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is chess in the Olympics

  There is currently no chess in the Olympiad. The Chess Olympiad is a chess competition officially organized by FIDE since 1927 and takes place in even-numbered years. Before World War II the event was occasionally held every year. There was also an unofficial Chess Olympiad series that ended in 1976. Although chess is covered in the sports sections of many newspapers around the world, it is not one of the recognized sports in the Olympic Games. However, FIDE is now a member of the International Olympic Committee and follows its rules. This means that chess could one day become an Olympic event, although most knowledgeable observers say this is unlikely. The World Chess Championship is a competition held annually by the international chess organization FIDE to determine the World Champion of chess. Both men and women are eligible to participate in this championship. The World Champion does not have to be the player with the highest Elo rating: the 2006-2007 World Champion, Vladimir Kr

The Power of Forcing Moves

Photo by Mahkeo on Unsplash

As the name implies, forcing moves force your opponent to make a certain move often a concession or a zugzwang type of move in which they have to accept a decisive disadvantage if they want to continue the game. Usually forced moves are done to avoid a direct loss. Sometimes, they involve checks so the opponent has to get out of check and that’s why checks are also considered forcing moves.

In an attack, forcing moves carry a tremendous impact and can give you a big advantage if used properly and planned carefully. Not all forcing moves benefit the one making the move since there are forcing moves that lead to blunders if they have been miscalculated. So before you launch any tactics, make sure that you won’t fall into one right after you execute it.

Occasionally, forcing moves can also be seen in certain tactical combinations or checkmating patterns. This makes sense because using these moves would essentially lead your opponent into the combination. And if they don’t respond to it correctly, it could cost them the match. But again, there are cases when forcing moves can fall into traps especially if the position is shaky.

I searched for games on the internet that would help illustrate this concept and hopefully, you enjoy looking at these games and studying their intricate details. All of these are grandmaster games anyway so you will learn a lot from them. They bear more lessons and insight than simply how to use forcing moves effectively. But we will focus on this topic specifically.

Karpov-Topalov, Dos Hermanas, 1994

There were multiple forcing moves played by both masters in this game however, I will pay closer attention to Karpov’s, particularly the last few moves he made which was part of a tactical combination.

We will start the analysis from 28. Bf4. At this point, Karpov has good coordination among his pieces especially his bishop, knight, queen, and rook which are all participating in the action at the center. From this move, he will launch a sequence of moves that give him a fairly big advantage going into the endgame.

Perhaps, the highlight of this sequence would be 30. Nf6 which appears to be a spectacular sacrifice, something that Karpov isn’t usually known for however, we can’t deny that he has good sense in tactical plays. All of this was made possible because he is a master of positional play which makes it easier to find good tactics.

The move Nf6 forces Black to make a decision. If he chooses to ignore it by playing, say Qxf3 then the zwischenzug (in-between move) Nxe8+ would give White a material advantage. So Black had no other choice but to take the knight.

This leads to another forcing move from White in the form of Be5++, this is a double check with the bishop and queen. After the king takes the bishop, which he had to, otherwise he would lose his queen, White exchanges queens and wins some of his material back with Re1+ which x-rays the king and the rook.

After White takes the rook, his rook forks the two bishops and after the whole combination, he would be up an exchange which was enough for Topalov to resign.

Polugaevsky-Nezhmetdinov, Sochi, 1958

In this game, Black played a very aggressive Old Indian Defense, storming White’s kingside with his pawns and attacking with every arsenal that he had, sacrificing any piece necessary to clutch the victory.

Let us look at the game from 24. Rh1 which was the beginning of White’s downfall. At this point, it looks pretty messy and bad for Black. So many of his pieces are hanging and under attack that it seems a bit difficult to know which to prioritize. But he had the forcing move 24… Rxf4. This may seem crazy, giving up his queen like that but the holes in White’s position and the vulnerability of White’s king give Black a clear advantage with this move.

White is forced to take Black’s queen but his king would be caught dead in the center. After a few more moves, Black makes a quiet move with Bg7 further locking the king in its place. From 28… bxc6, White’s king has no safe square and it would only take one check and it would be mate. So he had to play Bd3 to provide breathing space for the king. But White had only dug his own grave even deeper.

White’s king was then forced to move to the side where Black eventually checkmated him. This was a methodical approach to capturing the king by Black and it was all a concerted effort done by all the pieces to lure the king to his own demise.

Zukertort-NN, Leipzig, 1877

For the last game, we follow a game by German-Polish chess master Johannes Zukertort where he played an exuberant game in the Vienna. This involves a lot of the romantic ideas of creating a beautiful sacrificial game but more than that, it is based on sound chess principles so we can still learn much from it.

The move 9. Nxe5 starts a forceful combination that leaves Zukertort’s opponent in the dust. It basically follows a series of six checks which ends in a resignation after a quiet move that sealed the match.

Each move in the sequence beginning with 9. Nxe5 brings pressure to the king and forces it to move out of safety and into the danger zone. Zukertort sacrificed his queen and a rook in order to trap the king in the center. The final move 16. c3 was a brilliant quiet move that prevented the king from escaping. Black would then checkmate White in the next move with Bf4#. Before that even happened, his opponent resigned.

Force your opponent into submission

As I said, forcing moves are very powerful weapons that can give you the upper hand or even the victory in a game. However, they are also very risky especially since they often require sacrifices to gain a decisive advantage. They can backfire real quickly if there is no follow-up to the momentum that was built up in the attack.

Forcing moves are usually easy to spot. It’s the follow through that needs careful thought. So you should wisely consider the moves that come after the forcing ones.


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