Noah’s Ark Trap

Noah’s Ark Trap is not just an opening trap. The name is used for a lot of openings in which the white bishop is trapped on b3 by black pawns. Most of the games that contain this trap can be found in the Ruy Lopez.

More chess lessons? The next lesson in this series is about the game Morphy – Isouard (1958).

3 Responses to “Noah’s Ark Trap”

  1. I’m sorry, but your analysis as “1…c5 2.Bb5 Not a very good move.” is incorrect. Just because you believe it’s not, or that many play the game wrong from that point, does not make it a bad move. In fact, even 5.d4 was not a bad move. The bad move was move 8, Qxd4, and that is it. Nothing dictates that white must take back right away, playing a5 would be a valid line of play eventually leading to a resume in equal material, with white leading on development for your greed of trying to take an easy win, playing a trap, and white not falling for it.

  2. @ GMNightmare
    I agree with most of your comment, but I still shouldn’t play 2.Bb5, because I think that White has better moves. I don’t consider this move as a blunder after which the game will be lost. A blunder will be indicated by two question marks as you can find after the 8.Qxd4 move. I even don’t consider it as a bad move (indicated by a ?) or as a dubious move (?!), but I still advice to play other moves.

    The main purpose of this article was to show some examples of Noah’s Ark Trap in different openings.

  3. i completely agree, its not a matter of bad moves, its the strategy. QxD4 is enabling black to trap that pawn. the best move for white there would be Bd5. it takes away blacks ability to trap and puts pressure on blacks rook and eventually his queen.

The Lasker Trap

As a kind of followup on the lesson about the minor promotion I have added this lesson on the Lasker Trap in the Albin Countergambit. The underpromotion plays an important role in this trap and probably contributes to the success of it.

The Albin Countergambit starts with the moves 1. d4 d5 2. c4 e5 after which we can find the following position on the board.

White to move Position after move 2 Castling possibilities: KQkq 0 half-moves after last pawn advance or capture

The best option is to accept the gambit 3.dxe5 after which black probably continues with 3…d4. If White continues with 4.e3? he’ll find himself in deep trouble.


You may also want to read the lesson about the underpromotion or about the Elephant Trap or continue with the lesson about Noah’s Ark Trap.
A complete overview of the chess lessons at this site can be found in the chess lessons index.

Elephant Trap

The Elephant Trap is a famous trap in the Queen’s Gambit Declined. I am not sure why it is called the Elephant Trap, but the name reminds me to an oil painting of Eddie William Powell. The picture above shows a part of this painting. More information about this and other paintings of this artist can be found at this website.

But OK, let’s continue with the trap.



Another interesting trap is the Lasker Trap, but for now we continue with explaining some of the more difficult Chess Notation Symbols.

2 Responses to “The Elephant Trap”

  1. in Russia, the “bishop” is known by the Russian word for elephant.

    probably the trap’s name is related to move, bishop (elephant) to b-4.

  2. thanks for relating painting to chess.

Smothered mate

In a smothered mate the mated king is unable to move because he is surrounded (or smothered) by his own pieces. Therefor a smothered mate can only be delivered by a knight. We have seen an example of a smothered mate before in the lesson about the Blackburne Shilling Gambit.

Black to move Position after move 30 1 half-move after last pawn advance or capture

This lesson deals with the most common form of smothered mate as shown by the diagram on the left side. The knight delivers mate to the king which is prevented from escaping the check by the rook and the pawns.

As an illustrative example the game Jan Timman – Nigel Short at the 1990 Tilburg tournament is given.


Try to learn these last moves very well.

Next lesson a square rule for separated pawns will be presented.

The Pin

This lesson introduces one of the most important tactic building blocks in chess: the pin. A pin is a move which forces one of the opponent’s pieces to stay put because moving it would be illegal (an absolute pin) or exposes a more valuable piece behind it (a relative pin).

Only Bishops, Rooks and Queens are able to pin an opposing pieces down. Kings, Knights, and pawns cannot pin other pieces down. Any piece can be pinned down except the king.
A pin that often occurs in openings is the move Bb5 and the diagram above is in fact an example of such an opening.

