially guarantees White can land a crippling knight on d6 eventually and that he can trade off Black's remaining knight with Bxh7+. In addition to Tal's good knight vs bad bishop in that position, he can get pieces trained on the f7 square, with the a1 rook coming in.

  • 4 months ago



    woops! Apparently 23.Ng4 fxg4 24.Qh7 is not exactly mate as I thoughtLaughing.

    You are right:22...f5 is the best move, but white is still slightly ahead with a strong attack.
    I had to turn my engine on this one. I won't spoil it to the other readers though.Sealed

  • 4 months ago


  • 4 months ago


    @Nao83 You're right. I had a typo of my own. It should have been move 22.

    If you play 23. Ng4 even though that square is now covered by the f-pawn, then how do you win after 23... fxg4 ? I suppose you could play 24. Bg6, but there's no win after 24... Qf8, and there might not even be a draw.

  • 4 months ago


    I like this sentence  "How can I benefit from this concept?" .... Thank you. 

  • 4 months ago

    GM Gserper


    Do I remember Karl? Are you kidding me? Who would forget Karl?

    He used to say that "since Serper was a student of the famous Botvinnik - Kasparov school, it means that when I played in a simul against him, I played against the whole mighty Soviet School of chess!"

    I hope Karl is doing fine!

  • 4 months ago



    Sparked my memory.  Karl the librarian always spoke highly of you during the blitz sessions in the Rathskeller.

    I wonder if you know who I am talking about.

  • 4 months ago


    @Anarchessism, in the other line (19... gxf6 20. exf6 Nxf6 21. Qxh6 Ne4 22. Bxe4) I think that the refutation of 22...f5 (I suppose that you did not mean 23...f5 24.Nf6#) is again 23.Ng4!!

  • 4 months ago


    awesome stuff

  • 4 months ago

    GM Gserper

    Thank you to all the sharp-eyed readers who noticed an obvious typo.  Of course instead of 19...Nxf6 20 exf6 gxf6 it is supposed to be 19...gxf6 20 exf6 Nxf6 21. Qxh6 Qf8 and here since neither 22 Qh7x nor 22.Bh7+ is possible, White plays 22.Qxf6 with a very strong attack. 

    I apologize for the typo and also want to commend those of you who don't play through the games just to enjoy them (like watching a movie), but actually critically analyze them.  Great job!

  • 4 months ago


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  • 4 months ago


    in the Mikhail Tal  Leonov game in the second variation you present for move 19.Qf8(19... Nxf620. exf6gxf621. Qxh6Qf822. Qxf6with a very strong attack for White.) you missed the simply (19... Nxf620. exf6gxf621. Qxh6Qf822. Qh7#).

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