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Chess Skills by James Stripes - 23h ago
This game came to my attention during a search for examples of smother mate. In early July, I put together a worksheet for my students that featured smother checkmate threats, some of which could be prevented. Some of the source games offered additional interest.

The game was played in the first ever Dutch Championship, which was won after tiebreaks by Henry William Birkmyre Gifford. Little is known today about Gifford, although ChessBase has 39 of his games in their database. Even less is known about his opponent whose only games in the database are from this event.

Gifford,HWB -- Ter Haar,TC [B01]
DCA Congress 1st The Hague (1), 1873

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 d5

Rare move

More common is 3...exd4 4.Nxd4 then several branches.

4.exd5 Qxd5 5.c4 Qe4+ 6.Be3

6.Be2 seems sensible to me.

6...exd4

The pinned bishop is attacked.

White to move

7.Bd3??-+

This game is the only one with this move. 7.Nxd4 was necessary.

7...Qe7 8.Nxd4 Nxd4 9.0-0 Ne6 10.Nc3

Black to move

Does White have compensation for the  knight? His pieces are better placed and Black's king is in the center, but it is not so easy to mount an attack. Still, one gets the sense from the game as it subsequently developed that Gifford foresaw this position and estimated the loss of the knight to be a worthwhile sacrifice to bring it about.

10...c6 11.Re1 Bd7 12.Bf4 Nf6 13.Bg3 g6 14.f4 Bg7

White to move

15.Kh1

Gifford surely saw 15.f5 Qc5+ 16.Kh1 gxf5.

15...Nh5 16.Ne4 Nxg3+ 17.Nxg3 0-0-0

The g-file will open.

White to move

18.f5 gxf5 19.Nxf5 Qf6 20.Nd6+ Kb8 21.Rf1 Nf4

21...Qe7 22.Nxf7

22.c5 Qg5 23.Qd2

Black to move

The pinned knight is attacked.

23...Qd5?

23...Qxg2+ 24.Qxg2 Nxg2 25.Kxg2 Rdf8;
23...Ne6 24.Qb4 Bc8

24.Qxf4

Black is fine even yet.

24...Qxd3??+-

24...Ka8? 25.Qb4 Rb8 26.Be4 Qh5;
24...Be5 25.Qe3 Bd4 26.Qf3

White to move

This position was on my worksheet.

25.Ne8+ Ka8

Black can delay checkmate two moves longer with 25...Be5 26.Qxe5+ Qd6 27.Qxd6+ Ka8 28.Nc7+ Kb8 29.Na6+ Ka8 30.Qb8+ Rxb8 31.Nc7#.
26.Nc7+ Kb8 27.Na6+ Ka8 28.Qb8+ Rxb8 29.Nc7# 1-0
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Chess Skills by James Stripes - 1w ago
As I plod through that are referenced in the Encyclopedia of Chess Openings, sometimes a game will catch my eye. This morning it was Franzoni,G.--Dreev,A., Luzern 1993, published in Chess Informant 59/325. Dreev provided the annotations.

Black to move
After 23.Bf3

23...dxe3

My first impulse is to guard against the capture of the knight that forks king and rook. Dreev, however, found that his pawns and queen were quite strong enough for the attack. Meanwhile his pawn chain, immobile rook, and bishop could neutralize White's threats.

I should file this position away as an example of intermezzo.

24.Bxc6+ Kf8

White to move

25.Re2

Dreev offers two alternatives for this rook: 25.Rff1 and 25.Rf3. He carries out the second to move 31 when Black is forcing the queens off the board when ahead by a rook.

25...c3 26.Bxa8 cxb2 27.Rb1 Bxe2

White to move

28.f5 Qd2–+ 29.h3 exf5 30.e6 Bb5

One wonders how many moves back Dreev discovered this important resource. White's threats are not insignificant even though Dreev renders them impotent.

31.e7+ Kg8 32.Bf3 Qxc2 33.Bd5 Qxb1+ 34.Kh2

Black to move


34...f4

White's checkmate threat had to be stopped.

35.Qe5

Another checkmate threat.

35....Be8

Stopped.

