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Tactical Game Highlights: Episode 04

Jun 5, 2014
IGM 2437
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Previously in TGH, we saw destructive tactical shots and counterblows in open positions. In this episode, we will examine tactical ideas that are more subtle or hidden in semi-open middlegame positions. We end with an example of a postional queen sacrifice that gave way to various tactical possibilities for the attacker. Interestingly, it is Black developing the attack in all examples.

So get your popcorn & snacks ready, because you're in for another action-packed episode!

Homa, Seth - Holt, Conrad

23rd Chicago Open 2014.05.24

BD_10663_166_0.pngDiagram #1

Black to play



getting the rook into the attack and exchanging off White's active rook

2.Rxd8 Rxd8

BD_10663_166_1.pngDiagram #2

Now we clearly see the superiority of Black's pieces over their counterparts in terms of placement & acitivity

3.Bxa7 a piece straying away from defending a king under attack is usually a bad sign...

3... Qh5!

BD_10663_166_2.pngDiagram #3

Square Clearance

A strong quiet killer move, whose main idea is to get a knight to f3. And White cannot do anything to stop it!

4.Qc3 ( 4.f4 Nh2+ 5.Kf2 Nd3+ 6.Kg1 Ne1 7.Qc3 Rd2!!

BD_10663_166_3.pngDiagram #4

Decoy & Fork

8.Qxd2 Nef3+ -+ forking the king & queen.)

4... Nh2+ 5.Kg1 Nef3+ 6.Bxf3 Nxf3+ 7.Qxf3 ( 7.Kg2 ( 7.Kf1 Bh3+ 8.Ke2 Ng1+ 9.Ke1 Qe2#)7... Bh3+ 8.Kh1 Bf1#)

7... Qxf3

with decisive material advantage Black has many ways to win

8.Ne3 Rd2

despite the elimination of Black's knight, the mating attack still goes on!

9.Rf1 Bh3

and White resigned.

Chandra, Akshat - Sadorra, Julio

23rd Chicago Open 2014.05.25

BD_10663_166_4.pngDiagram #5


BD_10663_166_5.pngDiagram #6

Improving the position of the queen and controlling more important squares & lines of attack such as e1 & the 4th rank.

2.Rc2 ( 2.Bc2 Nxf3 3.gxf3 e5 4.Nd5 Rg2 with mate to follow on h2.)

2... Rg3! bringing more pieces close to the White king which also threatens moving the knight to g4. It's not easy to defend White's position especially under time pressure.

3.Qd4 Setting up a discovered attack trick with knight to g6 next move, but it also helps Black due to the vulnerable placement of White's queen...

BD_10663_166_6.pngDiagram #7

Black to play


A better defense could've been to be calm and try to defend his pieces. 3.Re2 Ng4 4.Qg1 and there is no direct path to a decisive advantage in sight.

3... Rh3!

BD_10663_166_7.pngDiagram #8

an attacking move that also defends against White's threat!

It was not too late to spoil Black's attack: 3... Bxf3 does not work due to 4.Ng6+!

BD_10663_166_8.pngDiagram #9

Fork & pin

4... R3xg6 5.Qxh4 Rxg2 6.Rxg2 Rxg2 7.Qf6+ Rg7+ 8.Rxf3 Nxf3 9.Bd3 Kg8 10.Qxe6+ Kf8 11.Qxd6+ +- )

4.g4 ( 4.Ng6+ ( 4.gxh3 ( 4.Qg1 Qxf4 wins a piece for nothing.)4... Bxf3+

BD_10663_166_9.pngDiagram #10


5.Rxf3 ( 5.Ng2 Qxd4 underlines the poor placement of the queen on d4)5... Qe1+ 6.Qg1 Qxg1#)4... Rxg6 5.Qxh4 Rxh4 -+ )

4... Rxf3 and White resigned as he cannot defend against all the threats at his exposed king and scattered pieces.

Last but not least, here's a deep positional queen sac by the eventual champion of the tournament:

Shabalov, Alexander - Sargissian, Gabriel

23rd Chicago Open 2014.05.24

BD_10663_166_10.pngDiagram #11

Black to play


1...dxe4!? 2.Rxd8 Raxd8

For a queen, Black only has a rook and knight. But almost all his pieces are very active and coordinating well. Therefore, I would say Black's sac is sound and a good practical choice in a game because it is White who has play more accurately to maintain dynamic equilibrium.

3.Bg5?! the first misstep

A better defensive try is to aim for exchanges with 3.Bxe4! 3... Bxe4 4.Qxe4 Nxf2! ( Rd1+ 5.Kg2 Nxf2 6.Qc2 and Black has nothing special from the forcing sequence) 5.Qe2 Rd1+ 6.Kg2 Rfd8 = Black has dynamic compensation with his active pieces, but White seems to have things under control as Black cannot make direct threats.

3... Rd3 4.Rf1 h6!

making the g5-B feel uncomfortable, and getting his other rook in play

5.Bf4 Rfd8 6.b4 Bxf2+! 7.Rxf2 e3 8.Re2 ( 8.Rf1 Rd2 -+ )

8... Bxg2 9.Kxg2 ( 9.Rxg2 Rd1+ 10.Qxd1 Rxd1#)

9... Rd2 10.Kf3 ( 10.Rxd2 Rxd2+ 11.Qxd2 exd2 12.Bxd2 Nxe5 -+ with a winning minor-piece ending.)

10... Rxc2 11.Rxc2 Rd2 -/+

with the use of tactical ideas Black successfully transformed a slight pressure in a superior ending which he eventually won later.


Gabriel Sargissian- Winner of the 2014 Annual Chicago Open

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