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Oscar Chajes vs Charles Jaffe
New York Masters (1911), New York, NY USA, rd 9, Jan-30
Queen Pawn Game: General (D00)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  doubledrooks: <sevenseaman>: 1. Rh3 e3 2. Rh1 gxh1=any 3. Qxh1#
May-17-11  YetAnotherAmateur: <gofer> I tried Nxd5 as well, and while it's not losing, it's nowhere near as good. For instance: 37. Nxd5 Nxd5
38. Qg8+ Ke7
39. Rxf7+ Rxf7
40. Qxf7+ Kc8
41. Qf8+ Kb7
42. Bxh6 leaving white up a pawn
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Funny,but I saw it immediately,but I added an unnecessary move:

37 ♕g8+ ♘xg8 38 ♖xg8+ ♔e7 37 ♖xf7+ ♖xf7 38 ♘g6#...Of course,the 37th move was not needed.

May-17-11  Funicular: Yeah quite easy today. The funny thing, though is that neither the bishop on h5 nor the rook on f6 take part on the attack OR the mating net!! They might as well not even *be* there!!!
May-17-11  stst: looks like it's air tight @e7:
37.Qg8+ Nxg8
38.Rxg8+ Ke7 (nowhere else)
39.Ng6# (air tight, nowhere else.)
May-17-11  ZUGZWANG67: Mate in 3: 37.Qg8+ Nxg8 38.Rxg8+ Ke7 39.Ng6 mate.
Premium Chessgames Member
  YouRang: The most amusing part of today's puzzle was the pathetic state of black's effectively trapped queen.

The puzzle itself was quickly solved by making the obvious checks (if one can adapt to the idea of an "obvious" queen sac).

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <patzer2: Perhaps I should examine checks before captures in my position evaluation?>

I'm not sure that would help. In some positions, the key move is a check and in others the key move is a capture. If you make a firm rule of exhausting all the checks first then you will waste time when the answer is a capture, and vice versa.

And then there are the positions when the answer is a threat or even a retreating move. And for these we might find that it doesn't matter whether we look at captures or checks first - both would be a waste of time.

So I guess it really doesn't matter which you look at first. I tend to be less structured in the way that I approach these. I don't have a procedure about checks-captures-threats. Instead I look at the move that I think the position needs. And instead of the Kotovian idea of analysing each variation to a conclusion before considering the next, I tend to hop around from variation to variation as I learn more about the position.

There are a couple of things about today's POTD which are a little unusual, and which would help to explain why we might not see the solution straight away.

The first thing is that the puzzle position has several of what Vukovic would term "focal points" for the attack. The square f7 is one clear focal point as we have two white pieces trained on it. Likewise, the g file screams out to be exploited, whether this is on g8, g7 or g6. And finally we have that lonely h6 pawn just waiting to be gobbled up.

With so many focal points it is not surprising that we might follow a couple of false leads before finding the solution.

The second unusual thing about this puzzle is that mates are rare in the middle of the board. If the enemy king is in the corner you need to control four squares for a mate - the three flight squares plus the square he is standing on. And that can be done by K+Q, R+R, or even the dreaded K+B+N.

If the enemy king is on the edge of the board, then we need to cover six squares - five flight squares plus the checking squares. And we often get the assistance of the enemy king's own pawn cover to help. That is why a lone rook can mate on the back rank, if the enemy pawns provide a blocking screen.

But a king in the middle of the board needs all 9 squares to be covered - eight flight squares and the king's own square. And that is why mates away from the back rank are rare and why we can find it hard to spot them. The mating patterns are, almost by definition, unique so we cannot rely on pattern recognition.

So I think just about everyone finds mates in the middle of the board hard to spot. I know that I do!

May-17-11  AccDrag: <patzer2: Perhaps I should examine checks before captures in my position evaluation?>


King safety and tactical shots are the main ways to win games. A check is the only truly forcing move. Every check must be looked at in any position.

Also, analyzing checks first is easier. A check must be dealt with. The opponent must take the checking piece, move the King, or interpose. The branches of the analysis tree are easier to deal with when the opponent has few legal moves.

Also, in most positions, the check is not dangerous, and one may quickly move on to other considerations. But to not look at all at a check is terrible. You will both miss strong opportunities on "offense" as well as lose some games when on "defense."

May-17-11  ZUGZWANG67: <<Yodaman>: I thought it was a rather curious puzzle position. How did that rook get to f6 and how did black end up locking up all his pieces like that? They're worthless! 20...b3 for example. How did black ever expect to get his rook, queen, knight and bishop back into battle after that? I think it may have been doable, but black certainly didn't manage it in the game.>

How about 17...Nh8(?) (lol)

However I think that one of the key point to the game was the delay of developpement of the WKN. This allows 23.Nh3 to be a strong move (D)

click for larger view

The obvious point was to get the only good piece on the board. White choose h3 probably because he was not sure of the destination square for the N at this point: f4 or g5?

