Puzzle of the Week #016, & Bonus Match Report!

Admittedly, it has been slightly longer than a week since our last round, but who’s counting!

Without further ado – our congratulations goes to Jim “Loco” Stevenson with the first correct answer in our last Puzzle. It was a lovely little thinker, with the solution as follows:

1… Nc5+
2. dxc5, O-O-O+ (leaving the Black King primed to take white’s Rook on next move)

Our master-quiz-setter Carsten noted, “It was really just an excuse to plug the Dutch author Tim Krabbe’s fantastic chess page. Forged the dated labour and lack of presentation, the content is probably the best of any chess site on the net.

Go to https://timkr.home.xs4all.nl/chess/chess.html and be amazed, and if you don’t then you lack a chess soul!”

While Carsten & Co. concoct some more fiendish puzzles, we bring you a writeup by our Correspondent of the Year 2018 of last week’s London Div 5 game. Enjoy!

11.04.18 – London Division 5: Hammersmith v Lewisham

Welcome to Charlie Sturt, who debuts this season for our Division 5 team, but has already campaigned in other leagues.

This match started off with our small team being in the middle third of the league. Comes to the penultimate match of the season and we’re in the bottom quarter. So it is with much relief that I can report a great win, almost a slam dunk, with a 3-1 score over Lewisham. Read on for the unexpectedly good news.

Our opponents, losing the toss, meant we were White on odd boards. I was preoccupied with my game and so saw little of anyone else’s game, so their commentary has been included here.

Chris (as Black) on board two, adopted something akin to the French Defence (Exchange Variation). After skirmishing on the queenside, Chris craftily prevented his opponent from castling, using his bishop. White tried to shield his king with a bishop on e2, but Black piled on the pressure on that square. While White mustered every piece he could in its defence, it was to no avail and Black delivered checkmate finally, slipping queen and bishop through the hapless defenders. First blood to Hammersmith and congrats to Chris! 1-0

On board one, Nadhmi (as White) was up against a seasoned veteran looking for revenge after a previous defeat, and things looked very tough for Nadhmi in this game. Early on Black sacrificed a bishop for a pawn to attack White’s castled king. Black then forked White’s king and a rook with a knight. White however persevered and, fortifying his centre, was able to get counterplea against Black, who had not castled. Nadhmi started swapping of pieces and pawns. The end was inevitable, with king, knight and pawn against a king alone. Black resigned after the pawn was queened. 2-0 to Hammersmith.

Charlie, on board four, played very cautiously against a seasoned opponent. Charlie, employing quiet positional strategy, built up considerable advantage. His opponent had no chance and eventually succumbed. Hammersmith 3-0

A smiling Charlie, while Chris watches on, with Nadhmi and Robin both deep in thought

On board three, the captain looked like he was getting into trouble after fumbling against an obscure defence, 1.e4 d6, known as the Pirc. But as the middle game progressed, he was having a slight advantage, since he had a strong knight at d5, and Black had issues with king safety. White sacrificed a bishop for two pawns and White was doing fine, albeit 20 minutes down on the clock.

The first deadline came and went, with about even clock times. All queens and rooks were present, but Black had two stymied bishops facing a mere knight. White continued blocking Black attempts to free his pieces. Finally, after White lost a pawn by mistake in the centre, Black started to push the e and f-pawns to the 5th.

White was strategically lost. In the dying last two minutes, Black suddenly sacked his queen for the c3 pawn, protected by White’s queen, but the White queen was guarding the back row square b1 against checkmate, so couldn’t take the Black queen. White found a rook check, instead – but White, realising his mistake, reflected on the correct check. Yes, the sacrificial Black queen on c3 could in fact be taken (QxQ+!), with check on h7, and Black would have lost.

White was so chagrined, he’d had enough, and the flag on his clock cruelly dropped. So much for strategy, blunders quickly settled it!

Final score: Hammer 3 – 1 Lewisham

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