Author Archives: AshvinC

Recognising the Patterns #23

The pattern I am going to discuss today is very simple and can be used in the opening to get better control over center, whilst in the endgame often you can save the game with it when you are pawn down. I called it chicky fork trick. Here are some examples:

In the Opening

The following position arose after these moves:

1.e4 e5
2.Nf3 Nc6
3.Nc3 Bc5

Now White can play:

4.Nxe5! Nxe5

If 4…Bxf2+ then 5. Kxf2 followed by d4, with powerful control over center and two bishops. Refer the game played between Capablanca against Liebenstein in 1913.


Regaining piece with better control over center.

In the Endgame

Here black is pawn down but can save the game easily using the fork trick again.


The only move to save the day

2. exd5 Kd6

On the next move Black can regain the pawn and achieve a well known drawish position.

The same can be used in middle game in order to open up lines for your pieces but I believe that area should be covered while discussing pawn levers, so I have refrained from discussing this here.

Ashvin Chauhan

Did I Lose on the Board?

This position is taken from the last round of my most recent tournament. It was must win situation for me because of a slightly strange rule that White has to win because a draw would count as a Black win! To decide the colors you just need to toss a coin and unfortunately I got the White pieces.

It was obvious to me that the game is draw so I was just not interested and was moving pieces with my hands!

1. h5??

The two questions marks are because the move was made without any further calculation. Actually it is not blunder but in fact it gives White some practical chances.


The obvious reply.

2.b4 b6 3.b5 Kxh5

I resigned after 2 further moves.

What was it that I missed?

I missed that after Kxh5? the game is still draw and that careful play is required by Black!!
Amazingly I missed:

4. Kf4 Kg6

The only move because if 4…g6 then 5.f3 is winning and if 4…g5 then Kxf5 is winning for White.

5.Ke5 Kg5

5…h5 can be met by f4 and Black can’t win.


Now it is Black who needs to be careful to hold the game.

So I was not lost on the board but it was already lost in my mind.

This is a common issue to be addressed for many people including me. After making a mistake very few of us try hard to save the game. The question is not that we can’t save it but before resigning on the board we have already surrendered inside, which might result in multiplying our mistakes. This should not be the case.

After this game I was not able to sleep as this was not the first time this had happened. So I have to work very concretely in order to overcome the problem. Here is a solution which might work for me and you too that is not very hard to do: When you feel that you made a mistake then just don’t react automatically but give yourself some time and look at the board with fresh eyes. Perhaps you might be able to save some games.

Apart from this after White’s accidental h5 🙂 the position becomes a really interesting and dynamic one and worth studying deeply. At first even the engine shows that Black is winning after …Kxh5 but it is far from the truth.

Ashvin Chauhan

Recognising the Patterns : Challenge # 22

While playing single minor piece endgames, the defending side has a deadly weapon to draw a game. That is to trade the attacker’s last pawn (usually) against his own piece because a single minor piece can’t checkmate and sometimes even with the help of a rook’s pawn. But how many of you actually recognize this in practice. Here few positions are given to test your knowledge.

Example 1 – Black to Move

Q:How could you save the game?
Hint: A knight can never lose a tempo
A: Black can save the day as follows:


Sacrificing whole piece against pawn as white’s knight won’t be able to help his king from getting out of prison

2. Nxg4

This is now a draw because White’s knight can never control the f7 square when the Black king is on f8.

Example 2 – Shirov against Mascarinass – Black to move
This example has been taken from Grandmaster Secrets: Endings by Andrew Soltis.

Q: Black is a piece down for two pawns, are two pawns worth the bishop here?
Hint: White has the wrong colour Bishop
A: Black can save the game with

The only move that forces to release the control of e5 or g4.

2. Bxb5

If 2.Kc5 then 2…Ke5 or if 2.Bd1 then 2…b4 and b3 which forces White to release the control of one of the squares.

2…g4 3. hxg4

Forced, otherwise …gxh3 on the next move is simple enough to draw the game.


Threatening to capture the pawn with king as far as c6 and d7 squares are available to White’s bishop
If 3…fxg4 then 4. Kd4 and now 4…Kg5 5.Ke5, 4…g3 5.Bd7 or 4…h3 then 5.g3 followed by Bc6 is winning.

4. gxf5 h3! 5. gxf3 Kxf5

The position is now drawn as g3 or g4 won’t work because the c6 square is not available to White’s bishop.

