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  1. Absolute Pin Tactic-- OTB Examples
    There are several kinds of Pins in chess, but the Absolute Pin (AP) and the Relative Pin (RP) deserve the immediate attention of chess students. Pins must be taken as one of the most essential components in your chess "toolbox."

    This game collection concerns itself with the Absolute Pin, which occurs when a chessman would bring their King into check if it were to be moved. In other words, there is an in-line relationship between the attacker, an intermediate chessman and the defending King.

    An Absolute Pin is a choke-hold on that chessman in the middle. Take advantage of it and make a strategy to win that game!

    This project is a work in progress, culling games from several chess training books and personal research. Games are listed in date order, not in order of importance.

    31 games, 1872-2018

  2. Aggressive Castling as a Tactic-- OTB Examples
    Newer students to chess need to realize that chess privileges and special moves are not just basics to have learned like the moves of the chessmen. The simplest tools of chess can be much more powerful than these players may imagine. Not only do special moves have versatility, but they can be used as tactics with devastating effects!

    Of course, the most dramatic and decisive effect possible from any tactic is checkmate. This game collection is intended to show a wide variety of dynamic maneuvers that may be effected by Castling, one the most fundamental applications of the rules of chess. The point is to spark the imagination and foster creativity in students.

    This game collection is specifically bringing attention to castling being applied with motifs that include check, discovered check, double attack, En Prise, En Garde and others. They can be leveraged into advantages on the board, even checkmate. No matter whether Kingside or Queenside castling, black chessmen or white chessmen, the value of being alert for opportunities to use castling as a tactic is a worthy effort!

    There is a fabulous chess writer and commentator on Chess.com whose handle is BatGirl. See her article, WHEN CASTLES ATTACK, for some interesting points. It was the resource for some of the games provided here.

    Also, there is a game collection by FSR, MATE BY CASTLING, that provided some of the games listed here. Several games in his collection were in common with BatGirl's article. Both efforts are limited to checkmate by castling, but thanks to you both!

    Castling for checkmate usually, but not always, requires a King Hunt-- the defending King is pushed all the way to the home rank of the other team. This process may be just as startling as the Castling Mate itself for the first few times being observed. Although not at ChessGames.com yet, BatGirl showed NN vs E. Znosko-Borovsky, which was part of a simultaneous exhibition set of games in Dundee during 1930. The last bit of the game scoring is given here, where a King Hunt and two Discovered Checks are capped off by a Castling Mate on the Kingside:

    1. hxg3 hxg2+ 2. Kxg2 Bh3+ 3. Kxh3 Ng4+ (Discovered Check) 4. Kxg4 Qd7+ 5. Kg5 Be7+ 6. Kxg6 Rg8+ 7. Kh7 Bf6+ (Discovered Check) 8. Kxg8


    click for larger view

    8. ... O-O-O#


    click for larger view

    There are also a few games here that exemplify the value of Castling late, due to the support to the position, possibly even thwarting the other player's plans abruptly.

    This game collection is a project in progress. Games are listed in date order, not in order of importance.

    24 games, 1850-2014

  3. Anastasia's Mate Examples
    The checkmate pattern called the Anastasia's Mate is a colorful one. It often surprises students when seen for the first few times.

    Only one "stopper" is needed, usually a defending chessman between the "horns" of the Knight. So a crowded position may be involved for the Anastasia's Mate, which can be stunning!

    This game collection is a project in progress. Games are listed in date order, not in order of importance.

    13 games, 1852-2013

  4. Arabian Mate Examples
    This game collection is intended to be a source of Arabian Mates in the strict definition of the term. The Rook attacks the King and the Knight covers an escape square of the defending King and also protects the attacking Rook. This mate pattern is common in the corner, but may be used in other parts of the board as well.

    Smothered Mate and the Arabian Mate are equally appealing to me, but I have found that many beginners and some near-intermediate chess students find the Arabian Mate difficult to understand and use. It only makes sense to them when I break it down by escape squares and danger/attacked squares, then show the process of how the Arabian Mate can be reached.

    Many chess authors seem content to allow equivocation among the Anastasia's Mate, Arabian Mate, Hook Mate, Vukovic Mate and others. However, these mate types are given distinctive treatment in several books. For brevity, THE ART OF ATTACK IN CHESS, by IM Vladimir Vukovic should be sufficient as a citation. Chapter 4: Mating Patterns has distinct sections for these and other checkmate processes.

    Here is an example of the Arabian Mate, from the game Z Andriasian vs B Burg, 2013


    click for larger view

    This game collection is a project in progress. Games are listed in date order, not in order of importance.

