7 Tactical Shots
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7 Tactical Shots

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A few weeks ago I signed up to play for my company team in the FIDE World Corporate Chess Championship, which took place this weekend. It turned out to be an intense competition, with many strong players and tons of exciting games played over the three days. Unfortunately, our team, Microsoft Redmond, missed the playoffs, as we finished second in the West A group.

I scored +4-1 and my main takeaway from the whole experience is that I need to work much harder on chess tactics. This is not exactly news, as I've always been more comfortable with positional plans than with wild tactical scrambles. Given my lack of practice and the quick 10+2 time control in this tournament, the best way I could prepare myself was probably solving tons of tactical puzzles and playing blitz. Actually, I did that too. However, I was brought up on a heavy diet of Botvinnik games and his famous training method, and so I spent most of the time on a Herculean project of fixing my hopelessly patchy opening repertoire. That proved to be a costly mistake, especially as I spent most of time working on the openings for Black, but due to the constantly shifting lineup in our team, I ended up playing 4 Whites and only 1 game with Black!

It was not all doom and gloom, however. Sometimes I was on the receiving end of unexpected tactical shots, but in many cases I was able to decide the games with a trick of my own.

I thought that it would be fun to share them - the good, the bad and the ugly. So here it goes - the 7 tactical fragments from the games that I played in February!

1. The Last Trick

The first fragment comes from an online blitz tournament that was played with the worst possible time control for the old hands like me - 3 minutes and no increment usually means sudden death at the moment when you are just starting the conversion! But sometimes I was able to use that urgency to my advantage:

2. The Right Way to Check

The following ending does not do credit either to myself or to my opponent, so I decided to turn it into a small puzzle instead:

3. The Foreboding

The following game is the only one that I am going to give in full. First of all, it is a very short one (indeed, it is a miniature). Second, it was a violent tactical melee from start to finish. Last but not least, I managed to win this game primarily because I kind of anticipated my opponent's blunder!

4. Sloppy Thinking 

The next game was played in a training tournament that was organized as a test run for the participants of the World Corporate Championship. It was an arena-type competition on, played at the same 10+2 time control. I won a few games but lost the following one because I was too lazy to double-check the key variation:

5. The Good vs The Best

A few days later I played another 10-minutes training game on I won in the final time scramble, but it was not very convincing. See if you can do better:

6. Stepping on a Mine

One thing that is difficult for us human beings is to put your piece on an attacked square. Quite often it turns out that the attack is illusory but there is always a mental block to even considering such a "dangerous" move. That's what almost happened to me in the 1st round of the World Corporate Championship:

7. Do Not Rush for the Endgame!

The final example comes from Round 5 of the World Corporate Championship. I was playing an IM from Canada and things were going very well until I decided to cash in my advantage and  exchange as many pieces as possible. I was right in that the resulting double rook endgame was absolutely winning, but had I thought for a few seconds more, I could have won a full piece instead!

Hope that you enjoyed these little fragments, and wishing you a keen eye for tactics in your games!