Saturday, 8 December 2012

Center Counter leads to a draw ...

This week I played against the 'center counter opening' in a club game. I have played against this opponent several times before and played the same variation with an early b4 pawn sacrifice against him and lost. This time I improved - and managed a draw ... Afterwards I was duly and rightly criticised for not taking the initiative and playing more aggressively with 11.Nb5. It ended as a same coloured bishop ending (I remained a pawn down)...

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Grand Prix Attack - No Plan, No Prep, Nil Point

Last week I played a club game against Basingstoke. I confess that I had not properly prepared for Black's 4th and my 5th move response! I didn't have a plan after 6.Bb5, I simply wanted to match my opponents early lunge in the center by giving my Bishop an early exchange and hoping to castle soon afterwards. I thought that by giving Black doubled pawns I'd have a slight advantage?

My opponent was wise and played 7. .. Qc7, a kind of Kan setup. I then went on to blunder a pawn after misplacing my Queen. My opponent finshed me off with nice little tactic against my h3 pawn, winning 2 more of my pawns and the game was up. The lesson for me here is that I well and truly lost the oppening and my opponent kept his advantage ... According to Fritz 13 it is not necessary to take the pawn on d5 (5.exd5), instead Bb5+ can be played on move 5 not move 6.

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Thursday, 15 November 2012

ChessTempo for Tactics!

Just lately I have decided to start using ChessTempo for tactics training, particularly endgame tactics study. If you are not a premium member, then you are only permitted 2 x endgame tactics per day. This however is sufficient for one day, given that you need to fully absorb the concept that you are being tested on ... Believe me, these problems are certainly challenging!

Chess Tempo Endgame Problem

Grand Prix Attack -

Here my two Knights proved to be much better than my opponent's two bishops ... As can be seen from the game, White seems to hem both his Bishops in and as a consequence they are both bad ...

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

The formula for a better chess blitz grade

Not an easy one - but some players would love to see their internet grade soar through the roof! I think that there is no easy solution to this, but with a strict framework in place, self discipline and with a little help from Fritz 13 I reckon it is indeed possible to see your grade increase by 200 - 400 grading points in one season. Here is my formula:

1) Play only 6 games (10 minutes each will be a maximum of 2 hours Blitz per day) in one session. Any more than this and your concentration will lapse and your grade will start to plummet.

 2) When you lose one game - STOP. Analyse the game on Fritz immediately, even if you blundered ... This is an excellent habit to get into because a computer can highlight all the weaknesses in game, and indicate exactly where either you or your opponent started to stray.

3) When you have lost just one game don't play any more games that day. Instead take the time to either -
 a) 'google' the opening and preferred plans for both sides,
 b) Play the game through on Fritz 13 and perform a 'Full Analysis'.
 c) Look a similar game up in a book to get and idea for the plans ...
 d) Do all of the above ... (preferable)

Fritz is an excellent tool when used to perform a full appraisal (Full Analysis) of the game.  I particularly appreciate the English Language commentary set alongside the moves that have a major impact on the game ... This helps me to put into perspective exactly where I went wrong.  I am gradually building up a database of 'losses', which over time will indicate how most games are being lost.

I think that by sticking to this strict training regime unwaveringly, you will start to see a steady improvement over time ...  

Monday, 12 November 2012

Sicilian Dragon, White castles Kingside

Here is this evening's club game - a Dragon (B73 Classical System without Nb3). I have attempted to revisit the quirky (and early) h5 for Black. According to Charlie Storey's book on the Sniper, Black can have some successful games against White by deferring their castling until such time as it is needed ... Problem is that I have been studying games where White castles Queenside. I must confess that I was not prepared for White's Kingside castling, however I played a similar game a year or two ago so there are no excuses for my poor performance!! I have used Fritz 13 to analyse this game (an abysmal loss)... Interestingly after my a6 move Fritz appears to favour White already! (Back to the drawing board I think ...)

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Thursday, 8 November 2012

English Opening leads to a dubious draw ...

Here is this week's club game - an English. I don't know a lot about the strategy behind this opening other than the fact that Botvinnik has pioneered some sound theory on it ... I need to look this up! (I may even have gone wrong on move 2 ??) I thought I had the edge throughout the game, however a draw was agreed on move 38 after Kf8.

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Budapest Gambit Declined - poor strategy and no tactics!