Ashvin Chauhan

Recognising the Patterns : Challenge # 21

This is one of the key endgame patterns that you must know by heart. Silman called this position as “Cat N Mouse” position. I called it “Tom and Jerry” when explaining it to my students so they can remember it easily. In this position whoever has the move will lose. The pawns could be at any file or rank, of course you can’t achieve this position when the pawns are on the rook file.

Now try to solve following problems by recognizing the above pattern:

Hermann Voigt against Emanuel Lasker in 1892 – Black to Move

Q:Black is exchange up, find the quickest way to win this position.
A: Black can win this position by pinning the rook as follows:


This achieves the Tom and Jerry position on next move by capturing the bishop.

81. Kg4 Rxf3 82. gxf3 Ke3

Achieving the desired position where white will lose the pawn and game by force.

Semen Khanin against Semen Dvoirys in 2014 – Black to Move

Q: In the above position Black played 31…d5 to try to deprive a5 square from Black’s rook. How would you evaluate it?
A: 31…d5 is a blunder while with 31…Kd6 Black would have had better chances to hold the position despite losing the a6 pawn.

31…d5?? 32. g5 Kd6

If 32…Kd7 then 33. Rxf6 wins

33. Rxf6+ Rxf6 34. gxf6 Ke6 35. Ke3 – Kxf6

Despite the material balance Black’s position is hopeless.

36. Kd4 Ke6 37. Kc5 Ke5 38. d4 Ke4

White has achieved the desired position but he must be careful

39. a3!

And not a4 which in fact is winning for black. But after a3 white went on win in few moves.

Ashvin Chauhan

Recognising the Patterns: Challenge # 20

A battery on lines using major pieces is the simplest yet most powerful mating pattern. This pattern is very easy to recognise on files as compare to ranks.

Heikki MJ Westerinen against Gudmundur Sigurjonsson in 1977

Q: You can see that both White’s rooks are bearing down on the g-file. How could you get the most out of this?
A: White can get the maximum from this position by sacrificing his queen in order to open up the g-file.

25. Qxg7!! Kxg7 26. Bd8!

This is the only move that wins the game after the queen sacrifice.


If 26…Kf7 then 27. Bh5 is checkmate or if 26…Kh6 then 27. Rh3 is checkmate.

27. Rg8!

Again the only winning move.

27…Rxg8 28. Bf6 Rg7


29. Bxg7 Kg8 30.Bxd4+

This discovered check followed by Bxb2 wins the piece and the game.

Karpov against Ribli in 1986

Q: White’s last move was Qh2, offering the knight on b5. Is it wise to take it?
A: The knight can’t be taken as White can checkmate down the h file using a double rooks battery. In the game Ribli did take on b5:

52…Rxb5?? 53. Qxh7!! Kxh7

If 53…Kf8 then 54.Qh8 is mate.

54. Rh2+ Kg8 55. Rdh1 f6

The last try, hoping for 56. g6.

56. Rh8

Black choose to throw in the towel here. If 56.g6 then Kf8 is in fact winning for Black.

Alekhine against colle in 1925

Q: White has just captured the knight on g6. How would you recapture the piece?
A: Black has three options to recapture the piece but only one can prolong the fight.

Option A: 29..Qxg6 White can the win the rook and the game with 30. Qxd7!.

Option B: 29…hxg6 This was played in the game but unfortunately it was not the right one. Alekhine’s reply was stunning:



30…Rxd7 31. Re8+

Not 31. Rc8+ because of Rd8.

31…Kh7 32. Rcc8

Doubling the rooks on 8th rank after which Black has to give up a ruinous amount of material to stop checkmate.


Hoping for Rcxd8.

33. Rexd8!

Colle resigned as he has to give up his queen to save the game.

I have found that recognising the pattern vertically is very much easy than seeing it applied horizontally.
Option C: 29…fxg6 This is the right option which can prolong the fight but White still has considerable winning chances.

Ashvin Chauhan

Recognising the Patterns : Challenge #19

Today, I am going to discuss the simplest yet very useful and quite common pattern in practice. It is the queen & bishop battery checkmate. This pattern is not only useful in checkmating your opponent but is also used to weaken the pawn structure around the enemy king.

Here is an educative example to let you know what the pattern is: White to move

White plays e5!, opening up the queen and bishop battery and attacking the natural defender of the king too. If black saves the knight then the queen on d3 delivers checkmate on h7 with the help of her bishop. Therefore White is winning a piece and the game.

