Neikirch-Botvinnik (1960): 1 . . . Q-Ql! 2 QxPch (and after 2 Q-Q2 QxQ 3 BxQ R-Q1 4 B-K3 R-Q8ch 5 B-Nl R-Q7, Black wins easily) 2 . . . R-B2 3 Q-Kl R-K2! and White resigns.

"The final position," wrote Botvinnik about this game, "is interesting in that, although the Black and White pieces are placed along the edge of the board, Black's pieces have such long-range effectiveness that there is no defense. From a composer's artistic point of view, it would have been nice to have had the Black Bishop on QR1."

A Pawn's Field Marshal Baton

During a game there often arise positions where it is not easy to detect a weakness on the back rank. However, upon careful analysis, one can manage to find signs of an attack behind enemy lines.

In Gutmayer—Svidersky (1928), after 1 R-Bl! Black immediately had a dangerous position. Seizing the QB file also threatens the back rank, inasmuch as the defending Rook is tied to its KB2.

The incorrect I . . . QxKP (correct: 1 . . . Q-Q6) allowed White to decide matters with the simple combination 2 QxPch RxQ 3 R-B8ch R-Bl 4 R/8xR mate. Black also loses on 1 . . . Q-R4: 2 R-B8 R/Q-Ql 3 P-K6! RxR 4 PxPch K-Rl 5 QxR RxQ 6 P-B8/Qch RxQ 7 RxR mate.

In the last variation we are exposed to yet another tactical method of taking advantage of the weakness on the back rank, the promotion of a pawn. At the moment the pawn is rewarded with its "Field Marshal Baton" it perishes like d'Artagnan on the field of battle, but it fulfilled its duty to the very end.

One of the techniques of getting the pawn to its queening square is illustrated by Nedjelkovic-Siladi (1957).

I . . . NxB! (this exchange allows the QB file to be opened) 2 PxN P-B7ch! 3 K-R1 R-B8! and White resigns. Simple? Quite. However, in a similar situation in 1959, the future grandmaster Gurge-nidze (White) missed an analogous possibility against future world champion Boris Spassky.

After the obvious 1 R-B8 RxR the game was concluded by the far from obvious 2 Q-K7!

White played 1 PxP? and after I . . . RxR 2 RxR KxP the game was quickly drawn. Nevertheless, as we have seen, 1 P-B7ch! would have won immediately: 1 . . . K-Rl 2 Q-Q8!, the only difference being that it is the Queen which exchanges off the Rook.

Alekhin had a splendid diversionary Queen sacrifice in a game against an amateur in 1939.

After the obvious 1 R-B8 RxR the game was concluded by the far from obvious 2 Q-K7!

Geller (White) in a game with Ivkov ( 1973 ) had a good position when he decided to play à la Alekhin, 1 P-Q7!, forcing his opponent's immediate resignation.

Very often a pawn will participate in the attack against the castled enemy King's position. By advancing to the sixth rank, it acts as a wedge in the

King's pawn cover, sealing up any Luft. In the following examples, the final moves have been made in a pattern with which we are already familiar.

Diversion, of course, is one of the tactical methods of taking advantage of a weak back rank, and here it forms one of the basic operational elements.

Opochensky-AIekhin (1925): 1 . . . R-Kl! 2 Q-Ql QxNch! and White resigns.

The pawn on R6, as we have already seen, creates additional combinational possibilities, inasmuch as it serves as a secure strong point for the attacking pieces.

Thus, in Terpugov-Kan (1951), White was able to utilize this circumstance with 1 Q-B6! The threat of mate on N7 forced Black to take the Queen, 1 . . . QxQ. But then he was subject to a second mate, 2 RxR mate. (In the game White avoided this possibility, but nevertheless, after

1 N-R5 K-Bl 2 N-B6 RxR 3 NxPch K-Kl 4 N-B6ch K-K2 5 N-Q5dbl ch K-Q2 6 QxQch KxQ 7 NxR, White won, since the pawn on R6 went on unimpeded to queen.)

