White to Play

Pete Tamburro on

Published in Chess Puzzles

Real chess fans will recognize this position as coming out of the Dragon variation of the Sicilian Defense. These games are generally quite wild and messy, and this position is no exception. Black’s king is in trouble in the center of the board. White’s task is to break through with a winning attack. This is a good Friday puzzle for a weekend’s study. Set up your board!


The key to attacking an exposed king in the center of the board is to open lines to the king as quickly as possible. Here, Nb5 would be eventually successful, but Black could defend with Rd8 and hold on a bit longer. The first move you should look at is what we call the “can-opener.” You push the pawn to e5, threatening e6 , and the bishop can’t capture because of Qe7 mate. That’s a start to your thinking. Then you have to figure out what happens if Black plays d5 in response to your e5. Now the Black queen can defend against the e6 move. Here’s how Sokolov beat Tomovic back in 1960: 1.e5 d5 [1...R8c7 2.exd6 Rd7 3.Qh8+ Bg8 4.Qxg8#] 2.Rxd5 Qe6 [Not much choice: 2...Rd8 3.Qh8+] 3.Rd6 Qxd6 4.exd6 Rxc3 [He could threaten mate with 4...Rf4 but the same devastating pawn check works: 5.d7+ Kxd7 (5...Kd8 6.Qf8+ Kxd7 7.Qe7+ Kc6 8.Na5+ Kb6 9.Qxb7+ Kc5 10.Qxa7+ Kd6 11.Qe7#) 6.Qxf7+ Kc6 7.Na5+ Kc5 (7...Kb6 8.Qxb7+) 8.Qd5+ Kb6 9.Qxb7+ Kc5 (9...Kxa5 10.Qb5#) 10.Qxa7+ Kb4 11.a3# Great mate!] 5.d7+ Black Resigned. One possible outcome: 5…Kxd7 6.Qxf7+ Kc6 7.bxc3 a5 8.Qe6+ Kc7 9.Nd4 Kb8 10.Nb5 Rd8 11.Qe7 Rd1+ 12.Kb2 Ng3 13.Qc7+ Ka8 14.Qc8#

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