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Aleksa Strikovic vs Bojan Kurajica
Ibercaja op (1994), rd 4
Formation: King's Indian Attack (A07)  ·  1-0


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Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: For today's Thursday puzzle solution, White gives up his Bishop with 31. Bh6+!! (combining the decoy, deflection and clearance tactical themes) for a decisive attack against Black's weakly defended King position.

Here's my computer-checked analysis:

<31. Bh6+!! Kg8>

Black declines to take the Bishop, since White wins decisive material due to the mate threats created after 31... Kxh6 32. f6! From here, play could continue 32...g5 (32...Kg5 33. h4+! Kxg4 (33... Kh6 34. Qd2+ g5 35. Qxg5#) 34. Kh1 Qc3 35. Rg1+ Kh5 36. Qg2 ) 33. f7 Qe7 (33... Rf8 34. Qf6#) (33... Kg6 34. fxe8=Q+ Kg7 35. Qff7+ Kh6 36. Qf6#) 34. fxe8=Q Qxe8 35. Qf6+ Qg6 36. Qf8+ Qg7 37. Qxa8 .

<32. fxg6!>

This creates a new set of mate threats, which can only be temporarily avoided and at the expense of decisive material loss.


If 32... hxg6, then White is winning after 33. Qf6 d3+ (33... Qe7 34. Qxg6+ Kh8 35. Bg5 Rg8 36. Bf6+ Qxf6 37. Qxf6+ Rg7 38. Rb3 ) 34. Ne3 Qe7 35. Qxg6+ Kh8 36. Bg5 Rg8 37. Bf6+ Qxf6 38. Qxf6+ .

If 32... Qe7, then White is winning after 33. Qf5 Qe6 34. gxh7+ Kh8 35. Qg5 Qe7 36. Qg6 Nd8 37. Bg5 Bxe4 38. Bf6+ Qxf6 39. Qxf6+ Kxh7 40. Rb3 .

<33. Qf6 Qc7 34. Rf1 1-0>

Black resigns in the face of White's multiple, decisive mate threats. For example if 34...hxg6, White scores the full point with 35. Qxg6+ Kh8 36. Qxe8+ Kh7 37. Rf8 Nf7 38. Rxf7+ Qxf7 39. Qxf7+ Kxh6 40. h4 Bxe4 41. g5#.

Jul-03-08  yoozum: Yeah, I haven't done these puzzles for a while, but even I saw this one. The bishop move jumped out at me when I first started looking at the position, but I must admit I didn't see most of the nuances of the position.
Premium Chessgames Member
  johnlspouge: Thursday (Medium): White to play and win.

Material: Even with Bs of opposite color. The White pieces are more active than the Black, a difference that Bs of opposite can magnify. The Black K-side has a weak dark-square complex that the White Bc1 can exploit. The Pf5 can advance to control dark squares or capture to weaken light squares and open the f-file. The White Qf2 also can reach the dark squares, although it has defensive duties: the Black Qc5 and Pd5 are on the same diagonal as Qf2 and Kg1, and Qf2 defends Nc2.

Candidates (31.): Bh6+


Black can accept the sacrifice:

31Kxh6 32.f6 (blocking the Kh3s retreat and threatening 33.Qh4#)

Black has 2 feasible defenses.

(1) 32g5 33.f7 (threatening 34.Qf6#, 34.fxe8=Q, 34.f8=Q+)

White gains at least Q for B.

(2) 32Kg5 33.h4+ Kxg4

[33Kh3 34.Qd2+ g5 35.Qxg5#]

34.Kh2 (threatening 35.Qg3+ Kh5 36.Qg5+)

Black must sacrifice his Q to stop mate, because of

34h6 35.Rg1+ Kh4 36.Qe2+ Kxh4 37.Qg4#

Black can decline the sacrifice by moving to 1 of 4 flight squares:

(1) 31Kf6 [or Kf7] 32.fxg6+ Ke6 [Kxg6 or Kg8 yield a fast mate]

33.Qf7+ Kd6 34.Qxe8 (threatening 35.Bf8+)

wins because of the resource 34d3+ 35.Ne3 (which also influences the next line).

(2) 31Kg8 [Kh8 is worse] 32.fxg6 (threatening 33.Qf7+ or 33.Qf6 then 34.Qg7#)

32hxg6 [else, drop a P] 33.Qf6 Qe7 34.Qxg6+ Kh8

35.Bg5 (threatening 36.Bxe7 and 36.Bf6+)

Black is ruined.