Try to find solutions for the following problems based on the given theme.

Albert Frolov against Vitaly Plotnikov in 2006: White to move.

This position is taken after just 9 moves played in a French Defence (Rubinstein variation). Black’s last move was b6 which was a lethal mistake.

Q: How will you proceed?
A: White can win this game as follows:

10. Bxf6

£liminating the natural defender of the king.

10…Bxf6 11. Qe4!!

Attacking the rook on a8 and threatening to checkmate on h7. Of course Black can save checkmate with g6 but losing decisive material. He therefore chose to resign.

Capablanca against Jaffe in 1910: White to move.

Q: White has a winning position. Find the blow that decides the game.
A: In the Capablanca played:

19. Bxh6+!! Kxh6??

Allows mate in two, but if 19…Kg8 then Nxf7 is just a disaster for Black.

20. Nxf7+

Removing the defender of g6, and Black decided to throw the towel here because he can’t stop mate on the next move.
If 20…Rxf7 or 20…Kh7 then 21. Qxg6 is mate and if 20…Kh5 then 21. Qh3 is mate.

The game itself is very instructive, especially about how to build ab attack using a queen and bishop battery. You can find the whole annotated game here.

M. Gerusel against G. Sosonko in 1977: Black to move.

The same position is given in Build up your Chess by Artur Yusupov.

Q: It seems that h2 is perfectly defended against Black’s queen and bishop battery. Is that so?
A: Black can win a piece here as follows:

17…Nxd4! 18. exd4

Opens up the e file.


18…Bxd4 loses even more material because of 19. Nd2!!. Now the knight can’t be taken because of mate on h2 and if the queen finds a safe square then …Nxf3+ leads to mate on h2.

19. Rxc3 Rxe2

This wins a piece and the game.

Ashvin Chauhan

Recognising the pattern : Challenge # 18

Hugh Edward Myers against Dmitri Poliakoff in 1955: White to move

Q: Here Black has the initiative but is far from winning. His last move was 47…Qc4 which sets-up a trap. Can you see it?

A: In the game, White failed to do so and lost in the next two moves:

48. Ra4 Qxf1!! 49. Bxf1 – Nf2#

Instead White can prolong the fight with 48. Rb2.

This mechanism of checkmating is called the corner mate, the fourth way of checkmating with rook and knight. Others are the Anatasia Mate, the Arabian Mate & the Hook Mate

Torre against Ribli in 1983: Black to move

Q: In this position, Black played 66…Rd8 which leads to quick disaster. Can you see how?
A: Torre replied with:

67.Nb5 Ka8

67…Kb8 leads to the same result.

68. Rc7!

Mate can’t be prevented. The idea is to play Ra7 & Rb7 followed by mate with a knight check from c7 or a7.
The pain can be prolonged with 68…Rh8 but instead he choose to throw in the towel.

Georgios Makropoulos against Ivan Farago in 1988: Black to move

Knowing the pattern doesn’t always leads to checkmate. Here in this example you can win some material based on pattern as white can avoid the worse.

Q: How will you proceed from here?


White should now play 30. Rf1 in order to stop checkmate. Instead he blundered:

30. Nxf4?? Nf2#

If 30 fxe3 then Qxe4 leads to mate. Only 30. Rf1 can extend the fight but black should win because of his two extra pawns.

Ashvin Chauhan

Recognising the Patterns : Challenge # 17

V. Anand against M. Carlsen in 2009 (WCH Blitz)

In the diagrammed position Anand was losing anyway, but he played 46.Rh1. This allowed Carlsen to mate him in one with 46…Qg3#.

This method of checkmating is called the Epaulette mate where the two escape squares have been occupied by the king’s own pieces, usually rooks. Here it is f1 & h1 which are taken by White’s two rooks.

Now try to solve following positions based on the same pattern:

Loek Van Wely against Alexaander Morzoevich in 2001: Black to Move:

White is losing anyway but in this position he played 21.Rf1, which allows Black to finish him off quickly.

Q: How will you proceed from here?
A: He set up an Epaulette mate as follows:

21… Rg8+

This sacrifice clears the 2nd rank for his queen by removing the blockage caused by White’s Bishop.




Gustav Richard Neumann against Karl Mayet in 1866: White to move

Q: What should White’s plan be here?
A: White can charge his h-pawn up the board to break up Black’s kingside.

27. h4

White wants to attack g6 in order to open up the 7th rank!


