Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Kill the monster

Imagine you are a weaker player facing a much higher rated oppenent.  First round of a knockout tournament.  You have White, there is a chance right?

Play through the game to see if the all seeing calculation monster was defeated

Click here for the game

Monday, 1 May 2017

How to read a chess book

I was browsing the internet at work the other day and came across an article called "How to read a chess book".  The author advised taking notes after each chapter, playing through every annotation and ensuring you understand each point that is been made.  I don't disagree with this approach and it may even be the best way to absorb knowledge.

Its just a little on the dull side for my taste. 

I work, have a family and a healthy running obsession, so time to 'study' is limited.  I do, however really enjoy playing through really well anotated games.  Not too many variations, just enough explanation so that I can understand the game.  I have just finished reading "The most exciting games of 2016" by Balogh, Maze & Naiditsch, published by Chess evolution.

In that book my favourite game was between Topalov and Carlsen.  Carlsen plays a beautiful strategic master piece and wins a nice game.  Balogh does a good job explaining the key ideas.

Below you can play through the game with my notes, I can't claim I understood all the points on my own and I have quoted the GM where he did most of the work, but I didn't want to just copy out what he had written, so I have tried to incorporate my own understanding.

Click the link below, for the chessbase viewer, or play through the Gameknott app.


Play through the game

Friday, 14 April 2017

A Recent Game

Here is a recent game that I played at Wakefield.  I lost a piece very early, which my opponent kindly returned a few moves later.  There then followed some 'normal' chess before my opponent found a nice idea swapping knight, bishop and rook for 3 pawns and my queen.  Leaving an interesting unbalanced postilion.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Magic Pawn

One of my favorite games from David Bronstien's Zuric 53 is the Magic pawn game between Kotov and Petrosian.

Black exchanges pieces on d4 leaving a pawn on the square which is doubled and isolated.  Easy to capture, or so it seems, but the magic pawn has a charmed life!

Please click the link below to play through the game with a chessbase view, or use the chess viewer below.

ChessBase Game

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Home work Xmas 2015

Have a look at the below position.  Its White to play what would you do?

The game is from the first world championship match between Anand and Carlsen in 2013.  Carlsen is White and needed a draw to claim the crown.  He needed to avoid losing and just needed to be careful not to give Black anything to pounce on.  Still he needed only 19 seconds to play his next move.


15.Rac1. Magnus understood that Black has pressure on the c-file and Black wants to play ...b5 to erode the White centre and exploit his pressure on the c-file.

The game continued to a draw and Carlsen was crowned 15th World chess champion.

What would you have played?  Perhaps you have heard that rooks belong on open files and wanted to play Rd1.  General principles are there as advice when there are no other concrete factors on the board.
Lets have a look at the mistake 15.Rad1? b5

Black will play ...bxc4 when the pawn on c4 is terminal.  White's best move would probably be 16.Rc1.

Moving the other rook 15.Rfd1?! b5, 16.Rac1

still allows bxc4, but then White has some tactics with the powerfully placed rooks to defend the weak pawn on c4.

After ...bxc4, 17.bxc4 the c-pawn can't be captured, as White has the cute 17...Qxc4, 18.Nd5

Black can first play 17...h6, 18.Bf4 Rfd8 (Black still can't take the pawn due to the Nd5 trick.) 19.Qf3

White has managed to hold the c-pawn, but it's clear to see that it is forever weak.  It would be a clear target for Black to build an attack around.
Strong players will try not to take on such static weakness, as even if they can be defended it means defending passively hoping the other side runs out of resource.  Of course Magnus Carlsen is a class act and completely understood the position.

Remember general principles only after concrete analysis of the position.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Homework 4

Position 4.1
1.e4 e5, 2.Nf3 Nf6,
Now what do you play?  Try and think about Black's options and how you would answer them.
 Position 4.2
Its Black to play and he can win a good pawn here.  Can you find the moves?

Scroll Down for hints.

week 3 answers:
Position 3.1

1.d4 Nf6, 2.c4 e6, 3.Nc3 Bb4 is the Nimzo-Indian Defence, this is a good opening for both sides and is rich in ideas and variations.

