Overloading at the Chess Olympiad

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Ding Liren
GM Ding Liren / photo by Vladimir Barskij

Teams from China won both the Open section and the Women’s section of the 43rd Chess Olympiad, which took place in Batumi, Georgia. From September 23 through October 5, 1,667 chess players competed, representing 185 teams from 180 countries in the Open section and 151 teams from 146 nations in the Women’s section. Grandmaster Ding Liren was first board for China’s Open section team. This article features a tactic, overloading, from his win over Grandmaster Jan-Krzysztof Duda of Poland.

Overloading is a chess tactic in which a defensive piece is given an additional defensive assignment which it cannot complete without abandoning its original defensive assignment

As I wrote in my book Prepare With Chess Strategy, “Overloading is a chess tactic in which a defensive piece is given an additional defensive assignment which it cannot complete without abandoning its original defensive assignment.” I was quoting Joseph L. Bell, who created presentations about the Boy Scouts of America Chess merit badge. Learning the tactic of overloading is one part of that badge, which addresses chess basics. However, overloading is also important in grandmaster chess.

Take a look at this position, after Black’s 28….Qg6 to stop White’s checkmate, Qxh7#.

What else, besides the h7-pawn, is the black queen defending? The queen defends the f5-pawn, but that is also defended by the black bishop on c8. However, the d6-pawn is only defended by the black queen. Therefore, White played 29. Rxd6!, exploiting the overloaded black queen.

Despite still being a knight ahead in material, even after losing his d-pawn, Black loses quickly to White’s relentless attack. Black’s two knights on b4 and b6 are not attacking White, but White’s knight on g5 is a big part of the successful attack on the black king.

 
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