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David Howell vs Nicolas Giffard
Hastings (2009/10), Hastings ENG, rd 2, Dec-29
Sicilian Defense: Delayed Alapin Variation (B40)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Nov-11-10  mrsaturdaypants: 37 Nc6 looked tempting once I saw that both captures lose for black:

(a) 37...bxc6 38 Qxf7 Kxf7 39 b7, and promotion.
(b) 37...Qxc7 38 bxc7 Bf5 39 Ne7+, and promotion.

So, what other options does black have? White is threatening a royal knight fork on e5, so black needs to move the queen or king.

(c) 37...Qe4+ 38 Qxe4 fxe4 39 Ne5+, winning the bishop.

The best I can find is

(d) 37...Kg7 38 Nd8 Qxc7+ Bf5, and white will win black's bishop.

Time to check.

(c) 37...Bf5

Nov-11-10  desiobu: Looking for a good way to bring the knight to e5 is how I stumbled on the solution.
Nov-11-10  CHESSTTCAMPS: I made a couple mistakes that I found by reading <gofer>'s post.

F.1) 40.Ng6+ is *not* mate, but 41.Qg3 is!

At the end of line F, it is important to note that 41... d4 should be met by 42.Qd6+ followed by 43.b7. Thanks <gofer> for providing the Crafty link.

Nov-11-10  David2009: D Howell vs N Giffard, 2009 White 37?

37 Nc6 appears to win a Pawn:
A 37...Qf4+ (best) 38 Qxf4 gxf4 39 Ne7+ Kf6 40 Nxd5 Ke5 41 Nb4 Ke4!? 42 g4 fxg3+ 43 Kxg3 Bf5 44 h4 and White a Pawn up should be winning but there is plenty of play in the position; B 37...bxc6? 38 Qxf7+ 1-0
C 37...Qxc7? 38 bxc7 Bf4 39 Ne7+ 1-0
D 37...Bd4? 38 Ne5+ 1-0 but NOT 38.Qxf7+? Kxf7 39 Ne8+ Kf6 40 Nxb7? d4! 0-1
E 37...Qf6?! (hoping for Qxb7? Qf4+) 38 Ne5+ wins the Bishop F 37...Kg7 (to avoid the fork on e5) 38 Qxf7+ and 39 Ne5+ wins the B. Time to see how things went:
37..Qf1 was played protecting the B. After 39...Qxd3 White can safely play 40 Qxb7 etc. with an easy ending since there is no longer a perpetual check. No doubt this is why Black resigned. Time to look at the kibitzes. ====
Not a good day! In my line A, I fail to spot that 39 Ne5+ wins the Bishop. Thanks <VincentL> and <agb2002>. <After 39...Qxd3 White can safely play 40 Qxb7 etc> - <VincentL> has posted the skewer Qh7+ (much better). As <gofer> points out, after 37...Qf1 38 Ne5+ Kh5 (instead of Kf5) walks into a mating net.

Crafty End Game Trainer check of the puzzle position:

click for larger view

D Howell vs N Giffard, 2009 White 37? Crafty defends with my line F and finds ingenious counter-play a N down, but for once I win first time.

Nov-11-10  madrasvinod: There are three issues here,
1. Pawn close to queening.
2. Knight in a position where it could give forks.
3. Black queen not in a position to give perpetual checks. Having these three issues in mind the solution was quite easy.
Nov-11-10  Skakalec: <Stormbringer> on bxc6? Qxf7+ Kxf7 and b7 winns easy
Nov-11-10  azax: Thursday puzzle. 37. ? "Medium."

Material: White has a N for B.

Ideas: I think white's best shot right here is to play Ne5+ and hope is opponent doesn't notice it's illegal.

...While that's a bit wishful, the idea is still good: White would like to play Ne5+ . How can his N maneuver there? He has Nd4-f3 or Nd4-c6 as possible routes. Nc6 is more threatening because his N is moved further up the board and is immune to capture due to the b6 pawn. 37. Nc6 should be it.


