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  1. 04 Apr '12 10:47 / 1 edit

    I was watching some of the games at Edinburgh Chess Congress
    at the weekend won by GM Daniel Gormally with 4.½ from 5.

    In the lower sections a crowd had gathered around a board rubber
    necking like one does at a traffic accident. I joined them.

    It was one lad with K & R beating another lad with K & N.
    The Knight was cut off from it's King and The K & R player rounded up the Knight.
    It went something like this.

    I'm not going to go into the how's and why's of when a Rook beats a Knight.

    I am going to offer up this position from my bag of simple instructive positions
    I use to teach students of the game.
    Fellow coaches/teachers can use this as well.

    It's easy to remember and quite a lot hides in this very simple 4 piece position

    White to play and mate in two moves.
    White makes a move and no matter What Black does White will give
    checkmate on his next move, There is only one solution.

    First of there is an example of a common stalemate pattern.

    A Rook Fork. 1.Rb8+

    Then onto the postion and the problem.

    White to play and mate in two moves.

    The solution is 1.Rb5

    The instructive point in this simple position are Zugzwang.
    Finding and playing the exact move (1.Rb5)
    It also highlights the limitations of the Knight due to the fact it is
    the only piece on the board that never has a free choice of movement.
    Once on a square you know where the Knight is going next,
    at best it is one of 8 squares, at worst (A Knight on a1 for instance) 2 squares.

    At the moment White is not threatening mate the Knight can block on a7.

    But it is Black's move.

    The only King move is 1...Ka7 but that is the Knight's blocking square.

    1..Ka7 2.Ra5 mate.

    If we put the Knight on the Blocking square right away.

    1...Na7 2. Rb8 mate.

    Every other Knight move 1...Nb6, 1...Nd7 or 1...Nd6 allow
    White to mate next move. 2 Ra5 mate.

    That is why 1.Rb5 is the only move that mates next move.

    If the Rook goes to any other square bar b5 then the Knight (1..Nb6)
    can prevent the Rook from mating next move.

    Have fun.