Brutal Chess Tactics


Table of Contents


Our series on chess tactics continues today with three intriguing positions from our new Chessable course on Brutal Chess Tactics, by Grandmaster Temur Kuybokarov and International Master Ortik Nigmatov.

There are three parts to the course: Eldorado, Brutality and GM Challenge, offering challenging material for players rated from 1600 to 2800.

Here are three positions to consider. We shall return to them towards the end of this post, but think about them first to see if you can fathom out the relevant tactics.

Brutal Chess Tactics: Sample One

Brutal Chess Tactics
White to Play

This is a variation from the game Harikrishna – Nepomniachtchi, Geneva 2017. A race of attacks is clearly in progress and Black’s significant threats down the a-file appear to be fatal. What should White do?

Brutal Chess Tactics: Sample Two

Trapping the QueenWhite to Play

One natural thought for White in this position would be to target the backward pawn on d6. Yet that factor does not come into the answer at all. What is White really after in this position – and how can it be achieved?

Brutal Chess Tactics: Sample Three

Brutal Chess TacticsGao – Zhou, Hefei 2011.

Black to Play

What is happening here? Black is rook ahead but White has plenty of threats. The passed pawns, which are extremely well supported, look all set to influence the outcome of the game. Who has the safer king? What should Black do now?

Answer One

As grim as this undoubtedly looks, White turns the tables in fabulous fashion, starting with 23.Na4!!

‘A killer move! White discards the unnecessary knight without wasting time and defends against the mate on a1.’ It still looks bad for White after 23…Qxa4, but there is another shock in store for Black. 24.Bxe6!!

The bishops defend the key squares, albeit temporarily. There is another point to the move too; the bishop is no longer blocking the h-file, and after 24…Nxe6, White has a standard checkmate pattern with 25.Rh8+! Kxh8 26.Qh2+ Kg8 27.Qh7 checkmate.

Answer Two

White is targeting the black queen, which looks active but has surprisingly few safe squares. The star move is 1.Rf5!!

Of course, the rook can be captured – but the point is that the black queen can longer move to e5 to escape White’s clutches. 1…Bxf5 2.h4!!

The queen is trapped. If 2…Qg6, then 3.Ne7+ is a typical knight fork. If instead 2…Qh5, then 3.Nf4 traps the queen on the side of the board. Aren’t knights wonderful pieces?

Answer Three

Black plays the remarkable move 1…Re8!!

‘An amazing resource! Black makes quick use of White’s weak back rank.’ Yes, White’s king turns out to be weaker than Black’s after all, as shown by the line 2.fxe8=Q Qxf1+ 3.Bxf1 d1=Q checkmate.

It seems whatever White tries, Black will always be much better once the smoke clears. In the game, White found nothing better than 2.Qc7+ Ka7 3.Rd1 Re1 4.Be2 Rxe2! and Black had a winning position.

Brutal Chess Tactics

Head for the Brutal Chess Tactics Chessable course if you would like to test and stretch your tactical skill even further.

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