Archive for January, 2012

The difference between Positional and Strategic decisions

January 31st, 2012 5 comments

John just walked over and said – “yeah, I will have to read that (seeing this headline), I never really got that. Is positional short term and strategic long term?”Now he has wondered off again, not really interested! Ah, the lack of ambition for a has-been (said only to spite – I have to be bitter now he is the boss and have no time to read the blog anymore!).

Here are some (reducted) disctionary definitions to help us a bit along:

strat·e·gy – noun, plural -gies.

1. the science or art of combining and employing the means of war in planning and directing large military movements and operations.
Origin: 1680–90;  < Greek stratēgía  generalship, equivalent to stratēg ( ós ) military commander, general ( strat ( ós ) army + -ēgos  noun derivative of ágein  to lead)

po·si·tion – [puh-zish-uhn]
1. a place occupied or to be occupied; site: a fortified position.

A positional decision is in my definition: A small decision that reacts to the piece placement or pawn structure with immediate effect. A result is 15.Ne2 below, which is poor piece placement (neglecting development) and 13.e4, which weakens the f4-square

Strategy is more than basic understanding of piece and pawn placement, more than just good square and weak pawn. Strategy is positional elements in dynamic action. Say 11.g5 in the game below. Positionally this move is fine. White gets a decent pawn structure (although we could argue if he should give up the control of f5 already – but again this is a strategic issue), but he loses some flexibility and Black is able to block the h4-h5 advance. Black’s reply 11…Nh5 is anti-positional. The knight looks silly there (and is only allowed back in by 13.e4?!), but it has a strategic purpose of blocking the white play on the kingside. Basically, Black is deciding on what elements that will be most important long term.

Here are my quick notes to the game put on the blog yesterday. The summary is that white is making a lot of positional mistakes, through poor handling of the pawn structure and not developing and activating his pieces. Black is playing safe chess and making reasonable decisions all along. Once White starts to play badly Black is not in need of a strategy. He does not need to outplay his opponent with deep play, but instead just hits ground strokes from the back line, seeing his opponent running around like a headless chicken.

I mean this with no offence to the white player – I was no better once upon a time. What I can say is that the training book that will help you will soon be available – maybe the 31st of July!

A final note before moving on to the game. In modern chess we see less and less strategy and more and more basic positional chess. The reason for this is mainly the reduction of time the players have. But look at a game like Giri-Aronian, where Black’s long term manouevres killed his opponent completely. This game was deep with strategic choices. The computer will not like them all, but in some cases the machine will just be wrong. The human is still ahead when looking at long term factors. There is a position Marin showed to me a few days ago for his next book. It was quite deep and in his analysis winning for Black. I toyed with it with the machine for 5-10 minutes and found no engine that would give me an evaluation oover 0.20 in either direction, almost no matter how I moved the pieces around. A typical example of deep positional evaluation – while the way to win the game would be through deep strategic play…

