Tag Archives: pattern recognition

Recognise the Pattern # 37

This article aims at beginners only. Here are some positions on a typical theme. You are advised to find the solutions first and then look at the theme name and the solutions:

1. Bill Wall vs Robert Gantt 1978
White to Play

2. Eduard Hamlisch vs NN 1899
White to Play

3. Shmatkov vs Eidlin 1960
White to Play

The theme is ‘sacrifices on f7/f2 against uncastled king’. Of course the main idea is to keep the opponent’s king in the center but often it is used to win/trap opponent’s queen in conjunction with mating threats. I thought I have covered this with my series on recognising the pattern, but it was missed out. Recognising the pattern is a series where I have discussed typical checkmate patterns, attacking formations and endgame patterns.


Solution 1:

1.Bxf7+ Kxf72.Ng5+

Black resigned in view of Ne6 in case of Kf8 or e8 and Qc4+ in case of Kg8.

Solution 2:

1.Bxf7+ Kxf7 2.Ng5+

Black resigned in view of Ne6 in case of Ke8 whilst Kf6 can be met by Qf3#.

Solution 3:

1.Bxf7 Kxf7
2.Ng5+ Kg6

If 2… Kf8/e8 then Ne6 wins the queen or if 2…Kg8 then Qb3 wins.

3.Qd3+ Kh5

If Kh6 then Ne6 discovered check wins queen.


This wins due to the threat of winning the queen or checkmate with Qh3.

Ashvin Chauhan

Recognise the Pattern # 36 : A Drawing Mechanism with Rook and Knight

I have already discussed few checkmate patterns with rook and knight:
The corner Mate
The Anatasia Mate
The Arabian Mate
The Hook Mate

In this article, we will see a drawing mechanism with rook and knight. Here is the basic pattern:

This is just an educational example to illustrate the power of rook on d7 and knight on f6. Black has many threats at his disposal but White can save the day with Nf6+, which leads to perpetual check.

1.Nf6+ Kf8

If 1…Kh8 then 2.Rh7 is mate.

2.Nh7+ Kd8 3.Nf6+

Not only check, but it also protects the rook on d7.

Now let’s check few real game examples.

Mark Smideliusz (1838) against Csaba Bognar in 2008

Q: It seems that White is going to lose some material here because White’s rook and knight both are under attack. How should he proceed from here?
A: White can save the game with a stunning queen sacrifice:

1.Qxc5!! Qxc5

As Black’s queen has been deflected the knight is no longer a pinned piece and can therefore move.


The players agreed to draw the game after few more moves.

Diogo Henriques Alho against Luis Galego in 1993

Q: White is a pawn down and his knight is under attack. Black’s last move was …Rc8 and he might have been under the impression that the knight can’t be move because of …Bxf2+, but is this really so?
A: It turns out that this is an illusion as White can move his knight to e4 and can achieve the desired fortress on the next move.

1.Ne4 Rd3

If 1…Bxf2 2. Rxf2! Rxd7 3. Nf6 and 4.Nxd7 leaves White standing better.

2.Nf6+ leads to force draw.

Ashvin Chauhan

Recognise the Pattern # 35

Today, we will see a typical exchange sacrifice on c3 (usually taking a knight) in the Sicilian defence. Black players like to make this sacrifice in order to get one or more following advantages:

1) Usually Black ends up with a knight and a central pawn against a rook with White’s busted pawn structure creating additional targets. Even if White has castled short this can prove to be sufficient compensation, though it varies from case to case.

2) White’s king won’t feel safe any longer in the absence of key defender and damaged pawn structure (usually if White castles long).

3) This typical sacrifice also increases the quality of other pieces, particularly Black’s dark square bishop and an active knight in the center.

4) It is very difficult for White to use his exchange in the absence of open files.

Here is an instructive example:

Nakamura against Gelfand in 2013

Q: In a given position Nakamura played 24. f5. How would you with the Black pieces?