36.Be4 Qe1 37.Bxg6 Qg3+ 38.Kg1 0–1

I'm always curious about the circumstances when the player who lost gets in the last move. White still has threats, but they are easily parried.
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Chess Skills by James Stripes - 1w ago
In round 22 of the 1962 Candidates tournament, Pal Benko with the Black pieces had a crushing attack against Bobby Fischer. However, he failed to find the knockout blow and then blundered in time pressure. Black can force checkmate from all of the positions below, which might have occurred had Benko played slightly differently. Perhaps, also, Fisher needed to err to reach these positions.

Warm Up (mate in three)

Black to move

Black to move


Slightly Challenging (mate in five)

Black to move


Challenge (mate in seven and nine)

Black to move

Black to move

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Chess Skills by James Stripes - 2w ago
I have my annual chess camp for youth next week. As in years past, the students each receive a camp workbook (see "The Camp Workbook"). When I started creating these workbooks, I would print them on school photocopiers at no cost to me, and then bind them at Staples or FedEx Office (formerly Kinkos) with cardstock covers (costing me about $4.50 each). Publishing them via Amazon, my printing costs are less than binding was in the past, and the students get a professionally bound book.

Two years ago, I created Five Days to Better Chess: Essential Tools for my camp. It is a good quality book that stands own its own as a resource for teachers and developing chess players up to B Class (under 1800). This year, I have finally added a long-planned glossary of tactics to a collection of 150 exercises that I have used since 2006. These exercises with glossary was published last week as Checkmates and Tactics. This book will be this year's workbook, supplemented with a some additional materials.

Every chess camp consists of endgame study the first day or two and some sort of endgame tournament, depending on the strength of the players enrolled. One of my top fifth graders is in the camp, as are several students whom I do not yet know. It is likely that some will be just starting to learn chess.

There is always a camp tournament consisting of one game per day for the five days. The day's camp routine consists of short lectures on positions, concepts, and short games. These lectures are broken up by cooperative and competitive problem solving exercises. The workbook fills idle time as some finish their tournament games earlier than others. Some time is set aside for workbook focus. Any errors that I discover in the book before camp begins (correctable for those buying the book later) become contests for the students: find the misspelled word.

Camp consists of five days, three hours per day. As the week goes on, the presentations are tailored to the needs of the students and we discuss middle games and openings.

Everything the students do, including behaving well, earns camp points. At the end of the week, prizes are awarded based on these points.
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Chess Skills by James Stripes - 2w ago
Seven years ago, I posted "Tactical Motifs: A List," which contains several lists of varied length from text and internet sources. It had been my intent to develop a "glossary of tactics" to be published along with exercises that I had been using for several years with my students. Over the past three months, I have been poking away at creating this glossary, which also includes a small set of checkmate patterns, as part of a new self-published book. The impetus to finish it was my desire for a workbook that I could give the students in my chess camp next month.

For the book, Checkmate and Tactics (2019), I found an example of every tactic listed. For the checkmate patterns, I mostly used smaller partial diagrams, but a few are illustrated from games.

An example:

Trapped piece:
A piece that is vulnerable to capture because it has no way to retreat out of danger is trapped. Aggressive play grabbing material often leads to getting one’s own piece trapped, as in Spassky,B.–Fischer,R., Reykjavik 1972, the first game of their World Championship Match.

White to move

Fischer had grabbed a pawn with 29…Bxh2. Spassky’s 30.g3 trapped the bishop. Black gained two pawns for the bishop, but it was not enough. Black went on to win the game.

The list in Checkmates and Tactics, sans the checkmate patterns.

Battery
Breakthrough
Clearance
Decoy
Deflection
Desperado
Destroying the pawn shield
Discovery
Double attack
Double check
Fork
Greek gift
Interference
Intermezzo (Zwischenzug)
Key Squares
Lucena position
Opposition
Outflanking
Pin
Philidor Position
Removing the guard
Simplification
Skewer
Square of the pawn
Stalemate
Tableau
Tempo
Trapped piece
Undefended/Underdefended piece
Understanding threats
Windmill
X-ray
Zugzwang
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Chess Skills by James Stripes - 2w ago
From a composition by George Koltanowski. White forces checkmate in four moves.

White to move

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Chess Skills by James Stripes - 2w ago
My apologies for inactivity this past month. My chess time has been devoted mostly towards preparing my annual chess camp workbook. Now, however, with it submitted to the publisher, I'm looking at old chess lessons from many years ago. Playing around with an endgame my opponent muffed fifteen years ago, I created this position.