Here is last week's club game - a Budapest declined. In this game I made two fundamental errors. 1) I blocked my dark-squared bishop's diagonal. 2) I opened the 'h' file without actually needing to ... (the result of being 35 minutes behind on time and having only 5 minutes left on the clock). I have performed some analysis on Fritz 13 - this showed that I could certainly have played f5 and sacrificed my Bishop for a win! I wonder if White would have spotted that? Anyway I got mated foolishly on the back rank in the end - should have sac'ed my Queen for the two Rooks (hindsight is wonderful isn't it?)

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

It's Halloween!

Today is 31st October - Halloween. I thought I'd dig out something topical for it's entertainment value ... ! It looks slightly dubious, and undoubtedly refutable but here it is ... "The Halloween Gambit!"

Monday, 29 October 2012

Tactics: Problem# 10

Here is recent game between Odisey Suleymanyants vs Vladamir Akopian. See if you can spot the simple finish - Black to play and win ...

(Careful not to scroll too far - you'll see the answer ... !)

Black to move ...

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Grand Slam Masters Final 2012

Even the world experts sometimes get it very wrong.  Here is a game from the Grand Slam Masters Final 2012 contested by Carlsen and Caruana ... Here we see the simple win of a piece on move 13 no less ... This tactical theme is simply known as "trapped piece".  Well spotted Magnus Carlsen!

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Learn from the world's leading players

If you navigate further down the page, you will notice on the right hand side there is a graphical icon displaying the world's leading players in a table  I have discovered that on this website there is an option to view the very latest Live Games from the most exclusive tournaments played by the world's leading Grandmasters.

It is possible to view games from recent events from the calendar year.  All games can be played through on the site (there is a pgn player available).  I personally like stepping through the Carlsen games.  It is somehow bewildering that not only is he the top player in the world, but one of the youngest players above 2700... !

On the site, you navigate through a tree (see below) and choose a tournament, then choose a game to play through.  I found this facility particularly useful.  The added bonus of course being that all games are completely up to date and the pgn's can be downloaded for further analysis ... !

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Sicilian win with superior Knight and Bishop!

This season's club chess started for me on Wednesday 26th September with a home match. There were 6 boards, and I was chosen to play board 5. After 1.e4 c5, my opponent played 2.c4 - seemingly leaving a gaping whole on d4 which I was eventually allowed to capitalise on with a beautifully positioned Knight on d4 ... I had a dark bishop breathing fire down the long a1 - h8 diagonal whilst my opponent's light squared bishop sat on his starting square, due to the fact that his Queen had been misplaced early in the game, blocking it. His Queen became an easy target after it's poor placement - being attacked by my Knights. Here is the game ...

As usual - any comments welcome!!

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Tactics: Problem# 9

Here is 'reloader' problem for you to tackle. See if you can see the sequence ...

(Careful not to scroll too far - you'll see the answer ... !)

White to move ...

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Budapest - keep Knight on g4!

Here is an example of how not to play the Budapest as White ... I think that the idea of keeping the Knight on g4 and playing the Bishop to c5 worked well here ... My opponent had counter-play but ran out of time ...

As usual - any comments welcome!!

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Reloader Tactic

Here is a technique to knockout your opponent quickly - 'the reloader tactic'. I initially saw examples of this tactic in Martin Weteschnik's excellent book, Understanding Chess Tactics. Admittedly I got a little lucky in this game (blitz 5 mins each) - I was busy tormenting my opponent's Queen when I realised just in time that I had my Knights ideally placed for the reloader ...

For those that are not sure what this is, essentially the reloader tactic involves sacrificing a piece (e.g. Knight-1) which MUST be taken due to the threat it poses ... but once this threat has been expunged then the same threat can be recreated (reloaded) with another piece of the same type or movement (e.g Knight-2).

In this game I used Knight-1 to create the first threat (my opponent resigned here but if Knight-1 had been eliminated then I could then have reloaded the threat with Knight-2!).

As usual - any comments welcome!!

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Breaking down the walls ...

I have started playing Chess Genius Lite on my Android phone. I had an interesting game as White yesterday - admittedly Chess Genius only had 1 second per move, but it's a computer, so I have no sympathy for it!!! Here is the game I managed to win - a Pirc, and it shows readers the technique of throwing pieces at a defense in attempt to smash it down (I think it's called the Argentinian Attack...?) My mentality was simply 'no matter how many pieces it takes, if I can checkmate my opponent then I've achieved my objective, so keep the attack going!'.

