Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Miss Easy Tactics! with Justin IV

[Our pedagogical series in which we look at a portion of a game I played the previous weekend in which some obvious tactic is overlooked. Readers are invited to practice their skill by seeing if they can spot what was missed.]

FM Fontana v Horton, Copa Delegación final 2008, top board, Jaime Casas (Monzón) v Casino Jaque (Huesca). Position after 40.Rh3.

Play now continued:
40...Rf1 41.Ke4 a4 42.Rxh7 a3 43.Rxf7+ Kb6 44.Rf8 Kb7 45.Rf7+ Kb6 46.Rf8 Kb7
and the game was drawn (although the match was narrowly won by Jaime Casas). But there is a big hole in this line. What is it?

The answer should eventually turn up in the comments box so don't look before giving it a go!

The game is given below. [Match report in Spanish, with exciting videos, here.]


Tom Chivers said...

Perhaps not a surprise, but this has me stumped.

ejh said...

Well, play through it on a chessboard - perhaps from the black side - and see if you see anything.

Anonymous said...

After trying in vain to spot a missing black win, I assume the clue to make this thing easier is to offer the suggestion that it was WHITE who missed the "easy tactic"...?


Anonymous said...

Well, 44... a2 to queen is no good for Black as, after he has given up his rook to take Black's new queen, White's pawns will be too strong for Black's rook to contain.

... My guess is that White missed something earlier: 42 Rg3 (rather than 42 Rxh7) followed by Rg2 or Rg1 as necessary to stop Black's a-pawn. Black will either have to defend his a-pawn with his rook, leaving White to get on with things on the king-side. Or he will have to give up his a-pawn for White's h-pawn when White will still be too strong on the king-side. How's that?


Campion said...

Having seen comment 3 I think I've got it... the odd thing is that I've been stuck for over 10 minutes looking for a win for Black, because I was trying to visualise the position as if I had the black pieces. When I reverted to normal and played through the moves on the PGN viewer doodad, as if I had the White pieces, an idea leapt out at me ...

.. OK, this might be wrong, but given Justin's hints I'm going with 43 g6 exploiting the pin. Now Black can't stop White queening, so the only try is

43 ... a2
44 gxf7 a1=Q

(44 ... Kb6 is no better)

45 f8=Q disc. chk Kc6
46 Qc8+ Kb6
47 Qb8+

and mate next move with Ra7 or Rc7.

That seems to be the main line: other 43rd moves lose in similar ways...

ejh said...


I saw it, but only after the rook was already on h7 and I could do nothing about it. Javier didn't see it until we shook hands on a draw and the spectators let him know what he'd missed. (This is why I recommended looking at it from the Black side - perhaps it's easier seen from there!)

Had I seen it in the diagram position I'd have played 40...a4 - or maybe 41...Kb6 in the game line. Naturally I thought I was winning a tempo because I was threatening the f5 pawn - and the rook has to get out of the way of the a-pawn anyway. But in fact the rook can get out of the way any time it likes (and might prefer to do so with a check on d1) and the priority is avoiding the g6 tactic!

Campion said...

To be fair, I don't think I'd have spotted that as White over the board unless I had lots of time (by which I mean 10 min+) for psychological comfort. 9 times out of 10 I'd have looked nervously at the a-pawn and hacked off the f7-pawn with check, and *then* thought a bit more.

Maybe it's easier to see with hindsight after the game line, when one thinks `if only White had an extra tempo for g5-g6'.

Endgame tactics really leave me confused. This may be why I try and lose or win well before things get that far ...

ejh said...

To be sure, and although Fischer clocks were in operation we were both quite short of time. It's possibly important though that White has an extra move (or two) in which to see g6: tactics are much easier to analyse when the position's in front of you rather than a couple of moves away.

I did spot it, as I say, too late for me but in time had I had the White pieces. But then again, spotting it and playing it are two different things and I think I'd have wanted a fair number of minutes to be sure. Most likely I'd have kept going over the same line several times over in a funk. I do that a lot.

There's a certainly similarity, by the way, with the previous puzzle in the sseries.