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It's been quite a while... a long break owing to a death in the family. As you can see in the picture, I have been busy. A new chess book from Wiley that mirrors the instruction available on this site. I hope that you order a copy and/or recommend it to your friends and acquaintances.
I'm working on a new idea for the web site... interactive instruction for groups. Introductory, intermediate, and thematic lessons for groups using the telephone and Playchess. All you would need to do is to log into playchess as a guest (or use your account if you have one) and call a special telephone number that would let you join the discussion. The lessons would be very much like those I have given for decades, except that this way more than one person could benefit. The real question, of course, is how much to charge. Let me know your thoughts by e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I just received the word that the US Correspondence Chess Olympic team on which I play has qualified for the XIII final round! Here's the news release:
USA Correspondence Chess Team Qualifies for Olympiad XIII Final Round
ICCF-US has received notice from Roald Bertelsen, Tournament Director of the Olympiad XIII, that the US Preliminary Team has qualified for the Final Round. J. Daniel Finkelstein, Title Tournament Office Commissioner, has just released the Announcement regarding the start of the Final.
Olympiad XIII started 30 May 1998 by post. After 6 years of extremely hard work and patience, our team has taken second place in its section. The top 2 teams in each section advance to the Final Round. The Olympiad is the premier ICCF team event. 49 countries submitted 6 player teams that were divided into 4 sections. The USA was in Section 4 which had 13 teams. Our players had to play 12 games each whereas teams in the other section played 11 games.
Russia was strong from the start and took first place in Section 4 with 50 points. France completed its games about 2 years ago and earned 48 points. On 30 January 2003, the US team had 44.5 points with 7 games remaining. We knew that we had to score more points than France and the other second place contenders, because we would lose all tie-breaks. Every game was crucial. Games with Russia, Yugoslavia, and Hungary were painfully slow.
Our team's players are GM Joseph M. DeMauro, SIM Jon Edwards, SIM Gary L. Kubach, IM William E. Maillard, GM-elect John C. Timm, and SIM Daniel M. Fleetwood. Alex Dunne is our superb Olympiad Team Captain. John Timm assisted as Acting Team Captain when needed. He also served as best cheerleader and top scorer. He had a very impressive score of 10.5/12 on his board finishing a full point ahead of the second place players. Our heartiest congratulations go to all of our team players for all their efforts.
This is only the third time that the USA has qualified for the Olympiad Final Round. We currently have a team playing in the Final Round of Olympiad XIV. Olympiad XIV is the first Olympiad to be played by email.
The Final Round of Olympiad XIII will start 1 November 2004. The Qualifying Teams are from the Final of the 12th Olympiad: Germany, Lithuania, Latvia; and from the preliminaries of the 13th Olympiad, Section 1: Czech Republic, Brazil, Section 2: Luxembourg, Poland, Section 3: Slovakia, Austria, and Section 4: Russia, USA.
The Final will be played by post with the option of converting to email. Roald Bertelsen will remain as Tournament Director.
Sorry to say that Koneru Humpy did not prevail in the FIDE Women's championship in Elista. Antoaneta Stefanova won the title beating Ekaterina Kovalevskaya in the four game final 2.5-0.5. Kovalevskaya had defeated Ms. Humpy, who missed an easy win in the first game of their match and could not recover in the short match.
In honor of the new world champion, I call your attention to a new book by historian Marilyn Yalom, Birth of the Chess Queen. An interesting read (I'm well along now), the book focuses upon an interesting historical question: Why did the chess Queen emerge during the late middle ages as the strongest piece on the board. It's always fun when a chess book becomes a real best seller. Highly recommended if you enjoy books about the history of chess.
About to enter summer mode, here at Chess is Fun. Chess goes on, of course, and so will the BLOG. But, until September, not every day. I hope to cover important events, including Ms. Humpy's run to the Women's championship.
I'll be spending more time preparing the Chess is Fun bonus site... which will include a million game archive, a Hedgehog Reference Center, the games in 100s of chess books, and much more.
Today's big news: Koneru Humpy has qualified for the Women's Semi-final. Here are the two games that got her through round 4.
Finally, a while ago I promised all of the 138 games in Pal Benko's wonderful new book: My Life, Games, and Compositions. In addition to these games, the 600+ page book includes a survey of Benko's opening contributions by John Watson and 300 of Benko's Endgame compositions.
Long Memorial Day weekend is upon us. I may play in the Amateur Team East... whether I play or not, I will be there on Saturday at least. Drop on by and talk!
Koneru Humpy has qualified for the quarter final by winning in overtime in round three.
Her opening there is very interesting, a cross between the Avant Garde and the Gurganidze. Here are a dozen or so games in this interesting line and here are my annotations to her key triumph.
1.e4 g6 The Modern Defense 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 c6 The idea is d7-d5 inviting e4-e5 4.f4 d5 5.e5 Because Black now has access to f5 and g4 5...Nh6 ...h5 is often played to prevent g4 6.Be3 Delaying Nf3 to avoid Bg4 6...f6 7.Be2 0-0 8.h4 Qb6 9.Na4 Qa5+ 10.c3 Bf5 11.Nc5 Nd7 12.Nxd7 [ 12.Nxb7 Qb6 13.Qb3 Rfb8 14.Nc5 Nxc5 15.Qxb6 Rxb6 16.dxc5 Rxb2-/+] 12...Bxd7 13.h5 Qb6 14.Qd2 Ng4 15.Bxg4 Bxg4 16.hxg6 hxg6 Black emerges with the two bishops and a good chance of reaching a favorable endgame after the exchange of rooks on the h-file. 17.Rh4 Bf5 18.Ne2 Kf7 19.Ng3 e6 20.0-0-0 Rh8 21.Rdh1 Rxh4 22.Rxh4 Rh8 23.Nxf5 exf5 24.Rxh8 Bxh8 Black's double pawn will disappear, and Ms. Humpy has the better bishop. 25.Qe2 Qd8 26.g4 Qc8 27.gxf5 Qxf5 28.Bd2 Qh3 29.c4 Bg7 Seeking activity for the bishop 30.b3 Qd7 31.Be3 Qe7 32.cxd5 cxd5 33.Qb5 Qc7+ 34.Kd2 Qc6 With the white pawns fixed on dark squares, black has all the chances in the queenless endgame. 35.Qa5 a6 36.Qd8 Bf8 37.Ke2 Be7 38.Qh8 Qc2+ 39.Kf3 Qe4+ 40.Kf2 fxe5 41.fxe5 Bh4+ 42.Ke2 Bg5 43.Qh3 Qc2+ 44.Kf3 Qe4+ 45.Ke2 Ke7 Diagram
In Sarajevo, Shirov clinched first place with a nice win in round eight. He is scheduled to play against Short in round nine, but I'm sure that the fans will forgive a quick draw after his impressive fighting performance.
At the FIDE Women's Championship in Elista, Koneru Humpy has advanced to round three and, with a quick win with black, looks to advance to the quarter final.
Here are two games, Shirov's eight round win and one from Ms. Humpy.
