An unexamined life is not worth living.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pawn sacrifice in Closed Sicilian

This position could have occurred in one of my recent online games

image  White to move

White sacrificed a pawn (on b2), but has a surprisingly (to me) strong initiative.
14. e5!! dxe5 15. Nc6!! Out of nowhere, White generates dangerous threats! Black king is stuck in the center and his queenside pieces are not developed, so White opens up files and diagonals just on time.

image now probably  best is 15... Qc7 and something like this could happen: 16. Bb6 Qd7 17. Nxe5 Qxd1 18. Rfxd1 O-O 19. Bc5 Re8 20. Bd6 Rd8 21.Bxb7 Bxb7 22. Rxb7 Ne4 23. Nxf7 Rdc8 24. Rc1 and and White maintains winning chances.

But what if Black wants to be ‘shown’?

15…dxc6?! 16. Bxc6+ Bd7 17. Bxa8 Qxa8 18. Qd6!

image Black to move. Rb8 is a decisive threat. White is winning. 18… Ne4 19. Rb8+ Bc8 20. Qc7 +-

Friday, October 23, 2009

Positional Chess – Exploiting the Open File

This game, played 10 years ago still brings pleasant memories, and recollections of how easy it can be to a win a chess game if your opponent does not have a plan.
Lee – Jiganchine, 1999
image Black to Move

White played very passively in the Exchange Variation of the Slav Defence, and Black is in control. 26… Qc4! 27. Qxc4 dxc4! This transforms the advantage of an open file, into an advantage of a better pawn structure, where Black has a dangerous majority on the queenside. White’s queen was an important defender that was traded off, and White’s pawns on b2 and a3 now can be attacked by both Black bishop and rook.

image Black is winning here already – due to the threat of c4-c3. Out of desperation my opponent played 28. Be5, dropping the f2 pawn and White Resigned a few moves later. Otherwise the game could have developed like this:

28. Kg1 c3! 29. bxc3 Rxc3

image White can’t save the a3 pawn. 30.a4 bxa4 31. Rb8+ Kh7 32. Rb6 a3 33. Rxa6 Rc2 34. Kh2 a2 35. e4 Bb4 36. d5 Bc3 37. Ra7 exd5 38. exd5 a1=Q 39. Rxa1 Bxa1 -+

The position after 27… dxc4 however, reminds me of the Jurgis-Botvinnik, 1931

imageBlack to move. The future world champion won beautifully by 1... Rc4!! 2. bxc4 Bc5 3. Kg2 Bxf2 4. Kxf2 b3 0-1

What if in my game against Jason Lee, Black also tried to win with 3 pawns and a bishop against the rook after the game move 28. Be5  ? The sac is completely unjustified, insane, but apparently Black might be able to hold a draw!

28... Rxb2 ?!?! 29. Rxb2 Bxa3
imageJust for fun, could Black sacrifice a rook?

  30. Rc2! a5 31. e4 a4 32. Kg3 f6 33. Bc7 Bf8 34. d5 a3 35. d6 b4 36. d7 Be7
image Both sides have advanced their pawns, but Black has 3 of them!! They are so dangerous that White has to bail out with 37. Ba5!? b3
image 37. Ba5 b3 38. Bb4 bxc2 39. Bxe7 c1=Q 40. d8=Q+ Kh7 41.Qa5 e5 42. f3 c3 43. Bxa3 Qf4+ 44. Kf2 Qd2+ with a draw.

Replay the game in the viewer:

Sunday, October 18, 2009

British Columbia Chess Championship 2009

Round robin tournaments are in my opinion more appropriate for improving one’s chess strength, compared to Swiss events or knockouts. In this post I will try to explain why. Round robins tend to have players of more balanced strength, and allow to prepare for your opponents well in advance, resulting in higher quality of games, and fewer accidental opening choices. Here are some lessons learned from a typical round robin tournament among players of average 2200 FIDE strength.

I competed in the 2009 BC Closed Championship last weekend. Thank you, Stephen, for running the tournament again, and providing the crosstable:


Last year I already wrote a summary of my games and tournament overview of 2008 championship. Back then I had 3 wins and 3 losses, only a single draw. This time I took a different path to the same result – 1 win, 1 loss and 5 draws, with a tie for the 3rd place yet again. In itself, regular participation in a tournament like this is definitely essential if I want to maintain and improve my chess level, so I am very glad I took part. Jack Yoos won convincingly, although he was clearly losing at one point in his game against Lucas in round 6, that game could have change the situation quite a bit. Dragoljub Milicevic was included at the last moment, but posted an awesome result. He now agrees to draws a lot more willingly than 10 years ago, but also is being practical about picking up points when opponents give him a chance. Tanraj Sohal showed a lot of potential for his age, I did not realize that he is only 12 years old.

A few personal observations again:

- I had a bit more time to prepare the openings before the tournament, and was more careful about getting enough sleep throughout the tournament. My games were also shorter, so I was not as exhausted as last year. Last year’s preparation was also helpful since 4 of last year’s opponents played again this time, and obviously their opening repertoires have not changed all that much since then. Opening preparation for a tournament like this (opponents are known well in advance) is time consuming and sets the tone for each game. Although I thought I was reasonably well prepared in the opening - my opponents still managed to surprise me by their choice in the opening in nearly every game. Still, except for the games against Jack Yoos and Brian McLaren, I felt sufficiently familiar with the position that arose …

- I am not happy with my time management again. In a couple of games I had a good position in the end, but went for a draw by repetition because I had significantly less time than my opponents. What was worse, in two games I knew all the opening moves quite well, but still spent half an hour or more on those known moves. Roman, if you know the moves – just frigging play them!

