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Features

January 9, 2014

Just one move can turn the tables

In 1066, the Normans conquered England in the Battle of Hastings. The turning point in the battle occurred when the Normans appeared to flee. This was a ruse that resulted in a Norman victory.

In this week’s position, black turns the tables by appearing to give up with a pseudo sacrifice. With this hint in mind, please try to find black’s winning move and attack.

White appears to be winning. Its queen appears dominant, as do its rook and central pawn mass. However, black turns the tables by moving its bishop to g4 (bg4).

Although the black bishop has moved into danger, black’s rook on a8 with the support of its knight attacks white’s queen. The white queen is trapped.

If white tries to minimize its material loss and trade the queen for black’s a8 rook, black’s bishop takes white’s f3 pawn with check. This forces white’s rook to block the check from g2.

Black’s g7 rook then takes white’s rook. This threatens mate, as the black rook moves from g2 to another square along the “g” file while the bishop targets white’s king. White must create a safe square for its king by moving its h2 pawn to h3 or h4. Black then snatches white’s queen, securing an overwhelming material advantage.

Because of this mating threat, white’s best reply to bg4 is to take the bishop. Black’s a8 rook next captures white’s queen. This gives black an extra rook, which is enough to hold white’s central pawn mass.

The lesson here is that you may be one move from victory when all appears lost. Kingdoms have been won and lost this way.

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