But W wanted more than only one good piece. He wanted several good pieces. So: 23...Kg7 24.Be3 Rh8 25.Qd2 Ng8 26.g4 (trying to improve the LSB) h6 27.gxf5 gxg5 28.g6! (D)

click for larger view

White waits to occupy f4 with the N in order to do it with maximum of advantage. He sacrifices a pawn and as compensation gets activity for his other pieces AND wins an important tempo whether Black captures or not. If Black does not take the pawn then W plays Nf4 any way. After that a plausible idea (I think!) could be h5, Bf3, Nxd5, Bxd5 and the f5-pawn would eventually fall, as W gets a protected passed pawn as compensation anyway.

28...Kxg6 29.Nf4 Kg7 30.Bh5 (D)

click for larger view

May-17-11  MiCrooks: To all those that are trying to make inferior moves work...give it up :)! I know, I do it too, but when faced with forced mate in three ending in a position a pawn up but totally won is still not a correct answer.

These are puzzles. Sometimes there are alternative solutions that are essentially the same, occassionally ones that are better than what was played or assumed, but this is not one of those cases...

May-17-11  artemis: re: checks vs. captures

I think that the key point to any of the combinations is that they work due to piece coordination on one side vs. a lack of piece of coordination on the other side.

Thus If we look at the position of the white pieces on the kingside, it is clear that the key to developing a powerful attack is the g file. Unfortunately, black has some control over all of the squares g8-g4! Thus we would seek to remove some defenders. Notice in particular that the g7 square would be ideal for a build up, so we would want the rook out of the way, but to affect that we would need to be on g6 or g8 Thus the key piece to the black position is the knight. on e7.

We could develop a plan to remove that piece, but if we take a cursory glance at black's pieces, it is clear that they are just sitting around waiting to do nothing. Black has no activity and his pieces are getting in each other's way. Thus we can start looking for sacrifices, since black effectively is already down material (note the queen and rook doing nothing!). Thus we can give the material back.

I find that I get more of these puzzles if I pretend that I am going to just continue focusing on building up the pressure via a positional method. By doing this, I start looking at the weaknesses in the enemy position, and the tactics start suggesting themsevles. This does not always allow me to see a win of material, but it does help me find sacrificial mating combinations.

May-17-11  KingV93: I missed this one. That the sneaky little knight can cover what I saw as an escape square eluded me. Knights...the embodiment of the subtlety my game lacks too often.
May-17-11  Patriot: <Once> I agree with you in many ways, but I think <AccDrag> hit upon a key point that <analyzing checks first is easier>. It's usually very easy to dismiss a check as pointless than it is a capture or threat. As <AccDrag> points out there are only three options (unless it's a double-check). With most captures, a re-capture is necessary but there can be different move orders of captures or they can be mixed with other checks and threats. Threats are usually too slow in combinations because they tend to allow the opponent many possible replies. It's not to say one is better than another, but in most cases checks can be followed or dismissed quicker than any other forcing move.

I also look at the position and how the pieces are developed, where they converge, etc., rather than immediately looking at permutations of checks, captures, and threats. In today's position though I was immediately drawn to 37.Qg8+ because it is so forcing. There is only one way out, making this line more attractive than let's say, 37.Rxf7 or 37.Bxf7+. 37...Nxg8 38.Rxg8+ Ke7 and you only need the board vision to see that the black king is stalemated and that one more check could be mate. 39.Ng6+ is mate! This is completely forced and "shouldn't" take long to work out using a good thought process.

You're right that sometimes a threat or a capture is the solution and looking at checks first turns out to be a waste of time. I would say in most of those cases checks can be ruled out pretty quickly. And in many cases where someone looks at captures or threats first, their analysis is more complicated than if they started looking at checks first.

May-17-11  MaxxLange: <Patriot> well said
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <sevenseamen> Loved your puzzle (maybe because I read Chaarl's post instead of trying to solve it).
May-17-11  ZUGZWANG67: <<patzer2>: Perhaps I should examine checks before captures in my position evaluation?>

<once: I'm not sure that would help.>

<AccDrag: Absolutly.>

I think that a key issue here is seeing the difference between solving a puzzle and finding the best move in one of one's game. I believe that this needs to be adressed because one of the purpose a these puzzles should be (ultimately) to improve one's game! So here is how I see it.

If you're playing a game of chess and your opponent has just made his move, you need to consider the change in the position that occured with that move, but not much more than that. The point is that you had plenty of time before for analysing. In other words you should be famaliarized enough with the position you contributed at 50% to construct! So you go ahead with checking possibility, captures, and threats for both sides. And only if there is nothing should consider to «slowly» improve your position or make your opponent's silly.

