World Cup tactics

by Albert Silver
9/27/2015 – Starting with 128 players and hundreds of games, there has been a lot of great fighting chess with spectacular wins, catastrophic finishes, and naturally missed chances. Here is a preliminary selection of moments from the games, some easy, some hard, moves to find, avoid, and save. Can you do as well as these elite players? How many you can solve?

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Position 1

A few easy ones to warm up. White to play and win.

Position 2

Kramnik was always a step ahead of the talented Peruvian WGM Deysi Cori.
Black to play and win.

Position 3

White refused to go down without a fight and is trying to create threats
against Grischuk's position, but missed something. Black to play and win.

Position 4

The Romanian grandmaster thought he had caught his opponent unawares
and played 20.Re5? What did he miss?

Position 5

Black has captured on d4. Should White take with the pawn or the queen?
White to play and win.

Position 6

White played 40. Bc4 hoping to liquidate into an endgame where he is at
worst no worse. What did he miss? Black to play and win. This will require
some precise calculation, even if not too hard. See how well you manage.

Position 7

Aronian is up a piece but down four pawns. He fixes this glitch with his next
move. White to play and win.

Position 8

French GM Vachier-Lagrave took control here. White to play and win.

Position 9

By all appearances, it looks grim for White. Michael Adams is attacking the
rook on f2, the pawn on a2, and will have some nasty discovered checks
after the rook moves. Mariya Muzychuk found a fine resource to save the
game though. White to play and draw.

Position 10

Granda-Zuniga is clearly better with White, but the position still needs to
be converted. How did he continue? White to play and win.

Position 11

Even grandmasters sometimes forget the most basic tenet of opening play:
develop your pieces. They are also punished for it. White to play and win.

Position 12

White played 17.Nxd7 and Black replied automatically with 17...Qxd7. What
did he miss, and what should Black have played instead?

Position 13

After 24...Nh3+, White decided he did not want to give up his bishop pair just
yet, so he played 25. Kf1. This carelessness cost him dearly. Black to play and win.

Position 14

Black had a stylish continuation here. Black to play and win.

Position 15

Yes, the key move 24.Nf6+ is obvious, so yes, no points for saying "Gee... Nf6+!"
No, the question is how does White continue after the forced 24...Kh8?

Position 16

This is the most spectacular position of the series in this author's opinion,
missed by White, but quite understandably. White has a forced winning
continuation here. Can you find it?

Solutions:

