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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Half knowledge is dangerous!

I have this habit of buying one chess book in every tournament that I play. In this way, my final aim is one day to open a huge library of chess books! And there are some tournaments when I really play well. Then I can use my prize money to buy more chess books. 
In my Euro trip which ended just a month ago, I had two huge achievements.
1. I became an International Master (IM) in Spain
2. I won the Dresden Open 2014 and made my maiden GM norm in Germany.

In one of my past articles on this blog: People behind my IM title , I had mentioned that there are two chess authors whom I hold in very high regard.

One of them is GM Jacob Aagaard

And the other is IM Mark Dvoretsky.

When I became an IM in Spain, my wife, Amruta, decided to gift me the latest book written by Aagaard.

The book was pretty expensive. 30 Euros. That comes to nearly Rs.2400. So I had kind of exhausted my resources on book buying for the trip.

But then something amazing happened.

I won the Dresden Open 2014 and was richer by €2000
That meant I had quite some money to buy a few new books and I decided to buy one of Mark Dvoretsky books.

In German the title of the book read: Paying attention to opponent's possibilities. Though the book was in German, it was mainly a workbook. And had a lot of training positions. So I figured that language won't be much of a hindrance.

After coming back from the two and a half month Euro-trip I took some rest and when I was back to the chess board, I decided to work with these two books.
Usually what I do is to solve one page from each book every day. On 24th September when I sat down to solve, these were the positions in front of me.

Six positions from Dvoretsky's book

And four from Aagaard's.

A little note about how I solve. I set the time on my clock (lets say around 45 minutes for the all the problems) and then I setup the positions on the chess board, solve them and write down the answer. After finishing the Dvoretsky problems, I would check the answers and then repeat the same process with Aagaard's positions. Bear in mind, I try to solve these positions very seriously as if it were a real game. Hence, whatever I have written below is when I was working with my maximum capacity and not as a leisure activity.

One of the positions from Dvoretsky's book that I would like to bring to your attention is the following:

It's White to play. What should he do?

In the game White immediately erred with the move 1.Kd1? Kf2 2.g3 Kg2 3.Ke2 and now all would be fine if Black took the h2 pawn as then Kf2 is a draw. We will come to that in the main-line. But black has the crushing, 3...h4! 

Game over folks!

and after 4.gh4 f4! the fact that the white king is on e2 spells his doom as the f-pawn moves ahead with a check.

As you all must have understood by now, it was important not to commit your king's position. White must start with 1.g3! And after Kf2 2.Kd3 (or Kd2) Kg2 3.Ke3! 

It is important for the White king to use the e3 square.

Now h4 is pointless as after gh4, there is no f4. Hence Black must play 3...Kxh2 and after 4.Kf2 we reach a theoretical draw. 

This is a position with mutual zugzwang. If it were White to move he would lose as Kf3 would be met with the outflanking manoeuvre Kg1! But here it is Black to move and wherever he goes, the white king just follows him. For eg. Kh1 is met with Kf1 and Kh3 with Kf3. 

With Black to play, there is absolutely no way to make progress. Keep this position in your mind!

I was well aware of all these intricacies and hence could solve this position quite easily and quickly. After solving all the other Dvoretsky problems, I opened Aagaard's book and had the following position in front of me.

White to play. How should he continue?

It's clear that White has to do something concrete. His g3-pawn is hanging and Ne4 is met with Nd4+ when the f3-pawn falls. Hence White must start with 1.Nxh5! Black has no option but to attack the white knight with 1...Kh6

White knight does not need to move yet. Taking it with the pawn hangs the f5 knight and Kxh5 is met with g4 Kxh4 gxf5 with a winning pawn endgame. So the most natural move in this position is definitely 2.Kf6!

Everything just works for White here. The knight is taboo. And white next threatens Nf4, winning the g6 pawn. It was at this point, I noticed the move 2...Nxh4

A curious position! Both the knights are hanging! In order to make progress White has to take the knight. 
3.gxh4 Kxh5 And now Kg7 would be met with Kh4 Kxg6 Kg3= with a draw. White must play 4.f4. Of course Kxh4 lose to Kxg6. But Black will go 4...Kh6 and we reach the following position.