24…Rxc3!! 25. bxc3 Qxa3+

25…Ne5 26. Kd2 Bd7 is an option given in chess informant.

26. Kd2 Nf6!

Compare the activity of each side’s pieces. The Black ones are far more active and dangerous than White’s.

27. Qd3

The bishop can’t be taken because of Ne4

27…Bc4 28. Qd4 d5! 29. exd5

29.e5 is bad in view of Ne4+.

29…Bxd5 and White resigned after black’s 41st move. Here is the rest of game in case you’re interested.

30.Rg1 Be4 31.Bd3 Qa5 32.Qb4 Qc7 33.Bxe4 a5 34.Qxb7 Qf4+ 35.Ke2 Rc7 36.Qb6 Nxe4 37.Qd4+ Kh7 38.c4 Rd7 39.Qe3 Ng3+ 40.Qxg3 Qxg3 41.Rxd7 Qe5+ 0-1

Would you like to dig out further on the same theme? Study the following games.

Shirov against Anand in 2008

Mamedyarov against Gelfand in 2011

Movsesian against Kasparov in 2000

Ashvin Chauhan

Revisiting The Patterns

In chess, a player is more successful if they are able to use their knowledge optimally rather than a person who might know more. It has more to do with recognizing patterns on board rather than knowing tonnes of them. That doesn’t mean I am against learning more patterns, it’s more a case of applying what you do know when a pattern arises.

How can someone become good at recognizing patterns?

Here is an answer.

Besides that I would like to add a few points:

I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.
Bruce Lee

You should practice a pattern a lot in its basic form. It is more beneficial to do one or two move combinations on a daily basis rather than doing complicated ones. This was suggested by Dan Heisman in his Novice Nook column at chesscafe.com, and although it was for improving tactical skills I believe it can be applied at other areas too.

Give yourself some breaks on regular basis to digest acquired information/knowledge before moving on to the next one. It is also useful for keeping you interested in chess.

Try to organise acquired information in blocks. You can find some examples on the same theme in Capablanca’s Chess Fundamentals and also Silman’s Complete Endgame Course. Another good try can be seen in Chess Tactics From Scratch by Martin Weteschnik. Perhaps organising acquired information in blocks is the essence of recognizing patterns.

Ashvin Chauhan

Recognise the Pattern # 34

Today we will see another typical way to destroy a king’s shelter, this time by sacrificing material on g7/g2. This sacrifice often opens the h1-a8 (a1-h8) diagonal and the g-file and the success of such an attack usually depends upon available whether these can be used. You may need to check the possibilities of further sacrifices to drag out the opponent’s monarch into the danger zone which is very typical with this theme.

Ralf Lau (2460) against Sergey Smagin (2520) in 1990

Q: White’s last move was Nf3-e5. How would you evaluate this move?

Solution: White’s last move was a big mistake as it allows Black to gain a very valuable tempo on the knight by playing d7-d6, which opens up the light square bishop and prepares the typical sacrifice.

19…d6! 20. Nd3 Nxg2!!

Nxc6 leads to the same continuation as the game.

21. Kxg2??
This leads to mate in 5 although 21.f3/f4 doesn’t change the outcome because after Nxe1, black is pawn and exchange up in addition to this Safety of white’s Monarch has been already compromised.


The only way to win.

22. Kxh3 Qf3
23. g5
and White resigned here.

Work for readers!!

Here are some instructive games on the same theme to study:

Bogoljubov against Mieses
Spielmann against Tartakower

Ashvin Chauhan

Recognise the Pattern # 33

Today we will see a typical sacrifice on f6 (f3) in order to destroy a king’s pawn cover. Earlier we discussed the classical Bishop sacrifice and Lasker’s double Bishop sacrifice which had the same goal.

Before sacrificing piece on f6 (f3) one should carefully evaluate the possibility of participation of his major pieces along the g- or h- file (rook lifts are a very typical theme here) and possible ways of declining the sacrifice.

