Sunday, January 21, 2007



White to Move

The first time through this "checkmate" problem I made the same mistake that the author made: 1. Rf8+ Rxf8 2. Bc4+ Kg7 3. e8=N+ Rxe8 4. Qf7#. I had just seen an underpromotion and was thinking along those lines (no pun intended).

That was a month ago. I went through it again last week when I was taking a break from the composed checkmates. Seeing this problem again I was stumped. I thought Rf8+ Qxf8! busts the variation, and I was looking to sacrifice the pawn but did not see that either. Fritz confirmed it - not a checkmate problem. Something about it seemed intriguing though. Take a look at this alternate position:

White to Move

Now e8=Q+ Rxe8 Rc7 essentially forks c1 and f7, threatening mate with either the Bishop or Queen. The awful Qc1+ Rxc1 is the only reply that isn't a quick mate. I don't know of any pawn promotion/clearance sacrifices that are followed by forking two squares with a Rook.

Comments are not working again for me = (. Hope that gets fixed soon...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Composed Checkmates

Years ago when I bought 1001 Brilliant Ways to Checkmate I had the goal of completing the book. After I learned about the circles, I figured a better approach would be to work through everything once except the composed problems, and then repeat any problems I got wrong. I specifically avoided composed problems because I hated them they did not seem to help my game.

Well, worse has come to worse, and I have started on that last infernal section of the book. No circles on this section - I am just going through it once and repeating it once. I am pleasantly surprised to find I truly have improved from before starting the TASC circles; rather than never getting the right answer in 5-10 minutes, I am solving them about 50% of the time in that amount of time. Unfortunately I always seem to leave out one or more defensive variations, and that tells me I have some fundamental calculation blindspots to work on.

They still strike me as unnatural and overly clever, but solving them is a chess workout.

In order to keep things balanced I review some ordinary checkmates fairly regularly. One thing that is hitting home stronger now is how beneficial solving "upside-down" checkmates are (i.e. normal board but with Black to move). This is what I am doing before each move anyway, so why not practice it. Before the TASC circles it was tough to do, and now I realize it is important to do.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Finished Circles 5-7

Glad to be done =). Although it was getting boring towards the end, I believe it helped my chess overall. My speed with other checkmate problems in this book is up a notch.

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