Home > Authors in Action > Congratulations Hans Tikkanen!

Congratulations Hans Tikkanen!

Quality Chess would like to congratulate, GM Hans Tikkanen, co-author of the soon-to-be published The Woodpecker Method

…on becoming Swedish Champion for the fifth time. 7/9 and a 2714 performance is mighty impressive! We’d love to tell you his victory was the result of pre-tournament Woodpecker training but, as far as we know, this was not part of his preparations. Still, the process of collecting and working through more than a thousand tactical puzzles for the book was evidently not bad for his chess. Take the following example from round 5, which would have made a perfect example in the book.

Jonny Hector – Hans Tikkanen
Ronneby 2018

Black has built up a dominating position with skilful middlegame play. His advantage should be enough to win by slow means, but there is one clear way to break through.

32…Bxg3!
32…Nxg3+? 33.fxg3 Bxg3 would backfire after 34.Ng5+! fxg5 35.Rxg3 when White should win.

33.Ng5+!
The best chance. Instead 33.fxg3 Nxg3+ 34.Kf2 R8h2+! (34…Ne4+ 35.Ke3 Qg3 also does the job) 35.Nxh2 Rxh2+ 36.Kf3 Nf5 leads to a quick mate.

33…fxg5 34.fxg3
Black’s small combination has netted a pawn and opened up the white king. It does not take long for Black to make further inroads.

34…Qh7 35.Qf3 g4 36.Qf2 Ke8 37.Re2 Bd7 38.Ke1 Nd6 39.Rde3

39…Ne4
The machine points out that 39…Qb1! wins more quickly, as after 40.Rxe6+ Kd8! the checks run out. The game continuation does not give White any hope though.

40.Qg2 Qe7 41.Ba3 Qf6 42.Bb2 Qf5 43.Bc1 R8h7 44.Qf1 Rf7 45.Qg2
Black can win any way he wants, but he finds a cute finish.

45…Rh2
White resigned, since 46.Qxh2 Qf1 is mate.

GMs Hillarp Persson and top-seeded Grandelius shared second place with 6/9, followed by Axel Smith in sole fourth on 4½. All in all, an excellent result for our authors, who took three of the top four spots. (And we are sure that if Emanuel Berg had been playing, he would have been in the mix as well!)

 

 

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  1. James2
    July 12th, 2018 at 17:42 | #1

    Hi Andrew,

    I just wanted to ask you, how/what did you use to generate those nice little colour diagrams please?

    Thank you.

    James

  2. hasan
    July 12th, 2018 at 21:10 | #2

    Nice wins with the Caro kan in this tournament may be a book on the Caro kan hans

  3. The Doctor
    July 13th, 2018 at 07:55 | #3

    @hasan
    Don’t you think we’ve had enough books on the Caro-Kann recently!

    Bologan’s Caro Kann (New in Chess)
    Modernised Caro-Kann (Thinkers Publishing)
    Complete repertoire with c6 & d5 (Chess Stars)
    Opening repertoire …c6 (Everyman Chess)
    Playing the Caro-Kann (Everyman Chess)

    5 books in the Caro done all done after the last book on an opening such as the Najdorf!!!

    Honestly Chess publishing baffles me!!

  4. The Doctor
    July 13th, 2018 at 08:02 | #4

    Publishing is funny

    I’m guessing once the first new Najdorf book comes out they’ll be about 4 others too!
    You wait for years for a book in an opening then 3 or 4 come along at once.

    Seemed that happened with the French a few years back when within about 18 months about 5/6 French books came out, seems it’s the Caro-Kann turn

  5. Andrew Greet
    July 13th, 2018 at 08:50 | #5

    @James2

    I can take no credit for the diagrams. What happens is that one of us (me, Jacob or whoever) writes the main blog article and then Colin does the diagram formatting and uploads it. Colin gave me a link to the diagram generator: http://webchess.freehostia.com/diag/index.php

  6. James2
    July 13th, 2018 at 09:59 | #6

    @Andrew Greet
    Good morning Andrew,

    Great stuff, thank you!