As you already remember from the Dvoretsky position that we analyzed above, this is a theoretical draw.

I tried really hard to find a way for White to win. But there was absolutely none. Finally I went ahead, solved the next positions and then checked the answers.

In the solution section to the above position. Aagaard did not consider the move 2...Nxh4. Instead he gave 2...Nd4 3.Nf4 Nxf3 4.Nxg6 with a winning endgame. I was surprised. After all the variation that I considered with 2...Nxh4 was a draw. Why did Aagaard, who is usually quite meticulous about his analysis, did not consider the move at all.

I opened my laptop and set up the position. I clicked on the tab reference and checked that the position was correct and it had occurred in the game Voitsekhovsky-Karalkin, Tomsk 2006.
When the patient is gravely ill and no diagnosis are to be found, we have to finally resort to doctor Houdini. And when I reached the below position which I considered a draw and switched on Houdini, the result was shocking.

Houdini claimed an advantage of +- 10. something for White!

I was 100% sure that the Dvoretsky position was a draw. But I guess you already have figured it out what is the difference over here. For those who haven't here is it.

In the Dvoretsky position the stronger side's king is on the edge and hence he cannot win. Where as in the Aagaard position, the stronger side's king is near the center and all that he has to do is simply sacrifice his h-pawn and make a queen with Ke7 Kg7 (Kh7 is met with Kf7) and h5! and the f-pawn queens. In short, the position of the kings have been interchanged.

I tried to think a lot as to why exactly did I make this mistake. It would have been highly improbable that I would have made such an error in the Aagaard position if I hadn't seen the Dvoretsky position a few minutes before. When I saw the Dvoretsky position I simply said to myself that the kings keep moving up and down for eg. Kh2 Kf2 Kh1 Kf1 and so an and nothing happens. I didn't really pay attention to the positioning of the kings.
When I saw the Aagaard's position, I made the similar test. Kf7 is met with Kh7 Kf8 with Kh8 and I can do nothing about it. Hence in my mind, I took both the positions as same, as they passed the test filter that I had created.

Of course you can just argue that I was careless, but I want to assure you that I wasn't. I was solving very seriously and at my full strength. 
It was a big eye-opener for me and I learnt a lot from this mistake.
My advice to all the players would be: In chess it is useful to have patterns in your head. Drawn setups, fortresses, ideas etc. But when you do assign a specific position to your memory be sure to check all its aspects. Because if you do not do that and just vaguely remember things, there is a high chance that someone out there will fool you pretty soon! :)

Dont be a fool! Study chess carefully!

Addendum: This article became quite popular within hours of me writing it and was published in a Spanish blog.
And on monday 29th September, Jacob Aagaard published it on his Quality Chess blog. I think this for me is a huge honour and a seal of approval that my work is of a decent quality! :)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Indians Rock at the 41st Chess olympiad!!

For some articles, I have to think a lot before I write, but this one comes directly from my heart! :) 

It's 15th August today, Our Independence day and I am proud to be an Indian.

And I am also proud to be a chess player because I love this game so much!

On 15th August both of these loves came together as the Indian Men's team won a Bronze medal at the 41st Chess Olympiad held at Tromso Norway from 1-14th August 2014.

The dream come true for every Indian chess player!

 From L-R B Adhiban, Sethuraman, AICF CEO Bharat Singh, Lalith Babu, Sasikiran, Parimarjan Negi and Indian coach R B Ramesh.

To understand the magnitude of this victory you must understand how many teams took part in the event.
177!!! Yes there were 177 teams. In the world there are around 196 countries and 177 took part. And all the top players in the world took part. World no.1 Magnus was there, world no.2 Levon Aronian was there, so was no.3 caruana, the big Vlad, Ivanchuk, just about everyone! And guess what we did not even have our top 2 players in the team Anand and Harikrishna.

I particularly liked what Bharat Singh AICF CEO wrote on facebook:

Yes we had this brilliant team spirit!
Perfect team spirit and team bonding!