I asked what would you play as White.  Here are some moves

4.e3 - The Rubinstein

4.Qc2 - The classic and my choice, see below

4.Nf3 - Kasparov

4.Bg5 - Leningrad

4.a3/f3 - Samisch

4. g3 - Fianchetto

4. Qb3 - 

4. Bd2 - This is the standard choice of the beginner, not that its bad there are loads of Grandmaster games in this line, but after 4...0-0, 5.a3 Be7 is ok for Black and leaves White's bishop on d2 poorly placed.  There is still an ocean of chess to play.

4.Qc2 would be my choice as White 4...0-0 (Black also has 4...d5 or 4...c5)
5.a3 Bxc3, 6.Qxc2 d5 - White would argue he has the bishop pair, while Black would point to a lead in development.  Almost all the top players have played this line at one time or another, with Carlsen and Kasparov topping the list of greats!

Position 3.2

Remember Black to play and win.
1...Nxg5! - Black creates a loose piece. 2.Nxg5 dxc4! Black attacks the queen, but the main point is he also reveals an attack on the newly created loose white knight.  This double attack loses a piece and the game.
3.Qxc4 Qxg5
Remember Loose Pieces Drop Off (LPDO)

Look at the pawn on e5 can it be captured?

Is the knight really pinned?  Can it take a pawn?

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Member Games - David Oates

David is new to the Darlington club after having some time off chess while raising his family.  They say once bitten, chess is always in you and so it proved with David.  His return soon proved his class, as he dispatched several top local players.  Here he is in action for the North East's 4NCL first team.

David Oates V 2025 (Note this is an ELO grade, but converts to strong!)  

1. c4 e5 The English.  White doesn't fill the centre with pawns, but looks for a more dynamic plan.  Neil Macdonald says "In the English Opening White has the freedom to embark on wing attacks that would be too risky after 1.e4 or 1.d4. There are many instances of White being able to start an enterprising attack on the kingside - often beginning with g4" in his Starting out: the English.    
2.g3 After 1..e5 the opening looks like a Sicilian defense with the colours switched, a standard plan is bishop to g3 which gets called 'the reversed Dragon'.  
2...Nc6 3. Bg2 g6 With g6 Black changes systems again and now we see Black setting his pieses out like a Kings Indian defence.  This system was championed by the great world champion Mikhail Botvinnik
4. Nc3 Bg7 5. e4 d6 

e4 blocks in the bishop on g2 which is generally bad, but in this position the idea is to dissuade Black of playing the standard King's Indian Defense plan of f5 and a king's side attack.

6. d3 Be6 Black plans to set-up a bishop and queen battery and exchange the Bishop on g2
7. Nge2 White plans a pawn break on d4, but avoids a pin
7...Qd7 8. Nd5!

White uses tactics to disrupt Black's plan (8... Bh3 9. Bxh3 Qxh3 10. Nxc7+) 
Perhaps Black could exchange the bishop for knight, but I would say White is slightly better after (8... Bxd5 9. cxd5 Nce7 10. d4) and its hard to change plans once they have begun.

8...Nce7 9. d4 c6 Black can't stand the well placed knight, but declines to swap knights with (9... Nxd5 10. cxd5 Bh3 11. O-O)  This looks ok to me, but perhaps Black thought his kinside attack was still on.

 10. Ne3 Bh3 11. Bxh3 Qxh3 12. d5 

White would like Black to paly (12...cxd5 13. cxd5 Nf6 (13... f5 14. Qa4+ Kf7 15. exf5 gxf5 16. Qd7) 14. Qa4+) to disrupt Black's king.
But plays 12...Qd7 I can't see anything wrong with the natural Nf6, but perhaps Black still longs for f5 and a king side attack.

 13.g4 I was surprised by this move and demanded an explanation.  David says, "Not sure g4 is actually that good – just leaves opponent with decisions to make – gives them more chance to play bad moves."

13...Bh6 14. Ng3 c5 15. h4 Bf4 16. h5 g5?! Black leaves a hole on f5 and as both of White's knights are ready to hop there this isn't a great idea for Black.

