Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Colorful Tactics

During some tactical study, I came across some patterns that have unusual features that probably defy generalization, but they seem to tell a small story that could be summarized in a colorful name.

Here's the first tactical problem:

This is Chess Tempo #64813. White has already sacrificed a queen, but the c-pawn is about to queen. The solution eluded me, probably because the setup for the discovered check is so tempting 1.Rxa7+ Kxa7 2.Rb8+ Rxe3 3.Rxc8. White is still winning after either 3...Re1+ 4.Kh2 Ne6 5.Rxh8 Nxc7 OR 3...Rxd3 4.Ra8+! Kxa8 5.c8=Q+. But queening with check and checkmate is the correct path, even if it means sacrificing both rooks. 1.Rb8+! Qxb8 2.Rxa7+! Qxa7 3.c8=Q+ Qb8 4.Qa6 Qa7 5.Qxa7#. Replaying this combination with heavy piece action almost seems like White is pummeling the Black King in the corner of a boxing ring with a five-punch combination. The best name I could find was this five-move combination from the Street Fighter video games, Balrog's Super Crazy Buffalo.

The second tactical problem is also from Chess Tempo:

This is Chess Tempo #91491. Both sides are threatening each other's knights with advanced queens. White's knight has no safe fleeing squares, so it can only be bolstered by a defender. Black's knight can both flee and be defended. The key finding in this position is to see that despite the number of empty squares around the White Queen, almost none are safe, only Qa1. Black can defend and attack at the same time with 1...Rb7! If White uses his move to protect Ne2, then 2...Ra8 wins queen for rook. If he pulls his queen to safety, then 2...Qxe2 wins. I named this problem Agoraphobic Queen to remind myself to look for trapped pieces, even seemingly out in the open. You could also name this one Claustrophobic Knight for White's terrible e2 knight.

The third tactical problem arises from a game a friend played recently. After Black's 21st move:

My friend playing White had an overwhelming position that can be solved tactically, but he missed the strongest continuation and played positionally, but won anyway. The best line was not spotted by White nor by myself and another friend trying to figure it out. White can land his rook on the eighth rank with 1.Bxf7+ Rxf7 2.Re8+ Rf8, but after that we tried bolstering with 3.Rad1 and 3.Nxd6, but the strongest is 3.Re7 and Black is helpless to stop mate. This implies that the final objective of Bxf7 was to land the rook on the seventh rank after bouncing it off the eighth rank. My friend called this maneuver the Bounce Back. This tactic is likely the most practical of the three colorful tactical patterns above.

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