A Tale of Two Zwischen-checks

The zwischenzug ( Or if it involves a check we can say zwischen-check) is probably my favorite all time tactic. Why you ask? Well…
…It’s really, really hard to win a chess game. The opponent your playing may know just as much if not more than you do. A zwischenzug by its very definition is not the expected reply. To win chess games we often need to play moves that are not obvious. So I believe psychologically a zwichenzug is a hard move to play and find.

Wikipedia defines a zwischenzug as follows:

“The zwischenzug (German: pronounced [ˈtsvɪʃənˌtsuːk] “intermediate move”) is a chess tactic in which a player, instead of playing the expected move (commonly a recapture), first interposes another move posing an immediate threat that the opponent must answer, and only then plays the expected move (Hooper & Whyld 1992:460) (Golombek 1977:354). Ideally, the zwischenzug changes the situation to the player’s advantage, such as by gaining material or avoiding what would otherwise be a strong continuation for the opponent.
… Such a move is also called an intermezzo (Cox 2007:216), intermediate move (Kasparov 2008:208), or in-between move (Burgess 1997:494) (Horowitz & Reinfeld 1954:180–97). When the intermediate move is a check, it is sometimes called an “in-between check” (Horowitz & Reinfeld 1954:183–85), “zwischenschach” (van Perlo 2006:479), or “zwischen-check” (Mednis 1997:270).”

So at this point if you’re an experienced player you may be thinking yeah zwischenzugs or if it involves a check zwischen-checks are pretty cool and you may play them fairly frequently. This may be true but I bet after a loss you see that geez you didn’t have to play an immediate recapture or response to a threat but had a winning zwischen-check or zwischenzug.
I believe if you always have your mind trained to think of this type of non-obvious tactic you may win more games.

Below is a game I played this weekend in the Dc Chess league with 2 zwichen-checks . My opponent played one that didn’t work which shows there can also be a dark side of this type of move if not careful.


DC Chess league Match on 7/14/2017.  I’m wearing the Baltimore Orioles hat.

White: S.Hoshall 2227 Black P. Collier 2206
DCCL Chess League 7/14/2017
1. d4 Nf6 2. Nc3 c5 3. dxc5 e6 4. e4 Qa5
5. Bd3 Nc6 6. Nf3 Bxc5 7. O-O Qc7 ( white has more development but the position is closed now so Black can play a move like Qc7 that doesn’t develop) 8. Qe2 a6
9. h3 Nd4 10. Nxd4 Bxd4 11. Be3 ( From white’s perspective you generally don’t want to trade with more space but the black bishop is a pretty good piece, more active than white’s bishop so White trades off blacks good bishop. White also offers Black the chance to win a pawn which would give white the initiative if black takes the knight. He refuses) Bxe3 12. Qxe3 d6
13. Rad1 (Rad1 is a positional solution, Pressure on weak d6 pawn and grabbing open rook file but better may be grabbing more space with f4) Bd7 14. Be2 Bc6 15. Nd5 ( Stacking the rooks on the d file with Rd4 is simple, better and more consistent with white’s original plan of Rd1)) Bxd5 16. exd5 e5
17. c4 O-O 18. f4 ( double edged, f4 opens the position and will give both black and white some play) exf4 19. Qxf4 Rae8 20. Bd3 Re5
21. Qh4 Qb6+ 22. Kh1 (white has threats that Black must counter) Rh5 23. Qg3 Qxb2 24. Rb1 Qd4
25. Rxb7 h6 26. Re1 Rg5 27. Qxd6 (Black cannot take the bishop on d3 because of forced mate 27…Qxd3??, 28.Qxf8+!, Kxf8 29. Rb8++white is winning now but must be careful with 3 pieces attacking his exposed king) g6 28. Qb6 Qc3
29. Qe3 Re8 30. Re7 Rxe7 31. Qxe7 Nh5 32. d6? Qd2 (beautiful move, Blacks queen is threatening checkmate among other pieces and white cannot defend easily.)
33. Bf1 ( Best try, if only white had one more move to play 33.d7 but he doesn’t because of 33…Qg2++) Ng3+ 34. Kg1 Nxf1 35. Qe2 Qd4+?? (Black plays a zwishencheck, Going into drawn ending is Qxd6, Zwischen-checks are often good and this provides white another opportunity to make a mistake with Kxf1?? But in this case it is a mistake.) 36. Qf2 Qxd6

zwichen-check good

White has 3 ways to take the knight in the above diagram. All of them win the piece. But white has a zwischen-check that wins.
37. Re8+ ( A zwischen-check that wins for white, before taking a free piece automatically see if you have a better move) Kg7 38. Qb2+ Qf6 (if f6, Qb7+ leads to mate, danger of exposed 7th rank. Have you ever had a coach tell you to be careful about exposing your 7th/2nd rank with no pawns? This is why. ) 39. Rg8+ Kxg8 40. Qxf6 Ne3
41. Qxa6 (white will get a queen fast while black captures a few kingside pawns) Nxg2 42. a4 Nf4+ 43. Kf1 Rf5 44. a5 Nxh3+
45. Ke1 Ng5 46. Qc8+ Kg7 47. a6 Ra5 48. Qb7 Ne6
49. a7 Nc5 50. Qb8 1-0