[Event "FIDE World Cup 2015"] [Site "Baku AZE"] [Date "2015.09.13"] [Round "1.3"] [White "Position 1"] [Black "Bruzon - Vidit"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A33"] [Annotator "AS"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2r5/5p2/p1r1p2p/4k1p1/2p1Pn2/4NP1P/PP1R2P1/1R3K2 w - - 0 39"] [PlyCount "1"] [EventDate "2015.09.11"] 39. Ng4# 1-0 [Event "FIDE World Cup 2015"] [Site "Baku AZE"] [Date "2015.09.11"] [Round "1.1"] [White "Position 2"] [Black "Cori T. - Kramnik"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D37"] [Annotator "AS"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "5rk1/5p2/p4Qp1/1p4B1/4q1r1/8/PP3P1P/K2R4 b - - 0 31"] [PlyCount "3"] [EventDate "2015.09.11"] 31... Qd5 {attacking both Bg5 and the rook on d1. If} 32. Rxd5 Rg1+ {is mate.} 0-1 [Event "FIDE World Cup 2015"] [Site "Baku AZE"] [Date "2015.09.13"] [Round "1.4"] [White "Position 3"] [Black ""Atabayev - Grischuk"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C44"] [Annotator "AS"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r7/bp1q1ppk/p1p3np/8/PP1P2RP/1Q2N1P1/1B3P2/6K1 b - - 0 26"] [PlyCount "1"] [EventDate "2015.09.11"] 26... f5 $1 {and the rook has nowhere to go.} 0-1 [Event "FIDE World Cup 2015"] [Site "Baku AZE"] [Date "2015.09.13"] [Round "1.6"] [White "Position 4"] [Black "Lupulescu - Lysyj"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E21"] [Annotator "AS"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r3r1k1/pb3pp1/2nnp2p/1p1q4/1PpP3B/P3RN2/2Q1BPPP/3R2K1 w - - 0 20"] [PlyCount "6"] [EventDate "2015.09.11"] 20. Re5 $2 $19 Nxe5 21. dxe5 {White thought he would win back his material with interest but after the zwischenzug} Qe4 $1 {Black takes back} 22. Qxe4 { with} Nxe4 {and instead White is just lost.} 0-1 [Event "FIDE World Cup 2015"] [Site "Baku AZE"] [Date "2015.09.13"] [Round "1.4"] [White "Position 5"] [Black "Lu - Moiseenko"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B30"] [Annotator "AS"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r5k1/1bq2ppp/1p6/1B6/PQ1p4/2P5/5PPP/4R1K1 w - - 0 26"] [PlyCount "9"] [EventDate "2015.09.11"] {The answer to the quiz is neither. White should ignore the pawn and play} 26. Re7 $1 Qxc3 ({Forced since} 26... Qc8 {loses the queen with} 27. Re8+) 27. Qxc3 dxc3 28. Rxb7 Rc8 29. Bd3 g5 {freeing up the back rank.} (29... c2 $2 { just loses the pawn since} 30. Bxc2 Rxc2 {runs into} 31. Rb8+) 30. Bc2 1-0 [Event "FIDE World Cup 2015"] [Site "Baku AZE"] [Date "2015.09.11"] [Round "1.1"] [White "Position 6"] [Black "Khismatullin - Areshchenko"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D70"] [Annotator "AS"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/8/4b1p1/r3k2p/2B1P3/8/P1R3P1/K7 b - - 0 40"] [PlyCount "21"] [EventDate "2015.09.11"] 40... Rc5 $1 {This forced liquidation leads to an easily won bishop endgame.} 41. Bb3 $2 $19 Rxc2 42. Bxc2 g5 (42... Kf4 {is too slow and not only throws away the win, but can even lose if Black is careless.} 43. a4 h4 44. a5 Bc8 45. Kb2 g5 (45... Kg3 $2 {the wrong idea and can cost Black the game.} 46. Kc3 Kxg2 $2 (46... Bb7) 47. e5 h3 (47... Kf3 48. Kd4) 48. Be4+) 46. Bd3 g4 47. a6 h3 48. a7 Bb7 49. gxh3 gxh3 50. Bf1 h2 51. Bg2 Kg3 52. Bh1 Kf2 53. Kc3 Kg1 54. Bf3 Kf2 55. Bh1 {draw.}) 43. a4 h4 {and Black's pawn decides it.} 44. a5 Bc4 45. Kb2 g4 46. Bd1 h3 47. gxh3 gxh3 48. Bf3 Bf1 49. Bg4 h2 50. Bf3 Bd3 0-1 [Event "FIDE World Cup 2015"] [Site "Baku AZE"] [Date "2015.09.11"] [Round "1.1"] [White "Position 7"] [Black "Aronian - Wiedenkeller"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A18"] [Annotator "AS"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "5q1k/p3rpp1/1pp4p/3pr3/6QP/P7/KP3R2/1B4R1 w - - 0 34"] [PlyCount "3"] [EventDate "2015.09.11"] 34. Qg6 $1 {Threatens mate, therefore} Qg8 {is the only defense.