Reaching Back for a Good Move

Reaching Back for a Good Move

NM CoachJKane
Apr 11, 2015, 9:11 AM |

Hi chess friends,

I recently played a short 15 minute game online, which I won with an early tactic. I just developed my pieces, saw a move by my opponent that seemed wrong, and used it to win a piece. It wasn't until I showed the game to a few friends that I realized that they tended to have a very hard time spotting the winning plan. I think that's because I won with a couple moves that brougth pieces backwards. In general, these moves are easy to miss, so I found a few practice positions to show students and provide as a challenge for you. 

First, here's my game from last week

The top French player, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (MVL) had a great backwards move in his win over, Fabiano Caruana, then the World's number two rated player in January. In the position below he wanted a way to attack the white kingside, but there's only one good way to do it.

Notice that MLV's 22...Bd8! was the only way to create an effective bishop-queen battery. 22...Qe5 would have been met by f4 and the attack stalls.

In a less tactical context, see if you can find how another top player, Alexander Grischuk, broke out of his passive looking position?

A key retreat helped GM Peter Svidler win a game in the last World Championship Candidates tournament. How would you try to convert white's material advantage?
How have you been doing on the puzzles? Are backwards moves a blind spot for you, or have you found a way to overcome this common chess weakness. I'd be interested in seeing examples from your games or some educational classic games in the comments. I'll leave you with maybe the most famous example of a top player missing a key backwards move. See if you can find the move that made former World Champion Karpov resign in the following diagram. Black just played the horrendous Bf8-d6. White to move and win.