Istvan Csom RIP

I have a question for you.

You’re playing black against a legendary former world champion. What move would you play here?

While you’re considering your answer, I’d like to consider a typical opening tactic.

At beginner level, very many games see a pawn fork in the centre of the board. This might be, from White’s perspective, e5, hitting a knight on f6 and a bishop on d6, or d5, hitting a knight on c6 and a bishop on e6. It happens over and over again: if you’ve read Chess Openings for Heroes you’ll be familiar with the idea.

At one level up, observe this common opening trap.

You’ll see White’s played the English Opening, which Black has met by playing simple developing moves. His last move, Be6, threatens Bxc4. My database contains about 150 games which reached this position, with White to move. In about 65% of the games White correctly played 7. d4, when Black must lose a piece as d5 is coming next move. Victims of this trap include several players rated over 2000.

I was saddened to hear of the recent death of Hungarian GM Istvan Csom (1941-2021), so thought I should write something as a brief tribute.

I came across a quick win with the black pieces against none other than the great Mikhail Tal. Intrigued about how this had happened, I looked at the game. Had Tal played an unsound sacrifice, perhaps?

No – he’d carelessly left himself with two pairs of forkable minor pieces in the position at the top of the article.

A move of the bishop on e7 would threaten e5, followed, if necessary, by e4, but Bf8, for example, could be met by Ne5. Csom was alert enough to spot that Bc5 would win material by force. Even for a tactical genius like Tal there was no way out.

The same pawn fork in the centre idea again, but now at another level up. Building blocks. You take a simple idea and look at it in increasingly complicated positions. It’s how you teach (some) tactical ideas. It’s how you learn (some) tactical ideas.

Here’s the complete game.

If you’re interested, there’s a tribute to Istvan Csom, written by the excellent simaginfan (Neil Blackburn), here.

Richard James

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Richard James

Author: Richard James

Richard James is a professional chess teacher and writer living in Twickenham, and working mostly with younger children and beginners. He was the co-founder of Richmond Junior Chess Club in 1975 and its director until 2005. He is the webmaster of chessKIDS academy (www.chesskids.org.uk or www.chesskids.me.uk) and, most recently, the author of Chess for Kids and The Right Way to Teach Chess to Kids, both published by Right Way Books. Richard has been a member of Richmond & Twickenham Chess Club since 1966. Richard is a published author and his books can be found at Amazon. Richard is currently promoting minichess (games and puzzles using subsets of chess) for younger children through his website www.minichess.uk, and writing coaching materials for children (and adults) who want to start playing serious competitive chess, through www.chessheroes.uk. View all posts by Richard James

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