This position just came up in a game of mine. Black has just played Ne5, hitting White’s Rook. The move also has a drawback though. See if you can spot not only the drawback, but also whether Black has a tactical way to save himself (sometimes things are not as plain as they look!).
Spoiler Alert, Solution Below!
So the drawback to Black’s move should be pretty clear. On e5, the Knight cuts the Queen’s communication with the other Knight, on d4. So, at first glance, it looks like White can simply take the Knight with the Rook. I am intentionally not showing the images below because I think it is good to practice calculating (something I do not do nearly enough of!).
Let’s calculate a little further together, however. Black has a tactical idea in mind to prevent White from chopping the Knight. So imagine that White plays Rxd4, Black takes back with his Rook, and White plays Qxd4. It looks like White has simply won a Knight for free.
But then comes Black’s surprise: Nf3+?! Black uncovers an attack on the exposed Queen. White can at least take the Knight cleanly with his light-square Bishop, so he does not have to open his King. So we get Nf3+ Bxf3, and now White’s Queen is hanging, seemingly helplessly, in the middle of the board.
So what is the verdict? Has Black defended his original Knight tactically, or is there something else going on? The puzzle is not over yet!
In the game Black did not realize his error, and he happily gobbled my Queen on d4. Munch! He probably noticed the problem as soon as he made the move, but it was too late. That’s right–by now I’m sure you’ve seen it, or maybe you calculated it all much faster than I did. White plays Re8# and has the last laugh. Black’s Queen went out gallivanting, but her lonely King paid the price!
Hope you enjoyed the puzzle!