Premium Chessgames Member
  YouRang: First I considered 31.f6+ and 31.fxg6, but neither of these carried much punch, that I could see.

Then I noticed that 31.Bh6+ was safe. That is, black cannot play 31...Kxh6 since 32.f6 traps the king on the h-file where the queen and g-pawn produce mate threats from which black cannot seem to escape.

This observation alone practically makes the move worth playing. Even if black recognizes the threat, I've gotten my bishop into the attack in a forcing manner, and it prevents ...Rf8 (black's main defensive resource).

The king has to back off to g8, and now fxg6 opens the f-file for my queen with mate threats. At this point, I was satisfied that I had a good attack, so I lazily called it a day. :-)

Jul-03-08  Salaskan: Bh6+ was the first move I considered, as it seemed forcing, but I didn't see the subtle followup 31...Kxh6 32. f6! which cuts off the king's last escape. Nice puzzle.
Premium Chessgames Member
  zenpharaohs: I never really thought anything other than Bh6+ was the move. But a curious thing happened. No matter what line I was looking into, I inexplicably never considered the move fxg6, it was as if I had forgotten that move was legal. Needless to say, this prevented me from solving the puzzle. I ended up thinking "well it must be Bh6+ but after that I don't see it all".

As soon as I started checking the answer I almost hit myself for missing fxg6.

Premium Chessgames Member
  zenpharaohs: YouRang: "Then I noticed that 31.Bh6+ was safe. That is, black cannot play 31...Kxh6 since 32.f6 traps the king on the h-file where the queen and g-pawn produce mate threats from which black cannot seem to escape.

This observation alone practically makes the move worth playing."

Yeah, that pretty much sums up the part of my thinking that was working properly.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: I answered the first move,but missed the continuation.
Jul-03-08  zb2cr: Going to be a long rest of the week ... I missed the decisive effects of 32. fxg6.
Jul-03-08  234: Wednesday puzzle Jul-02-08 <29. ?> Short vs I Rogers, 1992
Jul-03-08  ChessGeezer: This puzzle emphasizes the difference between a low rated player like me and the higher rated players in the group. I saw a lot of the ideas like 31. f4+ and 31. Bh6+ with Qh6 to follow. I also saw the danger of black moving his pawn to d3. However, I did not see how to put it all together, especially if black declines Bh6+. I finally decided I would play Bh6+ and hope for the best. I probably would have played 32.fxg6 when confronted with 31... Kg8. The rest of the moves follow pretty naturally. The better players all see how the possibilities work togther into a plan and move with confidence. Players like me see some ideas and make a move simply hoping for the best. If any of you have suggestions on how players like me can improve our ability to put together possibilities into a plan, please let me know. My guess is your best suggestion will be to practice, study, and play chess.

BTW: I have been a member here for years. I rarely post because I see the puzzles so late in the day I have nothing to add to the discussion. I greatly appreciate all of you that are frequent posters and add concise, intelligent commentary. I have learned a lot from you.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <ChessGeezer> Great question - I'll offer my humble opinions.

General stuff first - there is indeed little better than practice, practice, practice. Take any opportunity to try to work out a puzzle. Look for alternative lines than those which were played. Follow the excellent lines suggested by the regulars here. Try to work out where the losing player went wrong - or why he resigned when he did. If someone asks a question or suggests a new line, try to work out if you can give an answer or improve on their analysis.

Over time you will build up your caculating ability and pattern memory. I think that a daily dose of is better for you than playing lots of bad chess or buying too many books and chess programs. I should know - I have done too much of both in my time.

One thing I have benefitted from is trying to visualise the lines without moving the pieces. So when the likes of Dzechiel and Patzer2 suggest an interesting variation that I had not thought of, I try to follow it from the starting position only. That helps to build combinational strength.

A bit of specific advice on this particular position. The superstars on the site will sometimes analyse long lines for several variations. It is very instructive to follow their line of reasoning, but you should not feel intimidated if you cannot do something similar.

What you need to do is to find a line of play that you would feel confident playing. In this case, there is nothing wrong with playing Bh6+ if you have not analysed every black retreat. White has not sacrificed material, is not under direct threats from black and has improved his position. So once you have worked out that black cannot capture the bishop you can play Bh6+ with confidence.

Take a look at <YouRang>'s last post for a pragmatic way of handling this position. When the clock is ticking in a real game, you cannot always analyse every position to a definite win.

Jul-03-08  Kasputin: This one was a total miss for me.
Jul-03-08  ToTheDeath: This was a relatively simple puzzle.