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The Impressive Ashburn Junior Squad and a Note on the Last Junior Team to enter the DCCL Open Section

DCChessLeague Blog

About 30 years ago I was a young high school student playing chess in the Baltimore chess league . We were the only junior team in the league and as far as I can recall the only high school players (Technically not entirely a high school team because we did have an adult local master on Board 1 but everyone else on the team was of high school age).

I recall one match in particular when we were playing another all adult team. We had an additional junior player to play in the match who was a good friend of mine and our opponent had an additional adult player as well who came to play. Well apparently this other adult player did not realize we were mainly an all junior team because when he saw his match would be against a kid he wasn’t very happy about it. I recall…

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DC Chess League Blog

I am the poster for the new DCChess league blog.  The last post has some great league picts.  I also included my last round game.  You can check it out here:  http://dcchessleague.wordpress.com/

My round 2 game is also here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9MDPziwNrE

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My First Chess Coach

To talk about my first chess coach I need to start from the very beginning, or at least my chess beginnings.

I think the year was 1982; I was going into 9th grade at the time and hoping to get a remote controlled tank for Christmas from my grandparents.   It never happened.  Instead I received a very interesting chess computer.  They are ubiquitous now but back then not so much.   At the time I was a big games person but not really into chess.  Oh, I had played my dad chess a few times before and a friend once brought a little chess set on a school field trip and I recall playing chess then as well.  “Playing” chess may be an exaggeration because I probably didn’t know how to correctly move the pieces.

Anyway the Christmas gift was special for its time.  I remember thinking the board which was partially wooden was fancy and the small wooden pieces cool.  It also talked!    Fidelity Voice Sensory Chess Challenger was its name and when you pressed down on the squares with a piece the squares would light up and it would say the square letter and number and name of the piece moved.   It also had an opening book and a database of 64 famous games.   I remember it blurting out at me when I turned it on “I AM FIDELITY CHESS CHALLENGER YOUR COMPUTER OPPONENT, SELECT YOUR LEVEL!!!!”  Ok game on, I wanted to beat this thing.  It was a game to me like Space Invaders, Frogger or even Rolling Thunder  (Rolling Thunder actually hit the arcades 4 years later in 1986).

Fidelity Voice Sensory Chess Challenger!

Fidelity Voice Sensory Chess Challenger!

  I got my first Chess book at this time “Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess” and I played and played and played this computer thing.  My chess computer never refused a match and was always ready to play.   The goal was simple, to beat it at the top levels.  I recall the box on the game saying it had a chess rating around 1650.  I really didn’t know what that meant but I thought the whole idea of a rating was extremely cool.  I wanted a rating as well!

So I played until I won and it took a long, long time, slowly moving up the skill levels.  I learned at the same time.  I learned about developing my pieces, controlling the center, tactics and many other ideas from the computer.  However to beat the computer I didn’t copy his primarily tactical style.  I eventually figured out that the computer loved to munch material. Sometimes it would munch material to the detriment of the safety of its King.  For example, I may totally ignore his threat of a pawn or even an out of play piece and ultimately allow the computer to win that material if it allowed me to get a couple extra moves aiming at his King.  In chess terms this would be called focusing on a time and space advantage.

The three main chess advantages being:

1. Material (having captured more valuable material than your opponent).

2. Positional (Having your pieces and pawns placed on better squares than your opponent.  A basic positional disadvantage could be having double or triple stacked pawns).

And finally 3. Time and Space advantage (This typically involves having the initiative, where your opponent has to react to your moves).

Of the three types of advantages I think a time and space advantage may be the toughest one for players to comprehend because it’s more abstract than the other two, particularly the time component.  My approach to beat the computer was to use the abstract time and space advantage and to this day this approach has strongly influenced my style.

Nowadays computers can beat any human player so a goal to beat a computer on the highest levels would be impossible.  I think if I was just starting to learn chess today I wouldn’t be as interested in trying to play a computer.  Today I also almost never actually play a game with a computer but I do use them in preparation and learning and think they are a fantastic tool to help improve your game for this purpose.

In any case I owe a lot to Fidelity Sensory Chess Challenger my first chess coach, who had a big influence on my style of play.

Here is a link that someone put on YouTube of the exact Fidelity Chess Challenger model I used to own many years ago.  At the end of the clip you can hear it say its powerful challenge:   “I AM FIDELITY CHESS CHALLENGER YOUR COMPUTER OPPONENT, SELECT YOUR LEVEL!!!!

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