A pin is very useful in a lot of tactical combinations. Since the pinned piece cannot move out of the line of attack it is rather easy to attack the pinned piece. Furthermore a piece that is unable to move is rather useless as a defender or an attacker.

The difference between a relative pin and an absolute pin may be very important. The most famous example of a pin that didn’t work can be found in the game De Legal vs Saint Brie as played in 1750 in Paris.

It is called Legal’s Mate.

The game can be automatically replayed by pressing the button with the black circle below the chessboard.



This is a very nice game, because it also shows that you may loose a game by winning the Queen.

There is some discussion about the original Legal-Brie game. Weinstein in his book “Combinations and traps in the opening” mentions this game with Nc6 and after Nxe5 says “…but Legal can be pardoned, he was 80 years old when he played this”

At this moment we have learned a lot of chess lessons, but you may have a feeling that you want to learn more openings. Please wait with this. Try to focus on strategics and tactics and on some of the endgames, but in order to survive the opening we will learn some rules for the opening in the next lesson.


Before we start with a new lesson about the pin we are going to repeat the four things that we have learned about the pin in our previous lessons:

1. Remember the difference between an absolute and a relative pin.


Black to move Position after move 5 Castling possibilities: KQkq 0 half-moves after last pawn advance or capture

An absolute pin


Black is not allowed to move the knight on c6.

Black to move Position after move 3 Castling possibilities: KQkq 2 half-moves after last pawn advance or capture

A relative pin


Black is allowed to move the knight, but then (in this case) White will capture the queen.

See also the lesson about the pin.

2. The simple pin


White to move Position after move 31 0 half-moves after last pawn advance or capture

Winning a piece


White is able to pin the knight by 32.Rd1 and can capture this knight on the next move 33.Rxd4+.

3. Attacking a pinned piece


White to move Position after move 26 0 half-moves after last pawn advance or capture

In the diagram on the left White is able to pin the piece, but this piece can be defended by the b-pawn. White is still able to capture this piece, because he is able to attack the piece: 27.Bb4 b6 28.d4 Kg7 29.dxc5


See Attacking a pinned piece

4. A pinned piece isn’t a real defender


White to move Position after move 25 0 half-moves after last pawn advance or capture

The knight is pinned.
This allows White to capture the rook: 26.Qxb7


See the A pinned piece cannot be counted as a defender lesson

Next we are going to pay some attention to Chess Tactics explained.



The Immortal Game

The immortal game is one of the most famous games ever played. It was played in 1851 as an informal game between Adolf Anderssen and Lionel Kieseritzky.

According to Wikipedia:

Played between the two great players at the Simpson’s-in-the-Strand Divan in London, the immortal game was an informal one played during a break in a formal tournament. Kieseritzky was very impressed when the game was over, and telegraphed the moves of the game to his Parisian chess club. The French chess magazine La Régence published the game in July 1851. This game was later nicknamed “The Immortal Game” in 1855 by the Austrian Ernst Falkbeer.

As you can see in the figure above the game is so famous that the position after the 20th move is used as an illustration on this 1984 stamp from Suriname.

The Wikipedia article is fully annotated, but it may be a nice exercise if you first annotate the game yourselves, since the game contains a lot of nice combinations. If you are not familiar with this opening have a look at the lesson about the King’s Gambit.


The next lesson is about Smothering the King, but you may also be interested in the Evergreen Game.


  1. Curious game. I cannot see what white gained by moving his rook to g1 and leaving his white bishop as a sacrifice. The move to Bd6 is curious as well. I can see the potential of the fork coming, but the rook at a1 is captured. After going through the rest of the scenario, it was deceptively brilliant on WHITE’s part for the Queen sacrifice to set position for checkmate. Good game


Chess Databases: Scid, ChessDB and ChessX

In some of my previous posts I have mentioned the ChessDB chess database program, but you may also want to use one of the other free available chess databases.
Scid (Shane’s Chess Information Database) was written by Shane Hudson. He started Scid in 1999, but the development stopped in 2004.
December 2006 the development of Scid continued with the publication of the first release of ChessDB. This project was started by Dr. David Kirkby.
Pascal Georges joined him, but the cooperation went very wrong and he started another continuation of Scid. The two different points of view can be found here and here.