Chess is a game played in silence. People do not talk, they do not express. Even after winning no one really gives a high five or shouts out aloud. After years and years of this behavious it is possible to assume that chess players are emotionless. But the Olympiad is such a huge event that the emotions start pouring out!

Chinese Wang Yue and Ni Hua. I have hardly ever seen their picture smiling and today they had tears of happiness in their eyes!

This is what an olympiad gold means!!

GOLD medalists. The Chinese team have shown what it means to have a great team unity! No big names. Just consistent performers who are ready to sweat it out for their country!

The emotions just keep coming out! China with the gold as Hungarians (silver) and Indians (bronze) look at them with a smile!! 

Remember! India finished ahead of Russia, at team which had Kramnik, Grischuk, Karjakin and Svidler!
Ahead of USA! A team which had Nakamura and Kamsky.
Ahead of Ukraine! A team which had Ivanchuk and Ponomariov!!

Now that you know what a huge thing we have achieved! Lets meet the key people!

Indian coach R B Ramesh being lifted by the players!

If Dronacharya award is given to a great coach, I think in chess it should be Ramesh award! This man is simply a class apart! His role in this bronze medal is huge! To put Negi on board 1 and Sasi on board 3 was a brilliant decision which worked beautifully!! Some day I would love to learn about chess from this great man! He is the best in the business not only in India but world over!! 

Such pictures are a dream for every sport player! When the officials recognize what you have achieved. D V Sundar one of the key persons in Indian Chess who is also a FIDE vice president hugs Sasikiran and Sethuraman!! 

Bharat Singh CEO of All India Chess Federation (AICF) hugs Sasikiran! These pictures can only mean that chess will be more popular in India now because these guys like Bharat Singh and Sundar have the capability to raise more money and bring bigger tournaments in the nation!!

Gopakumar Sudhakaran (second from right). This man was in Norway and reporting for each and every round to thousand of people waiting for updates! So enthusiastic is he that he clicked pictures with each and every top player in the world! He is a great arbiter with loads of energy! I think he has definitely played his role in popularizing this olympiad and indirectly chess in India!! Well done Gopa!!

PARIMARJAN NEGI board one 6.5/10 Rating performance 2730!

A pure gem! Faced the music on the top board by playing against all the strong players in the world.
Not only drew with Aronian but also brutally killed Bologan and totally out techniqued Kasimdzhanov!! You are a gem Parimarjan! Please listen to thousands of your fans cheering for you and don't retire from chess!

S P Sethuraman Board two 7.5/10 rating performance 2757.

One of the key performers for India. I have played this man many times and every time I feel like I am playing against a tiger. His glare, the way he moves with confidence, strong and swift tactics! Sethuraman you gave everything you had here!! You deserved a board medal but it's fine. You did something more important. You won the heart of millions of Indians with your moves!!

KRISHNAN SASIKIRAN, board three, 7.5/10, performance 2753.

Rock solid performer. When he is in the team we feel secure. Even when he is playing Magnus I think we can hope for a positive outcome. Yes he is the wall of the Indian team. He is the best and I have loads of respect for this man! He can do anything. He readily played on board three for the team! And he won a silver medal on that board. It was he who provided the crucial win in round 10 against Nisipeanu to give Indians the victory against the Germans! Sasi anna (as everyone calls him) you are a true patriot and India is lucky to have such a dedicated chess player like you! :)

B ADHIBAN board four  7/11 performance 2611.

Played without a break. All the eleven games. After the Biel tournament he was our striker. He was not in the best of forms but he clinged on there. Many times he was on the brink of defeat but he fought back every single time. This is what a true champion is! Even when the chips are down he tries to minimize the damage. Even in this form he didn't lose a single game!! Last round save against Vakhidov earned us a bronze medal. Adhiban we salute you for your fighting qualities.

And last but not the least.

LALITH BABU board five 2/3 performance 2484.

This is what coach Ramesh had to say about Lalith:

"Must apologise publicly to Rohit Lalith Babu for not letting him play more than he did. It was just that no one lost any games and I didnt want to spoil the momentum with frequent changes. Lalith was a great team player and he supported our decisions whole heartedly. He was helping other players in their preparations which was crucial for the team."

