The Best Moves Never Played - Tactics Part 5

  • WIM energia
  • | Jan 11, 2013

Today's article is the last one in the "Tactics" series. The positions presented today show the role of tactics in modern practice. We will start with an example that shows how in complex strategic battles grandmasters of the highest caliber can miss rather straightforward tactics. If grandmasters miss these kinds of tactics then amateurs will miss them for sure, and only the unbiased eye of the computer can see everything. My purpose here is to show that tactics do play a key role in strategic battles and that both players will miss some tactics during a real game, due to the pressure of the ticking clock. I will conclude with two examples that are rather unorthodox.

The first few examples are from the game Li Chao - Kacheishvili. The opening was the Sicilian Hedgehog, meaning that the first 30 moves were played in a slow, positional manner. One pair of minor pieces was traded which favored black, since black was the side with the space disadvantage. White claimed space on both flanks, ensuring piece activity, but this operation left white with both pawn and kingside weaknesses. Black lost a pawn but could reclaim it with a small tactical operation, after which the position remained close to equality.

The game was eventful and the evaluation of the position changed very fast. Black increased their control over the dark-squares, seeking positional domination. White could have exchanged the bishop and rooks to end up in a much better endgame but instead chose to keep the tension in the game by improving their king position. Bringing the king up did not really improve the position because the king was weak and white should have agreed to a three-move repetition. Playing for a win is risky, especially with an exposed king. Here, it is black who misses a winning continuation:

Black rightly declined the three-move repetition and after another series of complex decisions ended up in the following position. The tactic that could have followed is very beautiful and features the motifs of deflection and fork. Both players had been playing on their increment only, which possibly explains why Kacheishvili did not find this winning move:

This game is really impressive - both players declined a three-move repetition and kept fighting on. This game lasted over six hours, so it is understandable that the players got tired and blunders followed. Overall, the game is rich with strategic and tactical ideas that we explored here.

Next, I would like to present you a position that has a highly unorthodox tactical motif. White's rook has the d3-square to retreat to but where would it go if we took away this square after fxe4? Right away fxe4 doesn't work because the e5-pawn is under attack but what if we first we deflected the knight?

Analyzing a line of the Gruenfeld defense I came upon one of the critical games in this opening where white had a spectacular attack and the lines looked more or less forced. However, it turns out that the final position is not losing for black but in fact is much better! I don't really know whether black lost on time or resigned but the lesson to be learned is that one can find tactics even in a seemingly helpless position:

Next article we will move to studying positions where a player has to make a decision based on an evaluation of the position that arises after a series of tactical blows or long forced lines.


  • 4 years ago


    Most of the times of course I would miss it. But mate in one with 15 seconds left of the clock is really hard to miss even for a bad player like me.

  • 4 years ago



  • 4 years ago

    NM GreenLaser

    jojotwello: Here are some possible continuations.

    21.g4 (21...Re8 22.Ng5 dxe4 23.Qxh3 Rxf6 24.Qh7+ Kf8 25.Qh6+ (25.Qh4. Rf4.26.Bb5 e3 27.f3-+) 25..Ke7 26.Ne4 Qf4-+) 22.Nd2 Re8 23.Bxh3 (23.Qxh3 Rxf6) 23...e3 24.fxe3 Rxe3+ 25.Kd1 Rxd2+ 26.Qxd2 Rxh3-+

  • 4 years ago



  • 4 years ago

    NM GreenLaser

    In Kozul-Brkic, Black resigned according to Malcolm Pein. The move 20...Bh3!! provides a good example of interference.

  • 4 years ago


    I've only seen one case in which an GM missed a mate in one during the middle of the game which ended up being a loss for him (I think it was Vishy!). 

    And if a GM would go so far as to miss something as simple as a mate in one, it'll be all over youtube because those things don't happen on a daily basis. 

    These tactics shown in this article of moves missed by the GMs, I was unable to spot any of those moves till I saw it. It goes without saying that amateurs like myself will not be able to see those types of tactics if a GM missed them and definetely not with the same type of time pressure that they would be under. 

    Also, this article is under the concept of tactics within strategical positions. I am sure that these GMs would already be under quite a lot of mental exhaustion which will disable them to think as well as they would be able. 

  • 4 years ago


    Dear Benrami,

    But did you see that during the game? while under the same stress  & time pressure as the GM?

  • 4 years ago


    Very nice analyze but I don't agree with the: "If grandmasters miss these kinds of tactics then amateurs will miss them for sure". Because that is obviosly not true, I have seen games where I could have mated in one and the GM didn't see it.

  • 4 years ago


    verey intelegent analyses

  • 4 years ago


    good analyses


  • 4 years ago


    Isn't white clearly better at the very end?! Only 20 ..Bh3 could save the day.

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