Making use of a strong point to supplement the threats against an enemy King has occurred in many diverse situations.

tm mwM&m i rnnmm

The Knight sacrifice, 1 N-B6ch PxN 2 PxP, in Leven-fish-Riumin (1936) would have led to immediate victory, inasmuch as the threat

3 Q-N3ch could only be parried by moving the Queen to B7, K5 or N5. However, disaster could also strike from the other side; 3 QxRch! KxQ

4 R-Q8 mate. (1 N-N3? was played in the actual game.)

Here we see another tactical element, forcing a piece (in this instance the King) to an unfavorable square. This is the technique that was employed by Alekhin against Reshevsky (1937).

2 RxNch KxR 2 QxRch! Black resigns, as after 2 . . . PxQ 3 R-B8ch, Black is mated.

In Mikenas-Aronin (1957) the White Queen was pinned along the diagonal by its Black counterpart; after 1 .. . R-Ql! it is pinned along the file. White resigns.

Everyone Has His problems

A double piece diversion from critical squares concluded one of Duras' games in a simultaneous exhibition (1910).


In a number of tactical situations where one side tries to take advantage of a weak last rank, we see a "double pin"; this occurs not infrequently in tournament practice.

Now, with the opponent's King tucked in the corner, the last rank must be seized. This is done by diverting the Rook from the King file and the Queen from its defense of the rear.

3 B-B3ch! RxB 4 Q-K4ch! Black resigns.

Signal the Assembly!

Often a combinational motif is concerned with cramping the enemy King's position. Ways in which an opponent's pieces can be lured into blockading are illustrated by Stamma's position (1734).

1 R-N2ch K-Bl 2 N-Q7ch! RxN 3 R-K8ch! KxR 4 R-N8 mate.

In Keres-Petrosyan (1959), the White King is severely cramped, which allows Black to prepare the final offensive with a series of forced maneuvers.

The pawn wedge on N6 has been established, greatly cramping White, and Petros-yan begins to swing the major pieces into the KR file, creating a concrete threat with each move.

The White King is driven among its own pieces; the time is ripe for the decisive blow.

But He Meant Well!?

When pieces turn out to be counterproductive for their King, crowding around and limiting its mobility, a Rook in conjunction with a pawn is able to create different mating patterns. The most typical are the following.

In 1750 the famous Italian chessplayer Ercole del Rio discovered a splendid mating picture, represented in the following position:

B1 (now White must react energetically, since mate on R6 is threatened) 3 QxRPch! KxQ 4 R-Rl mate.

The combination is possible thanks to the blockading of the enemy King. This motif has been encountered in modern practice.

In Capablanca-Raubicek (1908), White must not continue with 1 R-QR5, since Black can get a perpetual check (from KB5, KB7 and KB8). Capablanca finds a forced solution, drawing from del Rio's position.

1 RxPch! QxR and now 2 R-QR5!, with the inevitable finale 2 ... QxQ 3 RxQ mate.

The World Champion's Patent

A typical way of reaching the desired final picture was shown by the first Women's World Champion, Vera Men-chik, in a game against the English champion D. Thomas (1932).

1 P-B6ch! (In this way White drives the enemy King back and has the possibility of occupying R6 with the Queen; impossible is 1 . . . KxP because of 2 Q-N5 mate.) 1 .. . K-Rl 2 Q-R6 R-KN1 3 PxP BPxP 4 QxPch! and Black resigns (4 . . . KxQ 5 R-Rlch).

Bronstein, who believes that everything has been known for a long time and one need only know and remember, fully copied the first Women's World Champion combination in a game against Keres.

4 R-B4 was possible, as later in the game, but Bronstein is not averse to some "cat-and-mouse" playing, since his opponent is in no position to counter his threats) 4 ... QxB

5 R-B4 Q-B7 6 Q-R6 and Black resigns (6 . . . R-KN1 7 QxPch).

Disrespectful Pawns

The combined strength of Rook and pawn was shown by Kotov (Black) in a decisive attack against Stoltz (1952).







