Minor Pieces 5: Francis Ptacek

Continuing from my last article about Arthur Towle Marriott, I promised a series of articles on his Leicester opponents.

This is an interesting period in chess history, witnessing the start of inter-club competitions as we used to know them before Covid-19.

The two matches between Leicester and Nottingham in January and February 1877 seem to have been Leicester’s first matches against another club. Nottingham, however, had previous form: the earliest match I can find was against Derby in 1872. Train services from Nottingham to Derby started in 1839, with trains to Leicester available the following year, but by now rail transport had become more frequent and more affordable. It was the 3.35 servicethat took the Nottingham chess players to Leicester on 25 January 1877.

The following week the Leicester Journal reported:

An interesting event in connection with this club, took place on Thursday week, in the Mayor’s Parlour of the old Town Hall, kindly lent for the occasion by the Mayor, W. Winterton Esq., when the majority of the members assembled to welcome six gentlemen of the Nottingham Chess Club, who arrived by the 3.35 train, to spend, by invitation, a few hours in friendly contest at Chess. The high reputation of the Nottingham Club, caused considerable interest to be felt in the visit, and it was thought that the home players would have but little chance of maintaining a creditable stand. When, therefore, at the close of the contest, it was found that Nottingham had won the match by only one in their favour, considerable gratification was experienced at so favourable a result. The following gentlemen represented the Nottingham Club: S. Hamel Esq., President, Messrs. Stevenson, Marriott, Glendenning, Brown, and Kirk, while Rev. W. L. Newham, Mr W. Stanyon (president), Dr. Nuttall, Herr Ptacek, Messrs. Atkins and Withers did battle for Leicester, winning eight games to their opponent’s nine. The play of the Nottingham gentlemen was much admired for the skill and ingenuity evinced, and, as a consequence of their visit to Leicester, it may be safely asserted that the impetus given to the study of this most intellectual of games among the members of the Home Club, will not soon pass away. The return match we are given to understand will be played at Nottingham on Tuesday next, February 6th, at the Club Room, Long-row. In connection with the Leicester Chess Club we are pleased to learn that its members during the present session have almost doubled, and that new life and energy seem to pervade all its movements.

Chess matches in those days were always described as ‘interesting’ (see also below). Or if not ‘interesting’, then ‘pleasant’.

(Note that the Mr Atkins active at that time was seemingly not related to the great Henry Ernest Atkins, about whom more later.)

It’s not clear from this report whether Nottingham’s Mr Marriott was Arthur or one of his brothers. Zavatarelli assumes it was Arthur: it’s possible that other reports not available online will confirm this.

The week after next, a Leicester team took the train north. Here’s the report from the Nottinghamshire Guardian:

On Tuesday evening a most interesting and spirited match at chess took place between the clubs of Nottingham and Leicester, at the rooms of the former, which are at Mr. Bingham’s restaurant, Long-row. Seven members of the Leicester club took part in the game against eight of Nottingham. About nine o’clock in the evening the members of both clubs adjourned, and sat down to supper, when Mr. Hamel, president of the Nottingham society, occupied the chair. After the usual loyal toasts had been honoured, that of “Continued success and prosperity to the Nottingham Chess Club” was proposed by the chairman and enthusiastically drunk. In the course of his remarks, the chairman referred in very feeling terms to the death of Mr. Thomas Hill, one of the oldest and most respected members of the club, and whose lost he (the chairman) was sure, must be deeply regretted and mourned by all. The president next referred to the Cambridge match, which had resulted so successfully, and to the honour of Nottingham – (hear, hear) – they having won both games, and having declared in one game a mate in ten moves, a point which the Cambridge University could not see. (Applause.) Dr. Worth, the vice-president, after alluding to his thirty years’ connection with the club, proposed, in a complimentary manner, the “Health of the Visitors”, which was responded to by the Rev.  Mr. Newham, of Leicester, and Mr. Thompson, the celebrated problem composer of Derby, in very cordial terms. The health of the respected president (Mr. Hamel) having been proposed and drunk with due honours, the members left the supper table, and again proceeded with their games, which were carried on until a late hour. The following is a list of the players – Leicester, Messrs. Ptacek, Withers, Atkins, Latchmore, Stanyon, Nuttall, and the Rev. – Newham. Nottingham: Messrs. E. Marriott, T. Marriott, A. Marriott, Roe, Alderman W. G. Ward, Hugh Browne, T. A. Stevenson, and Mellors. At midnight, the contest was concluded, when it was announced that Nottingham had won six games, lost five, and drawn one. The match resulted in favour of Nottingham by one game.

We only have the names here, but, fortunately the Leicester Chronicle provided more details:

Leicester Chronicle 10 February 1877

Here, we’re told that Arthur Towle Marriott played on board 4 against Herr Ptacek, winning both his games.

Nottingham’s chess star Sigismund Hamel was present, but, for some reason, didn’t play in the match. However, he annotated (rather inaccurately, according to Stockfish 14) Arthur’s two games for the Nottingham Daily Express (not available online).

In the first game, Arthur’s opponent put up little resistance. This is why I often recommend the Ruy Lopez to novices. If Black isn’t familiar with the opening he can end up in a lost position very quickly. This is just the sort of game I like to use when introducing my pupils to this opening.

But who was Herr Ptacek? What was someone with such an exotic name doing in Leicester?

It’s a very good question, with a very interesting answer.

I really need to introduce you to Robert Ralph Noel.

R R Noel (1802-1883) was born in Kirkby Mallory (as in Mallory Park race circuit), the son of a clergyman. He was very well connected: knowing, either directly or indirectly, almost everyone who was anyone in 19th century England: George Eliot, Charles Darwin, Lord Byron (Ada Lovelace, a distant relation, lived in Kirkby Mallory as a young girl). He married a German Baroness whose family had an estate in Bohemia, which gave him connections to the likes of Goethe right across Europe. He wrote a book on phrenology, which you can, if you so desire (but I wouldn’t bother if I were you), read today.

