Chess – a look at sharp tactics

Comments: 4

Firstly, I’ve an important announcement about the game festival. (If you don’t know about our game festival, please see here: LINK)


Let me clarify that our games will be reviewed meticulously and that only the top ten will be selected for voting. Moreover, I know that annotating a game properly, and at the BEST level, can take quite some time.

That’s why we’ve decided to extend the latest date for submitting your games until 28 April. So hurry up and get a chance to win amazing prizes! 🙂


Find more info. about the game festival here: LINK

Additionally, please tell us about how you’re preparing your games. Did you beat any strong players or titled players? 🙂 Feel free to comment below and tell us how you’re preparing for the festival.


Important as it is to have very well-developed positional understanding and excellent strategic skills in chess, every player must have sharp tactical skills as well. After all, chess tactics and strategy are the main weapons that one uses to win a game. 🙂

There is a famous chess quote that goes like the following:

Chess is 99% tactics”.

– Rudolph Teichmann


A lot of chess players seem to be aware of the tactical motives (like pin and knight fork). Still, they have a hard time applying that knowledge to their own games.

Therefore, I thought today that we could have a keen and closer look at the tactics. Let’s get started! 🙂


Kovacevic, A (2564) – Pap, G (2517) 


Black to play

White played the openings superficially, allowing Black’s knight to dominate in the centre. He lost the sense of danger and his last move, 11.Nb3? – aiming to play via the-c5 square – was just a waste of time.

Black reacted energetically and quickly punished White’s poor opening play. 11…g5! – decisively undermining White’s centre! It is a well-known idea which sometimes Black implements in the French Defence or Closed Sicilian.

12.g3 gxf4 13.gxf4


Black to play

13…Nxe5!! An excellent intuitive sacrifice that completely demolishes White’s centre. Even the direct forcing line is not visible and this is not a difficult decision. Black gets two pawns for a piece and a straightforward powerful attack against his opponent’s king.


Therefore, the general principles underlying the attack are very clear, even if the details seem to be complex. In such cases, one should not hesitate to sacrifice material. 14.fxe5 Qxe5 15.Kf2

Returning material is often a recommended method to defend an attack. But in this case it wouldn’t help, as the following line shows:

[15.Bg2 Bh6 16.Qd4 Qxe3+ 17.Qxe3 Bxe3


Black to play

18.c4 bxc3 19.Nxc3 Rb8 20.Bxd5 exd5 21.Nxd5 Bh6. In the developing open position, apart from being a pawn down, White’s knights are definitely inferior to Black’s bishop pair.]

15…Rg8 Black quickly involves all his reserves in the attack – a simple and effective plan. The position is playing by itself. 16.Nd4 Nf6 17.Qd3

Either of the following is hopeless: [17.Nf3 Ng4+ 18.Ke2 Qb5+ 19.Ke1 Qxa4–+; or 17.Bf4 Ng4+ 18.Kg1 Bh6 19.Bxe5 (19.Bxh6 Nxh6+ 20.Bg2 Bb7–+) 19…Bxd2–+ And despite the fact that queens are exchanged, White’s position is lost.] 17…Ng4+ 18.Ke2 Bh6


White to play

The time is ripe for the execution. 19.Rg1 Bxe3 20.Nf3 [20.Rxg4 Bf4+ 21.Kd1 Rxg4–+] 20…Qb5 21.Rxg4 Rxg4 22.Kxe3 Qxa4 White has a huge material advantage, but the exposed position of his king prevents him from creating any serious counter-play.

counter attack

The remaining moves were 23.Qxh7 Qa5 24.h3 Qc5+


White to play

25.Kd2 Rf4 26.Qg8+ Ke7 27.Qg3 Qd5+ 28.Ke3 Qe4+ 29.Kf2 Bb7 30.Qg5+ Kf8 0–1


Caruana, Fabiano (2829) – Kramnik, Vladimir (2769)


Black to play

Black has an exchange, but White has some compensation. Black in this position has an interesting move. What did Caruana play? 34…g4! This is the start of a very interesting combination.

Black will obtain two rooks and a bishop for a queen, which is enough to win. 35.Bxg4 All these moves are forced. 35…f5 36.Bxf5 exf5 White has already given up a piece, so what is his idea? 37.Nf6+!


Black to play

Now White regains some material. 37…Qxf6 38.Rxf6 What is the best way to capture the rook on f6? 38…Bd5+! Black now has a very strong attack. White does not have enough pieces to defend. [38…gxf6?? The problem with this move is that it exposes Black’s king. 39.Qh6 For example, a move like this gives White drawing chances.] 39.f3


Black to play

39…Rb2+ 40.Kg1 Rxf6 41.Qe8+ Rf8 42.Qd7 Rb5 43.Kf2 We can see that Black’s pieces are coordinated and that White does not have any threats. Black is winning.


Black to play

43…f4 44.gxf4 Rxf4 45.Qc8+ Rf8 46.Qxa6


Black to play 

46…Rxf3+ 47.Ke2 Rb2+ 48.Ke1 Rc3 Black is threatening checkmate. White resigns. 0–1.

Now, let me provide you with some practical exercises based on the above examples, which you can evaluate yourself.


Kramnik – Svidler


Black to play


Berkes – Baryshpolets


Black to play


Batsiashivili – Wen


Black to play

After you have come up with your solutions, you may look at the answers here: LINK

P.S. If you enjoyed this lesson, then feel free to write your comments below and share them with your friends! Also, good luck for the game festival. 🙂
Comments: 4

Comments 2

  1. Example 1 – very instructive! I wouldn’t even be looking for tactics. I would be reasonably happy with my position after 11…Nxe3 12.Qxe3 d5 (probably just one of the reasons I’m not a grandmaster). Another reminder to always check forcing moves! If you can just think of looking at 11…Nxe5, the position after 12.fxe5 Qxe5 leaps into your awareness, at which point it’s not difficult to calculate that it’s a promising position.

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