Chess Crackers
November/December 2007

The following represent a variety of positions from Black Masters. 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

FM Leonard Johnson - Nathan Hoover
White to Move (after 46 a7-a6)

GM Pontus Carlsson - GM Ioannis Papaioannou
White to Move (after 26 Bf8-h6)

No. 3

No. 4

IM Amon Simutowe-GM Hikaru Nakamura
White to Move (after 26 Bb7xd5 )

IM Maurice Ashley-GM Robert Kempinski
White to Move (after 32 Qa3-a2)


No. 1 Johnson-Hoover (2001 Minnesota Premier Closed, Minnesota, USA)
This ending shot is straight-forward. White has a winning position and ended the game neatly with 47.Rxa6+! Of course after 47 bxa6 48.bxa6, the knight cannot stop the queening of the pawn. Johnson is somewhat of an enigma. A standout in Minnesota, he rose to local prominence but never played regularly in national events. He won a national title as a member of the Pan-Am Intercollegiate team for the University of Minnesota, but not much has been heard from him. (See game; Leonard Johnson)

No. 2  Carlsson-Papaioannou (2007 European Team Ch. - Heraklion, Greece)
Carlsson was conferred the title of Grandmaster back in  October and has kept a diligent schedule. In his most recent tournament, he starred for the Swedish national team ion the European Cup by winning a gold medal on board five and tallying a 2686 performance. In his match against Greek GM, he faced the Center Counter and got a comfortable edge after some provocative play. In the diagram, he shattered black's position with 27.Bxe6! and after 27fxe6, white realized his strong attack with 28.Qxe6 Rf3 29.Qe8+ Qc8 30.Bxa7+ Kc7 31. Qh5! Black tried to hold with 31Ne5, but after 32.Qh7+ black position was unable to withstand the strong attack and resigned at move 40.  (See game; Pontus Carlsson)

No. 3  Simutowe-Nakamura (2007 U.S. Open - Newark, USA)
Powerful performance by the Zambian as he plays this game in fine fashion. Black experimented in the opening and was sliced and diced by white's bishops. After the penetrating on black's 7th rank, white unleashed a crushing blow with 27.Rxg7! Black played 27Rxg5+ (Since 27Kxg7 gets him mated after 28. Qh6+ (Also 28. Bh6+ Kh8 29. Qe7) 28... Kh8 29. Bxf5.) and left white with the 28.Qxg5 Bxe6 (28Kxg7 29.Qxe5+ and 30.Bxd5) 29.Qf6. (See game; Amon Simutowe)

No. 4  Ashley-Kempinski (1997 Bayern-chl Bank Hoffman - Bad Wiessee, Germany)
This is an oldie, but goodie. This was in the penultimate round of an international tournament in Germany and Ashley was vying for 1st place and a GM norm. The game was tense throughout, but Ashley had outplayed the Polish GM. With time pressure looming and huge crowd watching, Ashley finished the game with a nice combination beginning with 33.Rxb7+!! This turns out to be a forced mate! Black continued with 33Kxb7 34.Nxc5+ Kb6 35.Qb7+ Kxc5 36.Bb4+ Kd4 37.Qb6+ Kc4 38. Re4+ Kxd5 39.Qe6#. Nice!!  Ashley had played the last several moves in rapid fire (with his flag hanging) and stated that he was tingling after the game. He went on to clinch the norm after a 79-move draw against GM Viktor Garikov. (See game; Maurice Ashley)

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