However, his day job involved running the Leicestershire Militia (the volunteer forces), and, like all forces in those days, they needed a good military band, with a good bandmaster to lead it. For much of the 19th century England was known as ‘the land without music’, so when a musician was required it was tempting to look abroad. Mrs Noel had heard good things about a young man from Prague called Franz Ptacek (he’d often be known as Francis in England), and, in 1854, he was engaged to run a military band in Leicester. It seems he was very successful and popular, but, after 12 years or so, following some sort of dispute, he felt obliged to resign his position.

He then set up a new orchestra and concert society, and resumed giving concerts in Leicester. He was also a composer, pianist and organist seemingly much in demand. Light classical music concerts (think the Strauss family: waltzes, polkas, marches, that sort of thing) were a very popular entertainment at the time. He was more ambitious than this, though, writing an opera and programming two of Handel’s great oratorios: Saul and Samson.

It’s time for some music. Ptacek was particularly renowned for his interpretation of the famous Dead March from Saul. I’d have liked to offer you the Leicester Militia playing this in 1860, but instead you’ll have to do with the next best thing: the Band of the Coldstream Guards recorded in 1910.

Band of the Coldstream Guards play Handel’s Funeral March – YouTube

He also found time to indulge in his (and our) favourite hobby: chess. He was selected to represent his adopted city in what was perhaps their first competitive match, where he met our hero, Arthur Towle Marriott.

His play in the first game wasn’t at all impressive, but he conducted his troops rather better in the return game. Perhaps the supper provided by Bingham’s Restaurant had some effect. His Scotch Gambit led to a winning position, only for him to throw away the win with one careless mistake.

Chess matches in those days served a social rather than a competitive purpose. The result, while eagerly anticipated, didn’t really matter that much. It was more an excuse for players from neighbouring towns or cities to meet for some enjoyable games, with a supper in between. Over the next decade or so there would be many changes, as you’ll see in future Minor Pieces.

A few years later, though, something went wrong. For a second time he lost his orchestra and had to resort to teaching the pianoforte, taking private pupils as well as acting as a peripatetic teacher at Miss Lomas’s school.

At Christmas 1885, Ptacek travelled to Chatham to spend the holiday period with his friend Rudolf Sawerthal, another Czech born military musician. He was just about to return to Leicester when he suffered a fatal heart attack, at the age of only 52.

The Leicester Chronicle published a lengthy obituary:

It is with feelings of sincere regret that we announce the death of Herr Ptacek, which took place at Chatham on Thursday morning. The death of this eminent local musician was totally unexpected, and the intelligence of his sudden decease was received with great surprise amongst his intimate friends. About ten days ago Herr Ptacek proceeded to Chatham on a visit to Herr Sawerthal, the accomplished master of the band of the Royal Engineers, whose performance in the Floral Hall during Christmas week gave such exceptional satisfaction to everyone who heard them. He contemplated returning to Leicester on Thursday morning, and had made every preparation for his departure, when he was suddenly seized with pain at the heart. A medical man was immediately summoned, but before he could arrive Herr Ptacek had expired. A telegram was shortly afterwards despatched to Mr. J. Herbert Marshall, of the Rutland-Street music depot, one of the deceased’s most intimate friends, and that gentleman communicated the sad intelligence to his friends in Leicester, all of whom heard the occurrence with much regret. To many the name Herr Ptacek will be unknown, but his name will not be forgotten by those ardent lovers of music who twenty years ago were charmed with the brilliant company of artistes he gathered around him. The deceased came to Leicester a comparative stranger, but his abilities soon won favourable recognition, and he speedily became possessed of a merited reputation for musical accomplishments, which was not confined to the limits of the borough. In 1855 Herr Ptacek was introduced to Leicester by Major and Mrs Noel, who were convinced of his sterling worth as an organiser and conductor. He left Prague, where he had been brought up under cultivating influences, and took charge of the militia band, which was in want of complete and thorough organisation. So well did Herr Ptacek succeed at his appointed task that before long the band was selected to play before the Queen at Aldershot, and the fine playing of the men under his control elicited warm expressions of Royal approval. The band subsequently played several times before a distinguished company at Belvoir Castle. Some disagreement ultimately took place between him and the officers of the regiment, in consequence of which – in order to maintain his self-respect – he felt it necessary to resign. The resignation was accepted, and he renounced the position of bandmaster, amid many expressions of regret. His efforts to improve the musical taste of the town were not, however, forgotten. On December 16, 1867, he was presented by Mr. T. T. Paget, M.P., at a largely-attended meeting of influential inhabitants, with a purse containing 150 guineas, as some acknowledgement of the efforts he had put forth for twelve years to cultivate musical taste and provide for the public enjoyment. The purse was worked by Mrs Noel, and, in accepting the gift, Herr Ptacek made a humorous and appropriate speech. Some time after his severance of the connection with the militia band, Herr Ptacek organised a band of his own, which he trained to an exceptional point of perfection, and also became the conductor of the New Orpheus Society, a  musical association partly, if not completely, antagonistic to the then Philharmonic Society. His charge of that society was marked by masterful activity, his abilities in controlling the resources of an orchestra being strikingly exhibited. Under the auspices of this society, Samson and Saul were given before large audiences in the chief hall of the town, and the magnificent way in which the “Dead March” was rendered has not yet faded from the recollection of those who heard it. Herr Ptacek also for about 14 years filled the position of organist at St. George’s Church, where his cultivated playing was greatly appreciated. He excelled more as a pianist than as an organist, although his skill in playing the more ponderous instrument was of no mean order. Upon his retirement from active musical life he was again the recipient of a testimonial subscribed for by his admiring friends. He lived in comparative retirement, and his name has not been connected with musical efforts in the town for many years past, although we believe he continued to take pupils who  wished to e instructed in the mysteries of the pianoforte. From the commencement of his labours in Leicester his energies had been invariably directed towards the education of the inhabitants, and in this respect he has probably never been excelled, although it would be idle to say he has not been equalled. He was uniformly courteous, and his geniality endeared him to all who came in contact with him. His life was arduous and self-sacrificing, and the news of his death will not fall to awaken feelings of sorrow. He was about 52 years of age. We understand that instructions have been given to have the deceased interred in the Leicester Cemetery.

His memorial unfortunately misspells both his names, making him Frances rather than Francis (‘i’ for ‘im, ‘e’ for ‘er, as my mother taught me).