    James

  7. Jacob Aagaard
    July 13th, 2018 at 11:33 | #7

    @The Doctor
    Yes, it happened with 1.e4 e5 as well. All the publishers realise that there is something missing in the market. Even with the Morra Gambit, the two books came close together. But in that case it was two works of passion. Generally I like works of passion a lot. I would rather have an author with an idea, than having an idea and look for an author…

  8. The Doctor
    July 13th, 2018 at 14:22 | #8

    @Jacob Aagaard
    I’d have thought they’d be players queuing up to write a book on the Najdorf or Scheveningen!
    Maybe I’m wrong?

  9. July 14th, 2018 at 12:13 | #9

    @The Doctor
    I have a friend who considers himself a Najdorf specialist and he’s had something like one in a couple of decades. In my experience club level hardly anyone plays mainline Sicilians with white, doubly so if they know their opponent likes it. There’s too high a baseline of knowledge required and sidelines work nearly as well. So I imagine specific variations of the Sicilian are an even harder sell. Fashions change and perhaps it’s different in your part of the world, maybe the new Quality Chess repertoire book might make a difference, but I’m pretty sure that’s where we are right now.

  10. The Doctor
    July 14th, 2018 at 13:14 | #10

    @Mark Crowther
    Mark….I play in the same league as you 😉.

  11. July 14th, 2018 at 13:25 | #11

    @The Doctor
    Well you’ll probably know who I’m talking about!

    If I’m going to spend time preparing openings which I’m doing this summer I want to know it’s going to actually come up over the board.

    I few years back I prepared the Bf4 Queen’s Gambit and I didn’t get it once as white in the entire season.

    Learning the Najdorf or the Scheveningen is a huge undertaking, for getting it maybe twice a season? The Najdorf has such a huge body of theory now that maybe the books approach should be to teach you to play the Najdorf and expect you to use a database to fill in the details. I just don’t see anyone reading a book of just line after line of stuff. At the top level it seems to me largely a memory test.

  12. The Doctor
    July 14th, 2018 at 13:33 | #12

    @Mark Crowther
    To be fair you could say the same for any opening……you study certain lines of the French only to get the Exchange every other game, you may study the Breyer or Marshall Ruy Lopez only to get the d3 Two Knights etc…. bottom line is every respectable opening has its sidelines and yes in the Bradford/Huddersfield/Leeds leagues etc people tend not to play critical lines. Playing a black against 1 e4 you need to know a bit of theory whether you st 1…e5, 1…c5 or 1…e6 etc.

    I’m guessing that’s why you play the London System, although the theory is building on this now!

  13. Christian
    July 14th, 2018 at 13:49 | #13

    Most amateurs concentrate too much on openings.
    I think other material is much better suited for real improvement. Luckily, quality chess offers many great ones! The Jussupow books, The chess structure book by Mr. Flores, the first book by Mr. Smith, the game collection books, the Gelfand books, the Shankland book, the Attacking Manual books (really great, that this is even published in German!) and many others are fantastic resources. The less I concentrate on opening and more on middle games and endgames, the better my personal results become.
    On club level, you don’t get the main variations discussed indepth in most opeing books anyway. So why wasting time by learning them when you can focus more on things that you can use regulary ?
    The Woodpecker method seems to be a book that will definitely help to improve.
    Already preordered it!

    However, I do own an opening book that I think is absolutely fantastic (especially for club players). Playing d4d5 by Mr. Ntirlis. It’s the best mix of history, explaining plans and structures, variations and model games I’ve ever seen. And one of the very rare opening books I don’t fall asleep while reading it! Well done Mr. Ntirlis.

  14. Vittal
    July 15th, 2018 at 17:56 | #14

    Christian :
    Most amateurs concentrate too much on openings.
    I think other material is much better suited for real improvement. Luckily, quality chess offers many great ones! The Jussupow books, The chess structure book by Mr. Flores, the first book by Mr. Smith, the game collection books, the Gelfand books, the Shankland book, the Attacking Manual books (really great, that this is even published in German!) and many others are fantastic resources. The less I concentrate on opening and more on middle games and endgames, the better my personal results become.
    On club level, you don’t get the main variations discussed indepth in most opeing books anyway. So why wasting time by learning them when you can focus more on things that you can use regulary ?
    The Woodpecker method seems to be a book that will definitely help to improve.
    Already preordered it!
    However, I do own an opening book that I think is absolutely fantastic (especially for club players). Playing d4d5 by Mr. Ntirlis. It’s the best mix of history, explaining plans and structures, variations and model games I’ve ever seen. And one of the very rare opening books I don’t fall asleep while reading it! Well done Mr. Ntirlis.