<a href=”#comment-4694”>@Patrick M </a>

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 Bf5
4…Bg4 5.Nc3 e6 6.Qb3 Qb6 7.Nh4 Bh5 8.h3 is an Avrukh main line, which since has been played 100s of times.
5.Nc3 e6 6.Nh4 Bg4?!
This mixes up two ideas and leads to an inferior position.
7.Qb3 Qb6 8.h3 Bh5 9.g4
White is a tempo up on the Avrukh line and should be said to have won the opening battle, but certainly not the game!
9…Bg6 10.Nxg6 hxg6 11.g5?!
11.Bg2 is a bit more flexible and would be my choice, but the text move is the favourite of the computer.; 11.Be2 is not liked by R4, but would probably be my choice over the board. I want to play h4-h5 and when gxh5 comes, I want to play g5 and ¦xh5. This is just a plan and probably not best. I am just sharing my spur of the moment thoughts.
The knight cannot easily re-join the game here, but white also no longer has any h4-h5 plans. This is one reason I would not have advanced the g-pawn too early. It loses flexibility.
Again I don’t like this move. It was better to keep the options open with 12.Bd2
12…Qc7 13.e4?!
White is neglecting his development – and weakening the f4-square.
13…Nd7 14.exd5 exd5 15.Ne2?!
Finally White is losing it. When are the pieces supposed to get out. The position might still be equal, but Black has taken over the initiative with his next move.
15…b6! 16.Qe3+?
Who does this check help?
16…Be7 17.b4?!
Creates another aim for the black attack. White is handling his pawns awfully.
17.cxb6 axb6 18.Bd2 was more prudent. A typical positional idea here is: What is the worst placed piece? For Black it is the king, but castling is not easy. So we need to protect the bishop. This can be done with two ideas. …b5 and …Nb6 or …Nf8-e6. Our other positional question – where are the weaknesses? – would help us decide there. The knight should be at e6 to target d4 and f4 as well as prepare …c5. On the other hand the advance of the b-pawn would ruin the flexibility of the black pawns and make c6 a weakness. R4 is not much help here. After some minutes it is still rating …Qd6 and the two other options within 0.07 of each other, all with even chances. In reality …Nf8! should be the best move for positional reasons, and the position already greatly in Black’s favour.
Black is better. White’s pawn structure is falling apart.
18.b5 bxc5 19.bxc6?!
19.Bg2 was better. White should white clarify the situation in the centre? 19…cxb5?! 20.Nc3! Nb6 21.0–0 would give White some activity and a chance to fight for equality.
19…Qxc6 20.Ba3?!
20.Bg2 was better, but Black has a clear advantage already. Note that White is made a fool off after 20…0–0! because of 21.Qxe7? Rae8, trapping the queen.
Black is now a pawn up and White’s position is falling apart.
21.Bg2 cxd4!?
Objectively this is the best move, but Black would have been better off playing safe with 21…Qxe3 22.fxe3 Bxg5 23.Bxd5 Rc8 and Black should win with his extra pawn.
This enters a plea of no-contest.  22.Qxd4! would have caused Black to play accurately to keep his advantage. 22…Bxa3! 23.Bxd5 Ne5!! (23…Qa6?! 24.Qe4+ Kd8 25.Bxa8 Re8 26.Bb7 Qd6! and …Nf4 is also better for Black, but not to the same extent.) 24.Bxa8 (24.Qe4 f5 25.gxf6 Nxf6 26.Qa4+ Qd7 27.Qxd7+ Kxd7 28.Bxa8 Rxa8 and Black should win) 24…Bb2 25.Qd5 Bxa1 and Black should win, although the game is not fully over.
22…fxe6 23.Bxe7 Kxe7 24.Nxd4 Nf4 25.Bf1 e5
Black is just winning.
26.Nf3 Rab8 27.Rd1 Rhc8 28.a4 Rb2 29.Bb5 Rcc2 30.Nd2 Nc5 31.h4 Ncd3+ 32.Bxd3 Nxd3+ 33.Ke2 Nxf2 34.Kxf2 Rxd2+
Black won.


Categories: Publishing Schedule Tags:

Jacob’s training books back on track…

January 27th, 2012 35 comments

We had a editorial meeting Wednesday and I suggested, based on the likely spring publication of Playing 1.d4 vol. 1+2 and Playing 1.e4 vol. 1+2 that maybe my immediate attention should be to complete my quite advanced work on my four training books. As a starting point my personal goal will be for these books to be finished for publication on the 31st of July – which indeed is my birthday.

