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January 31, 2004

The Stonewall structure in chess carries many clues for the fight that will ensue. Here's the basic diagram:

Stone Wall pawn structure

For white, the fixed pawns on d4, e3, and f4 mean that white's dark-squared bishop will be "bad." It will have far less scope than white's light-squared bishop. A bishop on d2, for example, would be relatively inactive. By contrast, a Bishop on e2 would have many options.

And for white, the knights belong clearly on e5 and f3 or d3.

Black's light squared bishop would be the bad bishop, and so black would like to try to trade it off. The usual method is Bc8-d7-e8-h5. But in the following game, I managed to trade it off it two moves, not four.

I have also included about 100 games using this structure in which black also wins by playing Rg8 and g7-g5. Enjoy.

Albano,T (2255) - Edwards,J (2430) [A03]
US10 CCC corr, 1993

1.f4 d5 2.Nf3 Bg4 In the expectation of a stone-wall, with the aim of exchanging the bad light-squared bishop for the good knight 3.e3 [3.h3?! Bxf3 4.exf3= (4.gxf3 e5 Qh4+) ] 3...Nd7 threatening ...e5 4.h3 Bxf3 5.Qxf3 Black has exchanged off the bad queen's bishop and the white Qf3 block's the Nb1's path to e5 5...c6 defending the d-pawn and threatening e5 6.d4 Stopping ...e5, but now the Bc1 is "bad" 6...e6 7.Nd2 threatening e4 and en route to e5 via f3 7...f5 The stone wall has been built. Black stops e4. 8.Be2 Bd3!? 8...Bd6 Guarding the key e5-square and getting ready for Qe7 9.Qg3 Qe7 Protecting the g-pawn 10.0-0 Ngf6 Towards e4 11.c4 0-0 12.c5 further sealing in the Bc1 12...Bc7 13.Rb1 idea b4-b5 13...Ne4 theatening Ndf6 with a permanent Ne4 14.Nxe4 dxe4 Black now has Nf6-d5 15.Bd2 Kh8 Preparing the key Rf8-g8 g7-g5 maneuver 16.Qf2 Rg8 17.Kh1 g5 18.g3 Nf6 No need to release the tension. Better to build up first with Rg6, Nd5 and Rag8 19.Rg1 Nd5 20.b4 a6 21.a4 Rg6 22.Bc4 Qg7 23.Kh2 Qh6 24.Ra1 Rag8 25.Rad1 Bd8 26.fxg5 Rxg5 Diagram

27.Bxd5 Rh5 threatening Rxh3 and Rh2 winning the white queen 28.Qf1 exd5 All of black's pieces are more active than white's 29.b5 Bc7 threatening Rg4-h4 with three attacks on h3 30.bxa6 bxa6 31.Rb1 Rg4 32.Be1 Qxe3 game over 33.Bf2 Qf3 34.Rb7 Rgh4 35.Rxc7 Rxh3+ 36.Qxh3 Qxf2+ 37.Rg2 Rxh3+ 38.Kxh3 Qxd4 39.Rc8+ Kg7 40.Rxc6 e3 41.Kh2 Qe5 0-1

January 30, 2004

Another tactical theme today. By exploring this small set of briefly annotated games, you'll get a good apprecation for Lolli's mate. Here's the basic pattern:

Lolli's Mate

In this diagram, the black king is clearly in trouble. White would mate immediately with Qg7# save for the Black Rg8. But the Black king cannot move, so white needs only a check to finish the game. Perhaps Nf3-g5; Qh7#. Or perhaps a rook swing with Re4-h4 and Qh7.

Or, even better, how about 1.Re4, 2.Qxh7!, and 3.Rh4#! Or even 1.Re8, since Rxe8 Qg7#. The collection of games here has some interesting ideas for finding that final check. Enjoy them. Here are two of my favorites:

Bjornsson,T - Weiss,L [E94]
Tel Aviv ol (Men) prel Tel Aviv (1), 1964

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0 exd4 8.Nxd4 Bd7 9.Bg5 Qc8 10.Qd2 Nc6 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Rad1 Be6 13.Bh6 Re8 14.Bxg7 Kxg7 15.b3 Nd7 16.f4 Nb6 17.f5 Bd7 18.f6+ Kh8 19.Qh6 Rg8 Diagram

20.e5! Making room for Nc3-d4-g5 20...dxe5 21.Ne4 Qf8 Hoping to exchange the queens, or at least force the retreat of the Qh6 22.Ng5! [22.Ng5 Qxh6 23.Nxf7#! A perfect illustration of the principle... when the enemy king can't move, all you need is check] 1-0

Gorchakov,A - Romanishin,O [B31]
Sukhumi Sukhumi, 1971

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 g6 4.0-0 Bg7 5.Re1 e5 6.Bxc6 bxc6 7.c3 Ne7 8.d4 cxd4 9.cxd4 exd4 10.Nxd4 0-0 11.Nc3 Re8 12.Bf4 a5 13.Qd2 a4 14.Rad1 Qa5 15.Bd6 Bb7 16.Nc2 Qa6 17.Qg5 Nc8 18.Bc7 a3 19.e5 axb2 20.Ne4 Ne7 21.Nf6+ Bxf6 22.exf6 Nd5 23.Be5 Kh8 24.Qh6 Rg8 Diagram

25.Nb4! Beautiful. Deflecting the Nd5 in order to play Re3-h3 25...Nxb4 26.Re3 The threat is Qxh7+ and Rh3# 26...g5 Forced, to stop the immediate mate. 27.Bxb2! Qa5? [27...c5! 28.Rde1 (28.Rh3 Be4-+) 28...Qe6 29.Rxe6 dxe6] 28.Rde1+- There's no way to stop Re8 and mate after Rgxd8 Qg7 28...Qd8 29.Rh3 The black queen cannot now reach f5 to defend h7 1-0

January 29, 2004

The Perenyi variation of the Sicilian Defense is for the brave of heart. I have played it twice in correspondence chess. The first game helped to propel me into the final round of the 10th US Correspondence Chess final round. The other game helped me to win the title.

My database contains about 120 games in this amazing line, a quick piece sacrifice by white with fairly clear positional compensation.

In addition to that collection, I offer today a summary of the line, as well as three games played by Alexei Shirov. It's chess at its best!

sample game [B81]
Perenyi Attack

1.e4 c5 The Sicilian Defense 2.Nf3 "Knights before Bishops"... because we usually know exactly where the knights are going. 2...d6 Perhaps the most flexible continuation, though I prefer 2...e6 3.d4 The natural follow to Nf3 3...cxd4 exchanging a flank pawn for a central pawn 4.Nxd4 Qxd4 is playable, but the queen is exposed to attack in the center 4...Nf6 Attacking the e4-pawn 5.Nc3 Developing the N to its natural square, defending the e-pawn and eyeing the key d5-square. 5...a6 The Najdorf, played with often the idea of ...e5 because the Nd4 cannot now go to b5 6.Be3 Perhaps the most popular move today. Bg5 was all the rage (thanks to Fischer) in the 1960s and 1970s. 6...e6 7.g4 The Perenyi Attack. At the recent Wijk aan Zee tournament, f3 and Qd2 (the English Attack) was a familiar guest. 7...e5 White appears to be in trouble. The e5-pawn attacks the Nd4 and Black has two attacks (NF6 and Bc8) upon the white g4-pawn. 8.Nf5 Defending the g-pawn by blocking the attack of the Bc8, but of course, black has... 8...g6 and now, if the Nf5 moves, Black will win the white g-pawn. But Perenyi discovered that white gets much compensation by leaving the N on f5! 9.Bg2 [ 9.g5 also playable, and more often played 9...gxf5 10.exf5 And white has obvious compensation since Ng8 f6 leaves three Black pieces "in-the-box."] 9...gxf5 10.exf5 d5 11.Qe2 d4 12.0-0-0 Diagram

Would your rather have white or black here? *

Shirov,A (2718) - Topalov,V (2718) [B81]
Corus Wijk aan Zee (1), 13.01.2001

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 e6 7.g4 e5 8.Nf5 g6 9.g5 gxf5 10.exf5 d5 11.Qf3 d4 Forking the Nc3 and Be3. White can delay the loss of a second piece with... 12.0-0-0 Nbd7 re-initializing the threat and developing a piece 13.Bd2 Qc7 [ 13...dxc3 14.Bxc3 Ng8 leaves black dangerously undeveloped.] 14.gxf6 dxc3 15.Bxc3 Qc6 [ 15...Rg8; 15...Bh6+] 16.Qg3 Down a piece, white seeks continued activity 16...Bh6+ 17.Kb1 Bf4 [ 17...Qxh1 18.Bxe5 Qe4 19.Bc7 Bd2 20.Bg2 Qd4 21.Ba5 Qxf6 22.Bxd2 Qxf5 23.Re1++-] 18.Qd3 Rg8 Diagram

[ 18...Qxh1 19.Qd6+-] 19.Bh3 Kd8 20.Bb4 Qxf6 21.Qc4 Rg5 22.Rd6 A powerful entry square for the rook 22...Qg7 23.f6 [ 23.Ba5+ Ke8 24.f6 Rg1+ ( 24...Nxf6 25.Rd8+ Ke7 26.Qb4#) 25.Bf1+-] 23...Rg1+ 24.Bf1 [ 24.Bf1 Qg2 25.Ba5+ Ke8 26.Re6+ Kf8 ( 26...fxe6 27.Qxe6+ Kf8 28.Bb4+ Nc5 29.Bxc5#) 27.Bb4+ Kg8 28.Re8+] 1-0

Shirov,A (2746) - Van Wely,L (2643) [B81]
Istanbul ol (Men) Istanbul (5), 01.11.2000

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 e6 7.g4 e5 8.Nf5 g6 9.g5 gxf5 10.exf5 d5 11.Qf3 d4 12.0-0-0 Nbd7 13.Bd2 Qc7 14.gxf6 dxc3 15.Bxc3 Qc6 16.Qg3 Qxh1 Diagram

Black grabs the rook, but pays a heavier price17.Bg2 Bh6+ 18.Bd2 [ 18.Kb1?? Qxd1#] 18...Bxd2+ 19.Kxd2 Qxg2 20.Qxg2 Material is roughly equal, but white has a huge lead in space and time. 20...a5 21.f4 The tripled pawns provide a fun picture. F4 pries open the e-file. 21...exf4 22.Qg7 guarding the f6 pawn and preparing Re1-e7. 22...Rf8 23.Re1+ Kd8 24.Re7 Kc7 A mistake, but white was already winning. [ 24...Ra6 25.Rxd7+ Kxd7 26.Qxf8+-] 25.Qxf8 1-0

Shirov,A (2746) - Van Wely,L (2643) [B81]
Rubinstein mem Polanica Zdroj (8), 25.08.2000

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 e6 7.g4 e5 8.Nf5 g6 9.g5 gxf5 10.exf5 d5 11.Qf3 d4 12.0-0-0 Nbd7 13.Bd2 Qc7 14.gxf6 dxc3 15.Bxc3 Qc6 16.Qg3 Bh6+ 17.Kb1 Bf4 18.Qd3 0-0 Diagram

Castling to safety? Or castling into the storm?19.Rg1+ Kh8 First law in operation. The Black king cannot move. All white needs is check. 20.Bb4 Rg8 21.Rxg8+ Kxg8 22.Be7 h6 Creating some breathing room for the king 23.Be2 Nxf6 24.Qd8+ Kh7 [ 24...Qe8 25.Bxf6; 24...Ne8 25.Bf3 Qb5 26.b3 Kh7 27.a4 Qxb3+ 28.cxb3 Bxf5+ 29.Ka2 Rxd8 30.Rxd8 e4 31.Rxe8 exf3 32.h4+/-] 25.Qf8 Be6 [ 25...Qe8 26.Qxe8 Nxe8 27.Rd8 Ng7 28.f6+/-] 26.Qxa8 Bxf5 27.Ka1 Nd5 28.Qf8+- Qe6 29.Bc5 [ 29.Bh4+-] 29...Bxc2 30.Rg1 Bg6 31.h4 Bh2 32.Rd1 Nf4? [ 32...Bf4 33.h5 Bf5 34.Qd8+-] 33.Rd8 with mate on h8 1-0

January 28, 2004

First, a reminder to check out the brand new Chess is Fun Message Board. There's some fun activity there. It's a great place to see recommendations on openings, good chess books, and more. Feel free to start a new item, perhaps about topics raised right here in the BLOG.

The best way to learn tactics? I believe that pattern matching has much to do with it. That's a fancy way of saying that experience with many different tactical situations will help you to recognize tactical themes when they arise in your games.

In Anand's win against Timman last week at Wijk aan Zee, he used a Rxh7 sacrifice that motivated a look yesterday for similar sacs. In that position, the rook sacrifice was against a Black king on g8 and with a white pawn on g7.

As it turns out, it's far more common to see the sacrifice with the black king on g7 (perhaps after a Bxg7 exchange). To make it work, white usually needs to be able to follow up with Qxf7+ and then Rh1 soon thereafter. Here's the main mating pattern:

Rxh7 sacrifice

1.Rxh7+ Kxh7 [1...Kg8 2.Qxf7#] 2.Qxf7+ Kh6 3.Rh1+ Kg5 4.Rg1+ Qg3 5.Rxg3+ Kh4 6.Qf4+ Kh5 7.Rh3# *

I offer 30 examples of this theme, about half of which I have briefly annotated, and here are two of my favorites:

Bannik,A - Kortschnoj,V [B02]
URS-ch21 Kiev, 1954

1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.Nc3 Nxc3 4.dxc3 g6 5.Nf3 Bg7 6.Bf4 d6 7.Qd2 Nc6 8.0-0-0 Bg4 9.exd6 cxd6 10.Be2 Qa5 11.a3 0-0 12.Bh6 Qb6 13.h4 Bxf3 14.gxf3 Rfc8 15.Bxg7 Kxg7 16.h5 Qxf2 17.hxg6 hxg6 Diagram

White could try Qf4, threatening Rxh7, but white can gain a tempo for the attack!18.Qh6+! Kf6 [18...Kg8 19.Qh8#] 19.Qf4+ Kg7 And it's white's move... but does the sacrifice work. If it doesn't, find out why BEFORE you play it. 20.Rh2 excellent preparation! White needs to be able to play f4# [20.Rh7+ Kxh7 21.Qxf7+ Kh6 22.Rh1+ Kg5-+] 20...Qc5 21.Rh7+ Kxh7 22.Qxf7+ Kh6 23.Rh1+ Qh5 [23...Kg5 24.f4# Here, f4 is mate because the Black queen is no longer on f2] 24.Qf4+ Kg7 25.Rxh5 gxh5 26.Qg5+ Kf7 27.Qxh5+ Ke6 28.Qg4+ Kf6 29.Bc4 Nd8 30.Qh4+ Kf5 31.Qh7+ Kf4 32.Qxe7 Kxf3 33.Qxd6 a6 34.Bd5+ Kg4 35.Qf6 Rab8 36.Bf3+ Kg3 37.Be4 Nc6 38.Qg5+ Kf2 39.Qg2+ 1-0

Yakir,L - Skegina,K [A88]
URS-chT Moscow, 1959

1.d4 f5 2.c4 g6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 Bg7 5.g3 0-0 6.Bg2 d6 7.0-0 c6 8.Qc2 Kh8 9.b3 Na6 10.Bb2 Nh5 11.Rfd1 f4 12.d5 Bf5 13.Qd2 c5 14.Nh4 Bd7 15.Ne4 Qc8 16.Bxg7+ Kxg7 17.Ng5 Nc7 18.Qd3 Qe8 19.Bf3 Nf6 20.gxf4 Bg4 21.Bxg4 Nxg4 22.e3 Nh6 23.Kh1 Nf5 24.Nxf5+ Rxf5 25.Rg1 Qf8 26.Rg3 Qf6 27.Rag1 Rf8 28.Rh3 Rh8 29.Ne4 Qb2 Diagram

30.Nxd6 A nice move, threatening Qxf5 (the Rf5 is pinned) 30...Rff8 Taking the Rf5 out of harm's way, but... 31.Rxh7+ Removing the protection of the g6-pawn. 31...Rxh7 32.Qxg6+ Kh8 Coach's first law... when the king can't move, all we need is check 33.Nf7+! Rhxf7 [33...Rfxf7 34.Qg8#] 34.Qh6+ [34.Qh6+ Rh7 35.Qxf8#] 1-0

January 27, 2004

Is chess alive and well? Here's one interesting data point. According to the Jakarta Post last Saturday, 9,122 people took part in the Indonesian Mega Chess Festival on Friday. However, the competition fell short of its aim of breaking the world record of 11,320 chess players in one tournament. That record was set in Havana in December.