    My curiosity….
    Which other opening books did you like.

  15. Steve W
    July 16th, 2018 at 11:29 | #15

    @The Doctor
    That is true. Everyone has pet lines in the Huddersfield League, which rarely follows mainline theory (I occasionally manage it with the French). Leeds and Calderdale tend to be more mainline in my experience.

  16. The Doctor
    July 16th, 2018 at 16:42 | #16

    @Steve W

    My point was you need to learn some theory no matter what. So Marks argument that you should study, say the Najdorf is pointless because you’ll never get it I kinda see his point, but the same applies for say the Marshall Gambit in the Ruy Lopez, the Winawer Poisoned Pawn, the Mar Del Plat KID etc! Where do you draw the line! I don’t know what Mark play against 1 e4 but I’m sure whatever he plays he’ll probably at done point have to study lines he hardly ever gets! Also studying lines such as the Najdorf is fun! Also I don’t really rate Anti Sicilians!

  17. James2
    July 16th, 2018 at 17:58 | #17

    Hi guys,

    I know Nikos works on many of your books, but I wanted to ask you if he was working on his next book, and will it be an opening book? I think all of his others have been very instructive and also entertainng.

    Thank you.

    James

  18. Steve W
    July 16th, 2018 at 19:53 | #18

    @The Doctor
    I agree you need to know some theory. I personally prefer to look at books with the ideas in. However, theory knowledge can give you the advantage out of the opening, when your opponent goes wandering.

  19. LaurentF
    July 17th, 2018 at 15:09 | #19

    CHAMPION DU MONDE !!!!

  20. Bebbe
    July 18th, 2018 at 05:55 | #20

    @The Doctor

    If you are afraid of boring lines like the french exchange you could play Tigers Modern.
    There are hardly any early simplifying varitions in Tigers Modern.

  21. Bebbe
    July 18th, 2018 at 06:03 | #21

    @Steve W

    The stronger you are the more theory you must learn. Pain and suffering. May the force be with you. It obviously also depend on your opening repertoire. A sound reliable opening where relying mostly on ideas is sufficient up to a high level is the stonewall dutch.

  22. July 18th, 2018 at 13:53 | #22

    I play the London and the other related d-pawn systems because, as it turns out, the middlegames suits my style of play and it can’t be avoided, although you do get a large variety of lines played.

    I have played the French for over 30 years, you get a full array of the variations. You’re never that displeased to see the Exchange if you’ve done a bit of work. With the Najdorf it requires a huge amount of memory work and specific knowledge to play well, at least as I understand, and I just don’t see the work being worth it. In addition I think it’s a high skill opening for black, I wouldn’t be able to play the resulting positions once out of book they’re too difficult and the prospect of remembering anything but a fraction of the lines for me would be zero. All this and white has about half a dozen sidelines that means that the main line Sicilian isn’t the most common variation must all count against studying the Najdorf.

    There is an appropriate level of opening preparation at each level of play. My opening preparation is much better than it used to be and is approaching the right amount now, before it was just too little. What you want are openings that allows you to play chess positions you understand and to set your opponent real chess problems. A broad range of solutions so you have something against everything is the standard to aim at. Then work at improving it as you study your own games.

    In my opinion GM Repertoire books are severe overkill for anyone…

  23. July 18th, 2018 at 14:04 | #23

    Went on a bit too long. Woodpecker Method is now out on Forward Chess. Hopefully will be part of my summer routine.

  24. The Doctor
    July 18th, 2018 at 17:13 | #24

    @Mark Crowther
    You make some excellent points, but for a man who learned chess from the Karpov-Kasparov WCh games I kinda fell for the Scheveningen…..I agree I only get it maybe 1 in 3 or 4 games but I really enjoy the positions and am willing to put in the work required to play it well. Plus my record v Anti-Sicilians is very good. So I see it as a moral victory when White avoids 3 d4 in the Sicilian and psychologically, if nothing else feel pretty comfortable.