Just two months ago I played in the same team as Lalith in Maharashtra Chess League (MCL) and I was just amazed at this man's flexibilty.
Coach to Lalith: will you play on board 1 
Lalith: yes sir!
Coach: will you take black.
Lalith: No problem sir.
Coach: Lalith you will have to win today!
Lalith: Yes sir I will try my best!

Always positive. Always affirmative! That's what he is. I like to call him "the liquid". He will take the shape of the role which you put him into!! Sitting outside is not an easy job! Lalith did not only sit outside but he did so with a smile on his face which is so important for the other players morale. He helped them prepare. Just imagine having a great player with a phenomenal knowledge as a second!! I think lalith you have not only played a huge role but maybe a bigger role than the other four players because you not only score 2 points but also helped others to score more points!! True team player!!

And the most brilliant thing about Indian team. 11 rounds, 4 boards. That's in all 44 games. And guess the number of games we lost? just 2!!! Just 2 losses in 44 games! That's consistency my friends.

When team India sat on the board they meant business! They were there to win. And it should on their faces and it showed in their moves!! This was a great team!! Love you guys!
Thanks for bringing a smile on a billion Indian faces!

And not to forget the women's team! They tried their best! The finished 10th which is a pretty respectable finish! Kudos to all five of the girls. Harika, Tania, Eesha, Mary and Padmini! We are equally proud of you.
But one girl who won each and every Indian's heart was....

Padmini Rout with a phenomenal 7.5/8 won the gold medal on the reserve board!

Padmini you were the queen of Orissa. But with your performance you have become the queen of India!! 
A gold medal on an olympiad debut, that's something only a genius with strong nerves can do! We wish you all the success in your life and hope that with Judit Polgar now retiring, you take up her place!! :)

So my dear friends, Thus ends a huge event in the life of a chess player! Thousands of games everyday to be seen and two teams of India to cheer. But now this gala event comes to an end. It is a little sad but the Indian teams have given us plenty of reasons to be happy and we must thank them for giving us the opportunity to enjoy this beautiful game of chess!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Sakaal Newspaper covers my IM title!

My news of becoming an IM was published in a popular marathi newspaper called Sakaal. While the news covers exactly what I did in Spain, the headlines is extremely interesting.

The title of this article is quite funny and at the same time very catchy. The best I can translate is like this,
"Daughter-in-law from Pune helps Mumbai's son-in-law to an become International Master!
(anyone with better Marathi can help me translate it better)

The news can be read on this link

This is the main body of the article: While those who can understand Marathi can read the article, for those who do not I have translated the last paragraph.

मुख्यपान » क्रीडा » बातम्या



पुणेकर सुनेमुळे मुंबईचा जावई 'इंटरनॅशनल मास्टर'!
- मुकुंद पोतदार : सकाळ वृत्तसेवा
शुक्रवार, 1 ऑगस्ट 2014 - 02:15 AM IST

Tags: PuneSportsChessSagar Shah
पुणे :  मुंबईचा बुद्धिबळपटू सागर शहा याने "इंटरनॅशनल मास्टर‘ होण्याचे पहिले ध्येय गाठले आहे. बुद्धिबळपटूच असलेल्या पुण्याच्या अमृता मोकलशी विवाह झाल्यानंतर त्याने ही मजल मारली आहे. स्पेन दौऱ्यात तीन स्पर्धांत त्याने ही कामगिरी केली. 

