Archive for the ‘Fun Games’ Category

Quality Chess sponsors tournament in Denmark

May 30th, 2014 No comments

We are supporting two round robin tournaments in Denmark this year. A GM- and an IM-group played in one of Copenhagen’s nicest chess clubs. Drop by the website for live games if you need distraction from your work… The tournament starts the 3rd of June.

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Is the King’s Gambit playable at the highest level?

May 30th, 2014 12 comments


In my book I wrote that “over the board it is clear that the King’s Gambit is effective at all levels up to and including 2800+.” Maybe I should revise that to “all levels up to and including 3100+.”

At the recent clash of the best engines in the world (the “TCEC Supermatch”) Stockfish triumphed over Komodo, but Komodo had the consolation of a magnificent win with the King’s Gambit in the final game of the match.

The game is below with very brief comments.
TCEC Season 6 – Superfinal, Round 64, 2014.05.19

White: “Komodo 7x” Elo 3155

Black: “Stockfish 170514” Elo 3164
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 Be7

The Cunningham – a Hebden favourite and perfectly respectable, but KG players do not lie awake at night worrying about 3…Be7.

4.Nc3 Bh4+ 5.Ke2 d6

“5…d6 is rather slow, and after 6.d4 Bg4 7.Bxf4 White’s powerful pawn centre and strong pieces outweigh his misplaced king.” So says page 352.

6.d4 Bg4 7.Bxf4

[fen size=”small”]rn1qk1nr/ppp2ppp/3p4/8/3PPBbb/2N2N2/PPP1K1PP/R2Q1B1R b kq – 0 7[/fen]

I have to agree with page 352.
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Proud father

May 12th, 2014 41 comments

My oldest daughter won the u300 (yup Scottish rating) event in Airdrie yesterday. She scored 7/8. Obviously the level is not that high, but for a six-year-old, it can still be intimidating. Actually, we had mentally prepared for her losing all her games, as she did in an event in Edinburgh in March.

This is from the last round where she with Black has blundered her queen (exchanges are rare on this level), but has received quite a lot in return. This is the moment where I came to watch:

Sarah – Cathy

[fen size=”small”]4k2r/r2nppbp/3p2p1/2pp3P/8/BP6/2PPPP2/3QK2n b k – 0 1[/fen]

Can you spot a deadly plan. Remember – your opponent will do NOTHING to stop it!

1… Rg8 2. Bxc5 Bb2 3. Bxa7 gxh5 4. Bb8 Rg1#

The first two moves looked very odd to me; then I realised what she was doing…

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Blunder and win – A Grandmaster Guide

May 9th, 2014 8 comments

The following position is from last weekend’s 4ncl. Not the vital league-deciding match, but one of my less significant efforts with Black.

Black to play

D. Bisby – J. Shaw, 4ncl 2014

Identify the candidate moves and make a quick assessment. I would suggest spending no more than a couple of minutes, 5 at the absolute most.

[fen size=”small”]5bk1/B4pp1/3p4/3Qp1p1/1Pr1P3/5RP1/2q2PK1/8 b – – 0 29[/fen]

Answer below the fold.

Read more…

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Candidates Round 4

March 17th, 2014 31 comments

Live video on YouTube

Anand – Kramnik 1/2-1/2 (1.42.52)
Karjakin – Topalov 1/2-1/2
Mamedyarov – Andreikin 1-0
Aronian – Svidler 1-0

I only have two small points to add to today’s games. The first is in Mamedyarov – Andrekin, which was essentially decided by time trouble. Obviously it is stupid to be down to seconds at move 37, but still this happens to all of us at times.

The main point is that the position after 37.Rd8+ is a classical example of elimination, the main defensive calculation technique:

[fen size=”small”]2qR2k1/2P3b1/1p2b2p/5p2/4rQ2/6P1/2N2P1P/6K1 b – – 0 37[/fen]

Andreikin chose wrong. He should have played 37…Kh7 with more or less even chances, while after 37…Kf7 38.Qd6 Qa6, White does not only win back his piece, but won the entire game after 39.Rd7+!. Had the king been on h7, this would not have been possible. Andreikin had seen this, but said he had missed that 39…Kg8 loses to 40.c8=Q (as well as everything else). It is all a bit bizarre to me, but in time trouble people can often get confused.

In Aronian’s game Svidler could early on have gone for a slightly worse opposite coloured bishops ending, as he mentions in the video. This would not have been as simple as some would think.

