Chess Crackers
November/December 2009

The following represent a variety of positions in honor of IM Michael Schleifer who passed away on November 21, 2009. 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

Grace Nsubuga - IM Michael Schleifer
Black to Move (after 33.Bd7-e6)

Michael Schleifer - Hugues Massé
White to Move (after 40…Bf8-e7 )

No. 3

No. 4

Jean Picard - IM Michael Schleifer
Black to Move (after 27.Kg1-h2)

IM Michael Schleifer - IM Mark Bluvshtein
White to Move (after 19…Rc8xc1)


No. 1 Nsubuga-Schleifer (2001 Wilbert Paige Memorial, Harlem, New York, USA)
An epic battle may have been a mismatch on paper, but Ugandan Champion Grace Nsubuga played aggressively to get a winning position against the Canadian. He sacrificed the exchange for two pawns and an attack on the black king. While Schleifer managed to get the queens off the board, he was completely lost. After the smoke had cleared, the Ugandan prepared to set his steamrolling pawns in motion, but erred with 33.Bd7-e6. The Canadian blitzed out the simple 33…Re8! winning a crucial pawn on the tactic 34.d5 Rxd5.  (See game)

No. 2  Schleifer-Masse (2006 Canadian Closed and Zonal, Toronto, Canada)
The position came about after a positional game exploded into a tactical mess. With white's pieces swarming around the black monarch,  Masse attempted a counterattack, but his plans were squashed after white mates with 41.Nf5+! Kh8 42. Qe8+ Nf8 43. Bf6+! Kg8 (43... Bxf6 44. Qxf8+ Qg8 45. Qxf6+) and ends with the picturesque 44. Nh6#. (See game)

No. 3  Picard-Schleifer (2006 Québec Open Championship, Québec, Canada)
Picard is apparently a player who likes to sacrifice material for an attack. He trotted out the Smith-Morra Gambit which Schleifer declined. He then tried sacrificing an exchange… that was declined. What occurred thereafter was a clumsy attempt to conjure up a coffeehouse attack. Black slowly consolidated and as white was trying to break through with 26. Rxe5, black invaded after there first with 26…Qb1+ 27. Kh2. White was seemingly safe, but after 27…Rd1! white is entombed.  No wiggle room after 28. Rgg5 Rh1+ 29. Kg3 Qg1! White resigned before losing massive material after the pending 30…Qh2+. (Note: After 30.Kg3, there is one trick left… black can blunder with 30…fxe5+?? (30…fxg5+ wins) 31.Kxe5+ Kg8 32.Kxe6 and white is mating!)  (See game)

No. 4  Schleifer-Bluvshtein (2002 CMA Futurity, Montreal, Canada)
This must've been a crushing blow to the young upstart. Mark Bluvshtein went on to become a Grandmaster at age 16, but on that path he was dealt some harsh lessons. This was one of them. Schleifer had built up and unassuming position with nothing brewing in the pot. However, looks are deceiving. After white played the opportunistic 19.Nf5!? black thought that trading down would help. Black chose 19…Rxc1 (diagram) and expected a recapture, but white played the shocking intermezzo  20. Qg4! and suddenly black is mated. Black overlooked that after 20…Rxf1+ 21. Kxf1, the rare double mate threat… mate cannot be stopped. (See game)

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