October Queens’ Academy a success!

November 6, 2008

Our second Queens’ Academy was a spectacular success! We were pleased to see many familiar faces as well as a few newcomers. Participants were again split into three groups based on ability. The beginning group studied how each piece moves on the chessboard as well as some chess rules. Girls in the intermediate group learned how to keep notation during a game, writing down each move using the letters and numbers on a chessboard. This is an essential skill for tournament play because it is important to have a record of the game in case an illegal move is played or another problem occurs. I have firsthand experience with this–at one of my first few tournaments, I was beating my opponent so soundly that he picked up the board and left in the middle of the game! Luckily, I had written down the moves, and could reconstruct the game with a tournament director.

Players in the advanced group worked with a concept that was previously unfamiliar to most of them: the zwischenzug. This is the German name for the idea of an "in-between move," a forcing move that is played in the middle of a combination, often winning material.

For example, in the diagram above, black plays Rxh4. Many players would simply take back with the queen immediately, the obvious move. However, there is a zwischenzug! White should play Qxd8+, forking the king and rook. Black plays Kh7, white moves Qxh4, black plays Kg8, and now white plays Qxg3, winning a second rook! The important lesson is to carefully consider possible alternatives before playing an obvious move–maybe you will find a zwischenzug that wins material!

Try the positions below:

In this position, black plays Nxe5 and white responds with Nxe5. The obvious move for black is dxe5, winning back the knight. But can you find a zwischenzug? Hint: Look for mating ideas.


Though they are not so spectacular in the opening, pawns can mean everything in the endgame. In the position below, black plays bxc4+. White could take back with either the king or the pawn, but in both cases, black plays Rxh2. Is there a way white can recapture the pawn without losing her own?


After the lectures, each of the players in the intermediate and advanced groups played a recorded game and reviewed it with an instructor to learn about the mistakes she made and how to improve for next time. Hope to see everyone in November!


Categories: Chess Event

One Response

  1. Jennifer says:

    These are very cool! I think that the zwischenzug aka in between move aka intermediate move is one of the hallmarks of master tacticians. I especially like the last position, because in between move are rarer in the endgame.

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