The Fabulous 00s: No Computer Allowed Quizzes

Test Your Insight

Here’s a set of tough positions.   Each has interesting strategical and tactical elements.  No computer engines!   The harder you work, the better off you’ll be. 🙂

In each case, I’ll ask a poll question about it.   Post your answer as a comment.

Note: 11/14/09 – I posted solutions directly inline after the diagrams.

Position 1


Black to play

To give you some context about position 1, this was Nakamura-Ramirez from a recent SEA-ARZ USCL match.

Consider the position with black to play.

Support your viewpoint with some verbiage or a brief variation.

Solution: 1…Rb8!! gives excellent winning chances.

Position 2


White to play

In Position 2, above, we have Rini Kuijf (NED) – Stefan Kindermann (W Germany) from the 1988 Olympiad in Thessaloniki, Greece.  It is white to play.  This is a surprisingly intricate position with many twists and turns. Solve the following poll and post a supporting variation in the comments.

Interestingly (note as of 11/5/09) the poll answers to date are mostly wrong on this one, so it reinforces my view that Position 2 is a very hard puzzle.  Leave a comment with what you feel is white’s best first move.

Solution 11/11/09: Actually both 1. b5 and 1. Nd5 are strong and should win with best play. 1. fxg6? e5! unclear is weak. But you have to be aware that 1. Nd5 Nxd5 2. exd5 Rc2!! 3. Bxg7 Qxd5! piece sac is possible and then be able to work out the path to an edge!  Similarly after 1. b5 axb5 2. Ra7 it’s not a lot of fun, but you have to work out long variations defusing the dangerous try 2…Qb8 3. Rxe7 Rxc3!?.

In some sense, 1. b5 is a little bit cleaner than 1. Nd5 because black gets temporary activity after the piece sae (see above).

The solution was made harder by the confusing poll choices.

Position 3


White to play

In Position 3, your task sounds  ‘simple’ but it is anything but – –  Maximize your winning chances as white.  This is an exceptionally difficult quiz position that was an analysis variation in the game Pasalic-Rensch, USCL 2009.

Try the poll and post a comment with a supporting variation.

This is a very hard quiz and I would rate it at 2500-level.

Solution:  1. Qxe4 Qxb4 2. Nh4! is an iron-clad win in the Q&P ending.

And in Other News

The Arizona Scorpions fell to the Miami Sharks, 3-1 today in the final regular season round of the 2009 USCL.  Our team felt a little bit like the following photo.


Hard to Keep the Eyes on the Prize

But what we really need in the playoffs is some combination of the personalities shown in the next painting.



Oh maybe just play like Eli Wallach.



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7 Responses to “The Fabulous 00s: No Computer Allowed Quizzes”

  1. Andres D. Hortillosa Says:

    Position 1:
    Black can try …Rb8 with the idea of continuing with …Rb3. If White responds with Kh2, Black can play …Rf3.

    Correct. The right poll answer is ‘excellent winning chances’ due to this key resource.

    43…Rb8!! 44. Rxa6 (leaving the outside passer alive is very dangerous) 44…Rb3+ 45. Kh2 Rf3! (the key idea) 46. Kg1 (46. Kg2? c6 47. Ra7 f4! 48. Rg7+ Kf8 49. Rxh7 e3! wins) 46….c6 47. Ra8+ Kf7 48. Rh8 Rxh3 and black wins.
    In the game, a draw was an excellent team result for us and Ramirez didn’t need to press with this nice line.

  2. Test Your Strength Against USCL Games! IM Mark Ginsburg Challenges Fans! | Arizona Scorpions Says:

    […] Posted November 7, 2009 at 11:13 am Below is the very first puzzle of IM Mark Ginsburg’s USCL Quiz! To check out the rest of the article visit his blog. […]

  3. Alex Guo Says:

    third problem:
    1.Qd2 Qxd 2.Nxd2
    A: 2…e3 3.Nf3 e2 (…h4 4.Kg1 etc.) 4.c5 g5 5.g4 hg 6.hg Bc3 7.c6 Be5 8.Kg2 etc.

    B: 2…Bc3 3.Nxe4 Bxb4 4.c5 Kg7 5.c6 Ba5 6.Nd6 Kf8 7.g3 Ke7 8.Nb5 and Black cannot approach the pawn via e6-d5 otherwise c7. The White knight and the pawn ties up Black’s forces, allowing White’s king to do whatever on the kingside.

    I hope that’s right…

    You’re going to find it’s very hard to win after 3. Nf3 e2 4. c5 Kg7 5. c6 Bd8! 47. g3 Bb6.

    The only answer, which is not intuitive in the extreme, is 1. Qxe4! Qxb4 2. Nh4!! and the queen and pawn ending after 2…Bxh4 (forced) 3. Qxh4 is an iron-clad win This takes time for humans to realize. There is no perp, white guards the checking lanes, and the c-pawn rolls.

  4. Coelacanth Says:

    Hmmm. In the first position, 2. Bxc7 seems stronger. For example, 2…Rb3 3.Kf4, Rf3 ? 4. Ke5, and White is the only one with any winning chances.

    This is a legitimate and tricky try for white. Black should play 2….Rb3 3. Kf4 Bb7! guarding a6. If 4. Ke5 Kf7! black will be able to repel the white king. For example, 5. d5 Rd3 6. d6 (6. Ra5 e3!) 6…Rd5+ 7. Kf4 Ke6 and black keeps good chances. Note that 5. Kd6? is met by 5…f4!.

  5. Andres D. Hortillosa Says:

    Hi Coelacanth,
    You are forgetting that after Rxf2, the e-pawn passer will cost White at least a piece.

    Nope, after the lemon 3. Kf4 Rf3+? 4. Ke5 the B/d5 is attacked and there’s no time for taking on f2. In fact black must adjust his play to this other white try. See the comment I added to his suggestion for the right way for black to play.

  6. Andres D. Hortillosa Says:

    On Position 3, I thought the win there was much simpler as you pointed out. The key winning idea is to force the exchange of the minor pieces. In this instance, the black queen cannot protect the weak g6 so the bishop must take on h4.

    The white queen then will shepherd the c-pawn one square at a time to coronation. Black’s king will not be able to catch the c-pawn if black decides to exchange queens, which is suicide. The resulting outside passer is the killer.

    I thought Position 1 is a harder puzzle.

    Humans are usually allergic in puzzles to Q&P endings, preferring instead to solve things with the knight on the board or to win somehow with the c&b passers. That’s what makes the solution so counter-intuitive for most. Try the killer Position 2.

  7. Coelacanth Says:

    Back to the first position–what about 5. Bd6 with the idea of maintaining the WK on e5? After 5…. Rb5 6. Bc5 it still looks like a fight.

    5. Bd6 e3 6. fxe3 Rxe3 7. Kf4 Re4+ wins the d4 pawn.

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