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 g6 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.d3 Bg7 6.h3 Nf6 7.Nc3 Nd7 8.Be3 e5 9.Qd2 Qe7 10.Bh6 Bxh6 11.Qxh6 f6 12.Nh4 Nf8 13.0-0 Be6 14.f4 exf4 15.Rae1 0-0-0 [15...g5 16.Nf5 Qd7 (16...Qf7 17.Nd6+) 17.Qxf6 Rg8 18.Nd5 cxd5 19.exd5 Rg6 (19...Qxd5 20.Qe7#) 20.dxe6 Rxf6 21.exd7+ Kxd7 22.Re7+ Kc6 23.g4+/-] 16.Qxf4 c4 [16...g5 17.Nf5] 17.d4 g5 [17...Rxd4 18.Qxf6 Qxf6 19.Rxf6+/=] 18.Nf5 Qd7 19.Qe3 Bxf5 20.Rxf5 Qxd4 21.Qxd4 Rxd4 22.Rxf6 White emerges with a central passed-pawn 22...Nd7 23.Rf5 Re8 24.e5 idea e6 [24.Rxg5 Rd2] 24...g4 25.e6 Nf8 26.Ne4 gxh3 [26...Nxe6 27.Nf6 Re7 28.Rfe5 Rd6 29.Ne4 Rd8 30.Nc5+-] 27.c3 Rd3 Diagram
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 g6 5.Nc3 Bg7 6.Be2 0-0 7.0-0 Bg4 Often, in Queen Pawn openings, Black has to suffer with a bad Bc8. Here, Black tries to develop it. 8.cxd5 cxd5 9.Qb3 Taking immediate advantage of the fact that the b7 pawn is now undefended. 9...b6 10.Bd2 Nc6 11.Rfc1 Na5 12.Qd1 Bxf3 13.Bxf3 e6 Black has solidified the center, traded off the bad light-squared bishop. Looks fine, right? 14.b3 Preventing Na5-c4 14...Qd6 15.Be2 Re-posting the bishop to the more active diagonal 15...a6 Diagram
Having defeated her opponent in Round 1 of the FIDE Knockout format, Koneru Humpy has continued her winning ways with a win a round two. I hope to present it here tomorrow. But the big story this week may be in Sarajevo.
The 34th "Bosna 2004” tournament features the field of Alexei Shirov, Nigel Short, Ivan Sokolov, Viktor Bologan, Sergei Movsesian, Zdenko Kozul, Suat Atalik, Bojan Kurajica, Emir Dizdarevic and Borki Predojevic
Through seven round, Alexei Shirov at 6-1 has a commanding 1 point lead with 5 wins and 2 draws.
Here are all of his games so far in the tournament and here's his impressive victory in round 5.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 The Ruy Lopez 3...a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 0-0 and ...d5 is the Marshall Gambit 8.c3 0-0 9.h3 Preventing Bg4 and preparing d2-d4 9...Na5 10.Bc2 Preserving the "Spanish bishop" 10...c5 11.d4 cxd4 12.cxd4 White will usually develop with Nb1-d2-f3-g3 or e3 with good long-term play against the Black kingside 12...Bb7 13.d5 Rc8 14.Nbd2 Nh5 Idea f5 and Nf4 15.Nf1 Preventing Nf4 and now with the idea of Nxe5 and Qxh5 15...Nc4 16.a4 b4 17.b3 Na3 18.Bd3 Again, with the threat of Nxe5 18...a5 19.Nxe5 Bf6 20.Qxh5 Bxe5 21.Ra2 Rc3 Looking for compensation for the pawn, attacking b3 and the Bd3 22.Qd1 Qf6 23.Re3 Beating black Black's initiative 23...Rfc8 24.Bd2 There are now other entry squares for the Black rooks 24...R3c5 25.Rf3 back, back, back 25...Qd8 26.Ne3 idea Ng4 26...R8c7 27.Ng4 Qc8 Idea Rc1 28.Bf1 Rc1 29.Bxc1 Rxc1 30.Qd2 Ba6 31.Nxe5 Rxf1+ 32.Kh2 dxe5 White has a rook and pawn for the two minor pieces, but the Na3 is well out of play. 33.d6 and white has a powerful passed pawn 33...Bb7 34.d7 Qd8 35.Rd3 f6 [35...Bxe4 36.Rd6+-] 36.Rd6 Kf7 37.Qe2 Rc1 [37...Ke7 38.Rad2 Rc1 39.Qh5] 38.Qh5+ Ke7 Diagram
Regular readers of the BLOG may recall coverage of Ms. Koneru Humpy's win streak in the Indian Women's championship. I was impressed not only by the result, but by the fact that Ms. Humpy has an opening repretoire with black that is nearly identical to my own.
Ms. Humpy is now taking part in the The FIDE Women's World Championships now taking place in Elista. Indeed, she is the highest rated player at the tournament and dispatched her first opponent in fine style.
Here's the game and here's another classic encounter in the same line.
1.e4 c5 The Sicilian Defense 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 The Kan 5.Nc3 Qc7 Many transposition are possible here. The Qc7 is immune from attack from a knight because the black a- and e-pawns control b5 and d5 6.Bd3 Nf6 Another natural move pair. The Qc7 prevents the e4-e5 advance 7.0-0 Be7 8.Qe2 idea e4-e5 8...d6 9.Bg5 Nbd7 Playable because with the white king on the kingside, white is less likely to aim for f3 and g4-g5 10.Kh1 idea f4 10...b5 Justified because white has not played a4 or c4, and after 11.a4, black can push through safely with b5-b4 11.a4 b4 12.Na2 How to defend b4? 12...Bb7 [12...a5? opening up the b5-square] 13.Bd2 [13.Nxb4 Qc5! With three white pieces hanging] 13...Nc5 Three attacks on e4, one on a4 14.f3 0-0 15.a5 [15.Nxb4 a5 16.Na2 Nxa4] 15...Nxd3 16.cxd3 Qxa5 17.Bxb4 Qb6 18.Qf2 idea Nf5 18...a5 19.Ba3 Nd7 Anchoring the Qb6 20.Nc3 Ba6 targeting the backward d3-pawn 21.Na4 Qb7 22.Qe3 Rfd8 Preparing Nc5 23.Rac1 Nc5 24.Nxc5 dxc5 25.Bxc5 Bxc5 26.Rxc5 Qxb2 27.Nc6 Rxd3 28.Qc1 Qb6 29.Nxa5 h6 30.Nc6 Black is active here, but the pawn structure offers few winning chances 30...Rb3 31.Rd1 Be2 32.Re1 Bd3 33.Ne5 Rb1?! [33...Rd8=] 34.Rc8+ Kh7 35.Rxa8 Rxc1 36.Rxc1 Ba6 37.Nxf7 And white may be winning here 37...Qb2 38.Rd1 Be2 39.Rda1 Qf6 idea Bxf3= 40.Nd6 Qf4 41.R8a2 Bxf3 42.gxf3 Qxd6 43.Rg1 Qd3 44.Rf2 Qe3 45.Kg2 g5 46.h3 Kg6 47.Rd1 Qf4 48.Rd3 Diagram
Many players excel at positional or tactical chess, but it is the rare player indeed who can combine a talent both with a flair for the creative.
Israeli GM Amatzia Avni 1991 book Creative Chess offers an introduction with ten key principles but, more important, provides 150 especially creative games that will help to develop your chess.
A revised 1997 edition offers even more examples. Here are all of the games in the book and one example, a nice mating attack from Roman Dzindzichashvilli.
To help you all improve, I have included many games here on this site and in this BLOG. The idea is simple enough. Play over enough games and you will recognize positional and tactical opportunities and you will learn learn quite a bit about how to launch successful attacks.
That's basically the idea behind Correspondence Chess World Champion Gennady Nesis's books in the tactics series. Today, I include all of the games in his 1993 book Tactics in the Sicilian. Here are some of the most spectacular sacrifices in an opening known for its aggression.
More than just a manual on opening varaitions, here are games that will illustrate how to storm your opponent's king on both sides of the board, as well as a variety of tactical themes including enticement and deflection.
Here is one of the games in the book featuring, of course, a queensac!
1.e4 c5 The Sicilian 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.g4 The Keres Attack, one of the reasons that many players play 2...d6 and 5...a6 first 6...Nc6 7.g5 Nd7 8.Be3 In this line, white gets a quick kingside initiative 8...Be7 9.h4 0-0 Courage required. 10.Qh5 Trying to entice ...g6 10...Re8 11.0-0-0 a6 12.f4 Bf8 13.f5 exf5 Diagram
In the interests of full-disclosure, I should note that I am an e4 player (I open with 1.e4) and that I usually defend against 1.d4 with 1...Nf6.
So I'm not the greatest authority on the Queen's Gambit (1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6), but I am a firm beliver in playing over games that involve opening lines that I do not normally play. There's much to learn and enjoy and, who knows, I'm not too old to change.
In 1990, GM D. Marovic authored Play the Queen's Gambit, a collection of 150 instructive games in this line thematically organized with introductions to each main line.