Over Valentine's Day, I'll be playing in the Amateur Team East in Parsippiny, New Jersey. It's one of the largest chess events in the US each year, no where near the size of the events in Havana or Jakarta, but still big... around 1,400 players. It's a great place to meet your chess buddies. I hope to see some of you there. Equipment willing, I'll try to post some games directly to the BLOG from the tournament. As a team event, there are prizes for both individual and team scores as well as best costume and best team name. For years we've tried to come up with the best name but we've never even placed in the final group... this year, I'm sure we've come up with the winner: "Pete Rose bet on chess!" Come, find us, and be sure to say hey!

In honor of Anand's win at Wijk aan Zee, I searched my database for other examples of the Rxh7 sacrifice that Anand used in his fine win against Timman in round 11. Here are two games that do not quite live up to Anand's style, but they are nonetheless instructive.

Nouro,M (2398) - Molander,R (2291) [B76]
FIN-ch Helsinki (8), 2000

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.0-0-0 Nxd4 10.Bxd4 Be6 11.Kb1 Qc7 12.g4 Rfc8 13.h4 Qa5 14.a3 Rab8 15.h5 b5 16.h6 b4 17.Nb5 Rxb5 18.Bxb5 Qxb5 19.hxg7 bxa3 20.Qd3 Bc4 21.Qxa3 Rc6 22.Bxf6 Ra6 Diagram

[ 22...exf6 23.Rxd6 Kxg7 24.Rxc6 Qxc6 25.Qxa7+-] 23.Rxh7! exf6 [ 23...Kxh7 24.Qxa6+- Qxa6 ( 24...exf6 25.Rh1+ Kxg7 26.Qc8+-) 25.Rh1+ Kg8 26.Rh8#] 24.Rdh1 idea Rh8+ and Rh7# 24...g5 25.f4 [ 25.f4 idea 26.Rh8 Kxg7 27.R1h7 Kg6 28.f5# 25...gxf4 26.Rh8+ Kxg7 27.Qh3+-] 1-0

Tinture,L - Boudignon,S [B76]
corr, 1989

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.g4 Be6 10.0-0-0 Nxd4 11.Bxd4 Qa5 12.a3 Rfc8 13.h4 Rab8 14.h5 b5 15.h6 b4 16.hxg7 bxa3 17.Nb5 Rxb5 18.Bxb5 Qxb5 19.bxa3 Bb3 20.Bc3 Qa4 21.Kb1 Qc4 22.Kb2 Ba4 23.Qd4 Qa6 24.Rh2 Rc4 25.Qe3 e5 26.Bb4 Rc6 27.Rd3 Qb7 28.Kc1 Qc7 29.Rc3 a6 30.Rxc6 Qxc6 31.Be1 d5 32.exd5 Qxd5 33.Bh4 Qc6 34.Qxe5 Nd5 35.Bg3 Nb6 36.Qe7 Nd7 37.Be5 Qc8 38.Bb2 Bb5 Diagram

39.Rxh7! It's mate in 5 39...Qxc2+ [ 39...Kxh7 40.Qh4+ Kg8 41.Qh8#; 39...Ne5 40.Rh8+ Kxg7 41.Bxe5#] 40.Kxc2 Ba4+ 41.Kd2 Kxh7 42.Qh4+ Kg8 43.Qh8# 1-0

January 26, 2004

Anand finishes first; Defends his Wijk aan Zee title

In the final round at Wijk aan Zee, an uneventful draw by Anand was enough for him to finish first, as neither Adams or Leko could win to tie him.

Here are all of the games in the event, and here is the final crosstable.

The most interesting game of the final round was Leko's attempt to win. As it turned out, he was lucky in the end to draw as Kramnik almost certainly missed winning chances. Here is the game:

Kramnik,V (2777) - Leko,P (2722) [E15]
GMA Wijk aan Zee NED (13), 25.01.2004

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 The Queen's Indian Defense. The fight is on for the e4-square 4.g3 Ba6 A clever response. White has no useful way to defend the c4-pawn 5.b3 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Black counts on the Bd2 to be misplaced 6...Be7 7.Bg2 c6 Solid chess, intending d5 8.Ne5 d5 9.Bc3 0-0 10.Nd2 c5 Black has adequate counter-play but hopes for more. A win ties Leko with Anand for first place. 11.dxc5 Bxc5 Not bxc5 when black winds up with "hanging pawns" on c5 and d5 12.0-0 Bb7 The bishop has done its job on a6 and now over-protects the key d5-pawn 13.e3 Knowing that Leko must win, Kramnik plays solid chess. 13...Be7 14.Rc1 Nbd7 15.Nxd7 Qxd7 16.Bxf6 To leave black with an isolated d-pawn 16...Bxf6 17.cxd5 exd5 [17...Bxd5 18.Ne4 Be5 19.Nc3 Rad8 20.Nxd5 exd5 21.Qd3+/-] 18.Ne4 Using the attack on the Bf6 to bring the knight to the key d4-square. 18...Be5 19.Qd3 Rad8 unpinning the Qd7 20.Ng5 Not really playing for mate, though he is happy to see the ...g7-g6 weakness. The idea is Nf3-d4, blockading the isolated d-pawn 20...g6 21.Nf3 Bf6 22.Rfd1 Rc8 23.Nd4 Black has no real hope of winning here. By contrast, white can try to mount pressure on the isolated d-pawn, tying up black's pieces in its defense. 23...Rxc1 24.Rxc1 Rc8 25.Rd1 Qc7 26.Ne2 Ceding the c2-entry square but Ne2-f4 puts powerful pressure upon the d-pawn 26...Qc2 27.Nf4 Qxa2 28.Nxd5 Bxd5 [28...Bd8 29.Nb4+-] 29.Bxd5 Threatening Bxf7 Kxf7 Qd7 +- 29...Rc7 30.Bc4 The opposite colored bishops often fuel heavu piece attacks. 30...Qa3 31.e4 b5 32.Bxb5 Rc3 33.Qd7 Qxb3 34.e5 Be7 [34...Bxe5?? 35.Qe8+ Kg7 36.Qxe5+] 35.Be2 Qe6?! Hoping for activity in the ensuing endgame, but white has all the chances [35...Bc5 36.Qd8+ Bf8 37.Qe8 Qe6 38.Qxe6 fxe6 39.Bg4 Rc6 is better than the game] 36.Qxe6 fxe6 37.Rd7 Kf8 [37...Bc5 38.Bg4] 38.Rxa7 Rc2 39.Kf1 Rc1+ 40.Kg2 Rc2 41.Kf3 g5 42.Ra8+ Kg7 43.Bd3 Rc5 44.Ke4 Rc6 The rook needs to stay on the 6th rank to prevent Ra6 and a bishop attack on the e6-pawn 45.f4 gxf4 46.gxf4 Kf7 47.Ra4 Bd8 48.Bc4 Ke7 49.Kd3 Bc7 50.Ra8 Bd8 51.Ra7+ Bc7 52.Bb5! Rc5 53.Kd4 Rd5+ 54.Kc4 Kd8 Diagram

55.f5 [55.Ra8+! Ke7 56.Rh8 Bb6 57.Rxh7+ Kd8 58.Bc6 Rc5+ 59.Kb4 Rxc6 60.Kb5 Rc7 61.Rh8+ Ke7 62.Kxb6+-] 55...Rd4+ [55...Rxe5 56.f6 Kc8 57.f7 Rf5 58.Ra8+ Bb8 59.Be8 Kb7 60.Ra3~~] 56.Kc5 [56.Kxd4 Bb6+ 57.Kd3 Bxa7 58.f6=] 56...Rd5+ 57.Kc4 Rd4+ 58.Kxd4 Bb6+ 59.Kd3 Bxa7 60.f6= Bg1 61.h3 Bc5 62.Ke4 Ba3 63.h4 Bb2 64.Kf4 h6 65.Bc4 1/2-1/2

January 25, 2004

Just as it seemed that Anand could coast to victory at Corus Wijk ann Zee, the event pulled closer. In round 12, Topalov defeated Anand while Adams beat Timman. As a result, Anand has only a 1/2 point lead over both Leko and Adams going into the final round!

Here are the two very exciting games from round 12. Anand sacrificed a pawn and obtained what seemed like adequate compensation, but Topalov pressed on, using a passed b-pawn to achieve enough pressure to win. Having seen the Anand defeat, Adams just never let up. His victory provide a fine illustration of how to use Nimzovitsch's classic style to achive the full point.

Topalov,V (2735) - Anand,V (2766) [B80]
GMA Wijk aan Zee NED (12), 24.01.2004

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 Another Najdorf Sicilian 6.f3 e6 7.Be3 And, yet again, the English attack 7...b5 8.g4 Nfd7 The Nf6 will often be attacked and need to retreat here. Rather than wait for the pawn advance, Anand speeds its development towards b6 9.Qd2 Nb6 10.a4 But here's adisadvantage of this approach. White has not yet castled 0-0-0 and can isolate the black a-pawn 10...bxa4 11.Nxa4 Nxa4 12.Rxa4 Be7 The exchanges have made ...0-0 a bit safer 13.g5 [13.Be2 0-0 14.0-0 Bb7 15.Rfa1 Nd7 16.Nb3 Rb8 17.Ba7 Rc8 18.Na5 Ba8 19.Bxa6 Ne5 20.Be2 f5 21.gxf5 exf5 22.Nc4 Qe8 23.Nxe5 dxe5 24.Bd3 fxe4 25.fxe4 Qh5 26.Be3 Rc6 27.Qe2 Rg6+ 28.Kh1 Qxe2 29.Bxe2 Bc6 30.Rc4 Bb5 31.Ra5 Bxc4 32.Bxc4+ Kh8 33.Rxe5 Ra8 34.Rf5 Rg4 35.Rf1 Rb8 36.Bd3 Rxb2 37.e5 Rb8 38.Ba7 Rf8 39.Rxf8+ Bxf8 40.Bf2 Rg5 41.Bd4 1/2-1/2 Anand,V-Kasparov,G/Kopavogur 2000/EXT 2001 (41)] 13...0-0 14.h4 Bd7 Perhaps Bb7 or even ...d5 15.Ra1 Nc6?! This just loses the a-pawn 16.Rxa6 Qc7 [16...Rxa6 17.Bxa6 Qa8 18.Nxc6 Qxc6 19.Bd3 Ra8 20.Ke2+/-] 17.Kf2 Nxd4 18.Bxd4 e5 19.Be3 Rxa6 20.Bxa6 Black's compensation? An exposed white king and now, an open f-file. Perhaps Be6 first to fight for the d5-square. 20...f5 21.gxf6 Bxf6 22.Qd5+ Kh8 23.Bc4 Be8 With the idea of Bh5 with play against the white f-pawn. 24.Be2 Bf7 25.Qd2 Bh5 26.b3 Qe7 27.Kg2 Qf7 [27...Bxh4 28.Rxh4 Qxh4 29.Bg5 trapping the queen] 28.Rh3 [28.Qxd6 Be7 29.Qd1 Qg6+ 30.Kh3 Qe6+ 31.Kh2 Bxh4+/=] 28...Be7 29.b4 h6 30.b5 The passed pawn is becoming dangerous 30...Qg6+ 31.Kh2 Black is counting on the inactivity of the Rh3 and the weakness of the white f- and h-pawns to draw. 31...Qe6 32.Qd3 With the idea of challenging the Black Qd5 with Qb3 or Qc4 32...Be8 33.Qb3 The exchange of Queens would permit white to activate the Rh3 with Kg3 and Rh1 33...Qc8 34.b6 Bf7!? [34...Bd7 35.Rg3 Bxh4 36.Rg6 Be7 37.b7 Qb8] 35.Qb1 Nicely played. The queen remains active behind the passed pawn, and can transfer quickly to the kingside via g1 35...Qc3 An entry square that simplyt does not hunt after white's next move. 36.Bd3 All additional squares are covered. 36...Rb8 Diagram

37.Qg1! The threat is Rg3 37...Bc4 Searching for counter-play, but opening up the g6 entry square. 38.Qg6 Bxd3 39.Rg3! with the obvious Qxg7# threat 39...Bf6 [39...Bf8 40.cxd3 Qe1 (40...Qxd3 41.Bxh6+-) 41.Bxh6 Qf2+ 42.Kh3 Qf1+ 43.Kg4 Qf2 44.Bg5 Qxb6 45.h5+-] 40.cxd3 [40.Bxh6! Rb7 41.cxd3 Qb2+ 42.Kh3 Qxb6 43.Bg5] 40...Rxb6 [40...Qe1 41.Bxh6 Qf2+ 42.Kh3 Qf1+ 43.Kg4+-] 41.Bxb6 Qb2+ 42.Rg2 Qxb6 43.Rc2 Bd8 44.h5 1-0

Adams,M (2720) - Timman,J (2578) [B69]
GMA Wijk aan Zee NED (12), 24.01.2004

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bg5 e6 7.Qd2 Be7 8.0-0-0 a6 9.f4 Bd7 10.Nf3 b5 11.Bxf6 gxf6 12.Kb1 Qb6 13.Ne2 0-0-0 14.f5 Kb8 15.Nf4 Bc8 16.Qe1 Rhe8 17.fxe6 fxe6 18.g3 Bf8 19.Bh3 Bg7 20.Rf1 Bh8 21.c3 Re7 22.Rf2 Na5 23.Nd4 Rde8 24.Bg4 Nc4 25.Bh5 Rg8 26.Be2 Ne5 27.Bf1 Rge8 28.Rfd2 Bb7 29.a3 Qc7 30.Ka1 Bg7 31.Be2 Nc4 32.Bxc4 Qxc4 33.Nc2 Qxe4 34.Re2 Qc4 35.Rxd6 e5 36.Nh5 Qc7 37.Red2 f5 38.Nxg7 Rxg7 Diagram

Black's king is exposed, and there are many black pawn weaknesses, notably the a6-pawn.39.Nb4 Targeting the a-pawn 39...a5 [39...Ka7 40.Qf2++-] 40.Rc6 Bxc6 Na6 wins the queen, and that may be black's best try! 40...Qf7 41.Na6+ Bxa6 [41...Ka8 42.Nc7++-; 41...Ka7 42.Qe3+ Ka8 43.Nc7++-] 42.Rxa6 Black's king is laid bare. White threatens the a-pawn as well as Qd1 and Rd5 42...Qb7 Attacking the Ra6 and guarding the d5 entry square 43.Rxa5 [43.Rdd6 Rg6! 44.Rxg6 hxg6 45.Rxg6 b4 46.cxb4 axb4 47.Qxb4+-; 43.Rad6 This is the move I expected, with Qd1 to follow] 43...Qb6 44.b4 Right from Nimzovich. Identify the weakness (the b5-pawn), fix it (by playing b4), attack it with your pieces (Ra5 and soon the queen), and then and only then, attack the weakness with a pawn (a3-a4) 44...Qc6 45.Kb2 Rc7 46.Rc2 e4 47.Qf1! The second attack on b5 47...Re5 48.a4 Nimzovitch wins again! 1-0

January 24, 2004

With just two rounds to play in the Corus Tournament at Wijk aan Zee, Vishy Anand (8.0) has sustained his lead (5 wins and 6 draws), one full point ahead of Peter Leko (3 wins and 8 draws).

