You will be relieved to hear that this week’s article will be mercifully short as I’m in the middle of a domestic crisis. My electricity has failed so at present I have minimal power and no internet access at home. It may also be a few days before I’m able to reply to any comments on here.
Anyway, we’ve now reached Chapter 5 of Move Two!, entitled Mating Combinations.
Knowing the basic checkmate patterns is vital for any aspiring chess player. Of course, you’ll only get most of these positions in your games a few times in your life, but you still need to know them. For every one occasion a position like this happens there will be several others where it happens ‘in the notes’. You put your pieces in place but your opponent sees it coming a long way off and prevents it. Beyond that, though, learning these patterns teaches the student a lot about how different pieces work together. Pattern recognition is one of the keys to chess success, and these are just some of the patterns you need to know.
This also reinforces the idea that you need to look at every check. Beginners often choose a move simply ‘because it’s check’, which is not in itself a good reason. A good reason is ‘because it’s mate’ or ‘because it leads to mate’, and this brings us back to Chapter 1 and learning how to look ahead.
Regular practice at solving both checkmate and material winning puzzles is something that all chess teachers should encourage.
Within the confines of Move Two! there’s only room for a few examples. For books which go into this topic in far more detail I’d recommend the classic The Art of the Checkmate by Renaud and Kahn, or the more recent How to Beat Your Dad at Chess by Murray Chandler (great book and great title – I wish I’d got there first – but the two have nothing to do with each other). There’s also a wide choice of books and websites for those who want to improve their checkmating, tactics and calculation skills.
There then follows a quiz with ten more examples of standard checkmate patterns for the reader to solve.
The Activities section introduces the open variation of the Giuoco Piano. Readers are invited to try this out for themselves, writing down their moves, before moving onto the next chapter (and a future article for Nigel’s blog) in which they’ll be introduced to some of the theory of the opening.
Finally, Masters of the Universe takes up the history of the world championship in 1921, where Lasker lost to the hero of this chapter, the great José Raul Capablanca. Students have a chance to play Guess the Moves with this game:
Capa, of course, was a famous prodigy, as was Sammy Reshevsky, the other star of this chapter. We look at one of his early games, played in a simul in Berlin. Sammy, needless to say, was the player giving the simul.