An unexamined life is not worth living.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Unexpected Exchange Sacrifice - Video

Jiganchine,Roman (2246) - Lipnowski Michael (1799) [E69] Canadian Junior (7), 05.01.2002, Winnipeg


We often read in chess books about "positional exchange sacrifices", and if a grandmaster gives up his rook on c3 for a knight in Sicilian, we make wise "knowing smiles" and don't think of this as anything special. However, as I must admit, in the following game my opponent's positional sacrifice came as a total shock for me. Even if there was a refutation, I could not think normally, and decided to escape with a draw offer. 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.Nf3 0-0 5.g3 d6 6.Bg2 Nbd7 7.0-0 e5 8.e4 Re8 [8...c6 is the most popular choice.] 9.Re1 c6 10.h3 Qc7 11.b3 [11.Be3 exd4 12.Nxd4 Nc5 13.Qc2 a5 14.Rad1 Bd7 15.b3 Rad8 16.f4 Bc8 17.Bf2 and white scores really well from here 17...Re7 18.Nde2 Nfd7 19.Qd2 Re6 20.e5 Bf8 21.Nd4 Ree8 22.exd6 Rxe1+ 23.Qxe1 Qb8] 11...a6 [11...exd4 12.Nxd4 Nc5 is another option] 12.Bb2 b5 13.cxb5 axb5 14.Qc2 Qb6 15.dxe5 dxe5 16.a4 b4 Diagram


A positionally dangerous move, as now White has a protected a4 pawn, c4 outpost and pressure along 'c' file. Michael, however, had a creative idea in mind... ? ! [16...bxa4 17.Nxa4+/=] 17.Nb1 Ra5 18.Nbd2 Rc5 19.Nc4 Ba6 20.Bf1 Qb8 21.Qd2? the strange rook on c5 played its role: I fail to find the right way: [21.Bc1! Bxc4 (21...Nb6 22.Be3 Rxc4 23.bxc4) 22.Bxc4 Ra5 23.Be3 would bring White a solid positional advantage.] 21...Bxc4 22.Bxc4 [22.bxc4 Ra5 is fine for Black]  Diagram

m_lipnowski_321 Black to move

22...Rxc4 Objectively, I believe the sacrifice was not fully correct: for the exchange Black gets a great square for his knight on c5, and a dangerous 'b' pawn. Everything depends on whether or not Black will manage to activate the rest of his pieces and prevents me from pushing the 'a' pawn. !? 23.bxc4 Nc5 24.Qc2 Nfd7 [Being a materialist by nature, I expected 24...b3 !? If White plays incorrectly, Black gains powerful initiative. For example: 25.Qd2 ?! (25.Qb1+/= ! is best; now because the weak e5 pawn Black has problems) 25...Nfxe4 26.Qa5 Nxf2 27.Qxc5 Nd3 28.Qa3 e4] 25.Nd2 [2010: 25.a5!? passed pawns must be pushed] Diagram

m_lipnowski_322 Black to move

 25...h5 !? Black's last several moves had a strong psychological effect on me: instead of trying to get material back, he plays moves that pursue purely positional long term goals: for example, weakening my king. 26.Nb3 ? rather pointless, because the exchange of knights favours Black. Better was [26.a5 and if 26...Na6 27.Nb3] 26...h4 27.Nxc5 [27.a5] 27...Nxc5 28.Bc1 ? [after 28.gxh4 ! ? 28...Qd8 Black wins the pawn back and gets his queen activated. Besides, I did not want to surrender an important 'f4' square. However, (28...Bh6 29.h5 ! ? 29...gxh5 ? ! 30.Qd1) 29.Qd1 Qxh4 30.Qg4 forces Black to retreat.] 28...hxg3 29.fxg3 Rd8 30.Kg2 1/2-1/2
Being upset about the course of the game (I have to defend!) and now not being able to find ways to consolidate (I missed them!), I offered a draw, which my opponent accepted. The position is already unclear. While the game got no logical conclusion, Black's creative idea was clearly successful! [Here is a possible variation:
30.Kg2 b3 31.Qe2 Rd4 32.Be3 Rxe4 33.Rab1 Bh6 34.Qf3 Bxe3 35.Rxe3 Rxc4 36.Rf1 Rc2+ 37.Kh1 f5 38.Qxc6 Kh7=/+;
30.Rf1 Rd3 31.Qf2 Qf8 and Black has counterplay: 32.Re1 Rc3~~; 30.a5 ? 30...Rd3 31.Be3 Rc3]