As usual - any comments welcome!!

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

20 Minute Exercise - Carlsen Game

Below is a link to the recent World Rapid and Blitz Championships in Astana. If you click on the link and scroll down you will find a game contested by Kazhgaleyev (W) and Carlsen (B). This one is a traditional e4 - e5 opening. If you follow the game through until about move 9. you find yourself deep into the middlegame. This is where you should start thinking about the plan, for your chosen colour. Let's say you choose Black ... Play move 9. for White but don't look at Black's next move. Instead, make a list of all the candidate moves for Black. Choose which you think are the 3 most promising. Now reason through each of the 3 candidate moves in turn to test that a) they are tactically sound and b) that they have a solid goal in mind ... The goal might be tactical - i.e. you can win a pawn or piece or it might be strategical - i.e. you can improve the position of one of your pieces with a further longer-term aim in mind ... Take 20 minutes maximum for this exercise.  Once this technique is perfected then you will become a great player!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Concept of open 'h' file

I lost many games online last night, but managed to win one in the end :) I remembered a concept that I'd seen on a DVD by Roman Dzindzichashvili. The idea is to sacrifice the Bishop on g5 and open the h file. I ended up with a Queen and Rook mate threat and plenty of time to capitalise on my opponent's uncastled King. Here is the game - a 5 minute Blitz.

As usual - any comments welcome!!

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Petroff's Defence, Marshall Trap

Here is another one in this short series of chess traps. I feel it is worth learning these well known traps in case they are sprung against you ... You should always have a refutation ready if possible, which means that you will need to spend less time working out all the possible responses and more importantly avoid blundering!

Frank James Marshall (August 10, 1877 – November 9, 1944), was the U.S. Chess Champion from 1909–1936, and was one of the world's strongest chess players in the early part of the 20th century. He was born in New York City, and lived in Montreal, Canada from ages 8 to 19. He began playing chess at the age of 10 and by 1890 was one of the leading players in Montreal. He won the U.S. chess championship in 1904, but did not accept the title because the current U.S. champion, Harry Nelson Pillsbury, did not compete. Marshall was best known for his great tactical skill. One aspect of this was the "Marshall swindle", where a trick would turn a lost game around.

As usual - any comments welcome!!

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Bogo-Indian Defence, Monticelli Trap

In this article I introduce you to a trick against the Bogo-Indian Defence. In the variation below it is still apparently possible for Black to draw after 10. ... Ne4! (but only if you have the skills and vision of Capablanca ...)

Here are some good opening variations for the Bogo-Indian Defence:
As usual - any comments welcome!!

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Blackmar-Diemer Gambit - Halosar Trap

I have to admit that I don't think I've ever played the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit as White but perhaps I'd better start doing so ... ? This can be a trappy opening as the variation in this post proves.

The Blackmar–Diemer Gambit arose as a development of the earlier Blackmar Gambit, named after Armand Blackmar, a relatively little-known New Orleans player of the late 19th century who popularized its characteristic moves (1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.f3) and was the first player to publish analysis on the opening in the chess literature."

Here are some lines in the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit ... This is very sharp and although White is said to have the advantage with the passed a-pawn, I expect it's still quite difficult to convert for White!

As usual - any comments welcome!!

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Friday, 6 July 2012

Blackburne Shilling Gambit Trap

Here is a gambit with a nice trap that Blackburne used to play ... but before this - an amusing anecdote concerning Joseph Henry Blackburne courtesy of Wikepedia:

Blackburne's fondness for drinking whisky at the board once led him to down an opponent's glass. Shortly afterwards, the opponent resigned, leading him to quip, "My opponent left a glass of whisky en prise and I took it en passant". In an interview with a liquor industry publication, Blackburne once claimed that drinking whisky cleared his brain and improved his chessplay."

Here is a line in the Blackburne Shilling Gambit. White elects to take the pawn on f7 with the Knight ... This is duly punished with a nice mate ...

As usual - any comments welcome!!