The inscription reads, in part:

An accomplished musician he was endeared to his many pupils and to all who knew him, not more by his varied attainments than by his honesty and frankness and by the warmth of his attainments. Those who now sorrow over his grave may well say he came among us as a stranger and he departed leaving many warm and devoted friends.

This site provides more information: his date of birth is given as 1831, but this may be wrong: other records suggest it was 2 December 1832. It’s also incorrect in stating that his wife was Czech.

Further information, including from a source about Masonic Music and Musicians in Leicestershire and Rutland, can be found here.

As far as I can tell, none of his music has survived, but I did find a polka written by his friend Rudolf Sawerthal, arranged for accordion:

Polka Arlequín – YouTube

There you have it: Arthur Towle Marriott’s opponent Francis Ptacek leads us on a tour of chess and musical life in Leicester in the 1870s and 1880s. Who will we discover next? You’ll find out here soon enough.

And, by the way, if you’re interested in the sociology of chess in the English Midlands in the 19th century, you can read Rob Ensor’s 2016 Masters Thesis on Nottingham chess here. My thanks to Rob for making this available, and also to John Swain for bringing it to my attention.

 

 Save as PDF

Beyond Material – Ignore the Face Value of Your Pieces

Beyond Material: Ignore the Face Value of Your Pieces and Discover the Importance of Time, Space and Psychology in Chess, Davorin Kuljasevic, New in Chess, 2021, 978-9056918606
Beyond Material: Ignore the Face Value of Your Pieces and Discover the Importance of Time, Space and Psychology in Chess, Davorin Kuljasevic, New in Chess, 2021, 978-9056918606

From the publisher:

“Improve your ability to take calculated risks! In order to win a game of chess you very often have to sacrifice material. Gathering the courage to do so while accurately assessing the potential benefits is a real challenge. The big question is always: what’s my compensation? Generations of chess players grew up with the idea that a sacrifice was correct if the material was swiftly returned, with interest.

Almost by reflex, they spent lots of time counting, quantifying the static value of their pieces. But is that really the best way to determine the correctness of a sacrifice? In this book, Grandmaster Davorin Kuljasevic teaches you how to look beyond the material balance when you evaluate positions.

With loads of instructive examples he shows how the actual value of your pieces fluctuates during the game, depending on many non-material factors. Some of those factors are space-related, such as mobility, harmony, outposts, structures, files and diagonals. Other factors are related to time, and to the way the moves unfold: tempo, initiative, a threat, an attack. Modern chess players need to be able to suppress their need for immediate gratification.

In order to gain the upper hand you often have to live with uncertain compensation. With many fascinating examples, Kuljasevic teaches you the essential skill of taking calculated risks. After studying Beyond Material, winning games by sacrificing material will become second nature to you.”

“Davorin Kuljasevic is an International Grandmaster born in Croatia. He graduated from Texas Tech University and played in USCL 2007 and 2008 for Dallas Destiny, the team that became US champion in both these years. He is an experienced coach and a winner of many tournaments.”

GM Davorin Kuljasevic
GM Davorin Kuljasevic

This entertaining book is subdivided into seven chapters:

  • Chapter 1 – Attachment to material
  • Chapter 2 – Relative value of material
  • Chapter 3 – Time beats material
  • Chapter 4 – Space beats material
  • Chapter 5 – Psychology of non-materialism
  • Chapter 6 – Is it good to be greedy in chess?
  • Chapter 7 – Solutions

Each of the chapters 1 to 6 begin with an introductory section which sets the scene for the chapter: sometimes an historical angle is given or a famous player’s contribution to chess understanding is referenced or some short pithy pieces of advice are given.

The examples chosen by the author are generally from top players’ games and usually begin from a critical middlegame position. However complete games are shown where the opening is relevant to the theme. A few endgame positions are demonstrated.

Each chapter has a conclusion with a set of handy bullet points summarising some main ideas of the chapter.

Chapters 2 through to 6 have ten testing exercises at the end of each chapter. These are well worth tacking and definitely add to the book’s didactic value.

Chapter 7 gives the solutions to the exercises.

Chapter 1  Attachment to Material

Chapter 1 begins with a sage quote: “You will become a strong player once you learn how to properly sacrifice a pawn.”

One of the first examples in the chapter shows an interesting rook and pawn ending:

Alexandra Kosteniuk-Hou Yifan Nalchik Wch 2008 (6) Move 49
Alexandra Kosteniuk-Hou Yifan Wch 2008 (6) Move 48

White is three pawns up in this rook endgame. However, after 48..Rd8! it becomes clear that black’s single passed pawn is much more dangerous than white’s four passed pawns. White’s pieces are also poorly placed.

49.Rg5+ (49.a4?? trying to get white’s pawns going loses: 49…e3 50.Rg7 Kf6! 51.Rg4 e2 52.Re4 Rd1+ winning the rook and the game as white’s four pawns are no match for the rook.)

49…Kf6 50.Rc5 e3 51.Rc2 White has managed to stop the pawn but both his pieces are passive. Black advances the king to aid the pawn.

51…Kf5 52.a4 Ke4  53.Rc4+ (53. a5?? is foolish: 51…Kf3 52. a6 e2 winning) 53…Kd3 54.Rc3+ White just about grovels a draw with side checks Ke4 55.Rc4+ Kd3 56.Rc3+ Ke4 57.Rc4+ Kd3 drawn

Here is an amusing but instructive example:

Shen Yang-Melissa Castrillon Gomez Batumi 2018 Move 29
Shen Yang-Melissa Castrillon Gomez Batumi 2018 Move 29

White has just played 29.a6 threatening to promote the a-pawn. Black replied 29…Ra2?  (To round up the terrifying a-pawn) 30.Ra1 Rc3+ 31. 30.Rxc3 Rxa1 32.Kxd2 Rxa6 33.Ke3 draw agreed

However, black failed to realise how poorly placed the white king is and missed a brilliant win.

29…Bf4!! 30.a7 Rxf2 31.a8Q+ Kg7 White is up a queen for a bishop and pawn, but white’s king is trapped in a mating net. Black is threatening mate with Rbe2 followed by Re3# and white’s three major pieces cannot do muchabout it.

