Archive for November, 2019

A Recurring Mistake by committed by Super-GMs

November 29th, 2019 5 comments

Our friend Renier returns with annotations of a recent game. You can see the game here or you can download it with this link.

David Navara – Robert Ris

European Club Cup 14.11.2019

Renier Castellanos

Trust, but verify A common tradition in chess is to copy our colleagues whenever they play a new idea in certain opening. In the recent FIDE Grand Swiss we witnessed a funny situation when Alexei Shirov, playing next to Sergey Karjakin decided to follow Karjakin’s novelty in a well-known position of the Sicilian Four Knights. A peculiar situation but not new to me. Few years back I was playing in the Ortisei (Italy) Open when a something similar happened. Nisipeanu played a new (strong idea) in a popular variation and the opponent of a friend of mine started following the Grandmaster’s moves. They were playing very far from the top board but it turns out that there were large screens with the top games in the playing hall. She got up and asked the arbiter to do something about it but it was too late. Something to think about. Back to our main game, the real story behind this comedy is that Karjakin had totally forgotten his game against Yu Yangyi from played in Baku in 2015 and played the wrong move order leading to a lost position. Karjakin managed to get away and win any anyway but Shirov was held to a draw, both were lucky as they could have been severely punished. One would think that this tragicomic incident ends here but it gets better. In the recently finished European Club Ch. David Navara also played Karjakin’s novelty, was he unaware? One thing is certain, his opponent Robert Ris a strong IM and respected theoretician was well informed and ready to serve justice in this line.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Nxc6 6.Ndb5 is also a move here and black has now the option of playing 6…d6 inviting the Sveshnikov or the more fashionable line: 6…Bc5!? 7.Bf4 0–0 8.Bc7 Qe7 9.Bd6 Bxd6 10.Qxd6 Qd8 surprisingly this is back in tournament practice with not bad results for black at all.

6…bxc6 7.e5 Nd5 8.Ne4 Qc7 9.f4 Qb6 10.c4 Bb4+ 11.Ke2 f5 12.exf6 Nxf6 13.Be3 Qd8 14.Nd6+ Bxd6 15.Qxd6 Bb7 So far we have been following a rather forced line of the Four Knights

16.g4 16.Rd1 Is right and it’s what John Shaw recommends in the book Playing 1.e4 Sicilian Mainlines 16…Rc8 17.g4 c5 18.Rg1 Rf8 19.f5 (19.g5 also looks promising and it’s Shaw’s mainline.) 19…Qb6 20.fxe6 dxe6 21.g5 Nd5 22.Qxb6 Nxb6 23.Ke1 Nd7 24.Be2 Ke7 25.Rd3 Be4 26.Ra3 Rc7 27.Kd2 e5 28.Rf1 Rb8 29.Kc3 Rb6 30.Rd1 Rbc6 31.Bg4 Nb6 32.Ra5 g6 33.b3 Bf5 34.Be2 Nd7 35.a3 Be6 36.h4 Bf7 37.Bf3 Rb6 38.Rxd7+ Kxd7 39.Bxc5 e4 40.Bg4+ 1–0 Karjakin – Yu Yangui, Baku 2015

16…c5! Simple, logical, and strong. Black takes over the initiative

17.Rg1 Ne4 18.Qd3 An improvement over Karjakin’s and Shirov’s 18.Qe5 However, statistically white has better chances with 18.Qe5

18.Qe5 Qh4? (18…0–0! and it’s just game over, the white king will not survive long in the centre. For instance 19.Bg2 d6 20.Qxe6+ Kh8 and black will play either Rf6 or Qb6 followed by Rae8 with winning positions in both cases.) 19.Bg2 Qxg4+ And now the two games diverged.

20.Kd3 Nf2+ 21.Bxf2 Bxg2 22.Bxc5 Rc8 23.Rae1 Kf7 24.Re2 Qf3+ 25.Be3 d6 26.Qd4 e5 27.Qxa7+ Ke6 28.Rgxg2 Rxc4 29.Kxc4 Rc8+ 30.Kb4 Qe4+ 31.Bd4 1–0 Karjakin – Dreev, Douglas 2019

20.Bf3 Nc3+ 21.Kd3 Qxf3 22.Kxc3 Rg8 23.Rg3 Qc6 24.Bxc5 0–0–0 25.Bd6 Ba6 26.b3 Kb7 27.Rd1 Rc8 28.Rxg7 Rxg7 29.Qxg7 Bxc4 30.Kb2 Be2 31.Re1 Qxd6 32.Rxe2 Qd1 33.Qg2+ Rc6 34.a4 Qd4+ 35.Ka2 Qxf4 36.Qg7 Rd6 37.Qxh7 Rd1 38.Qh5 Qd4 39.Rb2 e5 40.h4 Rd2 41.Rxd2 Qxd2+ 42.Ka3 Qc1+ 43.Ka2 Qc2+ 44.Ka3 Qc1+ 1/2–1/2 Shirov – Yu Yangyi, Douglas ENG 2019.


