Look into the future to improve your chess

by ChessBase
9/14/2003 – If you are bored with "white to play and win" tactics we have something more challenging and perhaps more useful for you. This method will help your tactics and your visualization skills. Stop leapfrogging from diagram to diagram when you read books and magazines. It's tactics with a twist.

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Look into the mind's eye

The following is a selection from a recent issue of White Belt, a training e-mail newsletter from Mig's ChessNinja.com. It is aimed at players below 1600, so some of these might be a little easy for some players. Later we'll bring you tough guys a Black Belt version.

Four or five years ago I wrote a short-lived instructional column and I tried to come up with training material that was fun and that built practical skills. "Future tactics" was one of those ideas and now it's back in the ChessNinja newsletters and has proved very popular. Maybe I was inspired by once watching Alexei Shirov read through a long fax sheet of games like he was reading a newspaper.

The ability to follow moves (and notation) in your head is helpful for reading chess material and the most critical element of play. If you read chess books jumping from diagram to diagram instead of following the game, this is just the sort of thing you need. You might not be Shirov, but with practice you will be able to go through an entire game and really SEE it.

In the exercises below we give you a position, a few moves, and then you have to find the winning tactic. So don't look for a winning move in the diagram, you have to follow the moves and then find it in your head. Remember to look for full variations and defenses, not just one key move you are "pretty sure" is a winner.

Some tips: First look for the tactical themes in the diagrammed position. Unprotected pieces, open kings, forks, pins, mate threats, checks, all the classics. Then when you follow the moves, concentrate hard to see each piece and pawn on its new square. Some of these will require you to see five half-moves ahead to solve, others just two. Solutions below with online replay.

1...Bg7 2.Be3 and now how did Black win material? 1.exd5 cxd5 and now what killer move did White play?

A tough one here: 1...Nb7 2.Bd4 0-0 and White to play and win. 1.e5 Bc5+ 2.Kh1 Ng8 Now White has a winning move.

Keep an eye on the white queen. 1...Bc5 2.Qe5 Bxf3 3.Bxf3 and Black has a crusher. 1.Bd2 Ng3 2.Rg1 Qb6 3.b3 and now Black captures something very important!

1.Qe2 Qf5 2.Nf3 Nd3+and White has a winning response to this check.

1.Nd5+ Kc6 2.Nxe7+ Rxe7 3.c4 Nc7 Black's last move was a terrible blunder. Why?

You can replay the solutions online here.


(1) Visualization tactic level 2 - Black to play

1...Bg7 2.Be3 Qa5+ 3.Nc3 Did you see that this knight move could block the check and protect the bishop on b5 at the same time? 3...Bxc3+ Removing the defender with check and winning the bishop. 4.bxc3 Qxb5 0-1 (2...Bxb2 is okay, winning the exchange, but you always want the best move.)

(2) Visualization tactic level 2 - White to play

1.exd5 cxd5? 2.Re7+ A winning fork of bishop and king. 2...Kf6 3.Rxb7 1-0

(3) Visualization tactic level 3 - Black to play

1...Nb7 2.Bd4 Threatening to play Bxf6 Bxf6 Qxg6! because the black e-pawn is now pinned by the rook. 2...0-0 3.Rxe7 Now the rook attacks the bishop on d7 and the defender of the knight has been removed at the same time. 3...Bc8 [3...Nd5 4.Bxg7 Kxg7 5.Rxd7] 4.Bxf6 Bxf6 5.Qxf6 1-0

(4) Visualization tactic level 3 - White to play

1.e5 Bc5+ Escaping the fork with check. 2.Kh1 Ng8 3.Qd5! Threatening checkmate in one move with Qxf7# and also hitting the rook on a8 and the bishop on c5. A winning queen fork. 3...Qe7 Defending the mate and protecting the bishop, but there was too much work to do. 4.Qxa8 1-0

(5) Visualization tactic level 3 - Black to play

1...Bc5 2.Qe5 Bxf3 Removing the defender of the queen. 3.Bxf3 Bxf2+ Ouch! A discovered attack with check. 4.Kxf2 Qxe5 It was necessary to first remove the knight that was protecting the queen. 0-1

(6) Visualization tactic level 4 - White to play

1.Bd2 Black was threatening to capture the knight on c3 because the b2 pawn is pinned by the rook on b8. 1...Ng3 2.Rg1 Qb6 Another winning queen fork. Mate is threatened on b2 and the rook on g1 has no protection. 3.b3 Qxg1 0-1

(7) Visualization tactic level 4 - White to play

1.Qe2 Qf5 2.Nf3 Nd3+? 3.Qxd3! Qxd3 4.Ne5+ A winning royal fork. 4...Kf6 5.Nxd3 White has won a piece. 0-1

(8) Visualization tactic level 4 - White to play

1.Nd5+ First a fork that wins the exchange. 1...Kc6 2.Nxe7+ Rxe7 3.c4 Blocking the advance of the black king. 3...Nc7?? Suicide! 4.Rd6# Not an easy checkmate to see because knight is blocking in its own king. 1-0

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