Understanding before Moving 42: Mating patterns

by ChessBase
8/29/2021 – Herman Grooten is an International Master, a renowned trainer and the author of several highly acclaimed books about chess training and chess strategy. In the 42nd instalment of his ChessBase show “Understanding before Moving”, Herman looks at mating patterns extracted from books by Laszlo Polgar, father of the incredibly successful Polgar sisters. | Photo: Tommy Grooten

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Polgár! Following the game between Judit Polgár and Veselin Topalov from the previous episode, I return to the story of the Polgár sisters. I still cherish the day when, after a tournament in Hungary, I and some chess friends were invited by the Polgár family to their apartment in Budapest.

At that time, a beautiful picture was made with the then 7-year-old Judit (and her sisters), which caused a stir since Judit had already shown at that age that she could play fantastic blindfold chess. The question was which of us dared to play a blindfold game against Judit. We assumed that one of us would play blindfold and Judit with a board. We had misunderstood te whole concept! The 7-year-old girl would play blindfold in any case!

After some discussion, I took up the gauntlet and indicated that I would also play blindfold. No sooner said than done: both of us on a chair with the backs against each other and a clock on a table next to us. The moves were translated from English to Hungarian and vice versa, and after each move the clock was pressed. After my 21st move, I suddenly heard some laughter and screeching coming from the other chair — I had blundered my queen.

After this debacle, we talked with László Polgár about the background of this remar­kable achievement. He then showed us a large wall on which he had mounted many small chessboards. On them, he could place various chess pieces that together formed a large number of checkmate problems. The sisters were allowed to solve these every week, and in this way they developed their fantastic tactical skills.

In this episode, I will show a few problems from the books that László later published. The mating patterns I have chosen are, of course, related to the fantastic game Judit later won against none other than Alexei Shirov. The diagram position is the apotheosis of her creative concept. With what brilliant idea does she succeed in overthrowing her feared opponent? Black to move.


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