Play through these games and observe the common themes, black's bad Bc8, white's central control, the symmetryand basic soundness of black's pawn structure, but white's spatial advantage with a wider range of attacking possibilities.
Here are all of the games in the book as well as a classic encounter with my notes.
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 d5 The Queen's Gambit Declined 4.Bg5 Nbd7 5.Nf3 c6 Here in the Cambridge Springs, Black plays Nbd7 but refrains from playing Be7 6.e4 e3 is the main line 6...dxe4 Making sure that the e-pawn does not reach e5 7.Nxe4 Qb6 Increasiong the tention. Bb4+ invites Nc3 and Bd2 8.Bd3 Offering the b2-pawn for rapid development 8...Qxb2 [8...Nxe4 9.Bxe4 Qb4+ 10.Nd2 Qxb2 Spielmann-Euwe, 1932] 9.0-0 Nxe4 10.Bxe4 Nf6 Typical after an exchange on e4 11.Bd3 Qb6 Back to the safety of b6-c7-d8 12.Re1 Be7 13.Qc2 Idea Bxf6 and Bxh7 13...h6 14.Bd2 c5 striking while d4-d5 is impossible 15.Bc3 cxd4 16.Nxd4 Black is up a pawn and white has the isolated c-pawn, but white also has a large lead in the development and black remains uncastled and saddled with a bad Bc8 16...0-0 17.Nf5 Qd8 [17...exf5 18.Rxe7] 18.Nxe7+ Qxe7 White emerges with the two bishops in an open board 19.Rab1 Rd8 20.Re3 Idea rook swing to g3 or h3 20...b6 21.Qe2 Bb7 22.Rg3 Ne8 Defending g7 23.Re1 White's lead in development is pronounced 23...Kf8 Diagram
I received a wonderful e-mail from one of our regular Message Board regulars. He's attempting a serious look at how to think about the game, the interaction between time, material, space, pawn structure, key squares, initiative, and development. Here was my response:
I hope he doesn't mind that I'm sharing my reply, but I think that it help many of you:
I think that you are in the process of developing and all-encompassing "gestalt"... a way of thinking... about chess.
Mine occurs quite sub-consciously, but it takes in all that you have suggested.
My leap occurred when, for some reason, I decided that I really wanted to understand EVERYTHING about a position that I had in a correspondence game. And I mean EVERYTHING. It took a very long time to do that and, of course, I made the right move and won the game too.
But I learned so much that carried on to other games. I'm a bit slower than most at this, so I really need hours to reach my conclusions... that's why I excel at correspondence chess and not over-the-board.
Carry on... I'm impressed! Try using your method on a set of positions and see how you do. Don't be afraid to write down your analysis and thoughts. That really helps too!"
I promised yesterday to provide the games in Bellin's Test Your Positional Chess. Here are all of the games in the book and here is one with a sense of what it's all about.
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.Nf3 Nd7 7.Bd3 e6 8.0-0 Qc7 9.c4 0-0-0 10.Bxg6 hxg6 11.Qa4 Kb8 12.b4 Nh6 13.Qb3 Nf5 14.a4 e5 15.dxe5 Nxe5 16.Nxe5 Qxe5 17.Bb2 Qc7 18.c5 Diagram
A long township committee meeting last night has interfered with the BLOG. Sorry about that folks. I got back in just in time to see the Yankees lose in the 11th inning.
Next up and nearly done by 6:30 last night are all the games in Bellin's Test Your Positional Chess. I begin my teaching by stressing candidate moves. Don't pick one move and play... pick three moves and try to determine which one is best. After all, there's Coach's Second law: one move is always better than the others.
Well, the fact is that chess really isn't about candidate MOVES... it's really about candidate plans! And sure, even a bad plan is better than no plan, but among a choice, one plan is always better than the others.
That's the heart of great positional chess, and this book from Bellin really helps to get you thinking correctly about how to plan and how to choose one over another.
I hope to finish this up tomorrow... please forgive the delays!
The European Individual Championships taking place in Turkey brings together chess stars like Vassily Ivanchuk, Teimour Radjabov, Mikhail Gurevich, and Predrag Nikolic.
During our Sunday morning lessons, my students and I turned out attention to one of these games, a lovely achievement in an interesting line. White begins by trying the English Attack against the Pirc Defense, but gets greedy by winning a pawn that opens up lines on the queenside against his own king.
If you play over just one chess game this week, try this one. The attack is memorable and the tactics a work of modern art. Enjoy.
1.e4 d6 The Pirc Defense 2.d4 Establishing a pawn center 2...Nf6 which Black will try to counter-attack 3.Nc3 g6 The fianchettoed Bg7 is often a strong force through the center of the board 4.Be3 antipating Bg7 with Qd2 and 0-0-0, often readying the English attack with f3 and g4 4...Bg7 5.Qd2 0-0 6.0-0-0 c6 7.Kb1 b5 In many Sicilian lines, Black will prepare b56 with a6. Here, the c-pawn never advanced to c5 and can support b5 directly 8.f3 Nbd7 Eyeing the key e5 square 9.e5 Perhaps h4-g5 and h4-h5. 9...b4 The counter aims to open the lomg diagonal for the Bg7 10.exf6 bxc3 11.Qxc3 Nxf6 Offering the c6-pawn. 12.Qxc6 Be6 But now Black gets a huge attack wit the active bishops and the open b- and c-files 13.Bc1 Defending the key b2 square, but notice thatr the Rh1, Ng1, and Bf1 are all "in the box." 13...Rb8 We expected Qa5 threatening mate and watching the d5-square. Rb8 is even stronger, threatening rather than playing Qa5 14.Nh3 Diagram
In my 1998 book, the Chess Analyst, I wrote a chapter (Cures for Irregularity) that provided a refutation for 1.g4, Grob's Attack or "The Spike."
I had investigated the best response to that move when a postal opponent tried it against me. I discovered, to my chagrin, that my library had next to nothing on the move. In those days, we had to respond within three days. I spent a lot of time on it and came to understand that there was considerable difference between 1...d5 and 1...e5.
In 1988, prolific chess author Bill Wall wrote Grob's Attack. I have used the opening myself from time to time as a surprise weapon in informal encounters. For those interested in taking a look, here are the 50 games that appear at the end of Wall's book. And here is a small piece of analysis from my own book. My database suggests that there have been no meaningful tests of my findings.
1.g4 Grob's Attack or, "The Spike" 1...e5 In my opinion, the best reply because it stops Bg2 [1...d5!? 2.Bg2 Bxg4 A significant error; white drums up an immediate attack 3.c4 c6 (3...dxc4 4.Bxb7) 4.Qb3] 2.Bg2!? Grob suggested 2.d3 as an improvement [2.f4?? Qh4#; 2.d3] 2...h5 Here's the key move, immediately challenging the g4-pawn. It cannot push through (g5 Qxg5) and Defending it with h3 also lose 3.gxh5 [3.h3 hxg4 4.hxg4 Rxh1 5.Bxh1 Qh4 6.Bf3 e4 7.Bxe4 Qxg4; 3.g5? Qxg5] 3...Qg5 Diagram
In yesterday's BLOG, I thought that I was providing all of Pal Benko's Benko Gambit games. But of course, just a bit of research showed up a few more.
In 1973, Benko wrote the first book on the gambit. It's well out print but still available used, albeit at more than the original $5.95 price. Here are all 20 of the annotated games in the book, including seven of Benko's that were not in my database.
GM John Fedorowicz became the heir to the Benko legacy by taking up the gambit and publishing The Complete Benko Gambit in 1990 with a significantly reworked second edition in 1994.
Here are all of the games in his second edition as well as a nice win of Fedowowicz's in 1989.