    That’s the beauty of the game different people enjoy playing different types of position.

  25. Pinpon
    July 18th, 2018 at 17:20 | #25

    @Mark Crowther
    Yes but download and unzipping fails at Fwd Chess .
    Maybe not a surprise : the book was awaited on 07/25 .
    More on the subject ? ( FC or QC )

  26. Pinpon
    July 18th, 2018 at 17:34 | #26

    Problem is fixed at FC .
    Great !

  27. Ray
    July 19th, 2018 at 07:09 | #27

    @ Bebbe:

    I agree that most lines of the Tiger’s Modern are exciting, but imo the Averbakh is rather boring, an early queen exchange.

  28. Bebbe
    July 19th, 2018 at 07:24 | #28

    @Ray

    Yes I agree that the early Queen exchange after 4.-e5 5.dxe5, dxe5 6.Qxd8+ is rather dry. It is more exciting to play the KID if white plays c4.

  29. Ray
    July 19th, 2018 at 07:47 | #29

    Yes, but that’s a huge load of theory, and there too white can make it boring if he wants, by playing the exchange variation…

  30. Bebbe
    July 19th, 2018 at 08:37 | #30

    @Ray

    I agree. Probably the most practical is to play 4.-e5 anyway to cut down the theory. Besides many e4-players may not want to play c4.

    Anyway I think the probability to get the early queen exchange variation is lower than the french exchange if white starts with 1.e4. What should black play after 5.d5? I do not trust 5.-f5 fully. I suggest 5.-a5 which has been played by Gawain Jones.

  31. Ray
    July 19th, 2018 at 09:30 | #31

    I agree the probability is lower if white starts with 1.e4. On the other hand, most Modern Defence players will play 1…g6 against anything, so also against 1.d4. Otherwise they will have to learn two systems against 1.d4: the Averbakh and another opening. Besides, in my own experience I almost never get the Exchange French in a serious game. Only on the internet almost everyone plays the Exchange variation. In general, people play quite different openings on the internet than in normal over-the-board games. On the internet my opponents seem much whimpier, exchanging everything they can. Very results-oriented. Maybe it has to do with the very direct feedback on their rating.

  32. Bebbe
    July 19th, 2018 at 09:47 | #32

    @Ray

    Yes I agree on this, modern tiger and Averbakh needs to be learned. I still think there is more theory to learn in the french if you go for the mainlines and not stuff like the rubinstein or fort knox.

    It is a bit strange that the internet players are whimpier than otb-players. The elo is more important than the internet rating. On the internet there is room for experiments. OTB it is very important to play what you know and likes best.

  33. Ray
    July 19th, 2018 at 09:53 | #33

    @ Bebbe

    For sure the French is much more theoretical (especially the Winawer), but I was reacting to your point on avoiding boring lines such as the Exchange French.

  34. Bebbe
    July 19th, 2018 at 12:14 | #34

    @Mark Crowther

    “There is an appropriate level of opening preparation at each level of play.”

    This makes for an interesting topic. What then is the appropriate level of opening preparation at each level? Here is my suggested genaralizations to get the discussion going:

    2600-2900: Deep and wide opening preparation supported by deep engine analysis.

    2300-2600: Deep or wide opening preparation. As black it is possible to specialize in one opening each against 1.e4, 1.d4, 1.c4 and 1.Nf3 if the lines are not too forced.

    2000-2300: Specializing is preferable. As black it is possible to specialize in one opening each against 1.e4, 1.d4, 1.c4 and 1.Nf3 even if the lines are forced.

    1500-2000: It is enough to know some theory. Vary the openings to learn many different standard middlegame positions.
    1000-1500: Hardly any theorethical knowledge is necessary. Develop the pieces and castle quickly. Try to understand the ideas only.

  35. July 19th, 2018 at 12:47 | #35

    I think below around 2400 deep opening preparation is not required at all. There used to be a division between the opening and the middle game which has largely disappeared. You should learn your openings to the end of that phase and the plans and generally how to play the position beyond that. But lines now stretch deep into the actual middle game and it’s all a bit too much and even unnecessary for good results. Utilising a pricise move order in the first few moves to get a better middle game than you would by your own general understanding is a good use of memorisation however.