सागरने यापूर्वी 2396 एलो गुणांकनापर्यंत मजल मारली होती; पण त्यानंतर ते 2304 पर्यंत घसरले होते. स्पेनला जाण्यापूर्वी त्याचे एलो गुणांकन 2314 होते. पाच स्पर्धा खेळून 86 गुण व उरलेला नॉर्म पूर्ण करण्याची त्याला संधी होती. मॉंटकॅडा ओपनमध्ये त्याची संधी थोडक्‍यात हुकली. त्याने ग्रॅंडमास्टर जेमी क्‍युआर्ताज अलेक्‍झांडर (2483) याला हरविले. याशिवाय त्याने ख्रिस्तियन क्रूझ (2563), हिर्रायझ हिडॅल्गो (2446), मुनोज पॅंटोजा (2457) हे तीन ग्रॅंडमास्टर व "इंटरनॅशनल मास्टर‘ सोमक पलित (2411) या सरस गुणांकन असलेल्या प्रतिस्पर्ध्यांशी बरोबरी साधली. अखेरच्या फेरीत त्याला नॉर्मसाठी केवळ बरोबरीची गरज होती; पण ग्रॅंडमास्टर कॅरेन मोवसीझीयन (2520) याच्याकडून तो हरला. नॉर्म हुकला तरी सागरला 23 एलो गुणांकनाची कमाई झाली.
या स्पर्धेत दमछाक झाल्यामुळे तो बार्बेरा ओपनमधून माघार घेण्याच्या विचारात होता; पण अमृताशी चर्चा करून त्याने अखेरच्या क्षणी खेळायचे ठरविले. अखेरीस हेच निर्णायक ठरले. त्याने एक ग्रॅंडमास्टर (मुनोझ पॅंटोजा), दोन इंटरनॅशनल मास्टर (जोनाथन क्रूझ 2470, मस्कारो मार्च पेड्रो 2417) आणि एक फिडे मास्टर (गोंझालेझ पेरेझ ऍरीयन 2494) यांना हरविले. यामुळे 53 गुणांसह त्याने नॉर्मही मिळविला. 20 दिवसांत दोन स्पर्धांत त्याने 2314 वरून 2390 एलो गुणांकन नेले. नॉर्मचे निकष पूर्ण करण्यासाठी त्याला 2400 पर्यंत एलो गुणांकन नेण्याची गरज होती. सॅंट मार्टी ओपन या तिसऱ्या स्पर्धेत नाट्यमय घडामोडी होऊन ही कामगिरी झाली. दिप्तायन घोष (2468) व मॅत्सेंको सर्जी (2474) या "इंटरनॅशनल मास्टर‘शी त्याने बरोबरी साधली, त्यामुळे एलो गुणांकन 2399.75 पर्यंत गेले. पुढील डावात त्याने नॉर्वेचा "इंटरनॅशनल मास्टर हॅन्सेन टोर्बयॉर्न रिंगडॅल (2448) याच्याविरुद्ध अतीबचाव केला; पण बरोबरीऐवजी त्याला पराभूत व्हावे लागले. नंतर त्याने दडपण झुगारून "वूमन ग्रॅंडमास्टर‘ कॉरी डेझी (2414) हिच्याशी बरोबरी साधली. याबरोबरच त्याचे "मिशन‘ पूर्ण झाले.
दोन आघाड्यांवर सुख! परदेशात स्पर्धा असल्यावर भारतीय खेळाडूंसमोर जेवणाचा मुख्य प्रश्‍न असतो. लग्नानंतर अमृताने हा प्रश्‍न सोडविण्याबरोबरच सरावातही मदत केली. सागरच्या डावांचा आढावा घेणे, चुकांची तसेच चांगल्या चालींची माहिती देणे, हे "सेकंड‘चे कामही तिने केले. यामुळे केवळ स्पर्धेवर लक्ष केंद्रित करू शकलो, असे सागरने आवर्जून नमूद केले.

(When playing overseas the main problem that confronts chess players is with regards to food. After marriage Amruta not only solved this problem regarding food but also helped Sagar with his practice. She analyzed Sagar's games, told him the mistakes he was making along with better suggestions. In short she was Sagar's second. And hence Sagar could keep his complete focus on the tournament.)

That's the original picture published in the article taken at Kolkata Open, March 2014.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Afek's Challenge!

The Dutch NK Open in Dieren is currently in progress. One of the participants in the tournament is the world famous study composer IM Yochanan Afek (2298). Afek is a brilliant composer. Some of his studies are very deep and can really teach you a lot and at the same time give you loads of joy and satisfaction solving them.
At the age of 62 Afek is still quite sharp and is currently playing excellent chess at the Dutch NK Open in Dieren. (Photo by Alina L'Ami)

Afek has composed a study specially for the tournament. He will reveal the answer today i.e 31st July at 17.30 hrs. Let's have a look at what this man has composed.

