A very interesting chess event took place this Fall, starting on October 14th and lasting for an entire week, up until October 20th! Students were invited to participate in a chess-puzzle solving competition, in which the 17 puzzles had been drawn from actual positions, which had arisen in the games of the 5-round Pan-Am qualifying Tournament!
The rules of the competition were very simple: If you solve one puzzle you get one lot in the raffle for a $20-worth New In Chess magazine. If you solve two problems, you get two lots. We were accepting answers until Friday, Oct. 20th, 12 p.m. and the winner would be announced in the evening of that same day.
More than 20 students took part in this competition but, in the end, it was Alexandra Yao who solved two problems correctly and won the big prize! Congratulations to her on a remarkable success!
Below are the 17 chess puzzles, which the participants in the contest were asked to solve!
Aidan Sowa – Aflah Zul 2017 Pan-Am Qualifier (1) Position after 9… Ba6 White to move and win material. Can you see how? Try to calculate both lines that black can play to defend. Difficulty Level: **
BenJohn Libardo – Jim Zhao 2017 Pan-Am Qualifier (1) Position after 27. Kh2 White has a rook and a pawn for two pieces but his King is under an unstoppable attack. Black concluded the game in great style. Black to play and mate in 4. Difficulty level: ***
Kevin Chen – Su Sanne Tan 2017 Pan-Am Qualifier (1) White just played 10. Nb5 threatening to jump on c7 and trap the rook. Black tried to stop this threat with 10… Bd6, which is losing instantly. What is white’s winning combination? Difficulty level: ***
Seiji Nakagawa – Kevin Chen 2017 Pan-Am Qualifier (2) Position after 45…Kh6 White has two extra passed pawns but Black’s rooks are very active. Seiji tried to convert with 46. e6 and the game continued with 46…Rf3+, 47. Ke1. And now, seeing that 48… Rfe3 (or Rbe3) would lose to 49. e7 Black resigned. However, the final position, in which Kevin resigned, is a clear draw. Can you find the way? Difficulty level: **
Vikram Venkataramanan – Raeid Saqur 2017 Pan-Am Qualifier (2) Position after 19…f6. Black is trying to undermine White’s center but Raeid’s last move is a mistake . Can you spot the double-pin that allowed White to win a pawn? Difficulty level: **
Seiji Nakagawa – Kevin Chen 2017 Pan-Am Qualifier (2) Position after 25… Bd8 In this position White played 26. Ra2 in order to double his rooks on the -e- file. However, he could have won material. How? Difficulty level: **
Jim Zhao – Leslie Tang 2017 Pan-Am Qualifier (2) Black just played 33…Qf6 proposing a queen trade. What did he overlook? Difficulty level: *
Morris Chen – Jack Moore 2017 Pan-Am Qualifier (2) Position after 25. Kb2 White has a knight for a pawn but his last move is a serious mistake, which gives Black a decisive attack. How should Black continue? Difficulty level: **
Zehn Nasir – Aidan Sowa 2017 Pan-Am Qualifier (4) Position after 24… Kc6 Black has an extra pawn but White’s pieces are very active and control all the crucial files and diagonals. Zehn found a powerful regrouping move which wins material. Can you spot it? Difficulty level: ***
Leslie Tang – Su Sanne Tan 2017 Pan-Am Qualifier (3) Position after 9. Bb5+ White has already seized the initiative and is now checking the enemy King. Black has a difficult choice between 9…Nc6, 9…Bd7 and 9…Kf8. Two of these moves are losing instantly whereas the third allows Black to fight on. How should Black continue?
John Chen – Andy Liao 2017 Pan-Am Qualifier (5) Position after 17…Nb7 Black’s last move leaves the knight on h5 exposed to discovered attacks. While White cannot trap the undefended knight he can exploit this weakness and deliver a powerful double attack on the “western front”. How? Difficulty level: **
Nikita Gusev – Leslie Tang 2017 Pan-Am Qualifier (4) Position after 26. Bf6+ In the diagram position, instead of going 26…Kg8, Black played the unfortunate 26…Nxf6, which loses an exchange. What is White’s winning combination? Difficulty level: **
Panayoti Tsialas – Jack Moore 2017 Pan-Am Qualifier (5) position after 18…f5 White’s pieces have stormed Black’s King but the immediate 19. Ng5, attacking h7 is not very effective as Black can reinforce his -h7- pawn with 19…Nb6. An intermediate move is necessary to displace Black’s Queen from its defensive outspost. This is a difficult attacking combination Difficulty level: ****
Aidan Sowa – Ruonan Cao 2017 Pan-Am Qualifier (5) Position after 28…Rd8 The material is balanced but with his next move, White managed to create four threats simultaneously! What is the winning move? Make sure to identify all four threats in your answer! Difficulty level: **
John Chen – Andy Liao 2017 Pan-Am Qualifier (5) Position after 28. Qf4 White’s Bishop on c2 is under attack but White chose to defend it indirectly by bringing his Queen to f4. The idea behind White’s last move is that, if Black plays 28…Rxc2, the f7 square loses one of its defenders so White can simply play 29. Qf7+ with good chances for a successful attack. However, 28. Qf4 is a mistake. Why? Difficulty level: *
Zehn Nasir – Andy Liao 2017 Pan-Am Qualifier (2) Position after 20. Qc4 White’s position is much better and after Black’s 20…Bb7, White played 21. Nd5 and won a comfortable game. There is only one way for Black to avoid decisive material losses. Can you find his most stubborn defense? Difficulty level: **
Panayoti Tsialas – Jack Moore 2017 Pan-Am Qualifier (5) Position after 33…gxf5 White is just a step away from victory but the immediate attempt to win the exchange with 34. Rxf7 Rxf7, 35. Qxf7+ Qxf7, 36. Bxf7+ Kxf7 unnecessarily complicates things, leaving White a whole piece up but giving Black some counterplay, thanks to his passed -h- pawn and to the passive placement of the white knight. Which forced line leaves White with two rather than one piece up? Difficulty level: **