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 The Benko Gambit 4.cxb5 a6 5.bxa6 g6 The modern move order, avoiding lines with an early b3 and Bb2 6.Nc3 Bxa6 7.f4 Another modern try, with the idea of setting up a broad center with e4 7...Bg7 8.Nf3 Qa5 Pinning the Nc3 to prevent e4 9.Bd2 0-0 10.e4 Idea Bxf1 Rxf1 and castling by hand with Kf2-g1 10...d6 To inhibit e5 and develop the Nb8-d7 11.Bxa6 Qxa6 Preventing 0-0 12.Qe2 Nbd7 13.Qxa6 Rxa6 14.Kd1 With the queens off the board, idea Kc2 to defend the b-pawn 14...Ng4 15.Kc2 Avoiding Nf2+ 15...c4 Idea Nf2-d3 or Nc5-d3 and Rb8 16.Rhe1 Nc5 17.Re2 Nd3 18.h3 Diagram
In 1967, Pal Benko invented the Benko Gambit. Bored with the idea of memorizing opening systems, Benko sought rather to assemble a set of interrelated ideas and strategies. Although the system has been studied exhaustively for nearly four decades, it remains a vibrant response to 1.d4 and a part of the arsenals of many strong players.
Benko has just published Pal Benko: My Life, Games, and Compositions, a collection of a lifetime in chess, his best games, his endgame compositions, a celebration of a great player's creative legacy.
One chapter, my favorite, discusses the emergence of the Benko Gambit and several of Benko's games in his pet opening system. It will be a long while before I can share all the games and compositions in this 688 page book. For starters, I offer all of Benko's games in which he actually played the Benko Gambit (some on the white side!).
And here, with my annotations, is his first game in this line.
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 The only way to test Black's set-up [3.dxc5? e6 4.b4 a5 5.bxa5 Na6!; 3.Nf3 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e6] 3...b5 The Benko Gambit, challenging white's central pawn structure by attacking the rear pawn in the chain. 4.cxb5 "winning" a pawn but lessening white's contro l over the key d5-pawn. 4...a6 Offering a trade to activate the Bc8 5.bxa6 [5.e3!?; 5.Nc3!?] 5...Bxa6 A key part of the gambit. Moving the e-pawn will result in Bxf1 and white will have spend time disentangling the kingside 6.Nc3 Natural development, often with the idea of supporting e2-e4 6...d6 7.Nf3 Preferring a kingside fianchetto to the exchange of bishops on f1 7...g6 8.g3 Bg7 Black is down a pawn but his bishops are very strong and the rooks will control the key a- and b-files. 9.Bg2 The bishop is not well placed on g2, placed behind the fixed d5-pawn. 9...0-0 Today, Benko would probably play Nbd7-b6 first to place additional pressure on the d5-pawn priot to castling. 10.0-0 Nbd7 11.Qc2 Possible because black did not keep the queen home with Nb6 11...Qb6 Many options for the queen, including a5, c7, and even a8 (after Ra7) 12.Rd1 Black's inaccurate move order gives white a good game, but imagine having to beat back this new idea. 12...Rfb8 Reaching the ideal opening set-up 13.Rb1 Ne8 Activating the Bg7. The knight will head to c7 where it can support e7-e6 14.Bg5 A common idea tday, an annoying attack on the e7-pawn 14...Qd8 [14...Kf8!?] 15.Bf1 Idea e4 to exchange Black's more active light-squared bishop 15...h6 To drive back the Bg5 and activate the Qd8 16.Bd2 Nc7 17.b3 Nb6 Two attacks on the d5-pawn 18.e4 The bishops will now come off the board. Often, after e4, black will aim a knight towards the key d3-square. 18...Bxf1 19.Rxf1 Qd7 Preparing e6 20.Rfe1 Kh7 21.Kg2 e6 22.dxe6 Nxe6 23.Ne2 To prevent Nd4 23...d5 Counting on his activity to compensate for the gambit pawn 24.Nf4 dxe4 25.Rxe4 Nd4 26.Nxd4 cxd4 27.a4? Diagram
The third chapter of my book, the Chess Analyst, focused on a piece sacrifice in the Najdorf Sicilian that became popular during the 1980s. "When Push Comes to Shove" was the title I selected for the article. White plays a very sharp pawn push on move 6 that leads quickly to a piece sac and then another.
I mention all this because one of the proponents of this modern system, GM Alexei Shirov, continues to use this system with great success.
Today, I offer all of the games in Sergei Soloviov's Shirov's One Hundred Wins, exciting, complex games all, as well as one of the two games in the book that involve the Perenyi Variation.
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 The Sicilian Najdorf 6.Be3 The fashionable English Attack, idea f3, Qd2, 0-0-0, and g4 6...e6 7.g4 The Perenyi Attack. Like the Keres Attack, with the idea of a quick g4-g5 7...e5 This appears to win the g-pawn straight away 8.Nf5 Blocking Bxg4 8...g6 If the Nf5 moves, Black will win the g-pawn. 9.g5 Here's the point. White sacs the Bf5 for quick development. 9...gxf5 10.exf5 d5 idea d4. If instead Ng8 11.f6 traps the white kingside. 11.Qf3 Or Qe2 [11.gxf6 d4 12.Bc4 Qc7] 11...d4 12.0-0-0 Delaying the loss of a second piece, but black can block or sidestep the pin on the Qd8 12...Nbd7 13.Bd2 Offering a second piece. 13...Qc7 OUt of the line of fire, and defending e5 14.gxf6 dxc3 15.Bxc3 Qc6 The f-pawns will remain weak. Up a piece, Topalov seeks an exchange of queens. [15...Nxf6 Giving white hope for an attack on e5] 16.Qg3 Bh6+ [16...Qxh1 17.Bg2 Bh6+ 18.Bd2 Bxd2+ 19.Kxd2 Qxd1+ 20.Kxd1~~] 17.Kb1 Bf4 [17...Qxh1 Black trails too much in development to go after the Rh1 18.Bxe5 Qe4 19.Bc7] 18.Qd3 Rg8 [18...Nxf6 19.Qd8#] 19.Bh3 Diagram
Many of you may never have heard the name Victor Kupreichik, perhaps the fiercest fighter amoung all Russian GMs. That says a lot when you consider names like Keres and Tal, but Kupreichik's games stand apart. A relentless desire to win, in every game, and enormous creative talent, finding original ideas in positions that others have dismissed.
In 1986, Gene McCormick authored Uncompromising Chess: The Games of Victor Kupreichik, a collection of 82 of his most extraordinary games. Here are all of the games in the book and here is one example, a theoretical duel that explodes in multiple piece sacrifices and an exciting finish.
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 The Tarrasch variation of the French Defense. No pressure on the d5-pawn, but holding open the option of c3 3...Nc6 [ 3...c5; 3...Nf6] 4.Ngf3 Nf6 5.e5 The usual pawn chain in the French, sealing in the Black Bc8 5...Nd7 6.Nb3 Over-protecting d4 and frustrating c7-c5 6...a5 7.a4 Securing the Nb3 7...b6 To exchange the Bc8-a6 8.Bf4 Stopping counter-play with ...f6 or f5 (exf6) with play against the weak e6-pawn. 8...Be7 9.c3 Securing the long pawn chain 9...Ba6 10.Bxa6 Rxa6 Black has succeeded in exchanging his bad light-squared bishop, but now the Ra6 is misplaced. 11.Nc1 Ncb8 12.h4 c5 13.Rh3 Another typical manoeuver against the French, idea Rg3 13...Nc6 14.Rg3 g6 Weakening the dark squares on f6 and h6 15.h5 A common attacking motif. On gxh5 Rg7 15...Ra7 Trying to defend the 7th rank laterally 16.Ne2 The right square, leaving Qd3-f3 for the queen. 16...Rb7 Initiating a queenside counter-attack with b6-b5 17.Kf1 Walking the king to safety before the attack begins. 17...Qa8 Activating the queen via a6 18.Kg1 Avoiding pins on the a6-f1 diagonal 18...Qa6 19.Ng5 b5 20.Qd3 Developing the queen during the brief moment that Black cannot exchange them. 20...c4 21.Qf3 Eyeing the f7 square 21...bxa4 threat Rxb2 22.Rh3 [ 22.Bc1] 22...Bxg5 Diagram
Chess master, chess journalist, and chess composer Richard Reti participated in most of the great tournaments of the 1920s until his early death from Scarlett fever in 1929.
