How to know that you are improving at chess ?
A complicated question, since it pre-supposes you have a base level, and an ongoing plan or improvement schedule.
As I am not rated via FIDE or national standards, I rely on a general feeling of improvement rather than changes in recognised rating numbers ( although you could say that at least the Team League rating is a consistent one to benchmark against, albeit not a "recognised" one ).
I had a deja vu feeling when playing this game.....
Not here, where after f3 appeared on the board, I saw the lovely check with Qd4...
...and expected that White would play Rxf2 to limit his losses.
But instead, that deja vu feeling surfaced here, where White has played Kh1, inviting Nh3 and a discovered check, followed by Nf2+ and a fork of King and Queen.
White thought so too, and resigned after playing Kg1.
However, I had already planned mate, since I remembered a similar position from my blog about a month ago.
The same motif is there with the Queen, Knight , Rook and King.
Instead of going up material, Philidor's mate is available via Qg1+, Rxg1, Nf2#.
This encouraged me to have a look how often this appeared in general, and it doesn't seem to be too rare.
Here's one I found in my database from 1928, Balparda-Anfruns, Mar Del Plata, Argentina...
A neat combination of a discovered attack plus this motif leads to a win in Roland-Mercier from 2013...
..as White's Queen moves and allows Black to deliver the mate.
Interestingly, a variation on this has been used to force a draw as well. For example in Huzman-Kruppa, Uzhgorod, 1987
White cannot capture the knight with Rxf2, since mate arrives via Qe1.
Both the main and the variant are great motifs to remember.