Mastery: Misc

Chess Potpourri

Chess Potpourri

This module with 100 challenges has something for everyone. FM Craig Mar includes some opening traps, endgames, combinations, and positional challenges. Many of the challenges are at the intermediate level (USCF or Elo ratings between 1300 and 2000) and many are at the expert and master (USCF or Elo rating above 2000) level. Mar chooses positions from many sources including his own games as well as GM's, IM's, and also amateurs.

  • Larsen-Spassky, Belgrade, 1970

    This is a problem from a famous game played between two grandmasters.

    • 9 challenges
  • Tactics in the Pirc Defense

    This is a common opening trap which is well worth learning.

    • 3 challenges
  • Opening Trap

    Black decides not to lose his queen and tries a different move when the knight checks on g5.

    • 3 challenges
  • Sudden Attack

    This game was played at a simultaneous exhibition by the Master C. Mar. Note: A simultaneous exhibition is an event at which a master plays 10 or more people by making his move at one board and moving around in a circle playing a move at each board quickly.

    • 3 challenges
  • Sudden Attack (variation)

    This is a variation which was played in the game. After 1.Nh6+! Black can lose the exchange or he can do what my opponent did. The former move is the better move.

    • 3 challenges
  • The Triumph of the Good Bishop

    This is a hypothetical bishop endgame which is very common where one side has all its pawns stuck on the same color as its bishop. The side with the "good" bishop has all the winning chances.

    • 3 challenges
  • Wild Rook on the 7th Rank

    This is a hypothetical problem similar to a game I saw between two masters where a strong rook got on the 7th rank.

    • 5 challenges
  • Knight and Queen mates

    This is a common mate which I have pulled on a few people.

    • 4 challenges
  • The classic bishop sacrifice

    This common theme occurs quite often in King's pawn and Queen's pawn openings.

    • 6 challenges
  • Mar-Shiller, Sunnyvale, California, 1994

    This was a rated tournament game played in Sunnyvale.

    • 5 challenges
  • Mar-Menetti, Berkeley, California, 1995

    This position occurred during an offhand game. Peter Menetti is a master from Santa Rosa, California.

    • 3 challenges
  • Mar - Pickler, Falkbeer countergambit, opening trap

    This was a "5 minute" game, a fast game played with a chess clock where both players have only five minutes to complete all their moves. Gary Pickler is a USCF master who loves to play speed chess.

    • 9 challenges
  • Queen's Gambit opening trap

    The Queen's Gambit is as tricky as its name. Black may fall into this deadly trap.

    • 3 challenges
  • Mar-Constantine, skittles game, 1994

    This position arose out of a speed game with an expert. The opening was a Sicilian defense.

    • 4 challenges
  • Mar - Thornley, Sunnyvale, California, l976

    In 1976, both John Thornley and I were up and coming experts. A few years later, John died in a tragic auto accident in the Santa Cruz mountains.

    • 6 challenges
  • Klimek - Mar, Berkeley, 1974

    Peter Klimek was an expert rated 2007, then a highly respected rating, while I was playing my first year in tournaments and rated 1643.

    • 8 challenges
  • Seirawan - Frankle, Los Angeles, 1986

    This was a decisive last-round game played during the Memorial Day Tournament.

    • 2 challenges
  • Stainthorpe - Mar, Berkeley, 1977

    This game was played in the Berkeley chess club, and U.S. Chess Federation rated.

    • 6 challenges
  • Mar - Pifer, San Jose, California, 1994

    Pifer is a USCF expert whom I played in a simultaneous exhibition.

    • 3 challenges
  • Biyiasas - Mar, Cal state championship, 1984

    This was played in the second round of an all-master round-robin tournament.

    • 6 challenges
  • Rey - Mar, 1986 Northern California Championships

    G. Rey is an International Master from San Francisco, who fell into a strong attack.

    • 7 challenges
  • Mar - Glueck, Bagby Round Robin No. Calif. Ch., 1987

    This game was played in the last round of a seven-round tournament.

    • 6 challenges
  • Wilson - Mar, Los Angeles, 1981

    This was a last-round game at the Memorial Day Tournament.