He leaves us with a lifetime worth of wonderful games and, more important perhaps, a range of fabulous compositions and an opening (The Reti) that continues to attract interest at the highest levels.
Here are all of the games in Golombek's Richard Reti's Best Games (Nunn revised the new 1997 alegraic edition) and here is one of the games Reti played in his own opening.
1.Nf3 The Reti. Wonderful to have an opening named after you. Even better, an opening move with merit. Rather than occupy the center with 1.e4 or 1.d4, to strike at the center with a natural move, awaiting events. 1...Nf6 2.c4 Akin to the modern English, buta formidable weapon in this early era. 2...d5 We weak response, giving white an opportunity to exchange a flank pawn for a center pawn. 3.cxd5 Qxd5 Another mistake, prematurely posting the queen in the center 4.g3 Nc3 would be fine, but Reti is in no rush to attack the misplaced Black queen. 4...c6 Trying to limit the power of the Bg2 5.Nc3 Qa5 6.Bg2 Bf5 7.d3 e6 8.0-0 Nbd7 9.Bd2 With discovered attacks in the air, but 9...Qc7 10.Rc1 9...Be7 10.Nd4 Threatening Nxf5 and Nd5 10...Bg6 11.Nd5 Qd8 12.Nxe7 Capturing black's good bishop 12...Qxe7 13.Qb3 Black has moved his queen 4 times; white, in moving his queen only once, has the more active piece. 13...Qc5 Responding to the threat of Qxb7 by threatening the Nd4 14.Be3 Qb6 Six moves now for the queen, but hoping for Qxb6 to release the pressure. 15.Qa3 Like a knife through the position, preventing ...0-0 15...Qc7 Out of the line of fire of the Be3 16.Rac1 idea Nb5-d6 16...Qe5 Diagram
Happy Mother's Day
Boris Spassky had great success on both sides of the Closed Sicilian, always seeming to win the game with white or black by a single tempo. The name of the opening suggests a passive approach, but the games in this line tend to be very sharp and double edged, with white attacking on the kingside and black on the queenside. Black's attack sometimes seems to succeed more quickly, but the presence of the white king on the kingside gives black more to do than just break through the pawn structure.
All the more reason to have a guide. In 1993, Indian IM Vaidyanathan Ravikumar wrote The Closed Sicilian, a collection of 41 games, including eight of Spassky's, that well illustrate the potential of this approach. Of special interest, perhaps, is his additional coverage of the line with 1.e4 c5 2.g3, a favorite of one of my older students.
Here are all of the games reviewed in the book, and here also is one of my efforts with black against the opening.
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 The Closed Sicilian 2...Nc6 3.g3 g6 Many move pairs here. 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.d3 d6 6.f4 e6 A key response. Black want to be able to respond to Nf3 with Nge7 7.Nf3 Nge7 Not Nf6 blocking f5 and inviting g4-g5 gaining time against the Nf6 8.0-0 0-0 9.Be3 idea d3-d4 9...Nd4 Idea stopping d4 and Ne7-c6 10.Qd2 Rb8 Removing the rook from the long diagonal and idea b7-b5-b4 11.Nd1 idea c2-c3 11...b5 12.c3 Nxf3+ 13.Bxf3 b4 Black's counter-play is usually on the queenside 14.Nf2 bxc3 15.bxc3 Qa5 Two attacks on c3 16.Rac1 Ba6 Stopping d4 (Bxf1) 17.Rfd1 Qa3 Eyeing the b2 entry square 18.Rc2 Bb5 Idea Ba4 19.Qe1 Now Ba4 Bc1 traps the Qa3 19...f5 20.e5 dxe5 21.fxe5 Nc6 Two attacks on e5 22.d4 cxd4 23.cxd4 Rbc8 Threatening Nxe5xf3 24.Rc3 Diagram
In 1998, English IM Andrew Kinsman produced a highly readable book on an important opening, the Spanish Exchange. After the standard opening moves 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6, Fischer, Timman, Shirov and others have helped to champion a line that rewards understanding, not just rote memorization.
Kinsman provides 60 games and, more important, a thematic introduction that summarizes the main ideas. Most important, of course, is that the endgame often reached in this line is highly favorable to white because black is unable to create a passed pawn, the result of the exchange on move 4!
Here are all of the games in the book including the positions examined in the introduction. And here is an example of an endgame won by white from this variation.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Bxc6 The Spanish Exchange 4...dxc6 White exchanges the light-squared bishop early on to nick the black pawn structure 5.0-0 Threatening Nxe5 [5.Nxe5 Qd4] 5...Bg4 Pinning the Nf3. ...f7-f6 is the more common response 6.h3 h5 7.d3 [7.hxg4?? hxg4 8.Nxe5 Qh4 9.f3 g3] 7...Qf6 Applying more pressure to the pinned Nf3 8.Nbd2 [8.hxg4 hxg4 9.Ng5 Qh6 10.Nh3 Qh4] 8...Ne7 idea Ng3-f4 or h4 9.Re1 Ng6 10.d4 [10.hxg4 hxg4 11.Nh2 Bc5 12.Ndf3 gxf3 13.Nxf3 Rh5 14.Be3 Nf4 15.Bxc5 Qh6-+] 10...Bd6 [10...0-0-0? 11.hxg4 hxg4 12.Nh2 Rxh2 13.Qxg4+ check!] 11.hxg4 hxg4 12.Nh2 [12.Nxe5 Qh4 13.Kf1 Nf4] 12...Rxh2 [12...exd4 13.e5 Bxe5 14.Nxg4+-] 13.Qxg4 Rh4 [13...Qh4!?] 14.Qf5 recommended by Fischer in his 60 Memorable Games 14...Ne7 [14...Rf4 15.Qxf6 Rxf6 16.Nf3 Kd7 17.Bg5+/=] 15.Qxf6 gxf6 16.Nf3 White clearly has the better pawn structure 16...Rh5 17.Be3 Connecting the rooks and aiming to exchange the rooks on h1 after g3 and Kg2. 17...0-0-0 18.g3 Rdh8 19.dxe5 fxe5 20.Kg2 Kd7 Anticipating the endgame, bringing the king into the center 21.Rh1 Rxh1 22.Rxh1 Rxh1 23.Kxh1 The enfgame in the Spanish Exchange favors white because only white can create a passed pawn. 23...c5 24.Kg2 Nc6 25.c3 Stopping Nd4 25...b5 26.Nd2 c4 27.f4 idea f5 and g4-g5 27...exf4 28.gxf4 f6 29.Kg3 Ne7 To prevent Kg4-f5 30.Kg4 Ke6 31.Nf3 c5 32.f5+ Kd7 33.Bf4 Nc6 Aiming for a blockade on e5 34.Bxd6 Kxd6 35.Kf4 b4 Diagram
Aron Nimzovich's first published book? Most might say My System but in fact, earlier in 1925, Nimzovich published Blockade. It was a short work and was quite scarce until my uncle, Dr. Joseph Platz, translated it from the original German into English.
My System has completely overshadowed this little book, but Blockade is quite a gem. I originally found the idea for my five steps to victory right here (page 56), as well as another key concept that I swear by. Using central "holes" not just for knights, but to shuttle all of my pieces from and to. As Nimzovitch put it: "All pieces must be directed towards the entry point (hole) to maintain the pressure and eventually to invade the enemy camp across this point."
Here are all of the games in the book, and here is one of Nimzovitch's own illustrative games.
Yesterday, I gave some tips on fighting against isolated pawns. If only it were that simple. It's complicated enough that GM A. Mikhalchishin and two other authors have provided an impressive tour of the issues related to isolated pawns.
Their 1995 book Isolated Pawn: Theory of the Chess Middlegame examines 200 games and a full range of related issues such as where the pieces belong, attacks on the kingside, transforming the structure, and isolated pawn endgames.
Here are all of the games in the book and here is one example of how the side with the isolated pawn can still claim a significant initiative.
