Here is a position from one of my correspondence games:


White to move,  win.  Just in case, the answer in in the comment.

I just ran an OTB game that I played a year ago through Fritz 11 using “Blundercheck” mode and Fritz showed me an interesting possibility that I missed.  Here is the combination that I didn’t see.  I am White, the position arised from  Owen Defense – 1.e4 b6.


White to move,  I played 14. Qe4.  Fritz suggests better move,  quite paradoxical – 14. Rfd1! and after 14. … Bxd1 15. Rxd1 Rad8 Rad8 16. Bxh7+ getting ~1.50  advantage.


What about 15. … Rxd1 Rad8 16. Qe8 ? Then follows 16. Qe4 g6 17. Bb5


getting 2 pieces for the rook.

I just liked the combination of several tactical motifs here – discovered attack (Bh7+),  double attack ( Qe4, though literally the knight is still defended by the Queen) and pin (Bb5).  As for the weaknesses, we see:

  1.  h7
  2.  White occupies important b1-h7 diagonal,
  3. White can occupy “d” vertical (by using sacrifice!).
  4. Knight  on C6 not very stable,  can also be pinned

In the game I tried to use 1 and 2, then 4.   Fritz used all 4 at once.

Pos2I run some of my online blitz games through Fritz, using “Blundercheck” mode.
It finds not blunders, but also any missing tactics, actually anything that’s worse
than Fritz’s preferable move by 0.75 pawn ( of course you can change that range).
Here is the combination, that I didn’t see, the position is from Caro-Kann defense,
fantasy variation that was suggested by GM Bareev in his lecture.
Pic 2
White to move, computer suggests Bh6. OK, but why the reply is Rf8?
Strange, right? What if, let’s say, Nc6? Fritz says – Rxf7!
Pic 3
If Kxf7, then Rf1+, Kg8, Qxe6+ and Bg7#.
So, after Rf1+, Black has to give up on f6 first his bishop, then his queen,
leaving Black with 2R+N vs. Q+B+N+P and score 7.45.
The second example is easier, I hope you find the solution ( just in case it’s in the comment).

I run some of my online blitz games through Fritz using “Blundercheck” mode.  It finds not only blunders, but also any missing tactics,  actually anything at all that’s worse than Fritz’s preferable move by 0.75 pawn ( of course you can change that range).

Here is the combination that I didn’t see.  I am White, the position is from Caro-Kann defense, fantasy variation that was suggested by GM Bareev in his lecture – 1.e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3.


White to move, computer suggests Bh6.  OK, but why the reply is Rf8? Strange, right? What if black plays,  let’s say,  Nc6?  Fritz says – Rxf7!


If Kxf7, then Rf1+  Kg8, Qxe6+


Kh8, Bg7#.

So, after Rf1+ Black has to give up on f6 first his bishop, then his queen, leaving Black with 2R+N vs. Q+B+N+P and score 7.45.

The second example is easier,  White to move and win material, just in case the solution is in the comment.


Another G/15 on FICS,  I play Black, this time I found it. Interesting that first 3 moves I wanted to play were right,  then 4th move was actually leading only to perpetual, but there is a winning move here as well.  I didn’t get there because he played 3rd move differently,  it was move losing quickly.  I think OTB I would see the right continuation, maybe straight from the beginning.

Can you see the both lines,  winning and perpetual?  Just in case, the answer is in the comment. Black to move:


I played recently this game (G/15) on FICS,  had a good attack after sacrificing a bishop, but din’t find the winning move.  Can you see it?  White to move:


Just in case, the solution is in the comment.

I am reading the book  “Combinations in the Middlegame” written by Igor Bondarevsky,  Soviet Grandmaster in both over-the-board and correspondence chess,  an International Arbiter, a trainer, and an author of chess books.  Bondarevsky shared the 1940 Soviet Championship title, and later coached World Champion Boris Spassky.  In the Chapter II: Combinational Ideas I found an interesting motif that I didn’t see ( and couldn’t find) anywhere else – seizing a point.

Sacrifice with this motif serves  purpose of, as the name says, seizing an important point, then having that point the active side plays some forced line(s).

The first example is from the game Razuvaev-Briem,  Puerto-Rico, 1971:


25. Qg5 – this one move threat forces Black to block his King. 25.  … Rg8 26. Nd6!


The queen is sacrificed to seize the decisive point. The knight creates the final threat, more exactly triple threat – mate on f7, Nxb7 and Nxc8, there is no defense.