Shen Yang-Melissa Castrillon Gomez Batumi 2018 Variation Move 32
Shen Yang-Melissa Castrillon Gomez Batumi 2018 Variation Move 32

White can try:

A) 32. Qc8 preparing to defend the third rank 32…Rxg2 33.Qh3 Rxh2 34.Qf3 Rbf2 and white’s queen is trapped. Best is 35.Qxf2 Rxf2 when black has a winning endgame with B+3P for a rook. 35.Qg4 is met by 35…h5! and white’s  queen cannot defend the f3 and h3 squares anymore.

B) 32.Kc3 Rfc2+ 33.Kd3 Re2 threatening Re3# 34. Kc3 Be5+ 35.Kd3 Bd4 with 36…Re3# to follow

C) 32.Qa5 Rbe2 33.Re1 Rd2+ 34.Kc3 (34,Qxd2 Rxd2+ 35.Kc3 Rxg2 black has a winning ending) 34…Rc2+ 35.Kb3 Rb2+ 36.Ka4 (36.Kc3 Bd2+ 37.Kxb2 Bxa5+ followed by 38…Bxe1 wins) 36…Bd2! winning

Shen Yang-Melissa Castrillon Gomez Batumi 2018 Variation Move 37
Shen Yang-Melissa Castrillon Gomez Batumi 2018 Variation Move 37

Chapter 2 – Relative Value Of Material

Here is an interesting game illustrating the chapter’s theme well.

Malakhov-Moiseenko Russia 2005 Move 21
Malakhov-Moiseenko Russia 2005 Move 21

White is clearly better here with more active pieces; black’s Bc6 is particularly bad. Black is solid and white is yet to break through.

21.Bxf6!! Bb6?! Winning the queen but not best. 21…Bxf6 is better. 22.Rxf6 gxf6 23.Qxf6

Malakhov-Moiseenko Russia 2005 Variation Move 23
Malakhov-Moiseenko Russia 2005 Variation Move 23

White has a knight and pawn for the exchange, black has a terrible bishop, lots of weak pawns and an exposed king. However, white’s king is not totally secure.

23…Bd7! Giving up a pawn to improve the bishop and the queen 24.Qg5+ Kf8 25.Bxd5 Qb6+ 26.Nd4 Qg6 27,Qf4 Ra6 white is slightly better but black should hold with care.

22. Bxg7 Bxd4+ 23.Bxd4 White has just two pieces and a pawn for the queen but his pieces coordinate brilliantly, black has a terrible bishop and black’s kingside is fractured.

Malakhov-Moiseenko Russia 2005 Move 23
Malakhov-Moiseenko Russia 2005 Move 23

23…h6 Stopping 24.Rg5+ but creating another target

23,,,Kf8 24.Ne3 Ra2 25.Rg5! Rxe2 26.Bc5+ Ke8 27.Rg8+ Kd7 28.Bh3+ Kc7 29.Rf8!  with a crushing attack

Malakhov-Moiseenko Russia 2005 Variation 2 Move 29
Malakhov-Moiseenko Russia 2005 Variation 2 Move 29

24.Rf6 Ra2 25.Rxh6 f6 26.Ne3

Malakhov-Moiseenko Russia 2005 Move 26
Malakhov-Moiseenko Russia 2005 Move 26

26…Rd2?

Better was 26…Rxe2 27.Rg6+ Kh7 28.Rxf6 Qa8! 29.Bf1 Rd2 30.Nf5 Rxd4 31.Nxd4 Be8 Black  has far better chances to draw here as white’s king is more exposed than in the game. White is better but the reviewer doubts whether white can win.

Malakhov-Moiseenko Russia 2005 Variation 3 Move 32
Malakhov-Moiseenko Russia 2005 Variation 3 Move 32

27.Nf5 Rxd4 28.Nxd4 +- Black has no counterplay

28…Qe7 29.Kf2 Bb7 30,Bh3! Qc7 31.Be6+ Kf8

Malakhov-Moiseenko Russia 2005 Move 32
Malakhov-Moiseenko Russia 2005 Move 32

White finds an elegant tactical way to win the game

32.Rg6! Qh7 (32…Qxc3 33.Nf5! mating) 33.Rg8+ Ke7 34.Rg7+ Qxg7 35.Nf5+ Kxe6 36.Nxg7+  Ke5 37.Ke3 Bc8 38.Nh5 d4+ 39.cxd4+ Kd5 40.Nf6+ Kc4 41.d5 1-0

Chapter 3 – Time Beats Material

Here is an entertaining king hunt.

Yi – Bruzon
Danzhou 2015

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.Nc3 a6 4.Be2 Nc6 5.d4 cxd4 6.Nxd4 Qc7 7.0-0 Nf6 8.Be3 Be7 9.f4 d6 10.Kh1 0-0 11.Qe1 Nxd4 12.Bxd4 b5 13.Qg3 Bb7 14.a3 Rad8 15.Rae1 Rd7 16.Bd3 Qd8

Yi-Bruzon Danzhou 2015 Move 17
Yi-Bruzon Danzhou 2015 Move 17

This is a Scheveningen Sicilian with black’s rook slightly misplaced on d7.

17.Qh3 g6?! (Perhaps 17…Ne8 was less weakening, Stockfish suggests17…Re8, white is still better in both cases) 18.f5! Opening up the f-file 18…e5 19.Be3 Re8  (19…d5? fails tactically 20.exd5 Nxd5 21.Nxd5 Rxd5 22.Be4 Rd7 23.Bxb7 Rxb7 24.f6! Bxf6 25.Qf3  winning) 20.fxg6 hxg6 21.Nd5! Nxd5 (21…Bxd5 22.exd5 gives white a massive kingside attack: 22…Rb7 23.Qf3 Kg7 24.g4! Rf8 25.h4)

Yi-Bruzon Danzhou 2015 Move 22
Yi-Bruzon Danzhou 2015 Move 22

22.Rxf7!! Kxf7 (22…Nf6 23.Qe6! Kh8 24.Bg5 crushes) 23.Qh7+ Ke6 24.exd5+ Kxd5 25.Be4+! Kxe4

