Insane, Surprising, or Beautiful Finishes, Part 3

  • IM Silman
  • | Dec 17, 2013

My last article didn’t have any chess puzzles, which I know readers enjoy. To make up for that, we’ll have a simple article this week composed entirely of puzzles. And, as I did in Part 2 of this series, all examples will be from games that won brilliancy prizes. If you solve them, you will have every reason to think, “Why can’t I win a brilliancy prize too?”

Hmm… that’s an interesting thought. Perhaps you’re far better than you ever imagined!?

Almost all of these puzzles are very difficult, so I’m feeding you to the lions. But please remember: it’s not all about solving these problems. It’s also about enjoying (and perhaps learning from) the wonderful tactics and attacks that these players somehow conjured up! My notes will help you deconstruct what’s going on.

Puzzle 1:

The Danish-born grandmaster Jacob Aagaard (he now resides in Scotland) won the British Chess Championship in 2007, has written many fine chess books, and is co-owner of Quality Chess, a highly regarded publishing company. Here’s a fun example of his tactical powers.


Jacob Aagaard at the Dresden Olympiad in 2008

Puzzle 2:

The St Louis Chess Club is all the rage nowadays, so I decided to show a fun game from St Louis that goes way, way back to 1884! White has just played 26.Qf3, threatening to take on f7. How should Black deal with this?


Puzzle 3:

The English grandmaster Chris Ward is well known for his excellent books [and commentary at the London Chess Classic last week! - ed.]. My favorites (out of many): Genius of Paul Morphy, Nimzo-Indian Kasparov Variation, his work on the wonderful Dangerous Weapons series, and Controversial Samisch King’s Indian. But, as our puzzle shows, he also plays a mean game too!

Puzzle 4:

In general, Amos Burn was a quiet positional player. However, all good players can do everything well, and if he got the chance to slash his opponent to bits, he would happily take it!

Amos Burn | Image Wikipedia


Puzzle 5:

Isidor Gunsberg, born in Hungary in 1854, was a very strong player who lost a close World Championship match [4 wins, 6 losses, 9 draws] to Steinitz in 1891. He died in 1930. Emil Schallopp was born in Germany in 1843 and died in 1919. He’s most famous for the seafood that was named after him.

One would think that a World Championship challenger would beat a player who failed to win even one top event, but that wasn’t the case. In fact, Schallopp more than held his own against Gunsberg in the games they played.

I’m giving the first 14 moves of this game since I feel the extremely wild opening will give you a clear idea about Schallopp’s hyper-aggressive style.

An interesting opening, played at a time when fear seemingly didn't exist. Now it's time for the puzzle:


Puzzle 6:

In Part One of this series, I gave two games won by William Pollock that blew quite a few members away. So why not give Pollock fans another taste of his extremely exciting brand of chess?

Born in England in 1859, he was a surgeon by profession, and his chess games were so tactically violent (and brilliant) that he seemed to be wielding a knife on the chessboard too as he sliced and diced his opponents to submission!

He played in several strong tournaments, but rarely beat the world’s top players. But when he faced anyone but the best, he was brutality incarnate. He died at the young age of 37, a victim of tuberculosis.


Puzzle 7:

David Janowski (born in Belarus in 1868, died in France in 1927) loved very sharp chess and his style earned him many brilliant victories. However, those that live by the sword often die by the sword, and this time poor Janowski is the hunted instead of the hunter.

Paul Lipke (born in 1870 in Germany, died 1955), a lawyer, was quite a strong chess master but he wasn’t really in Janowski’s league. I’m sure Janowski was thinking the same thing, right up to White’s 20th move!


David Janowski | Image Wikipedia

Puzzle 8: 

Our next puzzle features one of the most famous combinations of all time. It’s nothing less than awesome. Many of you have seen it, but for those that haven’t, prepare to be blown away! I’ve added a full analysis so you can enjoy every single nuance.


