Monday, 14 February 2011

Chess Reviews: 169

1001 Deadly Checkmates
By GM John Nunn
304 pages
Gambit Publications

In the Preface, GM Murray Chandler (author of the classic
How to Beat Your Dad at Chess’) describes ‘1001 Deadly Checkmates’ as ‘….a sort of How to Beat Your Dad Workbook … where solving the positions reinforces and expands your checkmate pattern-recognition'.

The comment nicely sets the scene for the contents of this new puzzle book. Anyone familiar with the basic checkmate patterns is ready to start tackling the 1001 positions given by GM Nunn. Recognising the patterns can come in useful at all levels of play and a gap in one's knowledge can have fatal consequences even for those playing at the highest of levels, as the following snippet shows.

Nunn – Portisch
World Cup, Reykjavik 1988

32 …Rg8

‘Then came a shock. I crashed through with 33 Qxh7+! and for a moment Portisch looked stunned. At first he couldn’t see the point of the queen sacrifice; then he realized that is was a forced mate…’

‘If a strong Grandmaster such as Portisch can overlook a mating pattern, then anybody can’.

So it makes sense for us all to become as familiar as we possibly can with checkmate patterns.

The author spent six months working on this volume and '...two-thirds of the time spent writing the book was used on the selection of material'. Furthermore, it is ‘...based on mates that actually occur in games. Over 95% of the positions are from the year 2000 or later, so the vast majority will be new even to those who have read previous puzzle books’.

There are six positions per page, all neatly presented in chapters arranged by the following themes:

Elementary Mates
Back-Rank Mates
Mates in the Endgame
The Lethal Long Diagonal
Pawn-Promotion Mates
Mates with Rook and Minor Piece
Deadly Doubled Rooks
Destroying the Defences
Death on the Rook’s File
Queen Sacrifices
Mate by Line-Opening
Mate by Blocking Squares
Mate Involving Double or Discovered Check
Hunting the King
Miscellaneous Mates
Mate Revision Test
Extreme Mate Challenge

Here’s a randomly chosen selection for you to try.

Sedina – Tkeshelashvili
European Women’s Championship, 2003

White to play
Clue: ‘Mate by Blocking Squares’

Beeke – G.Klein
Maastricht 2008

White to play
Clue: ‘Mate in the Endgame’

Lutz - Ftacnik
Bundesliga 2001

White to play
Clue: ‘Extreme Mate Challenge’

The material is very fresh, so readers may take a little longer to solve the puzzles as opposed to those taken from classic encounters. As pleasant as it is to see the Lasker - Bauer double Bishop sacrifice in puzzle books, an influx of variety does no harm at all.

The book can be used in several ways, for example:

a) As a disciplined course of work, using a chapter each time and carefully collating the scores after each test.

b) For a quick mental warm up before a match or tournament.

c) Ideal for coaches to quickly prepare lessons by checkmate theme.

There's also a scoring system for the reader to assess his skill in a numerical way, but I suspect most people will prefer to dip in and out of the puzzles at will.

This is an excellent collection of checkmate puzzles and one which I thoroughly enjoyed trying.

For further details regarding all of the Gambit range, please visit their website.

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