Yi-Bruzon Danzhou 2015 Move 26
Yi-Bruzon Danzhou 2015 Move 26

26.Qf7! (Threatening 27.Qf3#) Bf6 27.Bd2+ Kd4 28.Be3+ Ke4

Yi-Bruzon Danzhou 2015 Move 29
Yi-Bruzon Danzhou 2015 Move 29

29.Qb3!! Kf5 30.Rf1+ Kg4 31.Qd3! (Threatening 32.Qxg6+ and 32.Qe2+)

Yi-Bruzon Danzhou 2015 Move 31
Yi-Bruzon Danzhou 2015 Move 31

31…Bxg2+

31…Kh5 32.Qd1+ Kh4 33.Rf3!! closing the net around the doomed black monarch

Yi-Bruzon Danzhou 2015 Variation Move 33
Yi-Bruzon Danzhou 2015 Variation Move 33

32.Kxg2 Qa8+ 33.Kg1 Bg5 34.Qe2+ Kh4 35.Bf2+ Kh3 Amusing as black is threatening mate

Yi-Bruzon Danzhou 2015 Move 36
Yi-Bruzon Danzhou 2015 Move 36

36.Be1! 1-0 36…Qa7+ 37.Kh1 Qb7+ 38.Rf3+ Kg4 39.Qg2+ Kh5 30.Rh3+ Bh4 31.Rxh4#

Chapter 4 Space Beats Material 

Oleg Korneev – David Recuero Guerra
Spanish Championship Linares 2013

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.d4 d5 6.Bd3 Nd6 7.0-0 Be7 8.c3 0-0 9.Qc2 g6 10.Re1 c6 11.Bf4 Re8 12.Nbd2 Nd7 13.Nf1 Nf8 14.Ng3 Ne6 15.Bh6 Ng7 16.Qd2 Ngf5 17.Bf4 Nxg3 18.hxg3 Bg4 19.Ne5 Bf5 20.Bxf5 Nxf5 21.g4 Ng7 22.g5 Ne6 23.Ng4 Kf8

Korneev-Recuero Guerra Linares 2013 Move 24
Korneev-Recuero Guerra Linares 2013 Move 24

A tense middlegame from Petrov’s Defence is shown in the diagram. White’s next move removes one of black’s best pieces, secures a strong outpost on e5 and exposes black’s king somewhat.

24.Rxe6! fxe6 25.Re1 Bd6 26.Re3 (26.Be5 is also possible) Bxf4 27.Rf3 Ke7 28.Rxf4 Rf8 29.Rf6! Using the dark square outpost (29…Rxf6 30.gxf6+ the threats of Qd2-Qh6, Ng4-Ne5 and f6-f7 are too much to deal with)

Korneev-Recuero Guerra Linares 2013 Move 29
Korneev-Recuero Guerra Linares 2013 Move 29

Qd6 30.Ne5?! (30.Qe3 is better with a big advantage) 30…Ke8? (30…Rxf6! had to be played, 31.gxf6+ Kxf6 32.Qf4+ Kg7 33.Qf7+ Kh8 34.Qxb7 Qb8! 35.Qxc6 Qe8! and black may hold on )31.Qf4 Qe7 32.Ng4 Kd7 33.Ne5+ Ke8 34.Ng4?! (Queenside expansion with b4 followed by a4 was called for) Kd7 35.Qe3 Rae8 36.Ne5+ Kc8 37.Qf4 Qd6 38.a4! with the simple idea of a5 and a6

Korneev-Recuero Guerra Linares 2013 Move 38
Korneev-Recuero Guerra Linares 2013 Move 38

a6 (Now b6 is weakened) 39.a5 Qe7 40.b3! (Planning c4 and c5 to create a d6 outpost) Qd6 41.Kh2 Rd8 42.g3 Rde8 43.Kg1 Qe7?!

Korneev-Recuero Guerra Linares 2013 Move 44
Korneev-Recuero Guerra Linares 2013 Move 44

44.c4 dxc4 (44…Qd6 45. c5 Qe7 46.Nf7! followed by Nd6+ winning) 45.Nxc4 (The weakness on b6 is fatal) e5 46.dxe5 Kb8 47.e6+ Qc7 48.Rxf8 1-0

The key themes from this game are space and the weak colour complex in black’s position.

Chapter 5 Psychology of non-materialism

This is really good game which is a famous clash. Paul Keres had to win this game, hence his choice of an ultra sharp variation.

Paul Keres – Boris Spassky
Candidates Riga (10) 1965

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f4  A good choice for a must win game c5 6.d5 0-0 7.Nf3 e6 8.Be2 exd5 9.cxd5 b5!? Very aggressive: Spassky goes for a slugfest.

Keres-Spassky Candidates Riga (10) 1965 Move 10
Keres-Spassky Candidates Riga (10) 1965 Move 10

10.e5 dxe5 11.fxe5 Ng4 12.Bf4 Nd7 13.e6 fxe6 (13…Nde5 is a safer option, but Spassky wants a fight) 14.dxe6 Rxf4! (14…Nb6 leads to a slight edge for white)

Keres-Spassky Candidates Riga (10) 1965 Move 15
Keres-Spassky Candidates Riga (10) 1965 Move 15

15.Qd5 (The point of the piece sacrifice) Kh8!  (15…Bb7 is playable as well) 16.Qxa8 Nb6

Keres-Spassky Candidates Riga (10) 1965 Move 17
Keres-Spassky Candidates Riga (10) 1965 Move 17

17.Qxa7 (17.Qb8 is probably better, 17…Ne3! 18.Rd1! unclear 18…Qe7 19.Rd2 Nxg2+ 20.Kf2 b4 and the game is wide open) Bxe6 18.0-0 Ne3

Keres-Spassky Candidates Riga (10) 1965 Move 19
Keres-Spassky Candidates Riga (10) 1965 Move 19

19.Rf2? (Best is 19.Bxb5 Nxf1 20.Rxf1 Rf7 when black has lots of play for a mere pawn) b4 20.Nb5 (20.Na4 or 20.Nd1 are still better for black) Rf7 21.Qa5 Qb8! (21…Bxb2 is also good)

Keres-Spassky Candidates Riga (10) 1965 Move 22
Keres-Spassky Candidates Riga (10) 1965 Move 22

22.Re1 Bd5 (Also good is 22…Ng4 23.Bf1 Bd5! 24.Rfe2 Rf8 and black has a decent attack) 23.Bf1 Nxf1 24.Rfxf1 Nc4 25.Qa6 Rf6 White’s queen is misplaced, tied to defending the knight 26.Qa4 Nxb2

Keres-Spassky Candidates Riga (10) 1965 Move 27
Keres-Spassky Candidates Riga (10) 1965 Move 27

27.Qc2? (Just blundering a piece,  27.Qa5 had to be played, after 27…Nd3 28. Re3 c4 29.Nc7 Bg8 black is clearly better) Qxb5 28.Re7 Nd3 29.Qe2 c4 30.Re8+ Rf8 31.Rxf8+ Bxf8 32.Ng5 Bc5+ 33.Kh1 Qd7 34.Qd2 Qe7 35.Nf3 Qe3 0-1

Chapter 6 Is It Good To Be Greedy In Chess?

