An unexamined life is not worth living.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Opposite Coloured Bishops – Part 7

(9) Shariyazdanov Andrey (RUS) (2470) - Ruck Robert (HUN) (2465)
Ch Europe (juniors) (under 20) Slofok (Hungary) (9), 1996


Now we have some sense of what to expect from pure endings with bishops of opposite colours. With rooks on the board, things are different. In "Basic Chess Endings" Reuben Fine noticed that with the presence of rooks, first of all, an attack against the enemy's king is possible; secondly, it becomes possible to attack the enemy's weak pawns. Coming are examples to 11-13 illustrate his point, but is there anything else that is different? In fact, for the stronger side it is not necessary to be attacking the king directly, more active and better coordinated pieces can promise serious winning chances even if the opponent's pawn structure is undamaged and provides relatively good shelter for the king. We have already seen how Botvinnik (in example # 7) managed to win a pawn by just using better placement of his heavy pieces. 30...Bf8 White has several very important advantages:
1) his pieces are much more active
2) as a result of this Black's a7 and f7 can become a target
3) White has a kingside pawn majority that he can advance, while Black's queenside majority is useless. 31.Kf3 Ba3 32.g4 Diagram


Examples of winning such positions can be found in the games of Keres, Boleslavsky and others. For young modern GM's this has become just a part of their technique. 32...Kg7 33.Rd3 Bc5 34.Ke4 Kf8 35.f5 gxf5+ 36.gxf5 f6 Diagram


37.Be6 Typical for positions with rooks + bishops of opposite colors: the bishop 'physically' limits the range of opponent's rook. 37...fxe5 38.Kxe5 Kg7 39.f6+ Kg6 40.Rg3+ Kh5 now the Black king may be danger. 41.f7 Rf8 42.a4 a6 43.Rg8 Kh6 44.Kd5 a5 45.Kc6 Kh5 46.Kd7 Kh6 47.h4 Bb4 Diagram


48.h5! Kxh5 [48...Bc5 49.Rxf8 Bxf8 50.Ke8 Kg7 51.h6+! - the idea behind advancing the 'h' pawn.] 49.Rxf8 Bxf8 50.Ke8 Bc5 51.f8Q Bxf8 52.Kxf8+- Kg5 53.Ke7 h5 54.Kd6 Kf6 55.Bd5 h4 56.Kc6 Ke5 57.Bh1 1-0

Replay the game in the viewer:

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Seeing the entire chess board - Nunn – Short, 1986


In the Spanish Chigorin system, Black had just played 27… h5, so it is White to move.

Even though most of the play is on the kingside, instead of retreating with the knight, John Nunn found a brilliant opportunity to utilize his open ‘a’ file -

28. Ra6!!  - nicely exploiting the fact that g6 has been weakened with Black’s last move.


The game just lasted a couple more moves after Black accepted the sacrifice:

28... hxg4 29. Rxg6+ Ng7 30. Rxg7+ (30. Rxg7+ Kxg7 31. Bh6+ Kxh6 32. Qh4+ Kg7 33. Qh7#) 1-0

image - This could have been the conclusion. 

Replay the game in the viewer below:

Friday, June 12, 2009

Chess Statistics – results as White vs. Black

As I am addicted to statistics, I decided to count my losses in tournament games, and just as I expected – I lost a lot more games as Black than as White. Since the year 2000 – 31 losses with the Black pieces, compared to 13 games I lost as White. These kind of stats indicate that the opening, and the direction it gives to the game have a significant impact on your tournament results (surprise …). With better opening preparation, you can hope for better results, but this also indicates that having a solid repertoire as Black is generally more important, or else you will be losing a lot of games without any fight.

Following a similar pattern, my results as White are not that different – White wins more games. With ChessBase Light it is easy to generate such statistics, just pick all your games (or maybe first filter it by year to exclude your kindergarten games), and hit the `S` key.

Total breakdown as White:


And as Black:


This also shows that I played more games as Black (looking at the results – tournament pairings probably did cost me a few rating points here and there…). Of course, you need to keep a database of your own games to be able to do this kind of analysis.