    27 games, 1860-2013

  5. Back Rank Mate Examples
    The Back Rank Mate is one of the three most important mating patterns that a chess student should know. Further, it will be seen in every level of chess, even at the top (super) master level.

    It could be said that Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess is a book that focuses on the Back Rank Mate. (The book is miss-named, as it does not teach the beginning information about chess, but it certainly shows how to improve your chess vision and chess thinking!) Read that book once you do know the fundamentals-- chess notation is not even used there, so it will be easy for you to learn from it. Bobby Fischer was the only player from the United States to become World Chess Champion and his book is among the top three chess books that I recommend to students.

    Do your best to learn the Back Rank Mate. Look for opportunities to use it and avoid weaknesses in your position that might allow it to be used against you!

    Also, be sure to learn it from both sides of the board and even in the two vertical orientations.

    This game collection is a project in progress. Games are listed in date order, not in order of importance.


    28 games, 1886-2017

  6. Box Mate Examples
    One of the most elementary and essential checkmate patterns for a beginner to learn quickly is the Box Mate. It is very similar to the Back Rank Mate, but no defending Pawns are in the mix. Some chess writers consider the Box Mate to be among the four basic mate patterns that every chess player should know.

    A very interesting example of the Box Mate occurs in a game that is not yet available at ChessGames.com. The surprise in this position is that the White King has been relocated to the opposite side of the board!


    click for larger view

    Bajgulov, Vladimir vs Andrejko, Oleg
    Tomsk RUSSIA 2008
    49 moves 0-1

    Here is an example of the Box Mate in the vertical orientation, which is the continuation of a game not given at ChessGames.com, yet:


    click for larger view

    Bozzali, Ermanno vs Tagliaferri, Valerio
    Crema ITALY (ITA) 2007
    73 moves 1-0

    Ask your coach why the Waiting Move tactic is usually part of the process of getting this checkmate.

    This game collection is a project in progress. Games are listed in date order, not in order of importance.


    24 games, 1889-2013

  7. CHESS NOTATION 101: SAN Gems for Students
    Algebraic Notation is the written language of chess moves and the most important of the ways people "talk chess." Putting a long series of sequential chess pictorial diagrams into materials is tedious, so this shortcut method of showing moves for a game is critical to know. All chess books and websites use chess notation. (The only exception I know is the highly-regarded book, BOBBY FISCHER TEACHES CHESS and it does have pictorials aplenty.)

    You need to know Algebraic Notation for almost anything about chess. For example, anyone from a coach analyzing an opening for his/her team to an announcer giving commentary at a World Chess Championship speaks using its system. You also need it to learn for your own games, especially if you work with a mentor. You will often be required to use SAN or LAN to write your moves on a score sheet in formal games and USCF or FIDE tournaments, especially to contest something that happened during play.

    The Arabs developed Algebraic Notation in ancient times (USCF, EVERYTHING CHESS BASICS BOOK, p. 2) and after intervening changes in Europe, it became the most important system, everywhere in the chess world, more than 30 years ago. All forms of notation look cryptic at first, but all of them have this special benefit:

    "One enormous advantage which chess has over the great majority of other games is that to get a record of what happened in an important international contest or in your own friendly encounters is quite easy. There is a special notation which enables you to take down in a convenient shorthand form all that happened." Leonard Barden
    AN INTRODUCTION TO CHESS MOVES AND TACTICS SIMPLY EXPLAINED, p. 34

    This collection is complete as far as ChessGames.com is concerned. 15 games seems about the right number of exercises for a series of homework assignments for students. They can start out with several games and then go on to the other games if they need more practice and not be bored.

    My full list for SAN teaching includes these games not found (yet) at ChessGames.com:

    Nadezhda Kosintseva vs Siranush Andriasian 1995 46 moves (Girls U10) COMPLEX MATE.

    Vaclav Pekar vs Josef Varejcko 2013 23 moves QUEEN AND KNIGHT MATE-- Type A.

    This second missing example was Game #4 from IM Jeremy Silman's article, "Hannibal Lecter Presents: Readers' Questions" of Dec 10, 2013.

    Algebraic Notation skill is needed by any developing chess champion, including you! Practice will make it become natural and quick to write accurately. So, take some time and make some effort, then notation becomes easy. Get a chess book with lots of games and diagrams, then practice SAN, using a chess set to make those moves as you write them down. Refer to that book's diagrams to double-checking your work. You can do it!

