Help spotting tactics in this position

kaukasar
There is a forced checkmate here, but i just cant find it. I would like some help regarding how to think in order to find it. I am not interested in just getting the solution move, stockfish can give me that but i won't learn anything from it.
 
I have learned the following thought process:
1) Look for checks. 
2) Look for captures.
3) Look for threats.
4) If nothing above exists, look for improving my least active piece or king safety.
 
There are 2 checks available - Qxh7 & Qxf7. Both seem to sac white queen without any compensation. The king can be attacked by the g5 pawn afterwards but it can just retreat to g8. If black's h7 or f7 pawn gets captured by white pawn with check, the king can safely recapture it, leaving white without any more forcing moves.
 
There are 3 captures available, besides the checking moves. Rxd6 will sac the rook to make either black queen or bishop move to d6. I don't see how that helps white.
 
There is Bxe7, that regains material balance for a moment but poses no danger to black king. f8 rook can safely move out of the way or black can capture the c3 knight.
 
The third capture is Bxg7, where the king can just capture the bishop. Qh6+ will be met by Kh8 and the black king is safe.
 
Regarding threats, i do notice that if the g5 pawn didnt't exist, it would be mate in 2 by Rxg7+ --> Kh8 --> Qxh7# I do not see any way of getting rid of that pawn. It could be advanced to g6 but it would just be recaptured with black's f-pawn without any follow up.
 
What do i fail to observe to find the forced checkmate combination?
IMBacon

How do you find tactics?

Whenever you are doing tactics, you will notice that the side with the tactical shot will generally always have one or more of the following advantages:

  1. Advantage in space.
  2. Advantage in material.
  3. Weaknesses in the opponent’s position. Such as weakened pawn structure, weak squares, undefended/under defended pieces, weak files, weak diagonals, weak back rank, passive pieces; trapped pieces, pieces locked in or lacking coordination.

 

 

How do you calculate tactics?

Look for Forcing Moves:

Checks

Captures

Threats

You look for these 3 things in the order given. 

Checks are the most forcing, as the King is being threatened.

Captures are next, as you are threatening to win material.

Threats are last, since they are the least forcing of the three.

Forcing Moves are easier to calculate out, as they are forced lines of continuation.

 

Start by looking for any Checks you may have.  Calculate them out as far as you can. 

Then calculate out any Captures you may have.  Calculate them out as far as you can.

Then calculate out any Threats you may have.  Calculate them out as far as you can.

Once you have found the Forcing Move you think is correct.  Play it!  Right or wrong, go with what you think is the correct move.

After each tactic, whether you got it right or wrong.  Make sure you understand the tactical motif, and why you had the correct, or incorrect answer.

IMBacon

 

kaukasar

Thanks for yet another great post mr bacon. I went through this "looking for tactics checklist" several times for at least half an hour, but i just couldn't imagine moving white queen to h6!! That looks like a brilliancy prize winner move to me. It's neither a check nor a capture and appears suicidal, putting the queen in front of a pawn to be grabbed on the next move. I normally dismiss moves like that completely. Sometimes there are very special cases when it's possible, like this position.

MarcelinaG

ok

blueemu

It looks to me that your tactical education has missed certain important elements. There is a loose group of checkmating patterns that fall into a dozen or so families; collectively referred-to as "Model Mates". If you had been familiar with these Model Mates, you might have spotted the Pillsbury mate more easily.

These Model Mates include the familiar Corridor and Smothered mates, as well as several less familiar patterns such as Lolli, Greco, Morphy, Pillsbury (the one given in your diagram), Epaulette, Damiano, Boden, Hook, Legal, Max Lange, etc.

Here's an old OTB game of mine that ended with the same Pillsbury mate given in your example:

It was easy for me to find, because I not only studied Model Mates, I also taught them, at chess clubs.

kaukasar

blueemu: I think it's also about making sacrifices. My fail rate on these puzzles are higher than average, it goes against my instincts to consider sacrificial lines, specially if it is the queen that has to give its life (i am quite materialistic). During my games i almost never make any kinds of sacrifices unless the advantage of making one is super-obvious. It's one area i need to improve on.

blueemu

Yes, but if you were familiar with the Model Mates, you would recognize that these are not REAL sacrifices... they are pseudo-sacs, because you do not remain down in material for very long.

