, Muskogee, OK

February 14, 2013

If you come to a road, look for the fork

By Eric Morrow
Chess Corner

— “When you come to a fork in the road,” advises Yogi Berra, “take it.” With this hint in mind please try to find black’s best move.

White’s queen pins black’s knight. Because of this pin, white’s g4 pawn threatens to move to g5, winning black’s knight.

Black, however, creates a more ominous threat by capturing white’s b2 pawn with its c3 pawn. Black’s new pawn on b2 threatens to captures white’s a1 rook and promote to a queen. White’s c1 bishop therefore captures black’s b2 pawn.

Black now uncorks the point of the pawn capture on b2 and slides its queen to b4, checking white and attacking white’s bishop on b2. White retreats the king to f1 (best), followed by the black’s queen capture of the white b2 bishop.

The black queen threatens white’s a1 rook. This is an immediate threat, as opposed to white’s threat to black’s f6 knight. White’s best reply is to lift its king to g2, connecting the rooks. Black cannot fully protect its f6 knight, but the time it costs white to exploit this allows black to create a dominating position.

The lesson this week is that if you come to a road, look for the fork.