    "Any student who is old enough to learn the alphabet is quite capable of learning this new language with ease." Sunil Weeramantry
    A Note to Parents and Coaches, p. iv
    from SIMPLE CHECKMATES, by A. J. Gillam

    13 games, 1834-2003

  8. CHESS NOTATION 135: LAN Gems for Students
    Long Algebraic Notation (LAN) is not the most popular form of chess scoring systems, but it is quite useful and has advantages over other systems.

    To show a turn/ply, LAN starts with the abbreviation of the chess piece (or a figurine/icon for international purposes), but no symbol for the Pawn. Then it gives the starting square, a hyphen/minus sign and the ending square. So, when Black moves out the Knight on the King's side, one would write Ng8-f6.

    For captures, replace the hyphen with a lowercase "X" and Promotion just needs the abbreviation of the upgraded piece at the end: g2-g1N.

    Castling is the same as in SAN-- O-O for the King's side or short castling and O-O-O for the Queen's side or long castling. By the way, those are capital letters, not zeroes, per the USCF (United States Chess Federation).

    It is more tedious to use LAN because it shows both the starting and ending locations of the move. The flip side of this point is that a beginner can understand it more easily. In fact, many books for beginners do use LAN.

    Another advantage is that there are no ambiguous moves to resolve when moves are recorded by LAN. Any error is corrected more easily in LAN because of the fact that each turn/ply has two pieces of information, not just one. Still another benefit to it is that the game can be easily restored if there is an error or one needs to backtrack from a given position.

    It has been reported that FIDE (the World Chess Federation) has not accepted LAN for decades. The USCF does accept LAN, so make your own choice about learning it or not.

    I do feel that one can be versatile, getting to know more than one notation system. One could even learn the EDN (English Description Notation) system that has been around for nearly a century and will be seen in chess literature up to the 1970's and 1980's. Some famous books are still being printed with EDN today. Publishers want to avoid the expense of converting to Algebraic Notation and error checking, obviously.

    Well, here are actual games that you can use to practice LAN. Convert a game by watching the moves in a PGN viewer, but ignoring the SAN listing in the window (you may even want to hide that area by resizing the window). Check your work by playing the game on a physical board or with the PGN viewer with its preferences set to LAN, rather than SAN.

    This game collection will be limited to 15 games. Games are listed in date order, not in order of importance.

    2 games, 1620-2004

  9. Clearance Tactic-- OTB Examples
    One of the most useful thought exercises for a chess player is "What If?" Once a chain of plies has been seen that can be accomplished when a chessman or two is out of the way, the Clearance tactic will be used to do just that job. Now a material advantage or even checkmate is available.

    This game collection is a project in progress. Games are listed in date order, not order of importance.

    7 games, 1956-2016

  10. Copy-Cat Games-- Worse than just silly!!
    Students need to be warned not to play all the same moves as their opponent. The opponent has a great advantage in that they know what you're going to do! You lose the initiative in your game, then. You allow the other player to lead you, literally.

    The best you could usually hope for is a draw, but many more times the result will be a trap, resulting in your loss. Why not play to win?

    Copy Cat Games are formally called Symmetrical Games. Karel Traxler, Josef Krejcik, Sam Loyd and others have composed chess lines on this motif. These contrived games commonly end in checkmate.

    The Batsford Book of Chess Records (2005), page 57, was my first exposure to the Rotlewi vs Eliashov [sic] game. It says that "the opponents were probably not playing seriously, but amusing themselves and their honorable spectators. It was the last round of the amateur tournament in the international Chigorin Memorial congress, and this draw assured Rotlewi of second place behind Alekhine, while Eliashov at best would take undivided fourth place instead of sharing 4th-6th." The commander of the Black chessmen has also been seen as Eljaschoff, for the perusers of chess databases.

    Further, the Batsford Book of Chess Records, on page 57-58, claims that the game by the two masters Efim Stoliar and Januza Szukszta in Bulgaria in 1969 is the longest Copy Cat game. (This game is not at Chessgame.com, yet.) It diverges from being a true symmetrical game slightly, but it also ends in a draw.

    There is a fifteen-move 2003 game between Konstantin Landa and Dierk Seifert that is a decent example of a symmetrical game-- it breaks symmetry a couple of times. It ends with resignation at apparent disadvantage of a Pawn, but a game analysis engine shows a four-point disadvantage.

    Do not act like a blind, brainless imitator. Creative effort is valuable in chess. Always play with a sense of purpose and think ahead. You make progress by giving your best to each game-- by applying as many excellent principles as you have learned. Chess is not for the lazy.

    This game collection is a project in progress. Games are listed in date order, not in order of importance.

