Thursday, 14 November 2013

Caro Kann - Sharp variations from a GM

A chess friend of mine, Jonathan, has asked me to publish some opening theory from a Grandmaster very well known for exploring and pioneering sharp opening variations. Jonathan is particularly interested in The Caro Kann - I've been promising him this for weeks - so here goes ...

In the Caro-Kann, it seems to be a case of whether it is possible for Black to play their thematic Bf5 move without punishment ... After the moves: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Nf3 Nf6 6.Nxf6 Nxf6 7.Ne5 (now after the move 7 .. Bf5), Black has to be careful - there follows 8.Bc4 e6 9.g4 Bg6 (9. ..Be4 10.f3 Bd5 11.Bd3 threatening 12.c4 trapping the Bishop) 10.h4 h6 11.Nxg6 fxg6 and Black's pawn structure is ruined ... For those that are interested in a simple, sharp variation have a look at the 5. Bc4! variation below ...

As usual, any comments welcome ...

Caro Kann Opening

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Catalan: Sacrifice and Tactics!!

A great friend of mine Stephen Milford, had a lovely win the other day with his much-loved opening, the Catalan. I myself have spent over 2 or 3 years on and off playing this opening with him and I rarely got a look in with it as black - Here is a great example of sacrifice and tactics working together in harmony! As per usual the commentary is exquisite and the game is a real gem: Catalan officionados "Take Note!"

As usual, any comments welcome ...

Catalan Opening

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Wellington College Training Day

I played some training games at Wellington College over the last couple of days. I definitely needed the practice because it turns out that after analysis of both games, I'd clearly missed some obvious ways of winning them!! In the first game I had a chance to convert into a 2 x Bishops vs Rook ending, but for some reason I wrote this off in my mind immediately as not winning? Finally in this game I ended up with a Queen and pawn ending and I had the advanced pawn ... I shouldn't have offered a draw in this position according to GM Nick Pert. In the second game, I took my opponent's knight, got up to visit the loo, arrived back and overlooked the obvious fact that I could win a piece after Qh5+!! My fault entirely. So both games were drawn.

As usual, any comments welcome ...

Game 1- Sicilian Dragon

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

The doubled-pawn fortress & the Killer King!!!

Who said doubled pawns are bad in the end game. Occasionally you can build a fortress with doubled-pawns and there is no way in for the enemy! My opponent refused a draw but finally succumbed to a Killer King tactic ...!!!

As usual, any comments welcome ...


PGN Viewer courtesy of

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

British Championships Training - Wellington College

On Thursday 25th and Friday 26th July Wellington College will run mini matches in preparation for the British Chess Championships. The games will take place on both afternoons and will be a 4 hour session, 1 white and 1 black against the same opponent. Games will be ECF graded but not FIDE rated. ECF Head Coach GM Nick Pert will also be on hand to go through games with players after they have finished. All players are welcome to register an interest via email in order to try and find an opponent, there are only 14 spaces available. On Saturday 27th July GM Nick Pert and IM Yang-Fan Zhou will be running a training day at Wellington College from 10am. There will be 2 groups, an over 150 grade group and a 100-150 grade group. There will be another training day on 19th October.

Photos of previous events can be seen here:

Monday, 27 May 2013

Chess Tactics Magnus Carlsen Decoded

I have just downloaded a fantastic, up to date tactics book for my Kindle.  It features the most recent wins of Magnus Carlsen and demonstrates the tactical levers he used to achieve them!  This ebook features over 50 games, many of which are contests between Carlsen and Aronian, Carlsen and Nakamura and Carlsen and Anand.

If I remember correctly, the book is VERY reasonably priced at under £5.  It is written by Mijail Bogdanov, who has himself annotated the games.  I appreciate this guide, because:

a) There is no exhaustive analysis.
b) There are loads of tactical positions to analyse.
c) I can learn from these positions.
d) Entire games are included, so openings can also be examined.

It is worth noting however, that the book should probably have been edited more thoroughly as the English is a little stunted / awkward in places, but I didn't buy the book to appreciate English grammar!

