Classic Combinations: Historic Attacks

Classic Combinations: Historic Attacks

IM Silman
Apr 21, 2015, 12:00 AM |
52 | Tactics

This new series is all about attacking chess, combinations and fun. And all of them are in puzzle form (some easy, some difficult) so you can see how your tactical IQ stands up to the old, sometimes forgotten greats. And, if you learn a tiny bit about chess history as we go along, you’ll be all the better for it.

You may ask, “How can chess history help me?”

Well, imagine you are on a game show and you’ll win a million dollars if you get the final question right. They ask you, “In the proper order, who were the first 13 official world chess champions?”

I hope you clearly understand why every person on Earth should have some knowledge of chess history. That’s why this little series will prove helpful, and it’s also why you MUST read all of Batgirl’s articles. Simply put, ignore Batgirl’s articles, and wave goodbye to that one million bucks.


Finally, after you try to solve a puzzle, don’t forget to look at the notes!


Puzzle 1:

Strike before Black castles!

Puzzle 2:

Here’s a famous opening trap that Greco created. People are still falling for it today!

Puzzle 3:

A good old-fashioned beat down

Puzzle 4:

This position came about from a King’s Gambit Accepted. Black just played 6...Nc6, threatening to capture the d4-pawn. The safest reply is 7.Nf3 d6 8.Bxf4 Bg4 9.Qe3 0-0-0 when the question of the moment is, “Are White’s center pawns strong or weak?”


Greco found another way to deal with 6...Nc6. Can you?

Puzzle 5:

White rends Black limb from limb

Puzzle 6:

Building a mating net

The computer (Houdini) recommended ALL of White’s moves. Thus we now have a scandal: It’s clear that Greco was cheating and using chess engines way back in 1620! Or, perhaps he was just very, very strong.

Puzzle 7:

After the death of Philidor in 1795, attacking-fever returned with a vengeance. Of course, people had a greater understanding of positional features thanks to Philidor, but to paraphrase Cindi Lauper, “Boys just want to have fun!”

Black (with 12...Bf5??) just made a huge mistake. Punish it!

Puzzle 8:

With the loss of Philidor, many wondered who would take his place as the world’s strongest player. That unofficial title went to Alexandre Deschapelles (who died in 1847). However, his student, De Labourdonnais, eventually surpassed him and was head and shoulders above everyone else. De Labourdonnais died in 1840, completely destitute. In the following game, the old teacher turned back the clock and taught his student one final lesson!


In the puzzle, Black has two rooks for a queen and an armada of pawns, several of which will turn into queens. White seems to be completely lost and would normally resign except for one “tiny” detail.

Find the one “tiny” detail

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