Think of this as ‘supercalifragilisticexpialadocious’ for chess.

The mysticism of this made up word is about equal to the mysticism of finding the right move order sometimes! Everyone – including high level GMs – has gotten the move order wrong.

Lots of chess tactics exercises require you to find the *right* first move, not simply the basic idea. Details count, and if we let the other guy play (!) he might find a resource you did not see. Try this position, messed up professionally by a senior master (Black to move and you are seeing the position from black’s side of the board):

Black made a draw with d2, saving his rook. White cannot take the rook because …Bd4+ would win. (2. N:h8   Bd4+ and white cannot stop the pawn from queening.)


Black would have won immediately with R:h7. With this move order, white can do nothing. If R:h7, then d2 and the pawn will queen. (2. R:h7 d2  3. Rd7 Bd4+). If white takes the d3 pawn he simply loses his rook… And last, if white attempts to stay on the d-file with 2. Rd8 then simply Bd4+ again wins, only this time white can even get mated! (Kf1 is mated with Rh1.)

Haven’t we been talking about finding the counter-intuitive move? Hmmm. Yes, well, there is more to it than that. It is not hard to see the basic idea of blocking white’s rook with Bd4 and black *saw* that idea, placing it unfortunately in the analysis only *after* allowing the loss of his d pawn. The problem for black was that his mindset in the game was ‘fighting for a draw’ instead of ‘what’s that idea really worth?’

Here is another situation where more than one approach might work. The task is to find the *best* win.

Do you see a difference between 1. Ne4 and 1. Nd5?

Another: White to move. White has some options, but what should he do? What is black’s threat and how does that clarify the task of analyzing? What if you test this position by finding what black would do if he could move again right now?

Here is the whole game:

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