I love the book and I'm tackling just one game per day, which should be sufficient for me.  Thoroughly recommended.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Blitz - mate in 9!?

Blitz is fine, but not when you lose in 9 moves as my opponent did! I tried to lead the game in to From's gambit but he pushed his pawn on?

As usual, any comments welcome ...

Bird's Opening

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Chess: You MUST stay alert!

In my last club game, my opponent gifted me with a huge blunder! I think he was guilty of one major fault. He had one and only one plan in mind and he was intent on sticking to it regardless of anything else ... In fact he became so blinkered by his plan that he left a piece hanging and I cleaned up.

After making some horrible opening faux-pas (moving same pawn twice - what was I thinking?), I made an effort to concentrate and then he blundered by playing 12.g3?, therefore the game is not at all noteworthy. The technique I used to keep him from using the open d-file for either of his Rooks was correct though!

As usual, any comments welcome ...

Sicilian Defence (B53)

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Monday, 6 May 2013

White wins against Philidor's Defence

During my latest club match I was fortunate that my opponent went to sleep and allowed me to win the exchange easily. On the other hand they had to take a very defensive stance throughout the entire game after playing Philidor's Defence as Black. Just when I thought it might get a little 'stalematey', I realised that all I had to to was break open the pawns around the enemy King. This is more of a strategic aim than a tactical one ... However as you can see from the game it proved quite effective!!

Like in a boxing match when you inflict a flesh wound, the opponent becomes a little intimidated and this is when they are at their most vulnerable ... When they start to lose their balance you can knock them out! I wasn't obliged to write the moves down due to being within my last 5 minutes, but I managed to Queen my 'a' pawn and eventually checkmate my opponent with just over 1 minute to spare ...

As usual, any comments welcome ...

Philidor's Defence

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

How to beat Dad at chess !!!

Here is a quick post for the Junior followers of this Blog - If you still haven't seen all the checkmates and you really want to beat your Dad at chess in the near future, why not invest in this great little guide:

How to Beat Your Dad At Chess

Two Rooks on the 7th - should never had been allowed!

My latest club match was a bit of a disaster frankly speaking ... I committed a cardinal sin and allowed my opponent to place both his rooks on his 7th rank :(. My concentration was completely lost - halfway through the game we had to change rooms which really didn't help me ...

Of course the story would have been different I think, had I

a) not lost concentration!
b) prevented the seventh rank incursion and perhaps sacrificed a pawn instead.

In a sharp position such as the one reached in the game Black should always be looking for aggressive counter play instead of passive play - a lesson I will take away with me ...

As usual, any comments welcome ...

Sicilian Maroczy-Bind

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Monday, 1 April 2013

Skewer tactic wins exchange and game ...

I was due to play a club match last week, however my opponent turned out to be a 'no show' for whatever reason - the same deal for my colleague Jonathan, therefore we settled for a friendly against each other ...

Here is the game, a c3 sicilian. I got lucky and was gifted with a simple skewer, that allowed me to clean up ... (No, its not an April Fools joke, this really did happen, LOL)

As usual, any comments welcome ...

c3 Sicilian

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Draw accepted against the clock ...

In my next club game I had the opportunity to play a colleague I met up with at the recent Portsmouth Chess Congress - Ivor!

He had seen my first game in the congress (a 'Budapest') and probably wanted to avoid it, so he played 1. Nf3 ... For those that are unsure why White plays 1.Nf3 here is the basic theory;

As usual, any comments welcome ...

1.Nf3 Opening

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Portsmouth Chess Congress 2013: Game 6

Here is my sixth and final game in the Portsmouth Chess Congress 2013 - possibly a Reti? (will check with Fritz). I always dread it when my opponent plays 1.d4 and follows with 2.Nf3, the reason being that I can't play my favourite opening - the Budapest ... :( My opponent employed a very solid opening arrangement and simply managed to grind me down until I had nothing on the queen-side - no attacking chances whatsoever! I tried an early double-bishop attack but didn't appreciate that my opponent need not worry about such crude bishop manoeuvres, using a clever knight move to snuff out the assault. As the game progressed I threw everything at the queen-side (including the kitchen sink) but couldn't penetrate his defence.

