Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Miss Easy Tactics! with Justin V

[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.]

Luis Vitalla (2199) v Horton, Aragón Team Championship 2008. Position after 31.Bd2-g5.

Black now finished off a well-played Slav (no, really) with 31...Nd7 32.Be7 Qd5 33.Bc5 Nxc5 34.Rxc4 Ra8! and White resigned.

What glaring error (or errors) can you find in this sequence?

[match photo here]


Tom Chivers said...

Bit early in the morning for this sort of thing, but 34.Qxc4 maybe? Or 35.Qxc5?

Tom Chivers said...

Oh, wait. 35.Qxc5 loses. But 34.Qxc4 looks alright. Maybe Nxe5 rather than c5 for black, too?

Campion said...

Tom beat me to it (twice). In fact, isn't 34 Qxc4 winning for White as Black either loses the exchange or allows White to get a passed pawn with dxc5?

And ...Nxe5 looks good as Tom said.

ejh said...


I completely overlooked the capture on c4 and was lucky to have the rook move which wins. If he'd captured with the queen instead I don't have a win - I think 34...Qe4 may scrape a draw.

He pointed this out immediately after the game. Some hours later - actually, when I was lying in bed - I realised that I could have captured on e5 instead, neatly finishing off the game.

Tom Chivers said...

It always astonishes me how hard even micro-complications are to get wholly right....

ejh said...

Well, you have to look for them, and I didn't look for them.

I suspect - and I might write something about this - that the most common case of tactical oversight is failing to consider alternatives to captures. Especially "obvious" recaptures.

I posted last before seeing Campion's - I think Qe4 may draw because black can blockade the passed pawn on the c-file in a rook-and-queen ending. But it wouldn't have been the finale I had hoped for when exchanging my Karpovian way into a knight-v-bad-bishop position.

Anonymous said...

Less Drinking, IMO.