Opposite Coloured Bishops – Part 6

Continued from Part 5. This game is a good example of a practical endgame that goes through several exchanges, but White’s pawn weaknesses persist throughout the transitions and eventually lead to a loss. On move 32 White missed what was probably her best chance to build a fortress. Again, sacrificing a pawn for strategic purpose is a good idea in these endings. As it happened, the position on move 39 reminds us of the principle of two weaknesses.

(8) Umanskaya Irina (2300) - Lesiege Alexandre (2580)
Cappelle-la-Grande op (2), 20.02.2000


22.Rhd1 c5 [The greedy 22...Rxc4 ? loses a piece after 23.Re1 ! 23...Kf7 24.Bd2 Ra4 25.Ree8] 23.h4 h6 24.R1d3 g5 25.hxg5 hxg5 26.Bd2 b6 27.Re3 Rxe3 28.Bxe3 Diagram


With only one pair of rooks left, the pin is not so dangerous. The 'c4' pawn is weak, however, and later it can be a good target for Black's bishop. 28...Kg6 29.Kd2 Bb7 30.Rxa8 Bxa8 31.f4 g4 Diagram


32.Bf2 [32.f5+ ! ? 32...Kxf5 33.Bf4 deserved attention, then the bishop would be able to protect g3 from the whole 'b8-h2' diagonal. 33...Ke4 (33...Bb7 34.Kd3 Be4+ 35.Ke3 Bb1 36.Bb8 a6 37.Ba7 Bxa2 38.Bxb6 Bxc4 39.Bxc5 0.00) 34.Ke2 Bb7 35.Bb8 Ba6 (35...a5 36.Bc7 Ba6 37.Bxb6 Bxc4+ 38.Kf2) 36.Bxa7 Bxc4+ 37.Kf2 Bxa2 38.Bxb6 0.00] 32...Kf5 33.Ke3 Bg2 34.a3 Bf1 35.Be1 Bxc4 Now White is down a pawn and the White pawns on g3 and a3 are very weak. 36.Bf2 Ke6 37.Ke4 f5+ 38.Ke3 Kd5 39.Kd2 Diagram


39...Bf1 The black king threatens to penetrate both to a3 and to g3. The white king cannot keep the opposition because the black bishop controls crucial squares. Thus White's fortress collapses before it was built. 40.Ke3 [40.Kc2 Ke4 41.Kd2 Kf3 42.Be1 c4 43.Kd1 (43.a4 a5) 43...Bd3 44.Kd2 Be2 45.Kc2 Ke3 46.Kc1 Bf3 47.Kc2 Ke2-+] 40...Kc4 41.Kd2 Kb3 42.Be3 Kxa3 Diagram


43.Kc2 Bc4 44.Bd2 Ka4 45.Kb2 Kb5 46.Be3 Kc6 47.Kc2 Kd5 48.Bd2 Ke4 49.Kc1 Kf3 50.Be1 Ke2 0-1

Replay the game in the viewer below:

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Learn From Chess Grandmasters - Aronian-Ivanchuk - Nalchik 2009

I have been writing about positions with bishops of opposite colour for a while now, and today came across another example on this topic – this time from an endgame with queens. The video has annotations by Russian grandmaster Sergei Shipov, translated into English:

The final position is quite thematic, it’s as if White has an extra piece for the attack – the bishop on e4, and Black can’t defend against threats of Qh3x and Qh7x:


I am always on a search for good free chess videos to watch while exercising, the Crestbook channel on youtube is to be highly recommended.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Book review: How to Build Your Chess Opening Repertoire

If you have constant trouble re-with your openings and lost hope to build a solid repertoire, the book I am reviewing today may help you out! How to Build Your Chess Opening Repertoire by Steve Giddins is a very useful book for any practical chess player, especially if you have enjoyed Opening Preparation by Dvoretsky and Yusupov, and are interested in getting an update that would talk more about how computers have impacted opening preparation in the last couple of decades. Several of Dvoretsky’s books came out in the middle of 90’s but were really based on the lecture that had taken place in 1991-1992, when nobody really had access to modern databases and engines, so there is practically not a word about computers in them. Giddins’ book provides a much needed update for this important topic.



Here are a few points that stood out for me from “How to Build Your Chess Opening Repertoire”:

1. Don't switch your openings too much, try to always re-use the knowledge you already gained of the opening theory and middlegame plans. Jumping between openings is dangerous, as I mentioned in my other post on opening preparation.