It's White to play and win.

I know many people who when confronted with a study, start the engine. Houdini or Rybka or for that matter Fritz are so strong these days that the toughest of positions are solved by them within fractions of a second. This can give you the illusion that these positions are not really so difficult. The sad part is that during the game it's your head that has to do all the thinking. You have no computer with you (unless of course you are cheating!!) So as Aagaard says: You have to train your mind to do the thinking and not your computer! My advice to you would be to dig your head in by setting up the position on a board and taking 30 minutes on the clock to find the win for White. If you find the answer then compare your thinking with mine and if you don't then do not give up. After thinking for 30 minutes the position will be firmly engraved in your head so try thinking blindfolded. Like when you are travelling and have nothing to do or you are about to sleep and can think about this position for a few minutes. But in no case should you see the answer before solving the study. It will rob you of the happiness that you will get after you solving it correctly!

To tell you the truth when I first saw this position, the first move seemed clear right from the word go. When two black pawns are about to queen, you really do not have much time to waste, you have to go start your own play. 1.d7 is bad because of Qd7. And after checking the futility of 1.Re5+ Kd7 I think you will settle for the right move which is 1.a7.

Black has two possibilities now Qc2+ or Qc6. How do you decide which one to calculate first?

I think this is really a very difficult question. But when you go deeper you realize that one move is completely illogical. For eg. let's start with 1...Qc6. Now our rook is hanging and d7 would have been cool but unfortunately the pawn is pinned. Hence we have to play 2.a8=Q Qa8 3.d7+ Black king has two options Ke7 or Kd8. To Kd8 we go Bb6+ when Black king has to come up to e7 anyway. Keep this position of black king on e7 in your mind and go back to the diagram above.

Now let's check 1...Qc2+ White can now get in the important move 2.f5! (As pointed out by one of my good friend CRG Krishna 2.Kf6 also wins easily)

Black has no more checks and nothing better than the move 2...Qc6. When it turns out that the pawn on f5 instead of f4 is a huge advantage to us. 3.a8=Q Qa8 4.d7+ Kd8 5.Bb6+ Ke7 6.f6+! This is the point! Thanks to our pawn being on f5 we get this important check and Black is busted. Thus through logical means we deduce that 1....Qc2+ can help only White.

So we have confirmed that the right move is 1...Qc6

Choices are not so many. The d pawn is pinned, rook on d5 is hanging. White reply seems forced. 2.a8=Q+ Qa8 3.d7+

Important question: Where will the black king go? Ke7 or Kd8

Once again we are at cross-roads. What shall we calculate first. I think the natural tendency for any player is always to see the more active move for the opponent. Hence instead of the passive 3...Kd8 we will definitely looks at 3...Ke7 first. White doesn't have many options here. Bf6 or Bc5. (d8=Q transposes to Bf6 variation). 4.Bf6+ Ke6 and now we have to queen as black is threatening to pick up our rook and also start checking with his queen. 5.d8=Q Qd8 6.Rd8

It's Black to play and white has set up a devious mating net. If either of the black pawn queens f4-f5 would be a very pretty mate.

I call such positions as "Mirages." Often in our game we are drawn to a brilliant idea from far. It's simply beautiful and the temptation to have our name in some tactical books written by some famous author is huge! We know that the trap works. But the opponent has a way to escape from it. But we try to keep working on the details because the trap is just too beautiful. We do not want it to go waste! For eg. in the above position Black has the simple 6...gf4 and there is absolutely no way for White to stop one of the black pawns from queening. The trap with f5# was only an illusion. A mirage which looks beautiful from far but is just sand when you come near it! A huge mistake would be to spend a lot of time over such positions. If you keep doing that, you will find yourself tired and under grave time pressure. The right way is not to get attached to an idea. If it doesn't work move ahead and think of new ones.

