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Francisco Vallejo Pons vs Geert van der Stricht
ch-FRA Top 16 GpA (2005), Mulhouse FRA, rd 3, Feb-06
Sicilian Defense: Chameleon (B20)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Aug-11-15  saturn2: Nf6 and either gxf6 or Kh8 looses.
In the best case black can defend being left with 2R+2B against white having Q+R+B.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: Interesting. This did take a little longer than a normal Tuesday. Perhaps one of the reasons is that the solution is not all that obvious from the starting position. We are effectively warping the white queen from h4 to h8 to give mate.

I think we also have a tendency to want to think in straight lines, so diagonal attacks can be harder to see, especially attacks which zig zag, like this one does.

I solved this one in stages. I wanted to play 26. Nf6+ as my starting move. There are several reasons for this. First, as a general rule, if ever we can safely play Nf6 as white we should do it, especially against a black king that has castled kingside.

Second, after 26. Nf6+ black has to recapture with 26...gxf6 or be mated. Any move which has a forcing element or a threat of mate needs to be explored. So I'm liking 26. Nf6+ more and more.

But then what? After 26. Nf6+ gxf6 we arrive here...

click for larger view

And again thinking on general principles, we might be tempted by 27. Bxf6. It's a similar story to Nf6 - whenever we can safely play Bf6 as white, we probably should. Or at least we should consider it. Then we play Qg5+ and general carnage ensues.

Unfortunately, 27. Bxf6 doesn't work. Because the Black queen defends the fifth rank, it's too slow. We might try to carry on hacking (ooo, matron!) with moves like f5 and e5, but Black has defensive resources such as h6.

When we fall out of love with 27. Bxf6 we need to keep faith with 26. Nf6+. Let's cast around for another move.

And that's when we find the GOOT (Get out of that) move that is 27. Qxf6. It's not a check and it only captures a pawn, but it sets up a mate threat on h8 that can only be denied by black throwing his queen away. Black has a wide choice of moves and all of them lose.

Nice little puzzle. It is harder than your normal Tuesday, I think, because the solution isn't obvious. We have several tempting tries which don't quite work.

Aug-11-15  gokulkramnik: Got it :)
Aug-11-15  morfishine: White forces mate starting with <26.Nf6+> Black is forced to capture the Knight due to the threat 27.Qxh7#

But after 26...gxf6 27.Qxf6 the Q-B battery is decisive. Black will give away his Queen and Knight with spite checks, then its all over


Aug-11-15  Nick46: I set up the problem on a real chessboard with real wooden pieces n pawns (it's amazing what a catalyst that is) and then solved POTD in a matter of seconds.
Aug-11-15  Abdel Irada: White's decisive attack required a bishop on d4, but at first glance after 18. ...Nb6, one could be excused for thinking it would never reach that square before Black played ...Nc4 and liquidated the bishop.

The surprise is that, owing the the ensuing tactics, Black never has the chance to play this move until it is only "half a fork"; it does go there four moves later, but then it only chases the queen to h4, where it wanted to be anyway.

As <patzer 2> points out, even then all hope was not yet lost, but the position became critical and Black lost his way.

Aug-11-15  CHESSTTCAMPS: Material is even, but white can force a quick decision with 26.Nf6+! gxf6 (Kh8 27.Qxh7#) 27.Qxf6 Qe5 (otherwise 28.Qh8#) 28.fxe5 Bg7 (Nxf1 29.exd6 forces mate) 29.Qxg5 Nxf1 30.exd6 Kf8 31.Qxg7+ should lead to mate soon, if black has not already resigned.
Aug-11-15  TheaN: Interesting Tuesday, well summarized by <Penguincw>, <sneaky> and <Once>.

When you see it, Nf6+ is a very logical move. If you however hit a brick wall, Nf6+ is very peculiar. It opems up the black kingside but is not forcing after that by itself.

Atypically I was in the 1-second solve group <sneaky> mentioned as Nf6+ was the first move I evaluated. If you miss it, thinking outside the box can be dangerous for a puzzle like this.