Another example from my own games is a Max Lange model mate. It looks like this:

 

Now check out my game from the Malaysia vs Canada match... I'm Black:

https://www.chess.com/daily/game/200865884

It ended up like this:

 

Seriously, these families of model mates are worth studying. They really do come up in actual play.

kaukasar

blueemu: I agree, there are some lessons on this site that is all about learning checkmate patterns that i've previously done, and from time to time i set the tactics trainer to give me only checkmate problems, so that the patterns will hopefully stick in my memory.

I had to google "model mate" to find out what it is. I've seen that there are several more categories, like pure mate, economical mate, perfect mate, mirror mate. The difference seems to revolve around the surrounding squares of the king and how large portion of the armies are participating in the attack. What's the purpose of this categorization? 

I get that different patterns have names, like anastasia, boden, gurideon etc.

blueemu

Categories like pure mate (each square in the King's field covered exactly once) and mirror mate are artistic or thematic categories. Model Mates are practical. They occur in actual games... and would occur more often if people were more familiar with the patterns.

Laskersnephew

There is simply no substitute for learning the essential mating patterns by heart. It's like knowing your multiplication tables. One excellent book it "How to Beat Your Dad at Chess" by Murray Chandler. It's not a very good title, but the book is a systematic explanation of the commonest and most important checkmating patterns, with clear explanations and plenty of examples. Read that little book thoroughly  a couple of times  and you will find yourself spotting these mating opportunities all the time.

PS: Even if you don't know the patterns, 1.Qh6 is a mate-in-one threat, so if you were conscientiously examining  ALL Checks, Captures, and Threats, you should have given it a look. Even if 1.Qh6 would never occur to you, once you look at it, it's not very hard to calculate

SeniorPatzer

Qh6 is a pretty cool move.  

kaukasar
Laskersnephew wrote:

One excellent book is "How to Beat Your Dad at Chess" by Murray Chandler. It's not a very good title...

I love the title, sounds like a book i needed as a child - one of the reasons i didn't start play chess seriously back then was that i couldn't beat my dad no matter how hard i tried! Today i can though happy.png

hikarunaku

You need more imagination which will come as you get familiar with more tactical patterns. 

IMBacon
kaukasar wrote:

Thanks for yet another great post mr bacon. I went through this "looking for tactics checklist" several times for at least half an hour, but i just couldn't imagine moving white queen to h6!! That looks like a brilliancy prize winner move to me. It's neither a check nor a capture and appears suicidal, putting the queen in front of a pawn to be grabbed on the next move. I normally dismiss moves like that completely. Sometimes there are very special cases when it's possible, like this position.

Start with mate in 1 tactics, and work your way up from there.

Take your time when doing tactics.  The whole idea is to increase your pattern recognition, and not to increase an online tactics rating.

hikarunaku

https://www.chess.com/puzzles/problem/36642

Try this tactic after black rook captures knight on F7. White to move. Nice pattern to know. 

 

Laskersnephew

1.Qh6 is a threat. More specifically, it is a mate in one threat. So you have to look at it. I suspect that if you even looked at 1.Qh6 you simply said, "I can't play that, he'll take my queen!" Well, that's not really looking.  1.Qh6 is a very pretty move, but very easy to see--if you let yourself

ArtNJ

Blueemu is right, chess has a lot of pattern recognition.  Unfortunately, I'm not sure how comprehensive chess.com's tactics trainer is.  I know Puzzle Rush has lots of smothered mates, but don't recall a Pillsbury mate, for example.  I'm slow, so I don't get that far, but my basic point is accurate -- its not a comprehensive set.  

llamonade

I dunno, I thought of Qh6 within the first 2 seconds. Didn't mean I knew it was right or that it was the only move to win.

In puzzles, mate threats are like checks... no matter how insanely suicidal they look on the surface you have to calculate them to see if they might work. Every time. Always always always.

Laskersnephew

"In puzzles, mate threats are like checks... no matter how insanely suicidal they look on the surface you have to calculate them to see if they might work."

Not just in puzzles! In real games checks and mate threats are always worth a look.