    3 games, 1900-1918

  11. Corner Mate Examples
    The Corner Mate is an interesting checkmate pattern where the Knight attacks the defending King and the Rook covers escape/flight squares. One "stopper" is needed directly in front of the King, usually a chessman from the defending side. As mentioned in its name, it occurs in the corner of the chessboard.

    I am using the designation for Corner Mate as described in the Wikipedia article on checkmate patterns. Some chess authors use the descriptions given by Eric Schiller. However, what Schiller defines as a Corner Mate is the H-File Mate at Wikipedia. What Schiller describes as the Knight Corner Mate is just a Corner Mate for Wikipedia. You may decide for yourself what terminology to use. My point is to establish clarity for students and allow them to be versatile with the terminology or consistent with a given preference. Voltaire said that if you want to converse with him, you should first define your terms.

    Students should be ready to use mate threats as tactics for several purposes. The Corner Mate threat can force one's opponent to exchange a piece for the attacking Knight, often at a loss. Even the Queen may fall in the face of this type of Knight check!

    For instance, here is a very interesting example of the Corner Mate threat being used as a tactic that wins a Rook:


    click for larger view

    Tischbierek, Raj vs Levitt, Jonathan
    Budapest 1987
    40 moves 1-0
    The diagram is the position after move #30. The White Knight has made a Discovery Attack with check in the Corner Mate pattern. The White Queen is now attacking the Rook for an En Prise capture with check. This game is not available at ChessGames.com, yet.

    The Corner Mate has also been used as a preliminary tactic for a subsequent tactic that leads to mate. Often, one needs to look into the continuation to see how that mate was engaged. This is often due to the courtesy trend of resigning once the mate is clear.

    I have found a multitude of games that apply this mating pattern, but not at ChessGames.com. Possibly the most beautiful and unusual of the missing games concludes with a position that is both a Double Check Mate and Corner Mate! Here is that conclusion for you to enjoy:


    click for larger view

    Caorlin, Marco vs. Bratteteig, Tore-Inge
    London 2010
    22 moves 1-0

    This game collection is a project in progress. Games are listed in date order, not in order of importance.

    9 games, 1955-2012

  12. David and Goliath Mate Examples
    The Pawn, which in a way deserves to be capitalized, must be respected and must be protected. Even though the Pawn is not a piece, it is a chessman that is a valuable part of your team.

    It is not enough to hope for and work toward Promotion. Look for any opportunity to make the Pawns shine brightly, especially when supported by another Pawn or a piece. They can block, kick away, trap, and otherwise harass the enemy to distraction and even to a loss! In fact, the Pawn can not only be the decisive factor in a chess game, but the Pawn can win the game outright! Furthermore, sometimes ONLY the Pawn can make the mate the most quickly.

    This game collection, a work in progress, shows how the "Mr/Ms Short Stuff" of the chessboard wins the game as the final stroke in a checkmate line.

    Games are listed in chronological order, oldest first.

    22 games, 1620-2015

  13. Decoy or Lure Tactic-- OTB Examples
    1 game, 2017

  14. Deflection/Undermining Tactics-- OTB Examples
    20 games, 1997-2002

  15. Discovered Attack Tactic-- OTB Examples
    This technique uses two chessmen on the same line to attack either one or two other chessmen, even where the two attackers are focused on just one target. The chessman in the front moves, which uncovers the one in back to attack on that line.

    WGM Jennifer Shahade has a very expressive name for this tactic-- the Peek-a-Boo move! It should make it easy for the youngest chess students to remember this highly important tool for building a winning game.

    Another way to describe this tactic is that one line has two attackers along it. When the one in front moves out of the way, the other one, in the back, in automatically attacking. The first piece may attack the same piece as the other piece (in the back) or a different one. The Discovered Attack is therefore a Double Check when both attackers focus on the other King. The most beautiful example is Reti vs Tartakower, Vienna 1910, included below.

    This game collection is a project in progress. Games are listed in date order, not order of importance.

    38 games, 1865-2015

  16. Double Check Mates
    The Double Check Mate has a myriad of forms, but all are beautiful. Not a common sight, so each is a treasure.

    Games are not listed in order of importance, but chronologically from oldest to most recent.

    A work in progress for you to enjoy.

    1 game, 2004

  17. En Prise Tactic-- OTB Examples
    EN PRISE is another core chess tactic that should be in the toolbox of every student. En Prise is indeed another tactic that can be simple or sublime. In addition, this result may be either accidental or deliberate. When an accidental move, then the chess player is welcome to make the unencumbered capture. However, that capture may subject the aggressor to severe consequences when En Prise was deliberate and well-calculated! Checkmate may even be imminent.