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Game from Canadian Chess Junior Championship 2002 - video

Some losses are just not fun to go back and look at! Some of them are just plain depressing, but there is always a good lesson to be learned from any game, especially if you look critically at your own play. In this case – my brain just was not there at the two very critical junctures of this last round game of the Canadian Junior Championship in 2002 in Winnipeg:
Moskvitch – Jiganchine, 2002

image Black to move

Instead of the correct 15… Qd5, I erred with 15 … f6? After 16. Qh5! I had to surrender material, but was fortunate to collect some of it back, so I was still in the game by the time we got to this position:

image Black to move. Can he take on f4?

Answer: no! Correct was 35 …Rh8, or 35 ... fxg5. Watch the video for more details and to see what happened


In summary: after a bad mistake on my part, White conducts a nice attack in the Panov attack of the Caro-Kann. With a rook and 3 pawns for two pieces, my opponent was cruising to victory, but was a bit imprecise and allowed me to get outposts for my pieces. However I return the favour and make a huge blunder, so White wins.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Chess - tactics serving strategy

Jiganchine – Jack Cheng, Keres Memorial 2008

image Black to move. How to best deal with the attack against the b5 pawn?
In this position, typical for Archangel-Moller variations of the Spanish opening, my opponent took an "easy" way out and just pushed the pawn forward with 15 … b5-b4 That left him with a severely weakened pawn structure on the queenside, and soon White won a pawn, and later – the game:
16. Nc4 Na5 17. Nxb6 cxb6 18. Bxb7 Nxb7 19. Qb3 a5 20. Qd5 Re7 21. Qc6  +-

image The weakness of light squares leads to the loss of the pawn on b6. To paraphrase what David Bronstein said – the weakness of the light squares, manifests itself in opponent coming on those light squares and attacking your pawns and pieces that are placed on dark squares.

Did Black have a better continuation? There was a tactical solution! Black just had to ignore the threat to b5, and protect the bishop with 15 … Ra8-b8! The point reveals itself after:  17. Nxb5 Nxd4!!

image White to move, he no longer has any advantage.

This quite a computer trick; my opponent must have missed it and was forced to play the weakening b5-b4; this would have allowed him to equalize, since White does not have anything better than 18. Nbxd4 Bxd5 19. exd5 Rxe1+ 20. Qxe1 Bxd4 =

This is a great example to illustrate the idea that tactics should be used to help your strategy. In this case – Black’s strategy should have been to give up the b5 pawn but actively counter attack White’s center by putting pressure on e4 and d4 with all of Black’s pieces.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Piece sacrifice against French defence

Black delays castling, and that backfires as his pieces are not ready to deal with White's attack. Against pawn advances on the flanks - White responds with attack in the center. Diagrams with the key moments of this game in my blog entry.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Opposite Coloured Bishops – Part 13

This is a continuation of my posts on endgames with bishops of opposite colour. This example shows the importance properly transitioning to pawn endgames.
Kveinys Aloyzas (LTU) (2515) - Bagirov Vladimir (LAT) (2530)
It (open) Weilburg (Germany) (8), 1995

opposite_bishop_135 White to move

40.Ke1!? [40.Rxc4 ?? 40...Bb5] 40...Bb5 [40...Bxg2? 41.b5 is obviously in White's favour; the blockade cannot be lifted, so the bishop must stay on the a4-e8 diagonal] 41.g4 f6 42.Kd2 g5 43.Kc3 Rd8 Diagram

opposite_bishop_136 White to move

White has a positional advantage, as his pieces have more space and are more active. Black's bishop is blocked by his own pawns, Pawn on c4 is weak. Thus White played the 'straightforward' 44.Rxc4?? [44.fxg5! was the correct version of the same idea. Here White wins: 44...hxg5 (44...fxg5 45.Rxc4 +- ) 45.Rxc4 Bxc4 46.Kxc4 and the 'b' pawn is already seeing herself at 'b8', which is so nicely covered by the bishop. 46...Rxd6 ?! (46...f5 47.b5 f4 48.b6 Kd7 49.b7 f3 50.Kd3 +-) 47.cxd6 Kd7 48.Kc5 +5.50 48...f5 49.b5 f4 50.b6 +-] 44...Bxc4 45.Kxc4 Diagram

opposite_bishop_137 Black to move

White suddenly got hit by a counter blow: 45...Rxd6! 46.cxd6 gxf4 Despite his protected passed pawn (b4) and more active king, White loses! The problem is that Black wins the 'd6' pawn. 47.b5 [47.Kd3 Kd7 48.Ke4 e5 49.Kf3 Kxd6 50.Ke4 Kc6 51.Kf3 Kd5 52.Ke2 e4-+] 47...f3 Diagram


