An unexamined life is not worth living.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Chess Position Trainer – Show Novelties

Once you created an opening repertoire in Chess Position Trainer (or imported it from elsewhere), you can cross-reference it against the database of games that you played. Here is a little walkthrough of how to use this feature.

Typically I play a lot of games on ICC, which stores all my games in a PGN file.
By using “show novelties” menu, I get a prompt for a pgn file, and then – a list of games:

Clicking on each game takes me to the position in which the game departed from my repertoire! The tool comments on what I should have played, according – to my own opening preparation

Apparently castling is premature here, but, alas, I forgot how exactly to deal with this piece sacrifice in the dragon, and did not play Nb3.

The new version of Chess Position Trainer is coming out soon, I can’t wait!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Loose Pieces Drop Off – Practical Chess

In his book “Secrets of Practical Chess”, John Nunn coined the phrase “Loose Pieces Drop Off”. Here is a little example that I think illustrates this rule well:

cerassee – DDT3000, ICC, 15 minutes per game

 image Black to Move.
White just played 21. Ba5? and seemingly created a threat to the rook on d8. However making aggressive moves before finishing development (White’s rooks have not moved yet!) is dangerous, and Black was able to exploit exactly that. As a hint – consider that Bd3 is attacked by the rook from d8, the knight on c4 is already attacked by Be6. Now also Ba5 is unprotected. Black should be able to exploit all this “looseness” of White pieces and he did… How?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Creating Opening Repertoire in ChessBase

I already wrote about how to better manager your repertoire as well as why you need to build your repertoire in the first place, but this video (posted by “Robofriven” on ChessVideos.TV) illustrates nicely the details of doing it in a particular tool – ChessBase 9 in this case. The author also mentions Chess Position Trainer, so you definitely don’t have to be restricted to one tool; more important is that your repertoire is stored somewhere at all, and you have simple ways of it updating it.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Chess Endgames – Passed Pawns Must Be Pushed

Passed pawns in the endgame are more powerful than in the middlegame. With few pieces left on the board, they can be supported by their own king and tie up entire opponent’s army. As usual, it takes a bit of experience to sense that a pawn is especially dangerous in a given situation. Feel free to skip to the last diagram in this post to see the full power of passed pawns.

Jiganchine – Black, BC – Washington scholastic match, 1999

image Black to move.

My opponent did not find anything better than repeat the position after 41… Kf6 42. Rb6+ Kf5 43. Rb7 Kg6 44. Rb6+ Kg5 45. Rb7 Kf6 1/2-1/2
At the time I took it for granted that rook endgame with minimal material advantage ended as a draw. However, looking at this position with the fresh eye, draws attention to the fact that White’s king is very badly placed. It is completely cut off from the center of the board, so Black should take advantage of it: 41… d4!

image  On top of White’s king being badly placed, Black king protects the squares on the ‘d’ file from the White rook, so White has great difficulties stopping this pawn. I analyzed two options – both are losing for White.

a) 42. Rxg7 d3 43. Rg8 Kd5 44. Rd8+ Kc4 45. Rd7 Kc3 46. Rc7+ Kd4 47.Rxh7 d2 48. Rd7+ Ke3 49. h4 Ra4

image Black is winning: the White king is cut off along 4th rank,White has to sacrifice the rook for 'd' pawn

trying to stop the pawn immediately does not help either:
b) 42. Rb8 d3 43.Rd8 d2 44. h4 h5 

image White is in some kind of amazing zugzwang. Either his king has to leave the ‘g’ file, making e5-e4 break possible, or the rook has to go to d3, which turns out also problematic.
45. Kh2 e4! 46. fxe4 Ke5 47. Kg3 Kxe4 –+ Black king advances to support the pawn
45. Kf2? d1=Q+
45. Rd3 This is the only square for the rook on the ‘d’ file, but here comes: 45… e4!! 46. fxe4 Ra3!!

image Black wins as he is going to get a new queen. The triumph of the passed pawn!

Why did my opponent not consider this advance of the pawn, and why did I overlook it in whatever analysis I did after the game? The power of material must be so strong in player’s heads, that giving up even a pawn often does not occur to many players.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Chess Endgames - Keeping the Rook Active

The major rule of rook endgames is that you should keep your rook active. When you look at a given position - usually it is obvious whether or not your rook is active However, sensing the moment and finding the tactical opportunity for activating the rook actually requires a bit of experience and judgement. An important corollary of the above rule is that you should also try to keep your opponent’s rook passive.

