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Features

April 26, 2012

Watch who’s watching — black to move and win

— In this week’s position black removes a key defender of white’s position so as to threaten mate and secure a winning position. With this hint in mind please try to find black’s move.

White’s knight guards e2 and prevents black’s knight from checking from that square. Otherwise, this check would force white’s king to retreat to h1. Black’s queen then sacrifices herself on f1, which is taken by white’s a1 rook. Black’s f8 rook takes white’s rook on f1, mating white.

Black thus eliminates white’s pesky knight with its c8 rook. If white captures black’s rook with its b2 pawn, black mates white beginning with the knight check from e2 followed by the queen sacrifice etc.

Because white cannot accept the exchange sacrifice of a knight for a rook, white’s two best options are to check white with queen to h7 (Qh7+) or take black’s knight with the g4 rook (Rxd4). Both lines lead to mass simplification.

After Qh7+, black’s queen takes white’s queen, which is in turn taken by white’s knight. Black’s king takes white’s knight and white freely captures black’s rook on c3. Black’s knight then checks white, forking white’s c3 pawn and king. This wins the pawn and game for white.

Instead of Qh7+, Rxd4 is followed by black’s bishop taking the rook with check. White’s queen snatches the bishop and black’s rook on c3 escapes, moving to d3, for example.

Black’s rook pair and extra pawns should win easily. However, this is white’s best line against black’s exchange sacrifice on c3, because it leaves the queens on the board and creates the most complications.

The lesson here is to watch who’s watching the key squares.

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