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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…

20150307_183121

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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Scotland FM

January 14th, 2015 36 comments

Quality Chess, as you may know, is based in Glasgow, Scotland. So we like to keep an eye on the progress of Scottish chess players. In terms of players gaining higher titles, the last few years have seen slim pickings. But recently two Scots pushed their ratings over 2300, and so will become FIDE Masters. Congratulations to Clément Sreeves and Andy Burnett.

Andy’s elevation comes about a month after we sent some Quality Chess books his way, as a minor way of sponsoring his title-seeking efforts. Sadly we cannot claim any of the credit as Andy has barely had time to read any of the books. Andy’s blog is here but with all the events he has been playing, he has not had time to update it recently.

Clément and Andy join the ranks of Scottish FMs who have realistic chances of becoming IMs. In fact, FMs Graham Morrison and Alan Tate have all the IM norms required, and just need to boost their ratings to 2400 to collect their titles.

And our best candidate for next Scottish GM? IM Andrew Greet.

The following crushing win was played by Andy Burnett in the Czech Republic last year.

A. Burnett – F. Ludvigsen
Olomouc 2014

 1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qf3

Intriguing, or maybe Andy really played 4.Qd3 and the game was input incorrectly in the database. Emanuel Berg did not cover 4.Qf3 in his French repertoire book, which is fine by me – you cannot cover every crazy move even in a ‘complete’ repertoire.

4…dxe4

Rather compliant, regardless of whether the queen is on d3 or f3. 4…Nc6!? looks logical – attack the thing that’s not defended. White may well still be equal.

5 Qxe4

We are now back in a known theory line, though of course the queen normally gets here via d3.

5…Nf6 6 Qh4 c5 7 dxc5 Bxc5

A little slow. Normal is 7…Bxc3+ 8 bxc3 Qa5.

8 Nf3 Nc6 9 Bb5 Bd7

9…0–0 was simpler.

10 Bg5 Be7 11 Rd1 Qa5?!

More solid was 11…Qc7!?.

12 0–0

Actually the same idea that Andy plays next move was already playable.

12…a6

12…Rd8 was safer.

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Playing the Trompowsky – and winning

December 18th, 2014 1 comment

The dream of getting a crushing position while still in one’s opening prep is an uncommon occurrence these days, at least at GM level. Most GMs are too well prepared to be caught so readily.

England’s Jonathan Hawkins will be awarded the GM title the next time FIDE does such things, and he is usually excellently prepared, but he had a rare opening accident recently against Hikaru Nakamura in the London Chess Classic Rapidplay.

H. Nakamura – J. Hawkins
London Chess Classic Rapidplay 06.12.2014

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 Ne4 3.Bf4 d5 4.e3 c5 5.Bd3

5…Qb6

5…Nf6 was Avrukh’s recommendation in Grandmaster Repertoire 11 – Beating 1.d4 Sidelines.

6.Bxe4 Qxb2?!

The dubious sign was Richard Pert’s verdict in Playing the Trompowsky.

7.Bxd5

This “gives White huge amounts of play for the exchange,” said Richard. This game certainly supports that view.

7…Qxa1 8.Nf3 e6 9.Bb3 Nd7

A novelty, I believe, but it changes little. The game Richard quoted was 9…cxd4 as in Stefanova – Grobelsek, Croatia 2003.

10.0–0

White is way ahead on development and the black queen is in trouble.

10…cxd4?!

A better try was 10…Be7 but Black is in trouble anyway.

11.exd4 Bb4 12.Qd3 Qb2 13.c3 Be7 14.Bc1 Qa1 15.Qc2
1–0

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