Saturday, April 20, 2013

Whoops, there goes the Queen :(

When you teach primary school kids chess, you realise that there are successes in a chess game other than checkmate. I'm convinced that most under 10's get more of a buzz from capturing a queen, or promoting a pawn, than they do from checkmate. Partly, I guess, this is because the queen has a large material value and, as Madonna said, we're living in the material world. Also, capturing the queen is an obvious coup, when for some of these kids, checkmate is not obvious, even when they have played it. In fact, checkmate can sometimes be an anti-climax as it can sometimes take a while to sink in that they actually have delivered checkmate!

Anyway, it always keeps kids entertained when you ask them questions about trapping queens. Here's the few I showed today.

 Black here played the unfortunate 1..Nc7?? White won himself a queen with 2.Na4 Qa5+ 3.Bd2

 Again a blunder from black. I asked my kids how black should get out of check. Of course, they all saw that they had to move their king and the king could take the knight right in front of it for free! But 1..Kxe6 costs black a queen after either 2.Nb6+, or even better 2.Nf6+.

And finally a classic. This is Fischer-Reshevsky USA ch 1958. Reshevsky had just blundered, dropping his knight back to e8 when he should have exchanged the Na5 for white's light squared bishop on b3 Perhaps the experienced Reshevsky wasn't taking his young opponent totally seriously, as he allowed the spectacular 1.Bxf7+!! and every line sees the black queen in trouble:

1..Kh8 2.Ne6! winning the queen
1..Rxf7 2.Ne6! winning the queen
1..Kxf7 (played by Reshevsky) 2.Ne6! wins the queen as 2..Kxe6 3.Qd5+ leads to mate 3..Kf5 4.g4! Kxg4 5.Rg1+ Kh4 6.Qe4+ Kh3 7.Qg2+ Kh4 8.Qg4# Reshevsky played 2..dxe6, lost his queen and later the game. How good was Fischer?! He was only 15 years old when he beat USA no 1 in this game!

The moral to the story is always keep an eye out for your opponent's queen especially if it has few squares left to go to!

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