Sunday, February 18, 2007

Three Puzzles for a Cent! Three Puzzles a Cent!

Ruster - Tribius (Magdeburg, 1925.)
White to play, and win.


Bargain or not? I picked up Lazlo Polgar's 1000+ page heavyweight tome Chess Middlegames in Holland, for just over twelve euros - in which the above puzzle is number 40. That's number 40 from a total of 4158 different puzzles, organized by middlegame theme (both strategic and tactical.) And there is - apart from the wordless solutions in the back, the contents and the brief introduction - nothing else in this book whatsoever. Just position after position after position, organised by theme. No explation, no words of wisdom, not even any jokes in passing. The fraction I've covered so far has been fun, anyhow.

Incidentally, do you need a clue for the above? Then here it is. The above position is offered by Polgar in the section called Epaulet Mate.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Tom,
Book sounds like a bargain!
Unless I am mistaken, white plays NxN followed by Nc6, which seems to leave him a piece up at the very least?
Did you play Brentwood in the end?
Antony

Tom Chivers said...

I'm afraid not Antony - 1. Nxe5 Bxd1 2. Nc6 Bf8 looks like it'll end up evenish...

I gave Brentwood a miss in the end. I've been feeling a bit ropey this weekend (maybe I picked up a cold in Holland too..) and had a night lined up drinking last night - so all in all it didn't make much sense, I decided.

Edwin 'dutchdefence' Meyer said...

Hey Tom,

Which store in Holland was that? I'd like to check it out myself.

Tom Chivers said...

Hi Edwin

Mm, I don't recall its name. We sort of stumbled upon it.

However, its location was on the walk back from a gallery in The Hague that translated as something like, "The Royal Collection" - from there to the train station. Hope this helps...

Edwin 'dutchdefence' Meyer said...

Did the store look something like this?

Tom Chivers said...

Very much in fact Edwin - I think that's the one!

Edwin 'dutchdefence' Meyer said...

I'm pretty sure it is the store too! I know for a fact the store in the picture has a special chess department, so...

But about that middlegame book, is it like a problem solving book? As is Polgar's "CHESS"? Because it sounds like it offers some good practice.

Tom Chivers said...

I don't know the Polgar booked called 'CHESS'. But yes - it is a problem solving book. Literally, nothing else.

Some of the problems, however, are not tactical, but deep strategic middle game ideas. It's interesting he gives those, and then just the moves as solution, sometimes with an evaluation as weak as +=.

Edwin 'dutchdefence' Meyer said...

You mean to tell me you don't know this Polgar book? I can hardly imagine you don't.

Tom Chivers said...

I'm afraid I don't know it Edwin . . . I don't have a large chess library - maybe 20 books. I find it hard to learn chess from them though - the only book I've really 'completed' in some sense is Paul Littlewood's 'Chess Tactics' - which I had as a junior. It's a good book though.

Edwin 'dutchdefence' Meyer said...

Well, it's not a shame that you don't know it, it's just that it is probably one of the most well known chess tactics books out there, also refered to as "the BRICK". If you ever get your hands on a copy, you'll know why :-)

But tell me, where do you learn your chess from then? What's your playing strength? I can't tell you mine because i'm not officially rated. But i guess you can estimate me a patzer :-)

Anyway, one does not need to have a large chess library to know chess books. I don't have a large chess library. But i do have a large wishlist ;-)

Tom Chivers said...

Ah, ok. I've heard of "The Polgar Brick". I think from one Knight Errand, perhaps Jim 'Megaskins'. The "Chess Middlegames" book I have is massive incidentally. Definitely another brick.

My ECF rating is 160. This is probably about 2050 Elo. On FICS, my blitz rating used to typically be in the 1900s (sometimes 2000s) but it's dropped to the 1800s - since I've started primarily playing black games there. (I am working on my black repertoire.) My standard rating on FICS is over 2000, maybe over 2100, I can't remember - but I think it's at its peak and has never really fallen, ie perhaps would be higher if I played more there at that time limit. On chessworld.net I'm rated 2330, although I'm probably a bit over-rated due to lucky wins and this will probably fall to below 2300 with time.

From the blog, ejh who writes some posts here too has an Elo of 2140. Andrew who comments often has an Elo of 2219. Our club's strongest regular player is an IM rated 2348 Elo. So there are some better players than me in circulation :)

As for how I learnt chess - I guess just gradually picking things up from others in chess clubs and tournaments mostly.

Do you have ratings on websites or servers?!

Edwin 'dutchdefence' Meyer said...

2050 Elo... That's like expert level, right? Hope to get to that level myself after joining a club. How many years did it take you?

And yes, i have some insignificant online ratings... I briefly played at chessworld.net myself and got me a 2117 rating, though i think that is mainly because of the huge rating boost you get when you win a game when first starting playing there. My handle is "Edwin Meyer" there, though i do not play there anymore. Furthermore i have played at many different servers that probably don't tell you much (turn-based mostly) and i really do not see those ratings portraying my playing strength as they use so many different systems... Take my chessworld.net rating for instance after 21 games played. Now compare that to for instance my chesshere.com rating which is 1507 after 13 games played...

Anyway, i really wouldn't know what my playing strength is. I do know that i can play just as good as i can play bad :-)

With good meaning this game. A game and result i'm most proud of, but probably just as insignificant as the online ratings :-)

And yes, i could've won the game if it weren't for the fact that i was running out of time.

Tom Chivers said...

That's a nice game - shame you didn't win it. 2117 would be a good CW rating, but it sounds like maybe it was still provisional (<50 games).

As for expert - no! I'm not a bad club player I guess. As for learning - I improved during my teenage years sort of naturally, I think I got up to 169 once even, or maybe 166, and have been bobbing around the 160s since (I'm 30 years old now.)

Goran said...

There is funny story behind this game. It was two german players, champions of neigbhoring cities, that were playing the match. I can't remember the names now. The guy with white pieces had to hurry and catch up the last train to go home, and in this position he moved quickly Ne5. After his oponent took Bd1, he resigned and rushed to the station. On the way, he was still thinking about the "blunder" and then he found brilliant idea how to continue the game. He goes back to the caffe and resumes the game to deliever great combination. Of course, then he had quite a walk home.

Goran said...

doh, you posted the names :)

Tom Chivers said...

Thanks, that's a great story Goran. I wish I'd known about it before posting the position!

ejh said...

The only problem with the puzzle is that the key move is a bit obvious given that it's a puzzle (i.e. it's the first move you look at to see if it works, whereas in a game the whole point would be that it was hard to find). The follow-up's a bit harder though.

Tom Chivers said...

I try to set puzzles that are either gratifying or entertaining to solve, ie that are worth the time. I like this one because I think empty/attacked square tactics are particularly aesthetic. I'm not trying to set particularly hard puzzles *per se* - perhaps I should?

Chessvibes publish weekly endgame studies incidentally - maybe I'll add that link to the puzzle index . . .