Both today's positions come from the newly published Garry Kasparov's Chess Puzzle Book (Cadogan Chess Books, £8.99). Apart from the introduction, which includes a two-page analysis of the complications in one of the Short-Kasparov games of 1993, it could just as well have been anyone else's chess puzzle book, since the bulk of the work is a set of 14 tests comprising 96 positions decided by tactical means.

With chapters devoted to each of the different pieces, and annotated examples of longer combinations, it all adds up to a very pleasing collection of sparkling finishes all taken from grandmaster play in 1993.

Studying such positions cannot help but improve one's tactical sharpness, though in real life, where the words "White to play and win" do not miraculously appear beneath a position, sensing that a winning combination is available is more than half the battle.

The first diagram is from the game Perez-Cruz-Lima, Cuba 1993, and it is Black to play.

, , ,a,

, , , n

,h, n n

,h,d, ,


, NHX ,H

, , , ,

, B , ,s

The natural continuation is 1...g5+ 2.fxg5 (Kg3 allows Qg2 mate) hxg5+ 3.Kh5, but now continuing the checks with 3...Bf7+ leaves no obvious continuation after 4.Kh6, while the more subtle 3...Kg7 fails after 4.Qe7+! (Not 4.Rxh1? Bf7 mate) Bf7+ 5.Qxf7+ Kxf7 6.Rxh1.

So how does Black win the game? (Answer below).

This one, from the "Various combinations" ragbag at the end of the book, is from Kuznetsov-Kotkov, Russia 1993. It is White to play and, with his queen pinned and rook on h1 attacked by a pawn which is threatening to promote, he looks in a bad way.

,a, , ,

n , nf,

, , ,h,

, ZSb b

h, , , ,

N , , ,

H, , ,h,

,G, , ,G

What was the combination that enabled White to save the game? (Answer below).

If you need hints for either of these, the first comes in a chapter dealing with queen sacrifices, and for the second, think what you might expect in the section headed "Various".

Answers: First diagram: 1...g5+ 2.fxg5 hxg5+ 3.Kh5 Qxh3+!! 4.Qxh3 Kg7! and Bf7 mate cannot be prevented.

Second diagram: 1.Rh8+! Nxh8 2.Kc6! Rxd5 3.Rb8+! Kxb8 stalemate.