Move Two! Chapter 7 returns to the subject of tactics in the opening. Many games are decided by tactics at the start of the game so it’s important that students recognise the typical patters that occur over and over again.
The first section is called ‘Trouble on the e-file’. We look at this idea through two openings, the Petroff Defence and the Ruy Lopez, starting off with what many children like to call the Copycat Trap: when Black plays 3.. Nxe4, and after 4. Qe2 retreats his knight, allowing the discovered check Nc6+ winning the queen.
When I play beginners and ask them what colour they want they usually choose the black pieces. When I ask them why they tell me that they will copy my moves until I make a mistake and then take advantage of it. The Copycat Trap illustrates the futility of this plan: you can’t copy a check and often can’t copy a capture.
In the Petroff we can often win material by playing a quick Qe2. In the Ruy Lopez, however, we’re going to castle quickly and play Re1 if the e-file becomes open. We line the rook or queen up against the uncastled enemy king. If one of our pieces is in the way we can make a discovered check while hitting another piece. If the enemy queen is in the way of our rook we may just be able to win it. If an enemy minor piece is in the way we can attack it again, probably with a pawn, and win it.
Familiarity with these tactical ideas will provide many quick wins in lower level events as well as teaching important chess skills.
We then move on to look at pawn forks. The idea of a centre pawn forking two enemy minor pieces is very common in lower level competition. You’ll often see, for example, a white pawn on e5 forking a knight on f6 and a bishop on d6, and demonstrating the power of centre pawns. A more subtle variation on this theme happens where Black has bishops on c5 and e6 and a knight on c6. White plays d4, and, when the bishop moves, continues with d5, forking knight and bishop.
We also look at another type of pawn fork which is very common at this level. For instance, after the moves 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bc4 Black can choose 4.. Nxe4, using a pawn fork to regain the piece after 5. Nxe4 d5. This scores very well for Black over the board.
Our quiz in this chapter comprises five questions on the Giuoco Piano, the opening studied in Chapter 6, and five questions based on the tactical themes discussed here.
Chapter 8 will return to king and pawn endings, and students are invited to practise two positions in which White has an extra pawn (6 pawns v 5, and 3 pawns v 2 on the same side) before reading about the best way to win these endings in the next lesson.
Masters of the Universe, you will recall, relates the history of chess through the lives and games of the world champions. We now reach the post-war period and meet the first Soviet World Champion, Mikhail Botvinnik.
We demonstrate two short and brilliant wins from either end of his career.