Another example is from the game  Fisher-Sofrievsky, Scople, 1967:


The positon of the Black king is weak, it gives an idea to find some tactics to use it.  15. Nd5!  The knight is sacrificed to get for the rook square d5. After 15.. exd5 16. Rxd5


16. … Qa6 ( 16. … Qb4 17. a3 )  17. Rh5 White wins quickly.  

In the game Black didn’t accept the sacrifice, played 15. … Rfe8. Then followed 16.  Nxe7 Rxe7 17. Rxd6 and White got  easily won position.

This Sunday I played in the local club,  my regular G/90.

The game had the final similar to the one that I had with the same opponent 3 months ago ( his rating at that time was about the same as mine, now 130 less),  the opening was the same. The coincidence looked funny, so I decided to showcase both.

I played White, Sicilian, Rossolimo variation.

First game:

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Bxc6 bxc6 5. d3 d5 6. Nc3 Bg4 7. h3 Bh5 8. Bf4 e6 


Crafty wants me to play 9. g4 here with 0.66, my move gets 0.5 less.

9. Qe2 d4 10. Nd1 Nf6 11. b3 c4 12. O-O c3 13. a4 Be7


14. Kh2 O-O 15. Rg1 Bd6 16. Bxd6 Qxd6+ 17. Kh1 Nd7 18. g4 Bg6


19. Nh4 e5 20. f3 Nc5 21. Nf2 Ne6 22. Nf5 Bxf5 23. gxf5 Nf4


24. Qf1 f6 25. Ng4 Kh8 26. Kh2 c5 27. Qf2 a5 28. Rae1 Ra7 29. Qh4 Rb7 30. Nf2 c4 31. bxc4


Crafty thinks, that I made a mistake and 31. dxc4 is much better  ( I agree ) – 31. dxc4 Qa3 32. Ra1 Qc5 33. Rad1 Ne2 34. Rg4 Kg8 35. Nd3 -with estimate  0.75.  I didn’t like 31. dxc4 d3, but White just plays 32. Nxd3 Nxd3 33. Rd1 Qa3 34. Rxd3 – 3.51.

31. bxc4 Rg8 32. Rg4


I am clearly worse and trying this chance.  32. … Rb2  He doesn’t see it. 33. Qxh7+!  


33. … Kxh7 34. Rh4+ 1-0 ( 34. … Nh5 Rxh5#).


Second game:

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Bxc6 bxc6 5. d3 d5 6. Qe2 g6 7. O-O Bg7 8. Nbd2 e6


9. Nb3 Qb6 10. Rb1 Ne7 11. Bg5 a5 12. c3 a4 13. Nbd2 Ba6 14. Rfc1 Ra7 15. b4! – one of the plans in this variation, here it has also tactical ground. My opponent spent quite some time here.


15. … O-O 16. bxc5 Qa5 17. e5 Rc7 18. Be3 Nf5 19. c4 Rd8 20. Bg5 Rdd7 21. cxd5 Rxd5 22. Nc4 Bxc4 23. Rxc4 Rxc5


Crafty says it’s a big mistake  because of 24. Rb8+ Bf8 25. Bd2! Qa7 26. Rxf8+ Kg7 27. Ra8 Qxa8 28. Rxc5 Qf8 29. Rc4 a3 30. Bg5 – score 4.85.

24. Rxc5 – I don’t see it too. 24. …Qxc5 25. Rb8+ Bf8 26. Qb2 h6 27. Bd2 – now I see it. He sees it too and again spends essentual time.


27. Bd2 Qa7 28. g4 Ng7 29. Bxh6 Kh7??


30. Rxf8 Kxh6??  31. Rh8# 1-0


I think the time played it’s role (29minutes/19 minutes), still remembering the first game it all looks like some kind of blindness with regards to that specific vertical/type of mate,  chessloser used an interesting word – “chessblind” when he didn’t see the move.

I played my regular OTB game this Sunday. I played with a  boy rated 30 less than me and drew. Since I had a good attack in the middlegame, it left me kind of scratching my head. Of course, as I came home, the computer was merciless.  OK, so how it went? I was Black and he played  (as I learned later) Konstantinopolsky Opening.  It is a rarely played opening that begins with the moves 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. g3.  It was introduced in the game Konstantinopolsky–Ragozin, Moscow 1956.

Anyway, even more rare than the opening was the speed with which he played (90/SD). It was lightning first 12 moves, then blitz another 8-10 moves, then active the rest of the game.  I simply couldn’t get out of the table. After some not very good opening-middlegame phase (mostly half a pawn down according to computer) I was able to intercept the initiative with the move 19. ..f4.