    • 9 challenges
  • Mar - Stainthorpe, Berkeley chess club, 1978

    I had just made master in June, 1978, and needed to win to maintain my rating. Stainthorpe was rated 1867 back then.

    • 5 challenges
  • Lee - Mar, Berkeley People's Tournament, 1981

    This was a rated tournament game between Gene Lee rated 2066 and Mar, rated 2322.

    • 6 challenges
  • Mar-Jordy Mont-Reynaud, Berkeley, 1994

    This game was played in a Saturday Quad, a three-round-a-day tournament. In 1994, Jordy was just 10, but rated 1st or 2nd in the country for his age group.

    • 4 challenges
  • Mar - Lehman, Sunnyvale, California, 1994

    This game was played in a 4-round Swiss event in the first round. A Swiss system event is one in which 25 to 1,000 players participate, with the same number of games played by all the players. Who plays who is determined by how many points (wins) a player...

    • 5 challenges
  • Mar - Lawson, San Mateo, California, 1994

    This game was played in the first round of a big tournament.

    • 5 challenges
  • Mar - Vickers, Berkeley, 1980

    This king and pawn ending came out of a Dutch. Vickers was an expert and I was a master.

    • 6 challenges
  • Alburt - Dzindishkashvilli, Lone Pine, 1980

    This was a big money last-round game between two great players, Lev Alburt, multi-time U.S. champion and Roman Dzindishkashvilli, the man with the unpronounceable name, considered by many to be the best player in the U.S. in the 1980's.

    • 7 challenges
  • Dzindzichashvili-Browne, New York, 1984

    White has strong pressure on the g file, but is there a mate?

    • 7 challenges
  • Pachman - Petrosian, Portoroz Interzonal, 1958

    Petrosian was a young grandmaster at this interzonal tournament.

    • 7 challenges
  • Petrosian - Tal, Curacao, 1962 Candidates Tournament

    The Candidates Tournament was the first step on the road to determining the challenger to the World Champion. Petrosian has Tal in a difficult rook and pawn ending.

    • 5 challenges
  • Portisch-Petrosian, Lone Pine, 1978

    This was a classic Nimzo-Indian, played in Petrosian style.

    • 7 challenges
  • Baroudi - Mar, 1972, Sacramento, California

    This was my first tournament game, while Baroudi was the best player in the Sacramento area at that time.

    • 6 challenges
  • Spassky - Petrosian, World Championship, 1966

    This was a game played between then world champion Tigran Petrosian and challenger Boris Spassky.

    • 2 challenges
  • GM Biyiasas - GM Dzindzichashvili, Lone Pine, 1980

    At Lone Pine, Dzindzi was red hot, and won clear first. Biyiasas is a California GM who finished in the middle of the field that year.

    • 7 challenges
  • Prochaska - Mar, Fremont, California, 1975

    This game was played in the first round of a 4-round Swiss system event.

    • 7 challenges
  • Prochaska-Mar, Fremont, 1975, conclusion

    We have landed in a rook endgame.

    • 8 challenges
  • Evans - Tarjan, Santa Monica, 1974

    James Tarjan, then just 21, won the American Open with a score of 7.5 out of 8.

    • 6 challenges
  • Corbin-Mar, San Jose, California, 1985

    This was a sharp king and pawn endgame, played in the San Jose Chess Club.

    • 7 challenges
  • Corbin-Mar, San Jose, 1986, club game

    White is ahead a pawn, yet Black has a dangerous passed pawn.

    • 4 challenges
  • Accelerated Dragon, opening trap

    The Accelerated Dragon variation of the Sicilian Defense begins 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.Nc3 Bg7 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Bc4 Qa5.

    • 4 challenges
  • The White side of the Accelerated Dragon

    Gata Kamsky, the 4th best player in the world, played the White side of this opening in his World Championship qualifying match against GM V.Anand. The Accelerated Dragon is a line of the Sicilian Defense which arises after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4...

    • 7 challenges
  • The Accelerated Dragon trap

    This opening is very tricky. This trap has caught many good club players.

