Monday, August 11, 2008

Death By Windmill

I’ve been reading lately about a chess tactic called “windmill,” a kind of discovered check that keeps repeating as the piece that moves picks off the opponent’s pieces while the opponent’s king is in check, then returns to the original position to start the process all over again. It can be devastating for the player on the receiving end.

Yasser Seirawan says it’s a rare tactic, and apparently so, because the two chess books in which I read about it, Yaz’s Winning Chess Tactics and Eric Schiller’s The Big Book of Chess, both use the same game to illustrate it: Carlos Torre vs. Emanuel Lasker, Moscow, 1925.

Here’s the key position. Material is even. Black has just played 24. … Qb5 to avoid the attack by the while knight on e3.

White plays 25. Bf6, offering Black a queen sacrifice, which he has little choice but to accept, since his queen is en prise. Queen takes queen, and then it’s 26. Rxg7+, to start the attack.

Watch the entire game below and see for yourself. When the combination is over Black is up three pawns. Lasker may have been a former world champion, but he probably didn’t feel like much of a champion that day.