2. Computers have made it hard to rely on sharp lines that are easily refuted by Rybka and that has affected repertoires of many leading players. Even amateurs are probably discouraged from analyzing a line where a computer keeps indicating that their position is objectively bad.

3. Computers also make it hard to hide holes in your repertoire (say, if someone refuted your preparation in a specific tournament game), as anyone with a database will spot those pretty easily and can expose them more and more. For example, I had lost a game in a rare line around 2002, and this has affected my repertoire, giving up 1…e5 for a couple of years.

4. If our opening preparation even appears to have been insufficient and we end up in a bad position, it affects the emotional state of the player in later parts of the game. We’d tend to blame the opening for all of our misfortunes and not resist as hard as we would otherwise. Having a solid opening repertoire would allow to focus more on other parts of the game!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Peshk@ – new chess training software from developers of Chess Assistant

I just downloaded this neat tool from and after playing with it for a few minutes – I must say it looks pretty neat. The interface shell itself is free, it comes with a few demo courses and you can download more for extra charge. This follows a model similar to what Chessbase is doing with ChessBase Light as a viewer for their media lessons, where the viewer is free, but you have to pay for extra courses. Here are a few screenshots of the demo endgame course I downloaded off their website also for free (based on a book by Alexander Panchenko, who sadly recently passed away). Even without buying anything – there is a fair bit of interesting content for you to look at, before deciding which course is most worth your hard earned $25.

Training mode:


Theory mode:


The course browser, as you can see – I got the demo one:


From what I understand, this is to replace all the old training software that Convekta had, where you had to install a separate shell for every course, which was obviously more clunky, and probably harder to sell.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Paul Keres Memorial 2002 – part 3 - combinations

To conclude posting extracts from my 7 year old En Passant article about this tournament, here are a few tactical positions:

(6) Leblanc,Paul - Spears,Nicholas [D02]
Keres mem 27th Vancouver (2.10), 18.05.2002

image Black to move

16...Rh1+ 0-1

(7) Wu,Howard - Daswani,Ben [C09]
Keres mem 27th Vancouver (4.21), 19.05.2002

image White to move

White is completely winning, but the finishing move is neat. 17.Qh5! 1-0

(8) Lee,Mau-Seng - Stanford,Mike [B45]
Keres mem 27th Vancouver (5.7), 19.05.2002

White played 25.Bd2 overlooking a queen sacrifice:
keres2002_181Black to move
25...Qxh2+ 0-1

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Opposite Coloured Bishops – Part 5

Continued from Part 4

(7) Kotov Alexander (RUS) - Botvinnik Mikhail (RUS)
Ch URS Moscow (Russia), 1955


25...Be4! Black's advantage is obvious: his bishop is much better than White's. 26.Qd2 Qg4 Black exerts pressure on 'g2'; his own pawns on f6 and g7 make similar ideas by White impossible. 27.h3 Qg6 28.Qf2 h5 29.Kh2 a5 Diagram


In these positions, it is important for the stronger side to have its pawns on the squares of the colour same as the opponent's bishop to limit its scope. 30.Ba3 b5 31.Bc5 b4 32.Rcc1 Rdc8 33.Bd4 Bc2 34.Rd2 Be4 35.Rdd1 Qf5 36.Qe2 Qg6 37.Qf2 a4 ! ? 38.Rxc8+ Rxc8 39.bxa4 Qe8 40.Rd2 Qxa4 41.Qh4 Rc2 Of course, trading rooks relieves White's defensive task, but there was no other way to win the 'a2' pawn. 42.Rxc2 Qxc2 43.Qg3 Qxa2 44.Bxf6 Qxg2+ ! 45.Qxg2 Bxg2 46.Bd4 Be4 Black won a pawn, but the position is very likely drawn. With great ingenuity Botvinnik confuses his opponent and pulls out a study-like win. 47.Kg3 Kf7 48.h4 g6 49.Kf2 Ke6 50.Ke2 Kf5 51.Kd2 Kg4 52.Bf6 White is defending according to the general principle: the king should block the passed pawn, while the bishop is defending his own pawns on the other flank. But he has to be very careful as both 'h4' and 'e3' require protection, and the 'b' pawn can be used to deflect one of defenders. 52...Kg3 53.Be7 Kh3 54.Bf6 Kg4 55.Be7 Bf5! Diagram