I have to admit that although the game was unexciting for me, my opponent's strategy was sublime. With the queen-side taken care of he began a pawn skirmish on the king-side! All my pieces were on the wrong side of the board and it was too late to stem the flow of attackers ... A sound win for my opponent!

As usual, any comments welcome ...

Game 6 - Queens pawn Reti?

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Portsmouth Chess Congress 2013: Game 5

Here is my fifth game in the Portsmouth Chess Congress 2013 - a Sicilian Grand Prix Attack. I was on the Black side this time, and wanted to make up for my failure on the previous evening. Fortunately, I have had plenty of GP attack games lately and seen the best way for Black to approach 2.Nc3 ...

On move 25 I managed to fork my opponents Rooks, which meant I'd won a piece for a pawn! In the final position I was a whole piece up and my opponent duly resigned ...

As usual, any comments welcome ...

Game 5 - Sicilian Grand Prix Attack

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Portsmouth Chess Congress 2013: Game 4

Here is my fourth game in the Portsmouth Chess Congress 2013 - a Sicilian Grand Prix Attack. I was banking on my opponent not knowing enough about this type of attack to deal with it - but I was naive. My attack never got going, he played 2...e6 and my heart sank :( I am always disappointed when players play 2...e6 because it usually means that they have played against the GP attack before and that they know that this is by far the strongest reply. For instance 2...d6 is often considered inferior and tempo losing.

Finally on move 26, I blundered dues to fatigue and it was all over ... :)

As usual, any comments welcome ...

Game 4 - Sicilian Grand Prix Attack

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Portsmouth Chess Congress 2013: Game 3

Here is my third game in the Portsmouth Chess Congress 2013 - a Sicilian Moscow variation 3. Bb5+ I'm never sure what to do when faced with this, so will have to look this up on YouTube :)

Finally on move 27, both of us unsure of how to continue, a draw was agreed :)

As usual, any comments welcome ...

Game 3 - Sicilian Moscow Variation

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Portsmouth Chess Congress 2013: Game 2

Here is my second game in the Portsmouth Chess Congress 2013 - a Qh4 terrorist attack !!!

I think that after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Qh4 !? ... the Queen somehow looks misplaced and has surely committed herself too early? Sadly I was about to find out just how WELL placed the Queen is if White tries to hold on to the pawn ... I have added a sub-variation which David Ross pointed out to me after the game is far sharper and much better for White ...

As usual, any comments welcome ...

Game 2 - Scotch Game

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Monday, 11 March 2013

Portsmouth Chess Congress 2013: Game 1

I played the major section of the 5th Portsmouth Chess Congress this year. I scored 2.5 out of 6, an improvement of 0.5 over last year which is pleasing. I have decided to Blog all six games. On my first game I was able to play the Budapest. Fortunately for me, my opponent thought for a good 10-15 mins on move 3!? Surely this is a no-no!!! I once read that it is essential to play the first series of opening moves as quickly as possible, especially in a tournament. Once the opening is over it is only THEN that you should take time to find a) the right plan and b) perhaps look to make the game tactical?

I have to admit that I got lucky in this game and managed to win a piece for a pawn with a simple fork. Anyway, here is the game that I managed to win ...

As usual, any comments welcome ...

Game 1 - Budapest Defense

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Tactical shot leads to uncertain ending

In my last club game I had the White pieces and played e4. My opponent elected to play the sicilian ... I played the closed variation with 2.Nc3, hoping to get a Grand Prix Attack. Interestingly my opponent elected to play 4...Nf6? which although not a blunder, seems not to be a 'book move'? I'm not sure what his intention was but I will be putting the game through Fritz at some stage ...

As the game progressed it it turned into a classic fight for the center and the e5 pawn became the focus. After some analysis in the curry house afterwards an IM colleague had a look at the game and noticed that Black can actually win a pawn but I can't see where? Another candidate game for Fritz!!

(I found out after the game that my opponent was graded almost 300 Elo points above me at 1840 Elo. This game had a sharp conclusion which led to uncertainty and served me well!)

As usual, any comments welcome ...

