Hook and Ladder

Conrad Holt (2531) – Bindi Cheng (2406), DC International 2013

White just played Red1. What’s wrong with this move and how can Black take advantage of it?

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White’s last rook move has released pressure on the e4 rook, giving the Black queen greater freedom.

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Make use of the fatal squares around the White king.

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1… Qf6 The mate threats on the light squares will cost White heavily. 2. f3 to be able to defend from the second rank. (The natural 2. Qd2, with the idea of 2… Qf3 3. Bf1 fails to 2… Rcxc4 followed by 3… Qf3 and wins.) Here, after 2. f3, Bindi played 2... Qxf3, with ongoing pressure on White’s position, but he could’ve ended the game immediately with:

2... Qb2! 3. Qd2 Re1+! (The old hook and ladder trick) 4. Kf2 (4. Rxe1 Qxd2 and the queen falls off of the ladder.) Qxd2 5. Rxd2 Rxa1 and wins.

After missing this win, the game finally ended in a draw after another 20 moves. In spite of this, Bindi finished clear second with an impressive 7.0/9.0, netting himself over a thousand dollars. Congrats to him!