31. Bh6+ I saw immediately, a <DECOY> to drag the king out of its shell. Since declining loses lamely as in the game, the only two lines you need to look at are:

I) 31... Kxh6 32. f6 Kg5 33. h4+ Kxg4 and here I saw 34. Rb3 was winning and stopped analyzing, though in a rated tournament game I would have taken the time to find that Kh1 or h2 mates even faster.

II) 31... Kxh6 32. f6 g5 33. f7 with decisive threats on e8 and f6.

If you did not even consider 31.Bh6+ you need to work on your tactical awareness- the Black king's lack of defenders should jump out at you as a chance to compel it forward and mate.

If you saw Bh6+ but couldn't work through the variations you need to work on visualizing and calculating forcing lines in your head- with practice it becomes second nature.

Jul-03-08  MaxxLange: so close for me! I saw 32 Bh6+ Kxh6 33 f6 g5, but didn't see a clear win (like 34 f7) after that

i have decided to count this kind of thing as a miss: if I didn't calculate a win to where I would give up the piece in a serious game, then I wouldn't sac that piece, and would in fact miss the win

Jul-03-08  MaxxLange: the key is not just to consider f7 in your calculation - I probably glanced at it - but to see that it is a powerful double attack. I agree, only three moves out, that shouldn't be too hard to visualize

I didn't put much effort into today, which is a really lame excuse, of course

Jul-03-08  RandomVisitor: After 30...dxe4

click for larger view <24-ply>

1. (0.62): 30...gxf5 31.gxf5 Re8 32.Ne1 Rg8 33.Qh4 Nb8 34.Bg5 Nd7 35.Kf2 Qd6 36.Nd3 Kh8 37.Be7

2. (0.72): 30...Rd6 31.Bg5 gxf5 32.gxf5 h6 33.Bd2 Qc4 34.Ne1 Kh7 35.Rc1 Qg8+ 36.Qg3 Qxg3+ 37.hxg3

3. (0.92): 30...Rf6 31.Ne1 Kg8 32.Qa2+ Rf7 33.Nd3 Qf8 34.Rb2 Qg7 35.Qe6 Qf6 36.Qd5 h6 37.Rf2

Jul-03-08  SufferingBruin: <If you saw Bh6+ but couldn't work through the variations you need to work on visualizing and calculating forcing lines in your head- with practice it becomes second nature.>

That's very good to know. Thank you.

Jul-03-08  SufferingBruin: And Once, with your permission, I'm going to cut, paste and print your response for my high school chess club; my kids will find it helpful and I appreciate the thoughtful tone. Great stuff.
Jul-03-08  ChessGeezer: <Once>, thanks for your advice! I appreciate your help. <ToTheDeath>, I'm not sure if your suggestion about what to do if I saw Bh6+ was intended for me, but I also found that very useful. And thanks again to those regular posters that provide such insightful comments!
Jul-03-08  Magic Castle: <SufferingBruin>I have seen the bishop sacrifice and the move f6 to cut off the king's return to safety, if he accepts. However, I was banking on Rb3 to Rg3 or Rh3 to combine with Queen and pawn for the kill. These I supposed are overwhelming enough to go for the sacrifice, without the need of wasting precious time. In actual play, I will make the same approach. That makes chess entertaining to me. Winning is only part of the thrill. The succeeding moves drawn from a mere intuition or gut feelings is what makes the game exciting. I loss some, I win some. Have you heard of an undefeated chess player? That only happens in boxing. Calculating all the moves is boring and will only put you in time trouble. At times it will drain you so much that you may later on blunder your queen or miss a mate in one by sheer exhaustion.
Jul-03-08  TheaN: 3/4

Saw something in Bh6+ or f6+ immediately, but didn't see the rest of it.

Jul-03-08  Kasputin: Interesting that this is the only Alexander Strikovic game in the database (interesting because his opponent is a GM). I am assuming that this player is the same person as Aleksa Strikovic - listed as a Serbian GM on the FIDE site. But maybe that is incorrect. Again lists contains 131 games from Aleksa. So are they one and the same?
Jul-04-08  MaxxLange: 33. f7!! is actually a triple attack: fxe8, clearance for Qf6 mate, and, if the rook defends those two threats with ...Re6, then f8=Q+.

a double exclam for beauty and power. It's so thematic! after 32. f6! g5 (forced), just push it again

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <SufferingBruin> Feel free to cut and paste. I don't think anything on this site is copyright!
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