1.c4 e6 2.Nf3 d5 3.d4 Nf6 The Queen's Gambit Declined 4.Nc3 Be7 5.Bg5 0-0 6.e3 Nbd7 7.Bd3 c5 8.0-0 cxd4 9.exd4 dxc4 10.Bxc4 Nb6 11.Bb3 Bd7 12.Qd3 Nbd5 13.Ne5 Bc6 14.Rad1 Nb4 Diagram
On the main Chess is Fun instruction site, I take visitors through the five steps to victory. (1) Identify the weakness; (2) Fix the weakness; (3) Attack the weakness with your pieces; (4) that will force your opponent to defend the weakness with his pieces; (5) then AND ONLY THEN attack the weakness with a pawn.
Sounds simple, until you try it. On the Chess is Fun Message board yesterday, I put forth a specific case involving a Black isolated pawn on d5. How to win once we recognize the pawn as the weakness.
I promised to find some real life examples, and here they are. 16 games involving the same theme, the 5 steps to victory against an isolated pawn on d5.
Here's one with some notes. Feel free to pose your questions on the Message Board. You too may drive the content here!
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 c6 5.cxd5 cxd5 6.e3 Nc6 7.Nf3 Bb4 8.Qb3 Be7 9.Bd3 Bd7 10.0-0 0-0 11.Rac1 Rc8 12.Qd1 Nh5 13.Bxe7 Qxe7 14.Bb1 Nf6 15.Qe2 a6 16.Ne1 Diagram
The toughest task in chess? Probably winning won games. There are only a few grandmasters like Karpov who've made a career out of converting small advantages into victories.
In 1985, GM Eduard Gufeld produced a fascinating manual, Exploiting Small Advantages that offers 80 examples of the kind of careful technique required to achieve consistent results. If you are lucky enough to find this book, you will find gems that do not often appear in databases. I can attest to that because I had to enter many of these positions into ChessBase by hand.
Here are all of the games in the book and here is one interesting example.
In 1933, three-time US. Chess Champion I.A. Horowitz founded Chess Review. It soon became one of the world's leading chess magazines and, as you may recall, joined in the 1960s with Chess Life magazine to become the main US chess magazine, Chess Life and Review.
Horowitz's column in Chess Review, Solitaire Chess, was a fixture for decades. In each column, he presented one game, usually a classic encounter, with instructions inviting the reader to play through the game, one move at a time, with a specified number of points for each move. Readers could then compare their scores with others and judge their progress from month to month.
In 1962, Horowitz published a collection of 62 of these columns in a book by the same name, Solitaire Chess.
Here are all of the games in the book and here is one whose finale might well have appeared in Reinfeld's 1001 Brilliant ways to Mate.
1.e4 c6 The Caro Kann defense 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 All standard. 4...Bf5 is the Classical line. 4...Nf6 The Bronstein Larsen. 5.Nxf6 nicks the black pawn structure and offers white a lasting positional advantage. 5.Ng3 This has the merit of preventing the natural Bf5 5...e6 And now the Bc8 will be harder to develop 6.Nf3 To over-protect d4 and control e5, preventing e6-e5 6...c5 Counter-attacking the center and to open a development path for the Bc8 7.Bd3 With the black pawn on d3, the best square for the light-squared bishop. 7...Nc6 [7...cxd4 8.Nxd4 Qxd4 9.Bb5+] 8.dxc5 Bxc5 9.a3 0-0 10.0-0 b6 To develop the Bc8-b7 11.b4 Siezing the opportunity to take the long a1-h8 diagonal. 11...Be7 12.Bb2 Qc7 13.b5 Preparing Ne5 13...Na5 14.Ne5 Bb7 15.Ng4 To strip the black kingside of a key defender 15...Qd8 16.Ne3 [16.Qe2] 16...Nd5?! 17.Qh5 g6 Weakening the dark squares on the kingside, especially h6 and g7. 18.Ng4 idea Nh6 mate 18...Bf6 [18...gxh5 19.Nh6#] 19.Nxf6+ Preserving the Bb2 for the attack 19...Nxf6 20.Qh6 Rc8 21.Rad1 idea Bxg6 21...Qe7 22.Rfe1 Ne8 23.Nf5! Qc5 [23...exf5 24.Rxe7; 23...gxf5 24.Bxf5 f6 25.Bxe6+ Kh8 26.Rd7+-] 24.Re5 [24.Bd4 Qc7 25.Bf6+-] 24...Bd5 Diagram
The best way to improve your chess tactics? Practice, practice, practice. For years, before every tournament, I used to review the positions in Reinfeld's books just to sharpen my tactical focus.
One of those old standards, 1001 Brilliant Ways to Checkmate offers just that, 1001 positions (with solutions) that will help to improve your ability through a continuing series of thematically linked positions.
The book is divided into 6 chapters, and I have provided ALL of the positions in the book according to the chapter in which they appear. Note that copyright restrictions require that I not provide the solutions. For those you can persevere, buy the book, or plug the positions into a computer. Don't be afraid to buy the book, but I hope that you persevere.
Chapter 1: Queen Sacrifices
Chapter 2: Checkmate without the Queen
Chapter 3: Storming the Castled position
Chapter 4: Harrying the King
Chapter 5: Discovered Check and Double Check
Chapters 6-8: Pawn promotion; A variety of motifs; Composed Problems
And here's one example... A queensac of course!
Here at Queensac, we adore queen sacrifices. Almost as exciting is the double-rook sac! Yassar Seirawan and Nikolay Minev have produced a compelling book, Take my Rooks!, devoted to this theme. They have found more than 130 games that involve the theme and help us to understand when it works, when it doesn't, and what some players missed along the way.
Here are all of the games in the book and here are two examples. The first is a quick look at the nature of the double rook sacrifice; the second is a battle between two titans that ends quite quickly.
1.d4 f5 The Dutch Defense 2.e4 The Staunton Gambit 2...fxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 g6 5.f3 exf3 6.Nxf3 For the pawn, white has a noticeable lead in development. 6...Bg7 7.Bd3 c5 8.d5 And now a space advantage. 8...Qb6 9.Qd2 Qxb2 Bad development and taking a poisoned pawn. 10.Rb1 Nxd5 Diagram
In 1965, Vladimir Vukovic authored perhaps the premier manual on tactics, The Art of Attack in Chess. More than just a presentation on how to attack a castled king, he classifies attacks and focuses upon grandmaster games to illustrate his points. He provides a special section on the games of Capablanca and Alekhine, a real treat for those who have not yet seen these games.
The book is available in a new edition, which fortunately makes it available to the next generation of chess players. Here are all of the games and positions in the book and here is just one example, a nice attack conducted by Yugoslavian GM S. Gligoric.
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 The Benoni 3.d5 e5 ...b5 would be the Benko Gambit 4.Nc3 d6 In this line, the center closes and the d6 pawn is backward and weak, but black has potential counterplay with both ...b5 and ...f5 5.e4 Nbd7 6.Nf3 a6 To support ...b5 7.Be2 Be7 8.0-0 0-0 9.Ne1 Ne8 To prepare ...f5 10.Nd3 Nc7 11.a4 To prevent ...b5 11...Rb8 12.Be3 Bg5 To exchange the bad dark-quared bishop 13.Qd2 Bxe3 14.Qxe3 h6 15.a5 b5 16.axb6 Nxb6 17.b3 Ra8 18.f4 exf4 19.Qxf4 The e5-square is key here. Will white be able to play e4-e5, or will black be able to get a knight to the e5-square 19...f6 Preventing e5 20.Nd1 Qe7 21.Ne3 g5 Creating holes on the kingside, notably f5, g6, and h5 22.Nf5 Forcing black to exchange the good light-squared bishop 22...Bxf5 23.Qxf5 Qh7 Hoping to exchange the queens in order to protect the weak light-squares on the kingside. 24.Qg4 Idea Rf5 and Raf1 24...Rae8 25.Rf5 Nd7 idea Ne5 26.Raf1 Re7 27.b4 idea cxb4 28.c5 dxc5 29.d6 27...cxb4 28.c5 threat cxd6 28...h5 [28...dxc5 29.d6 wins a [iece] 29.Qg3 Rxe4 30.c6! Rxe2 31.Qxd6 Nb5 32.Qxb4 The connected passed pawns provide full compensation for the piece 32...Nb8 Diagram
Five time Russian champion Rashid Nezhmetdinov sustained his standing atop the world of chess by attacking... always attacking. As the story goes, he defeated Mikhail Tal so many times that Tal hired him as his trainer.