Leko and Anand both won in round 11, but Anand's victory over the hometown favorite Jan Timman was so devastating that it is hard to imagine Leko pulling even. Anand's final two games are against Topalov (5.5) and Sokolov (3.5) while Leko faces Bareev (5.0) and Kramnik (6.0).

In retrospect, Anand's win seems almost effortless, and it is worth noting straight away that he used less than an hour in the following game. Truly scary to think that he is so clearly capable of even more complex attacks!

Anand,V (2766) - Timman,J (2578) [B67]
GMA Wijk aan Zee NED (11), 23.01.2004

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bg5 e6 7.Qd2 a6 8.0-0-0 Bd7 9.f3 Be7 10.Be3 Rc8 Novelty More prudent is h5 to prevent g2-g4 11.g4 Na5 12.Kb1 A useful precaution in most lines, removing the king from the c-file and off the c1-h6 diagonal. King safety is a common preliminary to pushing the kingside pawns. 12...b5 Often with the idea of b5-b4 and/or Nc4 13.Bd3 Why move the bishop when it captures a move later on c4? Because Anand wants to make sure that after b5-b4, he can play Nc3-e2 without hemming in the Bf1 13...Nc4 14.Bxc4 Rxc4 15.Nce2 In many lines, heading toward g3 or f4 and eliminating any possibility of an exchange sacrifice on c3 15...0-0 The targets are set. 16.g5 Ne8 [ 16...Nh5 17.Ng3 and white will either gain an open h-file (after Nxg3 hxg3) or blacks' kingside will be decimated after g6 Nxh5] 17.h4 All with the common attacking idea of h5, g6 17...Qc8 Reserving c7 for the Ne8 18.b3 Anand knows that this white queenside formation is easy to defend, often with simply Rh1-h2 18...Rc7 19.Nf4! Charge! 19...Rc3 A great square, but the plan is simply too slow. [ 19...e5? 20.Nd5 Qd8 21.Nf5 Bxf5 22.Nxc7+-] 20.Rdg1 b4 With the idea of Nc7-b5-a3 [ 20...Bd8!?; 20...e5? 21.Nd5 Bd8 22.Qxc3+-] 21.h5 Nc7 22.g6 But white gets in first 22...Bf6 [ 22...Rxe3 23.Qxe3 e5 24.h6+- fxg6 ( 24...Bf6 25.gxh7+ Kh8 ( 25...Kxh7 26.hxg7++-) 26.hxg7+ Bxg7 27.Rxg7 Kxg7 28.Nh5+ Kg6 29.Qg1+ Bg4 30.Nf5+-) 25.Nxg6 hxg6 26.hxg7 Rf4 27.Rh8+ Kxg7 28.Rxc8 Bxc8 29.Nc6+-] 23.h6! fxg6 [ 23...hxg6 24.hxg7 Bxg7 25.Qh2 Rd8 26.Qh7+ Kf8 27.Nxg6+ fxg6 28.Bh6 Ne8 29.Bxg7+ Nxg7 30.Rxg6+-; 23...gxh6 24.gxh7+ Kh8 25.Nh5 Be5 26.f4+-] 24.hxg7 Rf7 Diagram

[ 24...Bxg7 25.Qh2 Kf7 ( 25...Rxe3 26.Qxh7+ Kf7 27.Qxg6+ Ke7 28.Qxg7+ Ke8 29.Ng6+-) 26.Qxh7+-] 25.Rxh7! Kxh7 [ 25...Rxg7 26.Rxg7+ Bxg7 27.Nxg6 Kf7 28.Qh2+-; 25...Bxg7 26.Qh2 Rxe3 27.Nxg6+-] 26.Qh2+ Kxg7 [ 26...Kg8 27.Qh8#] 27.Nxg6 [ 27.Rxg6+? Kf8-+] 27...Rxe3 [ 27...Kg8 28.Ne7++-] 28.Ne7+ Kf8 29.Nxc8 1-0

January 23, 2004

After a day off, the chess resumed at Wijk aan Zee. Here are all of the round 10 games. The fans must have been disappointed by a quick draw between Anand and Adams, but I was pleased to see that Anand chose the hedgehog structure in a critical game and Adams, who had not developed aggressively against it, agreed rather quickly to a draw. The hedgehog figured in another game in the round, Timman-Kramnik, which also resulted in an uneventful draw.

So it's nice to see that my front line defense remains solid at this level, but we all want more action. So here are my two favorites of round 10:

Van Wely,L (2617) - Bologan,V (2679) [E12]
GMA Wijk aan Zee NED (10), 22.01.2004

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.Nc3 Bb7 The Queen's Indian, a principled fight for the e4 square. White wants to play it (e2-e4); black tries to prevent it. If that's the main criterion of this opening, it will quickly become clear that Black quickly gets a great game here. 5.Bg5 Bb4 6.Qb3 Preventing the doubling of the c-pawns, but in this variation at least, how to play e2-e4? 6...c5 7.a3 Bxc3+ 8.Qxc3 h6 9.Bh4 g5 10.Bg3 Ne4 Demonstrating firm control over the key square and getting rid of white's dangerous dark-squared bishop. 11.Qd3 Nxg3 12.hxg3 Qf6 Black looks fine here. The black bishop is far better than its light-squared counterpart on f1, and white remains less developed. 13.dxc5 [ 13.0-0-0 Bxf3 14.gxf3 Qxd4 15.Qxd4 cxd4 16.Rxd4 Nc6 17.Rd3 Ne5 18.Rc3 Rc8 19.e4 h5 20.Kd2 Ke7 21.f4 gxf4 22.gxf4 Ng4 23.Ke2 d6 24.Rh4 Nf6 25.Bg2 e5 26.fxe5 dxe5 27.Bh3 Rc7 28.f4 Nxe4 29.Re3 Rxc4 30.Bf5 Nc5 31.Rxe5+ Kf6 32.Kf3 Nb3 33.Bd3 Rc5 34.Rxc5 Nxc5 35.Bc4 Ne6 36.Rh2 h4 37.Bf1 Nd4+ 38.Kf2 Nf5 39.Rh3 Rd8 40.Rd3 Rxd3 41.Bxd3 h3 42.b4 h2 43.Kg2 Ng3 44.Kxh2 Nh5 45.a4 Nxf4 46.Bc4 Ne6 47.a5 Ke5 48.axb6 axb6 49.Kg3 f6 50.Kf2 Nd4 51.Bd3 Kf4 52.Bg6 Nc6 53.b5 Nd4 54.Bd3 Nf5 55.Bf1 Ke4 56.Bg2+ Kd4 57.Bf1 Ne3 58.Be2 Ke4 59.Bf3+ Kf4 60.Bc6 Nf5 61.Bd5 Nd6 62.Bc6 Ke5 63.Ke3 Nf5+ 64.Kd3 Nd4 65.Be8 Kd5 66.Bd7 Kd6 67.Be8 Kc5 0-1 Milov,V-Onischuk,A/Polanica Zdroj 1999/CBM 73 (67)] 13...bxc5 14.0-0-0 g4 15.Nh2 forced. [ 15.Nd2 Qxf2] 15...h5 16.Qd6 Qg5+ [ 16...Qxf2 17.Nxg4 Qf5 18.Rh4] 17.Rd2 Rg8 White's entire kingside is "in-the-box" 18.f4 Qe7 19.Qe5 f5 Closing the lid on the box. How can white untangle the kingside mess... even the slow plan with e2-e3, Bd3 hangs the g2-pawn so white would need to prepare that plan with Rg1... it's all much too slow. 20.Rd6 Trying his best with the two active pieces 20...Nc6 But Black has an easy attack with Nd4 or Na5 and Rc8 21.Qxc5 Diagram

The pawn doesn't matter. Black is up three pieces21...Na5! 22.Qb4 [ 22.Qxa5 Qxd6 23.e3 Be4 24.Rg1 Ke7-+] 22...Nxc4! showing off. Rc8 also wins easily 23.Qxb7 Qxd6 24.Qxa8+ [ 24.Qb4 Qxb4 25.axb4 Rc8 is but one way to win] 24...Ke7 25.Qb7 [ 25.Qxg8 Qd2+ 26.Kb1 Qxb2#] 25...Rb8 [ 25...Rb8 26.Qa6 Qd2+ 27.Kb1 Qxb2#] 0-1

Akopian,V (2693) - Svidler,P (2747) [C88]
GMA Wijk aan Zee NED (10), 22.01.2004

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.a4 An unusual plan in the Ruy Lopex. More usual is c3 which permits the Marshall Gambit with ...d5 8...b4 9.d3 d6 10.a5 fixing the b4-weakness and, as a condequence, fixing the Nc6 to defend it. 10...Be6 11.Nbd2 Qc8 12.Bc4 My database says that this is the new move. The idea is simple enough. On Bxc4, white plays Nxc4-e3-d5, and white meanwhile can play b2 and Bb2 with the idea of d3-d4 12...h6 13.h3 Re8 14.b3 Bf8 15.Bb2 Qd7 16.Qe2 Bxc4 17.Nxc4 g6 18.Nh2 The knight is headed towards e3 via g4 or f1 18...Bg7 19.Ng4 Nh7 [ 19...Nxg4 20.Qxg4 Qxg4 21.hxg4 gives white all the chances owing to the bad Bg7 and the active Nc4] 20.Nge3 f5 21.Nd5 f4 This just seals in the Bg7 22.d4 Ng5 23.Qg4 Qf7 24.dxe5 dxe5 The Nc6 is needed for the defense of b4 25.Rad1 Having pried open the d-file, white will double, and perhaps triple there 25...Ne6 26.Rd3 Rab8 Trying to free up the Nc6-d4 27.Qd1 Red8 [ 27...Ncd4 28.Nxe5 Bxe5 29.Bxd4 Nxd4 30.Rxd4 Bxd4 31.Qxd4] 28.f3 Qf8 29.Kh1 Kh7 30.Rd2 Qc5 31.Qa1 Ncd4 32.Bxd4 exd4 33.Qd1 Rf8 34.Qe2 Rbe8 35.Qf1 Rf7 36.Ra1 With the idea of Ra4-b4 36...d3 37.Rxd3 c6 Diagram

[ 37...Bxa1 38.Qxa1 Qf8 39.Ne5+-] 38.Nd6 The knights are in 38...cxd5 39.Rxd5 Qc3 40.Rad1 Ree7 [ 40...Rfe7 41.Nxe8 Rxe8 42.Qd3] 41.Nxf7 Rxf7 42.Qxa6 Nd4 [ 42...Nc7 43.Qb7 Nxd5 44.Qxf7 Ne3 45.Rg1 Qxc2 46.a6+-] 43.Qd3 Seeking simplification 43...Nxc2 44.Rc1! Rc7 45.Qxc3 Clear path to a win 45...Rxc3 [ 45...bxc3 46.Rxc2] 46.a6 Ne3 47.Rxc3 bxc3 [ 47...Nxd5 48.Rc6+-] 48.Rc5 dominating the Ne3, preventing the advance of the c-pawn. And the a-pawn will queen 1-0

January 22, 2004

For 25 years, Jude Acers has graced a sidewalk table in the New Orleans French quarter taking on all challengers, giving chess lessons, analyzing classic games, and providing a perpetual boost for chess. If you are as old as me, you will also recall Jude's letters to Larry Evans during the late 1960s and early 1970s, poking holes in existing theory and advocating an aggressive approach to chess.

I'm excited to note that Jude has now committed his opening repertoire to print. It is a remarkable achievement, the sharing of a lifetime's commitment to chess. The new book The Italian Gambit System provides a complete repertoire for white with 1.e4 as well as a plethora of chess anecdotes, fantastic quotes, and a perpetual dose of energy and enthusiasm from the game.

Most of us began chess playing 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 and moved away from it when it stopped working against strong competition. Rather than move away from it, Jude embraced it, finding new complexities that are guaranteed to challenge most of your club opponents. More than just that single opening, Jude also provides analysis on a series of aggressive lines for white. I had a wonderful time comparing his approach to my own. To my chagrin, he has me concluding that my approach has grown sedate and stodgy!

I offer just one example from the book, which I wholeheartedly recommend for the club player. I'd include some instructive games from my large Chessbase database, but the fact is that the analysis in this book is so fresh that there are no games (yet!) in this line.

Miami variation [C50]
sample game

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.d4 Bxd4 5.Nxd4 Nxd4 6.Be3 The "Miami variation." White gains time with the attack on the Nd4, white will contine with Nc3, Qe2, 0-0-0, and then f4. White's compensation? Easy development and the two bishops in an open game. 6...Qf6!? 7.Nc3 c6 To prevent Nd5 8.f4 With the threat of fxe5 and Bxd4 8...Ne6 9.Bxe6 Qxe6 [9...dxe6 10.Qd6 exf4 11.Bxf4 Qh4+ 12.g3 Qe7 13.0-0-0 Qxd6 14.Rxd6] 10.fxe5 Qxe5 11.0-0 Ne7 12.Bd4 Qg5 13.Rf3 The threat is Rg3 13...Rg8 [13...f6 14.Rg3 Qh6 15.Be3+/-] 14.Qd3 Bringing the Ra1-f1 14...b6 15.Rg3 Qh6 16.e5 d5 17.exd6 Bf5 Diagram

18.Bxg7!? [18.Ne4 better?! 18...Bxe4 19.d7+! Kxd7 20.Qxe4] 18...Rxg7 19.Qe3 Qxe3+ 20.Rxe3 Be6 21.dxe7 Kxe7+/= *

January 21, 2004

Here are the games from Round 9 of the Corus Tournament at Wijk aan Zee. Anand gained a better lock on first place, not with a win (he drew with Kramnik) but because one of his main rivals, Michael, Adams, lost to Van wely.

