Saturday, April 28, 2018

HK Mattison v Nimzowitsch Most Instructive Games of Chess 6

"Weak Pawns, Weak Squares, and Mighty Mighty Knights" from The Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever Played by Chernev

This game is about piece imbalances. Nimzowitsch gives up his dark square bishop in one of his eponymous openings, trades light square bishops and proceeds to get great squares for his knights while Mattison's bishop and knight have very poor positions.

I think Mattison may have been thinking the game would be like a Queen's Indian, but the NimzoIndian is a different creature. White spent a lot of time undoubling his c-pawns and did not pay enough attention to what else was happening.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

A. Rubenstein vs O.Duras Most Instructive Games of Chess 5

"The Passed Pawn" from The Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever Played by Chernev

Monday, April 9, 2018

Tarrasch vs Thorold 1890 The Most Instructive Games of Chess #4

I am having trouble putting into words, what I am learning now. Perhaps, I am not really learning anything useful. So to make more posts, I am returning to a series of posts that I started years ago. I was going to memorize games from the book, but I was not able to retain them.

I pick a game from the book, The Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever Played by Chernev and analyze it myself, then check what the book and computer say.

This game is titled "Aggressive Rook in the Endgame", and ends in an instructive R+P ending. Endings still remain a weak area for me, so I think this will be a good exercise.

Tarrasch as white against Edmund Thorold in 1890 at Manchester, England.

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 c5 4. exd5 Qxd5 5. Ngf3 

White gambits a pawn. Black will get a full center, but it will be weak,
because it is advanced and white will have better development.

5...cxd4 6. Bc4 Qh5 7. O-O 

7... Nc6  (Trying to protect the d4 pawn with 7... e5 is no good 8. Nxe5 Qxd1 (8... Qxe5 9. Re1) 9. Bxf7+ Ke7 10. Rxd1)

8. Nb3 e5

This attempt to hold on to the pawn will fail. Black is 3 tempi behind in development, and his king is still in the center. White has three pieces well developed and has castled. Black has one well developed piece, the Nc6. Because his queen is on one of the fairly safe squares (a5 and h5 for black) I don't think it is a negative for Black, but I am not ready to count it a positive.  Both center files are half open for white. Black needs to develop his pieces and get his king safe.

The seeds of tactical destruction are planted and 8...e5 waters them. Black should let the d-pawn go.

9. Nxe5  Qxd1 (9...Qxe5 10. Re1) 10. Rxd1 Nxe5 11. Re1 f6 12. f4 Bb4 

The book points out that white has to be careful here.

13. Bd2 

 His rook must remain on the e-file, but a draw results from (13. Re2 Bg4 14. Re4 Bf5 15. Re2)

13... Bxd2 14. Nxd2 Bf5 15. fxe5 O-O-O

16. Bd3 (16. exf6 ? is bad, because it helps black develop his knight to a
good square. Nxf6)

16... Bxd3 17. cxd3 fxe5 18. Rac1+ Kb8 19. Rxe5

White is clearly better. He has recovered his gambitted pawn, has active rooks, an outpost on e4 for his knight and black has not completed his development.

19... Nf6 20. Rce1 Rhe8?

I do not think trading pieces is in black's favor here. Keeping the pieces and
defending, until he can make them more active is what black should do. 20...
Rd7 hinders white from gaining control of the 7th rank and lets black bring in the other rook to d8

21. Rxe8 Nxe8

Necessary to keep the d4 pawn for a while, but blacks inactive pieces will make things
difficult. It would be better to let the d4 pawn go into the knight

22. Re7

A rook on the 7th rank exerts enormous pressure, and the Rd8 is overloaded protecting the Ne8 and the d4-pawn. Black's d4 pawn is doomed, and he is so tied up, he will not be able to stop white's d-pawn.

22... a6 23. Nb3 b6 24. Nxd4 Rxd4 25. Rxe8+ Kc7 

26. Re3 !?

This is the obvious move, and the right kind of move to make in time pressure. It preserves the passed pawn and the advantage, but White could transform this ending to connected passers on the kingside or pick up a pawn with 26. Re7+ Kd6 27. Rxg7 h5 (27... Rxd3 28. h4 h5 29. Rg6+ Kc7 30. Rg5 The
white h-pawn is too fast.) 28. Rg6+ Kc7 29. Rg3) (26. Re7+ Kc6 )

White will bring his king to the center and push the d-pawn.

