Don't Just Check

Don't Just Check

NM CoachJKane

Hi Chess Friends,

I was happy to play a nice combination in a recent blitz game, which got me thinking about an important attacking theme. First, see if you can find black's winning combination below.

The move that struck me there was 20...Qh3. Qxh2+ wouldn't have won as white's king escapes to the center. It's easy to find combinations where you get to play check, check, mate, but just as often it's a mistake to play a tempting check and you need to cut off the escape route first.

Three years ago I watched an exciting game between two of the top young players in the country. This was the final round of the World Open, under 2200 section and two Elementary School age players were playing on board one for first place with thousands of dollars on the line. Black, my former student, made an error in the opening and white was brilliantly winning the game but one mistake let his advantage get away. 

The key moment of the game was the tempting check, 16. Nbd6+? It let black's king make it to the kingside. Nowadays I'm sure that Justin would find 16.Qc5, covering the f8 square and making the Nd6+ threat deadly.

Finding an escape route for the king is also an important defensive idea as GM Cheparinov demonstrated in one of my favorite games of 2018. 21...Rg1+!! is brilliant and the only winning move because it frees the g8 square for the black king.