Chess Diagram 1 - Closed Sicilian - 2.Nc3

Note: I offered a draw in this position and it was duly accepted.

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Miraculous escape with 'Draw' swindle

In last night's game I had the White pieces and played e4. My opponent elected to play the center counter ... I exchanged pawns off immediately and played my usual line which is a sacrifice of the 'b' pawn for open lines and a big lead in development. At least, that is the theory but rather than me opening the position up, my opponent seemed to manage to close it down!

When you gambit a pawn in the opening then it is fair to say that every piece exchange really favours the opposition if neither side is making great progress. I desperately wanted to find a King-side attack, but couldn't calculate enough moves ahead! (Later on this evening I will check with Fritz 13 to see what I missed ...) I began to get concerned when my pin against his Queen came to nothing and he had the prospect of winning my 'c' pawn with Rook and Queen bringing up the rear. When I finally saw no hope of winning I traded Queens in the hope of finding a way to draw, but I overlooked the capture of my 'f' pawn which resulted in me going two pawns down ... I was practically ready to resign on the spot. Experience has taught me though that in many endgame positions a draw can be achieved through perpetual check in the right position. Miraculously I managed to win his 'f' pawn after a bit of a struggle. He was then hoping to Queen his 'h' pawn but I know no less than 3 ways of drawing when just the enemy 'h' pawn and the Kings are left on the board ...

1) Get your King to h1. This will result in stalemate (Stalemate).
2) Confine his King to the 'h' file in front of his pawn (Confinement & Stalemate).
3) Draw by perpetual with my Rook giving the checks. (Draw by perpetual, 50 move rule)

As can be seen from Chess Diagram 2, the Rooks never got traded, therefore the 3rd option above was available to me! This is a 'book draw' (see Chess Diagram 2).

(I found out after the game that my opponent was graded almost 200 Elo points above me at 1720 Elo. It paid me in grading points not to give up - even when 2 pawns down in the endgame!)

As usual, any comments welcome ...

Chess Diagram 1 - Center Counter Game

Note: In the previous diagram I stopped writing the moves down on move 51. due to being within my final 5 minutes of time control.

Chess Diagram 2 - Drawn Position

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Friday, 1 February 2013

Aronian vs. Anand - 75th Tata Steel Chess - 2013

Check out for:

"Aronian vs. Anand - 75th Tata Steel Chess - 2013"

The variations given in the video are all very tactical and it is well worth a watch to get an idea of what to watch out for in semi-slav like positions ... There are some beautiful tactical motifs covered here including a whole bunch of piece sacs and smothered mate variations ... very nice indeed ...  

Thursday, 31 January 2013

A French with counter-play for White

Just lately my club chess has gone from 'very average' to 'catastrophic' to 'downright diabolical' all in the space of about a month! This evening I turned up for my game, mindful that another loss would make me have serious doubts about whether or not I ought to take up tiddly-winks instead ...?

I want to reach 130 Bcf by the end of the season but the fact is, I need to play a lot better than I have been to get anywhere near it ... In my game this evening I was faced with the French. My opponent cleverly managed to trade off his bad light squared Bishop by playing it to a6 early on ... After that I got into a tactically sharpish position (for me) and overlooked a simple enough combination from my opponent allowing him to win a pawn. My head went down - another loss maybe?

I think it should have been a loss for me, but I've always said that you have to cling on to any glimmer of hope you might have ... It is best to remain poker faced when you're losing, advisable not to show your emotions - I.e. shaking of head, grimacing, snorting, whimpering, maniacal laughter - there all off limits! My opponent went on to win the exchange (nothing much I could do about that, 'snort') but bizarrely, he only had a Queen in play with two passive rooks and my Knight was destined for a greater future on b5 ...

Incredibly, my opponent seemed to overlook the safety of his King and presented me with a chance for counter-play ... In the final position it looked like a draw by repetition was probably the best option for him, and when he offered it I practically bit his arm off !!!

(I found out after the game that my opponent was graded almost 300 Elo points above me at 1848 Elo. It paid me in grading points not to give up the fight!)

As usual, any comments welcome ...

