Chess Crackers
May/June 2006

The following represent a variety of positions from talented Black players. In the following diagrams, you're challenged to find the winning line. 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

IM Pontus Carlsson - GM Javier Campos Moreno
White to Move (after 19dxe4)

Chris Nienart - Kayin Barclay
Black to Move (after 54.c5-c6)

No. 3

No. 4

NM Wilbert Paige - IM Edward Formanek
White to Move (after 42Qb8-g8)

Babson - Theophilus Thompson
Black to Move (after 18.Nc3xb5)


No. 1  Carlsson-Campos (2002 Ciudad de Sller International, Mallorca, Spain)
Carlsson was playing against his own weapon in the Sicilian Dragon so he was undoubtedly prepared in battle. The downfall about playing such a complicated system is that there is little room for error. In this game the Chilean Grandmaster's quest for counterplay in the center came to late and Carlsson punched through with 20.Bxg7! and after 20Qxd2 (20Kxg7 is mated), 21.Bxf6! weaves the deadly mating net (21.Rxd2? is losing). Ironically, after 21Qxd1+ 22.Rxd1 there is nothing black can do to prevent 23.Rh1 and 24.Rh8# (See game; IM Pontus Carlsson)

No. 2 Nienart-Barclay (2006 Illinois H.S. Championship, Naperville, USA)
This was an interesting encounter featuring one of the brightest stars in 15-year old Kayin Barclay. In an exciting finale, black had an extra piece, but white had a dangerous passed pawn headed up the c-file. Of course, black would have to sacrifice his bishop, but timing was important. In this position, black played the seemingly obvious 54Bxc6! to win the pawn race after 55.Kxc6 e5 56.a4 e4 57.a5 e3 58.a6 e2 59.a7 e1(Q) 60.Kb7 (60.a8(Q) is met by 60Qe4+) 60Qe7+ 61.Kb8 Kc5 62.a8Q 62...Kb6 63.Qa4 Qd8#. Was not black's 54Bxc6  obvious? Black could have also acted in haste with 54e5? The game ends in a probable draw after 55.c7 Be6 56.a4 e4 57.a5 e3 58.a6 e2 59.a7 e1(Q) 60.a8(Q). (See game)

No. 3  Paige-Formanek (1993 World Open, Philadelphia, USA)
This is a classic game by the late Wilbert Paige. Paige has uncorked a queen sacrifice in this immortal game and finished with a flurry. Two moves earlier, white had missed an opportunity in this same position, but this time reeled off the first of many blows in 43.Bf6+!  Kf7 the second blow 44.Ra1! Qb8 and now the third blow 45.Ra7! Black is soon overwhelmed after 45.Kf8 46.Rh8+ Rb8 47.Bg7+! Paige was honored when the Wilbert Paige Memorial took place in Harlem, New York July 14-23, 2001. (See game; Wilbert Paige Memorial)

No. 4  Babson-Thompson (1874 Correspondence, Frederick, Maryland, USA)
Another correspondence gem from the master composer, Theophilus Thompson. Most everyone is familiar with his famous demolition of C.H. Blood, but this game is even more impressive. Thompson defended against the King's Gambit which was in its heyday.  He sacrificed material (12f3!) for a direct onslaught against the white king. White's pieces huddled around the king, but it would be a deflective shot that would cause ruin. Thompson played 18Ra5! setting up an invasion by the dark-squared bishop. White is defenseless after 19.Bd2 Rxb5 20.Ba4 Bd4 and white must suffer massive losses. (See game)

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