Pandolfini's Puzzler #41 - Ryan's Quad
Professor: Good afternoon, class. I trust you’ve had an eventful week of chess.
Lucian: I certainly did. I played tons of blitz at the Marshall Chess Club.
Zephyr: I was busy studying. I read a section on open files in Jeremy Silman’s excellent book “How to Reassess Your Chess.” It was great.
Professor: How about you, Hale and Ryan?
Hale: I had to prepare for a huge math test. Gauss and all that.
Professor: And you, Ryan?
Ryan: I played in a quad, scored 2-1, but finished second.
Zephyr: What happened?
Ryan: I won two games with cool sacrifices. But I missed an endgame shot and lost.
Lucian: Let’s see the games.
Professor: Ryan, would you like to come to the demo board and show us your games?
Ryan: OK. But let me start with my two wins first.
And so Ryan began showing her first game. She had Black. The position had become very sharp, with action on both sides of the board. At a critical juncture, Ryan, a piece down, offered another piece.
Ryan: Here, I knew I was down a piece and couldn’t fool around. So I saw a possibility and offered another piece, my knight on b6. I was pleasantly surprised when my opponent grabbed the knight instantly.
Question 1: Can White safely capture the knight on b6?
The class began to analyze, and soon had worked out the correct continuation. They all thought Ryan had played quite wonderfully.
Hale: That was great. Can we see your second game?
Ryan: Actually, let me show the other win first. I won that with a queen sac, too.
Lucian: OK, let’s see it.
Question 2: How should Black continue her attack?
Once again, the class proceeded to analyze the position. Various ideas were tried, and the winning concept soon emerged. The class was really getting into it. (Bobby Fischer played one of the most famous queen sacs in history when he was only 13)
Professor: So what about that loss. Can we also see that?
Ryan: Why not?
Ryan began showing the game she lost, which was very intricate, with play going back and forth. In the end, Ryan was a pawn down in a bishop vs. knight ending, with Ryan having the bishop.
Ryan: It seemed I had a draw. I thought for sure I could give up my bishop for Black's remaining pawns. But I missed a move completely.
Question 3: How can Black force a win?
The class began to analyze. No one had the right idea. The Professor recognized the situation, however, and he gave a clue.
Professor: Think about outflanking as it applies to fixed pawns. That’s all I’m going to say.
It was Lucian who found the answer, and he beamed a triumphant smile.
Professor: Well, thank you, Ryan. I see our time is up. Your presentation was outstanding. Maybe one day you’ll become a teacher.
Professor: Did you learn anything from all this?
Ryan: I don’t know. Sometimes it’s better to have the black pieces?
Answers below - Try to solve ProfessorPando's Puzzle first!
In Ryan’s first game, after 1. Qxb6, Ryan continued 1…Qxg2+!!. The game finished 2. Kxg2 h1/Q+! 3. Rxh1 Rg4+ 4. Kf1 Rxh1+ 5. Ng1 Rgxg1 mate. For personal reasons, Ryan preferred this capture to 5…Rhxg1 mate.
In diagram 2, which was Ryan’s 3rd game, the class found the shot 1…Qf4+!!. After 2. Kxf4, Ryan played 2…Bf2!, and 3…Ne6 mate was unavoidable.
For Ryan’s 3rd example, which was actually her second game in the quad, she never considered 1…e2!!. After 2. Kxe2, Black played 2…f3+, fixing White’s f-pawn. Ryan took the knight, 3. Kxf1, but with 3…Kh3!, Ryan suddenly realized she was going to be outflanked and resigned gracefully.
The concept of outflanking particularly applies to fixed pawn situations, where one king gets the better of the other, usually by utilizing a maneuverability advantage to occupy certain critical squares (also known as key squares). Typically, the main tool in the fight for such squares is the opposition. All of these concepts will be reinforced in subsequent lessons.