Sharpen Your Chess Tacti in 7 Days. 9781849943918, 1849943915

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Sharpen Your Chess Tacti in 7 Days.
 9781849943918, 1849943915

Table of contents :
Day 1 --
So you want to improve your tactics?
Day 2 --
Understanding tactics
Day 3 --
How to develop your creativity
Day 4 --
Tactics in the opening
Day 5 --
Tactics in the middlegame
Day 6 --
Tactics in the endgame
Day 7 --
Blunders and brilliancies
Moving on
Glossary of chess terms

Citation preview

Gary Lane




IN 7


First published in the United Kingdom in 2009 by B T Batsford The Old Magistrates Court, 10 Southcombe Street, London W 14 ORA An imprint of Anova Books Company Ltd Copyright © B T Batsford 2009 Text copyright © Gary Lane The moral right of the author has been asserted. All rights reserved . No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the copyright owner.

ISBN 978 190638828 7 A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

17 16 15 1413 12 II I 0 09 10 98 7654321 Reproduction by Spectrum Colour Ltd, Ipswich Printed and bound by Athenaeum Press Ltd, Gateshead, Tyne & Wear This book can be ordered direct from the publisher at the website: Or try your local bookshop

Contents Page Introduction


Day I - So you want to improve your tactics?




Day 3





Day 6

Day 7







Understanding tactics


How to develop your creativity


Tactics in the opening


Tactics in the middlegame


Tactics in the endgame


Blunders and



Moving on


Glossary of chess terms

2I 8

Dedication For Nancy, Ryan and Jasmine

Acknowledgements: With thanks to illustrator Gerrard Oswald, Bill Frost and Fran�ois Mertens for their help in providing material for this book.


The chessboard consists of 64 squares on an ax8 board. You should make sure that the board is set up correctly by checking that the square on the bottom right hand corner (looking at it from the White player 's point of view) is light-coloured, which tends to mean white, yellow or beige on most sets. a







h 8









3 7










In chess publications each piece is represented by a figurine (as in this book) or an initial letter.

�- Pawn or P liJ - Knight or N or Kt J. :1



Bishop or B Rook or R

.. - Queen or Q

�- King or K


The move of a piece is recorded by the symbol/letter of that piece followed by the square to which it moves. Thus J..f3 means that the bishop has moved to the f3 square. In case of a pawn move only the square on which it lands needs to be recorded, for example e4 means a pawn has moved from somewhere to the e4 square. A capture is denoted by an 'x'. Thus Vxb7 means the queen has taken something on the b7 square - and fxeS means that the f-pawn has captured something on eS.

Characters that have a special meaning in chess ?!

A dubious move


A poor move


A blunder that loses material or allows a change in the position such as from winning to losing.


Interesting move


Excellent move


Brilliant move


Check. At the end of the move. For instance: .e2 +


Castling kingside

0-0-0 Castling queenside 1'1-111 Draw agreed

1 -0

White wins


Black wins

Day I So you want to improve your chess tactics? Chess Trivia: A 1958 edition of the British magazine 'Chess' announced a bold. new venture by John Almond of Son Francisco who had revealed plans for the very first world under-water chess championship. "In a local swimming pool, one of those with a plate-glass side-window which enables people to sip coffee whilst watching the bothers' antics broadside-on, a metal chess board is to be sunk in a vertical position. T he contestants will be timed and dive down alternately to make moves with metal pieces. . To date, entries consist of John Almond and a friend...

Of the watching masters, only Steve had anticipated White's dombuster sacrifice




So you want to Improve your chess tGCt�c.?

The intention of this book is to present a lively course on chess tactics that will enable a casual player with limited time for study to make significant advances in the game within 7 days. The prevailing message here is Chess ;s fun but it is even more fun when you win!

The three basic goals of this book are:

I To improve your chess knowledge. 2 To increase your specific knowledge of tactical tricks and traps.

3 To learn to identify tactics when they occur in your own game.

The assumption being that with limited time for study you need a helping hand to get you on the road to winning more games - and winning them in style. It is all very well to glance at a newspaper column and spot the checkmate in two - in reality such opportunities seldom seem to arise in your own games. This book points out practical ways to sharpen your tactics by improving the positions of your pieces when building up an attack, avoiding time-pressure and spotting recurring combinational themes.

Computers and tactics There is a generation of new players who use their computers to improve at chess. However the computer should be used as a tool and not as an answer to everything. Take the advice of Fabiano Caruana who in 2007 at the age of just 14 became a grandmaster. He holds dual nationality, so although he was born in Florida he is not only the youngest ever American grandmaster but also the youngest ever Italian grandmaster thanks to his family ties. In a radio interview the new world record holder had this to say about learning tactics: "...avoid using the computer too much since it dulls your tactical ability - during the game you are forced to think on your own without the computer to help you".