Here is an instructive example:

Tal against Dmitry in 1970

In the given battle White has already lifted his rook and knight and is ready to jump on f6, while on the other side Black’s queen is already cut off from the main battle field although she is attacking the White rook. Therefore White’s queen has to leave the first rank with tempo, which is quite possible after opening up the h-file. In general White’s position has great potential.

Here Tal played:

18. Nf6+!! gxf6 forced
There is no way to decline the sacrifice. If Black plays 18…Kh8 then Nxh7 is simply enough to win.

19. Bxh7+!!

As discussed the White queen needs to leave the first rank with a gain of tempo.


Black is preventing White’s queen being activated with check. If Black plays Kxh7 then Qh5+ followed by Rg1! wins

20. Rh4 Kg7 21. Qc1

Threatening Qh6 mate.

21…Ng8 22. Bxg8

Black resigned here in view of following lines:
a) If 22…Kxg8 then 23.Rb3.
b) If 22…Rxg8 then 23.Qh6.

Otherwise there is no defence to Qh6 except by surrendering the queen on b1.

Work for readers!!
It is recommended that you study the following games on the same theme:
Nunn against Craig William in 1986
Petrosian against Larsen in 1960
Spielmann against Hans Gebhardt

Ashvin Chauhan

Recognise The Pattern # 32

After castling short we tend to play the king’s rook to another open/half open file, abandoning protection of the f-pawn in front of it. Therefore it is quite useful to set your radar for the f7 (f2) square in order to seize any opportunity to launch an attack on castled king. Usually, we sacrifice the piece on that square in order to bring opponent’s monarch from his comfort zone.

Here are a few instructive examples of this theme:

Petrosian against Balashov in 1974

Q: Is it possible to play Bxf7 here?
Hint: This sacrifice will work only if you’re able to find a very calm follow-up on the next move.


22. Bxf7! Kxf7

Ideally Balashov should resign here because sacrifice was made by Petrosian!!
22…Ne5 won’t work because of 23.Qxe5+ Qxe5 24.Nxe5 Bxg5 25.Bxe8 when Black is the exchange and a pawn down.

23. Bh6!!

Now g7 square has been taken away from Black’s king and there is no way to neutralise an attack from e6 or the a2-g8 diagonal (a very important lesson to remember) without losing decisive material.


If 23…Nd4 then 24.Qxd4 Bf8 25.Rxe8 Rxe8 and now Ng5 is just winning. But it was better than the text move.

24. Qc4+ and White went on win after couple of moves.

Blackburne against Collins in 1897

Q: In a given position Black’s last move was 19…Rd8 which is a grave mistake how would you punish it?


It was to better to play 19…Bxe5 followed by Nb6 and it’s still a game but text move leads to immediate loss with

20.Nxf7 Kxf7??

Though other moves can’t change the outcome but this leads to mate in six. Help yourself please.

It is highly recommended to study below classics to enhance your knowledge of this theme:

Colle against Grunfeld
Gurgenidze against Tal

Ashvin Chauhan

Recognise The Pattern # 31

It’s best to think twice before moving pawns that form the king’s shelter, but often people play f2-f4 (f7-f5) in order to gear up their rooks and f pawns against the opponent’s king. Unfortunately that weakens the a2-g8 (a7-g1) diagonal. So whenever your opponent plays such moves you should think about possibilities of smothered mate, a Greco mate or the mate along the h file, as usually the king hides on h8 (h1) after a check along that diagonal.

Sidney Paine Johnston against Frank James Marshall in 1899

Q: In this position Marshall has weakened the a2-g8 diagonal but on the other hand it is closed by the e6 & d5 pawns. So White played 11.cxd5 and black replied with 11…exd5 as Marshall was relying on the discovered attack after White’s Nxd5.
Was it a good idea?

It turns out to be a bad one because White’s light square bishop can use it with devastating effect. Please try to calculate this position yourself first then check what happened in the game:

12. Nxd5!

Opening up the diagonal.