    • 7 challenges
  • Play of the King's Indian Defense for Black

    This position arises from the moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5! 7.dxe5 dxe5 8.Qxd8 Qxd8 9.Nxe5.

    • 2 challenges
  • King's Indian Defense

    This is an important variation to learn. White tries to get an extra pawn out of it. Black has a strong in-between tactic in response to that. Excessive greed doesn't pay.

    • 3 challenges
  • The Schliemann Variation of the Ruy Lopez for White

    This line arises after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 f5. It livens up the usually dull "Spanish torture."

    • 5 challenges
  • Maffeo - Browne, Hayward, 1975

    This sharp position arose out of a King's Indian defense, when Browne was then U.S. champion. I also played in this tournament, but in the B section.

    • 4 challenges
  • Menas - Mar, San Francisco, 1975

    I was then an A player, rated 1801, while Borel Menas was rated about 2050.

    • 8 challenges
  • Rey - Mar, Concord, 1995

    This position arose in the last round of a tournament, out of a King's Indian.

    • 6 challenges
  • Shain - Mar, Concord, California, 1995

    This game was played in the third round out of a Budapest opening, 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5. I eventually equalized the game but White got the upper hand after Black made a few inaccuracies.

    • 6 challenges
  • Browne - Hort, Wijk Aan Zee, 1975

    This game was played in a round-robin format with a small number of grandmasters where everyone plays everyone, in Europe.

    • 5 challenges
  • Karpov - R.Byrne, Hastings, 1972

    Karpov was then just 21 and unproven, while Byrne was a solid grandmaster.

    • 4 challenges
  • Karpov-R.Byrne, Hastings, 1972

    This is a possibility that Byrne did not select, but as we shall see, he would have lost even if he had not fallen into the mate.

    • 7 challenges
  • Mar - Rubin, LosAngeles, 1986

    This game was played in the summer of '86 at a big tournament.

    • 5 challenges
  • Kasparov - Karpov, World Championship match, 1985

    This was a game played for the world title in a best-of-24 games match.

    • 6 challenges
  • Timman-Spassky, Spain, 1982

    Spassky's attacking genius is still evident in this sprightly miniature.

    • 5 challenges
  • Lasker-Pelikan variation of the Sicilian defense

    This is a sharp common defense at all levels. White cannot combat it in "normal" fashion, playing Bc4, Be3, f4, and 0-0-0, as he would against the Dragon, Najdorf, or Richter-Rauzer variations. He must play a certain way.

    • 6 challenges
  • Biyiasas - Lobo, San Francisco, 1983

    This game was played in the Northern California Championships.

    • 5 challenges
  • McCambridge - Biyiasas, No. Calif. Championship, 1983

    This position arose out of a Saemisch variation of the King's Indian Defense, and went 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3 0-0 6.Bg5, a departure from the normal 6.Be3.

    • 7 challenges
  • Biyiasas - Silman, Northern Cal Championship, 1983

    This position arose out of the moves 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5, the Rossolimo variation of the Sicilian defense.

    • 7 challenges
  • Fritzinger - Mar, Northern Cal Championship, 1983

    This strange problem arose out of a classical Ruy Lopez, 1.e4 e4 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Bc5. Black was down a pawn and somewhat desperately just played ...R(f4)xf2?!!, one of the most unusual moves I have ever made. Most of the masters playing in the tournament...

    • 6 challenges
  • R.Anderson - GM Max Dlugy, Las Vegas, 1994

    This game was played at the National Open in Las Vegas.

    • 6 challenges
  • Cornelius - J.Whitehead, San Francisco, 1980

    The opening was an Averbakh King's Indian.

    • 4 challenges
  • Portisch - Karpov, San Antonio, Texas, 1972

    This game was played in the powerful Grandmaster's tournament at San Antonio. White has sacked an exchange on f6 hoping that the broken king-side pawns will compensate for loss of the exchange.

    • 6 challenges
  • Alvarez - Karpov, Skopje Olympiad, 1972

    Black is down the exchange, but what an attack he has.

