Recently I played a game in a High School league match as the top board. I played f4 followed by d5 (very standard). I played passively and waited out his attack and soon gained the momentum. At around the 25th move we progressed to this situation:

 [FEN "r5k1/p1q5/5rp1/2p1Np2/1p1n1P2/1P1PR3/P1P2Q2/1K2R3 w - - 0 1"]
 [Title "White to Move"]

It was my move and I saw mate in 3 with Qh4/Rh1/Qh8++.

So I played Qh4 attacking his rook and impending mate. He responded Qg7 which I feel was a strong defense.

That's when I saw my winning move from this position:

 [FEN "r5k1/p5q1/5rp1/2p1Np2/1p1n1P1Q/1P1PR3/P1P5/1K2R3 w - - 2 2"]
 [Title "White to Move"]


How does he respond without going down the exchange or significant material?

If - QxN

QxR down the exchange and threatening to take more.

He plays Rd6?

[FEN "r5k1/p2N2q1/3r2p1/2p2p2/1p1n1P1Q/1P1PR3/P1P5/1K2R3 w - - 4 3"]
[Title "White to Move"]

Re8+ now wins, right? There's a mate there for sure, but can he escape without losing his queen? If not the game?

     [FEN "r3R1k1/p2N2q1/3r2p1/2p2p2/1p1n1P1Q/1P1P4/P1P5/1K2R3 b - - 5 3"]
     [StartFlipped "0"]
     [Title "Black to Move"]

black resigns.

EDIT: After some analyizing I think after Nd7 Black has lost. I cant see any possible escape from an actual Mate. please correct me if I am wrong.

  • 1
    He doesn't have a chance. You destroyed his life.
    – user4435
    Dec 11, 2014 at 16:20
  • 1
    I'm not sure what you're asking here. Are you wondering if there was a forced mate from the first position? Dec 11, 2014 at 17:56
  • Yes i am sorry for not being clearer. I did not see a forced mate in my own analysis but i am often wrong. I am also wondering if there is anything to be done after Nd7 to avoid losing by mate or my overwhelming mating material. Dec 11, 2014 at 18:31
  • I don't think the question should be closed. Analyzing and explaining positions should be one of the things we do here.
    – Tony Ennis
    Dec 13, 2014 at 17:27
  • To answer your question directly, I can't find a forced mate anywhere.
    – Tony Ennis
    Dec 13, 2014 at 18:47

3 Answers 3


Congratulations on a fine win. I see you have dominated the center with your knight which is backed up by doubled rooks on an open file. Your king is in a safe position, compared to black's drafty King position. Black's queen is passive though not poorly placed. One of black's rooks is still in the box and is undefended. It's vulnerable. The other rook is also undefended and passive. But at least it is offering a feeble defense.

If you dilly-dallied, Black could move his knight to the awesome c3 square. So I am glad you did not do that. Also, if the pieces suddenly disappeared from the board, he would have a passed pawn on the f-file which could be fatal for you.

This position proves the adage, "If you find a good move, wait, and find a better move." White wins with Qh4. I'm sure you can win this game by force but I can't find a mate. It's amazing how resilient even crummy positions can be, if the losing player is willing to play until the bitter end.

This statement set off my danger alarm:

QxR down the exchange and threatening to take more.

Being up the exchange is not a clear-cut win. You need to see the 'more' before assuming you're going to get the full point.

Qh4 is spot-on in that it forwards an agenda (exploit the drafty house) while hitting the lose rook. What's not to like? But what I think you have missed here is the wretched state of the g6 pawn. What if you double up on it with Qg2. Now you're threatening to denude the king even more, while hitting the lose liability, oops I mean rook, on a8. Because Black's rooks are lose, you can move with tempo. It's like getting free moves.

[FEN "r5k1/p1q5/5rp1/2p1Np2/1p1n1P2/1P1PR3/P1P2Q2/1K2R3 w - - 0 1"]

1. Qg2 Raf8 2. Nxg6 (2... a6?? 3.Ne7+ Kf7 4.Qd5+ looks_strong) Rxg6 3. Qxg6+ Qg7 4.Qd6

The a6 move is a throw-away to show what can happen if Black plays poorly. It's what's coming if he does not take evasive action.

The main line sees you getting an exchange and a pawn. Super easy, too, and offers Black nothing in return. Now your queen dominates black's undefended queenside. The c5 pawn will likely fall, leaving the Knight trapped. If he saves the Knight, you probably get the b4 pawn if you want it. NOW if the pieces drop off, you have connected passed pawns.

Black's king will never be safe with white's queen and rooks on the board. This means he must always defend against fast checkmates and getting pieces pinned against the king. He's going to be down material and defensive. Further, I don't see how black holds the c5 pawn and he's in danger of losing the knight which is hemmed in.

Edit - I like to run positions in Stockfish (a chess engine.) I let this one run. 20 minutes into its analysis, it switched black's first response from Raf8 to Nb5. That is, it advocates that black simply drop the rook on a8. 1. Qg2 Nb5 2. Qxa8. wow. It rates the initial position as a crushing win for white. What is important to realize is that the moves are there if you're clever enough to find them.

  • 1
    Tank you so much for a clear and well though out answer! To be honest i didnt see Qg2 as the strongest move only because it would allow the usless rook back to defend. The move i like the best after Qg2 and Raf8 is Nxg6! With only a queen to interpose on the inpending double check Ne7+ is to take the knight with the pawn and then interpose with the queen! To my defense however the quote "If you see a good move, look for a better one," I did apply. The time control was 45 min for each player. I had 25 minutes left to his 2:30. I sat looking at Qh4 for 10 minutes. Dec 15, 2014 at 18:20
  • Also referring to my QxR and threatening to take more refers to taking the g pawn in front of the king and then bring the rooks over for the kill. All that aside I want to thank you again for the clear and concise analysis! Dec 15, 2014 at 18:24
  • The position is lost for black but instead of the horrible 1: Raf8?, try 1: Ne6 where black can then play Ng4.
    – dcaswell
    Dec 17, 2014 at 4:47
  • @dcaswell if 1...Ne6, then 2. Qxa8+. Also, from e6, the black knight cannot move to g4.
    – Tony Ennis
    Dec 17, 2014 at 11:34

You will win the queen. After your move re8 he has only 3 moves:

  1. Interpose with Q which loses Q
  2. Kf7 Re7 mate
  3. Rxe8 Rxe8 and he either interposes his queen which loses his queen, or Kf7 and Qe7 mate. Good game, son!

Would it were true that the moves are there if you're clever enough to find them. Nobody would ever have to resign! Really, the moves are usually there in a good position if you are clever enough to find them, and the first task is to build that good position. In your game you did all the right things. You opened up his King position, dominated the open file, and permanently placed your Knight on an outpost. You must have had some cooperation from your opponent allowing all this, but credit to you anyway.

Your instinct then told you that there must be something decisive in this position, maybe even a mate, so you looked hard and came up with Nd7 which is a move that anyone would be pleased to spot, and which completely destroyed Black's position. But you are clearly developing a "killer instinct" and you are following the old advice "If you see a strong move look for a better one". In fact there wasn't anything better and your position was good enough that a good opponent should resign rather than hope for a silly mistake. Apparently he did not play quite badly enough to leave an immediate mate on.

Between strong players, forcing resignation feels almost as good as delivering mate, but you are correct to always be pressing for something extra. The satisfaction that you got from this nice finish should inspire you to try to create such positions against strong opponents.

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