In 2000, Thinkers' Press published Russian Correspondence master Alex Piskin's Super Nezh: Chess Assassin, a collection of 100 well annotated games from this Russian champion previously little known in the west. The book is full of surprises (Nezh invented the poisoned pawn variation of the Najdorf!) and many ferocious attacks. Unfortunately, the book is now out of print, but it shows up used at an affordable price from time-to-time.
Here are all of the games in the book and here is, perhaps, Super Nezh's most famous win.
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 d6 3.Nc3 e5 Avoiding the main lines, but allowing an early queen-exchange after d4xe5 4.e4 Perhaps Nf3 to sustain the tension in the center 4...exd4 5.Qxd4 Nc6 Gaining time on the queen 6.Qd2 Blocking the development of the Bc1, but overprotecting the Nc3 and preparing b3 and Bb3 6...g6 7.b3 Bg7 8.Bb2 0-0 9.Bd3 idea Nge2 9...Ng4 idea Nge5 and f5 or Qh4 10.Nge2 Qh4 threat Qxf2. The game now complicates very quickly 11.Ng3 Nge5 [11...Nxh2 traps the Nh2; 11...Nce5!? 12.Bc2 Bh6 13.f4] 12.0-0 [12.Bc2 Nd4 13.Qxd4 Nf3+] 12...f5 [The author gives 12...Ng4 13.h3 Nxf2 14.Qxf2 Bd4 15.Qxd4 Nxd4 16.Nd5] 13.f3 Bh6 14.Qd1 f4 [14...Be3+ 15.Kh1 f4 16.Nge2 Nb4] 15.Nge2 g5 16.Nd5 g4 Ignoring Nxc7 17.g3 [17.Nxc7 g3 18.h3 Bxh3 19.gxh3 Qxh3-+] 17...fxg3 18.hxg3 Qh3 19.f4 [19.fxg4 Bxg4-+] 19...Be6 [19...Nf3+ 20.Kf2 Qh2+ 21.Ke3 when white is fine] 20.Bc2 [20.fxe5 Bxd5 21.exd5 Be3+; 20.Bb1!? Rf7] 20...Rf7 21.Kf2 Qh2+ 22.Ke3 Bxd5 23.cxd5 [23.Qxd5 Nb4 24.Qd2 Bxf4+ 25.gxf4 Qh3+ 26.Kf2 g3+-+] 23...Nb4 24.Rh1 Diagram
Chess lessons occupy my weekend mornings. For years, I've shared my own games and ideas and, of course, reviewed my students' games. During the past year, I've introduced something fun into the agenda. Thanks to the Internet Chess Club, my students and I watch live Grandmaster games and to predict their moves and plans. I know that many players join the ICC to play. The great benefit, in my view, is the ability to watch these games as they are played.
Today, we were following some of the games live from the Russian Chess league. Apart from wtching some interesting chess, it's also quite instructive to observe how the strongest players allocate their time. While many of us finish our games early, they are aware that even the smallest early inaccuracies can cost the full point. So it's quite common to see just 20 or so moves fill most of the time control.
Today's game was no exception, but I call your attention to the diagram. That position dwelled on our screen for about 30 minutes. I wish that I could tell you that my students and I figured out all the complications. The fact is, I wound up devoting a few afternoon hours to the task and, indeed, there were a more than a few surprises that we had missed.
I recommend that you set up a diagram position on the board, turn off the TV, and write down your analysis. You may find, as my students have, that the exercise builds chess muscles!
1.e4 c5 The Sicilian Defense 2.Nf3 Preparing 3.d4 2...e6 Popular defense, often leading to the Kan, Paulsen, or Scheveningen 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 ...a6 is the Kan. 5.Nc3 Qc7 The usual home for the queen, though usually prepared first with ...a6. Now on Nb5, the queen tucks to b8 and then gains time on the Nb5 with ...a6 6.Be3 a6 7.Qd2 Uncommon and looks awkward. Without having played...d6, black can still respond with Nf6 and Bb4going after the white e4-pawn 7...Nf6 8.0-0-0 Bb4 Threatening the e-pawn 9.f3 Ne5 [9...d5?! 10.a3 Bxc3 11.Qxc3 dxe4 12.Nxc6 Qxc6 13.Qe5 exf3 14.Bg5 Bd7 (14...fxg2 15.Bxf6 Bd7 (15...gxh1Q 16.Rd8#) 16.Bxg2 Qxg2 17.Rhg1 Qf2 18.Bxg7 Rc8 (18...Rg8 19.Qc7+-) 19.Qe4+/-) ] 10.Nb3 b5 idea Bb7 11.Qe1 threat Nxb5 because BxQ is now NOT check [11.Kb1 Be7 12.Qf2 Rb8 13.g4 h6 14.h4 d6 15.Rg1 g5 16.Rh1 Rg8 17.hxg5 hxg5 18.Ba7 Rb7 19.Bd4 Bd7 20.Qg3 b4 21.Ne2 Nc4 22.Nec1 Bb5 23.Bxc4 Bxc4 24.Nd2 e5 25.Nxc4 Qxc4 26.b3 Qc6 27.Bb2 a5 28.Qe1 a4 29.Nd3 Qb5 30.Qd2 Nd7 31.Rh7 Nf8 32.Rh6 Ng6 33.Qh2 Rc7 34.Rh7 Bf6 35.Qd2 Rb7 36.Ne1 Be7 37.Ng2 Nf4 38.Ne3 axb3 39.cxb3 Ra7 40.Nf5 Ra6 41.Rc1 Qa5 42.Ba1 Ra8 43.Rc6 Nd3 44.a4 Nc5 45.Qd5 Ne6 46.Rc8+ 1-0 Bauer,C-Skripchenko Lautier,A/Aix les Bains 2003/CBM 97 (46)] 11...Be7 [11...Bxc3 12.bxc3 Nc4 13.Bc5 With excellent play on the dark squares as compensation for the pawn structure; 11...Bb7 12.Nxb5 axb5 13.Qxb4] 12.f4 Nc4 13.e5 Without the black bishop on b7, the Nf6 cannot play to d5 13...Ng4 14.Bd4 Overprotecting the key e5-pawn and threatening h3. 14...f5 idea of lessing the power of the Bd4 and bringing the Ng4-h6-f7 15.h3 Nh6 Of course, the knight on the rim is dim. Certainly true here. The knight stays on h6 for the rest of the game 16.Qf2 Dominating the queenside dark-squares 16...Bb7 Seeking counrter-play along the long diagonal 17.Bxc4 bxc4 [17...Qxc4 18.Na5] 18.Bb6 Qc6 19.Na5 The Na5 and Nc3 control the diagonal 19...Qxg2 [19...Qc8 20.Rd4+/-] 20.Qd4 threat Qxd7 and Rhg1xg7 20...Bc8 Creating a safety square on b7 for the nearly trapped Qg2 21.Bc5 Trading white's "bad" dark-squared bishop for black's good bishop. 21...Bxc5 22.Qxc5 threat Rg1xg7 and Qe7 22...Kf7 Diagram
The most exciting defense for black? Thanks to adherants like Bobby Fischer and Lev Polugaevsky, the Sicilian Najdorf might get the most votes. It certainly remains at the cutting edge of opening theory.
There are many books on the Najdorf. Today, I focus on one, a 1993 effort by Danny King Winning with the Najdorf. He reviews all of the mian lines in 61 well annotated games played between the early 1940s and the mid 1990s.