18…Qf6 also looks strong


A natural blunder. Let’s pay attention to the nature of this move, white threatens to take on d7 with check but the rook on d1 also takes away the square d1 leaving the king stuck on e2.

19.Bg2 is the only way to stay in the game 19…Qxh2! 20.Kd1 Nf2+ 21.Bxf2 Bxg2 with a complex middlegame, I suspect white can survive, but that’s the only thing he can hope for


20.h3 On 20.Qxd7 Anything wins 20…Qxh2+ 21.Ke1 Qh4+ 22.Ke2 Rab8 the attack goes on, …Bd5 is a neat threat.

20.Rg2 d5 also winning for black.

20.Bg2 Rxf4! similar to the game

20…Rxf4 21.Qb3 Rf2+ 22.Bxf2 Qxf2+ 23.Kd3 Qxg1 24.Qxb7 Rf8 A win is a win but black could have finished it off in a glorious, unforgettable way.

24…Qg3+! 25.Kxe4 (25.Kc2 Qh2+ 26.Kd3 Nf2+) 25…Rf8! is mate in three moves Rf4,Rf5,Qe5 no matter what. Deserves a diagram 26.Qxd7 Rf4+ 27.Ke5 Rf5+ 28.Kxe6 Qe5#

25.Qxe4 Rxf1 26.Rxf1 Qxf1+ 27.Kc2 Qxh3 28.Qa8+ Kf7 29.Qxa7 Qg2+ 30.Kb3 Qf3+ 31.Ka4 Qc6+ 32.Ka5 e5 33.Qb8 d6 34.Qd8? 34.Qa7+ apparently was more resistant. Not easy for black after this 34…Kf6! (34…Kg6 35.Qe7 and draw is the most likely result) 35.b4!? cxb4 (35…e4 36.b5) 36.Qf2+ Ke6 37.Kxb4 white is still worse, game goes on

34…h6 35.a3 e4 36.b4 cxb4 37.axb4 e3 38.b5 Qe8 39.Qh4 Qe5 40.Ka6 e2 41.Qe1 Ke7 42.b6 Kd7 43.c5 Kc6 44.Qb1 e1Q 45.Qb5+ Kd5 46.c6+ Ke6 47.Qb3+ Qd5 48.Qc2 Qee4 49.Qxe4+ Qxe4 50.Kb7 Kd5 51.c7 Kc5+ 52.Ka7 Qc6


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2019 World Cup Quiz–Winners

November 22nd, 2019 2 comments

We have been planning to announce the winner of our World Cup Quiz for a while now, but we wanted to announce all the winners at once. Yes, there was a tie for first when all the correct answers were known. Five winners, but only three have replied to our emails.

So congratulations to Vilka Sipila of Finland, Stefan Liepold of Germany, and Marija Martinović of Croatia. The latter, before her marriage, was named Marija Čačić, and was one of the winners of our 2015 World Cup quiz. So clearly a chess-quizzing star.

It is a five-way share of 20 books, so 4 books each, but we expanded that to 5 books each, just to be friendly. Books will be on the way to the winners.

As for the two missing winners, we have email addresses, which of course I will not publish here. But we are still seeking them. Based on email addresses, one missing winner seems to be Italian while the other is Croatian. So if you happen to be Italian or Croatian and entered our quiz, then please check your emails, or see if you scored 14/27 points – that was the winning total.

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Free ‘Book of the Month’ – November and December

November 18th, 2019 3 comments

We are continuing our free-fourth-book offer – if you buy three books or more and live in the normal European Union zone (as defined by UPS – for example, they exclude some islands and remote areas) we will send you an extra book free.

Please note that if you buy a Special Offer and are in the EU zone, we will add one free book. For example, if a European buys the Special Offer on our award-winning Grandmaster Preparation series, then we would send the 6 hardcovers, plus one free extra book.