Apparently oblivious to White’s aims. Instead Black should play Rh7 in order to save himself from a quick disaster.

28. h5

Now mate can’t be avoided.


29. hxg6 Bxg6

Now what?

30. Qxg6!!

The concluding blow.

30…fxg6 31. Rg7#

Anderssen against Dufresne in 1851: White to move.

This position is not actual arose from captioned game; I have made few changes to the actual position for to enhance its teaching value.

Q: What should White’s plan be?

27. Bd5! Bc6

The bishop can’t be taken because of 27…Bxd5 28. dxc7+ Rxc7 29. Qxc7+ Ke7 30. Qd6+ Kd8 31. Qxd5 wins. And if 27…c6 then Qb6+ wins.

28. Bxc6 dxc6

Now what? Can you recognise the pattern?

29. d7!!

Winning a rook and the game. The pawn can’t be taken because of mate in one.

Ashvin Chauhan

Recognising The Patterns : Challenge # 16

Today’s Challenge: Find the typical pattern and react accordingly.

Pillsbury Against F. Lee in 1899; White to Move
This position was taken from Build Up Your Chess by Artur Yusupov.

1.Qf3!! Qxf3

If 1…Qg6 then 2.Bxf8 is winning, but text move leads to a quick mate.

2. Rg1+ Kh8 3. Bg7+ Kg8 4. Bxf6#

This way of checkmating your opponent is called Pillsbury’s mate.

Try to solve following problem based on the same theme:

Adolf Anderssen against NN in 1861: Black to Move

Q: Is it wise to take on d3?
A: Black should play here 19…g6 when the game is open for 3 results. Taking on d3, on the other hand, leads to quick finish as demonstrated by Anderssen.


Taking with the knight also leads to the same result.

20. Qxd3 Nxd3 21. Rxg7+

Removing the shelter.


Now the windmill attack is not possible here as Bishop has been already attacked by knight.

22. Rg8!!

Sacrificing the whole rook.

22…Kg8 23. Rg1#

Adolf Anderssen against Berthold Suhul in 1859: Black to move

Q: How will you proceed with black?
A: Black should play 17…Ne8! when he is more than OK. But in the game he played 17…Nc4 and soon got checkmated:

17…Nc4?? 18. Rg1!!

Threatening checkmate and to win knight on f6.

18… Ne8

Completely oblivious.
19. Qxg7+!! Nxg7 20. Rxg7+ Kh8

And now you know how to proceed, right?

21. Rg8+ Kxg8 22. Rg1#

Ashvin Chauhan

Recognising the Patterns : Challenge # 15

Today the pattern I am going to discuss is very familiar to us; we’ve seen the same thing many times while learning importance of development in the opening:

Legal’s Mate

Based on the captioned theme, try to solve following problems:

Tony Ladd against Joseph Lonsdale in 1993: White to move.

Q: Here Tony played d4. What did he miss?
A: He had two ways to get a winning position:

Option 1

9. Nxf6+ gxf6 10. Nxe5 fxe5

The queen can’t be taken because of 10…Bxd1 11. Bxf7+ followed by Bh6 is mate.

11. Qxg4

This is a winning position for White.

Option 2

9. Nxe5 dxe5

Again the queen can’t be taken due to 10…Bxd1 11. Nxf6 Kf8 (of course not 11…gxf6 which leads to checkmate) 12. Ned7+ Qxd7 13. Nxd7+ followed by Nxc5 wins a piece and a pawn.

10. Nxf6+ gxf6 11. Qxg4

This is a better position for White.

Bernhard Horwitz against Bledow in 1837: White to move

Q: Can White take on e4?
A: No, White can’t take on e4 as the game soon demonstrated.

12. Nxe4?? Nxe4

Now White’s extra piece will fall but White was completely unaware about the pattern and played as follows:

13. Bxe7 Bxf2+ 14. Kf1 Ng3#

The following position has been taken from the ‘Art of Checkmate’ by Renaud & Kahn.
White to Move

Q: Can White play Nxe5 using the same pattern?
A:: The problem with 9.Nxe5 is as follows:

9. Nxe5

If 9…Qxe5 then 10. Rd8# or if 9..Bxe2 then 10. Rd8+ Qxd8 11. Bxf7#. Unfortunately Black has a better move:

9…Bb4+! 10. c3 Bxe2

This wins the rook.

11. Bxf7+ Kf8 12. Rd8+ Qxd8

Ashvin Chauhan