} (34... fxg6 { leads to another mate, and was the key behind Qg6.} 35. Rxf8+ Kh7 36. Bxg6#) 35. Qxc6 {and with the black pawns falling like ripe apples, the compensation for the piece disappears.} 1-0 [Event "FIDE World Cup 2015"] [Site "Baku AZE"] [Date "2015.09.11"] [Round "1.1"] [White "Position 8"] [Black "Vachier-Lagrave - Ortiz Suarez"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B90"] [Annotator "AS"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2b2rk1/2q2p1p/Rb1p2p1/1P1Bp3/2P1P3/4N2P/3Q1PP1/6K1 w - - 0 29"] [PlyCount "9"] [EventDate "2015.09.11"] 29. Bxf7+ $1 Rxf7 30. Nd5 {winning back the piece plus the pawn gained.} Qxc4 31. Rxb6 Qxe4 (31... Bb7 32. Rxd6 Qxb5 33. Nf6+ $1 Kg7 34. Nh5+ Kg8 35. Rd8+ Rf8 36. Qh6 {with mate to follow}) 32. Rb8 Qc4 (32... Rf8 $2 33. Rxc8 Rxc8 34. Nf6+) 33. Nb6 1-0 [Event "FIDE World Cup 2015"] [Site "Baku AZE"] [Date "2015.09.12"] [Round "1.2"] [White "Position 9"] [Black "Muzychuk M. - Adams"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A20"] [Annotator "AS"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/5pp1/7k/5P2/3P3P/B3p3/P1r1bRKP/8 w - - 0 44"] [PlyCount "17"] [EventDate "2015.09.11"] 44. Bc1 $3 {Pinning the e3 pawn.} Bf3+ {The only move to keep the exchange, but it is not enough to keep an edge.} (44... Rxc1 45. Rxe2 Rd1 46. Rxe3 Rxd4 { is a draw also.}) 45. Kxf3 Rxf2+ 46. Ke4 Kh5 (46... Rd2 47. Kf3 Rxa2 48. Bxe3+ Kh7 49. d5 $11) 47. Bxe3 Rxa2 48. d5 {The d-pawn is key and allows White to hold.} Ra8 (48... Rxh2 49. d6 Rxh4+ 50. Ke5 Kg4 51. d7 Rh8 52. Bb6 Kg5 53. d8=Q+ Rxd8 54. Bxd8+ Kh5 $11 (54... f6+ $4 55. Bxf6+ gxf6+ 56. Ke6)) 49. d6 Re8+ 50. Kf4 Rd8 51. Ke5 Re8+ 52. Kf4 $11 1/2-1/2 [Event "FIDE World Cup 2015"] [Site "Baku AZE"] [Date "2015.09.12"] [Round "1.2"] [White "Position 10"] [Black "Granda Zuniga - Fier"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A29"] [Annotator "AS"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "4r1k1/3R1p2/5B2/1p4KP/8/n1P5/8/8 w - - 0 58"] [PlyCount "9"] [EventDate "2015.09.11"] 58. Kh6 Kf8 $2 {was played in the game and accelerates the loss but there was no defense anyhow.} (58... Nc4 59. Rd5 Kf8 60. Kh7 Re6 61. Bg7+ Ke7 62. Rxb5 Rc6 63. h6) 59. Kh7 {With the straightforward Bg7 mate} Re6 (59... Rc8 60. Rd5 Ke8 {Black needs to defend itself against Rg5-Rg8 mate} 61. Kg7 {and there is no defense against h6-h7-h8:Q.}) 60. Rd8+ Re8 61. Rxe8+ Kxe8 62. Kg8 1-0 [Event "FIDE World Cup 2015"] [Site "Baku AZE"] [Date "2015.09.13"] [Round "1.6"] [White "Position 11"] [Black "Safarli - Balogh"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C67"] [Annotator "AS"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r1bqkb1r/p1pp1ppp/3n4/np2N3/3Pp3/1B6/PPP2PPP/RNBQ1RK1 w kq - 0 9"] [PlyCount "9"] [EventDate "2015.09.11"] 9. Bxf7+ $1 Nxf7 10. Nxf7 Kxf7 11. Qh5+ g6 ({It is essential to calculate} 11... Ke6 12. Qe5+ ({The engines propose} 12. d5+ {as best, since it ultimately wins the queen for the bishop after} Kd6 13. Bf4+ Kc5 14. Be3+ Kd6 15. b4 Nb7 (15... Nc4 16. Bc5#) 16. Bf4+ Ke7 17. Bg5+ {but either are good enough.}) 12... Kf7 13. Qd5+ {wins the rook as in the main line.}) 12. Qd5+ Kg7 13. Qxa8 1-0 [Event "FIDE World Cup 2015"] [Site "Baku AZE"] [Date "2015.09.11"] [Round "1.1"] [White "Position 12"] [Black "Mamedyarov - Idani"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D05"] [Annotator "AS"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r4rk1/pb1nq1pp/1p1b4/2p1N3/3Pp3/1P2P3/PBQ2PPP/2RR2K1 w - - 0 17"] [PlyCount "7"] [EventDate "2015.09.11"] {White just played} 17. Nxd7 {to which Black recaptured almost automatically. But it is a mistake that compromises his position for good.} Qxd7 $2 $18 ({ Instead he had to play} 17... cxd4 $1 {giving up the exchange} 18. Nxf8 {but gaining a very powerful passed pawn that gives him compensation.} d3 $1 19. Qc4+ Kxf8 {and Black still lives.