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Blast 'em with Boden-Kieseritzky Gambit

I was recently trying to find some gambit lines against the Petroff and I stumbled across the Boden-Kieseritzky Gambit. It should be noted that, although White can use this Gambit to their advantage, it is unlikely that Black graded greater than ELO 1700 will fall for any cheap tricks. Here is one very simple line and to put it bluntly, probably one of the cheapest tricks in the book ... As usual - any comments welcome!!

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Play hard but study harder!

In my humble opinion it does not pay to play chess every day, expecting your grade to increase. This  normally doesn't happen.  If you want to see and more importantly enjoy real improvement, then you have to engage in a study plan. This entails the following:

- Analyse every one of your lost games.

- Engage in a tactics study regime - in other words study tactics like mad!

- Your never too old or too young to learn tactics (adhere to the note above)

- Identify the weak parts of your game and work on these more.

E.g. If you can't find the right plan in the middlegame or indeed any plan at all then maybe you need to   practice the 20min exercise I covered in an earlier post on this blog? This will encourage you to perform the correct evaluation in any given position, then decide on the right plan, whether that be tactical or strategical.

- Push yourself in rated club games by playing to win, NOT to draw. Nothing is gained when both players agree to a premature draw in ignorance of what could have happened. I would say that it is far better to lose that way than it is to draw because you learn more from your defeats. The only exception to this is when agreeing to a draw is the only option, because not doing so would make your position worse. In my experience, a player who has had many draws throughout the season may well be contented, but they are really only protecting their grade - what hope have they got of improving?

Note: Not every chess player wants to improve which is fine, but this is a chess improvement blog don't forget :)

- Have fun!  But don't expect to enjoy every second of studying - any chess study routine can become boring after a while, but those that stick to it despite the pain, normally go on to do very well and see a steady improvement.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Budapest win - White neglects f2!

Here is a simple win with the Budapest - it proves that, as White you must ensure that you protect f2! - Sometimes this is overlooked ...

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Tactics: Problem #8

Here is a another tactical problem for you to tackle. This should be easy if you can see four moves ahead ...

(Careful not to scroll too far - you'll see the answer ... !)

White to move ...

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Tactics: Problem #7

Here is a another tactical problem for you to ponder over. Try and find something decisive ...

(Careful not to scroll too far - you'll see the answer ... !)

Black to move ...

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Tactics: Problem #6

Here is a tactical problem that should be quite easy! Try and find the finish ...

(Careful not to scroll too far - you'll see the answer ... !)

Black to move ...

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Monday, 21 May 2012

De La Maza Training Update

As visitors and members of this Blog may know, I am currently in engaging in a tactics regime encouraged by Michael De La Maza.
See a previous post for more information on the 7 Circles approach ...

I am encouraged by my results, but not entirely convinced. As can be seen from the table below, the time spent solving my 100 sample problems has decreased steadily for each circle attempted. However, I feel the main reason for the considerably faster solving times is due simply to memory! After all, you are solving the same problems again and again, therefore you tend to remember the solution rather than having to re-solve them each time.

All very well but what if you leave the training and revisit it after a 2 month break?  As you can see from the table below (Problems 101 - 200), there is a break between Circle 6 - 28/03/2012 and Circle 7 - 20/05/2012 of almost 2 months.  Unfortunately my time went back up to 40mins, BUT the good news is that it is still 11mins quicker than Circle 1 when I first started Batch # 2.  What is more, I got all the solutions correct, so another plus here!

Overall, for me the training cannot be a bad thing ... After all, pattern recognition is essential for the chess tactician, and surely the more frequently you see the same chess problem / position before you, then the more chance you have of seeing it's underlying pattern and method of solution?  As usual, comments welcome.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Half open f-file wreaks havoc in GP-Attack!

I played a Grand Prix Attack game online this evening and won comfortably in 17-moves (opponent's grade 1600 approx). It's easy when you know how ... If you manage to sac your f-pawn as White - a common plan in the GP-Attack, then the half open f-file causes mayhem for your opponent. The Black f-pawn becomes pinned and g6 becomes an attacked, won square and a haven for your pieces! Generally speaking, a Queen or a Knight can easily occupy this square ... Here is my sample game ...

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Budapest - Skittles Game Win!

I was sparring with my favourite opening this evening - the Budapest. My opponent took their eye off the ball and blundered their f-pawn with dire consequences. Here is the game ...

