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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.

Read more…

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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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Where did the idea come from?

December 5th, 2014 1 comment

Ankit Rajpara, a young Indian grandmaster, won surprisingly against Arkadij Naiditsch in the first round of the big open in Qatar.

Early in the opening he came up with a funny manoeuvre in order to open the h-file. Later on he sacrificed a piece in order to penetrate in the self-same h-file and win the game.

Naiditsch (2719) – Rajpara (2494)
Doha 26.11.2014

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.Nf3 e6 5.Be2 Ne7 6.0–0 Bg6 7.Nbd2 Nf5 8.c4 Be7 9.g4

9…Nh6 10.h3 Ng8 11.Ne1 h5 12.Ng2 hxg4 13.hxg4 dxc4 14.Nxc4 Be4 15.f3 Bd5 16.Nce3 c5 17.Nf4 Bc6 18.d5 exd5 19.Nfxd5 Bh4 20.Kg2 Bg3!?

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Basque – Scotland match

December 3rd, 2014 No comments

A Scottish team travelled to Basque country at the weekend for an exhibition match. Here’s my second game from the match. The opening is of some interest, as I achieved the (almost) impossible feat of improving on an Avrukh recommendation from Grandmaster Repertoire 2. True, Boris’s move gives a clear advantage, and the whole variation should obviously be avoided by Black, but it still feels like an achievement.

Andrew Greet (2442) – Inogo Argandone Riveiro (2415)
Basque – Scotland match (2), 29.11.2014

1.d4 d6 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 g6 4.g3 Bg7 5.Bg2 0–0 6.0–0 c6 7.Nc3 Qa5 8.e4 Qh5

Black has chosen a rather dubious variation.

9.Ng5!

As given by Boris. I could faintly recall his recommending this move instead of the more common 9.e5 dxe5 10.Nxe5, but did not remember any other details. Still, with a healthy space advantage and the queens off the board, the position is not difficult to handle.

9…Qxd1 10.Rxd1 Nbd7

Avrukh’s main line is 10…e5 11.d5 when White keeps a plus.

11.f4!

Seizing space in the centre. From a positional point of view this was an easy decision, but it was necessary to spend a bit of time calculating the consequences of Black’s next move.

11…c5?

This seems like a principled reaction, but it leads to far greater problems.

12.e5 cxd4 13.exf6 exf6

Read more…

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Obvious Moves

November 20th, 2014 15 comments

The following position is from a game of mine at the 4ncl last Saturday.

J. Shaw – J. Pitcher, England 2014

I have played a few decent moves to reach this position. I sacrificed a pawn (possibly temporarily) to free my wonder bishops. But my queen is under attack. So what should I play?

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A Nice Tactic

November 13th, 2014 3 comments

Working on Boris Gelfand’s book Positional Decision Making in Chess, I came across a rather fascinating combination in one of the notes to his beautiful win against Grischuk in Beijing last year. The game deals a lot with changes in pawn structure, but at this point, White has won the strategic battle, fixing the f5-pawn as a weakness. But Black has tried to mess things up with 33…Nb5!?.

White to win

This one will take a while to solve, even for a GM!

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Playing 1.d4 according to Schandorff

November 11th, 2014 7 comments

First, a test position. Find the strongest continuation for White.

The solution can be found at move 24 of the game below.

Andrew Greet – Basil Laidlaw
Glasgow 2014

On encountering the Nimzo-Indian in this recent game, I decided to try out Lars Schandorff’s recommendation of 4.e3 followed by Ne2, even though I couldn’t remember too many of the fine details.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 0–0 5.Ne2 c5 6.a3 Bxc3+ 7.Nxc3 cxd4 8.exd4 d5

I spent a few minutes here, as I couldn’t remember any exact moves from this position, but I knew there was a similar variation where Black exchanged on c3 and played …d5xc4, leading to an IQP position. Then I realized I was thinking of the following line: 4…c5 5.Ne2 cxd4 6.exd4 d5 7.a3 Bxc3+ 8.Nxc3 Now I remembered: Black usually exchanges with 8…dxc4 here, allowing a convenient 9.Bxc4 in one move. “There must be a reason why Black normally exchanges on c4 in that position”, I thought. Instead 8…0–0 would transpose to the game position. This led me to deduce that the best move must be:

9.c5

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Whitsun Grandmasters

The winner of the Whitsun Grandmasters tournament in Copenhagen was Bulgarian GM Krasimir Rusev with 6½/9 .

Two Quality Chess authors took part: Axel Smith scored 50% in the GM-group, while Silas (Esben) Lund won the IM-group with 6/9.

Quality Chess sponsored a “Game of the Round” prize and a selection of the winning games can be played through below.

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