But when you are working on a puzzle you have to learn everything from the start BEFORE ever trying to find all possible «BING! BANG!» thing susceptible to alter the position. You must see the K's positions, material, activity of the pieces, the pawn structure, the imbalances, etc...

In today's puzzle the first thing one could have noticed is how the BK is tight and how the position of W's and B's pawns on the e-file are restrictive. BTW, these pawns should be part of one's «pattern recognition inventory», as they are often the seeds for tactical opportunities. Thus it does not matter that the Ne7 goes and the BK comes to e7. When the 8th rank is forbiden by a major, all one has to find is an effective way for the final check.

I hope this helps.


May-17-11  nolanryan: how come they use the same puzzle two days in a row??
May-17-11  LIFE Master AJ: <May-17-11 <patzer2: <Perhaps I should examine checks before captures in my position evaluation?

<Many sseem to wonder about what the correct procedure is here.>>>>

I think that the "Kotov Rule" would apply here. Basically, ALL checks need to be deeply evaluated ... as well as any captures.

May-17-11  WhiteRook48: dang it, I missed the 39 Ng6# idea.
May-17-11  TheTamale: Yes, I got it pretty quickly even though I didn't get yesterday's at all.
May-17-11  LIFE Master AJ: At first, I thought the idea was to play 37.Qg8+, NxQ/g8; 38.RxN/g8+, Ke7; 39.NxP/d5+ and win back the Queen.

But a second look showed that Black's pieces ... sprayed across the second rank ... perform much the game function as Pawns in a back-rank mate.

Thus, 39.Ng6#.

May-17-11  sevenseaman: < keypusher: <sevenseamen> Loved your puzzle (maybe because I read Chaarl's post instead of trying to solve it).>

Decoding <Chaarl>'s post is smart work too; the choice lay with you.

<sevenseaman> is my handle, but I can see it is easier pluralized than most.

Quite a few detailed posts today expounding merits of assessing 'checks before captures'. Interesting! The idea must be to improve one's game.

For me though it is like admonishing a blind man, 'Look before you leap'.

A courteous one will at least nod his head before the smile spreads too far.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <Checks vs captures> I seem to be in a minority of one here. Ah well, it's not the first time and no doubt won't be the last :-)

In my view there are few hard and fast rules about how to play chess well. For one thing, we should modify our approach according to the position and game situation. For another, each person's thinking style is different.

Let's start with situational context. Are there positions where we would not analyse checks first? I believe there are. In many cases it is not hard to see that a check doesn't achieve anything because we don't have enough material to mate or where some other objective is clearly more imporant. Here is a trivial example:

click for larger view

We are white to move and we have only a few seconds on the clock. Do we analyse either of the two bishop checks? I wouldn't even glance at them. Just play Bb8 and smile.

The same goes for many pawn endgames, especially when we are in a king v pawn foot race. It also applies in situations where all the action is on a wing of the board away from the king.

Then we have the question of personal style. Kotov advocated that we should list all candidate moves, identify the most likely and then analyse that move exhaustively before moving on to the next. Interestingly, Kotov didn't say that we should analyse checks first! Instead he argues that we should look at the move which are intuition tells us is the most likely to be winning.

But since Kotov a host of other writers have taken issue with his method. Most notably, Jonathan Tisdall in "Improve your game now" quoted Anatoly Lein "I don't think like a tree - do you think like a tree?". In particular Tisdall didn't like the idea of focussing only on one move to the exclusion of all others. Instead he liked the idea of a quick analytical and abstract scan of the position - a (silent) verbalisation of the key features. Then analyse one variation. Other players hop from one variation to another as they examine transpositions, move orders and how to overcome different defences.

The bottom line - I think it is a matter of personal preference. In many cases it makes sense to look at checks and forcing moves. But the order will depend on the situation and your own thinking style.

I don't think that chess can be reduced to a simple formula.

May-18-11  LIFE Master AJ: In a sense, I agree, chess is far too complex to be boiled down to a simple formula. However, the above position [that <Once> gave, see above]; is a gross over-exaggeration ... things are rarely that simple! Also - compared to the complex position of O Chajes vs C Jaffe, 1911 ... that was the POTD ... ... ...

click for larger view

e8,Qb6,Ne7,f7,Bd7,Ra7,h7,Pa5,b3,c4,d5,e6,f5,h6 (White to play and make his 37th move.)

... this position - compared to the one given above - the second one just isn't relevant. (IMO)

However, I have been playing chess my whole life, and I also have taught chess for a long time as well. IMO, it’s important to have some kind of system in place ...

When I am asked to teach an amateur, I inevitably hear the same complaint. ("I never know what to do in most positions, or I am always missing the good moves.") All the Russian/Soviet GM's that I have analyzed with, (note - analysis, NOT necessarily played); seem to have a whole set of rules built into their human software, and they are also good at applying them.

When I consistently use my own system, I think I play much better chess. (I don't think it matters whose system you use, just that you have one in place.)

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