Pandolfini's Puzzler #73: Three vs. Two

Pandolfini's Puzzler #73: Three vs. Two

| 29 | Scholastics

Professor: It's good to see you, class. 

The kids didn't say much. A few of them even looked sad. 

Professor: Why so pale and wan, if I may ask?

Rachel: Well, the semester's coming to an end. 

Professor: That's true. But you've all learned so much and done so well. 

Hale: We won't be able to see you every week, as we have been doing.

Zephyr: I hate to admit it, but that's actually sad.  

Hale: Do my ears deceive me? Did Zephyr say that?

Professor: I'll still be around. Besides, you've all progressed so nicely, it's time to move on.

Rachel: To what?

Professor: To more sophisticated chess thinking.

Zephyr: More sophisticated?

Professor: Aha. Grandmasters and top players, like those offered on 

Wei: That's what you do with your private students, isn't it?

Rachel: What do you mean?

Lucian: After he's taught them for a bit, he helps them find other teachers.


Professor: And that's a good thing.

Zephyr: Why do you say that?

Professor: Well, I've already taught you the most important things I have to offer.

Ryan: Like what?

Professor: We'll go over all that in our final class next week. For now, let's move on.

Thomas: So what are we going to look at today, Professor?

Zephyr: In our poignant penultimate session.

Professor: Thanks for making me smile, Zephyr. Minor pieces.

Idris: What about minor pieces?

Professor: Situations of three minor pieces versus two. 

Hale: Nothing else on the board?

Professor: Just the kings.

Ryan: That sounds like it might lead to a draw.

Wei: Especially if there aren't any pawns to win.

Zephyr: Or to promote.

Lucian: So how does the winning side win in today's examples?

Professor: By trapping one of the enemy pieces.

Lucian: Can we see what you mean?

Professor: You most certainly can.

Question 1: Can Black force a winning position?

The class had some trouble with this one. But eventually the group got the answer.

Thomas: Wow! It's hard to believe that bishop was lost across the board. 

Hale: Yeah, centralized knights can cover a lot of territory.

Lucian: Got any more surprises, Professor?

Professor: Perhaps.

Question 2: Can Black force a winning position?

This one proved to be much easier, and the group had no trouble following it through.

Rachel: That was pretty direct. 

Thomas: Yeah, check, check, check.

Wei: The solution had little subtlety to speak of.

Lucian: You want subtlety? Why?

Zephyr: Because it makes life interesting?

Professor: Subtle or not, let's see if I can pique your interest for another problem.

Question 3: Can Black force a winning position?

This one had a non-checking idea, so it appealed the sensibility of the enthusiastic eight. They were even smiling again.


Idris: That one had a cool point or two. 

Zephyr: I guess.

Professor: Rather than guessing, see if you can work out the answer to the next puzzle.

Question 4: Can Black force a winning position?

This one also took some time. It was a matter of finding the first move, and Idris did that and more.

Wei: Good work, Idris. 

Ryan: That was nicely done.

Lucian: But the rest of the solution wasn't hard.

Zephyr: Thanks for telling us that.

Professor: In this next-to-last session, let's examine this final problem. 

Question 5: Can Black force a winning position?

The group labored somewhat over this last problem. It wasn't that the problem was hard. It was more that the kids didn't want the session to end. 

Lucian: That was a neat position to end with.

Zephyr: I have to laugh, thinking of you and neatness.

Lucian: Actually, I find it sad.

Zephyr: Sad?

Lucian: Yes.

Zephyr: Why?

Lucian: I'm going to miss all this.

Zephyr: And you're going to miss me most of all?

Lucian: Who knows?

Zephyr: What am I, Dorothy, and you're the Scarecrow?

Lucian: Perhaps.

Zephyr: And who's the Professor? The Wizard?

Lucian: Possibly.

Zephyr: And we're on the yellow brick road?

Lucian: Maybe.

Professor: I think it's time to get into the balloon.

Lucian: Can we continue this fantasy next week?

Professor: Sure. One more time, back in Oz.


Answers below -- Try to solve NM Pandolfini's puzzles first!

Answer 1: Black snares the white bishop directly. 

Answer 2: Black wins with a series of checks. 

Answer 3: Black creates zugzwang and wins a knight. 

Answer 4: Black quickly wins a knight. 

Answer 5: Black pins and wins a knight. 

Take Note:

How can you improve your ability to spot such patterns in real games? It starts with practice and training.

Take the type of positions reviewed in this week’s class. That is, positions of king, two knights and bishop vs. king and two minor pieces.

On an otherwise empty board, start placing those forces in different ways to create winning patterns, any kind of winning patterns. Look for various themes, such as checkmates, forks, skewers, pins, discoveries, underminings, and the like.

In a way, you’re exploring a chess version of sketching doodles. The more you do of this type of exploration, the more likely you’ll develop a greater sense for uncovering tactical motifs in actual play.

You may even find it to be a lot of fun.


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