The End of Attack and Defense

  • GM BryanSmith
  • | Nov 15, 2012

We have come to the end of our journey through Attack and Defense. I will be starting a new column next week, where I will be discussing chess books. The editors of wanted to switch up the columns somewhat, and I realized that many people have asked me for recommendations about chess books – thus the topic.

It has been fun doing this column “Attack and Defense” – at least in a certain way. I intentionally chose a very vague topic, and haven’t even stuck to it much of the time. For example, what does a haunted chess tournament have to do with attack and defense? Okay, okay...the black knight attacked, the white one defended...But still, probably I haven't stuck to the topic much of the time.

What is Attack and Defense? It is yang and yin, the active and the passive, the light and the dark. Our game is somehow based around this duality. But you have to know that “active” is not always in control, and “passive” is not always the loser. Sometimes the attacking side is being forced into action, being forced to lay all their cards on the table, while the defender finds power in passivity, in being able to react.

In every move, and in every position, there are elements of both attack and defense. The key is to get the proportions and the harmony correct. And this, I think, is the key to Attack and Defense.

Now, here are some puzzles. They are very difficult, so by putting them in puzzle format I am just giving you the option to try - if you get stuck you can always click "show solution". But don't get frustrated, because they would also be very difficult for me to solve.

In the following, momentary initiative wins out - White "runs the table" despite being otherwise in a worse position.

The next is a battle between the attack and defense, culminating in an amazing cross-pin:

In the following, Black takes a momentary initiative, but when it runs out, then White takes over. 
Who is really the aggressor in the following study?
The pendulum.


  • 4 years ago


    Very interesting puzzles. Thanks.

  • 4 years ago


    Very nice!

  • 4 years ago


    the puzzle #1 is familiar for me. I like the 2nd puzzle, it's crossing tactic. The third one is unbelievable! 4th one wow! 5th momentum draw. Great puzzles!! thanks

  • 4 years ago


    the first two were easy, the rest were more difficult. #3 is the best imo

  • 4 years ago


    Love it!!!AWESOME PUZZLES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 4 years ago



  • 4 years ago


    Veeery interesting positions. IM Smith, thanks a lot.  But I really HATE positions like the pendulum: a forced draw by repetitionsYell

  • 4 years ago


    If I am not mistaken post G ends on a stalemate??

  • 4 years ago


    thanks for lighting

  • 4 years ago


    Awesome puzzles! Am speechless! And the 3rd puzzle mate by the pawn!! Totally epic!!!

  • 4 years ago


    @louruvusilva: No, it doesn't. After 6. Qd8+ Kb7, 7. Qe7+ Kb6, 8. Bxe4 Qb3, all white has is Q+B v Q ending, which is a draw. And if 8. Qxe4 Qxe4, 9. Bxe4 loe bishop can't mate.

    @e2-e4 1-0: It is a draw by repetition. Black bishop must stay on a8-c6 diagonal and white king will keep attaking it. And if, for example, 5...h3, 6. Kxa8 h2, 7. Kb8 h1Q black promotes first, but white promotes with check 8. a8Q+ and black looses the queen. Similar 5...Bc6, 6. Kc7 h3, 7. Kxc6 h2, 8. a8Q h1Q, 9. Kd6+

  • 4 years ago


    Isn't puzzle 5 also a stalemate?  Or am I missing something.  Seems like the bishop will jut go between a8 and c6 until it swaps for the pawn.

  • 4 years ago


    troitsky's study can acomplished via 6.Qd8+ and 7.Qe7+

  • 4 years ago


    Yes puzzle 4 is stalemate but the side drawing is 8 points of material down so it's a moral win!

  • 4 years ago


    isn't puzzle 4 stalemate?

  • 4 years ago



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