I recently got some interesting questions from my chess tactics e-mail newsletter subscriber Eric T about this position, with White to move.
See if you can find the best move.
This position came from a game that was played by my good friend and “wingman”, Francisco Baltier at the 2011 Western States Open in Reno.
Francisco had a great tournament in Reno! He scored 4.5 out of 6 points and reached an all time high on his rating. He said his only preparation for the tournament was playing on Redhotpawn, and reading my chess tactic e-mail newsletters
Francisco is also mentioned in the USCF article about the Western States Open. Great job Francisco!
The answer I gave in the newsletter was:
22. Bxh6! Wins a pawn. If 22. …gxh6 then 23. Rxf6 taking back the bishop, leaving white up a full pawn. The g7 pawn gets overloaded protecting the h6 pawn, and bishop on f6, once the rook’s file is opened after Bxh6!
Eric wrote to me:
I looked at that possibility but doesn’t Black have Bxc3?
Interesting idea! I don’t have my computer with me to check, but I am thinking if
1…Bxh6 2. Bxc3 then black has the in between move 2…Bg5 hitting the rook on d8 (instead of 2…bxc3 3. gxh6, which just leaves material even).
After …Bg5 black would have both his bishop and rook under attack, and no way to save both.
If then 3. Bxb2 hitting the white rook as well, then white plays 3…Bxd8, which also hits the queen. So white is always a tempo ahead. If black moves the rook, then white just plays axb3 winning the bishop.
If then 4. Qxd8 Rb2 then white has a pawn and rook for Bishop and two pawns, which maintains the material edge.
Hope this helps!
Eric had a good idea in response:
That is one variation. But what about Re8? And if White takes the bishop Re5 attacking both the Queen and Bishop. So it is more than one way to skin a cat.
I responded later that evening, after having a chance to look closer at the position:
Looks like the variation we were talking about is
22…Bxc3 23. Bg5 Re8 24. bxc3 Re5
then the move for white is
I didn’t see this rook check when I was looking at it at work. I probably was still seeing the bishop blocking this move.
So after this rook check, black has to block with the queen.
Good stuff! Thanks for the e-mails!
One thing that was hard for my looking at the position in my head was that I didn’t see how the f file was open for the rook after the bishop had moved. Once I was able to play the position with a board, it was clear that the rook check worked at the end.
This is sometimes called a “phantom piece“, where you are doing analysis in your head, and not seeing the pieces where they currently are, and not where they used to be. This is a good thing to be aware of when doing analysis in your head over the board.