Most chess players have probably heard the saying "Chess is 99% tactics". While it is an exaggeration, the goal of this saying is to emphasize the importance of calculation in chess. Indeed, the fastest and most efficient way to improve your chess results is to boost your calculation skills. I bet most of you have books on tactics (or just use Tactics Trainer on chess.com!) that offer you hundreds of puzzles to solve. In such puzzles you need to find a combination that allows you to win by force or save a losing position. While such textbooks should be a cornerstone of your tactical training since they show you typical tactical patterns, today I want to offer you a different kind of exercise. The real game of chess is multidimensional, so it is not always as simple as just finding a winning combination. In most of the positions from the tournament games you play, such winning combos simply don't exist!
But at every moment of the game we need to make a decision based on our calculation abilities. And sometimes the final position of a variation is not clear-cut like you usually find in books on tactics. Say I have two promising moves which lead to complicated variations. The final positions at the end of both variations look kind of unclear. Which one should I choose? In real tournament games we need to answer questions like this on many occasions. So, when you solve today's quiz don't assume that there is a move that wins by force. I'd recommend you to treat every single puzzle as a position from your own game. Try to find a good move which you would play in your tournament game and then compare to the solution.
The game we are going to analyze today is very famous. It was played in the first tournament which the great Emanuel Lasker played after his four year period of inactivity. (It is well known that he had many other interests in life besides chess. Math is one example.) His opponent, British Champion William Napier, called this game the finest he ever played. How often have you heard a chess player call his lost game the best he ever played? Now, without further ado, let's analyze this exciting game!
( Please remember that you can always replay the whole game from the first move and also see the annotations if you click "Solution" and then "Move list".)
White's pawn storm looks very dangerous. What should Black do?