Chess Crackers
July/August 2004

The following represent four positions from the 2004 World Open by Dr. Kimani Stancil in honor of his pending Master's title. In each diagram, you're challenged to find the winning line (not just the first move). Each position ends with decisive material gain or mate. Solve each of the four problems (as deep as possible) and check your answers by scrolling below. No peeking!!

No. 2

No. 1

FM Emory Tate - Kimani Stancil
Black to Move (after 41.Qf4-h4)

Kimani Stancil - IM Mikhail Zlotnikov
White to Move (after 28Bd3xf1)

No. 3

No. 4

Kimani Stancil - WGM Rusudan Goletiani
White to Move (after 33Rd8-d7)

Kimani Stancil - FM Fabiano Caruana
White to Move (after 36g7-g5)

Solutions (Opening Quotes by Dr. Stancil)

No. 1  Tate-Stancil (2004 World Open, Philadelphia, PA)

"My game against Emory Tate was like one of the greatest events I have had in chess. I consider Emory Tate to be one of the greatest tacticians on the planet, and as my favorite black player, I have learned much from his games."

Tate played 41.Qh4 trying to drum up an attack. Stancil gives 41.Rxh8 Rxh8 42.Qxa5 as white's alternative, but after 42Bc6! white has no more threats. In the diagrammed position, black simply plays the simple and direct 41a3-a2! and the pawn promotes. If black panics on 41...Qe5? then 42.Rg3 a3 43.Rh3 Rxh6 44.Qxh6+ Kf7 45.Qh7+ Qg7 46.g6+ Kf6 (46...Kf8?? 47.Qh8+) 47.Qh4+ Ke5 48.Qe1+ Kf6 49.Qh4+ white escapes with a draw!).  (See game)

No. 2 Stancil-Zlotnikov (2004 World Open, Philadelphia, PA)

"As a young player, I maintained the habit of never resigning, and here this paid off by enabling me to see the tactical features in the position. I sought Zlotnikov's King with the direct threat of making a draw which worked well to disguise the true threat of mate which was easy to stop but hard to detect."

After being run off the board, Stancil looked for a counterattack hoping that his opponent would get careless. He did. After Zlotnikov greedily snapped the rook with 28...Bxf1??, Stancil pounced with the line-closing 29.e5! threatening mate on the g7-square. At this point, Zlotnikov probably got the sinking feeling that chess players get when they realize they have to resign after winning just a move earlier.  Any capture on the e5-square would lead to the g7-square being undefended and since 29Rg8 loses to 30.Qf6+, Zlotnikov played 29Bxg2+ and after 30.Kh2, he resigned. (See game)

No. 3  Stancil-Goletiani (2004 World Open, Philadelphia, PA)

"Third round buzz, where I now face the up and coming WGM Rusudan Goletiani. With the white pieces I play 6.c3!? in the 5. Bd3 Kan Sicilian. I was inspired abstractly by Larry Christiansen's "novelty of the year candidate" for 2000. In a slightly related Nc3 variation against the Kan, Bf2+ was allowed in that game. However, in this game, I was able to clarify this inspiration by offering an exchange of a pawn for control of the dark squares and the gain of one tempi (moves 6-9)."

The tragedy of black's position is that the queen on a5 is helpless to prevent the onslaught initiated by the key move, 34.Bc4+! After 34Kh8 (34Kf8 35.Bc5+), Stancil demonstrates another line-closing tactic with 35.Bf7!! On 35Rxf7, 36.Qe8+ Rf8 37.Qxf8 is mate and on 35Bxf7 36.Qxg7 is mate.  Beautiful tactics! (See game)

No. 4 Stancil Caruana (2004 World Open, Philadelphia, PA)

"For this contest against the young FM Fabiano Caruana, I was very alert tactically, and solved my problems by positional means. And this leads to the tactical solution realized after Black's move 36....g5."

Stancil continues his World Open clinic on tactics in this game against his 11-year old opponent.  After a wild Sveshnikov Sicilian, tactics whizzed across the board to arrive at the diagrammed position.  Earlier Stancil had sacrificed his queen because he saw the ensuing attack. His understanding was that white's active pieces and dangerous passed would be able to create threats on the back rank.  So Caruana played 36g7-g5 after which Stancil revealed a deflection tactic with 37.Re7!! He threatens 38.Bd4+ Bg7 39.Bxg7 mate and the black queen is helpless to aid her king. Caruana tries 37Qg4, but 38.c7! decides the matter. Another line-closing motif would become reality after 38h5 (38Bg7 39.Re8+ Bf8 40.Rxf8 mate; 38Bxe7 39.c8(Q)+ Qxc8 40.Bd4+ Bf6 41. Bxf6 mate; 38Qh5+ 39.Kg2 Qd1 40.Rd7+-) 39.Re6! threatening 40.c8(Q).  Caruana saw these variations and resigned. Very instructive! (See game)

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