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First Missing but Then Finding a Trapped Queen

First Missing but Then Finding a Trapped Queen

Nov 7, 2017, 7:40 PM 3

Trapping an enemy queen is a great tactic to achieve and a goal second only to mating the enemy king. When an enemy queen is exposed or unprotected, I look for moves to attack her.

Even when the queen can move from a square where it is attacked, sometimes its path of escape is blocked by other pieces and the choices of where to move are more limited than realized. Then when seemingly on a safe square, it is attacked again with no safe sanctuary available.

In a recent five-minute blitz game with no delay, the safety of my king was under attack by a queen, bishop, and knight. As the queen moved closer to my king and threatened my bishop, I first missed but then found a move to trap the queen. After 16 moves, the board position is illustrated below where I am playing Black.

White’s 17th move is Qh5. If I blunder by removing the well-posted knight at e5 by making the move Nxe5, White wins with checkmate by Qxh7. Meanwhile my bishop at h3 is under attack by White’s queen. At this point I was falling into time trouble: I had already used 90 seconds more than my opponent and had little more than two minutes remaining on my clock.

To avoid another time-consuming move, I quickly moved the bishop to f5, where it is protected by a pawn and also attacks White’s bishop at b1. The board has now changed to the position below.

Presumably because of time pressure, White moves the g-pawn to the 4th rank to attack my bishop at f5 without realizing the consequences. Do you see White’s predicament? Because White’s f-pawn is now unprotected and the g-pawn limits the queen’s mobility, she can be trapped – but I missed the tactic and instead capture the bishop with Bxc1 to reduce the threat to my king. Similarly, White misses how vulnerable its queen is and instead captures my bishop with Rxc1. The board position after White’s 19th move is shown below.

Do you see the best move for Black? Fortunately, I now see that the correct move is Nxf4, which attacks White’s queen. There is no safe square for the queen to avoid capture: h3, h4, h5, and h6 are all controlled by my pieces, and the pawn at h7 is guarded by my king. With more than 3½ minutes remaining, White resigns. Winning by trapping the enemy queen is a most rewarding way to end a game.

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