An unexamined life is not worth living.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Nutcracker tournament – Find the right move

I quite enjoyed watching games from the tournament played in Moscow at the end of 2014, so here are some sample puzzles that can help you train your positional and attacking skills.

Scroll down to see the solutions.

Artemiev, Vladislav    --    Morozevich, Alexander
Nutcracker Rapid   2014.12.25     0-1     A05

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 c6 3. g3 g6 4. b3 Bg7 5. Bb2 d6 6. Bg2 e5 7. d3 O-O 8. O-O Re8 9. Nbd2 a5 10. a3 Nh5 11. Qc2 c5 12. Ne4 Nc6 13. e3 f5 14. Nc3 Nf6 15. Rad1 h6 16. Nd2 Be6 17. Nd5 Bf7 18. Nxf6+ Bxf6 19. Nb1 d5 20. cxd5 Bxd5 21. Bxd5+ Qxd5 22. Nc3 Qf3 23. Nb5 h5 24. Nc7 h4 25. Rfe1 h3 26. Kf1

Black to move:

Aleksey Dreev    --    Daniil Dubov
Nutcracker Rapid 2014   2014.12.25     1-0     E32

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 b6 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. Qxc3 Bb7 7. Nf3 O-O 8. Bg5 h6 9. Bh4 g5 10. Bg3 Ne4 11. Qc2 c5 12. e3 cxd4 13. Nxd4 Qf6 14. Rd1 Na6 15. f3 Nxg3 16. hxg3 d5 17. cxd5 Rac8 18. Qd2 Rfd8 19. Bxa6 Bxa6

White to move:

Alexander Morozevich    --    Daniil Dubov
Nutcracker Rapid 2014   2014.12.25     1-0     B72

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Be2 g6 7. Be3 Bg7 8. Qd2 O-O 9. O-O-O Nxd4 10. Bxd4 Be6 11. Kb1 b5 12. Bf3 Rc8 13. Nxb5 a6 14. Nc3 Rc4 15. e5 Nd7 16. Bd5 Rxd4 17. Qxd4 Bxe5 18. Qe3 Nb6

White to move:

Fedoseev, Vladimir    --    Dreev, Aleksey
Nutcracker Rapid   2014.12.25     1-0     B12

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. Nf3 e6 5. Be2 Nd7 6. O-O Ne7 7. Nbd2 h6 8. Nb3 g5 9. Ne1 Qc7 10. Nd3 Bg7 11. f4 Ng6 12. fxg5 hxg5 13. Bxg5 f6

White to move:


Artemiev, Vladislav    --    Morozevich, Alexander
Nutcracker Rapid   2014.12.25     0-1     A05


26. ... Nd4!? 27. Qc4+ Kf8 28. Qxc5+ Kg7 29. Qd5 Qxd5 30. Nxd5 Nf3 31. Nc7 Rec8 32. Rc1 Nxe1 33. Nxa8 Rxc1 34. Bxc1 Nxd3 35. Bd2 Bd8 -/+


36. Ke2 e4 37. Bc3+ Kf7 38. Bd4 Nc1+ 39. Kd1 Nxb3 40. Bb6 Bxb6 41. Nxb6 Ke6 42. Kc2 Nc5 43. Kd2 Nd7 44. Nc4 Ne5 45. Nxa5 b6 46. Nb3 Nf3+ 47. Ke2 Nxh2 48. a4 Ng4 49. Kf1 h2 50. Kg2 Nxf2 51. Kxh2 Ng4+ 52. Kg1 Nxe3 53. a5 bxa5 54. Nxa5 Kd5 55. Kf2 Nc4 56. Nb3 g5 57. Nc1 f4 58. gxf4 gxf4 59. Ne2 Ke5 60. Nc3 Ne3 61. Nb5 Ng4+ 62. Kf1 f3 63. Nc3 e3 0-1

Aleksey Dreev    --    Daniil Dubov
Nutcracker Rapid 2014   2014.12.25     1-0     E32


20. e4 exd5 21. e5! Re8

( 21. ... Qxe5+ 22. Kf2 # would leave White with great compensation for the pawn as the black bishop is nicely constrained by the white knight and black pawn on d5.