Premium Chessgames Member
  sfm: Black should have tried 27.-,QxR+, hoping for 28.LxQ (OK, we are optimists, aren't we),Nf3+ 29.K?,Nxd4 30.QxN,Lg7... Miracles do happen, if you give them a chance.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Punishment for Black was very Stricht in this affair.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: White sacs the knight and the queen will give inescapable mate!
Aug-11-15  pericles of athens: Nf6+ threatens mate in 1 on h7, so black must capture. When the queen then re-captures the pawn on f6, it's again mate in 1 but this time black has no reply so 1-0.
Aug-11-15  pericles of athens: I'm in all honesty a poor chess player. But the first move I looked at was the checking move Nf6+ and since Black's K-side is weak and also since there's a white bishop bearing down on the K-side, I looked longer and yes indeed this is the strongest move. Yay Tuesday!
Aug-11-15  Halldor: This took me too long time, because I only considered 27 Bxf6? (after 26 Nf6+ gxf6), and the Black Queen then stops the attack. But when I at last saw 27 Qxf6! everything became obvious.
Aug-11-15  Ratt Boy: <Sneaky: I could imagine somebody spotting this in 1 second or staring at it for 3 minutes. I was in the latter camp.> I stared at it for a while, then went away with no bloody idear. Came back to it just now, hours later, and 26.♘f6+ leaped out at me. Funny, how the brain seems to work on background, way sub-subconsciously.
Aug-11-15  Olsonist: This seemed pretty easy since all of White's pieces aimed at f6.
Aug-11-15  BOSTER: After long wandering in Ponzi labyrinth Qh5-Qg6-Qf6-Qg6-Qg5-Qb5 black queen finally found an exit. And here fresh air played a joke, and black did not see a mate in couple moves. Even <Chrisowen> and patzer2 said that after 25...Qxb4 the pos. is equal, I guess the black is lost.
Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: With a move-by-move look to at least 20 depth on each move, Deep Fritz 14 analyzes 25... Qxb4 as leading to equality after 25...Qxb4 26. Rab1 Qa5 27. Rxb7 Rcb8 28. Rfb1 Rxb7 29. Rxb7 Qd2 30. Qf2 Qxf2+ 31. Bxf2 Na3 32. Rb2 Nc4 33. Rb3 Nb6 34. Ra3 Nd7 35. f5 Bc4 36. Ra4 Ne5 37. f6 g6 38. Nf4 Bh6 39. Nd5 Bxd5 40. exd5 a5 41. Be1 Bg5 42. Rxa5 Rc8 43. Ra6 h6 44. Bg3 Rc1+ 45. Bf1 Be3+ 46. Kg2 Rc2+ 47. Kh1 Rc1 48. Ra8+ Kh7 49. Kg2 Rc2+ 50. Kh1 Rc1 51. Kg2 Rc2+ 52. Kh1 Rc1 = with a draw by three-fold repetition.
Aug-11-15  notyetagm: F Vallejo Pons vs G van der Stricht, 2005

<morfishine: White forces mate starting with <26.Nf6+> Black is forced to capture the Knight due to the threat 27.Qxh7#

But after 26...gxf6 27.Qxf6 the Q-B battery is decisive. Black will give away his Queen and Knight with spite checks, then its all over>


A recent Anand-Carlsen game featured this exact same tactical idea: a <KNIGHT RELOADER> on f6 that forced mate with a <Q+B BATTERY> if taken.

Anand vs Carlsen, 2015

20 ... ♕d4-d7?

click for larger view

21 ♘c3-d5!

click for larger view

Aug-11-15  starry2013: I expect I missed the solution, but I did get a winning position.

Nf6+ 2.gxf6 Qxf6 3.Qe5 fxe5 4.Bg7 Qg5 5.Nxf1 exd6 6.f6 Bxf6 7.Rc7 Rxf1

Aug-11-15  starry2013: I looked at knight sacks early in the morning but didn't find the checkmate I was looking for. In the evening I just settled on this line when I saw the computer offered it's queen up.
Aug-11-15  morfishine: <notyetagm> Thanks for the post, I always enjoy reading your posts. Carlsen saw it (of course) and <21.Nb6> doesn't work. Appreciate it!
Aug-11-15  BOSTER: In pos white to play 22. Pons playef h3.
I think this is not correct move.

click for larger view

White to play 22.

Aug-11-15  Nullifidian: 26. ♘f6+ ♙gxf6 27. ♕xf6 and now Black must surrender the queen or lose outright.
Premium Chessgames Member
  eternaloptimist: I got this puzzle right really quickly. I try to look for forcing moves when doing puzzles & 26.Nf6+ etc did the trick.
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