Author Archives: AshvinC

Recognising the Patterns : Challenge # 8

Today’s Challenge: Find the typical pattern and react accordingly. It’s White to move

Joel Benjamin against H. Carter 1982

Q: Can you see a win for White based on one of the classical method of checkmating?

Hint: You need to open up the h-file and a2-g8 diagonal in order to finish.


In the game White played as follows:

11. Nxd5

Opening up the a2-g8 diagonal.


11…Bb4+ can be met by 12. Nxb4+ or 12. Kf1, but not c3 (work out on your own why c3 is not possible).
11…Qa5+ can be met by 12. Nc3+ followed by a sac on g6 and mate in a few moves.

12. Bxd5+ Kh8

12…Rf7 can be met by 13.Bxf7+ Kf8 14. Qxh7, which is just winning. Now comes another sac to open up h file.

13. Ng6+ hxg6
14. h5

This opens the h-file by force.

15. c3 Qxd5
16. hxg6+ Kg8

Here comes the typical manoeuvre which leads to Damiano’s Mate.

17. Rh8+ Kxh8
18. Qh3+ Kg8
19. Qh7#

This method of checkmating is called Damiano’s mate.

Abram Y Model against Grigory Abramovich Goldberg in 1932

Q: Is it wise to capture on g4?
A: It is better to play 19. Rfe1 though black is still having initiative but far from winning. But in the game white took on g4 and game ended quickly.

19. hxg4 Qe3+!
20. Rf2

This seems to be the only move.


Not only opening up the h-file but also threatening g4-g3, which can’t be met.

21. Qa5 Rc8

22. Bxb7 g3

Threatening mate on the next move. If 22. g3 then 22…Qxe4 is winning.

23. Raf1

Now we see the typical manoeuvre in order to access h file with Queen.

24. Kxh1 Qh6+
25. Kg1 Qh2#

Ashvin Chauhan


Recognising the Patterns: Challenge # 7

Today’s Challenge:
Find the typical pattern and react accordingly. It is White to Move

NN Against Greco in 1620

Q: How can White hang on here?

A: White should play 11. Be3. Black has the initiative after Qxh2 but this is far from winning the game completely.

In the game White played as follows:

11. Nf3

Completely unaware about the mating pattern called smothered mate. The game ended very shortly as follows:

12. Kh1 Qg1+!
13. Rxg1

The only move.

13…Nf2# 0-1

It occurs when a knight checkmates a king that is smothered (surrounded) by his friendly pieces and he has nowhere to move nor is there any way to capture the knight.It is also known as Philidor’s Legacy after François-André Danican Philidor, though its documentation predates Philidor by several hundred years. – Wikipedia

James McConnell Against Morphy in 1849

Q: How can Black win decisive material, using the same mating theme?

In the game Morphy played as follows:

18… Qb6

Generating a very powerful checkmate threat; the idea is to play 19…Ne2+ followed by 20…Qg1+ and 21…Nf2#. You can also play 18…dxc4 with the same ideas.

19. Kh1

This seems to be only move.


Opening up the g1-a7 diagonal.

20. Qxc2 Nf2+

Gaining the exchange, but white next move leads to quick finish.

21. Kg1?? Nh3+

A typical manoeuvre that leads to Black delivering smothered mate.

22. Kh1 Qg1+

23. Rxg1 Nf2#

Timann against Short in 1990

Q: White is winning anyway but can you see the familiar pattern?

24. Bxc6

Removing the one of the defender of e7. The idea is to play e7 on the next move then check from a2-g8 diagonal.


It was essential to create some room for his king.

25. e7

Distracting the rook.


26. Qc4+

And now everything is clear.

27. Nf7+ Kg8
28. Nh6+ Kh8
29. Qg8+ Rxg8
30. Nf7#

Ashvin Chauhan


Recognising the Patterns: Challenge # 6

Today’s challenge is to find the typical pattern and react accordingly; White to move.

Grunfeld against Torre in 1925

Q:Black now played 11…Nxe5. Should White recapture on e5 directly or does he have a better option?

A: Capturing on e5 leads to resignation, which is what happened in the game.

12. dxe5?? Bc5+

13. Kh1 Nxg3+!!

Opening up the h-file followed by mate in two.

This typical pattern is similar to Anastasia’s checkmate where the knight covers the escape squares and rook or queen delivers checkmate via h or a file. Sometimes the knight’s role has been played by the bishop, and this is known as Greco’s mate.

Instead White should play 12.c5 first in order to cover the c5 square with his queen. For example:

12. c5 Nf7

The game is on, and note that Black can’t play a similar idea with 12…Be7 because of 13 dxe5 Bc5 14. Qxc5.