22. ... Qf6 23. g4 += and White develops initiative by threatening Nf5. )

22. f4 Re7 23. Qe3 Rce8 24. Kd2 Qg6 25. Rh2 h5 26. f5 Qh6


27. e6!? fxe6 28. fxe6 Rxe6 29. Nxe6 Rxe6

White to move

30. Rxh5!

Black must have overlooked this shot.

30. ... Rxe3 31. Rxh6 Rxg3 32. Rd6 Rxg2+ 33. Kc3 +/- Rg3+ 34. Kd4 Kf7 35. Re1 g4 36. Ke5 Bc4 37. Kf4 Rb3 38. Kg5 d4 39. Rd7+ Kf8 40. Rd8+ Kf7 41. Rxd4 Rb5+ 42. Kh4 Be6 43. Rf4+ Rf5 44. Rxf5+ Bxf5 45. Rc1 Ke6 46. Rc7 Kd5 47. Rxa7 Kc4 48. Ra4+ Kc5 49. Rf4 Be6 50. Kg3 Bd7 51. Re4 Kd5 52. Kf4 Be6 53. Re5+ Kd6 54. Rg5 Bd7 55. Ke4 Bc8 56. Kd4 Be6 57. Rg6 b5 58. Ke4 Ke7 59. Ke5 Bd7 60. Rg7+ Ke8 61. b3 1-0

Alexander Morozevich    --    Daniil Dubov
Nutcracker Rapid 2014   2014.12.25     1-0     B72


19. Bxe6! fxe6 20. Qxe5! dxe5 21. Rxd8 Rxd8 22. Kc1 +/-

# White returns the exchange, but leaves Black with a horrid pawn structure and a position that is really hard to defend in a practical game.

22. ... Nd5 23. Rd1 Kf7 24. Ne4 Rc8 25. b3 h6 26. c4 Nf4 27. g3 Ne2+ 28. Kb2 Nd4 29. h4 Ke8 30. Kc3 Kd7 31. f4 Kc6 32. fxe5 Nf3


33. b4 +-

White's queenside pawns begin marching forward, and it is really hard to stop them.

33. ... Nxe5 34. a4 Kb6 35. a5+ Ka7 36. Nc5 Rf8 37. b5 Rc8 38. Kb4 Ka8 39. Rd4 axb5 40. cxb5 Rb8 41. Re4 1-0

Fedoseev, Vladimir    --    Dreev, Aleksey
Nutcracker Rapid   2014.12.25     1-0     B12


14. Rxf5 exf5 15. Bh5 O-O-O 16. Bxg6 fxg5 17. Bxf5

# After the pseudo exchange sacrifice, material is even, but White has a dominating position and soon converted.

17. ... Kb8 18. Qg4 Nb6 19. Nbc5 Qe7 20. Ne6 Rdg8 21. b3 Rh4 22. Qg3 Bh6 23. Rf1 a6 24. Bg4 Bg7 25. h3 Bh8 26. Ndc5 Ka7 27. Qf3 Nd7 28. Nxd7 Qxd7 29. Qf7 Qxf7 30. Rxf7 Rh6 31. Re7 Kb6 32. Kf2 Rc8 33. Nc5 1-0

Saturday, June 6, 2015

The Importance of Keeping Rooks behind Pawns

Haukenfrers - Jiganchine, 2004

image Black to move

The game ended with 1… b6?! 2. g4?? Rd4 –+

While researching for my recent book, I realized that White has good chances for a draw by playing 2.Kf2 followed by g3-g4, Rg1, etc. How could Black prevent this? I started thinking about whether starting with 1… Rd2 would be helpful, even though it seems like a potentially time wasting move. But after churning on this position overnight, FinalGen confirmed that this is the right approach – whatever it takes to not allow opponent’s rook to get behind the passed pawn!image  image

See my book for more examples of how computer-assisted analysis can confirm our ideas.