    • 4 challenges
  • Mar - Jordy Mont-Reynaud, Sunnyvale, California, 1995

    This game was played in the third round of a four-round Swiss System event at the Lockheed plant in Sunnyvale, which is near San Jose. Jordy was rated 2100 while I was rated 2507. At the time, Jordy was just 11 years old, and one of the top 5 in the U.S....

    • 5 challenges
  • Dragon hypothetical

    This is a problem I made up, but which could easily occur, from the Dragon variation of the Sicilian, which goes 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6. White made the big mistake of playing Nxc6, which opened up the b file, and then castling...

    • 5 challenges
  • Enright - Biyiasas, Berkeley, 1977

    This game took place in a small Swiss system tournament. Peter Biyiasas was then just an International Master. Paul Enright was an expert.

    • 5 challenges
  • Mar - R. Anderson, Monterrey, California, 1988

    This position arose out of a King's Indian, 4 Pawns Attack.

    • 5 challenges
  • Radke-P.Whitehead, Sunnyvale, California, 1976

    Harry Radke was then a rated expert as was Paul Whitehead, a rising star who would win the American Open two years later. Both players have since retired from the game to pursue other careers.

    • 3 challenges
  • The Lucena Position

    The Lucena arises in rook and pawn endings where one side has an extra pawn and the king cut off by the rook. It is quite common so one should know how to win it.

    • 7 challenges
  • Belyavsky - Kasparov, Moscow, 1983

    This was the first match on the road to the World Title. One has to defeat a number of other title aspirants in elimination style format to qualify as the challenger.

    • 15 challenges
  • Tarjan - de Firmian, Los Angeles, 1984

    This game won the brilliancy prize at the L.A. Memorial Day Tournament.

    • 4 challenges
  • Browne - Dzindzichashvili, U.S. Championship, 1987

    This position arose out of the bizarre "Dzindzi-Indian" opening.

    • 6 challenges
  • Karpov - Hort, Montreal, 1979

    Karpov's favorite type of position, where he can exercise his great technique and calculation ability without risk. White has a large positional advantage in a drawish-looking rook ending.

    • 6 challenges
  • Karpov - Hort, 1980

    This rook endgame arose out of the positional Caro - Kann opening. Hort was optimistically looking for a draw here. However, I believe the rook ending is probably lost.

    • 7 challenges
  • Sicilian exercise

    This is a hypothetical problem which I developed when I was an A player to develop my calculating ability.

    • 3 challenges
  • Sicilian hypothetical

    This is a variant where White, instead of capturing on c3 with the queen, captures with the pawn instead.

    • 5 challenges
  • Kudrin - Mar, Philadelphia, 1987

    This game was played in the 5th round of the World Open of 1987.

    • 6 challenges
  • Mar - Lein, Santa Monica, 1987

    This started out as a Benoni declined, with 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.Nf3 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e5 5.Nb5 d5 6.cxd5 Bc5 7.N5c3. White, in trouble, sacked the exchange to relieve some of the pressure, and Lein got into trouble himself.

    • 5 challenges
  • Karpov - Uhlmann, Madrid, 1973

    This position arose out of a Tarrasch French, 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 c5. The Tarrasch variation is characterized by the move 3.Nd2, whereby White avoids the pin normally associated with the move 3.Nc3 Bb4.

    • 6 challenges
  • Karpov - Hort, Budapest, 1973

    This is a classic good bishop vs. bad bishop endgame, where the side with the "bad" bishop has all its pawns stuck on the same color as the bishop. They are ripe and easy targets.

    • 7 challenges
  • Karpov-Mecking, Hastings, 1972

    Karpov and Mecking were then young grandmasters under 24. Karpov would be the World Champion just two years later when Fischer refused to play him. This game arose out of the Sicilian, Najdorf variation, 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6....

    • 4 challenges
  • Karpov - Hort, Bugojno, 1977

    This position arose out of the Caro-Kann opening, 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Nf3 Ngf6 6.Nxf6+ Nxf6 7.Ne5 Bf5 8.c3 e6. This opening line had been thought to be satisfactory until this game, when Karpov sprung a novelty.