Nimzowitsch against Capablanca 1911, Black to move

Black’s position is clearly better but White’s next move, 32 b5, leads to quick finish. Use your knowledge of this and checkmate Nimzowitsch!


Checkmate is now unavoidable.

33. Bxe4 Bf2!!

Nimzowitsch resigned here.

Janowski against Steinitz in 1898: Black to move

Black’s position is clearly better. The bishop on e3 covers g1 and if black manages to open up the h-file the game is over.

In the game Steinitz played:

32… Bg4

33. Qxg4 Qxg4

34. hxg4 Rh8+

35. Rh5 gxh5

White resigned.

Here knowing the pattern didn’t lead to checkmate but helped Black in gaining decisive material.

Ashvin Chauhan


Recognising the Patterns: Challenge # 5

Today’s challenge: Find the typical pattern, Morphy to move:

Morphy against Duke Karl/ Count Isouard in 1858

Q: Should White win a piece with Qxe6 or is there something more?

Hint: The powerful coordination of White’s rook and bishop will help you to find the move.

A: The move is 15.Bxd7+, setting up a checkmate trap therefore forcing his opponent to surrender his queen.


But Black straight away falls into the checkmate trap set by the great Paul Morphy:


Hoping everything is fine.

Black had to surrender the Queen with 15…Qxd7 as the text move leads to mate in two:

16. Qb8+!! Nxb8

17. Rd8#

This checkmate pattern is known as the Opera Mate. The full game is very instructive, which I have already annotated here.

“The Opera mate is a common method of checkmating. It works by attacking the king on the back rank with a rook using a bishop to protect it. A pawn or other piece other than a knight of the enemy king’s is used to restrict its movement. The checkmate was named after its implementation by Paul Morphy in 1858 at a game at the Paris opera.” – Wikipedia

Steinitz against Vines in 1874

Q: Why is 34…Ka8 is better than 34…Kc8?

A: It was better to play Ka8, though White is also wining with 35.dxc7. After 34…Kc8 checkmate can’t be avoided.


35. Rfb2

Threatening checkmate on b8.


Covering b8. Now use your knowledge of the typical pattern and find the winning move.

36. d7

This opens the bishop and helps the rook to deliver checkmate on b8.

37. Rb8+ Nxb8
38. Rxb8#

Schulten against Horwitz in 1846

Black’s position is better but it’s far from winning. But White’s next move leads quick finish and it was better to play b3 or Qe2 here when it’s game on!

15. Qb3??

White is hoping to exchange queens. But Black finds a spectacular queen sac which leads to powerful double check and ends with an opera mate.
15…Qf1+ !!
16. Kxf1 Bd3+

Double check.

17. Ke1 Rf1#

Ashvin Chauhan


Recognising the Patterns: Challenge # 4

Today’s challenge is to find the typical pattern from the position below with Steinitz to move:

Reiner against Steinitz in 1860

Q: White’s Queenside pieces are still taking a rest, so therefore Black has an advantage. Can you prove it?

(Hint – You just need to empower your rooks on the g-file.)

A: The pattern is Arabian mate and Black can win the game with 15…Nf3!!.

The Arabian mate is an example of the coordination between rook and knight. Typical features:
– A knight usually lands on f6 (of white) and f3 (of black)
– A rook delivers checkmate using g file or 7th rank with the support of knight.

In the game Steinitz played as follows:


Offers a pawn, but the pawn can’t be taken but then Qh4 is in the air.

16. Rxg4??

This is blunder as now White can’t avoid checkmate.

16… Qh4

The point behind sacrifice. The queen can’t be taken because of mate on g1.

17. Rg2

If 17. Rxh4 then 17…Rg1# or if 17. Kg2 then 17…Rxg4+ 18. Kxf3 and mate in 13 from here. You can check it out on your own or with the help of computer.

Now one more shot and game is in the pocket. In fact its mate in two now.

17… Qxh2+

The final blow.

18.Rxh2 Rg1# 0-1

Nimzowitsch against Giese in 1913

With 35.Rg3 White has generated a very serious threat with 36. Nf6+, 37. Qxg6+ and mate. Even so the position is defensible at this stage.

Q: Is it wise idea to maintain knight on g6 by playing Qc2 or should Black move the knight in order to protect g6 square?

A: It was wise to protect that knight by playing Qc2 when the game is still on. The text move makes Nimzowitsch’s task very easy.


Now Black can’t avoid checkmate.

36. Qxh6+ gxh6

If 36… Kg8 then 37. Nf6+ Kf8 38. Qh8+ Kf7 39.Qg8#.

37. Nf6+ Kh8

38. Rg8# 1-0

Gelfand against Kramnik in 1996

Black’s Rooks are doubled on b file, but how could you use them?

