Sac the House and Have Some Fun!

Sac the House and Have Some Fun!

| 27 | Tactics

So far this new series on “attacking the enemy King oriented tactics” has explored kingside weaknesses on h6, h7, g7, and f7 that often lead to some form of mating attack catastrophe. We added to the “h7-square as a target” via looking at the Classic Bishop Sacrifice (a 4 part series).

Now we’ll be moving into other forms of tactics (you need to know all the basic tactics before you can create a complex, thrilling, mating tactical bomb), but before we isolate the various tactical motifs, I’ll present a bunch of puzzles (featuring all sorts of tactical ideas from my own praxis) just for the sheer enjoyment of it.

I should add that I started off as a crazed attacking player. At first I would just let myself “go” and try anything that seemed like fun, even if it wasn’t sound. But after a while, as my competition improved, I would make an effort to only pull the trigger if I felt a sacrifice or tactic was sound.

Here’s a game (played when I was 15 years old) that’s filled with mistakes, but it was very much in tune with my chess philosophy at that time (Alekhine was my hero and I wanted to play like him). Though accuracy and soundness are important as you move up the rating ladder, there is something to be said for just sacrificing the house and having a great time. It’s not only fun to do this, but it also teaches you when these things work and when they don’t, and gives you a feel for the tempo of an attack. In other words, if tossing everything but the kitchen sink at an opponent is both fun and instructive, then there’s no reason not to give it a go.

This was my first published game. Here’s the write-up that appeared in some chess magazine: “ONE piece sacrificed is neat. TWO pieces sacrificed is spectacular. THREE pieces sacrificed is dashing, undaunted, bravado. When one of them is a Rook, it’s breathtaking. And add another fourth piece, even though it’s for three pawns – though giving one back to boot – ending up with Q and R vs. Q, R, R, B, N, N is practically illegal.” As a kid I was thrilled to read this, even though a glance nowadays tells me that I did just about everything wrong!

Silman – R. Flacco, [B98] San Bernardino 1970

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Be7 8.Qf3 Nbd7 9.Bc4 b5


A typical Sicilan sacrifice that we’ll look at in future articles.

10…fxe6 11.Nxe6 Qb6 12.Nxg7+ Kf7 13.Nh5? 

Missing 13.Nd5! when 13…Nxd5? fails to 14.Qh5+ Kxg7 15.Bh6+ Kg8 (15...Kf6 16.Qf5 mate) 16.Qxd5 mate.

13...Bb7 14.0-0-0 Rac8 15.Rhe1 Qc5 16.Qe2??

Another miss on my part. Correct was 16.Qh3! b4 17.e5 bxc3 18.exf6 cxb2+ 19.Kxb2 Be4 (19…Qxc2+ 20.Ka1 and black’s dead in the water.) 20.Qb3+ d5 21.Rxe4 Bxf6+ 22.Nxf6 Nxf6 (22…Rb8 23.Nxd7 Rxb3+ 24.axb3) 23.Rb4.

16…b4 17.Nd5??

17.e5! bxc3 18.Nxf6 cxb2+ 19.Kb1 gives White a winning attack.

17...Bxd5 18.exd5 Rhe8 19.Qe6+ Kg6 20.f5+?

Going for the gusto! Better was 20.Qe2 but black’s better after 20…Nxh5 21.Bxe7 Ndf6.

Now the game hangs in the balance, with the result pretty much decided by the toss of the dice!


The wrong choice! 20...Kxg5! wins for Black.

21.Qf7+ Kxg5 22.Qg7+


22...Kh5 draws, thanks to the fact that White is constantly threatened with …Qxc2 mate: 23.g4+ Nxg4 24.Qxh7+ Kg5 25.Qg6+ Kh4 26.Qh7+, draw.


23.g4+ Nxg4 24.Qxh7+ Kf6 25.Re6+ Kg5 26.h4+ Kf4 27.Qe4+ Kg3 28.Rd3 leads to mate in a few more moves.

23...Ke4 24.Rfe1+ Kf5 25.Rf1+??

25.g4+! Nxg4 26.Qxh7+ eventually mates. Now the game should end a draw.

25...Ke4 26.Rf4+

I get excited and give away even more stuff. Under normal circumstances I would recommend 26.Rfe1+ (trying to go back to the previous mating position after 26…Kf5 27.g4+, etc.), but after 26...Kf5 a three time repetition will occur, and (if Black notices) a draw can be claimed. So it turns out that 26.Rf4+ was the best try.


White’s running out of pieces, and Black still threatens mate on c2!

27.Qg3+ Kf5??

27...Ke4 leaves White with nothing more than a draw by perpetual check.

28.Rf1+ Ke4 29.Qf3+

Faster was 29.Qd3+ Ke5 30.Rf5 mate.

29...Ke5 30.Qf5+ Kd4 31.Rd1+ Kc4

Black triples on the c-file.

32.Qd3 mate.

Now THAT is entertainment! Would I have been upset if someone had pointed out all my mistakes after the game? No way! The thrill of the King hunt was what mattered, and the fact that I was eventually able to drag down my prey made the game a fun, memorable affair.

Okay, time for the puzzles!

PLEASE keep in mind that the puzzles usually have "hidden" prose and variations. To see this, click on SOLUTION and then MOVE LIST.

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