An interesting Chess Tactic from the US Women’s Championship Playoff

There has been a lot going on in the chess world these days!

The US Chess Championship just finished up over the weekend, the US Women’s Chess Championship finished on Monday in an exciting playoff match, and the World Chess Championship is going on as well.

These days it is better than ever to follow live professional chess.  I remember years ago the only real option was ICC (Internet Chess Club), where you had to download special software, install it, create a username, etc.  This was great at the time, but was a bit of a hassle.

Then came along, that had live audio commentary of the games.  This was a huge leap forward, and I was a big fan of  At work I would listen to “Tony Rook” give live commentary.  I loved when he would start a broadcast saying “Let’s get ready to woodpush!”  He would have guests, and ask trivia questions.  He didn’t really know much about chess, but he made it a lot of fun.

I was super impressed with the website.  They had live commentary with GM Ben Finegold and Jennifer Shahade.  They had cameras where you could see the players actually playing, and the use of the board to show the diagrams.  They had interviews after the game also.  The production value was very high!  Very impressive effort!  And it was all free, no hassle, no signup required, etc.

Looking at some of the games afterwards, I was kind of surprised by some of the simple tactics that were missed.  I already wrote one blog post about the 11 move game where Alex Stripunsky pushed his d pawn, allowing his bishop on c1 to be taken for free, and with check.  This was by far the worst mistake I saw.

In the US woman’s championship there was a tie, between Irina Krush and Anna Zatonskih so the games were determined by playoffs on Monday.  They played a 2 game rapid match to determine the winner.

This position arose with Black to Play.  See if you can find the best move for black.  Answer below.


Chess Tactic from Irina Krush vs Anna Zatonskih

Black to Move


Answer: There is a lot going on in this position.

  • Black’s Queen on h3 is attacked by the Knight on g5.
  • Black is also attacking the White Queen on c2 with her bishop on f5.
  • The Bishop on f5 is not protected, and is attacked by the queen.
  • Black has a knight fork on e3
  • The pawn on c5 is hanging, and attacked by the bishop
  • Black could also mate the black King on h2 if the white queen could be deflected from c2.

Obviously, things like the queen being attacked are the most important.  Black does not have time to take care of all these problem, or opportunities at the same time.

So in a case like this, it is best to look at the forcing moves first.  Checks are always the most forcing move.

Here Black missed 23…Qxf1+! which trades the Queen for a Rook with Check.  White has only two ways to get out of check with 24. Rxf1 or 24. Kxf1.  After 24. Rxf1, Black can then play 24…Bxc2, leaving them up a whole rook.

If 24. Kxh1, then black can still play 24…Bxc2 or the even cooler 24…Nxe3+ picking up a pawn with check, forking the king and queen, and then grabbing the queen on the next move.

According to the report at Zatonskih thought for a few minutes in the above position.  Krush said that she saw the refutation immediately, and thought her opponent was savoring the moment.

Unfortunately Anna missed this move, which almost certainly would have won the game for her.

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One thought on “An interesting Chess Tactic from the US Women’s Championship Playoff

  1. Hi Tim!

    This just goes to show that keeping your eye sharp by consistent training with simple tactics can’t be ignored. Even a GM missed that one. Was this the Blitz Tie Breaker?

    I bought your tactics collection and have been using it for 15 minutes a day – nothing painful. :)

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