Black to move and win – tactic from today’s classical game v. 2056 rated player

One of the most frustrating feelings in chess is looking over a loss and finding a saucy move that would have won the game had you found it. In many cases, these tactical sequences are a point of no return. If you find the right move, you can continue playing for a win or — you throw away your advantage. Chess hangs on this excruciating, unforgivable demand for precision at all times. As in a given position, only one move of a multitude will do – and sometimes such moves are devilishly hard to calculate and often involve un-intuitive or sacrificial play.

Today I played against a strong player, rated 2056. After a clumsy beginning and two mouse slips – on move 3, Bd7 and 16, Rfc8, I found myself in a roughly equal position though I felt my pieces were much better and that my opponent had a lot of problems to solve before he could get them mobilized. In such a situation, one must always look for and try to anticipate sacrifices or tactics. “Tactics arise from a superior position,” so the old adage goes. And when we got to move 24 and my opponent played 24… b5? I sensed that I had an opportunity but the move I was considering was full of complexities and hard for me top calculate fully. I thought for maybe 6 minutes, and realized chances were if I couldn’t calculate it properly, it was highly unlikely that he could. So, the game up until that moment had left us in an equal position, and but for an outrageous move/tactic, the game would have remained equal. But I have become known for my sacrificial, attacking style among those who watch me play – though I still have bad games, as a relative beginner should from pure lack of experience, if nothing else – and so I went for it. But first, test your tactical skill from the position arising from — this position:

Black to play and find the only winning move. The queen is under attack, and hit twice, by the rook and by the other queen. White is on the verge of freeing his position, and only one move gives black an advantage – but the advantage is significant, with the engine evaluation giving black an advantage of -7, that is, should the move be played you would have an advantage worth a rook and three pawns worth of material. If you did otherwise, you would be be back in an equal, and difficult game where making progress for either side should prove difficult. Throghout the game, after blundering on my 3rd move and the mouse slip later on, I had nearly resigned out of frustration. But when the time came, we arrived at the above position by the below means:

“Please pause the .gif and find the only winning move for black… while I take a sip of my water.”

Here’s a still image should that help you –

Of the top 5 moves recommended by Stockfish 13 NNUE, two moves maintain an advantage for black. One gives black a won positon, the other merely maintains a slight advantage. Anything beyond the 2nd best move and my opponent would be playing for a win. So, like I’m often happy to do in such situations, there was only one way to solve this problem. Become el matadore.

And so I found the move, which hung every piece on the board and set it on fire:

24 … Rxc3!! This move is a blow from the hands of an angry God, tired of meddlig and blind with rage, like the cyclops Polyphemus, though he claimed Nobody was hurting him. Anyway, after rook takes knight on c3 Black has no good response.

This game is an example of something very important to consider when playing this game. At any moment, a single move could be the turning point. One move could mean victory or failure, equality or overwhelming advantage. It is important to seize the advantages presented, and to do the calculation necessary to clear a move before playing it. In this game, I played an off-beat opening and had a mouse-slip on the third move – but, you can overcome a poor opening as long as you work hard to develop your pieces, use them to coordinate on targets, and exploit weaknesses, tactical and positional in your opponent’s territory. You can evaluate the strength of your pieces by the amount of range and space they cover – the amount of squares a given piece covers / oversees is a good estimate of its power. A rook behind a pawn, unable to move forward, backward or sideways is not as strong as a rook on an open file. When you can coordinate your pieces and find good squares for them, look for weaknesses in your enemy position and take advantage of mistakes – you will get stronger. But it will take time, patience, and many, many failures before climbing that hill.

To be completely honest, I’m not quite over it yet; not even close.

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