Thursday, 4 November 2010

Junior Club Week 5: Overworked Piece

"No man can serve two masters."

This is also true on the chess board.  If a piece or a pawn has to defend two of its own pieces from attack then it is overworked (also known as overloaded), often this leads to the loss of one of those defended pieces.

In the following position it is black to move.  All of white's pieces are defended at least.  True, but the knight on d1 is defending both the bishop on b2 and knight on f2. The knight is overworked.  What would you play?

Did you spot rook takes bishop, or rook takes knight?  After white recaptures black's rook is able to take a second piece.

If you look back at the original position you might not have spotted rook takes bishop as a rook(5) is worth more that a bishop(3), but black also wins a knight(3) after white plays knight takes rook.  Therefore white has gained 6 points from his 5 point investment, but looks set to collect even more material.

Taking a lower valued piece is hard to spot sometimes, but always be on the lookout for pieces overworking.  If you spot an overworked piece take a second look at any captures you have, often you will  have to invest some material for a healthy return.

Take a look at the following position it is white to move.  First look for the black piece that is overworked.  Once identified you should be able to see a good move.

The rook on e8 is protecting the bishop on a8 and its rook partner on e3.
Did you spot rook takes bishop?  If the rook on e8 recaptures then the rook on e3 has no defender.

 A piece can also be at work protecting an important square, perhaps stopping a checkmate.  If that piece also has a job protecting another of its own pieces it is overworked.
Look at the following diagram.  It is white to move.

Black's rook on d8 is overworked.  It is protecting its partner on d7, but it is also protecting the e8 square, as if a white rook lands on e8 without getting taken it is checkmate.

We can now see that the amazing queen takes rook on d7 wins a rook.  As rook takes queen allows Re8 checkmate.  See below. 

The following is a position from one of my games, I am black and it is my move.
Can you spot the overworked piece?

Did you spot that the bishop has two jobs.  One to guard the knight on f1 and secondly to stop the rook getting to the e1 square.

I played 1.Qxf1+! (looks crazy to take a knight(3) and let the queen(9) be taken).  But after 1...Bxf1, 2.Re1 Check mate.

Here is a puzzle.  This week from "Winning Chess" Chernev and Reinfeld

Try to find the overworked piece and then the solution should come easily.
I will publish the answer with my next post.  If you can't wait for then and can't find the answer email me 

Contact me at 

  •  Spot any mistakes with this post, 
  •  Would like to help run Darlington Junior club 
  •  Want any advice on creating a junior club
  •  Have any coaching ideas
Last week's puzzle was: 

White to move.  First he has to create the possibility of a discovered check with 1.Bd1 black can then try:
A, to run with his king to 1...Kh5 (1...Kh4, 2.Rh3 checkmate), 2.Rf8+ Discovered check and wins the rook, or
B, to check with the rook by 1...Rxa2+, which looks like a good try but, 2.Rf2+ blocking black's check and discovering a check on black's king also wins the black rook next move.

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