But more importantly, I think he made a big mistake at this point:

[fen size=”small”]2r1k3/pb2qn1p/1p4p1/1Q1PP3/8/8/2r2PPP/B2RR1K1 b – – 0 34[/fen]

Rather than suffering in an unclear position with 34…Kf8, which is without doubt easier to play for White, Svidler played 34…Qd7 to go into an opposite coloured bishops ending. He is only somewhat worse, objectively. But I have noticed that when we have positions with opposite coloured bishops, the stronger player scores much better than he otherwise would. If you look at Kramnik’s games in London 2013 and also his game with Karjakin here, his only game with White so far, he aims for positions early on in the game for positions with opposite coloured bishops. Carlsen also has a fantastic score in endgames with opposite coloured bishops.

Obviously, with this in mind, it is quite interesting that Svidler and Aronian both praised 34…Qd7. In my experience things that hang on very long calculation in defence are very unreliable. This is what Svidler was counting on. Do not miss the press conference; the player’s comments are very interesting.

So, although it looked dangerous to play on with an extra piece with queens on the board, probably this was statistically the better choice. If nothing else, it also gave some chance that he would win the game as well.

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Big chess at the Candidates 2nd round & Alexander Motylev European Champion

March 14th, 2014 2 comments

Topalov – Anand 1/2-1/2
Svidler – Andreikin 1-0
Kramnik – Karjakin 1-0
Aronian – Mamedyarov 1-0
Topalov – Anand 1/2-1/2

Anand drew more or less from preparation. The Kramnik game will be the main focus everywhere; great new idea in the opening, exchange sacrifice and so on. But to me the two moments of special attention in todays round where these:
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Beating the Exchange French

February 12th, 2014 3 comments

Bamber – Greet, Glasgow 2014

Here is a game from a local league match against one of Scotland’s top female players, who also happens to be a world-class triathlete. Recently Quality Chess has published some excellent titles on the French Defence. I was heavily involved in editing both of them, and could not resist giving it a try. The following game shows how Black can play for a win in the Exchange Variation.

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.Bf4

Rather unusual. Ntirlis and Aagaard point out that 5.Bd3 c5! gives Black a pleasant version of an IQP structure if White takes.

I though about 5…c5 here too, but decided the bishop exchange suited me well.

6.Bxd6 Qxd6 7.c3
White already has to waste time guarding against the check on b4.

7…0–0 8.Be2
8.Bd3 Re8+ would be inconvenient.

8…Nc6 9.0–0 Bd7
I wasn’t quite sure where to put this piece. Other squares are also fine.

10.Na3 Rae8
The position is equal, but there is plenty of potential to outplay the opponent.

11.Nb5 achieves nothing as 11…Qe7 hits the bishop.

11…a6 12.Nc2 Ne4
I was perhaps a bit too eager to go on the offensive around this point. In the game I was not able to make the kingside attack work in quite the way I wanted.

If I had this position again I would be tempted to try 12…g6!? intending to creep forwards on the kingside. This works well after the dark-squared bishops have been exchanged.

I had rather lazily assumed that the knight would be tactically vulnerable here, but then realized my d5-pawn was more of a concern than the white knight.
[fen size=”small”]4rrk1/1ppb1ppp/p1nq4/3p4/3Pn3/2P1NN2/PP2BPPP/R2QR1K1 b – – 0 13[/fen]
Anticipating Qb3.

14.Bd3 g6!
I was quite pleased with this and the next move.

15.c4 Nf6!
Admitting that the earlier knight lunge to e4 was premature. Fortunately for me, the black position is solid enough to withstand this loss of time. The position is still objectively equal, but I have achieved my goal of making things slightly more unbalanced.

16.c5 Qd8
I won’t annotate the remaining moves in much detail. The main point I wanted to highlight is that one need not fear the drawish tendencies of the Exchange French. The position may be symmetrical, but with a full board of pieces there will always be ways to make the game interesting.

17.Qa4 Ne7
White was threatening Bxa6.

18.b4 Nh5
Commencing kingside play. The final phase of the game contains a few inaccuracies on both sides, as we were approaching the time control (it was just one hour each to reach move 30).

19.Ne5?! f6 20.Nf3 Nf4 21.Bc2 h5! 22.Qb3 Bg4
[fen size=”small”]3qrrk1/1pp1n3/p4pp1/2Pp3p/1P1P1nb1/1Q2NN2/P1B2PPP/R3R1K1 w – – 0 23[/fen]
Now I get a nice clamp on the kingside. Part of my plan was to establish pawns on light squares to play against the enemy bishop.

23…hxg4 24.Nh4 f5 25.Qg3
The machine points out that 25.Qe3 g5 26.Qd2 was correct, but this is not at all obvious for a human player.


26.Qc3 would have helped by covering the e1-square (see the next note for why this matters) but White’s position is still unpleasant.