I have not presented many draws in the BLOG. Draws have a reputation for being lifeless and boring. Not the following game. Kramnik takes on Anand in yet another English Attack. It would seem that all the GMs are well versed in this opening. The result is fireworks. Kramnik develops a nice mating attack, forcing Anand to counter very quickly. The resources he finds here are simply amazing.

Kramnik,V (2777) - Anand,V (2766) [B92]
GMA Wijk aan Zee NED (9), 20.01.2004

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 Yet another Najdorf Sicilian 6.Be2 But not the English Attack, notable with its f3, Be3, Qd2 complex 6...e5 A natural reaction. 5...a6 stole the Nb5 square. 7.Nb3 Be7 Black's structure is like the Sveshnikov (or Pelikan, but white is less able to manoeuver both of his knights to d5. 8.Bg5 Aiming to capture the Nf6 with the idea of Nd5, where, without the Nf6, the Nd5 can dominate the board. 8...Be6 The Nf6 will be exchanged, so black needs to place a piece in contact with d5. 9.Bxf6 Bxf6 10.Qd3 Having identified and fixed the d6-weakness, white prepares to attack it twice with the Qd3 and Rd1. The central pressure will also inhibit black's d5-pawn break. 10...Nc6 11.0-0-0 Be7 Defending d6 a second time. 12.Kb1 0-0 13.Nd5 Bg5 14.h4 Typical also in the Sveshnikov. White offers the h-pawn for open lines against the Black kingside 14...Bxh4 15.g3 Bf6 16.Qf3 With the obvious idea of Qh5 and f4. Black needs quick counterplay. 16...Bg5 17.Qh5 h6 18.f4 Bf6 19.Nd2 Nd4 20.Bc4 Keeping a piece in contact with the d5 hole. 20...Rc8 21.c3 Nb5 22.f5 Bxd5 23.Bxd5 Diagram

With the idea of Qg6, Rxh6, and Qh7#23...Rxc3 [ 23...Qb6 24.Ka1] 24.Qg6 [ 24.bxc3 Nxc3+ 25.Kc2 ( 25.Ka1 Qa5 26.Nb1 ( 26.Qg6 Nxd5-+) ) 25...Qc7 ( 25...Nxd5 26.exd5 Qa5 27.Qf3 Qxa2+ 28.Kd3 Rc8 29.Ke2 Bg5 30.Qd3 Rc5 31.Qb3 Rc2 32.Qxa2 Rxa2=) 26.Kd3 Nxd1 27.Rxd1 Rc8] 24...Qb6 [ 24...Kh8 25.Rxh6+ gxh6 26.Qxh6+ Kg8 27.Rh1+-] 25.Rxh6 [ 25.Rxh6 Na3+ 26.Ka1 Nc2+ 27.Kb1 Na3+=] 1/2-1/2

And here is another fine win by Timman. He will not win first, but he may win our hearts.

Bareev,E (2714) - Timman,J (2578) [E33]
GMA Wijk aan Zee NED (9), 20.01.2004

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 The Classical Variation of the Nimzo-Indian 4...Nc6 [ 4...c5; 4...d5] 5.Nf3 d6 6.Bd2 0-0 7.a3 Bxc3 8.Bxc3 Re8 9.Rd1 Qe7 10.b4 e5 11.d5 Nb8 12.e4 Bg4 13.Be2 Nbd7 14.Nh4 Bxe2 15.Nf5 Qf8 16.Kxe2 Having succeeded in exchanging off the bad light-squared bishop, white might consider swinging his king to the queenside and countering black's kingside assault more directly 16...Nh5 with two ideas... Nf5, and g6-f5 17.Bd2 Nf4+ 18.Kf1 Now it's too late to swing the king to the other wing. 18...g6 19.Ne3 c5 20.g3 Nh5 idea of Ng7 and f5 21.Kg2 Qe7 22.Rb1 Rf8 23.f3 Kh8 24.Qd3 Ng7 25.Nd1 f5 26.Nf2 Rf7 With the idea of doubling rooks prior to the exchange on e4 27.exf5 gxf5 28.Rhe1 Rg8 29.f4 Nh5 30.Qf3 [ 30.bxc5 Nxc5 31.Qc3 and how can black defend the e5-pawn?] 30...Qh4 31.fxe5 Rfg7 32.Rb3 Nxe5 33.Rxe5 [ 33.Qxf5 Qxc4-/+] 33...dxe5 34.Qxf5 Qxc4 35.Rf3 Qxd5 36.Ne4 Diagram

[ 36.Qxh5 Qxd2 37.Qxe5 cxb4-+] 36...Rg4 37.Qxh5 Rxe4 38.Bh6 Re2+ 39.Kh3 Qe6+ 40.Rf5 Rf2 [ 40...Rf2 41.g4 Qb3+ 42.Kh4 Rxh2#] 0-1

January 20, 2004

Vishy Anand bolstered his first place position at Wijk aan Zee with another fine attack, this time defeating Evgeny Bareev in fine style. Leko also won, defeating Bologan in a complex, tense game. Michael Adams also kept up the pace with a fine victory over Vladimir Kramnik.

Here are all the games in round 8, and my favorites:

Anand,V (2766) - Bareev,E (2714) [C11]
GMA Wijk aan Zee NED (8), 19.01.2004

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 The Classical Variation of the French Defense 4.Bg5 Trying to exchange what will be a bad bishop after e5 for black's good bishop. 4...dxe4 5.Nxe4 Be7 6.Bxf6 Bxf6 7.Nf3 White has exchanged his dark squared bishop, but emerges with control over e5, a nice kingside attack after Bd3, and Black's light squared bishop on c8 remains bad. 7...0-0 8.Qd2 Nd7 9.0-0-0 Be7 10.Bd3 b6 Seeking counterplay fore the Bc8, but white has a natural attack looming with h4 and Neg5 11.h4 Bb7 12.Neg5 The threat is Bxh7 12...Nf6 [12...h6 13.Bh7+ Kh8 14.Be4] 13.c3 Bxf3 14.gxf3 c5 15.dxc5 Qc7 16.Kb1 [16.cxb6 axb6] 16...bxc5 17.Rdg1? Rfd8 [17...c4! 18.Nxh7 cxd3 19.Nxf8 Bxf8 20.Qxd3 Nh5=/+] 18.Qc2 h6 Diagram

19.Bh7+ Kf8 [19...Nxh7 20.Qxh7+ Kf8 21.Qh8#; 19...Kh8 20.Nxf7#] 20.Nxf7! Kxf7 21.Qg6+ Kf8 22.Qxg7+ Ke8 23.Re1 [23.Bc2! After the game, Anand believed that this retreat was more accurate; 23.Rd1= Nxh7 24.Qg6+ Kf8 25.Qxh6+ Ke8 26.Qg6+ with a perpetual check. Anand tries for more] 23...Rd6 24.Qh8+ Bf8 25.Bg6+ Ke7 26.Rhg1 With the idea of breaking through on g7 26...Rb6 27.Bf5 Kf7 28.Bg6+ gaining time on the clock 28...Ke7 In the face of white's attack, Bareev would be pleased to draw. 29.Bc2 Kf7 [29...Qf4 30.Rg7+ Bxg7 31.Qxg7+ Kd6 32.Qf7 Re8 33.Rd1+ Kc6 (33...Ke5 34.Qc7+ Rd6 35.Qxd6#) 34.Be4+ Kb5 35.c4+ Kxc4 36.Bd3+ Kd5 37.Bb5++-] 30.Rg6 [30.Bg6+ Ke7 31.Bf5] 30...Qf4 31.Reg1 e5 32.Rg7+ Ke6 33.R1g6 Rab8 34.Qg8+ Kd6 35.Rxf6+ Qxf6 36.Rg6 Kc7 37.Rxf6 Rxf6 38.Qh7+ Kb6 39.Be4 The bishop dominates key squares. 39...Rd6 40.h5 Fixing the h6 pawn and tying down the Bf8 40...a6 41.Qf7 Rd2 42.a3 Rd1+ 43.Kc2 Rd6 44.b4 cxb4 45.axb4 Rdd8 46.Qe6+ Rd6 47.Qc4 Rf6 48.Qd5 1-0

Adams,M (2720) - Kramnik,V (2777) [B85]
GMA Wijk aan Zee NED (8), 19.01.2004

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 e6 7.Be2 Be7 8.a4 Nc6 9.0-0 0-0 10.f4 Qc7 11.Kh1 Re8 12.Bf3 Rb8 13.Qe1 e5 14.Nde2 exf4 15.Nxf4 Be6 16.Bh5 Nxh5 17.Nxh5 Qa5 18.Nf4 Bc4 19.Nd3 Qd8 20.b3 Bxd3 21.cxd3 Bf6 22.Rc1 Nb4 Played to prevent Nd5 and to support ...d5 23.Qd2 d5 But is this playable? 24.Bc5! Bg5!? [24...Bxc3 25.Rxc3 Nc6 26.Qf4 f6 27.Bd6 d4 28.Rc4 Rc8+/=] 25.Qf2 Nxd3 26.Qxf7+ Kh8 27.Bd4 Bh6 28.Rcd1 dxe4 29.Ba7! Re7 [29...Rf8 30.Qxf8+ Qxf8 31.Rxf8+ Rxf8 32.Nxe4 Rd8=] 30.Qf5 Ra8 31.Nxe4 Rd7 [31...g6 32.Qf3 Rd7] 32.Bb6 Qe8 33.a5 Kg8 34.Qg4 [34.Rf3+-] 34...Kh8 35.Rf8+ Qxf8 36.Qxd7 Ne5 37.Qxb7 g6 38.h3 Bg7 39.Nd6 h5 40.b4 Qg8 41.Bc5 Qb8 42.Qe4 Kh7 43.Rd5 1-0

Leko,P (2722) - Bologan,V (2679) [B17]
GMA Wijk aan Zee NED (8), 19.01.2004

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Ng5 Ngf6 6.Bd3 e6 7.N1f3 Bd6 8.Qe2 h6 9.Ne4 Nxe4 10.Qxe4 Qc7 11.0-0 b6 12.Qg4 Kf8 13.b3 Bb7 14.Bb2 Nf6 15.Qh4 c5 16.dxc5 Qxc5 17.Bxf6 gxf6 Diagram

18.Qxf6 Preferring the complications! [18.Be4 Bxe4 19.Qxe4 Rc8 20.c4 f5] 18...Qh5! 19.Rfe1 [19.Qxh8+ Ke7 20.Qg7 Bxf3 21.h3 Bd5 22.Bg6 Qxg6 23.Qxg6 fxg6-/+] 19...Rg8? [19...Bxf3 20.Qxf3 Bxh2+ 21.Kf1 Qxf3 22.gxf3 Bd6 23.Re4=/+] 20.Be4 Diagram

20...Rxg2+ 21.Kxg2 Qg4+ 22.Kh1! Bxe4 23.Rxe4! Qxe4 24.Re1 Qh7 [24...Qg4 25.Rg1 Qe4 26.Rg7 Qb7 27.Kg1+-] 25.Nd4 Ke8 26.Nxe6! Kd7 27.Qf3 Rb8 28.Nd4 Rc8 29.Qh3+ f5 30.Nxf5 1-0

January 19, 2004

If you are looking for your second chess book, I may have just the thing. Murray Chandler's How to Beat Your Dad at Chess provides a very useful introduction to chess tactics.

When I first saw the book, I had three reactions. I wished I'd come up with that title. Second, my kids know that it will take more than that book to beat their dad. And third, the title doesn't really express that the book is mostly about 50 specific tactical themes. It does its job so well that the title might well have been, "50 cool tactical shots that will beat your Dad."

The book includes 50 short chapters, each about a different tactical theme. You'll find most of the basic mating combinations such as Legall's mate, Domiano's mate, and Boden's mate. There are also chapters on key sacrifices (eg Bxh7+, Bxh6) and key manoeuvers.

Here are two positions from the book, as well as a few other similar games that I found with a simple database search. I think that you will find these surprisingly useful.

Deadly checkmate #50
How to beat your Dad at Chess


The "Fischer Trap"1.Bxf7+ Kxf7 Otherwise Bxe8 +- 2.Ne6 Trapping the queen 2...Kxe6 Otherwise, white wins the queen. But now it's white to move and mate in two! 3.Qd5+ Kf6 4.Qf5# *

More than just the mating pattern, the book provides examples. Here's a famous one:

Fischer,R - Reshevsky,S [B35]
USA-ch New York (6), 1958

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.Nc3 Bg7 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Bc4 0-0 8.Bb3 Na5 9.e5 Ne8 Diagram

10.Bxf7+ Kxf7 11.Ne6 dxe6 [11...Kxe6 12.Qd5+ Kf5 13.g4+ Kxg4 14.Rg1+ Kh3 (14...Kh5 15.Qg2) 15.Qg2+ Kh4 16.Qg4#] 12.Qxd8+- Nc6 13.Qd2 Bxe5 14.0-0 Nd6 15.Bf4 Nc4 16.Qe2 Bxf4 17.Qxc4 Kg7 18.Ne4 Bc7 19.Nc5 Rf6 20.c3 e5 21.Rad1 Nd8 22.Nd7 Rc6 23.Qh4 Re6 24.Nc5 Rf6 25.Ne4 Rf4 26.Qxe7+ Rf7 27.Qa3 Nc6 28.Nd6 Bxd6 29.Rxd6 Bf5 30.b4 Rff8 31.b5 Nd8 32.Rd5 Nf7 33.Rc5 a6 34.b6 Be4 35.Re1 Bc6 36.Rxc6 bxc6 37.b7 Rab8 38.Qxa6 Nd8 39.Rb1 Rf7 40.h3 Rfxb7 41.Rxb7+ Rxb7 42.Qa8 1-0

And here are two more that I found:

Szabo,J - Witkowski,S [C92]
Dresden Dresden (12), 1959

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.c3 d6 9.h3 a5 10.a4 b4 11.d4 bxc3 12.bxc3 exd4 13.Nxd4 Nb8 14.Nd2 Nfd7 Diagram

15.Bxf7+ Rxf7 [15...Kxf7 16.Qh5+ Kg8 (16...g6 17.Qxh7+ Ke8 18.Qxg6+ Rf7 19.Ne6+-) 17.Qd5+ Rf7 18.Qxa8] 16.Ne6 Qe8 17.Nxc7 Qd8 18.Nxa8 Bb7 19.Nc4 Bxa8 20.Nxd6 Rf6 [20...Bxd6 21.Qxd6 Qh4 22.Re2+-] 21.Nf5 Re6 22.Qd4 Qf8 23.Bf4 Bxe4 24.Nxg7 Qxg7 25.Rxe4 Qxd4 26.Rxd4 Bf6 27.Rdd1 Re4 28.Bc7 Bxc3 29.Rab1 Re8 30.Rb5 Na6 31.Rxd7 Nxc7 32.Rxc7 Re1+ 33.Kh2 Be5+ 34.Rxe5 Rxe5 35.Ra7 Rf5 36.f3 h5 37.Kg3 Rg5+ 38.Kf2 h4 39.f4 Rd5 40.Kf3 Rd3+ 41.Ke2 Ra3 42.Rxa5 Kf7 43.Rh5 Kf6 44.Rxh4 Kf5 45.Rh5+ Ke4 46.f5 Ra2+ 47.Kf1 Ke3 48.Kg1 Rxa4 49.Kh2 Kf2 50.Rg5 Rf4 51.g3 Rf3 52.Rg4 Ke1 53.Rf4 1-0

Scacco,M (2055) - Messina,E [B77]
Italy op Italy (8), 1996

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.Bc4 Nd7?! 10.0-0-0 Na5 Diagram

11.Bxf7+ Kxf7 [11...Rxf7 12.Ne6 Nb3+ 13.cxb3 Qa5 14.Ng5 Rf8 15.Qd5+ Qxd5 16.Nxd5+-] 12.Ne6 Qe8 [12...Kxe6 13.Qd5+ Kf6 14.Bg5#] 13.Nc7 Bxc3 14.bxc3 Qd8 15.Qd5+ e6 16.Qxe6+ Kg7 17.Qxd6 Qh4 18.Nxa8 Nc6 19.Nc7 Nb6 20.Ne6+ Bxe6 21.Qxe6 Rf7 22.Bxb6 axb6 23.Rd7 Qg5+ 24.Kd1 Rxd7+ 25.Qxd7+ Kf8 26.a3 Qe3 27.Qd3 Qc5 28.f4 Na5 29.Qd8+ Kf7 1-0

January 18, 2004

Round 7 at Wijk aan Zee produced more exciting chess. Bologan and Shirov demonstrated solid endgame technique in their triumphs over Sololov and Timman.