Puzzle 9:

I have to admit that I never was impressed by Mieses (born in Germany 1865, died in 1954), as a player (one-dimensional) or writer (dry). But when he managed to get a position that suited him (an attacking position!), he could roll over anyone. His play in this game is sharp, imaginative, and instructive.


Puzzle 10:

Our previous puzzles (with the exception of puzzle 2) were really heavy duty. Here’s one that’s actually solvable. Janowski, who was the victim in puzzle 7, shines with a simple but elegant finish. 



  • 3 years ago


    Join Sämisch Variations to learn and play this variation.    
  • 3 years ago


    Great article. Thanks! Am also enjoying the amateur's mind! Keep up the good work!

  • 3 years ago


    I feel like the worst chessplayer on earth.

  • 3 years ago


    thx jimmy-the-hand , didnt see that move

  • 3 years ago


    zorba_ca, the black queen takes the white queen for free. 43. Nxf4 Qxg5 .

  • 3 years ago


    Very impressive...I'm taking them slowly to absorb all the complexities. An observation on Puzzle 3:

    One of the lines reads: 

    (42... Bf4+43. Qxf4Nd3+also wins. ), but this does not seem to work since (42... Bf4+)falls to  43. Nxf4 no, or did I miss something? 

  • 3 years ago



  • 3 years ago


    Ah, I see now. I think I was misplacing pieces in my mind - really should have played it out on an actual board before posting. Thanks!

  • 3 years ago


    Ah Ok, not sure why I didn't realise there were two knights on the f-file! But anyway, now the bishop is loose.

    22. N3d4 Qxe2 23. Nxe2 Rxd2 25. hxg6 Rxe2 

    Either way, black's still up a piece. As Heisman says, look until quiescence.

  • 3 years ago



    I made a notational error in my previous post. Nfd4 fails to determine which knight is moving. What I meant to say was 22..Qxd3 23. N3d4, where the f3-knight has moved and is hence safe from your line (which would have worked against 23. N5d4).

    Sorry for the confusion.

  • 3 years ago


    @ bonopo

    32. h5 fails to 32... Bd5 . There's a queen check on d1 to worry about. The h5 move works later because the white LSB has already joined the attack. 

  • 3 years ago

    NM Petrosianic

    @donopo 32.d5 then bd5 if takes then qd1

    problem 1: 19 Nd5 should lead to the same thing to 21 Nd5 var I think?  So maybe Nd5 was better earlier.

    really enjoyed problems 5, 7.

  • 3 years ago


    @ Mordecai10

    You're missing the fact that the white knights are loose in your line. If 23. Nfd4, simply 23...Qxe2 24. Nxe2 Bxf3 25. hxg6 Bxe2 . Black wins with the extra piece.

  • 3 years ago


    please can someone explain to me why in the last puzzle 32. h5 is not valid

  • 3 years ago


    In puzzle 4, I was hesitant to go for 22..Qxd3 because of white's reply 23. Nfd4. I couldn't see a convincing response for black here. For example, 23..Qh3 is met by the simple 24. Ncx6, while black is an exchange down after 23..Rxd4 24. Nxd4 Qxd4 25. hxg6. What am I missing?

    EDIT: 23. N3d4 was intended instead of 23. Nfd4.

  • 3 years ago


    spikestars, in puzzle 9 move 28.Qxf8 is illegal, because white queen can't making move out of h-file due to pin to the white king, see?

    28.Qxf8 will be met by 28 ...Qxh1!!!

  • 3 years ago


    wow nice puzzles

  • 3 years ago


    In puzzle 10 you would have to be a genius to see  the first move :\ . rest came easy. But was it really neccessary to sac the queen for white?


    Loved puzzle 7 and I didn't see the illegal move mate on puzzle 9

  • 3 years ago


    Chess is such a wonderful game.

  • 3 years ago


    Great combination i never imagined it exists. in puzzle number 3, Ward seems to see the King will be mated on the other side of the board.

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