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Chess Composition - Eliminating Duplicate Solutions – Automatically?

Recently there have been headlines along the lines of "A Machine Composes Problems". The question I am interested in here however is a bit different - with so many chess problems and studies having been composed over the last two three hundred years, it would be curious to test their correctness in a fashion as automatic as possible.

The test would have to check both that the problem is correct, and that the problem one and only one solution. Loading a position into Fritz is obviously going to show that, but how would one automatically run a test on the entire database of checkmate  problems/studies/tactical solutions?

Has anyone heard of such an initiative and whether this has been ever done either by chess composers or engine authors?

I would imagine those two categories of people are probably quite interested in doing something like this.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Looking for a Large Chess Database

With a number of websites offering online chess databases proliferating (the Chessbase one looks nice), it is still surprisingly difficult to find a free large collection of chess games for download – at least from a legitimate source. Ok, not difficult – impossible. With the ICOFY project being suspended, my options are limited again to downloading TWIC updates and merging them to my existing older ICOFY database.

If anyone is aware of any new source of a relatively consistent free chess database for offline download in PGN, SCID or Chessbase formats – please post a comment or let me know!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Why Less Is More When it Comes to Opening Repertoire

Garry Kasparov was notorious for claiming that during his most productive years as an opening researcher, his database of theoretical analysis grew in size by many megabytes. I would not be surprised if these files gave him a competitive advantage over many opponents. For a mere mortal, however, these megabytes of analysis are likely to be a burden for many reasons.
A large opening repertoire
  • takes longer to build in the first place
  • needs to be memorized and recalled during games
  • is more prone to errors in evaluations of critical positions, and as computers get stronger – needs to be periodically reassessed
  • may become useless when chess fashion moves to a different direction, and everybody stops playing those “sharp popular lines”
  • is more difficult to maintain and update over the years, even if it is digital

While you hope a larger opening repertoire gives you more flexibility, usually the reason your opening files grow large – is because your favourite opening lines give opponent a lot of options, and you have to consider all of them in your preparation. The key to making it manageable - is to limit those options by finding early but solid deviations that you are comfortable with, striking a balance between playing sound lines, and not falling into your opponent’s favourite variations.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Playing Chess online – Game Pools with Increments?

I am continuing to play 15 + minute games online in my quest to play 100 “Standard” games online this year, and I prefer games with small increment (15 +2) to avoid being flagged in ridiculously trivial positions, and also to emulate what it’s like to play in real tournaments, which also use increments. I mostly play on ICC, but I am occasionally struggling to find a game with my preferred time controls.

ICC has game pools with 3, 5 and 15 minutes per game, where it’s often easier to quickly find an opponent. image

But there is no 15+2 pool or anything similar, which I think is a shame.

I’d be curious to hear if there is a playing site that has such a feature.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Bad Chess Habits

Over the years, especially if those years are filled with routine, somehow most of us acquire bad habits. It takes some conscious mindfulness and cleanup to rid oneself of those harmful repetitive behaviors. Bad Chess habits are not as harmful as smoking or speed driving, but they can destroy one's pleasure from the game. If you are reading this, you very likely play chess for enjoyment, so I suggest pausing to give it some thought.

Here are some that come quickly to my mind:
  1. Using the engine for analysing your games
  2. Book flipping
  3. Chess News reading
  4. Video watching
  5. Excessive blitz playing
  6. Hoarding - books, software, etc
  7. Caring about rating at the expense of improvement
  8. Memorizing opening moves without understanding their meaning
  9. Jumping openings when results don't improve quickly enough
  10. Finding excuses for losses without looking at root problems

The list is definitely not complete, and there is something that is more true for some chess players than for others.

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