White answered 20. gxf4 – big mistake.  20. .. Nxf4 21. Ng4 Bxg4 22. hxg4 Nxg2 23. Kxg2 Qg6


24. f3 Be7 25. Re4 Rf8 26. Qd1 Rf7 27. Qh1 Rbf8 28. Rf1 Bg5 29.
Bc3 Rf4 30. Qh3 Rxe4 31. dxe4 Be3 32. Qh4 Bg5 33. Qh5 Qf6 34. a4 Qf4 35. Qg6


Here I was glad that I can execute my long planned penetration of my Queen into the enemy’s territory – Qe3 and didn’t notice the winning move – Bh4.

36. Be1 Qe2+ 37. Kg1


37. … Rxf3 Another miss. Of course I saw Be3+, but I thought that White covers with the bishop not seeing that then Rxf3 wins.  38. Rxf3 Qxf3 39. Qf5 Be3+ 40. Kh2 Bf4+ 41. Kg1 Be3+ 42. Kh2  I saw that he has a perpetual check and didn’t see the win (there wasn’t already), so I traded queens.


42. .. Qxf5 43. gxf5 Bg5 44. Kh3 Kg8 45. Kg4 Kf7 46. Kh5  1/2:1/2


Allowing king there was a final mistake , though I don’t think there is a win here after 43… g5 44. hg Kg6. The bishop is bad, that’s it.

OK, I’ll just follow Dan Heisman’s rule: “Losing can be a great motivator if it helps you identify and correct things you are doing that cause the loss”. Yeah,  if the position tells you there is a win, you should believe it and just find it.  Another Dan’s rule, that I didn’t fully followed:  “When looking for tactics – for either player – look for Checks, Captures, and Threats …”.

The good thing I managed my time pretty well, spending on the first 15 moves in the unknown opening 24 minutes.  OK, it’s 26.7% of all the time, not 20%, still good result for me.

8:25am EST.  Pairings are ready, so what’s for Canada? As I expected, our women got  a difficult opponent – Mexico with 4 WIM. Men got easier task, they play with Iraq, which have only 2 FMs. As for others,  pair Kamsky – Dominguez looks interesting, Dominguez recently won World Blitz Almaty Blitz Chess World Championships – went undefeated with 11.5 points, 8 victories and 7 draws against most of the major players in the world ranking.

9:30am. Dominguez plays White, Ruy  Lopez, quiet schema with d3 and c3. 10:25am.  Bad news – on the first board for men’s team our GM made a standard sacrifice Bxh7+, but overlooked  some defense and resigned.  Women look OK for now.  In Kamsky – Dominguez game they have e4,d4 – e5,d5, so the play will open.

11:00am. 3rd board for women sacrificed a bishop for 2 pawns, I hope she has compensation. 2nd board looks good.

12:00pm. Women – 1st board just won a pawn, 2nd board won, 3rd is losing badly, 4th in time trouble. Kamsky – Dominguez are close to a draw, i think.

12:20pm.  Our women are leading – 2:1! And the time trouble on the 4th board became mutual.

12:35pm. Men are losing 1:2 and the best 4th board can get is draw I think. Dominguez looks better to me now with pair of bishops. Women are simply blitzing, I like Canada’s position more.

12:55pm.  Suddenly, after exchange of tactical strikes Gata is remote passed pawn up, but with opposite colored bishops.

1:07pm.  Kamsky-Dominguez  – draw. Our Irina Barron went into R+3p vs. R+4p all on kingside endgame.  Isn’t it a draw?  Nikolay on the 4th board is trying to save the match, he is pawn down, but has excellent knight vs. bad bishop with queens.

2:20pm. Both Canadians drew, setting 2.5:1.5 for women and 1.5:2.5 for men, both results pretty surprising to me.

Here is how our 1st board, Yuan Yuanling, won with White:

Bxg7!  Kxg7 then Rg3+ – Black resigned.


Destructive sacrifice – “sacrificing material to destroy the pawn cover or other protection around the enemy king. Usually a point of no return.” (dictionary).

Many of us are familiar with the bishop sacrifices – Bxh2/h7/h3/h6/… etc.  Rook sacrifice is a bit less common, maybe because it takes time and effort to get the rook into the striking position.

The first example is from my online game. My time was running out, and  after I made move Qd6-e6, I had 7 seconds left. Luckily for me, my opponent didn’t suspect anything and played c4-c5.

After Rxh3+, gxh3, Qxh3# I still had a few seconds.

Second,  more complicated example is also from my online game. Frankly it was a blitz game and I saw just a first few moves, it looked bad enough for white, so I went for it, then found the rest. Mate in 8 – can you see and calculate it (if not, see the comment)?