But two other games stole the show! In the first game, Anand completely outplayed Zhang Zhong in a closed Sicilian. I'm especially fond of his early aggressiveness with ...b5 and the powerful ways in which he safely opened the position while safeguarding his king.

Zhang Zhong (2639) - Anand,V (2766) [A05]
GMA Wijk aan Zee NED (7), 18.01.2004

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d3 Avoiding the open lines with 3.d4 in favor or a king's indian type approach 3...b5 A sharp reaction. Black accepts the closed character of the position, but immediately begins operations on the queenside. 4.g3 Bb7 5.Bg2 d6 Covering the e5-square in anticipation of Nf6 6.0-0 Nf6 7.Ng5 Preparing f2-f4 7...h6 8.Nh3 Nc6 Making sure that white cannot now play d4 9.f4 Be7 10.Be3 h5! The threat is Ng4 and, in some lines h4. But the real point is to take the sting out any white kingside attack since g4 will now open the h-file for Black's Rook. 11.Nf2 Guarding g4 11...d5 Inviting e5 but threatening c4 12.e5 Nd7 13.c4 The usual positional counter against three pawns across. 13...bxc4 14.dxc4 Nb6 dxc4 weakens black's pawn structure 15.Na3 Rb8 Taking the open file and preparing the exchange of the light squared Bishops 16.Nd3 Forcing black to advance the d-pawn 16...d4 17.Bd2 g6 Solidifying he pawn structure, but what to do with the Black king? 18.b3 Kf8 Safe for the moment 19.Nc2 Nd7 20.Qe2 Qc7 21.h3 Nd8 22.Nce1 Bxg2 23.Nxg2 Ke8 Anticipating white's kingside expansion, and preparing to safeguard the Black king on the queenside and to transfer the Rb8 to g8 24.g4 hxg4 25.hxg4 Qc6 Black has gained fantastic control over the key h-file and the long diagonal 26.Rf3 Preventing Rh3 26...Qa6 Aiming at the a3 square but more importantly stopping the b3-b4 attemptt to undermine the Black pawn structure. 27.Qd1 Nc6 By taking full control over b4, Anand eliinates any counterplay 28.Qc2 Kd8 Safeguardiung the king on the queenside as a prelude to Rbg8 29.Re1 Kc7 30.f5 This only helps black, but white had no desire to wait for Black to consolidate and attack 30...gxf5 31.gxf5 Rbg8 Taking the g-file too! 32.fxe6 [32.f6 Bf8] 32...fxe6 33.Rf7 Taking the entry square 33...Kc8 Prudently taking he king off the rank 34.Bf4 Bf8 The threat is Nd8 trapping the Rf7 35.Qf2? [35.Bh2] 35...Nd8 36.Rxd7 Kxd7 37.b4 Ke8 [37...Qxc4] 38.bxc5 Diagram

38...Rh3 Taking the entry square 39.Qc2 [39.Qxd4 Qc6] 39...Qc6 40.Re2 Bxc5 [40...Qf3 41.Rd2 Qe4-+; 40...Bxc5 41.Nxc5 Qxc5 With the horific threat d3+] 0-1

In the second game, it is possible that Topalov equalized against Svidler but could not hold up against the continuing pressure and the openness of his king's position. Fantastic complications and a wonderful mating net to end the game!

Svidler,P (2747) - Topalov,V (2735) [B90]
GMA Wijk aan Zee NED (7), 18.01.2004

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.f3 e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.Be3 The English attack has been often used in this event 8...Nbd7 9.g4 Nb6 10.g5 Nh5 11.Qd2 Be7 12.0-0-0 0-0 13.Rg1 Rc8 14.Qf2 Diagram

14...Rxc3 15.Bxb6 Bxg5+ 16.Kb1 Bh4 If the Qf2 moves, ...Qxb6 17.Rg3! Bxg3 18.hxg3 Rc7 19.Nc5! Qe7 20.Nxe6 fxe6 21.Bxc7 Qxc7 22.Bh3 Black emereges up a pawn, but it is the backward e6-pawn 22...Re8 23.Rd3 Nf6 24.Qa7 A real entry square and with the threat of Rc3 24...Kf7 25.Rc3 Qd7 26.Qb6 Aiming for c7 26...Re7 27.Rd3 d5 [27...Ne8!?] 28.exd5 Nxd5 29.Qc5 Qb5 30.Qd6 Nb4 31.Rd2 Qc4 32.b3 Qc3 33.f4 Black is up a pawn, but his king remains badly exposed. f4 opens up the f-file for operations by the rook. 33...Qxg3 34.Qxb4 Qxh3 35.fxe5 Qe3 [35...Qh1+ 36.Kb2 Qc6] 36.Qd6 h5?! too optimistic 37.Rd1 With the idea of Rf1+ 37...Qf2 [37...Qf3!] 38.Qd3 renewing the threat 38...Qg2 39.Rf1+ Kg8 [39...Ke8] 40.Qd8+ Kh7 Diagram

41.Rf8 [41.Qxe7? Qxf1+ 42.Kb2 Qf5-+] 41...Qg1+ [41...Qg5 42.Qd3+ g6 (42...Kh6 43.Rh8#; 42...Qg6 43.Rh8+ Kxh8 44.Qxg6) 43.Qd8+-] 42.Kb2 Qg5 43.Qd3+ g6 44.Qd6 Kg7 45.Qb8 Qh6 46.Qd8! [46.Qd8 Qh7 (46...Qg5 47.Rg8+ Kh7 48.Rh8+ Kg7 49.Qf8#) 47.Qxe7+] 1-0

January 17, 2004

Computing adds so much to my weekend chess classes. It so easy to check my student's games against the mass of theory, to play through new, theoretical games, and to have the games from Wijk coming up in the background.

This morning, the focus was on the Anand endgame, Adams nice combination, and a careful set of eyes on the Leko-Akopian match. Here are all the games from round 6, and here are some of the highlights:

Adams,M (2720) - Bareev,E (2714) [C07]
GMA Wijk aan Zee NED (6), 17.01.2004

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 c5 4.Ngf3 cxd4 5.exd5 Qxd5 6.Bc4 Qd6 7.0-0 Nf6 8.Nb3 Nc6 9.Nbxd4 Nxd4 10.Nxd4 a6 11.Bb3 Qc7 12.Qf3 Bd6 13.Kh1 Bd7 14.Bg5 Be5 15.Rad1 h6 16.Bh4 0-0 17.Rfe1 Rfd8 18.c3 Rac8 19.h3 [19.Qe2!? Bxd4 (19...Bd6 20.Bxf6 gxf6 21.Qg4++/-) 20.Rxd4 Bb5 21.Rxd8+ Qxd8 22.c4 Bc6] 19...Bxd4 20.Rxd4 Bc6 21.Qe3 Rxd4 22.Qxd4 Qd8? [22...Nd5; 22...Nd7] 23.Bxf6 Diagram

23...Qxf6? [23...gxf6] 24.Qxf6 gxf6 25.Rxe6 [25.Rxe6 fxe6 26.Bxe6++-] 1-0

vAnand,V (2766) - Shirov,A (2736) [C42]
GMA Wijk aan Zee NED (6), 17.01.2004

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 Petrov's Defense 3.Nxe5 d6 [3...Nxe4?? 4.Qe2 Nf6 5.Nc6+] 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.d4 White gains a small advantage in the this opening by taking the center and challenging the Black Ne4 5...d5 6.Bd3 Bd6 7.0-0 With the idea of 0-0, Re1, c4, and Nc3, usually forcing the Ne4 to cede the time it took to get to e4 7...0-0 8.Re1 Bf5 9.c4 c6 10.cxd5 cxd5 Both sides now have isolated d-pawns. 11.Nc3 Nxc3 12.bxc3 Bxd3 13.Qxd3 White has gained time, but at the cost of two minor-piece exchanges. Is there enough left to mount an effective attack? 13...Nd7 14.Qf5 Attacking the Black's pawn and aiming to promote weakening pawn advances of the kingside 14...Nb6 15.Ng5 g6 Countering the threat, but weakening f6 and h6 16.Qh3 Renewing the threat, requiring further weakening with h7-h5 16...h5 17.g4 Simple chess, force the weaknesses and then try to blow them over. 17...Qd7 Responding with a nice tactic. 18.gxh5 Qxh3 19.Nxh3 Rfe8 White is up a pawn, for the omement, but the threat of Rxe1 requires Bf4 20.Bf4 Bxf4 21.Nxf4 g5 22.Nh3 [22.Ne2 Na4; 22.Nd3 Na4] 22...Na4 23.Rac1 To make headway, black will need to cede the e-file. 23...Rxe1+ 24.Rxe1 Nxc3 25.Re7 Activity trumps material. There are weaknesses all over the board, and Anand is better able to take advantage 25...Kg7 26.Rc7 [26.Nxg5? Kf6 27.Re5 Nxa2 28.Rxd5 Nc3 29.Re5 b5] 26...Ne2+ Preferring to capture the d-pawn to the a-pawn [26...Nxa2 27.Rxb7 a5 28.Nxg5 Kh6 29.Nxf7+ Kxh5 30.Rb5 Nc3 31.Rc5 Ne2+ 32.Kg2 a4 33.Rxd5+ Kg6 34.Ne5+ Kf6 35.Nd7+ Kf7 (35...Ke6 36.Re5+ Kxd7 37.Rxe2+-) 36.Rf5+ Kg6 37.Re5 Nxd4] 27.Kf1 Nxd4 28.Nxg5 Kh6 29.Nxf7+ Kxh5 30.Rxb7 Nf3 31.Rb5 Kg6 32.Rxd5 Nxh2+ 33.Kg2 Kxf7 34.Kxh2 Ke6 35.Ra5 Preventing Black from activating the Ra8 35...Kd6 36.f4 Rg8 37.f5 Ke7 38.Rxa7+ Kf6 39.Ra5 Rg4 40.a4 Rb4 41.Kg3 Rc4 42.Kf3 Rh4 43.Ke3 Rg4 44.Kd3 Rf4 45.Ra8 Kg7 46.Ra7+ Kf6 47.Ra5 Rh4 48.Kc3 Rf4 49.Kd3 Rh4 50.Ra8 Kxf5 51.a5 Kg6 52.a6 Kg7 53.Ra7+ Kf6 54.Kc3 Re4 55.Rh7 Ra4 56.a7 1-0

January 16, 2004

Two decisive games today. Most important, it would appear that we may have counted out Timman too quickly. What a nice win for him today. Our best wishes to him!

Here are all of the games in round 5, and here are the two games that resulted in victory:

Akopian,V (2693) - Sokolov,I (2706) [C95]
GMA Wijk aan Zee NED (5), 15.01.2004

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 Not the Marshall Gambit with ...0-0 and ...d5 8.c3 0-0 9.h3 The normal prelude to d4, avoiding ...Bg4 9...Nb8 The Breyer. The Nc6 returns to b8 to prepare Nbd7 and ...c7-c5 10.d4 Nbd7 11.Nbd2 Usually, the start of the Nf1-g3 manoeuver 11...Bb7 12.Bc2 c5 13.b3 cxd4 More customary is Re8 and Bf8 first 14.cxd4 exd4 Opening the e-file for ...Re8. White gets an isolated e-pawn, but black has opened up lines for the white bishops. 15.Nxd4 Re8 16.a4 A problem for black. Pushing b5-b4 would open up the c4 squrae and leave the b-pawn weak. And the b-pawn is hard to defend, so... 16...bxa4 17.bxa4 But now, white gains the open a2-g8 diagonal for the Bc2 17...Rc8 18.Nf5 A beutiful outpost, hitting the isolated d6-pawn and, in some lines, threatening Nxg7 18...Qc7 19.Bb3 Bf8 Three attacks upon the white e-pawn 20.Bb2 Preferring active development. 20...d5 Trying to get rid of the isolated d-pawn [ 20...Nxe4 21.Qg4 with the idea of Nh6 and Nxf7 21...g6 22.Nxe4 Bxe4 23.Rxe4 Rxe4 24.Qxe4+-] 21.Rc1 Qf4 The beginning of a lengthy queen sortie. More prudent, perhaps, was Qb8 22.Rxc8 Bxc8 23.g3 Qg5 24.h4 Qg6 [ 24...Qg4 25.Qxg4 Nxg4 26.Bxd5+-] 25.h5! Nxh5 Qg5 first may be an improvement. 26.Nh4 Qg5? [ 26...Qh6 27.Nf5 ( 27.Ndf3!? Nc5 28.Bxd5 Nf6) 27...Qg6 28.Nh4=] 27.Ndf3 White's pieces are all pointing towards the kingside. Black is busted. 27...Qe7 28.exd5 Qd8 29.Rxe8 Qxe8 Diagram

30.Ng5 Threatening Qxh5 30...Nxg3 Black is lost, trying here to complicate. [ 30...h6 31.Qxh5 hxg5 32.Bc2 Qe1+ 33.Kg2 f5 34.Qxg5+-; 30...Nc5 31.Qxh5 h6 32.Bc2+-; 30...g6 31.d6 Ne5 32.Qe2+-] 31.d6! [ 31.fxg3 Qe3+ 32.Kg2 Qxg5-/+] 31...Qe2 [ 31...Ne5 32.fxg3] 32.Bxf7+ Kh8 And My first law is now in effect: The king's can't move... white only needs a check! 33.Qb1 Ne4 [ 33...Nf5 34.Qxf5 Qd1+ 35.Kg2 Bb7+ 36.Nhf3+-] 34.Qxe4 Qd1+ 35.Kh2 [ 35.Kg2?? Bb7!= 36.Qxb7 Qg4+ 37.Kf1 Qd1+ 38.Kg2 Qg4+=] 35...Bxd6+ 36.f4 Qd2+ 37.Kg3 Black is out of checks 1-0

