Chess Lesson - Finally a Good Forks Game

Chess Lesson - Finally a Good Forks Game

NM CoachJKane
Sep 12, 2015, 11:19 AM |

Hi Chess Friends,

When I'm teaching chess concepts to kids it's great if there's a way to repeat the same theme many times in one game. The story aspect that a complete game provides helps me to keep either the private student or the class's attention. Additionally, it saves a lot of time to not have to reset the board between each puzzle. For a lot of chess concepts, examples are pretty easy to come by. Almost any game by Paul Morphy demonstrates the concept of developing quickly and looking for threats. Because pins occur over many moves, games like the one below can repeat the themes of pins and zugzwang until they sink in. 

Forks are an essential chess concept that has always caused me trouble in this regard. The main issue is that once someone's played a succesful fork tactic, they are usually winning the game and the game frequently ends immediately. There's no chance for more tactical practice. That's why I was happy when I recently remembered an old game of mine that featured multiple forks that were played or at least occured in reasonable subvariations. I'll present a few of the puzzles that I gave to my student this morning, and the whole game at the end. The first three puzzles are relatively easy and the last two are more difficult.

Puzzle 1: The first puzzle doubles as some good opening theory that beginning tournament players should learn.

Puzzle 2: Another common fork-based opening trick: White has multiple good moves here, but does he have any good captures?

Puzzle 3: Another fork trap
Puzzle 4: Now it gets tricky. You can't get by just seeing forks. Sometimes you need to draw the opponent's pieces out so that you can fork them! Note - with beginner level students you can show them the moves and have them figure out why they're good. Advanced students can find the moves themselves.
Puzzle 5: In the real game white didn't accept the first sacrifice. This actually lead to some more fork-related tactics! Towards the end there are multiple ways to win, so I apologize if your good solution isn't the main line.
For anyone interested, here's the full game.
Do any chess teachers out there have favorite fork-themed games that you like to use? I'd be happy to take a look.