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