Now White loses both his 'b' and 'd' pawns, so he resigned (0-1)

How to watch chess videos on your iPod or iPhone

There are a lot of chess videos on YouTube and other video sharing sites, and just not enough time to watch them all! I have my own little channel with 20 or so clips, but there are obviously a lot of other players who upload chess videos with analysis, tournament reports, and tutorials. Being able to take all that free content as it gets uploaded to “the internets” and watch it away from the computer would be very handy. Youtube is great in that it has the dominant amount of content, but it has a couple of limitations in 10 minutes being maximum length of most clips, and in that it does not provide any built-in ability to subscribe and automatically download videos to your computer. Blip.TV does not have these limitations, and it has a couple of great chess channels to which you can subscribe and continuously get new videos to your media device. Just follow these steps:

  1. Install ITunes
  2. Subscribing. Go to a ChessVibes or Chess.FM channel on, I found these two to be providing great content. Please let me know if you know of others. Click on “Subscribe to this show on ITunes”:
    This should launch iTunes, if it is not running yet, and the channel will now show up in your list of podcasts:
  3. Conversion. After iTunes downloads the latest videos for these channels, select a bunch of clips, right click and do “Create iPod or iPhone Version”. Conversion takes a while, but you don’t have to sit there all day watching the bytes flip. Hey, at least you don’t need to download any fishy shareware conversion tools that stop working after two weeks (but probably keep spying on your PC). You just have to trust Apple, but you already have bought an iPod, so …
  4. Uploading to the device. Once clips have been converted, they should show up under Movies in your iTunes. If you have set up your device to let you manage uploads manually, you should be able to drag and drop those babies to the device:

After the copying is done, they videos should show up when you go to videos section on the phone/device.

That’s it! I found iPodTouch screen to be large enough to watch a chess game analysis, so having this process in place was a big win. It’s all done with a click or drag and drop; so simple that my Grandmother should be able to do it too. But wait, my Grandmother knows how to repair a PC better than I do. Bad example…

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Chess Assistant feature - Search for current pawn structure and material

Chess Assistant and Chessbase are both very powerful products, and it feels that the majority of chess players in the recent years have almost completely switched to Chessbase. I also have long ago decided that the convenience of the user interface even in various versions of Chessbase Light is more important than anything else in a chess package because it allows me to focus better on the 3 primary functions that I care most about:

  1. Game entry
  2. Viewing games
  3. Engine analysis (and adding engine’s line to my analysis)

Yes, inability to easily resize the board has just turned me off from my good old copy of Chess Assistant 6, but every once in a while I still load it up, and I must say there are a few things that the Russian-based software company nailed back 10 years ago. For example:

  1. Position Tree (integrated into the database)
  2. Search

What is so fancy about “Search” in Chess Assistant? It is just more powerful! It

  1. Remembers your previous search criteria (up to 10 or so)
  2. Allows you to search multiple databases at once
  3. Stores search results into datasets, and they are still around when you re-start the application
  4. Is fast (again, goes back to positional tree integrated with the database, not stored in a separate lonely .ctg file Chessbase-style)

And here is the kicker, a very neat feature that allows you to better understand and study typical middlegames: “Search for Current pawn structure and material”:


That brings up a scary looking but otherwise very functional window like this:


It is very convenient to choose a database to search in, or multiple databases (something that is a traditional pain in Chessbase):


Searching hugebase then give a set of useful games with Black pawns on a5 and b5, and all 4 minor pieces still on the board:


It then remembers the dataset for future sessions


Sometimes it just feels that software makers don’t want to look at each other’s products! So 10 years later, some features are still better in one package, and resizing the board window is still problematic in its competitor. Or is it just that some things don’t fit into your original design, leaving you permanently screwed?

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