Too Easy to Publish

I got a nice e-mail yesterday from Richard Brown, who had played in the Pikes Peak Open over the weekend in Manitou Springs. 

Here is the position in question, with White to Move, if you want to take a look at it yourself, and try to solve it.

Chess Tactic Pin on the f7 square

Richard Brown vs Cory Foster
Pikes Peak Open 2012
White to Move

Richard was one of my early subscribers, and writes:


Shredder says this game was a lot closer than it felt.  Cory had me tonight but then after 150+ Tactics Time e-mails gave me a “too easy to publish” gift on move 33.  More importantly, I actually saw the potential tactic on Move 31, otherwise I would have put the bishop somewhere else.

Thanks for the Practice puzzles!  Keep them coming!

I love getting e-mails like this!

Looking at the USCF page rating page,, Richard had a great tournament, and picked up 53 rating points!  Nice!

Actually looking at the crosstable, I see a bunch of people who are on my newsletter mailing list, and almost all of them picked up rating points!

Someone like Richard who has been reading and studying 150 of my newsletters almost has an unfair advantage!

It made me think of the movie Fight Club when Brad Pitt says

Fight Club was the beginning.

Now it’s moved out of the basement.

It’s called Project Mayhem.

Tactics Time is moving out of the basement and becoming the chess equivalent of Project Mayhem :-)

The chess tournaments in Colorado will soon be filled with two types of players – those who are part of Project Mayhem, unleashing tactical hell on their opponents, and those who are not!

In all seriousness though, Richard brings up a good point.

I often have a dilemma when looking at class player games such as Richard’s.  I want to feature real tactics from real games in my newsletters, blog posts, and in the Tactics Time column I have been writing since 2004 in the Colorado Chess Informant. 

And this is exactly the type of tactic that is winning games at the class level. 

Both players play well for 30 moves, then someone misses a fairly simple 1-2 move tactic.

But if I present this as a “tactics problem” then the exact same people who miss these types of tactics in their own games will complain that this is “too easy”!

So, what I have learned to do is mix these types of tactics that are “too easy”, along with the tactics puzzles that people love, such as under promotions, queen sacrifices, smothered mates, etc, even though these rarely happen in real games.  To me these are like “dessert tactics”, and the above is more of a “bread and butter” tactic.

Answer: Black is up a pawn, and just pushed e4 following the maxim “Passed pawns should be pushed in the endgame”, but overlooks the move 33. Rxg6 winning a bishop.

The f7 pawn is pinned to the king, and cannot capture the rook.

Richard knew this idea, and did a good job putting his pieces in place to take advantage of this tactical motif.

Often pawns and pieces on the g6 square can look safe, but are not, because of a pin on the f7 square.

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