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Wednesday, 30 January 2013


Myself and a colleague have recently completed the development of a new free online chess server:

Visit the above site to register and view Chess Tactics Puzzles, Videos, Game of the Month and play chess online.  Look forward to seeing you all on there ... !

Thursday, 17 January 2013

An emphatic win with a breathtaking rook sac!

My favourite game of late is between an old chess colleague of mine, Steve Milford and a player from his local league who is at least 10 or 15 BCF grading points above him. The opening is E60 — King's Indian: 3.g3. This is a very emphatic win for Steve with a breath-taking Rook sac on move 29! He kindly agreed to annotate this game for us ... Enjoy!

As usual, any comments welcome ...

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

I made a right 'Royal Hash' of it !!

Hi All
I made a right 'Royal Hash' of my club game last night. I was confused after only a few moves into the game and totally unsure of what plan to use to get any advantage? My opponent is a very solid player and often plays the same d4 system as White, which appears to be a difficult nut to crack ... The issue for me in this game was that I got the opening wrong, and the question is, what should I have done instead?

I think, had I not fianchetoed my bishop, my opponent would have played the Colle System. I remember looking at this with a colleague and I think I need to confront the Colle System with the Zuckertort variation but I couldn't remember how any of this should go? I will look on YouTube, particularly at the following video ...

Anyway, this latest game wasn't a Colle but more of a Pirc with 4..d6. I'll be ready with an anti-Colle system next time, instead of the confused set of opening moves that I played last night ... Let's hope he doesn't play 1.e4 next time I play him !!

I have only supplied the moves up until the last 5 minutes each. I managed to lose the game in a time scramble, falling for a simple tactic that allowed my opponent to promote his pawn with check before I could promote my pawn. This proved to be decisive ...

As usual, any comments welcome ...

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Monday, 14 January 2013

A blog for anecdotes, openings and advice

For those improvers out there, the following blog is well worth a visit:

I stumbled upon it today and it's a real gem. It contains:        

  - Free Chess Downloads
  - Hardcore Chess Guides
  - Openings for Beginners
  - Videos
  - A top collection of chess links

Why not have a browse?

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Chess is about winning tempi !!

For those players unsure of how to tackle a game of chess - try and see it as a battle for development and don't leave your pieces on squares where they can easily be attacked, especially the Queen ... In this model game, a Budapest declined, I gained no less than 6 tempi against my opponent's Queen. On Qc2 I suspected that my opponent was attempting an early Queen foray ... Having consulted my 'Chess Bible' recently - 'My System, Nimzowitsch', 'First Part - The Elements', 'Chapter 1', 'On the Center and Development', Page 4 - there is a section dedicated to gaining tempi, which is all I needed to be aware of to win this game comfortably.

As the onslaught ensued my opponent lost his concentration after my move 25. .. Nxd2+ but he was obviously "punch drunk" at this stage! He'd become befuddled by all the tactical possibilities at my disposal ...

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Friday, 11 January 2013

Castle Chess Interviews

What makes a chess player stronger?  There are a number of interviews with GM's IM's and FM's that have undertaken a great deal of study and practice to become stronger chess players ...!  Checkout the following website under the 'Chess Biographies' section ...

Thursday, 10 January 2013

New plan for 2013

I have a new plan for 2013 - "don't play too much (any) blitz - instead read 'My System' by Nimzowitsch, learn as much as possible from it ... then play more online after that ...." After reading just one chapter I was getting advantage out of the opening when playing online ... but playing online is a huge time waster and can be sole destroying - I have learnt to begin enjoying chess again and not get hung up about my ever decreasing / increasing grade ... this has led me to play much better chess to the extent that even my rivals have noticed that I'm becoming a stronger player as a result.  My new study regime has certainly helped!

Talking of chess enjoyment - I had time to attend the London Chess Classic in December and watch Anand draw with Carlsen. This means of course that Carlsen has attained the highest chess grade ever recorded by FIDE. I also saw Judit Polgar for the first time - On the whole it was a great day out !! (I even didn't by a new book!!???)

For me now in 2013, the key is "learning and enjoyment" NOT "paranoid grade chasing online" !!!!