Two Elegant Problems

This evening, I stopped by Fred Wilson’s bookstore to check out what he had and to chat about converting his mountain of instructional VHS tapes to a digital format as well as updating his website. We chatted for a bit about the London Classic, and then he showed me a copy of his new manuscript for a tactics manual he is authoring with Bruce Albertson, one in a series of such books. I was impressed with two particularly difficult mate in 2 problems that will be coming out in this new collection. (If you’re looking for a fantastic tactics sharpening manual for the u2000 crowd, his previous book, entitled 606 Puzzles, is highly recommended.) While I won’t reproduce those problems here, I was inspired to put up two problems I came across this afternoon while studying at the Marshall that I found particularly elegant.

This first one is not too hard but will likely take you a moment to solve. It is white to move.

The following position is taken from the game Kramnik-Polgar, Paris (Rapid) 1994. It’s white to move, and here Kramnik played 13.Nb5, missing a winning idea. Can you spot what Kramnik missed?

Solutions after the jump…

The first problem is solved by 1.Bg6+! (If 1…hxg6 then 2.hxg6+ Kxg6 3.Qxe6+ Bf6 4.Rg3+ Kh7 5.Rxd5 +-) Kf8 2.Qxe6 hxg6 3.hxg6 and mate to follow.

The second problem contains a gorgeous queen sacrifice. In this rapid game, Kramnik missed a beautiful winning idea with 13.g4! (If now 13…Bxg4 then 14.Qc6+! wins in style! while capturing with the knight would lose it to a pin, so…) 13…Qxg4 14.Nb5! Bxb5 15.Bh3 Rxd1+ 16.Rxd1 Bd7 17.Bxg4 Bxg4 18.Qe3+- This idea was discovered by GM Igor Zaitsev.