jeudi 6 février 2014

Zwischenzug, say it again ?

The zwischenzug (don't ask me how to pronounce it please !), is a german word, whose equivalent in english is "in-between move". That's what we are going to talk about today.
I enjoyed a lot talking about Deflection in my previous blog post, go here if you want nice examples and puzzles about that beautiful pattern.

So what does this german word mean ?
A zwischenzug occurs when a player, instead of playing the expected move, first plays another move, posing an immediate threat that the opponent must asnwer, and only then plays the expected move.
Usually the expected move is an exchange or a piece retreat, but the in-between move allows doing the exchange or the retreat on more favourable terms.

This post was originally published on Chess Trainer (iPhone) to help intermediate players understand the basic tactical motifs.
Download it as well to see the new lesson on the Carlsen-Anand match, which is worth a look, believe me !

But first, I want to show you a basic case of in-between move. It seems like the opponent has set up a winning fork here:

The "expected" answer is to retreat one Rook for instance, but there is a stronger possibility:

1... Rh5+
White gives a check with the first Rook
2. Kg1
Of course, Black must answer this threat first, by moving the King away
2... Rbg5+
With this move, Black removes the second Rook and has escaped the fork with a nice in-between move !

Time for a puzzle now, White has just read our post on the Skewer and thinks he is winning. What do you play ?

Here is the answer:

Another classical example of an in-between move that allows winning material (Try to think about the position and find the best move).
What is interesting in this example is that the position looks completely innocuous.

Is it possible to capture the pawn on d5 ? Let's look at one possible follow-up:

White wants to capture this pawn with the Knight

1... Qxd2
Black then captures the Queen on d2 with the following idea: "When White recaptures on d2, I take back on d5 and I am one piece up."
2. Rxd2
Indeed if White captures in d2...
2... Nexd5
...Black is indeed one piece up, but White missed an opportunity here.

Isn't there a better move than recapturing on d2 right away ?


1. Nxe7+
The black Knight was unprotected, thus White capture on e7 with check, forcing the black King to move.
1... Kh8
2. Rxd2
And now this is White who is a piece up !

To go further, you can have a look at this blog post on zwischenzug on the Chess Knights blog, an have a look at the immortal zwischenzug game on Jim West's blog.

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