I th'nk he makes a good point - in fact after a game I am reluctant to dlKUIS tactical lines with my opponent because we both agree that the computer will find something amazing that we have missed. A casual approach to competitive play can lead to complacency and

d.feat. Even when you are carefully defending against an attack you are at

rl.k of making an oversight. A good way of reducing such risks is to keep

look out for tactical ideas. If you just take a cursory glance at the board

for a combination there is a likelihood that you will miss something - but If you are alert to combinational motifs like pins, forks and back rank checkmates you have a much better chance of success.

Positional chess It may sound strange, but while you are looking for that fabulous queen sacrifice leading to checkmate you should also keep in mind how to Improve the positions of your pieces. Tactics are certainly crucial but for most of the time you will have no combinations at your fingertips and you may even have to give priority to defending against threats coming your way. In the following annotated games I offer you some tips on effective piece deployment so that you might create the right conditions for a combination.

Predict-a-move Predict-a-move - so often overlooked by improving players - is a proven method of winning more games. Quite simply you try to anticipate what your opponent is about to do next and then find a move that conceals a deadly trap if he just blindly carries on with his plan.

You can often catch someone out by finding a move that looks like it is merely improving your position - but which in reality introduces a tactical trap. For instance:

Lane - Fell

Sydne y 200 1 I wante d to pursue my attack with 1 7 tiJ h5 but notice d that 1 7 . . .rJit h7

puts up re sistance because 1 8 'iVg3 is met by 1 8 .. .1'%g8 whe n the struggle continue s. This pe rsuade d me to look for a short-cut to vi ctory and I used the pre dict-a-m ove method to set a trap. 1 7 a4!

The idea is to push the knight back into a passive position by a4-a5 and I guesse d he would make the obvious re ply. 1 7 aS? •••

I e ncouraged

this move so my trick would work. The key diffe re nce now is that the knight on b6 is no longe r protected by a pawn. 18 tiJhS i..f8

O r 18 ... '&t> h7 19 \ig3 :g8 20 iL c7 winning a pie ce . 19 'ikg3




So you


to Jmprove your chess tactics?

It suddenly becomes clear that the advance of the a- pawn has left Black havi ng to cope s imultaneously with the prospect of 20 i.. c7 winning a p iece and 20 i.xh6 wrecking his defensive pawn shield. 1 9 :c8 20 i.xh6 g5 2 1 fxg6 i.xh6 .••

Black grabs the piece and hopes he can hang on, but . ..

22 gxf7 + Wxf7 23 .g6 + �e7

Or 2 3 ... �f8 24 1V xh6 + c;Pf7 2 5 :xf6 + 'iixf6 26 "xf6 + rove your

chess tactlCl?

be classed as a blunder. Anybody, from world champions to club players.

can make a blunder - which is why you really should maintain your concentration from beginning to end of the game. I routinely tell players wishing to improve their game to spend five minutes thinking over what they consider to be a decisive move. After all, if it really is a winning move then the opponent will probably get bored and resign anyway; if it is not. then that five minutes has not been wasted. Here is an example of how it can all go horribly wrong.

De Firmian - Thingstad

Tromso 2007 In this position the American grandmaster playing White has been winning for some time and his teenage opponent could have resigned with a clear conscience because he is now at the end of the road. Nevertheless, despite his lowly rating, he did put up a fight so you can imagine White's joy when he finally placed a second queen on the board and awaited his opponent's capitulation.

47 h8=.?? Yes, it really can happen to anybody. Later it was rightly suggested that 47 �a2 led to an easy win but I like 47 'iib 7 + �c5 48 b4 + ! cxb3 (48... d4 allows 49 ii'e4 checkmate) 49 1:.c3 + d4 50 .-xb3 with a massive advantage.

47 ...1i'd I + 48 �a2 'ii'b 3 + !! 0- 1 In the end it was White who had to resign because he is checkmated after 49 nxb3 cxb3 + 50 �b I ltd I .





YOU wont to Iml'rove your chei. tactlc'-7Psychology

If you

can eradicate simple mistakes from your game then your playing strength will significantly improve. There are reasons why you make such mistakes and equally there are ways to greatly reduce them - the number one rule being:

Look for simple threats

A straightforward enough maxim but not so easy to uphold throughout a whole game.

Hole - Kovachev Norwegian Championship 2008 Black is in a dilemma: he is easily winning the ending but which line should he choose to clinch matters? In fact 74 ...xh7 27 'ii'x hS + c;t;g8 28 ltxa I :'c 1 + 29 ltxc I :xc 1 + 30 tDf l liJc6 •••

Or 30 . . . i.. b 5 3 1 tDe7 + iL.xe7 32 ifxb5 winning.

3 1 ifgS 1 -0 Black did not want to see 3 1 . . :a l 32 ctJf6 + �h8 3 3 ifh4 checkmate. .