The previous default option on the free book was Grandmaster Repertoire 7 – The Caro-Kann. For November and December we will switch the default option to The Alterman Gambit Guide – White Gambits. But if you already have that book, or would prefer a different free book, then send us an email to with your order, asking to have it replaced with one of the following titles:


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The Taimanov in Action

November 11th, 2019 7 comments

Our good friend (why still?) IM Renier Castellanos annotated an interesting game from the first round of the European Club Cup for us, after spotting that a sub-2400 IM used one of Pavlidis’s novelties to hold Mickey Adams.

You can download it for ChessBase here or just read the annotations below:

Michael Adams – Rasmus Skytte

Opening preparation in practice. The first round of the European Club Cup competition brought some very interesting games but my attention was in the match between Obiettivo Risarcimiento Padova – Aarhus Skolerne. The Italian club is one of the strongest in the field and a couple of my favourite players like Adams, or my friend Paco Vallejo are playing there. In the first board Mickey Adams was facing the International Master Skytte, Rasmus (2373). A strong player I must say after I looked into his games. However it is not crazy to believe that being paired with black against a world class like Mickey Adams, chances are you are going to get squeezed and defeated badly. Before going to the game, I’d like to tell you a brief personal story that you can take as advice. When you are playing someone this strong, every wrong step will likely be punished, every inch given will be taken. That means that going sideways, playing crafty openings etc not only are unlikely to work but they are the wrong path to take in the first place. In such events the best is to rise up to the occasion and play some ”serious chess” and that means going into the main lines. I came to this conclusion a little too late after I had the chance to play Kamsky and Ivanchuk in Open tournaments. I lost both games without much resistance and I was totally unsatisfied with what I played. Basically I chose the opening randomly at the board and tried to survive on my own. In a way, I was already defeated. Now back to the game.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 Skytte is an adept to the Taimanov / Kan Sicilian family. Although he also likes to play the Pirc and Modern. So, among his options we can tell already he had chosen the most principal one.

5.Nc3 Qc7 6.g3 a6 7.Bg2 Nf6 in the past he had preferred 7…d6 8.0–0 Bd7 leading to Scheveningen schemes. While there is nothing wrong with that, it gives white too much freedom of choice.

8.0–0 Nxd4 An old line but very direct. The play now is pretty much forced.

9.Qxd4 Bc5 10.Bf4 d6 11.Qd2 h6 12.Rad1 e5 13.Be3 Bb4!? Sidestepping the main continuation which is 13. ..Be6. This line is recommended and analysed in depth in the book The Sicilian Taimanov by Antonios Pavlidis. The idea is to eliminate the knight and ease white’s pressure over the square d5. White’s next move is considered critical

14.Nb5 14.a3 is another option analysed by Pavlidis in The Sicilian Taimanov

14…axb5 15.Qxb4 Rxa2 16.Rxd6 16.Qxb5+ Bd7 17.Qb4 Ra6 is fine for black

16…0–0 17.Rd2 Be6! 18.Rfd1 A logical move which the author of the Sicilian Taimanov has also faced over the board and he analyses it well in the book. To me it is much more natural than the main line 18.f3 from the book.

18…Ng4!N The novelty given by Pavlidis. 18…Qc4 was previously played Iuldachev-Pavlidis Batumi 2018.

19.Bc5 Rc8 20.Be7

After thinking for a little less than 5 minutes, Adams is the first to deviate from the book. Pavlidis only considers 20.Bd6 Qb6 21.Bf1 with some tactical complications that are not unfavourable for black.

20…Qb6?! Black follows the book but this move now is probably not the strongest. 20…Ra4! 21.Qxb5 Rd4 is a clean equalizer. Black is taking on c2 on the next move, for example 22.Bb4 Qxc2 23.Qe2 Rxd2 24.Rxd2 Qc1+ 25.Qf1 Kh7 and black has nothing to worry about, in fact white must play accurate.

21.c3 21.Bf1 Nxf2 22.Rxf2 Rxc2 23.Rd8+ Kh7 24.Rdd2 Raxb2 25.Qxb2 Rxb2 26.Rxb2 is probably what black was looking for which is unclear. Black might hold, or he might not. Hard to say.

