An unexamined life is not worth living.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Chess Tactics of the Month - Vallejo Pons - Hou Yifan

Vallejo Pons, F.    -    Hou Yifan
27th Leon GM 2014   2014.06.06     1-0     A30

1. Nf3 e6 2. c4 b6 3. g3 Bb7 4. Bg2 c5 5. O-O Nf6 6. Nc3 Be7 7. Re1 d6 8. e4 Qc8 9. d4 cxd4 10. Nxd4 a6 11. Nd5 exd5 12. exd5 Ra7 13. Bf4 Kf8 14. Qd3 Nh5 15. Qe2 Bxd5 16. Qxh5 Bxg2 17. Kxg2 h6 18. Qd5 Kg8 19. Nf5 Nc6 20. Re3 Kh7
White to move
Solution: in a Video or Ebook

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Is there a similarity between the styles of Kramnik and Botvinnik?

Studying the games of two all time great players, Vladimir Kramnik and Mikhail Botvinnik, I find there are quite a few similarities in their opening selection, strategic methods, and overall styles of play.

The approach of studying openings deeply and both in terms of specific variation, as well as the skill of playing for subtle positional nuances that are prepared at home was first developed by Botvinnik and today has been taken up to the “machine” level by Kramnik with his razor sharp and deep opening preparation. The similarities are likely not accidental, as Botvinnik was the teacher of Kramnik in the late 1980s, so there is a personal connection.

Has anyone else made similar comparisons between Kramnik and Botvinnik in the past? Are there other chess champions who have been called out as very similar in style?

Here are a couple of games by Botvinnik and Kramnik in the same opening - Slav Exchange:

Monday, July 14, 2014

What Do you Expect from a Good Chess Puzzles Collection?

After putting out regular collections of chess tactics/puzzles for the last year or so, I've been thinking about what separates a good chess puzzle collection from a bad one. I find that for a chess puzzle book to be enjoyable, I generally expect it to have the following characteristics :
  • Solutions should be computer or human checked for accuracy (if you ever solved an incorrect puzzle, you know where I come from)
  • Multiple possible solutions are generally avoided for any given puzzle
  • Games need to be new to me (some combinations migrate from one book to another until everyone can recognize them by heart)
  • The quality of the games has to be rather good, preferably - played by grandmasters
  • In terms of layout or presentation - solutions are easy to look up, ideally - without the risk of seeing solutions to the next positions (whether the puzzle is available online or in a book)
These are the qualities that expect from books/collections that use to train my own skills, so I try to do my best to ensure that ebooks that I create, or tactics that I post on this blog  - follow these guidelines as well.

What else do you expect from a high quality chess puzzle book? 

PS. Note, that I am referring here to practical positions, not the skillfully constructed "mate in two" positions where one side has huge amount of extra material and aims to give mate in as few moves as possible. Those can be quite elegant as well, but are generally a different beast altogether.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Best Combinations of June

With so many instructive games played at the world Rapid and Blitz Championship in Dubai, the June “Tactics of the Month” edition is more than double the usual size, and includes over 100 combinations. Here are a couple of examples:

Topalov, V.    --    Grischuk, A.
2nd Norway Chess 2014   2014.06.04  
4  Black to move. Solution (in the book preview)


Le Quang Liem    --    Bologan, V.
FIDE World Rapid 2014   2014.06.16

11 White to move. Solution (in the book preview).

Sunday, July 6, 2014

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