26…g5 27.h3
27.Rxe7 Qxe7 28.Ng6 Qe1+

27…gxh4 28.hxg4 Ng7 29.g5 Ng6 30.Rxe8
White lost on time while playing this move, but she could have resigned anyway.


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Databases, Engines and Over-the-Horizon Killer Sacs

February 7th, 2014 28 comments

The following game is just fun – any instructional value is accidental.

Most modern players have great faith in their analytical engine, but it’s worth recalling that even 3400–rated monsters are not all-seeing. For sharp opening lines, a good database is just as essential as a strong engine. While browsing through a recent TWIC I spotted a perfect piece of computer-aided prep all the way to the end of the game. My guess is that White found the winning idea in his database rather than had it suggested by an engine.

Laurent – Gulbas, Belgium 2014

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.f4 Bg7 5.Nf3 0–0 6.e5!? Nfd7

As played by Gulbas before. 6…dxe5 is less wild, but may also offer White chances of an edge after 7.fxe5.

7.h4 c5 8.h5 cxd4 9.Qxd4 dxe5 10.Qf2 e4 led to a win for Black in Philipowski – Gulbas, Belgium 2010.

7…Nb6 is much safer, but leaves White’s centre looking solid. A recent game continued: 8.Bb3 Nc6 9.0–0 Bg4 10.Be3 Na5 11.Qe2 Qd7 12.h3 Bxf3 13.Rxf3 Nxb3 14.axb3² Pruijssers – Cuijpers, Netherlands 2014.

8.e6 Nb6
As played 41 times on my database, but probably close to lost. 8…fxe6 is ugly and admits Black is worse, but at least he is probably not getting mated.

9.exf7+ Kh8
This is where a good database is more valuable than a strong engine. The engine will keep suggesting that White move the attacked bishop. Perhaps the horizon will stretch far enough if you leave the engine fixed here overnight, but that is impractical for most people to do with every position in their repertoire.
[fen size=”small”]rnbq1r1k/pp2pPbp/1n1p2p1/2p5/2BP1P2/2N2N2/PPP3PP/R1BQK2R w KQ – 0 10[/fen]

Gloriously crude. White sees a king on h8 and a rook on h1, and that’s about all. The usual move is 10.Be2 but it is painfully feeble in comparison.

10…Bg4 does not stop the advance: 11.h5!

11.h5 Bf5 12.hxg6
This is a wonder-novelty. Well it was when Ivanisevic played it in 2012. 12.g4 and 12.Ng5 were the old messy moves.

The engine can quickly take it from here: after just a few seconds its first choices over the next few moves lead to a win.

13.f5! Bxf5 14.Ng5 Qd7
14…Qc8 is perhaps a more challenging defence, but still losing. 15.Qh5 h6 16.Nd5!+- If you see the Ivanisevic game below, perhaps this line is what White was remembering from his prep. Naturally I at first had no idea why going to c8 is tougher than d7. The point is that if White plays as in the game, the queen can slide along to g8: 16.d5 Ne5 17.Ne6 Rxf7 18.Bxh6 Bxh6 19.Qxh6+ Bh7 20.Ne4 Qg8 Black is just hanging on.

15.Qh5 h6

[fen size=”small”]rn3r1k/pp1qpPb1/3p3p/2p2bNQ/2nP4/2N5/PPP3P1/R1B1K2R w KQ – 0 16[/fen]

The engine gives this at once as winning.
The original game was less convincing but all good fun: 16.Nd5 e5 (16…cxd4!?) 17.g4 (17.Nf6!) 17…Bxc2 18.0–0 Bg6 19.Qxg6 Qxg4+ 20.Kh2 hxg5 21.Bxg5 Nd7 22.Rg1 Qf3 23.Bf6 Qf2+ 24.Rg2 1–0 Ivanisevic – Dzhumaev, Al-Ain 2012. So how could Dzhumaev have avoided this? Probably he couldn’t. Just accept that this sort of thing will happen occasionally if you play sharp lines.

16…Ne5 17.Ne6 Rxf7 18.Bxh6 Bxh6 19.Qxh6+ Bh7 20.Ne4 Qa4 21.N4g5 Kg8 22.Nxf7 Qe4+ 23.Kf1
Black resigned as 23…Qf5+ 24.Kg1 Qxf7 25.Rf1 is mating.

I would not be surprised if White had the whole game on his computer before the game started. How to avoid this happening to you? If you have a sharp forcing position in your repertoire (like 6…Nfd7) then you need to keep up to date with the latest games. Even the best engine won’t save you from an over-the-horizon killer sac.

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