Tuesday, February 16, 2016


Only 6 games (interclub) I have scheduled in 6 months. I mean standard chess. I am not happy with it as I love to play more but I can't find interesting games in the neighborhood which are easy to plan. I can't get rid of the ghost inactivity which makes any progression impossible.

However as often each disadvantage has also an advantage. By playing very few games myself, I can much easier accompany my son to the youth-tournaments in which he participates. The last couple of months we were in GentZottegemDeurneBrasschaat and Geel. He clearly got hooked up as this weekend he wanted to participate in the krokus-tournament of Gent despite he knew very well that we had planned his birthday-party.

He doesn't like much solving exercises out of the Steps Method. Nevertheless he realizes that luck isn't defining his performance but rather the step already achieved. A player of step 3 will most likely win from a player of step 2 while a player of step 2 will in most cases win from a step 1 player. In short the books allow each player to learn the basics at their preferred pace.

This tempo is heavily influenced by my help at home as I can check his answers. That is an enormous luxury which was confirmed by a mother of a talented boy complaining about slow and late corrections of his teacher. Because I do the reviewing of his responses, I get a good picture of the didactic value of the books. Each chapter talks about a different theme: double attacks, mate in 2, removing the defender,... which is followed up is by dozens of exercises.

Reviewing the homework is for somebody of 2300 rating child-play although in a rare case I need to think longer as in the problem below from Step 2, page 31. It is not redundant for some teachers to possess also the book containing the answers.
1) Put a white rook and white knight on the board so black is mated
Later I asked myself how such position can occur in practice without taking into account that white still has a king somewhere on the board. Mate happened with the knight without doubt but what was black last move? It must have been a pawn-move but why did black not capture the rook? To reconstruct a game is something typical in retros which is a very small special niche in chess which has nothing to do with the step-method. Readers willing to taste a real retro can try to solve below problem. What was blacks last move and why? An additional condition is that nothing was captured while giving mate.
2) What was black last move and why?
We deviate from our topic as I want to discuss the value of the step-books. Sure there are some special ones between the tasks but in general they are very well chosen and in practice often immediately reusable. An example from Step 2, page 30.
3) White plays and wins
I already showed this theme in my article tactics part 2 and surprisingly I met it recently again in my standardgame against the Dutch IM Miguoel Admiraal.
4) Is it a good idea to capture the pawn on d6?
The books are containing lots of patterns which we meet often in practice. Another one from Step2, page 35.
5) White mates in 2.
We see again the same pattern in the final position of the game Anna Muzychuk - Laurent Fressinet played 2 weeks ago in Gibraltar.
Black has no response anymore against g6 followed up with Rf7# so resigned.
By solving the exercises step by step the basic tactics are learned. Age probably also plays a role as it is similar to learning languages. The younger you are, the better you will master something. A trap I try to avoid as parent, is to push my son making too many exercises at once. It is why I avoid bringing any book to the courses at Sunday in our club so I am guaranteed he can play and have fun.


1) White rook on b5, white knight on c3
2) The last move must be Rf2#. If the rook was before on the f-file then white must have captured a piece. However it was said that we are not allowed to capture a piece while giving mate. So the rook must have been on the second row: d2, e2, g2 or h2. But where was blacks king then standing? It looks like stalemate. Still there is a solution.
The black rook was on d2, the black king on f2 seems to be double checked, at first glance. However the position is mirrored. Blacks king in the initial position was not on f2 but on c7! The only solution to solve this riddle is to put a white pawn on d7 which promoted on e8 to knight while capturing a black piece. So the solution is 1.d7xe8 (P)+, Kc7-c8 2.Re7-c7# 
3) 1. Rd8+ Rxd8 2. Qxc5 (Theme removing the defender)
4) No because of 1. Qxd6 Re1+ 2. Kh2 Qh1#
5) 1. Ne6+ Ke8 2. Re7# (or also 1...Kg8 2. Rg7#)

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