26... Kd7 27. Kf2 g6 28. Rh3 h5 29. Ke3 Rd6 30. d4 Re6+ 31. Kd3 Re1 32. Rg3 Re6

33. Re3

The K+P ending is lost for black, because white can fix the kingside pawns with h4, then push the d-pawn forward then leave it to pick up Black's kingside pawns.

Black cannot trade rooks, so White can take lines away from black's rook. Black should be looking to trade pawns. If all the pawns were gone, but the d-pawn, then this would be a draw. It is not easy to see how Black could do this.

White has a clear plan to gain space on both sides of the board, then advance the
d-pawn and force black to trade rooks to win the d-pawn, and go into a winning
K+P ending.

Rd6  34. Re5 Rf6 35. a4 Rf2 Black cannot trade rooks, so the thrust is easily parried. 36. Re2 Rf6 37. b4 Rf1 38. Re5 

38... Rf2 (38... Ra1 $5 39. a5 Rd1+ 40. Kc4)  39. Rg5 Rf6 40. h3 Kd6 41. Ke4 $18 Re6+ 42. Re5 Rf6 43. d5 Kd7 44. Rg5 Kd6 45. Rg3 Ke7 46.Rf3 Rd6 47. Ke5 Rd8 

48. d6+! Kd7 (48... Rxd6 49. Rf7+ trades the rooks) 49. Rf7+
Kc8  (49... Kc6 50. Rc7#) (49... Ke8 50. Ke6 Rxd6+ 51. Kxd6 Kxf7 52. Kc6 ) 50. Rc7+ Kb8

51. Rc2 (51. Kd5 {looks faster to me} Rf8 52. Kc6 Rf2 53. Rb7+ Ka8
54. d7 Rd2 55. Kxb6) 51... Re8+ 52. Kf6 b5 53. d7 Rh8 54. Ke7 Rh7+ 55. Kd6 Rh8 56. Re2 1-0

The white rook will come to e8 and it will all be over.

Game viewer below, maybe.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Some Thoughts on the Black Kingside Fianchetto and White's c-pawn

There are 5 first moves for white, that have a statistical advantage: e4, d4, c4, g3 and Nf3. Nf3 usually transposes to one of the 4 pawn moves. Black has various good choices against all of these, and a subset of them involve a kingside fianchetto against all of white's choices.

I am familiar with the black choices that allow white the most freedom, the King's Indian Defense (KID) and Pirc/Modern. When black plays these, white can usually pick from a variety of setups with the c-pawn and the Nb1, if white has not opened with 1.c4. For this essay, I will call these the KID, Barry, and Pirc.


White has moved c2-c4 and Nb1-c3
There is a lot of theory here, and white may not have the Nf3, but play f2-f3 or develop the bishops before the Ng1.

Black will attack d4 with either c7-c5 or e7-e5. The pawn on c4 is committal, has taken a tempo, and can become a target. White will not usually have time to make an e4-e5 push, before black attacks d4 with a pawn.

White does get queenside space, and can more easily resist if black goes for queenside play, than the other options. In the most popular variations, white attacks on the queenside, while black attacks on the kingside, but white has a variety of options for more positional play.

It is not advised for white to respond to the e7-e5 break with dxe5, as the exchange variations are quite difficult for white to win. The permanent hole on d4 is quite troubling for white, while black and control d5 by placing a pawn on c6

The Barry

White has moved c2-c3 and Nb1-d2
White has strong control of d4, a pawn chain that blocks the a1-h8 diagonal, but the development of his queenside is awkward. Black can either try for a queenside pawn expansion to eventually open up the diagonal, or look toward an Open Game (Ruy Lopez closed) setup, where he has not committed his queenside pawns.

Black is several tempi ahead of a Spanish or Italian with a similar structure. I think black is equal here wherever white places the light square bishop (e2, d3, or c4).

The Pirc

White has played Nb1-c3 and left the c-pawn at home.
White has control of d5, but the d4 square is temporarily weakened. White has not used a tempo with c2-c4 so e4-e5 is more likely to work.  The main long term difference is that white can push his d-pawn to d5, or trade pawns on e5 or c5 without a permanent weakness at d4. Pawn moves are commital, and also use a move. The Pirc/Modern allows white to put pressure on black the earliest, but will result in wild games as black must play dynamically or be suffocated.