The discovered attack can crop up in surprising places and make possible a winning combination.

Day 5


Tactics In the mldd/eltJme

Topalov Dubai 2002



33 'iVaS

White is in big trouble but he appears to be hanging on because he has stopped ...�fS - and the line 3 3 ... i.xb2 + 34 :xb2 'ti'c I + 3S l:tb I 'iVc3 + 36 :b2 when 36 ... bxa3?? loses to 37 .xc3. But despite all that calculation it is a discovered check that brings the game to a halt. 33


..ta2! 0· 1

After 34 �xa2 then the discovered check with 34 ... b3 + uncovers an attack on the white queen. Missed opportunity

Langeweg - Casa

Lugano 1 968 Though 1 i..d 4 + 2 �h2 ltJe3 wins, Black could have staked a claim in a puzzle book by playing the stunning I ...•fl + 2 �xf l lbe3 + 3 �g l :fl checkmate. •••

Day 5


Tactics In the mJddlegome

Double pawn attack Attacking ideas repeat themselves over and over again so it makes sense to take a look at a variety of games and not only those that feature the opening you play. This will give you practice in finding tactical motifs in different kinds of positions which will in turn sharpen your play even further. I n the following game White tries an interesting attacking idea.




Taxco 1 985 Black has just played 1 6 ...ilxaS. This game grabbed my attention because White is engaged in an attack on the kingside but needs to bring his pieces into the action by creating open lines. A typical reaction by White would be to gradually redeploy his pieces over on the kingside, but this would give Black time to organise a counterattack.

1 7 �b l The king is tucked away in the corner, which is a sensible precaution before launching an all-out attack. The king has now been removed from the c l -h6 diagonal in case of any annoying checks and White has the option of countering a pawn advance ... b5-b4 with axb4 without fearing a nasty check by the black queen on a I . I n the present position 1 7 g6 does not work because 1 7 . . .fxg6 1 8 hS g5! would halt White's ambitions and actually favour Black because the queen and bishop both protect the pawn.

1 7 'i¥cS 1 8 hS bS 1 9 g6 as ..•

Sisniega sees nothing wrong with allowing White to take on fl or h7 so he carries on with his plans for counterplay on the queenside. Bolstering

Day 5


Tactics in the mldd/egame

the defence with 1 9 . . ..ite8 would allow White to increase his initiative by 20 f5 h6 2 1 gxf7 + iL.xf7 22 fxe6 .i.xe6 23 .i.h3 (White is keen to exchange bishops so that the dS square can be occupied without interference by the knight) 23 ... �f7 24 :df l with advantage to White. Maybe the line I 9 .fxg6 20 hxg6 h6 is the right idea so as to construct a blockade. Then 2 1 .ith3 would leave equal chances. ..

20 h6!

The two pawns on the sixth rank are an awesome sight - and they threaten to open the g and h-files for White's attacking pieces. The pawn storm looks dramatic but once you have seen it in action you can adopt it in your own games. 20 fxg6 2 1 hxg7 �f6? ...

The logical move to cover the g7 pawn and contemplate a future exchange on c3. However, Black needs to accelerate his attack otherwise White will make further inroads on the kingside - so 2 1 . b4! should be preferred. .


22 eS

The pawn is sacrificed to vacate the e4 square for the knight. 22 dxeS ...

The tactics favour White: a) 22 ... i.c6 23 exf6 .i.xh I 24 i.h3 and the threat of checkmate forces Black to defend and therefore leave the bishop to its fate. After 24 ... l:e8 25 ':xh I White wins easily. b) 22 ... .i.xg7 23 4:Je4 'ii'd 5 24 'iWe I 'iVb7 25 :xd6 with a clear advantage. 23 4:Je4 iiie 7

Day 5


Tactic. In

the mldd/e,ame

24 'ii'xd7! A spectacular queen sacrifice which enables White to break through Black's defence.

24 :xd7 25 l:xd7 exf4 •••

Of course if 2s . . :iixd7 26 lZJxf6 + �xg7 27 tiJxd7 exf4 28 ..txbS . And 2S . . .'iVe8 is even worse because of 26 lZJxf6 mate.

26 i.xbS %lb8 There is no rush to take the queen because it cannot find refuge. The game finished: 27 a4 h5 28 l:Ig I 'iYxg7 29 ':xg7 + rJ;;xg7 30 c3

iLe7 3 1 .i.d3 e5 32 �c2 :b6 33 b4! axb4 34 as :b8 35 a6 bxc3 36 lIb I l:ta8 37 :tb7 �8 38 a7 ..td8 39 i.c4 gS 40 lZJxg5 �b6 4 1 liJh 7 + 1 -0 Now you could argue that having two pawns on the sixth rank is not an everyday occurrence. That is true but adding this attacking motif to your box of tactical tricks will nevertheless enhance your playing strength. To reinforce the idea, let's take a look at the following game.