N3 Q-B6ch 3 B-N2 P-B8/ Qch) 2 .. . Q-B6! and White resigns (3 QxPch K-Rl).

In the next position (1896) White achieved a maximum blockade of the King and, by eliminating a piece that was defending a critical square, created a pretty mating picture.

The King in a Mousetrap

A Rook, supported by pawns, can create mating possibilities in the middle of the board. Here are some instructive examples.

In Goldenov-Zakharian (1960) the White King found himself in a crowded KB corridor, made so by pawns of both sides. The second rank is off limits because of the threat of P-N8/Qdis ch. The Black Rook now executes a neat maneuver based on these considerations.

I... P-N5ch 2 K-B4 R-R4I (threatening 3 . . . P-N4 mate) 3 P-K5 R-R5ch! 4 P-K4 R-R6 and White resigns. Mate on B6 can only be avoided at the cost of the Rook.

In reply to the incorrect I R-Ql? (Gligoric-Commons, 1972), Black returned the favor, 1 . . . K-N2? Nevertheless, the Yugoslav grandmaster's security could have been up set if Black had found the splendid combination based on the exposed position of the White King: 1 ... N-K4ch! 2 BxN RxR 3 BxR P-K4 and the trap had been sprung (4 .. . R-Q5 mate).

The Black King found itself in an analogous situation in Fischer-Durao (1966), but the American grandmaster did not miss his chance.

1 P-N4! and Black resigns, since there are no satisfactory defenses to the threats of 2 K-K3 and 3 R-B5 mate (1 . .. PxPep 2 K-Q3 RxP 3 P-B4ch).

The mating ideas in Went-zel-Gronau (1975) dealt with the queening of the pawn on QR7.

and 3. .. P-K5ch 4 K-N3 does not help) 3 . . . PxP 4 PxP R-R6ch 5 R-K3 (thus forcing the exchange of Rooks, allowing the QRP to queen) 5 . . . RxRch 6 KxR, Black resigns.

Solve It Yourself

Maric-Gligoric (1964)

Maric-Gligoric (1964)

Black's Move

Exchange Rooks (1 . . . QxR 2 QxR)? Take the QRP? Perhaps ...

(threatening 3 R-B7 mate) 2 .. . P-K4 3 R-K7! (now a different mate looms—4 RxP,

Larsenr-Ljuboevic (1975)

Black's Move

Incorrect is J . . . BxPch 2 KxB R-B7ch 3 K-Rl. Nevertheless ...

Herman-Walther (1926)

Black's Move Still just one choice ...

Black's Move Here, two possibilities. ..

S treck-Barasch (1912)

S treck-Barasch (1912)

White's Move A repeat—training for a mate.

Reshevsky-Fischer (1971) Guldin-Bagdatev (1963)

Black's Move

White's Move Ten seconds to solve.

Black's Move

1 . . . Q-KB5! (of course) 2 K-Nl? (Time pressure; correct is 2 Q-N5. ) And now . . .

White's Move Ten seconds to solve.

Keres-Levenfish (1947)

Teschner-Portisch (1969)

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White's Move 1 RxP is not good. Why?

White's Move

Keres never overlooked this kind of move.

10 12

Keres-Levenfish (1949) NN-Richter (1957)

Black's Move

White's Move

Two years later, the same opponent ...

Played in Rumania, 1964

Black's Move

When should a Luft be opened?

Kadiri-Pritchett (1972)

White's Move 1 RxN and White wins?

Black's Move A passed pawn is needed

Chigorinr-Levitsky <Lr Nenarokov (1899)

Black's Move

Possible, of course, is 1 .. . KR-K1, but there is a prettier and more decisive move . . .

Wintz-Videla (1955)

White s Move

Three checks until the curtain falls.

Stephenson-Blane (1962)

Stephenson-Blane (1962)

White's Move This one's for pool players!

NN-Lazarevich (1972)

NN-Lazarevich (1972)

Black's Move

The Bishop

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