A hopeless position — that feeling of our heart sinking like an old abandoned ship and our smile fading away as the time in your clock ticks down — is something we have all faced, be in staring at our computer screens or in the heat of a face-to-face tournament game. Some people go to the extend of punching their poor computer screens or their phone.

In this little piece of writing, you will find a reason to postpone such reactions and punishments just long enough to find what we call a swindle, or a counter-tactics or counterplay, in what seems like a terribly lost position.

Swindle is the art of finding resources that while objectively insufficient, may work due to opponent’s human errors ( like Overconfidence, Impatience, fear etc.)


We begin with a simple question – DO you have what it takes to swindle?

The advantage of playing with humans is knowing there’s always a chance, a human error, the susceptibility to making mistakes, of an oversight, or a blind spot saving your computer screen from that fatal blow. But it takes a few extra ingredients to make use of those mistakes when they do show up – The courage to persist even in a dire position, the sharp intuition of a tactical ninja, and the cunning nature of a fox to trick your opponents!

Below are a few positions to test your capacity to become a swindler.

Position #1 Black just played Rd2 and it looks like white will either lose his queen or get checkmated. If you take a minute to examine the position one more time, you’ll realize a hidden resource at white’s disposal.


Position #2 It looks like white can lose in a million ways, but there’s a hidden draw like a bolt from the blue! (This position was inspired by a game from one of our weekend blitz tournaments).


Here’s the actual unedited version of the combination from the actual game: (Thanks Flamingo!)


Position #3: Time to out-smart your smart opponent!

It is an interesting case of counter-tactics. White calculated a hidden possibility and sacrificed a pawn to get this position. But… there’s another counter-play that black had overlooked.

Position #4

White is losing, there’s no doubt about it. It’s only a matter of time before he pauses the clock and extends his hand to announce resignation. Most of us would have seen the inevitable and given up to save us from the shame of having everyone watch us suffer through this.

But in this position, white comes up with a bit of creativity and finishes the game in style!

A fun explanation below 🙂




Position #5: Tal played white in the below position. It was his birthday and he was playing in a blitz event at the Leipzig Olympiad 1960 when this interesting gem was played against him.

The concept of “Swindle” and the last two positions are from the book The Complete Chess Swindler by GM David Smerdon (published by New in Chess). Check out this link for purchase or to read the book sample.

We hope you enjoyed reading this blog 🙂

Arun J
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