Training – Interesting Blindspot

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I didn’t post yesterday, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t training. I didn’t get to do any Sherlock’s Method, but that’s mostly because I work from the office on Tuesdays. So my “free” hour between 7:00-8:00 am that I use for training on Mon/Wed/Fri is spent dropping my dog off at doggy daycare (shout out to Dogtopia in Pewaukee, WI – they are awesome!)

However, I knew this going in. I will also have the same issue on some Thursdays since I work from the office on that day too. I also go to the chess club on Thursday night. I don’t think I will have a game tomorrow, so I might still get my positions in. Time will tell. The plan is to do at least eight today to get in yesterday’s and today’s four positions.

Here’s a position that exposes an interesting blind spot in my calculation. I used to have an issue where any time there was a pawn exchange in an endgame, I would “forget” that you can just push past and that you’re not forced to recapture just because you can. This issue is not the same, but in my mind it is probably related.

Here is the position. It is from a correspondence game in 2011.

I’ll try to replicate my thoughts as I had them.

“White is down two pawns, but the d5 pawn is hanging. So really, they can be down only one pawn if they desire.

So what about 1.Nxd5. If 1…Qxd2+ 2.Kxd2 I’m threatening a fork on c7 along with 3.Bxg7, winning material. Wait, no, there is no fork on c7 since the d6 bishop guards against it.

Oh, OK. I play 1.Nb5, and now I am threatening both the d6 bishop as well as taking on g7. If Black puts the bishop on f8, now the fork works! Except 1…Qxd2+ 2.Kxd2 Bf4+ and now c7 is still guarded and  after I move my king, Black can guard against the capture on g7.

Wait, maybe this is a positional puzzle since it’s a correspondence game. What if I play 1.Qxd5, and then after 1…Qxd5 2.Nxd5 Black has to either play 2…Nf6 and give back the pawn, or play 2…f6, which looks not great. Plus, in this line there is no …Bf4+ since the d5 knight guards against it.”

At this point, I’m essentially through most of the time I had allotted myself to solve this one. So I decide my solution has to be 1.Qxd5. After all, that looks to be pretty level, and an engine will tell you it’s slightly better for Black if Black gives up the second pawn with 2…Nf6 3.Nxf6+ gxf6 4.Bxg6 0-0. Of course, I’d rather be playing Black since I think the queenside majority would be a factor in the endgame.

Of course, there is a huge hole in my calculation. Do you see it? Do you see why I say that it’s related to my old inability to realize there were two ways to do something with a pawn?

The solution and my explanation are below.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott






What I am missing is that after 1.Nb5 Qxd2+

White is not forced to recapture with the King, allowing …Bf4+. Instead, just recapture with the knight and the dual threats against the bishop on d6 and the pawn on g7 remain, along with the potential for the fork on c7 if the bishop moves to f8.