- UBC is a pretty nice place! It was a longer daily commute for me than last year, but I still enjoyed the playing site quite a bit.

I also posted the video of my only win – game against Alfred Pechisker, and a nice combination I found analysing my endgame against Howard Wu. Another tactical idea I posted about – was found while preparing for a game against him.

How to Attack in Sicilian Scheveningen – video with analysis

What does your best chess game look like?

I’ve put a complete video on ChessVideos site:, and split it up into two parts for youtube since the most popular video sharing site has a limit of 10 minutes per clip: Part 1 and Part 2. Why put up this game? It was my only win in a tournament, and it turned out quite nice. The game could have concluded with a really spectacular finish if Black did not resign and continued to the bitter end:

image White to move

23.Qf6!! would threat with Qg7x and Qf7x, so the only response is 23… Nxf6, but then 24. Nf6 is mate


Alfred still has a positive score in our personal encounters (that started in 1998), so of course him walking into my opening preparation was the main reason for such a disaster. Our games are always more fighting than my average game, so I am sure I'll have to prepare even harder for to survive our next battle.

Replay the game in the viewer with all variations:

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sharpen your Endgame Skills - Breakthrough in a Rook Endgame

Do you ever analyze your games with a computer and find really unusual hidden possibilities? It can be worth it sometimes!

image  Black to move

I came across this curious position while analysing one of my games from a recent tournament. Black has the initiative, but in most lines White is active enough to trade off all the pawns. The d2 pawn is a strength and a weakness at the same time. Computer found a brilliant concept:

53… g3!! You can check yourself that taking on f2, or f5 is not quite sufficient.
The idea is to win control over the e3 square, so after 54. fxg3 Re3 + Black wins the rook.

The king has to stop attacking the d2 pawn, so after 55. Kc4 Re1Black wins the rook and is on time to collect White’s weak pawns. The d pawn proves to be a strength in this variation!

Click here to read more about rook endgames on my blog.

Typical mistakes in IQP positions – YouTube video

Here is an older video I actually recorded a while ago (but only now had time to go to and do some minimal editing). I go through my blitz games and look at different ways Black can go wrong while trying to complete his development.

Moral of the story:
Memorize an opening variation – you may be lucky to win a single game.
Understand typical tactical ideas in a common pawn structure – you will win multiple games while your opponents play what they think “common sense moves”.

PS. Yes, unfortunately the audio is not very loud, my video editing skills are still non-existent.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Combination - trapping the knight

Sometimes analysis with a computer engine just finds gems like this:

image White to move

16. d6!! This pawn sacrifice clears the square for the c3 knight. exd6 17. Bxf6 Bxf6 18. Nd5! the idea is to take away f4 and b4 squares from the black knight Bg7 19. Ra2 Nd3 20. Rd1 The loose knight on d3 is lost, the knight on d5 dominates the position. White is winning.


I would probably have not found the idea without the computer, and there is some irony in it – I did not create the combination, but I can enjoy it! The computer definitely did find the combination, but is not there to appreciate the aesthetic side of these dancing knights in the endgame.

Friday, October 9, 2009

How to Win a Chess Game by Activating the rooks – Creative Chess from Michael Adams

I came across this pretty interesting game, Bergsson – Adams, 2003. In the position on the diagram - Black has full compensation for the pawn, but how does he improve his pieces? Michael Adams saw a weakness in the h3 pawn, and decided to … attack it with rooks. Moral of the story – if you have a dominating position and are rated 700 points higher than your opponent, you can try all kinds of creative ideas!

image Black to move

30… Kh7 31. Nc4 Rh8 32. Ne5 Bf5 33. Re2 Kg8

image Nice – now the h3 pawn is under attack!

34. Rh2 Qe7 35. Rdd2 g6 36. b4 Rh5 37. Rdg2 But wait, he liked the idea, so he does it again, now bringing the d8 rook to the h file!

image Black to Move.

37… Kh7!! 38. Qe3 Rh8 39. Ng4 Bg7 40. a4 Ra8 41. Qb3
Be4 42. Re2 Bd5 43. Qc2 Qh4 44. Re3 Rf5 45. Rf2 Rh8 46. b5 Kg8
The king triangulated again, now both rooks are attacking the weak white pawns!

image 47. b6 Qxg4+ White collapses under the pressure 48.Kf1 Rxh3 49. Rxh3 Qxh3+ 50. Ke2 Qg4+ 51. Ke1 Rxf4 52. Rxf4 Qxf4 53. a5 Bxd4 54. a6 Qg3+ 55. Kd1 Qg1+ 56. Ke2 Qf2+ 57. Kd1 Bf3+ 58. Kc1 Qe1+ 0-1

Replay the game in the viewer:

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Quick win by Black in Panov attack – youtube video

I have been fairly busy preparing for a provincial championship, so I have not had much time for the blog in the last few weeks. But here is a video I made of one of my games from several years ago. It might be of interest for you if you play the Caro-Kann defence, or are interested in BC Chess scene in general. In this game Black quickly takes over initiative and attacks White king that got stuck in the center. A good example of why you don't want to neglect development. The game was wrapped up with a pseudo-queen sacrifice, but more important is Black’s 11th move, it’s fundamental for understanding Black’s initiative in this game.


Replay the game in the viewer:

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