21…Rc4 21…Ra4! 22.Qd6 Qxd6 23.Rxd6 (23.Bxd6 Bb3 24.Rc1 Rd8 looks excellent for black) 23…b4! getting rid of the weak doubled pawn 24.c4 Rc7 25.Rd8+ (25.Bd8 Rc6=) 25…Kh7 26.Bd6 Rxc4 27.h3

And now black could try 27…Nxf2! 28.Kxf2 Rc2+ 29.Kg1 f6!! where he has enough counterplay to keep the balance. Amazing stuff!

22.Qd6 Qa7 Black seems to be wandering in a limbo, something completely understandable due to the newness of the line.

22…Rc6 23.Qd8+ Qxd8 24.Rxd8+ Kh7 25.h3 Nf6 26.Ba3 with a clear advantage for white

23.Bf1? 23.h3! Nxf2 24.Rxf2 Rxb2 25.Rdd2 Rxd2 26.Qxd2 Qa1+ 27.Kh2 Qxc3 28.Bf1! I presume this last move may be what Adams missed during the game, it is essential to win the b5 pawn soon enough. White just seems to be winning here

23…Ra1 24.Rxa1 Qxa1 25.Qd3 Rc7 The dust is off and black has a fine position. Actually, it is white who needs to be careful

26.Qd8+ Kh7 27.Ba3 Rc8 28.Qd6? 28.Qd3 Bc4 29.Rd1 with a similar position to what happened in the game.

28…Rc6? Returning the favour. Had black stopped thinking defensively and pay more attention to his position he might had seen 28…Qe1!.

This move is strong. Suddenly white has problems with Bc4 coming, or the pawn on e4, rook on d2 and f2, everything needs to be defended. Some lines: 29.Kg2 (29.Re2 Qb1 and now both Bc4 and Nxh2 are huge 30.Rd2 Nxh2 31.Rd1 Nf3+ 32.Kg2 Qxe4 33.Bd3 Ne1+ 34.Kg1 Nxd3 35.Qxd3 Qxd3 36.Rxd3 Kg6–+) 29…Rc6 30.Qd8 Bc4 31.Bxc4 bxc4 32.Qd5 Nf6 33.Rd1 Qe2 34.Qd2 Qxe4+ it’s still early, but white is lost

29.Qd3 Bc4 30.Rd1 Bxd3? Played in just 2 minutes, while is not so bad, it gives white additional chances. 30…Qxa3 31.bxa3 Bxd3 32.Rxd3 (32.Bxd3 Rxc3 33.Bxb5 Rc2 with equality, and Rc2 is not the only way.) 32…Nf6 33.f4 Rc5 looks steady for black 34.fxe5 Rxe5 35.Rf3 Kg6 not allowing Rf5.

31.Rxa1 Bxe4 32.Re1 f5 33.Be2 33.Bxb5 Rb6 34.c4 white retains some pressure, one idea is to play f3 and trade the F for the e5 pawn. With two bishops and the two vs 1 on the queenside white can put pressure for a while.

33…Nf6 34.f3 Bd5 35.Bxb5 Re6 36.Kf2 g5 Unnecessary display of activity but it also works.

36…e4 37.f4 Bc6 38.Bc4 Bd5 shouldn’t be a problem for black. The protected e-pawn is an insurance.

37.c4 Bc6 38.Bxc6 bxc6 39.Bb4 g4 40.Rd1 gxf3 41.Kxf3 Kg6 42.Rd8 Ne4 43.Rg8+ Kf7 44.Rc8 h5 45.Ke3 Kg6 46.Rc7 Nf6 47.h4 f4+ 48.Kf3 fxg3 49.Kxg3 Kf5 50.Kf3 Ng4 51.Rg7 e4+ 52.Ke2 e3 53.Rg5+ Ke4 54.Rxh5 Ne5 55.Bc5 Nxc4 A very interesting game. A great approach by the Danish player who managed to play a very decent game and even had a chance to cause a major upset! ½–½

Renier with a box of Quality Chess books…

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The Anand Files & Playing the Najdorf – New Excerpts

November 6th, 2019 68 comments

We recently made two new excerpts available.

The Anand Files will be published on November 20. Its excerpt is here

Playing the Najdorf by David Vigorito will be published on December 11. Its excerpt is here

Both books are excellent. And big. 512 pages for the Anand book and 544 for the Najdorf.

And of course on November 20 there will also be the superb Small Steps 2 Success by Sam Shankland. Its excerpt is here.

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