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Chess Structures in Practice (Part One) by Mauricio Flores Rios

April 8th, 2015 28 comments

It’s been a while since I finished writing Chess Structures, but I like the topic so much that I keep coming back to it – I know how much it improved my understanding of chess. I follow games on Chessbomb pretty much daily and I really enjoy it when I see a nice ‘structure-concept’ being applied. Often these games reproduce ideas shown in the book almost identically, while sometimes there are small (yet very important!) differences. So I thought, why not start a blog in which I will, once in a while, post a game which builds upon the ideas I shared with the readers of my book. Since the hardest point of starting a blog is finding any readers at all, John offered his help, suggesting I post a couple of guest blogs here. The permanent location of my blog will be chess-structures.com, though it will take me about 4-5 days to set it up properly, since I am a complete beginner as far as websites go.

Now let’s get started with some chess. As you may have realized, almost every game in my book was decisive (that is, not a draw) since drawn games (especially agreed draws) are like an unfinished story, and people just don’t like to read stories without an ending… Anyway, the only exception to this rule was Onischuk – Dominguez from the World Cup of 2013. This game was a Carlsbad structure (Chapter 5) which I thought was very instructive, as it shows how Black might completely neutralize White’s queenside plans. A few days ago, as I was following the Women’s World Championship in Sochi, I found a great example which pretty much takes off where Dominguez left off, and brings home the full point. The contenders: young star Guo Qi from China was White against World finalist Natalia Pogonina. Let’s see the game:

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 d5 3.c4 e6 4.Nc3 Be7 5.cxd5 exd5 6.Bg5 c6 7.Qc2 Nbd7 8.e3 Nh5 9.Bxe7 Qxe7 10.Be2 Nhf6  

11.Nd2?!
White deviates from theory, possibly to prevent …Ne4. This is a little imprecise since quickly playing b2-b4-b5 should be the priority.
Normal was 11.0–0 to follow up with Rab1, b2-b4-b5, and if 11…Ne4 12.Nxe4 dxe4 13.Nd2 Nf6 14.Rab1!? we have transposed to Chapter 20, the French Type II (with colours reversed) where White’s prospects are good, since the break b4-b5 is easy to carry out, and Black lacks material (and moves) to create serious kingside threats.

11…Nb6 12.0–0 0–0 13.Bd3
If 13.Rab1 then 13…Bg4! 14.Bd3 Bh5 is similar to the game.

13…Bg4 14.Rab1 Bh5!
Black is aiming to trade light-squared bishops, which is a good idea.

15.b4 a6
A standard reply, to trade off a-pawns, getting rid of a potential weakness.

If 15…Bg6 then 16.Bxg6 hxg6 17.b5!? would typically create problems for Black, since both the a7- and c6-pawns can become weaknesses, however White’s play has been imprecise, and after 17…Rfc8 18.bxc6 Rxc6! Black has good counterplay (but not 18…bxc6? when White is a little better).

16.Na4
After 16.a4 Bg6 17.Bxg6 hxg6 the standard 18.b5?! is met strongly by 18…cxb5 19.axb5 a5! with an edge. Black has a passed pawn, making White’s entire enterprise a failure.

16…Nxa4 17.Qxa4 Bg6 18.Bxg6 hxg6 19.Qc2
My favourite moment in the game; Pogonina is doing well, but now how should she stop a4 and b4-b5?

19…Ne8! 20.a4 Nd6


Black is slightly better.
The position is almost identical to the game Onischuk – Dominguez (annotated in Chapter 5). White’s queenside play is no longer dangerous. The big difference between this game and the one in the book is that here Black has a half-open h-file, creating better prospects for kingside play.

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Negi novelty tested

March 11th, 2015 22 comments

The Poisoned Pawn variation of the Najdorf is one of the most theoretically dense variations in modern chess. Negi gave plenty of ideas against it in 1.e4 vs The Sicilian I. But would players remember the theory? And would the ideas work?

Yes and yes. Obviously.

Jorden van Foreest (2494) – Nico Zwirs (2358)
Amsterdam 20.02.2015

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qb6 8.Qd2 Qxb2 9.Rb1 Qa3 10.e5 dxe5 11.fxe5 Nfd7 12.Ne4 h6 13.Bh4 Qxa2 14.Rd1 Qd5 15.Qe3 Qxe5 16.Be2 Bc5 17.Bg3 Qd5 18.c4 Bxd4 19.Rxd4 Qa5+ 20.Rd2 0–0 21.Bd6 Rd8 22.g4 Nc6

All Negi. It’s on page 255 of the book if you wish to check.

23.g5!?

This move was a novelty when Negi suggested it, and 15-year-old Dutch IM Jorden van Foreest is the first to test it. In Negi’s words, this move is “the maximalist try”.

Negi’s main line is 23.0–0!? which is “the simplest way, which does not require too much analysis.”

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A sort of Scottish Blitz Championship

March 9th, 2015 8 comments

In Scotland we have an official blitz championship, held in June usually (and hopefully again this year!). It is an open Championship held in Edinburgh and is usually very well organised. Importantly, it is open to players from all nations. Last year it was won by Matthew Sadler in front of Arkadij Naiditsch. English GM Matthew Turner became Scottish Champion, as he is a member of FIDE through the Scottish Federation, although he would not be allowed to play for Scotland according to the selection rules. I would, but am a member of FIDE through the Danish Federation and thus had to console myself with third place.

