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