Best of 2014: Magic tactics

by Albert Silver
1/8/2015 – One of the simple joys in chess is seeing a position from a game in which one player wins the game with a sweet tactical shot, and finding it on your own with the thought "I can do that!". 2014 was replete with such moments, in which the very best players in the world won games and lost games to both simple shots, and others that leave you gaping. Can you do as well?

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Caruana, Fabiano - Naiditsch, Arkadij

While Caruana was to wow the world in 2014, in this game it was
Niaditsch who imposed a little humility. Black to play and win.

Caruana, Fabiano - Ponomariov, Ruslan

At the Olympiad, Caruana took down the former Ukrainian prodigy
Ponomariov in a delightful no-frills combination. White to play and win.

Carlsen, Magnus - Wojtaszek, Radoslaw

Magnus Carlsen's sense of esthetics cannot be argued with as he
dispatched the top Polish player in style. White to play and win.

Nakamura, Hikaru - Aronian, Levon

In the blitz leg of their match, Black got into trouble in the opening,
but found a fantastic resource to complicate the game and stay alive.
Can you find Black's move?

Nakamura, Hikaru - Dambacher, Martijn

Nakamura dispatches his opponent with a classic theme. White to
play and win.

Topalov, Veselin - Kramnik, Vladimir

A dreadful oversight by the former world champion allows Topalov to
win a pawn. White to play and win.

Kasimdzhanov, Rustam - Kramnik, Vladimir

Kasimdzhanov had a terrible score against Kramik, but took one back
at the Olympiad. White to play and win.

Svidler, Peter - Kramnik, Vladimir

In an incredibly inspired defense, Kramnik pulled out true magic to
save this game. His next move saved the game. Black to play and save.

Carlsen, Magnus - Anand, Viswanathan

Without a doubt one of the defining positions of 2014. Can you do
better? Black to play and win.

Carlsen, Magnus - Anand, Viswanathan

In a sense this was the shot of the match. Though Anand failed to
capitalize on it, his move was purest genius. Black to play and take
the advantage.

Kramnik, Vladimir - Vallejo Pons, Francisco

The Spaniard found a surprising tactic and won here. Black to play and win.

Solutions :