The bishop is being transferred to 'e6'. Notice that in the middlegame it would have been a passive square for it, but in the endgame the bishop is going to be very useful on the 'a2-g8' diagonal. 56.Bf6 Kf3 57.Be7 b3 58.Kc3 Be6 59.Bc5? Diagram


[59.Kxb3 d4+ 60.Kc2 dxe3 61.Kd1 Kf2 62.Bc5 Bb3+ 63.Kc1 Kf3 64.Kb2 Bd1 65.Kc1 Ba4 66.Bd6 Kg4 67.Be7 Kxf4-+; 59.Kd2 ! 59...b2 60.Kc2 Kxe3 61.Kxb2 Kxf4 62.Kc3= is given by Botvinnik] 59...g5 !! Shock. 60.fxg5 [60.hxg5 h4 61.f5 Bxf5 62.Kxb3 h3 63.Bd6 Kxe3] 60...d4+ ! The 'b' pawn must be saved. Material balance does not matter much as Black gets two distant passers, 'b' and 'h' pawns. White gets two passers too, but the bishop on e6 is acting according to the principle of one diagonal! It stops both White pawns and defends his own 'b3 pawn', along the a2-g8 diagonal. If White's pawn was on a4 instead of d4, he would not lose. 61.exd4 Kg3 that's why Black played 'g6-g5' - now the 'h4' pawn cannot be protected by the bishop from e7. 62.Ba3 Kxh4 63.Kd3 Kxg5 64.Ke4 h4 65.Kf3 Bd5+ Kf2 Kf4 and the king marches to c2. 0-1

Monday, June 1, 2009

Paul Keres Memorial 2002 – Part 2 – two bishops in the endgame

Part 1. I did not perform too well in that edition of the Keres Memorial, but the first round win was very satisfying:

(5) Jiganchine,Roman - Maheux,Pierre [B32]
Keres mem 27th Vancouver (1.9), 17.05.2002

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e5 5.Nb5 a6 6.Nd6+ Bxd6 7.Qxd6 Qf6 Starting a new opening is always a painful process, so I felt myself really uncomfortable about the fact that in this position I was already out of book. 8.Qxf6 [Theoretical 8.Qd1 Qg6 seemed to involve some subtleties so I decided to go for a simple solution, even though it Black might get good chances to equalize immediately.] 8...Nxf6 9.Nc3 d5 10.exd5 Nb4 11.Bd3 Nfxd5 12.Nxd5 Nxd5 13.Bd2 Diagram


And here I got really happy about my two bishops. In this pawn structure the control of the 'd' file is what each player strives for to get an advantage, but for now it is blocked by 3 minor pieces, and I decided that my chance is instead to put pressure on the e5 pawn.13...Be6 14.0-0 [14.0-0-0!?] 14...0-0-0 15.Ba5 Rde8 [15...Rd7!] 16.Rfe1 f6 17.g3 Diagram


preventing ...Nf4. Depriving opponent's knight of outposts is a common strategy when possessing two bishops.17...Ne7 18.c3 Kb8 19.Bb6 Nc8 20.Be3 Rd8 21.Bf1 Bd5 22.f4 Diagram


Hoping to open up the position for the bishops22...exf4? Black cooperates... 23.Bxf4+ Ka8 24.c4 Bc6 25.b4 Now White has a large advantage: I managed to get my pawns advance, and Black's pieces are pushed back to the last ranks. 25...Rhe8 26.b5 axb5 27.cxb5 Be4 28.Bc7 Diagram


With a very tempting idea to set up a mating net: now White just has to get a rook on the 'a' file. 28...Rd4 29.Rad1 Rxd1 30.Rxd1 Re7 31.b6 Bc6 The threat was 32. Rd8 Bf5 33.Rd5 and Ra5. 32.Bh3 Re8 33.Rd3 Bb5 34.Ra3+ Ba6 Diagram


35.Rxa6+ I was really pleased that the game ended with this mini-combination: the advantage of two bishops was converted in its pure form: [35.Rxa6+ bxa6 36.Bg2+ White uses only his bishops to deliver mate.] 1-0
You can replay this game in a viewer:

Hit Counter