It was probably worth analyzing past move 1, but since Nc6 looks like it wants to be played, I trusted my instinct on this one.

Nov-11-10  Patriot: My initial candidates were Qxf7+, b4?, Nc6, and Nf3. True, I didn't consider Qd6+ which could be a problem. After seeing 37.Nc6, everything started to click because every forcing move proved winning.

A) 37...Qxc7 38.bxc7 Bf5 39.Ne7+ followed by 40.Nxf5 and 41.c8=Q

B) 37...bxc6 38.Qxf7+ Kxf7 39.b7

C) 37...Qf4+ 38.Qxf4 gxf4 39.Ne5+ and 40.Nxd3

D) 37...Bf5 38.Ne5+ winning the queen and the game.

I saw nothing else forcing and no threats from black so that's where I stopped. But is there anything else forcing? Looking back over my analysis, Qf7 is perhaps another forcing move to consider even though it is easily defeated with 38.Ne5+ and 38.Nxd3.

That pretty much does it for forcing moves. But <David2009> helped me realize yesterday that just because all forcing moves by black (in this case) is winning for white it doesn't mean Nc6 is best. That's because black has at least one non-forcing move to stop the knight forks winning the bishop or queen. If any non-forcing replies defeat white's plan of winning material then it is possible there could be a better move besides Nc6. There could be anyway, but it shows that if you have the time to do so, you should try developing a more complete list of candidates before falling in love with a single candidate that looks like it wins or draws from an otherwise losing position. If the non-forcing game move 37...Qf1 prevented black from losing material it may be that Nc6 should be reconsidered and perhaps Nf3 should be examined more closely.

<CHESSTTCAMPS> I particularly like your analysis because you considered the forcing replies by black and also considered non-forcing replies that sidestep the knight forks (i.e. king moves, bishop moves, and specifically Qf1). This shows good technique in analysis and is very thorough.

Nov-11-10  David2009: <gofer>, <CHESSTTCAMPS>: Your recent posts arrived whilst I was composing mine (D Howell vs N Giffard, 2009). The line 37 Nc6! Qf1! 37 38.Ne5+ Kf6! is tougher to break down than either 38...Kf5? as in the game or 38...Kh5 39.Nxd3 Qxd3 40.Qf7+ and mates.

Let's play the ending out against Crafty EGT starting 38.Ne5+ Kf6:

click for larger view

D Howell vs N Giffard, 2009 White 38? Exchanging the Bishop is the natural way to go IMO since we know from endgame theory that Q+Pb7 vs Q is a win if (a) the enemy king is cu off and (b) the White King can shelter from the checks. So we continue 39.Nxd3 Qxd3 40.Qxb7 Qxc3 to reach

click for larger view

There is now a cunning quick win starting 41. Qc7! d4 42 Qd8+ Kf5 43.b7 which I leave you to explore. However OTB and my instinctive choice is the slower but thematic win starting 41.Qxd5 Ke7 42.b7 Qc7+.

click for larger view

Howell-Gifford Queen ending variation 42? White now has to escape the checks. This is tricky but can be done in several ways. The most thematic way is with Kg1. Firms time around I messed it up. Second time around I remembered the cross-check strategy one would use in the bare KQP vs KQ ending (i.e. ignoring the King side pawns): 43.Kg1 Qc1+ 44.Kh2 Qf4+ 45.Kg1 Qc1+ 46.Kf2 Qf4+ 47.Ke2 Qc7 48.Kd3 Kf6 49.Qb5 Qg3+ 50.Kc4 Qf4+ 51.Kb3 Qg3+ 52.Ka2 and promotes safely.

There are interesting wins starting 43. g3 Qc2+ which I leave you to explore.

<gofer>: No disrespect but have you considered putting a title on your Crafty positions when composing them? Otherwise if I want to retrieve a link some weeks later and I see ‘Custom Crafty Position’ my Internet Explorer can’t easily distinguish which is which.

Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: For today's Thursday solution, 37. Nc6! combines the decoy, clearance, deflection, knight fork and passed pawn tactics to clear the way for the advance and promotion of White's pawn on b6.

Playing it out with Fritz, my choice of 37. Nf3 to also seems to work, but the winning technique is longer and more difficult.

Instead, 37. Nc3! is much easier, because in the variation 37...Qxc7+ 38. bxc7 Bf5, White has the Knight fork 39. Ne7+ available to remove the pesky Bishop and quickly clear the way for the pawn on b3 to promote.

In the 37. Nf3 line, after 37...Qxc7+ 38. bxc7 Bf5 39. Nd4 Bd7 40. Nb5! White will be able to win the Bishop and has good winning chances in the ensuing Knight versus pawns endgame. But the win is tricky and much more difficult.

So, it is much better to play 37. Nc6! where the access to the e7 square for the Knight fork enables White to promote the pawn with an easy win.

P.S.: I suppose this puzzle, at least for me, reinforces the advice "if you find a good move, look to see if you can find a better one."

Nov-11-10  gofer: <<gofer>: No disrespect...>

Fair point, I suppose I don't think my comments have any longevity, so I don't think about them ever being read in the future. I will try to improve...

In passing, Crafty EGT does come unstuck quite quickly...

39 Ng4+ Kg6
40 Qd6+ Kg7
41 Qxh6+ Kf7
42 Ne5+ Ke7
43 Qxg5+ Ke6
44 Nxd3+ Qxd3
45 Qg4+ Kf6
46 Qd4+ winning easily

Nov-11-10  BOSTER: The only promising move for white is 37.Nc6, creating many threats on e5 square, even royal fork. Black can not take on c7 ,playing 37...Qxc7 38.bxc7 and if 38...Bf5 39.Ne7+ with win. Black can not take the bold knight, playing 37...bxc6 because of 38.Qxf7+ Kxf7 39.b7. Black can not play 37...Qf4+ with drawish hope, because of 38.Qxf4 gxf4 39.Ne5+ and then Nxd3. The more defensive line is 37....Kf6(orKg7) 38.Qxf7+ Kxf7 39.Nd8+ Ke7 40.Nxb7 d4 41.xd4 Be4 42.Nc5 Bc6 and white,nevertheless, wins. This is not coincidence that in this position white knight on d4 (this is called "centralisation") has such great possibilities. Explanation is very easy- all black pieces and pawns b7,d5 are on the ame color.
Nov-11-10  Patriot: <BOSTER> <The more defensive line is 37....Kf6(orKg7) 38.Qxf7+ Kxf7 39.Nd8+ Ke7 40.Nxb7 d4 41.xd4 Be4 42.Nc5 Bc6 and white,nevertheless, wins.>

Much easier is 37...Kf6/Kg7 38.Qxf7+ Kxf7 39.Ne5+ followed by 40.Nxd3.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: 36....Kg8, below, seems to take away all of white's threats, unlike the disastrous 36...Kg6??

click for larger view

Nov-11-10  mig55: After 37../Kf6 38. Qxq/KxQ 39. Nd8 works also...
Nov-11-10  wals: Went for the inferior move Nf3.

depth: 19 : 6 min :
White error
(=0.11):9.Ne5. Best, 0.00, 0.52.

depth: 22 : 5 min :
Black blunder
(+2.00):35...Qf7. Best, Kf6, 0.59.

depth: 22 : 6 min :
Black blunder
(+8.95):36...Kg6. Best, Kg8, +2.20.
h5, +2.30.

Black's woes continued,
37...Qf1, +13.91. Best, bxc6, +8.95.
38...Kf5, +14.79. Best, Kf6, +13.91.
until resignation move 39.

Nov-11-10  BOSTER: <Patriot> <Much easier is 38 . Qxf7+ Kxf7 39.Ne5+> You are right.But I had the great desire to promote "b" pawn.
Premium Chessgames Member
  LIFE Master AJ: AFTER doing my checklist - I could see almost right away that it had something to do with an eventual ...Nc6.