White to move

What must White do?
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Chess Skills by James Stripes - 1M ago
While continuing to work my way through drawn endgames from my personal database (see "King Position"), I found that I missed a textbook win that I have taught to my chess students. However, my failure dates from 2006 and I've been teaching it since about 2014.

Reuben Fine, Basic Chess Endings (1941) offers this position (No. 40).

White/Black to move

White to move draws, Black to move wins for White.

Mark Dvoretsky, Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual (2003) offers a similar position.

White/Black to move

Again, it is only a win for White if Black is on move. The key, as Dvoretsky points out, is that White's king must occupy h6 while a pawn remains on the second rank, preserving the option of moving one or two spaces. That way, Fine's position can be forced with Black to move.

In a game on Free Internet Chess Server, I had this position.

White to move


1.Kg5 wins.
I played 1.h4 and the game was drawn.
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Chess Skills by James Stripes - 1M ago
I am working my way through pawn endings that I have played over the past twenty years that ended drawn (see "Four on Four"). Some of these are completely lost for one player who was saved by the clock. Many of them are blown wins by one side or the other. Several games reveal that both players threw away a win, as yesterday's "More Endgame Errors".

Of course, these games nearly all come from blitz games played online. By the time a pawn ending is reached, the players may have only a few seconds remaining. Even so, better instincts can be trained, leading to better endings when one must play instantly.

This morning's review turned up an interesting position with both sides possessing pawn majorities, but White's king is better placed.

Stripes,J -- Internet Opponent [D32]
rated blitz match  freechess.org, 17.10.2005

White to move

33.a4+-

Seems like the wrong pawn, but ...

33...Kg7

33...a5 34.Kf3 Kg7 35.b4 axb4 36.Ke2 Kf7 37.a5 Black's king is outside the square.

34.b4 Kf7

White to move

35.a5??

35.Kf3!+- Ke7 36.Ke4 Kd6 37.Kd4 a6 38.b5

Black to move
Analysis diagram

38...a5

(38...axb5 39.axb5 Kc7 40.Kd5)

39.f4 Kc7

(39...g5 40.fxg5 fxg5 41.Ke4)

40.Kc5 Kd7 41.Kd5 Kc7 42.Ke6 g5 43.fxg5 fxg5 44.Kf5+-

35...Ke6–+
Black, nonethless, managed to fail, too. The game was drawn at move 61.
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Chess Skills by James Stripes - 1M ago
Working my way through more than 200 drawn pawn endgames is revealing how poor my endgame skills were fifteen to twenty years ago. I bought Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual in 2003 or 2004, and that was after training against Hiarcs or Fritz with 100 pawn endgames downloaded from a website with terrific tactics and ending PDFs.

I plan to develop training material for my students from these games.

White to move

Internet Opponent -- Stripes,J. [A46]
ICC 5 0 Internet Chess Club, 24.11.2003

37.Kd2

37.Ke3?! a5

     (37...g5 38.g4?? fxg4 39.hxg4 h4 40.Kxe4 a5 and Black has the upper hand)

38.g3 a4 39.Kd2 g5 and Black has the upper hand

37.h4=

37...f4

37...g5 and Black has the upper hand

38.b3+ Kd5

White to move

39.a3??

39.h4 is the only move that holds the draw.

39...g5–+

39...h4–+

Did I know that the game had suddenly turned in my favor?

40.Ke2 a5 41.Kd2 Kc5 42.Kc2

Black to move

42...b4??

42...g4 shows a grasp of the right idea.

43.axb4+ axb4 44.cxb4+??

44.c4=
44.g4=

44...Kxb4–+ 45.Kb2 g4 46.hxg4 hxg4 47.Kc2

Black to move

47...f3??

There is a breaktrough idea based on the square of the pawn. Either I was extremely harried because of the clock, or simply lacked understanding of this elementary endgame concept.

47...e3 48.fxe3 f3 49.gxf3 g3 and the pawn will promote.

47...Ka3 48.Kc3 e3 49.f3 gxf3 50.gxf3 e2 51.Kd2 Kxb3 52.Ke1 Kc2 53.Kxe2 Kc3 54.Ke1 Kd3-+

48.gxf3 exf3 49.Kd2= Kxb3 50.Ke3 Kc4 51.Kf4 Kd4 52.Kxg4 Ke4 53.Kg3


Black to move

53...Ke5

The only move, but at least at this point in my life, I had an understanding of the opposition.

54.Kxf3 Kf5= 
Black was stalemated on move 73
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