The author generously gives a couple of his own games where early pawn hunting with the queen  lead to disaster. Here is one example of greed punished.

Kozul – Kuljasevic
Rijeka 2011

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 Be7 5.Bf4 0-0 6.e3 b6 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.Nxd5 Qxd5 9.Be2 (Black was out of theory here and after 40 minutes of thought tried an attractive looking move)

Kozul-Luljasevic Rijeka 2011 Move 9
Kozul-Luljasevic Rijeka 2011 Move 9

Bb4+?  (Black thought erroneously that 10.Kf1 was forced, 9…Qa5+ 10.Nd2 Ba6 11.0-0 c5 looks ok) 10.Nd2 Qxg2?? (10…Bxd2+ 11.Qxd2 Qxg2 12.0-0-0 wins a pawn but white has obvious compensation) 11.Bf3 Bxd2+ 12.Kxd2 Qxf2+

Kozul-Luljasevic Rijeka 2011 Move 13
Kozul-Luljasevic Rijeka 2011 Move 13

13.Kc3! (13.Kc1? allows the queen to escape via f1 after black plays c6 & Ba6) c6 14.h4 1-0 The queen is trapped after 15.Rh2

In summary, this is a good book which demonstrates important themes in chess with some entertaining and instructive middlegames. It is aimed at 140+ players.

FM Richard Webb
FM Richard Webb

FM Richard Webb, Basingstoke, Hampshire, 12th July 2021

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 272 pages
  • Publisher:New In chess (30 Oct. 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10:9056918605
  • ISBN-13:978-9056918606
  • Product Dimensions: ‎ 16.94 x 2.13 x 23.57 cm

Official web site of New in Chess

Beyond Material: Ignore the Face Value of Your Pieces and Discover the Importance of Time, Space and Psychology in Chess, Davorin Kuljasevic, New in Chess, 2021, 978-9056918606
Beyond Material: Ignore the Face Value of Your Pieces and Discover the Importance of Time, Space and Psychology in Chess, Davorin Kuljasevic, New in Chess, 2021, 978-9056918606
 Save as PDF

How to Become a Candidate Master: A Practical Guide to Take Your Chess to the Next Level

How to Become a Candidate Master: A Practical Guide to Take Your Chess to the Next Level: FM Alex Dunne

How to Become a Candidate Master: A Practical Guide to Take Your Chess to the Next Level, FM Alex Dunne, New in Chess, December 2020, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-9056919214
How to Become a Candidate Master: A Practical Guide to Take Your Chess to the Next Level, FM Alex Dunne, New in Chess, December 2020, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-9056919214

From the publisher:

Surprise yourself and reach higher! This book is based on real amateur games and shows you how an average club player can proceed through the ranks and reach Candidate Master level. Its a hard struggle, nothing comes for free and your path will be strewn with setbacks and disappointments. Just like in real life.

Alex Dunne guides you in the more than 50 games that you will be playing and offers lots of practical, straightforward and effective advice. Slowly but surely, you will improve in all phases of the game: the opening, the middlegame and the endgame. Dunne explains when and how to activate your pieces and how to recognize and punish the errors your opponents are bound to make. At the end of the book, having absorbed these lessons, your experience, technique and confidence will have improved in such a way that your first win against a master will not come as a big surprise.

Alex Dunne is an American FIDE Master, ICCF Correspondence Chess Master and author of more than a dozen chess books. He lives in Sayre, Pennsylvania. This is a revised, improved and extended edition of the 1985 classic.

FM Alex Dunne
FM Alex Dunne

 

I’ve always thought that one of the best ways to improve your chess, especially if you don’t have the time or inclination for serious study, is to do two things:

  1. Look at the games of players rated 200-300 points higher than you. Work out what they do better than you, and what you need to do to reach their level. They’re not that much stronger than you so you can think to yourself “Yes, I could do that”.
  2. Look at the games of players of your own strength (best of all, your own games). Look at typical mistakes and work out how you could avoid those mistakes and take your chess up to the next level.

That’s exactly what this book aims to do. However, it was originally published in 1985. It was a best seller in its day, but does it really stand up to the test of time? Was it really worth updating and re-publishing?

Let’s get the title out of the way first. It’s rather misleading: FIDE considers Candidate Masters to be players rated 2200+, whereas this book uses the term to mean USCF Experts: players in the 2000-2199 range. The target market, according to the introduction, is USCF Grade A players: rated 1800-1999, although, as standards are higher now than 35 years ago, I’d put it lower than that.

As Dunne says in his introduction:

It is the design of this book to reveal the difference in play to the 1800 player to enable him to become a Candidate Master.

And again:

This book, then, differs from others in that the games contained within are mostly games between 1800+ players and Candidate Masters. These games were mainly selected from 1982 US tournaments with some more modern games included.

So what you get is 50 games, mostly between 1800-1999 rated players and 2000-2199 rated players, and mostly played in 1982. There are two later games, new to this edition, featuring stronger players.

It’s not the only book featuring amateur games. Reinfeld’s 1943 book Chess for Amateurs may have been the first. Older readers will also recall the Euwe and Meiden books, while, more recently, there have been books by the likes of Jeremy Silman and Dan Heisman. You might see Chernev’s Logical Chess Move by Move, although it features games by stronger players, as a book written with a similar purpose in mind.

