Back to Back Issues Page
LCB, Issue #061 --, Pick Your Way Through a Tactical Minefield
July 01, 2020

Pick Your Way Through a Tactical Minefield

Lapoc Chess Board, Issue #061 -- GOTM #31

learn and play online chess
Sometimes you find yourself in a real sharp contest. Even before development is complete, the Kings are still in the center. Your opponent is playing searching moves. He is posing problems and you want to find the correct response. Keep yourself secure and punish his early forays.

You find yourself responding in kind, playing tactical chess, threatening his King even before your development is complete. Such play is possible and requires good judgement. The price for a miscalculation is a quick defeat as both of you tread the high wire.

A great example of one of these high octane tactical duels takes place in Amsterdam in 1920s. The two players are future World Champion and local favorite Max Euwe playing with White. He takes on German/Austrian/Hungarian/Czech/Slovakian (European history is a long story!) legend, Richard Reti with the Black pieces.

Pick Your Way Through a Tactical Minefield

Euwe, Max - Reti, Richard [C56]

GotM #31 - Amsterdam, 1920
[Connaughton, Ken]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d4

Transposing to the Scotch Game.

4...exd4 5.0-0

White disregards his center and speeds ahead with development.

5...Nxe4 6.Re1 d5

Game position after 6...d5

Both players are in a fighting mood, a tactical fire-fight is in the offing.


White says, "let's go!"

(7.Bg5 Be7 8.Bxe7 Nxe7 9.Qxd4 Bf5 10.Nh4 Be6 11.Bxd5 Bxd5 12.f3 Be6 13.Qxd8+ Rxd8=/+; 7.Nxd4 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Be6 9.Bxd5 Qxd5 10.Qxe4 Qxe4 11.Rxe4 Be7 12.Bf4 0-0-0 13.Nc3 a6=/+)


Black says, "okay!"

8.Nc3 Qa5 9.Nxd4

What has White got for his Bishop? Well hiss pieces seem to be better, he now has two open central files with Queen and Rook bearing down on Black's King. The King still needs a couple of moves to escape to the wing so his future is looking shaky.

(9.Nxe4 Be6 10.Neg5 0-0-0 11.Nxe6 fxe6 12.Rxe6 h6=; 9.Rxe4+ Be6 10.Nxd4 0-0-0 11.Be3 Nxd4 12.Bxd4 Qb4 13.a3 Qc4 14.b3 Qc6 15.Qe1 Bd6=)

9...Nxd4 10.Qxd4

(10.Nxe4 Ne6 11.Bg5 Bd7 12.Qg4 h5 13.Qh3 Bd6 14.Rad1 0-0 15.Bd2 Qxa2 16.Qxh5 Be7 17.Re3 f5 18.Nc3 Qc4-+; 10.Rxe4+ Ne6-+)


Holding the Knight for now.


(11.Bh6 Qb6 12.Bxg7 Rg8 13.Nxe4 Qxd4 14.Bxd4 fxe4 15.Rxe4+ Kd7-/+; 11.Bf4 Qc5 12.Qa4+ Kf7 13.Nxe4 fxe4 14.Rxe4 Qd5 15.Qe8+ Kg8 16.c4 Qd7 17.Rae1 b6-+)


Black offers a Queen trade to take the pep out of White's attack.


Game position after 12.Qd8+

Not surprisingly the exchange is rebuffed and White instead invades Black's camp.


The f7-square turns out to be a good refuge for the King, it's difficult for White to build pressure on him there with the e-file temporarily blocked by the Knight.


White wants to open the center fully with this exchange.

13...fxe4 14.Rad1

(14.Rxe4 Bf5 15.Qxa8 Bxe4-+)


Another sacrifice that most people would not conceive. Black wants to bring his Bishop into the game and at the same time divert the White Queen away from the action. The price is an exchange.

15.Qxh8 Qxg5

Black has given back material and in doing so he has taken back control of his home rank. d8 which was not so long ago firmly in White's possession is now once more under Black's jurisdiction.

16.f4 Qh4 17.Rxe4

Re-establishing a threat on Black's home rank. e8 is now a problem the second player must address.


Black repeats the trick, this time the price is a whole Rook.


Understandable but now it's a forced #.

(He had to play 18.Rxd6 to live longer but after 18...Rxh8 19.Rd2 Bf5-+ the result is in no doubt in any case.)


Game position after 18...Bc5+

Now the race is on. Black has the initiative, his Bishop pair against the two White Rooks. Both sides are closing in on the two Kings. The Black King has less cover so he daren't hand the initiative to White. He must find the forcing line to ensnare the King before White gets a chance to act.


(19.Red4 is no good as 19...Bxd4+ is # on the next move: 20.Rxd4 (20.Kf1 Qf2#) 20...Qe1#)


The decisive sacrifice. Black gives up a Bishop to destroy the cover and draw out the King. Now there is no escape from the remaining Black pieces.

20.Kxg2 Qg4+ 21.Kf1 Qf3+ 22.Ke1 Qf2#

Game position after 22...Qf2#


Euwe - Reti (Amsterdam, 1920)

If you do not have html based email software and you're using a text only system, you may find that the links are only partially highlighted and may not work. If this is the case, simply copy and paste the entire link into the browser and hit Enter. That should get you where you want to go.
Comments, ideas, feedback? I'd be stoked to hear from you.

Get in touch

See you next month.


Back to Back Issues Page