Anand - Timman Wijk aan Zee 2004

I e4 cS 2 lZJfl d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 liJxd4 lZJf6 S lbc3 lZJc6 6 i.gS Heralding the Richter-Rauzer variation of the Sicilian.

6 e6 7 'Yi'd2 a6 •••

Day 5


Tactics In the mJddlegame

To stop a white knight coming to b5 where it might attack the d6 pawn. A possible alternative is 7 ...�e7 8 0-0-0 ifb6 9 lZJdb5 0-0 1 0 'ike I (instead 1 0 tLJxd6 allows an irritating pin by 1 0 .. .l:id8) 1 0 ... :d8 which led to equal chances in Nijboer-Kosintseva, Wijk aan Zee 2007.

8 0-0-0 i..d 7 9 f3 The pawn is advanced to provide further protection to the e4 pawn and prepare g2-g4 to launch a kingside attack.

9 i.. e7 1 0 i..e 3!? •••

This odd line was advocated by American grandmaster Shamkovich in the I 970s. The idea is to take advantage of the position of Black's queen's bishop by pushing the g-pawn to g5 when the knight cannot retreat to the d7 square.

1 0 :c8!? I I g4 •.•

White adheres to the plan suggested by 9 f3 - a kingside pawn storm.

1 1 lZJaS •••

1 2 b I Many players who are new to the Sicilian think this is a bit mysterious, while a casual observer would struggle to justify it at alt. But, just as in the previous game, Timman-Sisniega, it is a useful long-term precaution to avoid checks on the c l -h6 diagonal and be better placed to cope with a pawn advance on the queenside by adding extra protection to the a2 pawn.

I l bS 1 3 i.d3 lZJc4 1 4 i.xc4 .


White has to make an important decision at this point - which bishop should he exchange? The answer is the light-squared one because its

Day 5


Tact#a 'n the mldd/elome

mobility is limited by the pawns on e4 and f3. By contrast the bishop on e3 is directed towards the kingside and supported by the queen.

1 4 .:txc4 •••

After 1 4 ... bxc4 White can continue as in the game but might consider an immediate a I so that he can protect the b2 pawn if necessary by a timely l:tb l . 1 5 lDce2 The knight retreats with the double intention of stopping Black's queen coming to the a5 square, because it is now covered by the white queen, and also preparing lDe2-f4 at some point to boost the attack. 1 5 0-0 •••

Although Timman seems to be castling into the attack he has little choice as the king would be vulnerable if it were allowed to remain in the centre. At least now there is a chance for the king's rook to participate in the counterplay.

1 6 gS

1 6 lDe8 •••

1 6 .. ctJh5 would reveal the reason why White did not advance the h­ pawn . Here 1 7 lDg3! puts Black under tremendous pressure, e.g. 1 7 ..g6 1 8 lDxh5 gxh5 1 9 h4, with the brighter prospects because the h5 pawn is a liability, or 1 7 ... lDxg3 1 8 hxg3 when the semi-open file is good news for the king's rook and indeed the white queen which can transfer to h2. .


1 7 h4 The h-pawn is pushed with the intentiol l of disrupting Black's defensive pawn wall and thereby allowing the remainder of his army to invade and destroy.

Day 5


Tactics In the mldd/erame

1 7 'ii'e8 1 8 b3 l:e7 1 9 lZJf4 :'e3 .••

I n the hope of conjuring up counterplay. There is little else, e.g. 1 9 . . e5? to fork the knight fails to 20 ltJd5 threatening both bishop and rook. This sort of move requires little calculation because it makes sense to bring all the available pieces into the attack before finally advancing the g and h-pawns even further. .

20 :tdg l b4 Black might have considered 20 ... .i.dS aiming to bring the bishop to as , where it can potentially target the white queen. However this is met by 2 1 tbde2 ':c6 22 h5 with play similar to the game - although the plan of ... .i.a5 is redundant now that the white queen is covering that square.

2 1 h5! lZJe7 22 g6

22 i.f6 ••.

The bishop adds its weight to the defence but the enemy onslaught is supported by too many pieces. Any attempt to block the kingside fails: a) 22 .. .fxg6 and now White is spoilt for choice: a l ) 23 hxg6 h6 24 LDh5 contemplating i..x h6 looks good . a2) 23 lbxg6 hxg6? (or 23 . . :f7 24 lZJxe7 + ':'xe7 25 h6 g6 26 tbe2 �c6 27 'it'xb4 with the advantage) 24 hxg6 lZJb5 25 l:.hS+ ! (a star move) 25 ... e I g4 wins) 4 . . . l:id8, threatening I:.d3 checkmate, maintains the momentum generated by creating a mating net.

2 l:b8+ 1 -0 Black did not wait to see 2 ...