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Loose Pieces Drop Off!

Every now and again I thought I'd illustrate important bits of chess advice with clips from club matches. Today's theme is "Loose Pieces Drop Off"or LPDO as coined by English Grandmaster Dr Jogn Nunn. The idea is that any undefended piece is very vulnerable to a potential tactic. So if youb see that your opponent has an undefended piece you should look for a tactic that might take advantage of the fact, and on the flip side you should take care not to place pieces on undefended squares - unless, of course, there is a very good reason to do so.

Our first illustration comes from Dan's game against Jonathan Zheng. Dan completely outplayed his opponent and was two pawns up with virtually nothing to worry about, except ...

... that he has a loose bishop on c7. The pawn on b7 is also undefended so the simple Be5 solves all the problems. Unfortunately, Dan played h5?? and after Qc8+ and Qxc7 lost a game that he absolutely deserved to win.

The next example comes from Tim's game against Miklos Farkas.

Note that in this position, not only is the bishop on g5 attacked, but the b-pawn and d-pawn are also undefended. Tim played Bh4? - where the bishop is undefended. If instead the bishop moved to e3 it not only would be defended, but would also defend the d4 pawn, solving many of white's problems. However, after Bg5, black played Qb6 winning a pawn - and later on white lost further time when after Bxf5 the knight recapture Nxf5 hit the loose bishop on h4. Tim won this game but it nothing to do with what happened earlier!

Next up are two phases from Edward's win in his first match for the club...

In this position, notice that there white has an undefended rook on d2 and black has an undefended bishop on g4. Here Edward played Rc8? - but the c7 pawn didn't need defending and Qg5! both defends the loose bishop on g4, attacks the loose rook on d2 and has threats against the white King. After Rc8? black forks the King and bishop with Nf6+. Edward played Kh8 and black took the knight with Nxg4 - but this was a mistake (simply h3! running the bishop out of squares gives white the advantage) Why is Nxg4 a mistake? Because white is left with two loose pieces - the knight on g4 and the rook on d2. So Edward played Qg5 forking the pair - leaving him a piece up.

When a piece is left undefended it is not always immediately critical but it might prove to be a few moves down the line. Remember, Loose Pieces Drop Off!

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