13. Bc4!!

I think black missed this intermediate move now white is ready to use this diagonal. If 13.Nxd4 then Black gets satisfactory game after 13…Bxd5



Here Black has to surrender the piece in order to prevent himself from immediate loss.


Now what? Can you checkmate Marshall in few moves?


This double check leads to checkmate

16. Ng6+ hxf6

Opening up h file leads to mate on next move

17…Qh4 18.Rxh4#

Here White has sacrificed the knight in order to open up h file which is very common with this theme.

Ashvin Chauhan

Recognise the Pattern # 30

In my last article we saw how to break down fianchetto castled position by opening up the h-file with the help of h4-h5 lever, but sometimes your opponent can physically block the h file with the piece (usually a knight on h5/h4). In such situations it is often a good idea to sacrifice an exchange in order to open lines against the opponent’s monarch. Before sacrificing like this there is one very crucial point one must consider; there are more chances that exchange sac won’t work if your opponent can protect h7 (h2) reasonably.

Here is an example that covers the theme.

Kasparov against Piket in 1989

Q: In this position Black played 31…Bd5. How would you evaluate this move?

A: This bishop move is a mistake as it allows exchange sacrifice on h5, otherwise it wasn’t possible even with a free move for White. For example 31…a6 (just a random move) 32. Rxh5 gxh5
33. Qh4 and now Bd7 threatening to take on f5 then to protect the h7.

Let’s get back to game.

31…Bd5? 32. Rxh5! gxh5 33. Qh4


Now the …Bc6-d7 idea won’t work because of Qh3 followed by Re1>h2 threat.

34. Qxh5 Qf1+

Other moves like Rd8 or Rc8 won’t work because of Qh6! followed by Rh3.

35. Kb2 e5 36. Qh6!!

Threatening f6! & the knight is untouchable because of pin along the e file. The position is lost for Black.


If 36…f6 then 37. gxf6 Qg2 38. Ne2 wins.

37. g6

and Black resigned after 3 more moves.

Ashvin Chauhan

Recognise the Pattern # 29

Today we will see a typical way of breaking down a fianchetto formation. Here are some points to be considered while attacking fianchetto formation:
1) Try to exchange the fianchettoed bishop which will create a long term weakness around the opponent’s king.
2) Open up the h-file by advancing the h-pawn, sometimes you need to sacrifice to open it, I will discuss this pawn being blocked in my next article.
3) A pin on f7 (f2) can play a very crucial role
4) Try to stabilise the center, which is important as a wing attack can often be answered by a central counter attack.

These are the ideal conditions but it is not compulsory to carry out all of it before proceeding for an attack.

Steinitz against Mongredian in 1863. – White to move

Question: Is it the right time to attack with h4-h5 lever in order to attack the finachetto formation?

Solution: Most of the preconditions have been fulfilled except the exchange of fianchettoed bishop. Steintitz went for a kill as follows:

10. h4!

The idea is to open the h-file with the h4-h5 lever.


If 10…h5, in order to prevent White from opening up h file, then 11. Ng5 is very unpleasant.

11. h5 c5 12. hxg6 Nxg6

If 12…hxg6 then 13.0-0-0 followed by Ng5, with the idea of Ne6, is very dangerous for Black.

13. 0-0-0

Bringing the rook into the game and protecting e4.

13…a6 14. Ng5 Nf6

It seems that Black is well protected but Black missed a blow. Can you see it?

15. Nxh7!!

Of course you often need to sacrifice something in order break the opponent’s defence when your pieces are placed optimally.

15…Nxh7 16. Rxh7 Kxh7

16. Qh5 was even stronger than the text move.

17. Qh5 Kg8 18. Rh1!

Threatening checkmate.

18…Re8 19. Qxg6

The point of whole combination.

19…Qf6 20. Bxf7+ Qxf7

Now 21. Rh8+ wins the queen and game. Black resigned after one more move.

Ashvin Chauhan