All of these approaches work for white. If you play the Pirc/Modern as black, than you will likely already know this formation causes some issues for black. I suggest playing as white lines that cause you trouble as black. Either you will have success as white, or you will learn something about how to play the black side.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Winter Open 2018

David Kuhns directed a very nice tournament at the Roseville MN Skating Oval (in a large meeting room, not out on the ice). If you like to ice skate, Minnesota is the place for it.

The top section was FIDE rated, and I achieved my major goal of playing 3 or more FIDE rated players in one tournament (which starts a FIDE rating).

I played well against 5 higher rated players. I messed up my openings as usual, but managed to bring it around in the middle game: two wins, two draws, and a loss in the last round. I really like the time control game 90 with 30 sec increment. The head reshaping from the OLE chess camp is still working for time issues. I had no time pressure in any game.

I was tired in the last round and perhaps did not play my best. I need to work on my chess stamina.

My opening theory is really rusty. In particular, I need to work on mainline KID as black and QGD/Catalan where black plays ...Ne4 as white.

My second round game was a wild one, where we were off into new territory on my 4th move. I sacced a pawn early and gained great pressure from it. It was the only game in which I was better out of the opening.

Play online chess

game viewer from

Update: I now have a FIDE rating. I had played enough FIDE rated players in FIDE rated tournaments prior to the Winter Open. My rating is 1951 which is about my USCF rating. This should be good news for my opponents, as most FIDE ratings around here lag their USCF by up to 200 points.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Nonreview of "The Modern Tiger"

The Modern Tiger is an update of Tiger's Modern by Tiger Hillarp Persson. I have borrowed a copy of Tiger's Modern, and not yet purchased The Modern Tiger. So this review will mainly talk about Persson's writing style and my general reaction to his ideas.

I have resolved not to buy any more dead tree chess books.  I need to trim my library down as we downsize for retirement, and I can store a lot more ebooks than I can paper books. The Modern Tiger is not available in Kindle or Epub.

The Modern Tiger claims to be an extensive rewrite of  Tiger's Modern. I have looked at a lot of Persson's games from 2016 and 2017 to get some idea of the changes to the repertoire, but these books are not properly repertoire books. The Modern Defense gives white a lot of freedom in his move choices both in placement of his pieces and in the order of that placement, so Persson puts more emphasis on ideas and plans than lines and tabiyas.

He does not explicity focus on the idea of paired moves that has helped me with the transpositional nature of my white repertoire, but paired moves are easy to pick out of Persson's text. The most obvious one is that most postions from 3.Nc3 allow good results from 4...a6

His style is light and easy to read. He does not take himself too seriously.  He does believe in the opening and that might color his judgement. He also likes the wild complexity that arises from many Modern lines.

I think his focus on the ideas and various plans is the right way to write opening books in general, and almost imperative for openings that give white such a wide set of options.

The main thrust of how Persson plays the Modern is to get a better Sicilian Dragondorf. These lines look very convincing to me, and I have begun trying some of them. The major problem with the Modern compared to the Pirc is that white is free to play c2-c4 (King's Indian), or c2-c3 (the Barry). I am comfortable with the King's Indian, and the Barry.

In positions where the Dragondorf is unwise to attempt, he uses the Hippopotamus or tailored setups (often transpositions to the Pirc). The hippo rises from the river, when white has made moves like a2-a4 to prevent b7-b5. The key to avoiding cramped hippos is to time the pawn breaks well and not to lock the center.

Like it's sister the Pirc and cousin the King's Indian, the Modern is prone to unusual positions that come from the necessary dynamic play of black. The Modern is even wilder than the Pirc (which is wilder than the KID).

I have tried to put a recent game of mine below, but I am having trouble getting a game viewer to work.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Chess Journal

The purpose of this blog is to act as my chess journal, to make me put into words what I am learning, following the concept that one understands something more deeply if they can explain it to others.

Even if you do not want to expose your weaknesses to the world in a blog, you should keep a chess journal. Your annotated games, master games, opening tabia and lines, chess problems that you found difficult, and anything else that writing down will help you remember. A spiral bound notebook, loose leaf binder, a collection of folders, a word file in the cloud or a combination work.

As I look back on this year, I have learned things I have not put into words. I need to be diligent in doing this work.

I have learned things, and have examples from my games that I should have used to make blog posts.

Most of what I have been learning has been middle game and endgame strategic ideas. It is much easier to write about openings or tactics than those topics.

There are two big tournaments coming up. The Winter Open Jan 27-28 and the Minnesota Open Feb 23-25. I have post worthy material from the Senior Open, Northern Open, and the TCCL games.

New Year's resolution to carve out some time to write posts.