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Tactics: Problem #5

Here is a tactical problem that should be quite easy! Try and find the finish ...

(Careful not to scroll too far - you'll see the answer ... !)

White to move ...

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Calculation Training in 20mins (continued)

Here is a link to the recent Asian Continental Championships won by Negi of India.  If you click on the link and scroll down you will find at least 2 games.  The first one is an English opening.  If you follow the game through until about move 19. you find yourself deep into the middlegame.  This is where you should start thinking about the plan, for your chosen colour.  Let's say you choose Black ... Play move 19. for White but don't look at Black's next move.  Instead, make a list of all the candidate moves for Black.  Choose which you think are the 3 most promising.  Now reason through each of the 3 candidate moves in turn to test that a) they are tactically sound and b) that they have a solid goal in mind ... The goal might be tactical - i.e. you can win a pawn or piece or it might be strategical - i.e. you can improve the position of one of your pieces with a further longer-term aim in mind ...  Once this technique is perfected then you will become a formidable player!

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Budapest - Undeveloped Bishop

In this club game I wanted to spring a surprise on my opponent by playing an unorthodox opening.  How better that the Budapest?!  Just one problem - my opponent wasn't really surprised ... :)  In fact he seemed to know Alekhine's variation of the Budapest pretty well and achieved perfect central domination.  My bishop became hemmed in - I played a poor positional game with my knights and left myself with zero play!  It just goes to show that, if your opponent is more than familiar with the opening that you are trying to surprise them with, then you have to be prepared. I didn't revise Alekhine's variation well enough. Upon arriving home after the game, I referred to Tim Taylor's book and realised that I had misplaced my knight at a critical juncture. Here is the game:


PGN Viewer courtesy of

Monday, 7 May 2012

Calculation Training 1

Here is another very useful video on calculation ... a necessary evil for the expert chess tactician!

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Simple calculation to avoid mistakes

Here is a game I played online this evening. The game is abundant with tactical oversights from both players ... However, it is always best to check before you castle!!

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Chess Tactics Training 1

Here's a great place to start training with some basic positions!

Sicilian 2.Bc4 - Lucky Win for Black

Here is a Sicilian with 2.Bc4. I was aware that my opponent likes to play the King's Gambit setup, therefore I adopted a defense for Black that resembles the stance you'd take as Black in the Grand Prix Attack. I should have lost this game because my opponent could have won the exchange and I am certain that I wouldn't have gained enough compensation for it!

As the game progresses I managed to exchange Queens with a favourable position for me, although I have to be careful of a back rank mate threat with White's Knight on f5 and Re8#. We are both in time trouble at this point and fortunately I have Ne5, blocking the Rook. The game ends with me getting a Rook and Knight mate of my own in!

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Monday, 30 April 2012

Never give up with your chess! 
This businessmans's attitude is one that all chess players can adopt.  Failure IS an option, but learning from it is more important.  The underlying message is that it IS OK to fail ... but exactly how much failure you can stomach, ultimately determines your success!  So remember when you lose your next chess match, although your grade has certainly dropped, you've definitely learnt more from the defeat!

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Chess Improvement (20min exercise)

Petroff - Under-Developed Knight leads to White win

My colleague, Simon recently played against a Petroff in our local chess league. This game demonstrates the use of tactics against an underdeveloped knight and reaffirms the truth in the adage that as a chess player you should always aim to "get the pieces out as early as possible!".  The threat of back rank mate became very difficult to deal with ... In Simon's words:

"The theme of the game was the fact that Black's b8 knight could not get developed and so he did not have sufficient force to defend against the tactics based on the threat of mate on the back rank. The lack of development theme continued right through to the ending, when my 24 Rc8 and 25 Bc6 enabled me to win even more material and finish a rook up".

Simon eventually won on time ...

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Knowledge Necessary for a Gentleman

"CHESS, a sport without some knowledge of which no man dared to call himself of gentle blood in those chivalrous ages when the bold knight left the battle field for the tourney and the chesse, when kings looked over the board and queens were proud to grace the victor".

GEORGE WALKER (1803-79) A New Treatise On Chess, 1832.

 George Walker was a London stockbroker, whose hobby was chess and writing about chess.  A useful though not brilliant player,he admitted that men with the force of Paul Morphy or Alexander McDonnell could always give him the odds of pawn and move. But from1840 to 1847, when he gave up first class chess, he was inferior only to Buckle and Staunton among English players.