The games are, as you’d expect, not of especially high quality. I’d also speculate that 1800 or 2000 rated players today are rather stronger than they were 40 years or so ago. Perhaps, because they’ll be more comprehensible to average club players, you’ll find them more instructive than those played by Magnus and his chums. You won’t encounter any brilliant sacrifices or spectacular attacks here, and not much in the way of complicated tactics either: just typical games that you or I might play in tournaments or league matches, where, in most cases, the stronger player displays greater knowledge or skill than his weaker opponent. You’ll even find one or two short draws here, though it’s debatable whether they add anything to the party.

You sit alongside the Candidate Master (or, more accurately, Expert), guessing, if you choose, his (or perhaps her: the players are not identified by name) moves, and are occasionally asked questions which are answered at the end of the chapter.

We’re assured that The analysis has been checked with modern computer engines for accuracy and that Also, a more modern view of some of the openings has been used, but there’s still a dated feel to many of the annotations. I’m not sure without checking how much has actually been changed since the original 1985 edition.

Here’s the first game.

Like many of the games here, it seems on the surface that the CM didn’t do anything especially difficult. The last move was pretty, but at that point everything reasonable would have won. At the same time, Mr 1907 didn’t make any very obvious mistakes. It was more a question of not understanding what was happening at the critical point in the game. I should add that I don’t play the Sicilian Najdorf with either colour: much too hard for me, as it was for poor Mr 1907.

I asked my shiny new Stockfish 14 to take a look.

Dunne asks us how important Black’s unusual 6th move (rather than the usual 6… e6) is. Stockfish tells me e6 is equal, but Qc7, amongst other moves, is slightly better for White. Dunne doesn’t say anything very helpful: I’d have thought the point was that White is always going to play Bb3 anyway, while Black may not want to play an early Qc7.

On move 9, Dunne rightly says that 9. O-O is slightly inferior because of tactics on the g1-a7 diagonal, but without mentioning any alternatives. It makes sense to me (and to my fishy friend) to play Be3 before castling. He gives a line starting 9… Nxd4 10. Qxd4 d5 11. Kh1?!, but the engine prefers White here after 11. Be3, thinking that Black would be better to play the immediate 9… d5, threatening to take on e4. It’s still only equal, though.

The critical part of the game is between moves 10 and 13. 10… Na5, to trade off the dangerous bishop, or 10… Be7, to castle the king into safety, are the two moves almost always chosen here, and both of them are absolutely fine and equal. On move 12 Black chose the wrong recapture: Bxc6, not leaving the queen exposed was better. The last chance to stay in the game was to play 13… Be7. The tactical point he may have missed is that 13… b4 14. a5 gives the white bishop access to a4.

Although Black played what looked like natural moves between moves 10 and 13, his position went from equal to totally lost. At one level he lost because he failed to develop his king-side and castle his king into safety. I suppose you could also say he chose a complicated opening variation without having enough understanding and played a few casual moves when more concrete decisions were required, but, without access to 21st century technology it’s understandable that Dunne didn’t mention this explicitly.

Dunne has some interesting views on opening choices: you might or might not agree. In game 16 Mr CM is congratulated on meeting 1. Nf3 with the relatively unusual 1… b6 to get his opponent out of the books, even though he unexpectedly loses the game. But in game 25 Mr 1816 is roundly castigated for choosing the Trompowsky. This is bad strategy on the 1800 player’s part. The weaker player with white has a better chance of gaining a good position by playing book lines.

In other words, weaker players should play book lines while stronger players should try to get weaker players out of the book by playing less usual variations. I can see why he thinks this way, but it might not suit everyone. It might not suit you.

I was interested in the double rook ending in this game.

Mr 1863, playing black, had rather the better of the opening and has now reached this double rook ending where he has the superior pawn formation.

Let’s pick up the story after White’s 29th move.

Dunne rightly and instructively points out that if the rooks were off the board Black would win the pawn ending. He therefore proposes that, instead of 29… g6, suggesting he doesn’t understand the ending, he continues with 29… Rxd1 30. Rxd1 a5! 31. c4 Ra8 32. Rc1 Ke6, when he will have made further progress towards the win. Stockfish has several problems with this: 32. c5, to prevent b5, is equal, 32… b5 would indeed give Black winning chances, and again after 32… Ke6, 33. c5 would be equal.

The game continued:

29… g6 30. Ke3 Ke6 31. h4 h5 32. Ra1 a6

This move passes without comment, but Stockfish prefers to give up the pawn and double rooks on the d-file: something like 32… Rd7 33. Rxa7 Red8, with adequate counterplay.

An instructive moment, I think, demonstrating the important principle that, in rook endings, the initiative is often worth a pawn. No mention in the annotations, though.

Moving on:

33. Ra5! f6? (Poor endgame play – Black allows his pawns to become weakened.) Yes, quite possibly. Dunne’s improvement, Re7, is probably better, but Black missed a tactical defence next move.

34. f5+ Kf7

Here Black could have equalised with 34… gxf5 35. Rxf5 Rd5!, so White should have maintained his advantage by playing 34. c4! to prevent this possibility.

By solid play White has overcome his inferiority of eight moves ago and now owns an advantage. Thus is the advantage frittered away because of the 1800 player’s lack of endgame technique (read: understanding).

White was actually equal (although his position may have been harder to play) 8 moves ago, and the point about Mr 1863’s lack of endgame technique is well made, but there are also analytical errors which can easily be picked up by modern computer engines.

There are other more minor issues as well. You might want to consider, for example, how White’s inaccurate 52nd move gave Black a defensive chance.

One reason for the difference between 1800 and 2100 players is indeed that Mr 2100 is more likely, in a general way, to understand what’s going on in the position, which is what this book is all about. Another reason, though, is that Mr 1800 is more likely to miss tactical points than Mr 2100. The annotations in this book focus more on positional rather than tactical ideas. You might think that, at this level, understanding ideas is more important than getting tactics right: if so, the analytical errors might not concern you too much.