    • 7 challenges
  • J. Silman - anonymous expert, Sunnyvale, 1977

    This is a position I remember from many years ago when Silman and Biyiasas were terrorizing the area, but I can't remember the opponent.

    • 6 challenges
  • Short - Tiviakov, Linares, 1995

    This is a very tricky knight ending. I've always felt that the knight was not only the most difficult and complex piece to handle, but the most tactical piece, outside of the queen. And knight endings are trickier than other types of endings. White seems...

    • 7 challenges
  • Mar - Vancura, San Jose, 1987

    This position arose out of a Queen's Gambit Declined. White had the better game throughout, and Black was forced to put his bishop on what appeared to be a strong outpost.

    • 5 challenges
  • Karpov - Taimanov, Moscow, 1972

    Karpov was then a young grandmaster and Taimanov was at the height of his powers. This position arose out of a Sicilian, Taimanov variation (what else?!). White had sacked a pawn for a strong attack.

    • 7 challenges
  • Hort - Petrosian, Kapfenburg, 1970

    This position arose out of a French Defense, Winawer Variation, where White had optimistically given up his knight for Black's rook. Petrosian is a master at playing such positions. Petrosian was the World Champion the year before, but was then at the...

    • 7 challenges
  • King and Pawn hypothetical

    This is an endgame nuance I picked up from watching some masters play.

    • 6 challenges
  • Wolski - Mar, Concord, California, 1995

    This position arose out of a Sicilian Defense, Taimanov variation, after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Bd3 Qc7. White chose to double Black's pawns with Bxf6, but Black had the two bishops as compensation.

    • 6 challenges
  • Saidy - Fischer, U.S. Championship, l963

    This was the famous last game, in which Fischer was trying to get a perfect score, 11-0 against a field of grandmasters and international masters. Saidy had to seal an important move, took up a lot of time, and sealed a lemon. This position is the end...

    • 6 challenges
  • Fischer - Addison, U.S. Open, 1957

    This game occurred in the next-to-last round at the Open, which was won by 14-year-old Bobby Fischer. It started out as a Caro-Kann opening.

    • 6 challenges
  • Petrosian - Spassky, World Championship match, 1966

    Petrosian won the match and defended his title, then lost the title match to Spassky in 1969.

    • 4 challenges
  • Smyslov - Fischer, Rovinj - Zagreb, 1970

    This was labeled the Tournament of Peace, but in fact it was a fighting tournament, with Bobby playing only six draws out of 17 games. Half of his games were Sicilians, traditionally a fighting defense. Fischer was just two years away from winning the...

    • 6 challenges
  • Fischer - Wade, Vinkovki, 1968

    This game started out as a King's Gambit, and turned into a difficult ending with opposite colored bishops. Robert Wade is an International Master from England who has authored several fine books, one of which is a collection of Fischer's 660 games.

    • 6 challenges
  • R. Anderson - C. Mar, Sunnyvale, California, 1995

    This was a rated chess game played in a U.S. Chess Federation tournament with an entry fee of $25 to $45. Renard Anderson had the White pieces, while I had Black. This was a Gurgenidze opening, 1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.Bg5 c6 5.Qd2 Qa5 6.f4 d5 7.e5...

    • 7 challenges
  • Yu - Basich, Walnut Creek Action, 1989

    National Master Peter Yu is playing White, while master Ron Basich is playing Black. They are both California masters. Black has a powerfully developed game, while White is against the ropes. What's the proper method to finish it off?

    • 4 challenges
  • J.Ely - C.Mar, Berkeley, 1974

    James Ely , White, was then rated 1840, while I, Black, was rated 1643.This game was contested at the Berkeley Chess Club in 1974. I played for 4 straight years at this club every Friday, going from the B class to the master class. This was one of my...

    • 5 challenges
  • T.Stevens - R.Basich , Berkeley Chess Club, 1994

    This was a rated tournament game played in the Berkeley Chess Club between expert Tom Stevens and master Ron Basich. Basich has Black. Black sacked a piece to obtain good compensation, an attack and a strong pawn on the 7th rank.

    • 6 challenges
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