 He was a founder of the famous Westminster Club, the scene of the titanic struggle between McDonnell and Laboudonnais, and of the St George's Club, which survived until the beginnings of the 20th century.

 His chess writings had a European reputation.  A laudator temporis acti, he used to contend that a match between Philidor and Ponziani would surpass the play of any of his contemporaries.  Among the latter his special hero was Labourdonnais, whom he tended in his last illness and buried at his own expense at Kensal Green.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Chess Tactics and Combinations

Wow, I was surfing on the web last night and stumbled by accident on a little Gem; A chess tactics and combinations course in PDF format ready for you to download!

Dr Dave Regis of Exeter Chess Club has put together a number of games mainly starting 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 which of course is an ideal starting place for beginners ...

He says and I quote: "The exciting main lines of the Max Lange and Fried Liver Attacks feature throughout, and Damiano's Defence endures some terrible beatings.  There is an opening index by ECO code so you can run through several tactical ideas associated with one opening or even one variation".

Needless to say, I have already downloaded the PDF and I can't wait to get my teeth into it on the train tomorrow.  This, I am sure will be a valuable resource for chess teachers.

Visit the following link ...

and enjoy the course!

Monday, 23 April 2012

The Lion's Den: Pirc Defence (B09)

This is one of my favourite club games to date! My opponent plays the Pirc Defence. There is much jockeying for position on the Queenside in the early middlegame. I do think though, that Black was too premature with 4. .. Qa5+? 5.Nc3 Qb6 It doesn't seem to be a very economical set of developing moves, because the Queen gets driven back to c7 after 9.Na4 ... but my Knight is also misplaced and ends up back on c3. Comically, a similar thought process must have been going through my head because I played 17.Qa4 Nfd7 18.Qb3 Nc5 19.Qc2 ... I then managed to place the Queen back on a4 on move 22! I gained an important tempo though on move 26 capitalising on my opponent not castling early enough. I castled queenside and gained decisive control of the centre. I then managed to lure my opponents Queen into the Lion's Den!

I allow the capture of a pawn on 34. .. Qxe5 but then 35.Nd6+ Kc7 36.Qd3? Qd4 37.Qg3! wins my opponent's Queen for a Rook (killer discovered tactic). The remainder of the game is simply a matter of trading off all the pieces to reach a won ending. We didn't get that far though. My opponent resigned on move 44 due to my threats down the h1-a8 diagonal ...

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Budapest: Kieninger Trap

An old chestnut, but great to remember for Blitz ...

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Portsmouth Chess Congress, Feb

My final result in the Portsmouth Chess Congress in February:

1 Win
2 Draws
3 Losses

2 / 6 - not very good but OK for the Major ... !

Badly played endgame leads to defeat

It was Sunday afternoon and the final game.  Having played 1.e4 as White I realised of course, that Black had the opening choice.  He chose 1. ..c6 The Caro-Kann.  Again, I'm not sure of the theory but I'm very aware that the standing joke in chess is that many Caro-Kann battles lead to draws!  There is a sharpish line that I have been advised to play by an IM in the London Chess Centre and that is the 'Advanced Variation' (1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.h4 h5 5.c4).  Whilst I have had a lot of success with this variation in Blitz I wasn't confident enough to play it at this tournament.  Not sure why? -  Instead I elected to play the 'Classical Variation'.  I made one or two beginner's errors - For instance, taking the Knight on f6 wasn't entirely necessary - I could have simply played 6.Bd3 instead.  

Interestingly I thought I had the game completely wrapped up with a passed 'b' pawn that I considered unstoppable!  - Not the case :(   It turned out that I completely overlooked his 'unstoppable' capture of my pawn on d4 and his own threat of queening the 'd' pawn.  He ends up with a passed pawn and a won game.

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Blunder costs me dearly!

