Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tabiya:Ruy Lopez 5.d3

In the Ruy after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6, the main line is 5.O-O, which allows black the choice of the open Ruy 5...Nxe4. White regains the pawn easily, because the half open e-file is dangerous to black's uncastled king.

However, white can avoid the Open Ruy by 5.Qe2 (Wormald) or 5.d3. Both of these avoid some of the trickier lines for white in the Closed Ruy, but both have drawbacks. Today, I want to look at my Tabiya after 5.d3.

White will be one tempo slower in the basic Ruy plan, but that plan is a closed game, where tempo are not so critical. White gains several options that are not available if he goes straight ahead for the d4 based plan.

But he also gives black an option not available after 5.O-O Be7.  5...d6 6.c3 {an escape hatch for the Ba4} 6...g6 {black can go for the immediate fianchetto rather than the slower one in the mainline Ruy} 7.O-O Bg7 8.Re1 O-O 9.Nbd2 {The theory seems hot right here. Kaufman recommends ...b5 and moving into familiar Ruy territory, but ...Nd7 seems to be fashionable.} 9...b5 10.Bb3 Na5 11.Bc2 c5 12.Nf1 h6:

If white goes for a "normal" Closed Ruy by playing for d4, he is several tempo behind. More likely he will play for a kingside attack, but black should have enough defensive resources and the central counterstrike ...d5. As usual, white will have to prepare d3d4 with h2h3 which signals that the Na5 should come back to c6.

I think I will use the position after 9.Nbd2 to search for games to review.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Master Game Analysis: Petrosian v Korchnoi, Leningrad, 1946

I had the idea last year to try to memorize great games. I found that my memory is not good enough, and the games I memorized slowly ebbed away, if I did not refresh them.

So a new attempt is born. The idea is to weekly annotate a master game and post it on my blog. I will attempt to study the game following the advice of Soltis in "Studying Chess Made Easy".

I will chose games that have been well annotated, but I will not look at the annotations or use an engine until after I am done. Important moves that I did not comment on will become Flash Cards.

In this first attempt, I did not spend enough time on the third pass and missed two very important things and did not do enough analysis of the tactics. Two flash cards and reset of expectations of how much time I need to set aside for this task.

This is a very short game. Petrosian made a rare (at the time) opening move, and two very Petrosianish moves during the game that I missed on my analysis. One improving his queen while hindering his opponents plan, and the other offering material (a pawn)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Tabiya: Ruy Lopez, Exchange

White players may choose the Ruy Lopez Exchange variation against stronger players, because of its drawish reputation, likewise for the deferred exchange. I am trying 1.e4 e5 in my online games and run into several Ruy exchanges.

This may be a mistake, as a strong player should make good use of the two bishops, while white's the long term endgame advantage of the pawn structure is far away.

Ruy Lopez Exchange:

After 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.O-O Kaufman recommends 5...Bg4. The mainline 5...f6 holds onto the e-pawn and a positional struggle ensues.

Ruy Lopez Exchange after 5...Bg4
 6.h3 will be met with h5, and white cannot afford to take the bishop, because he will have to return the piece and give black a fierce kingside initiative. 7.d3 Qf6  This is my Tabiya for the Ruy Exchange:
Ruy Lopez Exchange: Tabiya
I will attack on the kingside. If I castle it will be queenside. This will not be the kind of quiet game a player choosing the exchange should be expecting.

Ruy Lopez Deferred Exchange:

White can defer taking on c6.  1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.d3 Nd7:

This is quieter than the line for the exchange. Though white has "wasted" a move with 4.Ba4, I will also lose tempo getting my Bc8 developed. I will most likely castle kingside and try to impede d3-d4 to avoid the "lost endgame" pawn structure. 7...Bg4 is not as strong as in the regular exchange, because the black queen cannot pop out to f6 easily.

Friday, April 12, 2013


I have reviewed my games of the last year.

I am knocking on the door to expert. I have achieved what most people that reach class A have achieved. I have eliminated (most) gross errors from my game and am generating plans. I have become difficult to defeat. I play solidly, and wait for my opponent to make an error. This works for most players weaker than me. My tactics and endgames are stronger.

I often get slightly worse positions out of the opening. Sometimes, I lose a pawn and have to go in search of compensation, or have to give up the exchange to free my game, then I go looking for tactics to recover. I resists doggedly, and try to make complications for my opponents to wade through. Masters and strong experts usually find their way through. Weaker experts and class A players usually allow me to draw and sometimes win.

Breaking through to the next level will be helped by the book I have started to read: Soltis's What It Takes to Become a Chess Master. There is a lot of good material for me in the book, but no magic bullets. Primarily it is a guide to studying master games. I will write up a review, when I am done reading.

The new revised PLAN:

  • Continually, Play 6-10 correspondence games 3 days/move 
  • Continually, create new flash cards
  • Daily, 15min tactics (blitz mode) 
  • Daily, 15min endgame problems
  • Daily, 30min read/study a chess book on treadmill
  • Weekly, review games in my openings from "The Week in Chess" (treadmill activity 30min daily)
  • Weekly, annotate one master game (post here)
  • Weekly, local chess club -- participate even if I don't feel like it -- maintain good attitude
  • Weekly, document a new Tabiya (post here)
  • Monthly, Solitaire chess column in Chess Life
Extra task list for the plan:

  • Finish flash card applet (create) and app (review)
  • Finish PGN to Epub program
  • Create Tabiya list (flash card for each)