    En Prise is a French term that has been taken to mean available for capture (Michael Goeller, PAWN BATTLE RULES AND STRATEGIES, p. 2.) Other meanings include: available for taking, hanging or hung, loose, gratis, in take, for free, etc.

    My own explanation of En Prise is that it refers to a chessman who has been left behind in jeopardy while some other direction has been taken. (A violation of the military principle to never leave a soldier behind.)

    I explain it as "Ice Cream!" to my youngest students, though, having never met a child who doesn't love that dessert! Let it be pronounced "ohne preez" as if varying bone and ice, which is what lead me to use the phrase "Ice cream!" in the raised voice of an interjection around children when they do it. Fittingly for both cases-- as a treat for the other side when an accident and as a treat for the planner when a strategic ploy.

    From Top 4 Basic Chess Tactics to Win Chess at ChessHints.com: An En Prise is the most common and simplistic tactic of chess. The piece that is En Prise is attacked but not defended, leading to the most simple move in chess the capture of an undefended piece. For example, if a player leaves a Bishop undefended in the same column as a Rook, the Rook can take the En Prise Bishop.

    The concept of the Poisoned Pawn is not limited to the footman, but may be applied readily to all of the other chessmen other than the King himself. Here is where the conscious ploy of an En Prise temptation lurks.

    Another practical application of the En Prise tactic is to target unprotected chessmen on the other side of the board and calculate a set of moves that will culminate in the capture of one of more of them. Nothing wrong with being sneaky that way! Thanks to NOTYETAGM, for the games below where the Queen makes a Fork with Check to win an En Prise piece. Be sure to look at the preceding moves to see how the calculation proceeded in each case, though.

    The excellent chess writer Edward Winter has an article about En Prise that bears reading for background information and interesting details (http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/...).

    This game collection is a project in progress. Games are listed in date order, not in order of importance.

    14 games, 1895-2006

  18. Fascinating Chess Examples
    These games are very interesting, but in so many categories that it seems better not to make separate game collections.

    This collection is a project in progress. Games are listed in date order, not by order of importance.

    23 games, 1834-2017

  19. Fork Tactic-- OTB Examples
    The Fork is my favorite tactic, especially when brought down on the opponent by the Knight against three pieces. Sweet and exhilarating, yes it is! The Fork is an attack by one unit against many other units. The usual situation is two pieces threatened by the one, but Knights and the Queens can make up to a seven-way Fork. Rare indeed, but possible. The Rooks and Bishops can make three-way Forks. The King can make multiple Forks, but it's tricky to say his maximum. The Pawns can even Fork, although only against two units at a time at most. So, all the chessmen can Fork!

    In the endgame, especially when only a few chessmen are left, the Queen shows her power by using Forks even to prevent Promotion.

    Better players usually foresee a direct attempt at a Fork, so a series of trades or other subtle maneuvers are needed. Once a Fork has been successful, the game is effectively finished.

    There are several types of Forks. The most powerful Forks can be those with Check. The Royal Fork is one name given to the Fork against the King and Queen. Similarly, A Royal Family Fork or Grand Fork threatens the King, Queen and Rook.

    Another very interesting Fork type is the one made against a unit and against a square, particularly when that square could be occupied by another attacker for checkmate.

    The Fork is among the top three tactics and such a fundamental ploy that it occurs in nearly any game at least once. Be quick to add this tactic to your toolbox and use it as often as you can!

    This project is a work in progress, culling games from these books, several chess training books and personal research. The games are ordered by date, not by importance.

    33 games, 1996-2017

  20. Hook Mate Examples
    Vladimir Vukovic showed two versions of a particular kind of Knight and Rook checkmate pattern in his book, THE ART OF ATTACK IN CHESS, Chapter 4: Mating Patterns, under "Typical Mates with Enemy Pieces," page 72. It was not labelled with a name there, but several chess writers have identified it as the Hook Mate. IM Vukovic declares it to be "a typical mating pattern well worth remembering." I have managed to use it in OTB play and like to introduce it to students as well.

    One version of the Hook Mate, which I think of as a slash/swoosh, as given by IM Vukovic, is as follows:


    click for larger view

    Here is the other version, which seems to resemble a sickle or question mark (without the dot at the bottom), as provided by IM Vukovic:


    click for larger view

    I use <QM> for designating the first version and <SW> for the second version of the Hook Mate in the titles for games listed below. Note that the Pawn could be on either diagonal "behind" the Knight (away from the opposing King). This point is significant because the SW and QM versions differ only by the positioning of this Pawn.

    This game collection is a project in progress. Games are listed in date order, not in order of importance.

    17 games, 1898-2013

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