Why pick a pawn when you could pick a Bishop?

I frequently get questions about some of the tactics that I publish, both in my newsletters, as well as my column from the Colorado Chess Informant. Here is a letter I received today about my October 2011 Informant Tactics Time Column.  

Here is the position in question.  See if you can solve it yourself before reading the question, and my response. 

This is from the game Richard Brown – Fred Spell, East Coast Deli, June 2011.

Black to move.

Tactics Time October 2011 Problem #6 Black to Move


Tactics Time #6. Why pick a pawn with Nxc3 when you could pick a Bishop?

1…Nd6 and the c4 Bishop is gone due to same Qg2 threat cited.



My response:

Thanks Bob for the email!

After 1…Nd6 white could play 2. Qa5+ then black has to get out of check (and the Knight on d6 is attacked by the pawn on e5, and cannot be used to stop the check).

Once black gets out of check, white can play 3. Rf2 preventing the mate on g2. Black can then save his knight, but did not win a pawn in this variation like he did with 1…Nxc3 (which was the solution given, winning a pawn, because of the threat of Qxg2#).

So for example 1….Nd6 2. Qa5+ Kf8 3. Rf2

Hope this helps!

Not sure if you have signed up for my Tactics Time email newsletter or not. It comes out every other day, and contains tactics problems similar to the ones in my Colorado Chess Informant Column. You can sign up at http://tacticstime.com, or let me know, and I can add you if you are interested.



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3 thoughts on “Why pick a pawn when you could pick a Bishop?

  1. I would challenge your readers to go beyond the tactic and see the full combination.

    For example 1…Nxc3, 2.Qd2. A typical mistake here (in time-trouble or however) might be 2..Na4??, 3.Bb5+ and 4.BxNa4.

    So 2…Rad8, 3.Qf2 Ne4, 4.Qe2 Rd2, 5.Qf3 RxBb2, 6.Bd3 Nc5 and Black remains a piece up. This is my own analysis. I too started with 1…Nxc3 and then quickly thought that 1..Nd6 is winning a piece before Timmy points out the blunder. THEN, I really looked at it.

    It’s important to see deep, or else one might blunder or see “ghosts” against their higher-rated opponents.

  2. Thanks guys for the comments :-) Yeah the “in between moves” with a check along the a4 to e8 white diagonal can cause a lot of tactical problems for black, especially in the opening when the black king hasn’t castled yet! I fixed the Nxc2 to Nxc3 :-) Thanks for pointing that out!

    I have a couple more tactics in my email inbox that people have asked me about, so I will post these also. Probably if one person had a question about it, that means others might as well.

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