Bucket List Item #2: A Puzzle

As I may have mentioned in previous posts, I’m rarely the most likely candidate for flashy, memorable moves. Trying to take the solid route in any competitive play (even online blitz) often entails a waiting game. The answer to the following puzzle, however, may be a step in the more exciting direction.

Unfortunately, the following is not from a tournament game (it’s from a 3-minute game against another National Master), and yes, Black is utterly winning after several moves, but can you find a quick way to finish off White?

Screen Shot 2017-08-15 at 1.31.50 AM
After 18. Rg1

A brief analysis of the short game follows to avoid leaking the answer prematurely. Enjoy!

e4Najdorf – blitzcopter, Chess.com

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. Bc4?! Nxe4 4. Bxf7+ Kxf7 5. Nxe4 d5

Screen Shot 2017-08-15 at 1.37.37 AM

White’s third move is dubious as it allows Black to attempt the well-documented “fork trick.” Understandably, White tries to avoid this by making Black’s king slightly uncomfortable, but this is more than compensated by Black’s strong pawn center.

6. Ng3 g6 7. d4 Bg7 8. Nf3 Re8 9. dxe5 Nc6 10. O-O Nxe5

Screen Shot 2017-08-15 at 1.43.21 AM

This actually looks reasonable for White, so perhaps I slipped (what can I say; it was a 3-minute game). White goes astray very quickly soon after, however.

11. Ng5+?! Kg8 12. f4? Bg4 13. Nf3

After this, White’s pawn structure is wrecked, but it was already hard to suggest moves, as 13. Qd2 Nc4 is very uncomfortable.

13…Nxf3+ 14. gxf3 Bh3 15. Re1 c6 16. c3 Qb6+ 17. Kh1 Qf2 18. Rg1

…giving the same position as in the opening diagram. After one move, White is essentially mated.

18…Re1!!

Taking on e1 with either piece (and other moves) leads to mate on f3/g2; other than the frivolous 19. Nf1 and 19. Qxd5+, White has no way to delay mate. That’s flashy enough for me.

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