Raymond Keene

Knight outriders

Knight outriders
Text settings

A good rule of thumb is to avoid sending off knights to excursions at the edge of the board, where their mobility can be limited. Exceptions exist, of course, in particular where a knight strikes from the extremities to land a decisive blow against the enemy king. A good example arose in a win by Michael Adams, Britain’s best performer in the recently concluded Gibraltar Tradewise Masters. The way in which Adams destroyed his opponent brought to mind some classic examples from the greats in similar vein.

Adams-Grandelius: Gibraltar Masters 2018

(see diagram 1)

Black has attempted to equalise the game by clearing the centre but has carried out this manoeuvre too early and exposed his king to an attack. Rather than recapturing on d5, Adams now played 17 Nh6+! Kh8 17 ... gxh6 18 Qg4+ mates. 18 Qxd5 The f7-pawn falls and White will be two pawns ahead. 18 ... Qe6 There is nothing better. 19 Nxf7+ Kg8 20 Qxe6 Nxe6 21 Ne5 Rd8 22 Bc3 Bc5 23 Kf1 Bd4 24 Bxd4 Rxd4 25 Re1 and White won easily.

Alekhine-Ricondo: Blindfold Simultaneous, Santander 1945

(see diagram 2)

Alekhine concludes with a brisk tactic: 14 Nh6+ Black resigns 14 ... gxh6 15 Bxf6 and 14 ... Kh8 15 Nxf7+ are both hopeless.

Alekhine-Frieman: Blindfold Simultaneous, New York 1924

(see diagram 3)

21 Bxb7 Alekhine could have played 21 Ne7+ which wins as 21 ... Nxe7 22 Bxf6 is crushing. However, he had his eye on a Nh6+ tactic. 21 ... Rxb7 Black’s best was 21 ... h6 although after 22 Bxf6 hxg5 23 Bxd8 Rxb7 24 Bxg5 White will win easily enough. 22 Bxf6 Qxf6 22 ... gxf6 leads to 23 Qh6 Qf8 24 Re8! 23 Re8+ Nf8 24 Nh6+! Qxh6 25 Rxf8+ Kxf8 26 Qd8 mate