Thus to 3...Ke7 4.Bf6? is a grave mistake. So What do we do? The only other option is 4.Bc5+

Immediately we notice that 4...Ke6 is a mistake because we can just 5.d8=Q and after Qd8 6.Rd8, the rook controls the d2 pawn and the bishop controls the g2 pawn. It's an easy win. 

So to 4.Bc5+ Black must go 4...Kd8. Also if Black would have gone 3...Kd8 to 3.d7+ instead of Ke7 we would reach a similar position. Hence it doesn't really matter if Black played 3...Kd8 or 3...Ke7 if White were to play correctly (i.e Bc5+ to Ke7) but Ke7 had the additional trap that 4.Bf6 was tempting and wrong!

My intuition told me that this is the critical position of the study. Why did I think that this was the critical position? In chess whenever you reach the level of maximum activity and all your pieces are in play is usually a critical position for you. Because if you do not do something at that point then from there on your activity can only reduce because you are at the maximum level. 
I knew that the moves preceding it were correct because there were really no options and here I have maximized my position. My pawn is on d7 and I have been able to corner the Black king on d8. I thought on this position for a long time. After being unsuccessful in my initial attempt to solve this position on the board. I put this position in the back of my mind. Whenever I would get some time I would start thinking about it. The good part about being in a foreign country (Currently I am in Spain to play tournaments) is that you can think even while you are walking as the traffic rules are followed by everyone. While in India I would really not recommend you to do that! So I kept thinking about this position and I just couldn't break it. The rook was attacked. Moving it made no real sense as Qc6+ would come. Even Rd6 was being met by d1=Q Rd1 and Qc6. Hence I had to play 5.Bb6+ Ke7 but what next?

Making a queen looks like a logical progression but after 6.d8=Q Qd8 7.Bd8 Ke6 

The white rook is attacked and also g1=Q is threatened.

It was already late and I had work to do the next day. Unable to see anything for White at this point I decided to go bed. To go to sleep without being able to solve a position is actually a good training. It means that you accept the defeat for that day. But bear in mind only for that day. You haven't seen the answer so you are ready to fight fresh for the next day. This attitude helps you to take defeats during a tournament in stride and come out stronger the next day. I have heard of players who have sat entire nights trying to solve a position. While such an exercise is great for building up one's never say die attitude I think you can never really concentrate 100% if you think on the same position for long hours. You are tired and the same variations keeps running in your head over and over again.
After the sun rose on the next day I was fresh! I set up the initial position of the study and believe it or not I was able to solve it within a few minutes. In the above position White allows Black to make a queen.
8.Rd2! g1=Q

And now is the time for the fireworks. 

9.f5+ Black has no options and must go 9...Ke5 I just need to bring the Black king now to e3 I thought to myself. A deadly skewer awaits black. After 10.Bc7+ Ke4 there is just no way to bring the black king to e3. Maybe White can fight on in this position but he is the one who is fighting for a draw. It was at this point that the brilliant idea struck me! A combination of Skewers and keeping the black king contained inside the box.

Can you see the composer's brilliant idea?!!


The move becomes extremely easy to understand once you see it but so difficult to find it from the initial position!! Qd4 is met with Bf6 and Kd4 with Bb6. And there is just no way to stop Bf6#. What a finish! Hats off to the true Genius, the composer: Yochanan Afek.

But how can one find such a move from the initial position. Rd4 is the tenth move in the variation and it's not at all easy to find. In my case I had seen a similar idea before. This made my task easier. Here is the position.

Black pawns are about to queen. What should white do? 
The right answer as in our study is to build a mating patter with Rf7!! with the idea of Bd5 and f4#
You can see the entire study over here.

But as you see chess is not all about calculation and over the board skills. You also need to see more and more positions and keep them in your memory. When you go deep into some variations these patterns will come really handy.

Though it's not possible to win a prize for solving this study as I have to be present at the Dutch Open for that, I cannot deny the joy and fulfillment that I derived form solving this study! Did you also feel the same?!!

Can you guess the time it took for world no.2 to solve this position?

The PGN for this study can be downloaded from here.

And here is the entire study with all the variations for you to play it over.

I am very happy that Yochanan put the link of the solution given by me here on his website and had good words to say for my blog.