[Event "Tata Steel-A 76th"] [Site "Wijk aan Zee"] [Date "2014.01.25"] [Round "10"] [White "Caruana, Fabiano"] [Black "Naiditsch, Arkadij"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A09"] [WhiteElo "2782"] [BlackElo "2718"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "6k1/pR5p/1q2prp1/4N3/5r2/PP5n/2Q3BP/4R2K b - - 0 39"] [PlyCount "5"] [EventDate "2014.01.11"] [EventType "tourn"] [EventRounds "11"] [EventCountry "NED"] [EventCategory "20"] [SourceDate "2014.01.29"] 39... Rf1+ $1 40. Rxf1 (40. Bxf1 Qg1#) 40... Rxf1+ 41. Bxf1 Qg1# 0-1 [Event "Dortmund 42nd"] [Site "Dortmund"] [Date "2014.07.13"] [Round "2"] [White "Caruana, Fabiano"] [Black "Ponomariov, Ruslan"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C42"] [WhiteElo "2789"] [BlackElo "2723"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "3q4/k1p2br1/1pQ5/p2pR3/P2P4/1P1B4/K1P5/8 w - - 0 39"] [PlyCount "5"] [EventDate "2014.07.12"] [EventType "tourn"] [EventRounds "7"] [EventCountry "GER"] [EventCategory "19"] [Source "Chessbase"] [SourceDate "2014.07.26"] 39. Re7 $1 {Simplicity itself.} Qxe7 40. Ba6 $1 Kxa6 41. Qa8# 1-0 [Event "Tromsoe ol (Men) 41st"] [Site "Tromsoe"] [Date "2014.08.05"] [Round "4.1"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "Wojtaszek, Radoslaw"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B26"] [WhiteElo "2877"] [BlackElo "2735"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "3r1r2/p3npk1/1q1p2p1/1b4P1/1p1PPN2/5R1B/PP3Q2/4R1K1 w - - 0 31"] [PlyCount "5"] [EventDate "2014.08.02"] [EventType "team-swiss"] [EventRounds "11"] [EventCountry "NOR"] [Source "Chessbase"] [SourceDate "2014.08.21"] [WhiteTeam "Norway"] [BlackTeam "Poland"] [WhiteTeamCountry "NOR"] [BlackTeamCountry "POL"] 31. Be6 $3 {You can't argue with his sense of esthetics.} Be8 (31... fxe6 32. Nxe6+ Kg8 (32... Kh7 33. Rf7+ $3 {why take a rook when you can mate?} Rxf7 ( 33... Kg8 34. Rg7+ Kh8 35. Qh2#) 34. Qxf7+ Kh8 35. Qg7#) 33. Rxf8+ Rxf8 34. Qxf8+ Kh7 35. Qg7#) 32. Nd5 Nxd5 33. Bxd5 1-0 [Event "Nakamura vs Aronian Blitz"] [Site "Saint Louis USA"] [Date "2014.11.25"] [Round "11"] [White "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Black "Aronian, Levon"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A45"] [WhiteElo "2767"] [BlackElo "2797"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r2qkbr1/pp3p2/2bpp2p/3nP3/3RN3/5NB1/PPP2PP1/R2QK3 b Qq - 0 14"] [PlyCount "5"] [EventDate "2014.11.25"] 14... Ne3 $3 {A fantastic shot found in a blitz game with big money on the line. Although it did not win the game (he lost ultimately), it kept him alive after a very dubious opening.} 15. Qd3 {was played by Nakamura, and though not best, good luck trying to calculate all the lines with seconds.} ({The computer line is} 15. fxe3 Bxe4 16. Bh4 Qa5+ 17. b4 Bxf3 18. Qxf3 Qc7 19. exd6 Bxd6 20. O-O-O {and White is better.}) 15... Bxe4 16. Qxe3 (16. Rxe4 Nf5 17. Bh4 Nxh4 18. Rxh4 Rxg2 {and the position is balanced.}) 16... d5 {and Black had the edge.} 1-0 [Event "EU-Cup 30th"] [Site "Bilbao"] [Date "2014.09.19"] [Round "6.4"] [White "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Black "Dambacher, Martijn"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C26"] [WhiteElo "2782"] [BlackElo "2497"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "1k2r3/1pp5/1p4q1/rN2np1p/PQP1b1pP/1P2R1B1/1KP2RP1/8 w - - 0 38"] [PlyCount "7"] [EventDate "2014.09.14"] [EventType "team-swiss"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "ESP"] [Source "Chessbase"] [SourceDate "2014.09.25"] [WhiteTeam "Obiettivo Risarcimento"] [BlackTeam "Eynatten"] [WhiteTeamCountry "ITA"] [BlackTeamCountry "BEL"] 38. Rxe4 $1 fxe4 39. Bxe5 Rxe5 40. Rf8+ Re8 41. Qe7 $1 {Classic.