, Muskogee, OK

September 12, 2013

Forks prove to be handy for any player

By Eric Morrow
Chess Corner

— St. Louis is the host city of the most prestigious U.S. chess tournament in decades. The four-player tournament pits the world’s top two rated players (Magnus Carlsen and Levon Aronian) and the top two U.S. players (Hikaru Nakamura and Gata Kamsky). The weeklong tournament ends Sunday.   

This week’s position is Nakamura’s game against Aronian. Nakamura is white; Aronian, black. Nakamura wins the exchange – that is, he wins a rook for knight, which is decisive at this level. With this hint in mind, please try to find white’s winning combination.

Nakamura first simplified the position and traded queens on b5. The removal of the black queen, which protected d7, allowed Nakamura to move his knight to d7 with the support of his rook on d1.

The white knight threatens black’s rook on f8. The black rook has only one other square available to it, namely e8.

However, if the black rook flees to e8, the white knight hops to f6, checking black and forking the black king and rook on e8.  

Aronian opted instead to accept the exchange loss and immediately trade the rook on d8 for the knight.   

From there, it was only a matter of moves before Nakamura won.  

The lesson here is that even the best players in the world eat with their fork.