In addition ChessX is another free chess database under development. Initially ChessX also has started as a continuation of Scid, but after some initial development, it was decided to break away from the Tcl/Tk code and start to program in Qt and C++ in order to get the program faster.

Another free chess database is Jose, but you can also use the free versions of some of the commercial chess databses. Chess Assistant Light is the free version of Convekta‘s Chess Assistant and ChessBase Light 2007 is the free version of ChessBase. Chess Assistant Light is limited to 15,000 games and the games are limited to 255 moves. ChessBase Light is limited to 32,000 games per database.

You just have to look and decide for yourself which (free) Chess database will be the best.


How to create an opening analysis?

This lesson is based on the use of ChessDB, but for other Database programs similar approaches can be used. I suppose that in the future some tutorials will be added to the ChessDB site, so make sure that you also check this site.

I will give a very short explanation and you probably need the program to be able to understand all the steps. Please note that ChessDB also enables you to generate an opening report. If such a report fulfills your needs don’t take the time to create a much more time consuming opening analysis.

We start by opening our lessons database or by creating such a database. In addition we will also open the large database. By means of the Database switcher it will be rather easy to switch between these two databases.

Switch to the large database and open the Tree Window. In this Tree Window we will check the Lock checkmark.
And since we are here we can also click on the little button on the left which will open the Best Tree Games window.

Now we select the lessons database by means of the Database switcher. Here we start to enter a new game.
You make the initial moves of the opening you are going to analyze on the board and make the decision if you want to analyze the opening for White or for Black. My advice is to analyze an opening for one side at a time.

By selecting the first mentioned move in the Tree window you are able to enter the main line. You can enter as many moves as you like, but try to remember that the purpose was to analyze an opening.

At this moment we also open the (PGN) Game Notation view. In this view select the first move for which the tree view showed more than one interesting continuation. If such an alternative exists for our own side we only have to add it if it looks very promising. Comments can easily be added by means of the Comment Editor.

If an alternative exists for the opposing side that is frequently played we have to add it too, because the purpose is to create material that assists us in learning an opening. Choose Add New Variation in the ChessDB’s pop up window.

The Best Tree Games window can be used to check which players have played the selected continuation and also to merge some example games in our analysis.

In addition one of the chess engines can be used to analyze the positions and you may want to add some comments or annotation symbols by means of the Comment editor.

Don’t forget to save the game you entered.

In the next lesson we will create an opening report of the Lolli Attack.

Kieninger Trap

The Budapest Defence is a chess opening that starts with the moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5. This is one of the rare gambit lines for Black, because almost all of the gambit lines are for White. It is rarely played at grandmaster level, but for the amateur it may be a nice way to immediately attack White’s centre. During most games the sacrificed pawn will be given back, because the alternatives are giving Black a nice advantage in the development of his pieces.

In this lesson we will focus on showing the Kieninger trap, which is one of the reasons to play the Budapest gambit at all. In addition the most important variations of the Budapest gambit are shown.

Liked this game? You will probably like the Immortal Game even more, but first we will have a look at the Mortimer Trap.

ChessDB Opening report

As mentioned before ChessDB can be used to generate opening reports. This post gives only a first indication of the power of this functionality.
I turned off almost all the report sections, but if you generate the report by yourself you can adjust the report in such a way that it shows the information that interests you. In addition all the positions in the Theory Table will be clickable which makes it a lot easier to understand and study an opening.
The example I used for this post is the opening report for the Lolli Attack.

The report has been generated from the free Chess ICOfY database. All you have to do to generate the opening report is to enter the chess position and to select the “Opening Report” option from the Tools menu.

In the next chess lesson we will learn how to create an opening analysis at our own.