17. Nef5 No surprise! Bxg3 18. Nxg3 h6 19. Be3 Nf6 20. f3 O-O 

21. Qd2 White sets up a threat in Bxg5 hxg5 and Qxg5 winning 2 pawns, so Black plays Nh7 Black is starting to look a little passive.  His knight on h7 stops the trick, his other one has to guard f5, which leaves White free to tuck his king out of the way and start a queen side operation
22. O-O a6?! Its clear Black plans to break with b5, but White gets his break in first. 
23. b4 b6 24. bxc5 bxc5 25. Qa5 Nf6 

Finally Black gets his knight off the awful h7 square, but White still retains a better position as Black's knights are unable to find a role and one of them needs to guard the weak f5 square, as allowing White Nf5 would be fatal.  The fight is now for the a and b files.  White is better here, but not winning.
26. Kg2 Rfb8 27. Rab1 White fights for the open file, but Black has to be careful he doesn't allow his a-pawn to become too weak. 27... Qa7 28. Rb3 White will double rooks if he can  
28... Rxb3 Black can't allow that, but now White will use the b-pawn as a battering ram to further weaken the Black queen side. 29. axb3 Qb7 30. Rb1 Rb8 31. Qd2 Nh7
White uses that old Bxg5 trick again! Now his pieces are ready to support the b4 break.
 32. b4 a5 (32... bxa4 allows 33.c5 and if 33...dxc5 34.Bxc5 is difficult for Black as the defender of f5 is attacked by the bishop and if Nf5 is allowed Black is finished.)
33. b5 a4 Both sides have a passed pawn, but Black's a-pawn is not defended and looks weaker than White's b-pawn. 

34. Qc3! White will swap the queen onto a3 to put pressure on Black's a-pawn , but also lays a fiendish plan. If (34... Ra8 35.Bxc5! dxc5 36.Qxe5 when the knight is awkward as after say a3 37.d6 leaves the knight with limited options and White has a pawn on d6 and access to f5 for his knight) 

34...f6 35. Qa3 Qa7 36. b6 Rxb6 37. Rxb6 Qxb6 38. Qxa4 Kf7 

Black has to be careful not to allow White's queen in with Qe8.  White's queen is much more of a threat than Black's.

39. Qb5 Qxb5 Black is happy to swap queens, but now he is lost!!
40. cxb5 Ke8 41. b6 
It looks as though Black's king can rush to b8 to blockade the troublesome pawn, but there is a problem 
(on 41... Kd7 42. b7 Kc7 43. Bxc5! dxc5 (43... Kxb7
44. Bxd6 Ng8 45. Nf5) 44. d6+) so Black tries to use a knight to blockade instead.
41... Nf8  42. b7 Nd7 43. Bd2 The pawn and the Bishop create a 'wall' on the c-file stopping the king ever crossing onto the b-file.
43...Nb8 The knight is well placed to blockade the pawn, is it enough to draw?
44. Ba5 Kd7 
With the wall blocking the Black king Black has little more than Na6-Nb8.  White exploits this helplessness with

45. Kf2!! White simply plans to use his king to get access to b6.  There is nothing Black can do to stop Kf2-e2-d3-c4-b5-b6

45... Na6

46. Ke2 1-0 - Black sees the king's march and quits.  Nice control and an unusual finish, although David's king march reminded me of Nigel Short's game against Timman where he used his king to march into the enemy camp.  That game is copied below if your interested.

[Event "Tilburg"]

[White "Short, Nigel D"]
[Black "Timman, Jan H"]
[SourceDate "1992.02.01"]

1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Nd5 3. d4 d6 4. Nf3 g6 5. Bc4 Nb6 6. Bb3 Bg7 7. Qe2 Nc6 8. O-O O-O 9. h3 a5 10. a4 dxe5 11. dxe5 Nd4 12. Nxd4 Qxd4 13. Re1 e6 14. Nd2 Nd5 15. Nf3 Qc5 16. Qe4 Qb4 17. Bc4 Nb6 18. b3 Nxc4 19. bxc4 Re8 20. Rd1 Qc5 21. Qh4 b6 22. Be3 Qc6 23. Bh6 Bh8 24. Rd8 Bb7 25. Rad1 Bg7 26. R8d7 Rf8 27. Bxg7 Kxg7 28.

R1d4 Rae8 29. Qf6+ Kg8 30. h4 h5 31. Kh2 Rc8 32. Kg3 Rce8 33. Kf4 Bc8 34. Kg5