Working Without Engines

My Dad and I usually look at chess without an engine, trying to figure things out for ourselves. Dad says that this is a better way to develop as a player because using an engine leads to people becoming too reliant on them in their thinking. Here is an example:

We found this position while going through IM John Cox’s book on the Berlin. Black played 47…c5 which looks like a great try, but Cox thought it might be a blunder. Carlsen then answered with 48.e6+ which was given two question marks, Cox commenting that 48.f6 ‘was immediately decisive’.

I think that Cox must have had the engine on all the time to make it seem so easy to him, the players did not find this easy to see and we struggled too. The reason is that after 48.f6 Black can let White get a queen with 48…cxd4 49.f7 dxc3 50.f8=Q cxb2 51.Qf1 c3, when the passed pawns are very strong and at first seem to tie White’s queen down.

It turns out that White can win after 52.Qd3+ Ke8 53.e6 c2 54.Qd7+ Kf8 55.Qd8+ Kg7 56.Qxe7+ Kh6 57.Qf8+ Kh7 58.Qf7+ Kh6 59.Qf4+ Kh7 60.Qh2+ Kg8 61.e7 Kf7 62.Qe5 Ke8 63.Qc7. However this only became clear when we looked at the position with an engine and the line is 15 moves deep.

Sam Davies

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About Sam Davies

Sam Davies is the 15 year old son of GM Nigel Davies and a keen chess player in his own right. After a slow start with the game he has made rapid progress in the last few years and is now winning tournaments. Unlike other juniors he does not play in junior tournaments and likes playing positional chess.