Bologan,V (2679) - Timman,J (2578) [C00]
GMA Wijk aan Zee NED (5), 15.01.2004

1.e4 e6 2.d3 Not ambitious. d4 is the normal choice, though Fischer often favored a King's Indian-type formation here with d3 and g3, Bg2 2...d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.Ngf3 b6 To activate the light-squared B at b7 or a6. Normally in the French, the Bc8 gets locked in. In this variation, the bishop has a future influencing the pressure in the center. 5.c3 Be7 6.Be2 Bb7 7.Qa4+ Nfd7 Preserving the possibility of 0-0, c7-c5, and Nc6 8.0-0 0-0 9.Re1 c5 10.Nf1 c4 Attacking the white pawn chain (d3 and e4) at its base. 11.Be3 cxd3 12.Bxd3 Qc7 Black has fully equalized 13.e5 But this is too ambitious. 13...Nc5 [ 13...Nxe5 14.Nxe5 Qxe5 15.Bxb6? axb6 16.Qxa8 Qxe1 17.Qxb7 Qxa1 18.Qxe7-+] 14.Bxc5 bxc5 15.Qg4 Black has an adequate defense 15...Nd7 16.Ng3 d4! 17.Ng5 Bxg5 18.Qxg5 h6 19.Qh5 c4! 20.Bf1 [ 20.Be4 d3! 21.Bxb7? Qxb7 22.Re4 Qxb2] 20...d3 21.Rad1 [ 21.b3] 21...Rad8 22.Re3 Bd5 23.b3 White cannot long live with the c4-d3 pawn chain. 23...cxb3 24.axb3 Bxb3 25.Rdxd3 Bc2 Defending the kingside, and showing off his outside passer. 26.Rd4 Bg6 27.Qh4 Nb6 28.c4 a5 29.Ra3 a4 Diagram

30.c5 Played quickly in acute time trouble. Is this a saving move? 30...Qxc5 31.Raxa4 [ 31.Rxd8 Qxa3 32.Rxf8+ Qxf8-+ ( 32...Kxf8?? 33.Qd8#) ] 31...Rxd4 32.Rxd4 Qxe5 Emerging a clear pawn ahead. 33.Rd8 Qc7 Covering the d8-square, and aiming for exchanges in this favorable endgame 34.Rxf8+ Kxf8 35.Qb4+ Kg8 36.h4 This becomes an additional target in many lines. Better just to sit tight. 36...Nd5 37.Qa3 Qe5 Centralizing his pieces 38.Be2 Nc3 A surprise. I expected Nf4 39.Qa8+ Kh7 40.Qf3 f5 Giving the Bg6 room to breath after h5, and threatening f4 and Nxe2 41.Bc4 f4 42.Ne2 Nxe2+ 43.Qxe2 Forcing the exchange of Qs, but black has an easy win. 43...Qxe2 44.Bxe2 Be4 45.g3 Kg6 Welcoming gxf4 Kf5 46.Bg4 e5 47.gxf4 exf4 48.Kh2 Kf6 49.Bc8 Ke5 50.Bg4 Kd4 51.Bc8 Bf3 Isolating the white king, and with the idea of bring the Black K to e2 or e1 52.Bd7 Kd3 53.Bb5+ Kd2 54.Kg1 Ke1 Simple Nimzovitch. Identify the weakness (f2), fix it, attack it with your pieces, force your opponent to defend it, and then (and only then) attack it with a pawn. 55.Be8 g5 56.hxg5 hxg5 57.Bf7 Be4 58.Be6 f3 And now, g5-4-3 gets a pawn to f2. 59.Bd7 Bg6 Timman wins easily with Bh5, g4-g3 [ 59...Bg6 60.Bg4 Ke2 61.Bh3 Bh5 62.Bf1+ Ke1 63.Bh3 g4 64.Bf1 g3 65.fxg3 f2+ 66.Kg2 Be2] 0-1

January 15, 2004

More exciting chess today at Wijk aan Zee. Here are all the games in round 4. Five games were decisive, and some very hard-fought chess. I feel badly for Timman, who is struggling to stay up with the field. I caught up with two of the games. Against Akopian, Topalov demonstrated that white has winning chances in the Classical Caro-Kann by exchanging off the major pieces. Can it really be that easy, or is just a great player making it look easy?

But the game of the day, for me at least, was Adams decisive win against Zhang Zhong. Here's the game:

Adams,M (2720) - Zhang Zhong (2639) [B90]
GMA Wijk aan Zee NED (4), 14.01.2004

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 The English Attack in the Najdorf Sicilian 6...e5 Black counters in the center, leaving the d5-hole but how is white to organize his knights without Nb5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.f3 With the usual idea of 0-0-0 and g4-g5 8...Be7 9.Qd2 0-0 10.0-0-0 Qc7 11.g4 Rc8 12.g5 Nh5 Nfd7 and white can proceed quickly with h4-h5 13.Nd5 Bxd5 14.exd5 Nimzovitch might not approve, occupying the 5-hole with a pawn, but now white can manoeuver the Nb3 to the nice e4-square. 14...Nd7 15.Bh3 As is usual in this opening, the Bf1 is the last white piece to develop, and often, as here, with a bang. It's clear that the bishop exerts a powerful influence on the h3-c8 diagonal, often wit the idea of Bg4 or Bxd7 and h4-h5 15...g6 Otherwise just Bg4 +- 16.Kb1 Safeguarding the King, and part of the idea of Nb3-d2-e4 16...Bf8 Diagram

17.Qc1! Very nice, safeguarding c2 and making room for the knight 17...Nf4 18.Bxf4 exf4 19.Nd2 Bg7 20.Ne4 Attacking the d6 square and, in some lines, heading to f6 20...Be5 21.Rd2 Lateral defense of c2, with the idea of freeing up the queen after Bxd7, h4-h5, and Rd2-a2 21...Qd8 22.Bxd7 Qxd7 23.h4 Rc7 Doubling on the c-file, but there are no entry squares or weaknesses on the white queenside. 24.h5 Rac8 25.Rh4 Taking advantage of Black's lack of attack to add even more fuel to the attack. Rdh2 was also strong. 25...Qf5 26.Rdh2 Better to double before releasing the kingside tension with hxg6 26...Re7 27.a3 Stopping all back rank possibilities. Qd2 was fine 27...b5 28.Qd2 With an entry square on a5 28...Rc4 no threat, so white goes about his business 29.Qa5 Qc8 30.Nf6+ Bxf6 31.gxf6 Rec7 Black finally has a threat, but white's threat is bigger and comes first 32.hxg6 fxg6 [ 32...hxg6 33.Rh8#] 33.Qe1 Qf8 [ 33...Rxc2 34.f7++-] 34.Qe6+ Kh8 35.Rh6 b4 36.axb4 Rxb4 37.Rxg6 Rb8 [ 37...Rbb7 38.Rg4+-] 38.f7 Rxf7 [ 38...Qxf7 39.Qxd6 Re8 40.Re6 Rce7 41.Qe5+ Qg7 ( 41...Kg8 42.Rg2+ Kf8 43.Qh8+) 42.Qxg7+ Kxg7 43.Rxa6+-] 39.Qxd6 Re7 40.Rf6 Re1+ 41.Ka2 Qe8 42.Rxf4 1-0

January 14, 2004

A day off yesterday at Wijk aan Zee, but the GMs were back at it this morning. Many draws (including an exciting game between Shirov and Zhang Zhong), but only one win. Here are all of the games from round 3.

And here's the win, a very quick blowout by Svidler (who now joins Anand and Leko in the lead) after a series of dubious moves by Bareev.

Svidler,P (2747) - Bareev,E (2714) [C10]
GMA Wijk aan Zee NED (3), 13.01.2004

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 The Burn Variation of the French Defense. 4.Nxe4 Nd7 With the idea of Ngf6 and often Be7 5.Nf3 Ngf6 6.Bd3 [6.Nxf6+ or Bg5 6...Nxf6 7.Bd3 The standard approach] 6...c5 [6...Nxe4 7.Bxe4 Nf6 8.Bd3 transposes to the main line. Black is aiming for more.] 7.0-0 Nxe4 8.Bxe4 Nf6 9.Bg5 cxd4 [9...Be7; 9...h6] 10.Nxd4 h6? [10...Bc5 11.c3 h6 12.Bxf6 Qxf6 13.Qa4+ Bd7 14.Qc4 Bxd4 15.cxd4 Rc8 16.Qb4 Bc6 17.Bxc6+ bxc6 18.Qb7 0-0 19.Qxa7 Rfd8 20.Rfd1 c5 21.dxc5 Qxb2 22.h3 1/2-1/2 Svidler,P-Izoria,Z/Bled 2002/EXT 2003 (22); 10...Be7 11.Bf3 0-0 12.Re1 a6 13.c3 Qc7 14.Qd2 Rd8 15.Rad1 Bd7 16.Nf5 Ba4 17.Qf4 Rxd1 18.Bxd1 Qxf4 19.Nxe7+ Kf8 20.Bxf4 Bxd1 21.Bd6 Bc2 22.Nd5+ Kg8 23.Nxf6+ gxf6 24.Be7 Kg7 25.Rc1 Ba4 26.b3 Re8 27.Bxf6+ Kxf6 28.bxa4 Rd8 29.Kf1 Rd2 30.Rb1 Rxa2 31.Rxb7 a5 32.Ra7 Rxa4 33.Ke2 Ra2+ 34.Ke3 Rc2 1/2-1/2 Aseev,K-Feoktistov,A/Elista 2001/CBM 83 (34)] 11.Bxf6 Qxf6 12.Qd3 Black still has four pieces "in the box" while White is ready to develop his rooks and threatens Nb5-c7 12...a6 Another necessary preventative move. Black cannot prevent Nb5 with Bb7 owing to the attack upon the b7-pawn. 13.Rad1 Be7 Diagram

[13...Bc5 14.Nb3 Ba7 15.Na5+/- Rb8 16.Nc6 bxc6 17.Bxc6+ Kf8 18.Qd8+ Qxd8 19.Rxd8+ Ke7 20.Rxh8+-] 14.Nc6! e5 [14...bxc6 15.Bxc6++-; 14...0-0 15.Nxe7+ Qxe7 16.Rd2+/-] 15.Nxe7 Qxe7 16.f4 exf4? 17.Bxb7+- [17.Bxb7 Bxb7 18.Rfe1+-] 1-0

January 13, 2004

Chess masters read books too. Most are fond of game collections, especially New in Chess and the Chess Informants. I have subscriptions to both and, when they arrive, forget about talking to me. There's just nothing like a new Informant.

Chess Informant Volume 88 just arrived. After checking the games in my favorite lines, I turned to the back. For the past few years, the Informants have featured the games and combinations and endgames of a series of great players. This edition featured the chess of Ljubomir Ljubojevic.

During the 1980's, Ljubojevic reached as high as #3 in the chess rankings, but that doesn't tell the story. His chess does. Wonderful attacks, original ideas, awesome energy over the board.

Here are just two of his games. Enjoy!

Ljubojevic,L - Milicevic,M
Jugoslavija, 1974

18/499 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qc7 8.Bxf6 gxf6 9.Be2 b5 10.Bh5 b4 11.Nce2 Bg7 12.f5 0-0 13.fxe6 fxe6 14.Nf4 Qe7 15.0-0 e5 16.Nf5 Qa7+ 17.Kh1 Bxf5 18.exf5 exf4 19.Bf3 Nd7 20.Bxa8 Qxa8 21.Qxd6 Ne5 22.Rxf4 a5 23.Rd1 Nf7 24.Qd5 Qa7 25.Qe6 Qb8 26.Rg4 Kh8 27.Rgd4 Ne5 28.h3 Qc7 29.R1d2 Bh6 Diagram

30.Rd8 Qf7 [30...Rxd8 31.Qxf6+ Kg8 (31...Bg7 32.Rxd8+ Qxd8 33.Qxd8+ Bf8 34.Qxf8#) 32.Rxd8+] 31.R2d7!! Qxe6 [31...Rxd8 32.Rxd8+ (32.Rxf7? Rd1+ 33.Kh2 Bf4+ 34.g3 Rd2+ 35.Kh1 Rd1+ 36.Kg2 Rd2+ 37.Kf1 Rd1+ 38.Ke2 Rd2+ 39.Ke1 Nf3+ 40.Kf1 Nh2+=) 32...Kg7 33.Re8 Qxe6 34.fxe6 Nc6 35.Rc8 Ne7 36.Rc7 Kf8 37.c3+-] 32.fxe6 Nxd7 [32...Nc6 33.Rxf8+ Bxf8 34.c4+-] 33.e7 Kg7 34.Rxf8 1-0

Ljubojevic,L (2600) - Gelfand,B (2680)
Novi Sad (ol), 1990

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Nbd7 8.Qf3 Qc7 9.Be2 b5 10.f5 b4 11.fxe6 Ne5 Diagram

White looks lost here (the Qf3 and the Nc3 are both en pris)12.Qxf6 "It's a miracle!" my kids would say. 12...gxf6 13.Nd5 And white has a draw with Nxf6 and Nd5 13...Qa7 [13...Qa5? 14.Nxf6+ Kd8 15.Nd5+ Ke8 16.Nb3 Qxd5 17.exd5 fxe6 18.Bh5+ Kd7 19.dxe6+ Kxe6 20.Nd4+ Kd7 21.0-0+/-] 14.Nxf6+ Kd8 15.Nd5+ Ke8 16.Nf6+ Kd8 17.Nd5+ 1/2-1/2

January 12, 2004

Round 2 at Wijk aan Zee produced several wins and many exciting games. Here are the games in round 2.

After Akopian's win yesterday, I focused upon his game today against Anand. A similar opening, though today, Akopian played Black. Another theoretical contest, and another exciting finish. A triump in the end for Anand, who ties for first after two rounds with the win. Here's the game.