He includes a few of his own games, but the majority are highly instructive examples such as the following
1.e4 c5 The Sicilian Defense 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 Nf6 attacks the e-pawn 5.Nc3 Defending the pawn. The sequence prohibits c2-c4 and the Maroczy bind (pawns on c4 and e4). 5...a6 The Najdorf variation. 6.Bg5 Fischer tried many different moves here, but used mostly Bc4 and Bg5 6...e6 idea Be7 7.f4 idea Qf3 7...Be7 8.Qf3 Qc7 9.0-0-0 All standard stuff 9...Nbd7 10.f5 More common is g2-g4, Bxf6 and g5 10...e5 A normal reaction. Black creates a hole on d5, but the f5-pawn now blocks the normal Nf5 11.Nb3 b5 idea b4 and Bb7 with pressure upon the fixed e4-pawn. 12.a3 To prevent b4, but a3 weakens the queenside. 12...Bb7 Two attacks upon e4 13.h4 Rc8 Delaying ...0-0, which would give white a target for the attack. Black is preparing the ...d5 break and stops Nd5 (Qxc2#) 14.Bd3 Over-protecting both c2 and e4 14...h5! A lovely move, stopping g2-g4 and, in fact, stealing the g4 square for the Nf6 15.Kb1 Nb6 Idea Nc4xb2 and Qxc3 16.Nd2 Trying to stop Nc4 16...Ng4 Trading the bad Be7 for white's good Bg5 17.Bxe7 Qxe7 idea Rxc3! 18.Nf1 Diagram
As a correspondence chess player, I'm accustomed to writing out pages and pages of analysis before I mail a move. German GM Robert Huebner rose quickly through the ranks in the 1970s through steadfast devotion to thorough analysis over-the-board. When ChessBase was in version 4.0, there was a limit to the amount of analysis that one could place inside a game. They set it quite high, expecting that no normal players would hit it. I did regularly, requiring that I split my games into parts. So too with Huebner, whose detailed analysis is legend.
In 1996, Huebner authored a memorable book, 25 Annotated Games. That may sound like a thin book, but those 25 games occupy 413 dense pages (with more diagrams within the analysis than within the game scores)! The analysis is detailed and comprehensive, a real joy to those who demand proof or just enjoy chess as science.
Here are all of the games in the book and here are my rather paltry annotations of one of the games. I hope that you get some sense of what in store to those who own this treasure.
1.e4 c5 The Sicilian Defense 2.Nf3 e6 3.Nc3 A frequent move, measuring black's intentions. White is unlikely to play a Closed varaition with the Nf3 blocking f2-f4 3...Nc6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Back to a main line... Black can choose among ...a6, ...Qc7, and ...d6 5...d6 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Bc4 Transposing to the Sozin Sicilian. The more usual move order is: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bc4 e6 7.Be3 7...Be7 8.Qe2 The Velimirovic attack 8...a6 9.0-0-0 Qc7 10.Bb3 All known and book 10...0-0 And an interesting choice now for white. If 11.g4, black plays Nxd4 when the natural Bxd4 fails to e6-e5. So white would have to play 11.g4 Nxd4 12.Rxd4 e5 13.Rc4. Better to prepare g4 with... 11.Rhg1 Na5 12.g4 b5 13.g5 Nxb3+ 14.axb3 Nd7 Again, all well known to theory. Huebner offers just a half page to the first 14 moves, and 26 pages to last 13 moves! 15.Rg3 There's much to learn from Huebner's method. First, analyze the key candidate moves 15.Nf5 and 15.f4... not necessarily to play them, but to find out why they may not yet work. And then play the moves that help to set them up. 15...Bb7 16.f4 [16.Qh5 Rfe8 17.Rh3 Nf8] 16...b4 Diagram
Most books on chess openings have a bias towards one side or another. The bias is natural because players tend to play the opening as white or black but rarely both.
An exception is The Caro Kann in Black and White by Anatoly Karpov and Alexander Beliavsky. Beliavsky authored the first half of the book, looking at the opening from the white perspective. Karpov takes on the black view in the the second half. Again, a game perspective, and a refreshing balance.
Of course, there's much to wonder about here. I get the impression, hard to prove, that both players have held back on the best strategies to defeat their pet lines, but the games are well annotated and worth your attention.
Here are all of the games in the book and here are my annotations to the last game, a nice theoretical novelty that Karpov had prepared for Kasparov but unleashed instead on Kamsky.
1.e4 c6 The Caro-Kann Defense 2.d4 d5 Counter-attacking as in the French, but here, avoiding a bad Bc8 by not having played e6 3.Nd2 Avoiding Nc3 when black has the additional option of playing g6 and Bg7. The fianchetto does not work well here because white can respond with c2-c3 3...dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 A solid variation, preparing rather than playing Ngf6 5.Ng5 Sharp, third move for the knight but an ideal post. ...h6 Ne6! 5...Ngf6 [5...h6 6.Ne6 fxe6 7.Qh5+ g6 8.Qxg6#] 6.Bd3 idea Qe2 and 0-0 6...e6 7.N1f3 Guarding the d4-pawn and eyeing e5 7...Bd6 8.Qe2 h6 9.Ne4 Nxe4 10.Qxe4 Nf6 11.Qh4 Diagram
Just how bad are bad bishops? And are all bad bishops equally bad? These are some of the questions explored in a 1989 Thinkers' Press book Strategical Themes by Senior Master Tom Unger.
I adore books that focus on themes, and this book has several: Bad Bishops, Double Fianchettos, central pawn rollers, and centralization. The book provides a good discussion on each theme and, as important, useful examples to drive the points home.
I offer all of the games in the book as well as an instructive example from the section on bad bishops. As you'll see, some bad bishops are worse than others.
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Be2 e5 7.Nb3 Be7 8.0-0 0-0 9.Be3 Be6 Threatening ...d5 10.Bf3 a5 11.Nd5 Bxd5 12.exd5 Nb8 13.c4? Once the Nb8 develops to control c5, d4-d5 will not be playable. White needed to try a4 with the idea of re-locating the Bf3 to b5. 13...Na6 14.Bd2 b6 15.Bc3 Nc5 16.Nxc5 bxc5 Diagram
You don't become world champion without mastering the endgame. That's probably fair to say, and Botvinnik's On the End Game gives a pretty fair view of what it takes. Certainly experience, but also a fair imagination and a strong dose of creativity.
The book contains 25 of Botvinnik's endgames against some of the strongest players of the day, Alekhine, Keres, Bronstein, Fischer, Larsen, Portisch, Najdorf, Taimanov, and many others. The plans and more orders are crisp, well annotated, and worth your time.
Here are all 25 games in the book. Where I could find them, I included the full game score rather than just the endgame so that you'll have a chance to see the transition to these interesting endgames.
Finally, here is the game of the day, one of the endgames in the book. There are undoubtedly several winning ideas here, but I think that you will find it interesting to see how Botvinnik planned out the win. Before you play it through, take five minutes to see what ideas you can assemble.
1.c4 e6 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nc3 d5 4.d4 Nbd7 5.e3 a6 6.c5 c6 7.Na4 Ne4 8.Bd3 e5 9.Nd2 Nxd2 10.Bxd2 e4 11.Be2 Be7 12.0-0 0-0 13.f3 f5 14.fxe4 fxe4 15.Rxf8+ Qxf8 16.Ba5 Nf6 17.Bc7 Be6 18.Qb3 Bg4 19.Bxg4 Nxg4 20.Bf4 Qf7 21.h3 Bh4 22.hxg4 g5 23.g3 gxf4 24.gxh4 Qe6 25.Kh2 Rf8 26.Rf1 f3 27.Qc2 Kh8 28.Qf2 Qxg4 29.Rg1 Qd7 30.Nc3 Rf6 31.Nd1 Qe7 32.Qg3 Rg6 33.Qb8+ Kg7 34.Rxg6+ Kxg6 35.Kg3 Qg7 36.Kh2 Kh5 37.Qg3 Qg4 38.Qxg4+ Kxg4 39.Nf2+ Kxh4 Diagram
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