An unexamined life is not worth living.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Endgame with bishops of opposite colour – video

image White to move. Can he save the game?

Watch the video to see the solution. White’s worse (objectively – he’s losing) and my only chance is to capture on f4 with the bishop, so that I can stop the `h` pawn, and so that `f` pawn does not become too dangerous as well.
However, that does not work immediately: 47. Bxf4? Kxf4 48. g6 Bxf3 49. g7 Bd5 -+ blocking the pawn. But White has a study-like way to make this idea work, and in the game I managed to find the right move order.
Black, an International Master, did not find the way around the position, and the game ended as a draw. Looking at it now, 7 years later, I realized that Black was still winning, but this draw is still nonetheless one of my better efforts when it comes to saving lost positions. This was somewhat inspired by my article about endgames with bishops of opposite colour, and in particular – the Kotov-Botvinnik game.

PS. This is likely my last blog post for the 2009. Happy new year and best wishes for 2010!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Opening disaster video

If you ever studied Riga variation of the Open variation of the Spanish opening (quite a mouthful!), you’d have known this position and know the right move immediately. My brain, however malfunctioned, and I played the wrong king move.

image White to move. Black just played Bxh2+, and White has to respond correctly to fight for the advantage.

Watch the video if you want to see the gory details:

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Passed pawns in the endgame – video

I blogged recently about this game where I played a grandmaster, now posted my comments as a youtube video as well:

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sacrifices in the Sicilian – with video

I recorded a video about an online 15 minute game I played. Over the course of the game, I played a nice sacrifice, but also missed several tactical shots that would have won the game on a spot. You can try to solve the positions below for White, there are two bishop sacrifices, one exchange sac (that was the one I found during the game), and a rook sac! The video will contain the answers.

image White to move. Black’s g7-g6 was very risky, how can White prove that?

image White to move. Black’s king has very few defenders – how to exploit that?

image White to move. The rook is guarding e6, how can we distract it?

image White to move. Two bishops are on fire, but the king is about to escape.

Replay through the video to actually see the solution and the entire game:

I also posted it on youtube: part 1 and part 2.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Chessbase Light 2009 – create custom shortcuts

I use Chessbase Light for creating diagrams for this blog. Certain operations, such as copying a diagram to later paste it into Windows Live Writer, need to be done a repeatedly. Just yesterday I learned how to create custom shortcuts for operations that currently don’t have any shortcuts assigned to them. Once you have a game window open, pick Tools->Customize menu item (not a very good label since shortcuts is the only thing it lets you customize, calling it “Custom Shortcuts” would make it more discoverable…).


The UI looks self explanatory, but you need to put the cursor into the “Input new shortcut” before it lets you assign a new shortcut – something that drove me a bit crazy before I realized it. The list of commands is a bit different if you do this in the “Database Window”.

Anyway, this is cool because this can save me time for creating blog entries. Also, there are some features in this long list (look at the scrollbar!)  that I never realized exist. Again, so much for the discoverability. Turns out you can “Generate Repertoire – Scan the database for games of your repertoire and generate the report”, a feature for which I have never seen a menu item in the UI! You do have an opening repertoire database, don’t you?

Unexpected queen sacrifice

I overlooked the following neat idea while playing a blitz game today:

image White to move
In this typical Spanish structure, I erred with 27. Rxa8 Rxa8 28. Qf7 which brought me nothing after Qd8. Disappointed, I lost the game. Instead I had the brilliant queen sac:
27. Qf7!!

image  White threatens Qg8 with mate, and otherwise Black has to give up two rooks for the queen:
27… Rxf7 28. Nxf7+ Kg8 29. Nh6+ (the point) Kf8 30. Rxa8+ Ne8 31. Rea1 White is much better:
image Bishop will be transferred to g4, White controls the only open file and Black’s kingside pawn structure is damaged. It won’t be easy…

Karpov – Kortchnoi, 1981 match game video

I uploaded another video to my Youtube channel. With these videos I want to motivate myself to select some games that I would like to remember - either to enhance my opening repertoire, to improve my strategic understanding of the game, and so on.
This game features a novelty by Karpov (13.a4!?), against Black has not found a good defence – neither in this game, nor in opening theory in general up to this day.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Blog structure - reorganizing the labels

After realizing that labels, the way I use them, are not helping viewers to find things on the blog, I went through some effort to reorganize them and make better use of the blogger ‘labels’ widget. Blogger makes it difficult to rename labels, so I regretted a little bit that I had not put more effort into this earlier, but now what’s done is done. As of today have major label categories for
- openings
- players
- endgames
- other categories that don’t fall under any of the above


Now, what labels do I need to attach to this post...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Opposite Coloured Bishops – part 12

(14) Moore Harry - Herder D
1994 BC Closed (6), 1994


How are the opposite coloured bishop endgames affected when also one pair of rooks is on the board? A very important idea is that the stronger side can sacrifice the exchange in order to break through the blockade. This is very logical, as by giving up a rook for a bishop, we eliminate the drawish factor of the position - opposite colour bishops. 33...Bd5 White is suffering from weakness of light squares around his king, with potential back rank problems. This, in addition to Black's extra pawn is more than decisive. 34.exf6 Kxf6 35.a3 a4 36.h3 [36.Rc1 ! ? 36...Bc4 37.f3 -1.22 37...b5 38.Ba5 Rc6 39.Rd1 Be2] 36...Rc2 37.Bb4 h5 38.Ba5 Kf5 39.Bb4 Rb2 Diagram


40.Re3? Of course, it was necessary to prevent Rxb4. Then Black would have to transfer his king to b3 or a2, with the idea of still sacrificing the exchange on a3. The complex of weak light squares on the kingside would make it very hard for the White king or rook to prevent this invasion. [40.Bd6 ! ? 40...g4 -1.22 (40...Be4 ? 41.g4+; 40...Kf6 ? 41.Be5+) ] 40...g4 41.h4 Rb1+ Diagram


! probably White missed this intermediate check. 42.Re1 Rxb4 ! 43.axb4 a3 Diagram


now the pawn gets to a2 44.Kf1 Bc4+ 45.Kg2 a2 46.Rc1 b6 47.Ra1 Bd5+ 48.Kf1 Ke4 49.Ke2 Bc4+ 50.Kd2 Kf3 51.Ke1 [51.Kc3 Bd5 52.Rf1 Ke2] 51...b5 52.Rd1 Diagram


White does not let the black king to 'b2'. Dave Herder opens the 'second front'. 52...e5 53.Ra1 e4! 54.Rc1 Bd3 Threatening Bb1 55.Ra1 Bb1 56.Kf1 e3 Diagram


Very elegant play by the BC master! 0-1

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December Open in New Westminster, BC

Information from, the organizers would like to spread the word out:
December Open
Dec 5-6, 2009 - Sat.-Sun.

Location: Sprott Shaw College, (map)
1176 8th Ave. New Westminster, BC (Second floor)
Prizes: $250 Guaranteed first place. Rest based on entries.
Time Control: G90 Total game time 3 hours.
Format: 5 Round Swiss.
Round Times: Saturday 9:30, 1:00 and 5:00 or ASAP, Sunday 9:30 and 1:00
Half Point byes are available by request before the close of registration.
Entry Fee: $35 includes BCCF membership fee CFC Regular rated. CFC membership required.
Preregister Online or by emailing the information on entry form to, then check in on site Saturday between 8:30 to 9:00 am.
On site registration closes at 9:00 am. If you arrive onsite after 9:00 go to the late registration desk.
Tournament Flyer
Register Online

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