Sunday, January 21, 2007
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:
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.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
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.