I have worked hard on these books for many years by now and have used them extensively with pupils and friends, some of them already solidly anchored at the top of the rating system and others on their way there. My most consistent cooperation has been with Sabino Brunello from Italy. When we started working Sabino was about to get the IM title. Yesterday he passed the 2600 mark in live rating for the first time and as I am writing he has an advantage against Nigel Short. I am hedging my bets by writing this before things might turn! Anyway, here is his great performance from yesterday:

(board 9) Sargissian,Gabriel (2683) – Brunello,Sabino (2581) [A00]
Gibraltar Chess Festival 2012, 26.01.2012


1.Nf3 d5 2.d4 Nf6 3.c4 c6 4.e3 Bf5 5.Nc3 e6 6.Nh4 Bg6 7.Nxg6 hxg6 8.Bd3 Nbd7 9.0-0 Bd6 10.h3 Qe7 11.c5 Bc7 12.f4 Ng8 13.b4 a6 14.e4 dxe4 15.Nxe4 Ndf6 16.Ng5 Qd7 17.Bc4 Ne7 18.Be3 Nf5 19.Qd3 Rd8 20.Rad1 Nd5 21.Bxd5 Qxd5 22.a4 0-0 23.Nf3 Ng3 24.Rfe1 Qf5 25.Qxf5 Nxf5 26.Kf2 Rd5 27.g4 Ne7 28.Rb1 Rd7 29.Ne5 Bxe5 30.fxe5 Nd5 31.Bd2 f5 32.exf6 Nxf6 33.Ke3 Rfd8 34.Bc3 Nd5+ 35.Kd3 Nxc3 36.Kxc3 Rxd4 37.b5 R4d5 38.Kb4 axb5 39.axb5 e5 40.Ra1 cxb5 41.Kxb5 Rc8 42.Rac1 Kf7 43.Rc2 Ke6 44.h4 Ra8 45.h5 Ra3 46.hxg6 Rd4 47.Kb6 Rb4+ 48.Kc7 Ra6 49.g5 Rc6+ 50.Kb8 Kf5 51.Rf1+ Kxg6 52.Rd1 Kxg5 53.Rd6 e4 54.Rxc6 bxc6+ 55.Kc7 e3 56.Kxc6 Kf4 57.Kd5 Kf3 58.c6 Rb8 59.c7 Rc8 60.Rc3 Kf2 61.Rc4 g5 62.Rc6 e2 63.Rf6+ Ke3 0-1

Updated Publishing Schedule

January 13th, 2012 135 comments

Hi guys,

When you reach more than 100 comments to a post about a flooded office, including e-books and hot air balloons, it is time for a new post.

We have decided not to delay Chess Tactics from Scratch to wait for the Suba book, but just put it out alone. So, the current publishing schedule looks like this:


Martin Weteschnik Chess Tactics from Scratch – UCT 2nd edition 17 February
Suba Positional Chess Sacrifices Early Spring
John Shaw The King’s Gambit Early Spring
Ftacnik (Aagaard) GM 6 – 2nd edition Spring
Boris Alterman Alterman Gambit Guide – Black Gambits 2 Spring
Boris Alterman Das Alterman Gambit-Handbuch: Gambits mit Schwarz 2 Spring
Boris Avrukh Grandmaster Repertoire X – Beating 1.d4 Sidelines Spring
Jacob Aagaard Attacking Manual 1 – German Summer
Jacob Aagaard Attacking Manual 2 – German Summer
Artur Yusupov Chess Evolution 2 Summer
Marc Esserman Mayhem in the Morra Summer
John Shaw Playing 1.e4 – A Grandmaster Guide – The Open Games Summer
John Shaw Playing 1.e4 – A Grandmaster Guide II – The Semi-Open Games Summer
Ftacnik (Aagaard) GM6 – German Summer
Jacob Aagaard Grandmaster Repertoire x1 – 1.e4  Summer
Boris Avrukh Grandmaster Repertoire – Beating Minor Openings Summer/Autumn
Artur Yusupov Chess Evolution 3 Autumn
Victor Mikhalevski Grandmaster Repertoire X – The Open Spanish Summer/Autumn
Romanovsky Soviet Middlegame Technique Autumn
Judit Polgar Judit Polgar Teaches Chess 1 Olympiad


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