It was Sunday morning and I was ready for the penultimate game.  My opponent had a grade of 153 so I was in for a difficult ride!  My opponent played 1.d4.  I played 1. ..Nf6, hoping he'd play 2.c4 and I'd be able to play 2. ..e5 and get into my favourite response - The Budapest Defence.  No such luck - he played 2.Nf3 immediately snuffing out my chances of a Budapest ... :(  I think we ended up in a Tarrasch?  I'm not sure what to do exactly in a Tarrasch, so will need to investigate with Fritz when I have more time - anyway, I ended up blundering my Bishop!  (Also 11. ..Qc7 was  very dubious - probably premature)

By my usual standards the game was a disaster - I lost a pawn due to poor calculation and so as to compensate I tried to get into a tactically sharp position, but the blunder cost me dearly and I really had no hope from then on ... Perhaps I should have considered 22. .. Rg6 and the game would certainly have taken a different course!

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Go Phone Wise

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Monday, 9 April 2012

French Defence 'Exchange Variation' leads to draw

My next game in the congress was a French. I haven't investigated the 'Winawer Variation' enough yet to be confident enough to play it - but I knew that the Exchange Variation would be solid enough to hold at least a draw (although a colleague mentioned to me after the game that he had never lost with a French Exchange Variation online as Black ...) The draw suited me fine as it was late on Saturday and I needed to save my energy for Sunday!

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Dragon: Exploiting White's early pawn pushes

In my next game a Dragon, I was determined to improve on a poor club game I had played with the Dragon where I hadn't castled and ended up losing. Over the last year I have learnt some interesting techniques when playing the Dragon as Black - two of which stand out in this game - one is exploiting tactics against early pushes for White on the King side. The second is sacrificing a pawn on b5 with a view to regaining it with attacks on the b2 pawn (the threat is seen below)! This was my first win in the tournament ...

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Center Counter - I let Black's Knight in!

The next game was a Center Counter. I have to confess I was slightly nervous and got psyched out (my opponent was 12 yrs old and already graded 143)! I played too hastily and my mistake was to allow my opponent's Knight to c4 forcing me to trade a Bishop for the Knight with great prospects for Black. In hindsight I should have played b3 first of all, keeping the Knight out of c4 ... I could have then played c5 with better chances. My opponent finished me off in the end with a few sound tactics ...

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Monday, 12 March 2012

Reti opening

I played in a chess congress about a month ago. In my first game I faced a kind of Reti opening. I think that my knowledge of the Catalan opening as Black meant that I was able to bang the first few moves out confidently. I was slightly ahead on time during the game and happily accepted the draw offer ... Any constructive comments very welcome!

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Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Dragon: Not castling is my undoing

I had plenty of opportunities to castle in this Sicilian Dragon, but I procrastinated and decided it wasn't necessary. This eventually led to my downfall as will be revealed ... All my pieces got tied down to the defense of the King due to mate threats! I managed to turn the game around during the time scramble to a win - but blundered my rook in the ensuing Rook and Pawn ending to a simple tactic (not shown here because you are not obliged to record the moves in the last 5 minutes). There was only 40 seconds left on my clock and I couldn't think straight ... !

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Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Robbed with the Grob!

This latest clubgame turned out to be very instructive for many reasons ...

It proved that:

a) Sharp openings can throw a player off guard.

b) As a competent chess player you have to be ready for anything thrown at you (there is little mileage in revising your pet line in the Sicilian when your opponent plays 1.g4!?)

c) Not castling more often than not proves fatal.

d) Spending inadequate time looking at all possibilities for your opponent leads to disaster.

e) A badly positioned Queen can can allow simple tactics to be exploited against it.

I lost this game because of a simple blunder towards then end but it was possibly lost anyway .... Why didn't I play Qb7! on my last move ... ?? - went off to get a glass of water and lost my concentration - but not a valid excuse :)

PGN Viewer courtesy of

Note about the opening:

I incorrectly assumed that a d5 and c6 set up for Black was enough to defend against the Grob, but alas, this falls in beautifully with White's plans. White gangs up on d5 with c4, Nc3 and Qb3 (as well as having their White squared Bishop on g2) and there is tremendous pressure on the c6 and b7 squares. If Black manages to defend c6 and d5 then he must try and castle queenside quickly and attempt to get some pressure down the g-file before white does. White in turn will try the same and castle queenside.

A different plan for Black is to play 1..e5 against the Grob and aim to place the Knight on g6 via e7. The Knight will be looking to attack the bishop on g2 via h4 or f4. Nc6 can be played in this setup with a possible Bd7 and Bd6 and maybe Rb8.

As usual, any comments welcome.

Note: Here is an excellent reference for anti-Grob officianados.,mt_plsh_grb.html