Anand,V (2766) - Akopian,V (2693) [B80]
GMA Wijk aan Zee NED (2), 11.01.2004

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 Here's the Najdorf Sicilian again, but this time, Akopian has black! 6.Be3 Nc6 7.f3 Preserving the Be3 against the possibility of Ng4... and supporting the g2-g4 advance 7...e6 8.g4 Be7 9.Qd2 0-0 10.0-0-0 All standard fare in this "English attack." White wants to continue with h4-h5, g5 and g6 10...Nxd4 Removing the Nd4 and its pressure on e6... and permitting b7-b5 (if b5 first, Nxc6) 11.Bxd4 b5 12.g5 Nd7 Not Nh5 when Be2 and f4 are very strong 13.h4 The g-pawn was twice attacked 13...Qc7 Black will normally attack with Bb7, Rfc8 and b4 14.Kb1 A useful precaution in many Sicilian lines, taking the king off the c-file. 14...b4 15.Na4 All played quickly, part of their preparation 15...Bb7 16.Qxb4 Can it be this easy. White just grabs the pawn, making black prove that the open b-file is compensation for the lost pawn. 16...Bc6 Preparing Rfb8 17.Nc3 Rfb8 18.Qc4 Ne5 19.Qe2 Not Bxe5 dxe5 activating the Be7 19...Qa5 With many ideas, including Qa3 20.f4! Nicely played. 20...Qa3 21.Nd5! 20...Ng6 [20...Qa3 21.Nd5 exd5 22.fxe5] 21.Qf3 e5 22.Bf2 Qb4 23.b3 Nxf4 I thought that Akopian had the better of it here. How will Anand stop a6-a5-a4 and check out that strong Nf4! 24.Be1 Threatening Nd5 24...Qc5 But perhaps a5 was better [24...a5!? 25.Nd5 Qb7 26.Bc4 (26.Nxe7+ Qxe7 27.Bd2 a4 28.Bxf4 axb3 29.cxb3 Ra4-/+) 26...a4] 25.Bg3 a5 26.Bxf4 exf4 27.Nd5 Bd8 28.Qxf4 a4 29.Rh2 Wonderful defense. The rook holds the fort from the side 29...Bxd5 30.exd5 Ba5 [30...axb3 31.cxb3 Qa3 32.Rc1 Rb4 33.Rc4+/=] 31.Qd4 up material, white seeks the exchange of Qs 31...Qa3 [31...Qc7!?] 32.h5 Bb6 33.Qc3 Ba5 34.Qd4 Bb6 35.Qd3 Re8 36.g6 Black's attack has stalled, but white's comes crashing through 36...fxg6 37.hxg6 h6 Tring to lock up the pawns, but weakening the back rank 38.Bh3 Developing for the first time, with a bang. The idea is Be6 38...Bd8 Diagram

[38...axb3 39.cxb3 Re3 40.Be6+ Kh8 41.Qb5+- Bd4 42.Qb7] 39.Be6+ Rxe6 [39...Kh8 40.Rxh6+ gxh6 41.Qd4+ Bf6 42.Qxf6#; 39...Kf8 40.Rf1+ Bf6 41.Rxf6+ gxf6 42.g7+ Ke7 (42...Kxg7 43.Qg3+ Kf8 44.Qg8+ Ke7 45.Qf7+ Kd8 46.Qd7#) 43.g8Q Rxg8 44.Qh7++-] 40.dxe6 Bf6 41.c3! [41.c4 axb3 42.Qxb3 Qxb3+ 43.axb3 Ra1+ 44.Kc2 Ra2+-+] 41...axb3 42.Qc4! e7+ 42...Qa5 43.e7+ Kh8 44.Re1 Be5 45.Qc6 Rf2 also wins quickly 1-0

January 11, 2004

One of the most important chess events of the year is now under way at Wijk aan Zee in the Netherlands. Competitors include Kramnik, Shirov, Anand, Adams, Leko, Bareev, Topalov, Sokolov, Svidler, and Timman. If you're looking for a break in football coverage, check out the live games at the Internet Chess Club, at, or at the site's web site:

Round one had one very exciting game. Here are all the games from the round, but especially check out this theotretical contest:

Akopian,V (2693) - Kramnik,V (2777) [B90]
GMA Wijk aan Zee NED (1), 10.01.2004

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 The Najdorf variation of the Sicilian Defense 6.Be3 Perhaps the most popular line, often played by Kasparov 6...Ng4 PLayed immediately before white protects the square with f2-f3 7.Bg5 h6 8.Bh4 g5 In this variation, black gains time against white's bishop, but compare this line to the Sicilian Dragon. White has similar lines and the advance of the black pawns is not clearly in Black's interest. 9.Bg3 Bg7 10.h3 Ne5 11.f3 Nbc6 12.Bf2 Be6 13.Qd2 Nxd4 14.Bxd4 Qa5 Very similar to the Dragon. Perhaps Black should 0-0-0? 15.a3 0-0 16.h4 In the Dragon, this pawn confrontation occurs later on h5. 16...Ng6 17.hxg5 hxg5 18.b4 Qc7 19.Ne2 Novelty The Ne2 is heading towards either via d4 or g3. The immediate threat is Bxg7 and Qxg5 (because the N will no longer hang on c3. [19.Bxg7 Kxg7 20.0-0-0 Rh8 21.Rxh8 Rxh8 22.Kb2 f6 23.g3 Ne5 24.f4 gxf4 25.gxf4 Nc4+ 26.Bxc4 Qxc4 27.e5 dxe5 28.fxe5 f5 29.Qg2+ Kf7 30.Rd3 Qf4 31.Qxb7 Rh2 32.Qf3 Qxe5 33.Re3 Qd4 34.Re2 Rh8 35.Re4 Qf6 36.Re3 Qd4 37.Qe2 Qc4 38.Qg2 Qd4 39.Qe2 Qc4 40.Qg2 Qd4 1/2-1/2 Anand,V-Ponomariov,R/Mainz 2002/CBM 91 (40)] 19...f6 Trying to preserve his dark-squared Bg7, but at what cost? [19...Bc4 20.Bxg7 Kxg7 21.Qxg5] 20.Bb2 Opening the d4 square for the Ne2 20...Bf7 The Be6 will have to move after Nd4 21.Nd4 d5 The standard try for equality and counter-play in the Sicilian 22.exd5 Qe5+ 23.Be2 Prserving his opportunity to 0-0 or 0-0-0 23...Qxd5 24.0-0-0 With the idea of Bd3 and Nf5 24...Rfc8 [24...e5 25.Nf5 Qxd2+ 26.Rxd2 Black may survive here, but the white Knight will reach d6 and Black has buried the Bg7] 25.Bd3 Ne5 Losing. Better are with Rc7 or e5 26.Be4 Qa2 27.Nf5 or just Bxb7 [27.Bxb7 Nc4 28.Qc3 f5 29.Bxa8+-] 27...Nc4 28.Qc3 Rc7 Diagram

[28...Qxb2+ 29.Qxb2 Nxb2 30.Kxb2 Rc7 31.Nxg7 Kxg7 32.Rh7+ Kf8 33.Rh8+ Bg8 34.Rdh1 Kg7 35.Bd5 Rac8 36.Bxg8 Rxg8 37.R8h7+ Kg6 38.c4+/-] 29.Rh7!!+- Qxb2+ [29...Kxh7 30.Nxe7+ Kh6 (30...Kh8 31.Rh1++-) 31.Rh1+ Bh5 32.g4+-] 30.Qxb2 Nxb2 31.Rxg7+ Kf8 32.Rh1 1-0

January 10, 2004

Saturday morning chess lessons have been an institution in our home for as long as we can remember. From 9am til 1 in the afternoon, it's just a stream of kids. This morning was more of the same.

The question of the day? Help was need in a variation of the advanced Caro Kann. I don't recommend the opening for all my students, but Aviv and Arik have played it for some time and adore it. But what to do if white tries a quick g4 push in the advanced variation. As it turns out, its a significantly bad move.

B12 sample [B12]

1.e4 c6 The Caro-Kann. Black permits white to capture the center, but avoids the French Defense's bad bishop 2.d4 d5 3.e5 The Advanced Variation 3...Bf5 A key difference from the French. Black is able to develop the QB before playing ...e6 4.g4 Diagram

But what happens here, wondered a young student. After all, on Bg6 h4 h6 h5 Bh7 and e6!4...Be4! [4...Bg6 5.h4 h6 6.h5 Bh7 7.e6 A very annoying variation. Black has to take on e6, and white's Ng1-f3-e5 will be very powerful.] 5.f3 But here, to save the rook, the f3-pawn blocks the f3 square for the Ng1 and opens up g3 for the Black queen. 5...Bg6 6.h4 [6.e6] 6...h5 Is the white pawn structure over-extended? [6...e6?? 7.h5 trapping the bishop] 7.e6 Qd6 And here, thanks to f2-f3 (and the weakened g3 square, Qd6 is quite strong. If exf7, black can recapture with the Bg6. *

Want to see how it plays out? Here are a 100 or so games in this line.

January 9, 2004

One of our Message Board readers posted a fantastic review of Irving Chernev's Logical Chess Move by Move. Having completed the book, he is ready to tackle Chernev's The Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever Played.

As a result of these efforts, this reader has seen his rating hit 1400 and it will undoubtedly climb quickly from there. It's another piece of the proof that you will gain at least 1 point for every master game you carefully review. If I'm right, you can pick your rating so long as you're willing to work at it.

To make your job a bit easier, here are all of the games in Chernev's Logical Chess Move by Move and here are all of the games in The Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever Played!

I had planned tonight to devote my further BLOG efforts to one of these games (maybe tomorrow), but I turned on a Bond Movie, From Russia with Love. At the beginning of the movie is a scene from an international chess tournament, and a clear position on the board. The player with white, a bad guy from SPECTER, receives a note telling him that he's needed at once. So he pulls of a quick combination to end the game.

As it turns out, the position and combination are taken from the following famous game. Enjoy!

Spassky,B - Bronstein,D [C36]
URS-ch27 Leningrad, 1960

1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 d5 4.exd5 Bd6 5.Nc3 Ne7 6.d4 0-0 7.Bd3 Nd7 8.0-0 h6 9.Ne4 Nxd5 10.c4 Ne3 11.Bxe3 fxe3 12.c5 Be7 13.Bc2 Re8 14.Qd3 e2 15.Nd6 Nf8 16.Nxf7 exf1Q+ 17.Rxf1 Bf5 18.Qxf5 Qd7 19.Qf4 Bf6 20.N3e5 Qe7 21.Bb3 Bxe5 Diagram

22.Nxe5+ Kh7 [22...Ne6 23.Qe4 Qg5 24.Ng6+-] 23.Qe4+ [23.Qe4+ g6 24.Rxf8 Qxf8 25.Qxg6+ Kh8 26.Nf7++-] 1-0

January 8, 2004

One of my favorite chess books, now hard to find, is Bent Larsen's Selected Games of Chess 1948-1969. The Danish Grandmaster may be best remembered as one of Bobby Fischer's victims en route to the American's capture of the World title in 1972. That match entered the history books as part of Fischer's amazing string of consecutive wins (was it 17 straight?).

But Larsen's contribution to chess is far more significant than that. In a great chess career that lasts to this day, Larsen combined positional understanding, tactical genius, and a willingness to try new ideas. Such is the nature of the book, with many experiments and thoughtful strategies. Larsen's 1970 book is now well out-of-print, but Larsen has a new book, My Best Games of Chess just out. Perhaps someone can tell us if it is a reprint or a completely new effort.

Here are all the games from Larsen's 1970 book, and here is just one of the games in the book, an amazing tactical feat against Ivkov played in 1967.

Larsen,B - Ivkov,B [A38]
Palma de Mallorca Palma de Mallorca (13), 1967

1.c4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.g3 g6 5.Bg2 Bg7 6.0-0 0-0 7.a3 a6 8.Rb1 Rb8 9.b4 cxb4 10.axb4 b5 11.cxb5 axb5 12.d4 d5 13.Bf4 Rb6 [13...Bf5 14.Ra1 Ra8 15.Rxa8 Qxa8 16.Qb3+/=] 14.Qb3 e6 15.Rfc1 Bb7 16.e3 h6 17.Be5 Kh7 18.Bf1 Nxe5 19.Nxe5 Ne4 20.Qd1 Nd6 21.Nd3 h5 22.Nc5 h4 23.Bd3 hxg3 24.hxg3 Rh8 25.Ra1 Bc6 26.Qg4 Qe7 27.Ne2 Nc4 28.Nf4 e5 Diagram

Black might be fine if weren't for this wonderful move.29.Bxg6+ Kg8 [29...fxg6 30.Nxg6 Qf7 (30...Qf6 31.Nxh8 Kxh8 32.Ra7 exd4 33.Ne6+/-) 31.Nxh8 Bxh8 32.Qh4+ (32.Ne6+-) 32...Kg7 33.dxe5 Nxe5 (33...Rb8 34.Qg5+ Kh7 35.e6+-) 34.Qd8 Nc4 35.Rxc4 dxc4 36.Qxb6] 30.dxe5 Nxe5 31.Qc8+ Bf8 [31...Qf8 32.Qxf8+ (32.Qc7) 32...Bxf8 33.Bh5+-] 32.Bh5 d4 33.e4 Qg5 34.Nce6!! [34.Bxf7+ Nxf7 35.Nce6 Qh6 36.Qxf8+ Qxf8 37.Nxf8 Bxe4+/=] 34...fxe6 35.Qxe6+ Kh7 36.Ra7+ Bg7 [36...Rb7 37.Rxb7+ Bxb7 38.Rc7+ Bg7 39.Rxb7+-] 37.Rc5 crashing through black's defenses 37...Be8 38.Rxe5 Qxf4 39.Rxg7+ Kxg7 40.Qe7+ Qf7 41.Rg5+ [41.Rg5+ Rg6 42.Rxg6+ Kh7 43.Rh6+ Kxh6 44.Bxf7+-] 1-0

January 7, 2004

If the best way to master chess is to play through games, it can also be said that the best way to master the endgame is to play through them. But it sure is nice to have a guide. M. Shereshevsky's Endgame Strategy provides a wonderful collection of real life examples organized in thematic chapters with titles such as: "Do not hurry!" and "The principle of the two weaknesses."

Here are all of the games in the book, and here is one interesting example. As you might imagine, there are many ways to win from the following diagram, but Alekhine's technique is quite instructive.

Alekhine,A - Saemisch,F [A31]
Baden-Baden Baden-Baden, 1925

1.c4 c5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 b6 5.Nc3 Bb7 6.Bg5 Ne4 7.Nxe4 Bxe4 8.f3 Bb7 9.e4 f6 10.Be3 Nc6 11.Nb5 Qb8 12.Qd2 g6 13.0-0-0 d6 14.Bh6 a6 15.Nc3 Bxh6 16.Qxh6 Qa7 17.Nd5 Kf7 18.c5 bxc5 19.Nxe7 Nxe7 20.Rxd6 Bd5 21.Rxa6 Qb7 22.Rxa8 Qxa8 23.exd5 Qxa2 24.Qf4 c4 25.d6 Qa1+ 26.Kc2 Qa4+ 27.Kb1 Qd1+ 28.Qc1 Qxd6 29.Bxc4+ Kg7 30.Rd1 Qc6 31.Re1 Nc8 32.Qc3 Re8 33.Rxe8 Qxe8 Diagram

White has the extra b-pawn but to win, white should first create a weakness of the kingside34.Qd4 Qe7 35.Bd3 White's pieces are carefully placed to limit attacks upon the white king and the advance of the Black knight 35...Qc7 [35...Qe1+ 36.Kc2] 36.g4 Kf7 37.h4 Nb6 38.h5 gxh5 39.gxh5 The h7-weakness eases the win. 39...Qc6 40.Be4! preferring to fix the weakness on h7 rather than capturing it immediately [40.Bxh7? Qxf3 41.Qxb6 Qd1+=] 40...Qb5 41.h6 Qb3 [41...Qf1+ 42.Kc2 Qg2+ 43.Kc3] 42.Bc2 Qb5 43.Qd3 Forcing the exchange of queens 43...Qxd3 44.Bxd3 and here, the win is trivia because white has the attack upon the h7-pawn, the passed b-pawn, and no danger of perpetual check. 44...Nc8 45.Bxh7 Ne7 46.Kc1 f5 47.b4 Nd5 48.b5 Ke6 49.Kd1 Kd6 50.f4 Nxf4 51.Bxf5 Nd5 52.Be4 [52.Be4 Nf6 53.b6 Kd7 54.Ke2 Kc8 55.Kd3+-] 1-0

January 6, 2004

For the newcomers, a quick look at the danger of bringing out your queen too early. I remember when, as a beginner, my father showed me a quick mate with 1.e4, 2.Bc4, 3.Qh5 or Qf3 and 4.Qxf7# If only it were always that easy.