What does it mean for a rook to be active?
1) it attacks opponents’s pawns and protects its own
2) it can attack or cut off opponent’s king
3) it has freedom for manoeuvre, so zugzwang is never a problem
3) if there are vital open files or ranks  - it controls one of them

To be a bit more specific - here is an example from a report I wrote for a Canadian Chess magazine a few years ago:
Juma - Kazakevich, Canadian Junior Championship, 2004
image Black to move.

GAME CONTINUATION: In the game Black played 32….Kg7?  Centralizing the king cannot be wrong, it can only be untimely. White responded with 32. a4! and the game was agreed drawn a few moves later in this position:

image Black can’t make any progress. His rook is slightly more active, but there is no zugzwang in sight. The extra doubled 'f' pawn has lost most of its value, and bringing the Black king to the queenside would cost the kingside pawns.

CORRECT CONTINUATION: Much better was 32... Rc3! 33. f4 Ra3
The Black rook attacks both the a2 pawn and the g3 pawn. In the game it could only attack one of them at the same time. Such placement of a rook, which makes sure the 'a2' pawn does not move, is standard for rook endings (check out Rubinstein-Lasker, 1909, if you have not seen it). My analysis gave Black a win in all lines, but over the board it is enough to find the continuation that gives best winning chances, and that would be this line. Eventually we could come down to the position like this:

image White to move. He is in zugzwang, since his rook has no moves, so he is likely going to lose as Black king threatens to invade on g4.

Why bring up this old dusty game on which I already wrote something long time ago anyway? Well, it only today occurred to me that history repeated itself in my own game, and I also failed to keep my rook active in a pretty similar situation. This game was played even earlier, but I did not analyse it seriously until last year.

Nathani – Jiganchine, BC Junior Championship, 2001

image Black to move.
GAME CONTINUATION: I decided to play “safe”, keep as many pawns on the board as possible, and gave up the advantage by misplacing my rook:
27… Rb7? 28. Ra6 Rc7.
image Black’s rook is passive, an extra pawn does not mean much here, the game should be drawn.
: Instead I had a much better option that would have kept my rook active:
27... Rb5! 28.Rxa7 Rxe5 29. Kg3 Rc5 30. Ra2 Ke7
Black is up a pawn, and has a more active rook. Stronger players can correct me, but this is a lot likely to be winning than the position that I got in the game.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Pawn Structure in the Closed Spanish – Geller vs. Smyslov

Following up on my previous post, here is another example from the collection of Efim Geller games “Application of Chess Theory

Geller – Smyslov, 1970
image position after 22.Nf3

The 7th world Champion Vassily Smyslov “agreed” on this pawn structure (by playing f7-f5), despite its several long term flaws:
1) light squares are weak, and in particular - White’s knights can occupy e4 and f5 squares
2) d6 pawn is weak
3) White controls the ‘a’ file
5) the b4 and d5 pawns restrict Black’s knights, and especially - the d8 knight has no good future prospects

However, commenting on static features of a position is much easier than exploiting them to your advantage against a strong opponent. Watch this video to see how Geller converted his positional trumps into a full point:

While Geller’s game serves as an argument against playing an early f7-f5 in Closed Spanish, delaying it may lead to White himself playing f2-f4-f5. The final position of Karpov – Unzicker, 1974, illustrates that idea:
image White just played Ng3-h5 and Black resigned!

A game Nunn-Short, 1986 illustrates how Black can try to implement f7-f5, without giving up the e4 squares:

image Black just played f7-f5, but White’s pieces are well prepared for complications;
watch the video to see who comes out on top:

Friday, October 8, 2010

Combination by Efim Geller

Geller-Anikaev, 1979

image White to move

On his way to winning chess USSR championship at the age of 55, Yefim Geller wins this brilliant attacking game. Watch the video for the solution and to see the whole game. A pawn storm on kingside results in the attack and invasion on the ‘f’ file. White’s play is a response to Black’s negligent 13… Rfc8, which weakened f7 pawn. Hint: the final shot aims at bringing the dark squared bishop to the long diagonal.

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