As I have recently moved to a new flat, I invited the guys from the office and my teammates from Edinburgh Chess Club to a blitz tournament. Original invitee Danny could not make it so John was forced to play. True to his recent change of style, he sacrificed queens and rooks and lost equal rook endings…

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20150307_194039

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Good form or good luck

February 20th, 2015 7 comments

 

Last weekend I played two games in the 4ncl. It went well.

John Shaw (2426) – John Richardson (2330)
4ncl 14.02.2015

Assess the position and choose a move for White.

White to play

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The French Fist of Fury

February 18th, 2015 27 comments

Ian Snape (2135) – Andrew Greet (2450)
4NCL, 14.02.2015

My opponent is not so highly rated, but he used to be in the high 2200s and in our previous meeting I was on the rough side of a draw. This time, however, I had Playing the French to help me…

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Be3 a6 8.Qd2 b5 9.dxc5 Bxc5

10.Ne2

In one previous game my opponent played 10.Bxc5 Nxc5 11.0–0–0, which seems rather risky. 11…Qb6 12.Bd3 b4 13.Ne2 a5 14.Ned4 was Snape – Shepherd, Coulsdon 2013, and now after 14…Nxd4 15.Nxd4 0–0 Black’s attack is further advanced.

I also saw that Snape has played the text move on two previous occasions, but neither of his opponents chose the most accurate continuation at move 12 below.

10…Qb6 11.Bxc5 Nxc5 12.Ned4 Bd7!

12…Nxd4 13.Nxd4 Bd7 is fully playable, but the text move is more flexible, as explained in “Playing the French”. Rather than hurry to exchange knights, I’ll let my opponent do it and develop my bishop in the process.

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Petrov’s ‘The Modern Benoni’ – still working

February 10th, 2015 7 comments

 

I like to keep an eye on how our various opening repertoires are performing over the board. When seeing a new game in the database, there will be comments in the office such as “That’s in Avrukh” or “I edited this line – it’s in Petrov.” The following recent game from the Tradewise Gibraltar Masters is both Avrukh and Petrov.

Re. Schaefer (2104) – M. Muzychuk (2520)
Gibraltar Masters 27.01.2015

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6

A move order favoured by some Benoni fans.

3.g3

After 3.Nc3 Black might well prefer 3…Bb4 rather than a Benoni.

3…c5

With White committed to a kingside fianchetto, the Benoni is a more attractive option to some.

4.d5 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.Nc3 g6 7.Bg2 Bg7 8.Nf3 0–0 9.0–0 Re8

9…a6 10 a4 is an equally common move order.

10.Nd2 a6 11.a4

Back in the main line.

11…Nbd7 12.h3 Rb8 13.Nc4 Ne5 14.Na3 Nh5 15.e4 Bd7 16.a5 b5 17.axb6 Bb5 18.Naxb5 axb5 19.Nxb5 Qxb6 20.Na3 Qb3

This is all following the main line of the main line of the main line of Marian Petrov’s answer to the Fianchetto System. It is variation B332322 on page 244 of GM Repertoire 12 – The Modern Benoni for those who have the book. It is also where Petrov meets Avrukh’s GM Repertoire 2. I would bet Boris will choose something different next time.

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Testing a Negi Recommendation

February 3rd, 2015 22 comments

Andrew Greet (2454) – Adam Hunt (2437)
4NCL 10.01.2015

Adam Hunt has always been a tough opponent for me. I lost to him several times as a kid, drew some games here and there, but had never beaten him. Our most recent clashes were in 2010, when I drew one game from a winning position and lost another in which he simply outplayed me. In short, I felt like I needed to do something different to break out of the cycle of bad results. It just so happens that Adam is a lifelong Najdorf player and, at the time when the game took place, I had not long finished editing Parimarjan Negi’s superb 1.e4 vs The Sicilian I against this very opening. Despite not having played against a Najdorf in well over a decade, and never having played 6.Bg5 in a serious game in my entire life, I decided this would be a good moment to roll the dice. To make matters more interesting, the book was not yet published and I didn’t have any of it saved on my laptop, so my preparation was based entirely on my memory of editing the book. Fortunately Parimarjan did an excellent job of explaining the most important ideas, so I felt like I would have reasonable chances to bluff my way through any unfamiliar territory.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Be7 8.Qf3 Qc7 9.0–0–0 Nbd7

My pre-game prep revealed that Adam had tried a few different lines against 6.Bg5, but the Three-Piece System (to use Negi’s terminology) had been his most frequent choice.

10.f5!?

Negi mainly focuses on the main line of 10.g4, in which he also has some excellent ideas for White. However, I decided to go for the text move, which is covered as a secondary option. I chose it partly for surprise value, and also because I was familiar with the main plans and knew I wouldn’t have to recall too many complicated variations.

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Two games against members of the Scottish team

January 27th, 2015 2 comments

In 2010 I changed back to the Danish Federation after some disappointments with Chess Scotland (though certainly not the players). Federations are imperfect everywhere, but it did allow me to play the Danish Championship with a lot of friends from my early years with good conditions. And it did not stop me from becoming Scottish Champion in 2012!

Last week I played in two local team matches against members of the Scottish Team. On Tuesday I was sitting next to my good friend and colleague Andrew Greet, facing the 2013 Scottish Champion, who was a very strong player around the time I was born! Luckily I have developed more in the last 40 years and recently I have had a good score against Roddy.

Jacob Aagaard – Roddy McKay
Glasgow League, 20.01.2015

1.e4 c5 2.b3

Roddy’s theoretical knowledge ends somewhere in the 1980s, and I just wanted a game.

2…a6 3.Bb2 Nc6 4.f4?

This is an appalling move!

4.Nf3 e6 5.c4 would have made sense.

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