Chess puzzle #45: a though nut to crack

winning-advantageI have to confess that sometimes I spend quite a lot of time at chess puzzles. I can’t stand it when I am unable to find the correct solution.

When I make a mistake, which happens still too often, I can get very annoyed with myself.

Most of these mistakes occur when I find the solution rather quickly. Then get overconfident and don’t check very well and make stupid blunders on the second or third move in the combination. On the other hand, when I can’t find the correct solution, I keep on trying.

I follow my hunch and calculate the variations over and over again. That doesn’t work either (of course). One might raise the question: do you trust your own calculation yes or no? Seemingly not.

To show you how it goes I will try to explain the mess in my head. See the diagram. If you’re not interested, which I fully understand, you can stop here. Proceed for the second try below: You will find the correct solution without all my fussy thoughts in between.

What would you play? Please try to solve this one for yourself first. It is not so straightforward.

First try…

I hope you managed to get back from my total state of confusion. It is clear that 1. – Rxf2 is not the correct answer (I did the computer check afterwards). This made me, after a long time, completely rethink the position. Even dunkeys get out of their frozen state of mind at some time. What is the motif? I should have looked for the motif in the first place of course. No motif, no good idea.

I think it is clear that black is better. He has more space and his pieces are more active. The white rooks on a1 en b1 look rather sad. White’s other pieces are not great either. Even the knight on d4, although centrally placed, can’t do very much. But this knight might come to the rescue of his king.

Right at this moment the white king hasn’t many pieces that help his defense. So what’s the motif? Weak king?! Black has to attack the king. Blow his cover. I tried 1. – Rxf2 but that doesn’t work. The only other move that blows something is 1. – Bxh3 (which I dismissed right away when I tried to solve this puzzle). This resulted in a second try… (and a successful one).

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