} 1-0 [Event "FIDE Candidates"] [Site "Khanty-Mansiysk"] [Date "2014.03.19"] [Round "6"] [White "Topalov, Veselin"] [Black "Kramnik, Vladimir"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D37"] [WhiteElo "2785"] [BlackElo "2787"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r1q2rk1/4b2p/b1n1p1p1/pBPp3n/P4p1P/2N1PN2/5PPB/R2Q1RK1 w - - 0 19"] [PlyCount "17"] [EventDate "2014.03.13"] [EventType "tourn"] [EventRounds "14"] [EventCountry "RUS"] [EventCategory "21"] [Source "Chessbase"] [SourceDate "2014.04.03"] 19. Nxd5 $1 exd5 20. Qxd5+ Kh8 21. Qxc6 Qxc6 22. Bxc6 Rac8 23. Bb5 Bxb5 24. axb5 Bxc5 25. Rxa5 fxe3 26. fxe3 Bxe3+ 27. Kh1 1-0 [Event "Tromsoe ol (Men) 41st"] [Site "Tromsoe"] [Date "2014.08.08"] [Round "6.1"] [White "Kasimdzhanov, Rustam"] [Black "Kramnik, Vladimir"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D37"] [WhiteElo "2700"] [BlackElo "2760"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "rr3qk1/1bR2ppp/pn6/5B2/P2p1Q2/1P2P3/4N1PP/2R3K1 w - - 0 29"] [PlyCount "3"] [EventDate "2014.08.02"] [EventType "team-swiss"] [EventRounds "11"] [EventCountry "NOR"] [Source "Chessbase"] [SourceDate "2014.08.21"] [WhiteTeam "Uzbekistan"] [BlackTeam "Russia"] [WhiteTeamCountry "UZB"] [BlackTeamCountry "RUS"] 29. Rxf7 $3 Kxf7 (29... Qxf7 30. Bxh7+ Kf8 31. Qd6+ {White isn't winning a pawn. He is winning the house.} Ke8 32. Bg6) 30. Bxh7+ 1-0 [Event "FIDE Candidates"] [Site "Khanty-Mansiysk"] [Date "2014.03.15"] [Round "3"] [White "Svidler, Peter"] [Black "Kramnik, Vladimir"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A39"] [WhiteElo "2758"] [BlackElo "2787"] [Annotator "Marin,M"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "4Qbk1/8/3r3p/4PPpP/1p6/1P3R2/4qBK1/8 b - - 0 46"] [PlyCount "10"] [EventDate "2014.03.13"] [EventType "tourn"] [EventRounds "14"] [EventCountry "RUS"] [EventCategory "21"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceDate "2014.05.15"] [TimeControl "40/7200:20/3600:900+30"] [WhiteClock "0:18:15"] [BlackClock "0:23:05"] 46... Rf6 $1 {196} 47. Kg3 {750} (47. Re3 Qg4+ 48. Bg3 Ra6 $1 {with counterplay.}) 47... Qe4 {126} 48. Bc5 {131} Qe1+ {356} 49. Bf2 {145} Qe4 {50} 50. Bc5 {8} Qe1+ {5} 51. Bf2 {550} 1/2-1/2 [Event "World Championship"] [Site "Sochi"] [Date "2014.11.15"] [Round "6"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B41"] [WhiteElo "2863"] [BlackElo "2792"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "6rr/1k3p2/1pb1p1np/p1p1P2R/2P3R1/2P1B3/P1B2PP1/2K5 w - - 0 26"] [PlyCount "25"] [EventDate "2014.11.08"] [EventType "match"] [EventRounds "12"] [EventCountry "RUS"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceDate "2014.11.20"] 26. Kd2 $4 a4 $4 (26... Nxe5 $1 {Both players missed this in the game. Had Anand played it, the title match might have gone differently.} 27. Rxg8 Nxc4+ 28. Kd3 Nb2+ 29. Kd2 Rxg8 30. Rxh6 Rxg2 {and Black is winning.}) 27. Ke2 a3 28. f3 Rd8 29. Ke1 Rd7 30. Bc1 Ra8 31. Ke2 Ba4 32. Be4+ Bc6 33. Bxg6 fxg6 34. Rxg6 Ba4 35. Rxe6 Rd1 36. Bxa3 Ra1 37. Ke3 Bc2 38. Re7+ 1-0 [Event "World Championship"] [Site "Sochi"] [Date "2014.11.23"] [Round "11"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C67"] [WhiteElo "2863"] [BlackElo "2792"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r2r1b2/1kp2p2/1p2bNnp/p1pNP1p1/P1P3P1/1P4KP/1B3P2/3RR3 b - - 0 23"] [PlyCount "44"] [EventDate "2014.11.08"] [EventType "match"] [EventRounds "12"] [EventCountry "RUS"] [Source "Chessbase"] [SourceDate "2014.12.01"] 23... b5 $3 24. Bc3 (24. axb5 a4 25. bxa4 Rxa4 {and Black takes the initiative. }) (24. cxb5 c6 25. bxc6+ Kxc6 26. Ne3 Bxb3 {and Black is almost winning.}) 24... bxa4 25. bxa4 Kc6 26. Kf3 Rdb8 (26... Be7 27. Ne3 Bxf6 28. exf6 {and Black is better.}) 27. Ke4 Rb4 28. Bxb4 cxb4 29. Nh5 Kb7 30. f4 gxf4 31. Nhxf4 Nxf4 32. Nxf4 Bxc4 33. Rd7 Ra6 34. Nd5 Rc6 35. Rxf7 Bc5 36. Rxc7+ Rxc7 37. Nxc7 Kc6 38. Nb5 Bxb5 39. axb5+ Kxb5 40. e6 b3 41. Kd3 Be7 42. h4 a4 43. g5 hxg5 44. hxg5 a3 45. Kc3 1-0 [Event "Tromsoe ol (Men) 41st"] [Site "Tromsoe"] [Date "2014.08.10"] [Round "8.1"] [White "Kramnik, Vladimir"] [Black "Vallejo Pons, Francisco"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D37"] [WhiteElo "2760"] [BlackElo "2698"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r2q2k1/1p3p1p/p1b1pPp1/3n4/3B1P1Q/6N1/4r1PP/2RR2K1 b - - 0 30"] [PlyCount "21"] [EventDate "2014.08.02"] [EventType "team-swiss"] [EventRounds "11"] [EventCountry "NOR"] [Source "Chessbase"] [SourceDate "2014.08.21"] [WhiteTeam "Russia"] [BlackTeam "Spain"] [WhiteTeamCountry "RUS"] [BlackTeamCountry "ESP"] 30... Nxf4 $3 31. Qxf4 (31. Nxe2 Nxe2+ 32. Kf2 Nxc1 33. Rxc1 Qd5 {and it is game over.}) 31... Qd5 $1 32. Ne4 Qxe4 33. Qxe4 Rxe4 34. Bb6 g5 35. Rd2 h6 36. Bd8 a5 37. Be7 a4 38. Rc3 Kh7 39. h3 Kg6 40. Kh2 Rf4 0-1

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Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications.
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