26… Nc3

The knight comes to a very dangerous square from it can generate a deadly combo with the cooperation of Black’s rooks.

27. Nxd4

27. bxc3 is not possible because of checkmate on b1. Or 27. Bxc3 dxc3 28. Nd4 cxb2+ 29.Rxb2 Rxb2 30. Nxe6 Rb1+ 31. Ka2 R8b2#.

27… Rxb2

28. Rxb2

The queen can’t be taken because of mate on b1

28… Qa2+ 0-1

It’s mate next move.

Ashvin Chauhan


Recognising The Patterns: Challenge # 3

Today’s challenge: Find the typical pattern – Lasker to move:

Lasker against Fortuijn in 1908

White is the exchange and a pawn up and should win. But is it a good idea to offer the exchange back by playing Ra4?

Hint: You just need to open a file in order to access Black’s monarch.

Answer: The pattern is Anastasia’s mate and Black can’t win exchange because of a checkmate threat.

In the game Lasker played:

28. Ra4 Nc5? 29. Ne7+

Now Black is forced to give up Queen and still mate can’t be avoided, but the move now played allows a quick finish:

29… Kh8??

The game ended after 2 more moves.

30. Qxh7!!

Opening up h file.

30…Kxh7 31. Rh4#

The next example has been taken from “The Art of checkmate” – Renaud & Kahn:

Lasker – N.N.

Question: Black is in serious trouble. Is it wise to castle here?

Answer: Of course not as after castling White gets a devastating attack based on Anastasia’s checkmate pattern.

Here are the rest of the moves:
9… 0-0 10. Nxe7+ Kh8 11. Qh5

The threat is to play Qxh7 followed by Rh5#.


11…h6 won’t help much after 12.d3 when the c1 bishop wants to take on h6.

12. Qh6 d6

This is suicide.

13. Rh5!

Checkmate can’t be avoided.

13…gxh5 14. Qf6#

Milan Vidmar against Max Euwe in 1929

Question: White to move. Black has created the devastating threat of Qf4, how cn you meet this?

Hint: This is a similar pattern in horizontal form! And Black’s Rook on c2 is undefended.

Answer: White can with Re8+.

34. Re8+ Bf8??

Allows checkmate, but if 34… Kh7 then 35. Qd3+ picks up the rook.

35. Rxf8!! Kxf8? 36. Nf5+ 1-0

Euwe resigned here because if 36… Kg8 then 37. Qf8+!! followed by Rd8 is mate.

Ashvin Chauhan


Recognising the Patterns: Challenge # 2

Today’s challenge: Find the typical pattern and move like Capablanca.

Capablanca against Fonaroff in 1918

White is a pawn up and has a nice knight on f5. In addition he has a rook on an open file and should win, but can you finish off Black quickly using a very simple checkmate pattern?

Answer: The typical pattern is a back rank mate. This is a very familiar theme and occurs quite frequently after a king has castled.

Here White can win the game with:

20. Nh6!! Kh8
21. Qxe5! Qxe5

There is nothing better.

22. Nxf7+ and Black resigned because 22… Rxf7 leads to a back rank mate and if 22… Kg8 then 23. Nxe5 wins the piece. I have already annotated this game here.

Bernstein against Capablanca in 1914

Here is another back rank combination by the legendary Chess Machine. Black’s last move was …Rc5, offering the pawn on c3 (Black’s dangerous asset). Will you take it?

White can play his knight back to d4 and the game is on. Taking the pawn costs White a piece:

27. Nxc3 Nxc3
28. Rxc3 Rxc3
29. Rxc3 Qb2!!

Of course not 29… Qb1 as 30. Qf1 Rd1 runs into 31. Rc8. But now the point behind sacrificing the pawn is clear and White resigned as it costs him net rook.

30. Qd3 Qa1+

Not 30…Rxd3 because of 31.Rc8.

31. Qf1

Forced and now Black wins the rook on c3.

Reshevsky against Fischer in 1970

White’s last move was Kg1, which allows Black to win with a back rank mate trick. It was better to play Qb5 instead of Kg1.

29… Qd4+
30. Kh1 Qf2!!

Winning on the spot.

Ashvin Chauhan


Recognising the Patterns: Challenge # 1

The more you improve your pattern bank, the better you become at chess. Whether it is in the opening, middle game or endgame we usually tend to play what we know! And the deeper your knowledge of different patterns, the more beautifully you are likely to play. It could be any tactical or attacking pattern or a simple endgame pattern.

Today’s challenge: Find the typical pattern and react accordingly:

Nimzowitsch against Alekhine in 1912
It’s Black to move, White’s last move was 15. 0-0-0!

Hint: Alekhine senses the danger of taking the free pawn. Now try to find the solution yourself before looking at the answer.

