, Muskogee, OK


July 25, 2013

Pick up on the lesson of lift

— In science, “lift” refers to an upward force acting on an object. Airplanes and hot air balloons, for example, rely on lift.

Chess pieces may also rely on lift, which gives rise to an important chess maneuver. With this hint in mind, please try to find white’s best move and plan.

White’s forces are closing in on black’s king-side. The white queen and light-squared bishop on d3 eye black’s king like mad scientists. In addition, white’s rook on f1 targets f7. But the rook can do more.

White’s best move is to lift its rook to f3 so that it may slide over to h3. From there, the white queen and rook will burst through black’s king-side on the “h” file. Only one move by black prevents white from immediately bursting through, namely retreating the knight on g6 to f8. This allows the knight to guard h7, but its retreat exposes black’s f7 pawn to white’s queen, capturing it with check.

The black king flees to h8. White’s queen runs back to h5. This threatens mate because white’s rook is poised to capture the knight and remove black’s sole defender of h7. Black is forced to move its g7 pawn to g6 to block white’s light-squared bishop on d3.

White’s d3 bishop takes the pawn, and if it is captured by black’s f8 knight, white’s rook slides to f7. The knight retreats back to f8 to stop the white queen and rook from mating on h7. The white queen then steps over to h6, and mate on g7 is inevitable.

Once the rook is lifted, black cannot defend against white moving its rook to h3, other than by retreating its knight to f8. In short, once the rook is lifted and the plan is in play, black is helpless.

The lesson this week is that physics is part of chess. Understanding this will give your game a lift.

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