Overloading at the Chess Olympiad

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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#.

[pgn]1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. e4 b5 6. e5 Nd5 7. Nxb5 Nb6 8. Be2 Nc6 9. O-O Be7 10. Qd2 O-O 11. Qf4 Rb8 12. Nc3 f5 13. Qg3 Kh8 14. Rd1 Nb4 15. b3 cxb3 16. axb3 a6 17. Bc4 Nc2 18. Ra2 Nb4 19. Ra1 Nc2 20. Ra2 Nb4 21. Re2 a5 22. d5 exd5 23. e6 Bd6 24. Qh3 Qf6 25. Nb5 dxc4 26. Nxd6 cxd6 27. e7 Re8 28. Ng5 Qg6 {[#]} 29. Rxd6 f4 30. Qh4 (30. Rxg6 Bxh3 31. Nf7+ Kg8 32. Nh6+ Kh8 33. Nf7+ {And the game is drawn. So White chose the better move Qh4.}) 30… Qb1 31. Re1 Bf5 32. Rd8 Bg6 (32… Rbxd8 33. exd8=Q Rxd8 34. Nf7+ Kg8 35. Nh6+ gxh6 36. Qxd8+ Kg7 37. Qe7+ Kg6 38. Qd6+ Kh5 39. Qxf4 {And White will checkmate soon.}) 33. Rxb8 Rxb8 34. Qxf4 Rg8 35. Nf7+ Bxf7 36. Qxf7 Nd7 37. e8=Q Nf6 38. Bg5 1-0[/pgn]

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.

WIM Alexey Root, PhD

Alexey Root is a Woman International Master and the 1989 U.S. Women's chess champion. Her peak US Chess rating was 2260. She has a PhD in education from UCLA. You can find her books on chess on Amazon.com.

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