}) 18. dxc5 Bxh2+ (18... bxc5 19. Be5 Rf6 20. Bxf6 gxf6 21. Qxc5) 19. Kxh2 Qe7 20. Kg1 {and White is up a pawn with the better position to boot.} 1-0 [Event "FIDE World Cup 2015"] [Site "Baku AZE"] [Date "2015.09.13"] [Round "1.4"] [White "Position 13"] [Black "Bukavshin - Zhigalko"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A17"] [Annotator "AS"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "4r1k1/2qb1ppp/rpp2n2/4p3/P1P4P/1NB3Pn/1Q2PPB1/R3R1K1 w - - 0 25"] [PlyCount "6"] [EventDate "2015.09.11"] 25. Kf1 $2 $19 ({White did not want to give up his bishop pair with} 25. Bxh3 Bxh3 26. a5 {which would just lead to equality.}) {He missed} 25... Nxf2 26. Kxf2 Ng4+ 27. Kg1 e4 {aiming the queen at the helpless g3 pawn and a powerful attack.} 0-1 [Event "FIDE World Cup 2015"] [Site "Baku AZE"] [Date "2015.09.12"] [Round "1.2"] [White "Position 14"] [Black "Adu - Topalov"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A07"] [Annotator "AS"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "1r4k1/3q2b1/6np/2pbpppQ/p2p4/P2P1PP1/1PPN1K2/R1B1R3 b - - 0 31"] [PlyCount "11"] [EventDate "2015.09.11"] {The spectacular} 31... Nh4 $1 {is more than just for show. White's queen is in danger of being captured with Bf7.} 32. f4 {to open a path of escape for the queen.} (32. gxh4 Bf7 $1) 32... Ng2 33. Rg1 Ne3 34. fxg5 Ng4+ 35. Ke1 Qe6 { with evil intentions since after} 36. gxh6 e4 $1 {is crushing.} 0-1 [Event "FIDE World Cup 2015"] [Site "Baku AZE"] [Date "2015.09.13"] [Round "1.3"] [White "Position 15"] [Black "Zhigalko - Bukavshin"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B85"] [Annotator "AS"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "3rnrk1/4qppp/p3p3/1p2P3/6N1/P4RQ1/1PP3PP/4R2K w - - 0 24"] [PlyCount "19"] [EventDate "2015.09.11"] 24. Nf6+ $1 {Classic, but the key line to work out is if Black declines taking it with hara-kiri.} Kh8 (24... Nxf6 25. exf6) 25. Qh4 h6 (25... gxf6 26. Rh3 $1 ) 26. Qe4 {Threatening mate on h7.} Nxf6 27. exf6 Qd6 28. Rd3 Qc7 29. fxg7+ Kxg7 30. Rg3+ Kh8 31. Qh4 f6 32. Rg6 Rf7 33. Rxh6+ {and Black is on the run.} 1-0 [Event "FIDE World Cup 2015"] [Site "Baku AZE"] [Date "2015.09.11"] [Round "1.1"] [White "Position 16"] [Black "Bruzon Batista - Vidit"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E60"] [Annotator "AS"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "4k3/2p2r1p/1p1p2rP/pPqN1pP1/2PRnP2/8/PQ4RK/8 w - - 0 42"] [PlyCount "15"] [EventDate "2015.09.11"] {The winning shot is the extraordinary} 42. a3 $3 $18 {The idea is not some form of zugzwang but the capture of the queen! Black is more or less stuck waiting, so after} Re6 {White now plays} 43. Nb4 $3 {bringing the knight to the attack with deadly force.} d5 ({Now if} 43... axb4 $2 44. axb4 {the queen has nowhere to go!}) 44. Nc6 Rxc6 45. Rxd5 $1 Qxc4 {Black is out of options.} ( 45... Qe7 46. bxc6 {and it is clearly over.}) 46. Qh8+ Rf8 47. Qe5+ Kf7 48. Qg7+ Ke6 49. Qd7# 1-0

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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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Bertman Bertman 9/28/2015 01:49
Sneaky or trick question, the point is much along the lines of Position 12: beware of 'automatic' replies. In any case, it should not take long to realize that there is nothing particularly winning about either, and that should make you suspicious.
Phillidor Phillidor 9/28/2015 12:45
I was also a bit annoyed after giving up on 5th question and seeing the solution is neither A nor B, but on the other hand one can be (kind of) proud of himself at least for not choosing any of them. ;)
ChessUser21 ChessUser21 9/27/2015 08:25
Position 5 - What kind of question is that if the answer is not among the choices? Tsk Tsk Tsk
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