It is always fun to observe experienced chess players analyze their games or kibitz about other games in progress.

If you happened to witness group of Russians playing blitz or analyzing position and if you are also proficient in Russian to understand their witty comments, you may hear something like this (translated in English) - "Grandmasters don't make checks!" or "Common! Stop bothering my King!" or "No one ever died from the check!" These sayings emphasize how little is the respect  stronger players have for checks made without a good reason.

On the contrary, beginners, especially kids love to make checks, and why not - after all - here is no checkmate without the check!

Today's examples come from recent games by titled players (GMs!) all started with a simple, and maybe even pointless check, but see for yourself:

Avrukh,B (2629) - Sutovsky,E (2669)
Gibraltar Masters, Turkey, 2005

How do you evaluate this position? What should White do? Spend a few minutes before scrolling down to see the answer.

 

STOP!!

Answer:

Thanks to the opposite color bishops and unstable position of White Bishop Black has drawing chances. White needs to respond to this "innocent" check. The best way was a modest 1.Ke2. If like GM Avrukh you played selected 1.Ke4? you went the wrong way! Black has another check, and this time not so "innocent"! 1...f5+ What did you plan do now? White played 2.Kf3?? (he was afraid of 2.Ke5 Bc7) and after 2...Rd2 his King is in the mating net! Rf2# can only be postponed for a couple of moves 0-1 

The best way was to continue forward progress and accept the discovered check. Worst case scenario for White - Black wins the pawn, but still must show some accuracy to draw. Here is the approximate variation: 2.Ke5 Bc7 3.Bb7 Rxd7+ 4.Ke6 Rf7 5.Bd5 (5.Bxa6 Rf6+ 6.Kd7 [6.Kd5 Rd6+ 7.Ke5 Bb8] 6...Rxa6=) 5...Ba5=

Meins,G - Reschke,S
Bundesliga1996

Can White win this position? What should he play? Spend a few minutes before scrolling down to see the answer.

 

STOP!!

Answer:

Well, you maybe surprise but it is much easier for White to loose in this position then to win. Majority of people whom I show this position select 1.Ke5?? and can't believe their eyes when they see 1...Kc6. Got it? Are you one of them? Scroll down.

Yes, the checkmate after 2...f6# is unstoppable. The best is 1.Kc3 or 1.Ke3 and after 1...Ka6 Draw is most likely outcome.

Goloshchapov,A (2550) - Mamediarov,S (2540)
Europe clubs, Turkey, 2004

How do you evaluate this position? What should White do? Spend a few minutes before scrolling down to see the answer.

STOP!!

Answer:

This is a dead drawn position - opposite color bishops, weak pawns (e5 vs. g5), the Bishop on e6 that looks like a pawn, etc.... One way to loose this position is to play 1.Rd2?? after 1...d4 the Bishop e6 shows the world the difference between the Bishops and the Pawns. The R on a2 is defended in case of 2.Rxa2 dxe3+ 3.Kxe3 Bxa2. And White looses his Bishop on e3 -  2.Bxd4 Rxd2+

 

So what do you do about those checks your opponent can unleash at any moment? Here is the hint:

Negi,P (2316) - Georgiev,V (2517)
Corus C, Wijk aan Zee, 2005

After 1.Rg6-g8 Re2-e6+

On a previous move White played ambitious 1.Rg6-g8? instead of just simple 1.Rxg2 securing a draw. And now after 1...Re2-e6+ Black is ready to turn the table around. What result do you expect and what is he best variation? Spend a few minutes before scrolling down to see the answer.

 

STOP!!

Answer:

Well, while Rg6-g8 was a mistake, only after 2.Kc7? White is loosing. After 2...Rg6 3.Rxg6 Kxg6 4.a6 g1Q Black went on to win this game as White pawn can't advance.  

Apparently, White's problems are due to the Nb7, so the best way was to check back!! After 2.Nd6+!! Rxd6+ 3.Kb7 Rg6 4.Rxg6 Kxg6 5.a6 g1Q 6.a7 White reaches easily drawn endgame!

 

I hope you enjoyed these examples and got humor of my comments. Chess is not an exact science so feel free to make checks or not to make them as you feel is warranted.

 

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Copyrighted @ 2005 Igor Khmelnitsky

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