Only question was, exchange first, or do it right away?

Premium Chessgames Member
  LIFE Master AJ:

I played 38.Ne5+, Kf6; 39.NxB/d3, QxN/d3; 40.QxP/b7, QxP/c3; 41.Qc7, 42.Qd6+ and 43.b7.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: Yep, Nc6 leaps out, but I first tried to make it work after the Queen exchange. Black has ...Ba6, holding. So Nc6 at once: and I finally see that ...Qf4+ is useless as the Bishop will be left hanging.

In the game, Black's ...Kf5 blundered into immediate loss (Qh7+ if BQ takes on d3) but other lines lead to mate or mayhem.

Nov-11-10  TheBish: D Howell vs N Giffard, 2009

White to play (37.?) "Medium"

My first thought was to play 37. Nf3, seeing the fork on e5, but after 37...Qxc7 38. bxc7 Bf5 39. Nd4 Bd7!, White's knight can't help promote the pawn. From here (after 38...Bf5), I saw that a knight check on e7 would win, leading me to look to see if 37. Nc6 was playable instead of 37. Nf3. Turns out, it is!

37. Nc6!!

Now 37...Qxc7 is not playable as shown above (38. bxc7 Bf5 39. Nd7+), and neither is 37...bxc6 38. Qxf7+ Kxf7 39. b7 and the pawn will promote. Black must find a defense to both 38. Ne5+ and 38. Qxf7+ Kxf7 39. Ne5+. So we can eliminate king moves as well as bishop moves. If 37...Qf5 38. Ne7+ wins the queen. This leaves one reasonable try.

37...Qf1 38. Ne5+

And not 38. Qxb7? Qf4+ 39. Kg1 Qf1+ with a perpetual check.


A quicker finish is 38...Kh5 39. g4+ Kh4 40. Qg3# or 38...Kf5 39. Nxd3 Qxd3 40. Qh7+ with a killing skewer.

39. Nxd3 Qxd3 40. Qxb7 Qxc3 41. Qc7

With the critical diagonal (h2-b8) covered, White can safely escort the b-pawn through to queening and Black should now resign. I hope the game is as good as the finish!

Nov-11-10  turbo231: It took me a long time but I finally found it. Good puzzle.
Nov-11-10  TheBish: Wow, Black fell for one of the traps I saw (38...Kf5) which sets up a skewer, but he was lost anyway.
Nov-12-10  tacticalmonster: I didn't get this one:

I looked at three candidates: 37 Qxf7+, 37 Nf3 and 37 Nc6

couldn't figure out the subvariation of 37 Nc6

always analyize the most forcing move:

a)37 Qxf7+ Kxf7 -

a1) 38 Nc6 Ke8 39 Na5 Ba6

a2) 38 Nb3 Bb5! 39 Nc5 (if 39 Na5 Ba6 ) Bc6 : this didn't work out

b) 37 Nf3

b1) 37...Qxc7? 38 bxc7 Bf5 39 Nd4 Bd7 40 Nb5! Kf6 41 Nd6 Ke5 42 Nxb7! d4 43 cxd4+ Kxd4 44 Nd6

b2) 37...Qf5 38 Ne5+ Kf6- I don't see any way for white to make progress

c) 37 Nc6 Qf1 38 Ne5+ and now:

c1) 38...Kh5? 39 g4+ Kh4 40 Ng6+! Bxg6 41 Qg3#

c2) 38...Kf5 39 Nxd3- Black drop a piece due to the skewer along the b1-h7 diagonal

c3) this is the variation I was stuck on

38...Kf6 I opt for 39 Qd6+ Kg7 40 Qe7+ Kg8-

I could not find a way to breakthrough from here and Black is threatening the perpetual Qf4+: I missed the winning queen ending after 39 Nxd3

Out of all the ending, I spent the least time on the queen ending and that's why I couldn't figure out this puzzle

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Ouch! A skewer will follow,unless black doesn't take the knight.
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