Tag Archives: Strategy

“What Say You?” The 1 Minute Challenge (13)

“A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer”
Bruce Lee

A quick reminder about how to do it:

  • Have a look at the position for 1 minute (watch the clock)
  • Think about the choices in front of you and pick the one you feel it is right
  • Verify it in your mind the best you can
  • Compare it with the solution

The play up to this point (see diagram) was positional. I sacrificed the g7-pawn for the use of the semi-open g-file and after exchanges, I had a simple decision to make: hold the fort or risk going for the win? These were my thoughts at time:
– holding the fort was a very simple proposition; Bb5 was on f3 at the time and my knight was clearly better
– my King was on b7 taking care of any kook intrusion on a7
– the c4-pawn was an obvious target White had to defend; that left White with little offensive perspective
I decided to risk it. How did I do that? Well, I allowed White to reposition Bf3 to b5 and gave his rook the control over the 7th rank (big no-no right?). What did I get in exchange?

The obvious one is a chance to do something about the h4-pawn. Please pay attention to where the pieces are placed for both sides : White’s bishop and rook are committed on the queenside, while Black’s knight and rook are focused on the king side. Probably White wants to capture the b6-pawn and eventually push forward the c4-pawn. Black wants to push the h4-pawn and add a wrinkle to it; did you sense Kc5 could join the attack in a hurry? From this point of view Black’s king is far more useful.

Did you choose to go for it with 1… Nf4+? It is perfectly understandable since this is why I went down this road. Now, would that give Black any advantage? It could if White allowed the pawn to go all the way to h2; if it did not and simply exchanged it, black had no more than a draw. That felt to me underwhelming for the risk taken. I wanted more. Please see below how I continued and what could have happened after 1… Nf4+ The end of the game will be presented in the following article.

Valer Eugen Demian


Two Rooks on the Seventh

Nimzowitsch was one of the first ones to highlight the power of two rooks on the seventh rank in his famous book “My System” published in 1925. Many a player are reminded of it time and time again or are happy to have it as a resource to draw or win their games. This month I got a first hand reminder during one of my online games. It is not that I have forgotten about it, but I simply overlooked it and lost half a point in the process. Lesson 24, level 4 of our app will get a new addition to the existing collection of puzzles on this subject. Let’s see the game together:

Do not dismiss the potential of two rooks on the seventh. Contrary to the popular belief the purpose for such rooks is not to checkmate the opponent or even win the game on the spot. Their purpose is to use their dominance and gain material advantage one can further use to win the game; in our case their purpose was to save half a point for white after a dubious opening and some poor play. Next time I will be far more reluctant to find exceptions (are there any?…) where those rooks on the seventh won’t help.

Valer Eugen Demian


Missing The Obvious

“When your mind tries to verify a preconceived notion you can miss the obvious”
James Cook

My latest entertaining turn based game on chess.com lasted for 7 months. The game had many twists and turns as the positional battle shifted between both sides of the chessboard; later in the game the tactics could have tipped the balance in my favour. Unfortunately I missed the winning idea time and time again; some might ask how is this possible when 3 days per move reflection time sounds like an eternity. The truth is life happens every day with moves in between and a lot of times one wishes they could just play without interruptions or waiting time from beginning to end. Here is the game with all the important moments highlighted:

The lessons learned from it are at least the following:

  • Do your best not to have preconceived ideas and verify each exchange sequence possible one more time before committing (missing the obvious #1)
  • Identify and learn from missed opportunities on both sides during post mortem analysis (missing the obvious #2)
  • Work on your tactics consistently and relentlessly to be able to convert won positions into full points (missing the obvious #3 to #6)
  • Be strong and alert from beginning to end especially when you can feel you have missed a couple of opportunities. You never know when you might get another chance; the opponent could falter as well (missing the obvious #7 and #8)

Valer Eugen Demian