Answer:This typical pattern is Boden’s mate. Alekhine played Bd6, carefully avoided White’s plans and eventually managed to win the game. But that’s another story.

Now let’s have a look what happens if Black becomes greedy and take the pawn on d4:

16. exd4 Nxd4

Taking on c6 is no good for White now, for example 16. Bxc6 dxc3 17. Bb5 and Black gets the initiative with 17…Ba3!.

17. Rxd4



This allows White’s queen and two bishops to launch a decisive matting attack against Black’s king.

18. Qxe6+ Rd7

Forced. If 18… Nd7 then the finish is quite beautiful: 19. Qc6+!! Followed by mate on a6, the pattern known as Boden’s mate.

19. Bxd7 Kd8

19… Nxd7 is not possible because of Qe8#

20. Bc7+

This wins the queen on the next move and the game.

A beautiful example of how knowing the patterns helps!

Ashvin Chauhan


Sacrifices in The Endgame

When we talk about sacrificing some material the first thought that comes to mind is that it is for a mating or crushing attack (sac sac and mate – Fischer). However sacrifices are also possible in the endgame, but what is the fundamental basis for that? I started studying the endgame seriously when I manage to draw a Rook endgame with three pawns more in 2010. So here I am sharing few fine practical points that I have derived from my own experience, reading & guidance from Nigel.

Whenever I see any endgame the first thing I check for is the availability of a passed pawn or the possibility to create a passed pawn. You can consider sacrificing some material in order to gain a dangerous passed pawn. It has a huge impact in deciding the activity of other material on the board.

Activity could be piece activity, but in order to play the endgame better one should focus more on activity of the king. A recent example of this could be Aronian’s game against Caruana in Norway chess 2015. I have already discussed this game here so I am not going to repeat it. Similarly you can think about giving up some material if it forces your opponent to take a very passive positions. Here are some examples that illustrate my thoughts

Gelfand Boris against Bareev in 1992 at Linares

At first glance it is hard to draw up a plan but the availability of the passed pawn on c4 makes it very simple. Gelfand choose Rxe6. Why? Because the pawn on c4 forces Black’s rook to take very passive position on c8. On the other hand White’s king’s activity can decide the game easily once he reaches b6. Here are the rest of the moves:

1. Rxe6+ fxe6 2. c5 Kf6 3. c6 Rb8 4. c7 Rc8 5. Ka4 Ke5 6. Kxa5 Kd4 7. Rc6 Ke3 8. f4 Kf2 9. Rc3 Rxc7 10. Rxc7 Kxg3 11. Rxg7+ Kxf4 12.Rh7 1-0

Garry Kasparov against Timman in 1992 at Linares

In this position, Kasparov choose to sacrifice his knight for a pawn (and only a pawn!) in order to get a free hand with his king on the queenside as Black’s king has to stay on kingside in order to prevent h7 to h8 with promotion. Here are the rest of the moves:

1. Ne8+ Kf7 2. Nxf6 Kxf6 3. g5+ Kf7 4. h6 Ba4 5. Ke5 Bd1 6. Kd6 Bb3 7. Kc5 Ba4 8. Kb6 Bb5 9. a4 Bxa4 10. Kxa6 Bd7 11. b5 Bc8+ 12. Ka7 1-0

Ashvin Chauhan


Some Excellent Stuff Over YouTube To Improve At Chess

Thechesswebsite is publishing material mainly in video format over YouTube and has more than 130,000 subscribers. Currently he mainly focuses on annotated chess games from recent tournaments and some ‘masala’ chess videos. Some of his videos are for members only but you can find lots of instructive free stuff. With English not being my first language, I found it is difficult to understand him because of his accent. But I really appreciate his continuous works over 6 years.

King Crusher
This channel is run by Tryfon Gavriel, a FIDE Candidate Master, British Regional Master and also the webmaster of Chess World. He reached a peak ECF rating of 212 (equivalent to about 2350 USCF) in July 2014, and a 216 rapid grade. He runs his YouTube channel as King Crusher and has been active for the last 8 years with around 60,000 subscriber and more than 5,000 videos. You can find lots of classical and modern annotated games on his channel.

Power Play Chess by Daniel King
This doesn’t require any introduction. King mainly produces the videos on current chess tournaments. He started this channel three years back and currently there are more than 500 videos that you can go through.

Chess Network
Introducing himself as Jerry, the creator of this channel is a self taught National Master with over 100,000 subscribers. Beginners to intermediate players can get much from his videos.

I have also found some other chess channels useful which focus on commentating during their/other blitz games. I believe this is entertaining but less instructive, so they are not included here.

And yes if you don’t like to go over YouTube and search for good videos here is an option. has selected more than 1000 videos from different channels.

Ashvin Chauhan