    All of this is more or less recommended in every instructional book on chess.

  36. Bebbe
    July 19th, 2018 at 13:15 | #36

    @Mark Crowther

    Thanks for your input Mark. I agree that the division between the opening and the middlegame has disappeared. In my youth the opening was the 10 first moves, then came the middlegame. Now the opening is sometimes 20 moves.

    I am around 2400 and at your threshold. Is deep opening preparation worth the effort for me? I want to improve my openings and my general chess understanding and reach 2500 some day. In some of the most critical variations my analysis can stretch to move 20. Sometimes I think 8-10 move preparation is enough. It really depends on the position.

  37. July 19th, 2018 at 13:54 | #37

    Well only you can decide that. I suppose any deep analysis you get to play at the board is worth it, and any you don’t isn’t.

    In Pump up your Rating it asks you to do an inventory of your mistakes. I guess you’d have to look and see where you’re struggling and against what sort of opponent or level of opponent you’re struggling with. But truly you or a coach would have to decide things you need to improve.

    Perhaps some of the individual lines you play aren’t working for you. It could be anything. I can tell you one thing I learned years ago. Being really physically fit adds a lot of grading points.

  38. Bebbe
    July 19th, 2018 at 14:18 | #38

    @Mark Crowther

    My biggest issue is really time, both to play and to train.
    Training mostly consists of playing on chess.com and preparing with databases and books.
    I mostly play teammatches and my latest tournaments were 2006, 2011, 2012 and 2017 (one each year). Playing on chess.com and reading books has actually helped to preserve plying strength, but it is not enough to improve. Training needs to be time efficient.
    When my kids will be older I will play more which should help.

    I can do what Axel suggest and see if I can draw any conclusion.
    Never had a coach so maybe I will need one in the future to be able to improve.

    I used to be rather physically fit but I am not anymore.
    When playing many open weekend tournaments I think being fit was very important.
    This is actually something that can be improved rather easily.

  39. Bulkington
    July 19th, 2018 at 15:25 | #39

    I guess even strong GMs can be successful with a rather narrow repertoire. GM Meier comes to mind, plays the French Rubinstein again and again. Yesterday he made a draw in Dortmund against a probably well prepared Kramnik trying to squeeze for hours. GM Tiviakov playing the Scandinavian against everybody might be another example.

  40. James2
    July 19th, 2018 at 18:42 | #40

    Gleizerov and Ulibin have a (very) similar repertoire, except Ulinin plays 1 e4 sometimes. These are more examples like Tiviakov. Also Drazen Sermek comes to mind.

    Gleizerov plays 1 d4 all the time and as black ..e6 with a view to the French or the Stonewall Dutch. He has had success for years with that approach.

    James

  41. Bebbe
    July 19th, 2018 at 21:28 | #41

    I did a list with the games that I lost since 2008 as it was suggested in pump up your rating.

    6 due to tactical mistakes
    2 due to positional mistakes
    2 due to bad opening play
    1 due to bad endgame play
    1 due to sacrificing too much material

    What to make of this? Should I do more tactical training?
    I also noticed that I lost many games with the KID. So dropping the KID is also what I should do.

  42. Bebbe
  43. Ray
    July 20th, 2018 at 08:09 | #43

    @ Bebbe

    I am wondering how many games you have played since 2008, since 12 losses in 10 years seems like a very low number. I wonder if you can draw conclusions from such a low number. And what about your wins? Doe you mostly win though tactics or eg in endgames? If you don’t play a lot then maybe the best way to improve would simply be to play more.

  44. July 20th, 2018 at 08:38 | #44

    @ Bebbe It would be hard for me to imagine you making a substantial improvement from the great standard you seem to have achieved without playing more games and better opponents. That seems a tough proposition for you right now.

  45. Bebbe
    July 20th, 2018 at 08:42 | #45

    @Ray

    I have played 47 classical games since 2008 which is of course very little.
    Did not play classical games at all during 2013 and 2014.
    Family and job has been my priorities.

    When playing a lot I could play around 80 classical games per year.
    I agree that it is hard to make statistical conclusions from such a low number.

    Anyway I will make a similar list of my wins. You are right that playing more is the best way to improve. Will play more during 2019.