These openings are clearly not the best, but try telling that to someone who just used it to score a point.

Here's an example of how to defeat this crude opening, and here's an interesting collection of real life games using the early Queen's Excursion.

Queen's Excursion [C20]

1.e4 e5 2.Qh5 Don't bring your queen out early! But why? Here's why! 2...Nc6 First, defending the e-pawn. [2...Ke7?? 3.Qxe5#; 2...Nf6!? 3.Qxe5+; 2...g6? 3.Qxe5+] 3.Bc4 The threat, of course, is Qxf7# 3...g6 [3...Nf6?? 4.Qxf7#] 4.Qf3 Same threat 4...Nf6 While white is moving the queen again and again, black is gaining time for solid development. 5.Qb3 Diagram

The threat, of course, is Bxf7. Of course, when your opponent has a threat, you will either want to defend it, or respond with a BIGGER threat.5...Nd4! 6.Bxf7+ Ke7 Black wins a piece because the white queen cannot continue to defend the Bf7 7.Qc4 b5-+ *

January 5, 2004

In October, 1967, Bobby Fischer took part in the Sousse Interzonal that would decide the Tigran Petrosian's 1969 challenger. Fischer got off to a great start, producing marvelous chess, but he began to complain about the playing schedule and the lighting conditions. The organizers tried to accommodate Fischer's demands, at first with more lamps and by offering all of the players additional off-days.

Here are all of the games from the Sousse Interzonal. And Here's the final crosstable

On November 1, Fischer officially withdrew and his games were withdrawn from the record of the event. Larsen was the winner, and the world of chess the loser. Fischer might have become world champion three years earlier. We are left instead with but a few brilliant games of his from the event. Here's an impressive attack.

Fischer,R - Myagmarsuren,L [A08]
Sousse Interzonal+ Sousse (3), 1967

1.e4 e6 2.d3 Fischer often played the King's Indian attack against the French Defense. 2...d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.g3 c5 5.Bg2 Nc6 6.Ngf3 Be7 7.0-0 0-0 8.e5 David Bronstein introduced this variation in game 14 of his 1951 World Championship match against Botvinnik. 8...Nd7 9.Re1 over-protecting the key e5-pawn. It is now hard for black to counter with f6 or f5, because, after exf6, the black e-pawn would become a target. 9...b5 So black counter-attacks on the queenside. 10.Nf1 b4 11.h4 a5 12.Bf4 a4 Up to here, following the Bronstein-Botvinnik game 13.a3 N Bronstein instead tried 13.c3. The usual idea is to leave the queenside pawns alone and to pursue the kinside attack. 13...bxa3 14.bxa3 Na5 Continuing the build-up on the queenide, with ...d5 or ...c5 to follow 15.Ne3 Aiming to prevent...c5-c4 15...Ba6 16.Bh3 Putting pressure upon the e6-pawn, again to discourage black from advancing the f-pawn 16...d4 opening d5 for a knight, and giving the Ne3 a tough decision between f1 and g4 17.Nf1 With the idea of Nd2-e4 17...Nb6 Heading to d5 and e3 or c3 18.Ng5 If now Bxg5, white can play hxg5 and use the open h-file. 18...Nd5 19.Bd2 Bxg5 20.Bxg5 Qd7 21.Qh5 Trying to induce black to advance the pawns around the king 21...Rfc8 with the idea of Qe8-f8 22.Nd2 Nc3 23.Bf6! Qe8 [23...gxf6 24.exf6 Kh8 25.Nf3 Nd5 26.Qh6 Rg8 27.Ne5 Qc7 28.Bg2 Rab8 29.Be4 Nxf6 30.Qxf6+ Rg7 31.h5+-] 24.Ne4 g6?! Black will not survive the weakened dark-squares on the kingside [24...Qf8 25.Nxc3 dxc3 26.Re4] 25.Qg5 Nxe4 [25...Qf8 26.Nd6 Rc7 27.h5+-] 26.Rxe4 c4 [26...Bb7 27.Rf4 with h5 to follow] 27.h5 cxd3 28.Rh4 Ra7 [28...dxc2 29.hxg6 fxg6 (29...hxg6 30.Rh8#; 29...c1Q+ 30.Rxc1 Rxc1+ 31.Qxc1+-) 30.Rxh7!+-] 29.Bg2 dxc2 30.Qh6 Qf8 Diagram

31.Qxh7+ [31.Qxh7+ Kxh7 32.hxg6+ Kxg6 (32...Kg8 33.Rh8#) 33.Be4#] 1-0

January 4, 2004

One of the first requests on the message board was for coverage of what I have called the Gunderam Defense: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Qe7. The poster recognized that it's not the best opening, but it certainly would surprise most opponents. I confess that I have never personally faced it.

But there are some interesting games in the database, and my experience against Philador's Defense offers a bit of insight. I offer two annotated games here. Both are interesting by themselves, but it's even more interesting to compare the two diagrams that follow. The game in the Gunderam Defense fares very poorly precisely because the Qe7 inhibits Black's development... which permits an interesting tactic by white.

Lampe,D - Scheller,C [C40]
Schleswig Holstein-ch M Schleswig Holstein, 1994

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Qe7?! Counter-positional. The Qe7 does protect the e-pawn, but more importantly it blocks the Bf8. This opening, the Gudaram or the Brazil Opening, is less good than the similar Philador's Defense because the Be7 loses a natural path of development. 3.Nc3 The most natural move, developing the QN to c3 where it helps to control the center and threatens Nd5. 3...c6 The first concession (Qe7) forces a second concession. The c6 pawn prevents Nd5 but also presents Black from naturally developing another piece, the QN. 4.d4 The most natural move, seeking further control over the center and opening lines for the QB. 4...d6 Two attacks on e5, now two defenses. Note that the Nb8 was unable to assist the defense of the e5-pawn. 5.Bc4 Yet another natural developing move, preparing 0-0 5...h6 Played undoubtedly to prevent 5...Nf6 6.Bg5, but Black's backward development cannot afford yet another preventative move. 6.a4 Inhibiting queenside expansion (...b5) and in some lines, readying a queensaide assault withg a5-a6. 6...Nf6 7.dxe5 dxe5 8.h3 Stronger than black's ...h6. Where is Black to develop the Bc8? 8...Qc7 A sign of capitulation. The queen moves for a second time to release the Bf8 and to allow ...0-0. 9.0-0 Be7 10.Qe2 Nbd7 All very similar to Philador's Defense, but Black cannot afford to lose time (Qe7-c7). 11.Be3 Nc5? Diagram

...0-0 was necessary12.Bxf7+! Kxf7 13.Bxc5 Be6 [13...Bxc5 14.Qc4+ Kg6 15.Qxc5+-] 14.Bxe7 Kxe7 15.Nh4 Aiming for g6 and f5 and readying f2-f4 15...Rhg8 16.f4 exf4 17.Ng6+ Kf7 18.Nxf4 Qe5 [18...Qb6+ 19.Kh1 Qxb2 20.Rab1 Qxc3 21.Rxb7+ Bd7 22.e5+-] 19.Nxe6 Kxe6 20.Qc4+ Ke7 21.Rf5 [21.Qb4+ Qd6 22.Qxb7++-] 1-0

Edwards,J (2475) - van Perlo,G (2520) [C41]
ICCF WC 3/4 XIX/1, 1999

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e5 4.Nf3 Nbd7 5.Bc4 Be7 6.0-0 h6 7.a4 c6 8.Qe2 Qc7 Diagram

For comparison's sake, compare this diagram with the diagram in the previous game. The opening here was the Philador's Defense, and the Black queen developed straight to c7. In the other diagram, white has succeeded in adding additional development with Be3 and h3. If you have a fancy for positions like this, try a move order similar to this game, which, as you can see, offers more chances for Black.9.Rd1 Nf8 Of course, here, you might consider ...0-0. White wins nicely as you will see. 10.a5 g5 11.b4 Typical attack in the philador. White aims to play a6 against the backward b-pawn to undermine the Black defense and to discourage ...0-0-0 11...Ng6 12.b5 Rg8 13.a6 Kf8 14.Bb3 Kg7 15.Qc4 Rf8 16.Be3 c5 17.dxc5 dxc5 18.Nd5 Into the "hole" 18...Nxd5 19.exd5 Qd6 20.Nd2 Ne4 20...f5 21.Qd3 Nc4 and d6 21...e4 22.Qc3+ Kh7 [22...Bf6 23.Qxc5 Qxc5 24.Bxc5] 23.Nc4 Qd7 24.axb7 Bxb7 25.Na5 Bf6 26.Qxc5 Bxa1 27.Rxa1 f4 28.Bc1 f3 29.Nxb7 Rfc8 30.Qd6 Qxb7 31.Ra6 Qf7 32.c4 The white pawns are overwhelming 32...fxg2 33.Be3 Re8 No entry squares for the Black artillery 34.Qf6 Qxf6 35.Rxf6 Kg7 36.Ra6 Nf4 37.c5 Red8 38.c6 1-0

January 3, 2004

Do you have a strong preference for the bishop or the knight? Modern players know that the bishop excels in the open games while the knight is preferred in closed positions. Chigorin was an advocate for the knights. Steinitz was among the first to reveal the science of the two bishops.

These are some of the issues in Steve Mayer's Bishop v Knight: The verdict. His 17 chapters have titles like: "Increase the speed of your knights" and "The Sacrifice for Active Bishops."

Obviously, "the verdict" depends upon the position, but Mayer gives us 77 very interesting games. I have included all 77 here and I have annotated one of the games that involves a classic bad knight. Enjoy.

Botvinnik,M - Geller,E [E66]
Moscow (16), 1952

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 Inviting white to set-up a broad center. 3.g3 White prefers a slower approach 3...Bg7 4.Bg2 0-0 5.Nc3 d6 Black often counter-attacks with Nc6 (or Nbd7) and ...e7-e5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.d5 What is the knight to do? 7...Na5 Diagram

The Na5 does not move agan until move 35. And as we say, a knight on the rim is dim8.Nd2 Over-protecting the c4-pawn and giving no options to the Na5 8...c5 9.Qc2 Not dxc6 Nc6 and the Na5 returns towards the center. The Qc2 will keep the Black bishop off a4 9...a6 Trying to break free with ...b5 and, if the knight is attacked, giving it a safe square on b7 10.0-0 Bf5 Forcing white to take the center. Perhaps Bd7 straight way 11.e4 Bd7 12.b3 b5 13.Bb2 A usefu; counter to the strong Bg7 13...bxc4 Trying to fix a weakness on c4 with the idea of Rb8-b4 14.bxc4 Rb8 15.Rab1 Rb4 16.a3 Rb8 17.Nd1 With the idea of Ne3, over-protecting the c-pawn. 17...Qc7 To double the rooks on the b-file 18.Ne3 Rb7 19.Bc3 Rfb8 20.h3 Rxb1 21.Rxb1 Rxb1+ 22.Nxb1 [22.Qxb1? Ba4] 22...Qb6 23.Nd2 Preventing Black from entering the position on b3 23...Ne8 24.Bxg7 Nxg7 25.Kh2 A useful prelude to the advance of the f-pawn 25...Ne8 26.f4 Nf6 27.e5 Ne8 28.Qc3 White is winning, and will break through on the kingside. Black feels compelled to become active. 28...f6 29.e6 Ba4 30.Be4 Ng7 All of the queenside entry squares are covered! [30...Nb3 31.Qb2 Qa5 32.Nxb3 Qb6 33.Bc2] 31.Bd3 Nh5 32.Be2 Ng7 33.h4 Ne8 34.Bd3 Ng7 35.f5 Nb3 Desparation 36.Qb2 Wins the knight 36...Qa5 37.Nxb3 Qe1 38.Ng2 Qd1 39.Nc1 gxf5 40.Be2 Qd4 41.Qxd4 1-0

January 2, 2004

Great chess players write great chess books. The latest addition may become the greatest of all, Garry Kasparov's My Great Predecessors. The first volume features the play of the first four world champions, Wilhelm Steinitz, Emanuel Lasker, Jose Capablanca, and Alexander Alekhine.

But more than just the games and the analysis is Kasparov's placement of their chess within a coherent framework, how each champion brought his own distinctive style and added to our collective understanding of the game.

It's one of the few chess books that I will read from cover to cover. To aid my effort and yours, here are all 148 of the games in the book.

And here's just one of the games, memorable to be sure for its fine finish.

Bernstein,O - Capablanca,J [D63]
Moscow, 1914

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 Be7 5.Bg5 0-0 6.e3 Nbd7 7.Rc1 b6 8.cxd5 exd5 9.Qa4 Bb7 10.Ba6 Bxa6 11.Qxa6 c5 12.Bxf6 Nxf6 13.dxc5 bxc5 14.0-0 Qb6 15.Qe2 c4 White gains the d4 square, but Black gains an attack upon the b2-pawn. 16.Rfd1 Rfd8 17.Nd4 Bb4 18.b3 Rac8 19.bxc4 dxc4 20.Rc2 Bxc3 21.Rxc3 Nd5 22.Rc2 c3 23.Rdc1 Rc5 24.Nb3 Rc6 25.Nd4 Rc7 26.Nb5 Diagram

26...Rc5 27.Nxc3?? [27.Nd4] 27...Nxc3 28.Rxc3 Rxc3 29.Rxc3 Qb2!! [29...Qb2 30.Qxb2 (30.Rc8 Qb1+ 31.Qf1 Qxf1+ 32.Kxf1 Rxc8) 30...Rd1#] 0-1

January 1, 2004


Yesterday, I resolved to get a message board up here at Chess is Fun. I think I may have set a Guinness Record for successfully achieving a tough resolution!

The Chess is Fun Message Board is up and running! There are still a few issues to resolve and a few bells and whistles to explore. But it's up!

Please check it out at When you get there, click on register... enter a fun name and a memorable password... and then have some fun!

By all means drop by, help to get it started with a message or two. Bookmark the site and come on by from time to time. I love playing chess... and I also love talking about it. I guess that's no surprise, but here, we'll be able to talk from time to time!

And so, Good chess in '04 everyone. We're already off to a promising start!

For past entries, please check out the Chess Blog archive.

Please feel free to sign the new Chess is Fun Guestbook. Or share your chess thoughts at the brand new Chess is Fun Message Board!

since November 6, 2003

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