  46. Bebbe
    July 20th, 2018 at 08:50 | #46

    @Bebbe

    Yes I know, I am trying to accomplish something that is very difficult.
    Actually when I play I face rather strong opposition.
    Playing weak opponents is a waste of time for improvement.

    The low number of games and time constraints are the issues.
    So I will play more.

  47. Ray
    July 20th, 2018 at 09:24 | #47

    @ Bebbe

    I agree with Mark. I think you can forget about improvement when playing such a low number of games. Rather than putting any more time in training it seems a better use of your time to put it all in playing serious games. By the way, I don’t see that playing against weaker opponents should necessarily be a waste of time. Of course the rating difference shouldn;t be too big, but within a range of +/- 100 or 150 points above and below your own rating anything can happen and there is still a lot to be learnt imo.

  48. Bebbe
    July 20th, 2018 at 09:46 | #48

    @Ray

    Yes you and Mark are right. It is however much easier to have the time to train than to play serious games.

    I think you missunderstood me. I do not consider players 150 points below me as weak players.
    Maybe +/- 400 points is ok to improve and is not a waste of time.

  49. July 20th, 2018 at 11:32 | #49

    @ Bebbe Good luck anyhow. What you’ve done already is impressive. Actually it did occur to me that there was a local player to me who became incredibly strong just by studying, and he played very little achieving it (although I understand there was quite a bit of coaching) so it is possible. It might be worth finding a strong coach for a very few sessions who can assess precisely where your game is right now.

  50. The Doctor
    July 20th, 2018 at 11:47 | #50

    @Mark Crowther
    Are you talking about Mr Webb 😉

  51. July 20th, 2018 at 11:52 | #51

    I’m up to puzzle 246 from the Woodpecker Method. I’m solving the puzzles direct from the diagrams produced by Forward Chesss and then mostly checking the solution quickly, unless I’m completely sure I’m right. The easier puzzles I managed to finish in just over a day. However I’m starting to make mistakes on the harder puzzles, either not finding the move at all, or more commonly missing an important detail or two from the solution. In fact this is perhaps the part of my game I’m hoping to strengthen so a good routine here is going to be important. In general I like the puzzles.

    I have a small note taking app on my phone. I note the time and the puzzle number and then note the same when I finish. I’ve had a couple of sessions of 70 minutes, which were sufficient for 50 easy puzzles and a lot of shorter 15-20 minute ones. Maybe this won’t work for the harder puzzles.

  52. Bebbe
    July 20th, 2018 at 13:43 | #52

    @Mark Crowther

    Thanks for your advice, encouragement and nice words. I really appreciate it.

  53. Christian
    July 20th, 2018 at 19:50 | #53

    Is it possible to offer the puzzles in PNG-format for people who purchased the book? Would make repetitions of the puzzles much more comfortable.

  54. Christian
    July 20th, 2018 at 19:51 | #54

    PGN I mean of course.

  55. RYV
    July 23rd, 2018 at 00:36 | #55

    Bebbe :
    I did a list with the games that I lost since 2008 as it was suggested in pump up your rating.

    blunder a piece/pawn and loose the game is a common problem for everybody..anyway blunder a piece happened mostly in difficult position, so it is just a way to speed up things.
    I am more concerned about “winning positions”and “better position” where i regulary do not convert to a full point. Is it just about technique ?

  56. Bebbe
    July 23rd, 2018 at 18:15 | #56

    @RYV

    If you blunder pieces regularly you should really train tactics. What about time management?
    Were you in timepressure?

    Converting a won position or a better position is not only about technique.
    The right attitude is important. Be patient and train you killer instinct.

    Psychology is a big factor also l think.

  57. Pinpon
    July 23rd, 2018 at 19:29 | #57

    @RYV
    Nice introduction to Jacob’ s next book about “ technique “ !

  58. Vittal
    July 25th, 2018 at 05:47 | #58

    Is the paperback available

  59. John Shaw
    July 25th, 2018 at 09:17 | #59

    Vittal :
    Is the paperback available

    No, “The Woodpecker Method” is hardcover only for now in physical books, though of course there is also the Forward Chess ebook version.

  60. Vittal
    July 25th, 2018 at 09:44 | #60

    From whom can I purchase the hardcover in India.

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