You may well disagree but I found the annotations in general both frustrating and outdated. Frustrating because of Dunne’s tendency to ask questions without providing answers and criticise moves without suggesting improvements. Outdated because of the tactical oversights mentioned above, but also because readers are constantly exhorted to read My System and Basic Chess Endings, rather than more modern, and, at least in the case of My System, more relevant and approachable books. Occasional references to ChessBase have been added but, apart from that there’s little indication that the book is intended for 21st century readers rather than those in the pre-computer age.

The world’s a very different place now. I couldn’t have imagined, half a lifetime ago, that I’d be sitting here with a database of almost 8.5 million games and a free engine which plays far better than any human.  We know a lot more now about teaching and learning processes as well.

It’s a great idea for a book, and was pretty good in its day. There’s certainly a lot of excellent general advice and encouragement within the annotations. But, in my opinion, it’s well past its best-before date. I’m afraid it’s only a qualified recommendation then.

Having said that, players of average club standard, say 1400-1800 strength, will certainly learn a lot from it, and, if they like the style and concept (there’s a sample chapter on the publisher’s website), they won’t be too disappointed.

I’d love to see more books written for average players based on amateur games, but I’d prefer to see something with more recent games, more accurate tactical analysis and more interaction between author and reader.

New in Chess have an enviable reputation for publishing excellent books, not to mention an excellent magazine. I’m not convinced that re-publishing outdated books will do much to enhance that reputation.

Richard James, Twickenham 9th July 2021

Book Details:

  • Softback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: New in Chess (7 Dec. 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10:9056919210
  • ISBN-13:978-9056919214
  • Dimensions: ‎ 15.24 x 1.78 x 22.2 cm

Official web site of New in Chess

How to Become a Candidate Master: A Practical Guide to Take Your Chess to the Next Level, FM Alex Dunne, New in Chess, December 2020, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-9056919214
How to Become a Candidate Master: A Practical Guide to Take Your Chess to the Next Level, FM Alex Dunne, New in Chess, December 2020, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-9056919214
 Save as PDF

Chess Middlegame Strategies – Strategy Meets Dynamics, Volume 3

Chess Middlegame Strategies - Strategy Meets Dynamics Volume 3, Ivan Sokolov, Thinker's Publishing. 2019, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-9492510600
Chess Middlegame Strategies – Strategy Meets Dynamics Volume 3, Ivan Sokolov, Thinker’s Publishing. 2019, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-9492510600

From the publisher:

“After his first two most successful volumes of Chess Middlegame Strategies, Ivan Solokov explores in his final volume ideas related to the symbiosis of the strategic and dynamic elements of chess. He combined the most exceptional ideas, strategies and positional play essentials. These three volumes will give you a serious head start when studying and playing a middlegame. A book and series that cannot be missed in any serious chess library!”

GM Ivan Sokolov
GM Ivan Sokolov

“Grandmaster Ivan Sokolov is considered one of the best chess authors winning many chess tournaments and writing many bestselling chess books. At the moment he is coaching worldwide the most chess talented youngsters.”

This interesting book has seven diverse chapters on middlegame strategies:

  • Karpov’s king in the centre
  • Geller/Tolush gambit plans & ideas
  • Anti-Moscow Typical plans and ideas
  • Space versus flexibility
  • Positional exchange sacrifice
  • Open file
  • G-pawn structures

Chapters two and three do cover two sets of related positions and are rather specialised in terms of the opening. The other chapters are rather more generic in nature.

It is well known that opening preparation these days is very deep with the use of chess engines. Many variations of sharp openings played at the top level are effectively analysed to the end of the game now, for example resulting in a perpetual or an equal ending. Although this book does cover some games in sharp tactical openings, it does not make the mistake of providing a sea of complex variations with little explanation: Sokolov has made a good effort to extract out some of the key ideas in these dynamic battles.

Chapter 1 Karpov’s king in the centre

Karpov employed the “king in the centre” idea in his favourite Caro-Kann defence. The celebrated game Kamsky – Karpov Dortmund 1993 shows this idea.

Kamsky-Karpov Dortmund 1993 Move 10
Kamsky-Karpov Dortmund 1993 Move 10

In the position white has more space and an intention to attack on the kingside, so white played 11.Qh4?! Black looks to have a problem with his king as castling kingside will be “castling into it” with white’s bishops and queen ready for action there. Karpov came up with an ingenious solution: 11…Ke7!

Suddenly black threatens 12…g5! and the white aggressively placed queen becomes a liability.

The idea only works because white’s queen is misplaced on h4 and is vulnerable to attack. In the famous game against Kamsky, white is really forced to sacrifice a pawn with 12.Ne5! Bxe5 13.dxe5 Qa5+ 14.c3 Qxe5+ when white has sufficient compensation but no more. 12.Bf4 is pretty insipid, after 12…Bb4+ 13.Bd2 Bxd2 14.Kxd2 Qa5+ 15.c3 c5 with equal chances.

The reviewer is not going to cover this game in detail in his review as this is a well known game. If the reader is not familiar with this game, then buy the book to get good coverage of an instructive struggle.

In subsequent games in this variation, white played 10.Qe2! keeping the queen centralised.

The reviewer was particularly impressed with the following game by Vishy Anand against Vladimir Kramnik in the World Championship match in Bonn 2008.  Anand’s preparation and superior play in the Meran variation effectively won him the match. The book covers one of Anand’s wins in this variation using the “king in the centre” strategy.

Kramnik, Vladimir – Anand, Viswanathan
World Championship Bonn (5) 2008

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Bd3  dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5 8.Bd3 a6  9.e4 c5

Kramnik-Anand Wch Bonn 2008 Move 10
Kramnik-Anand World Ch Game 5 Bonn 2008 Move 10

10.e5 cxd4 11.Nxb5 axb5 12.exf6 gxf6 13.0-0 13…Qb6 14.Qe2

Kramnik-Anand Wch Bonn 2008 Move 14
Kramnik-Anand World Ch Game 5 Bonn 2008 Move 14

This is a key position in just one of the main lines in the Meran variation.

14…Bb7  (The main line, 14…b4 is interesting) 15.Bxb5 Rg8!? (Anand is the first to deviate from Game 3 which he won, and present Kramnik with a new surprise instead of 15…Bd6. Kramnik’s choice in the previous game was the natural 16.Rd1 Rg8 17.g3 Rg4 18.Bf4 Bxf4 19.Nxd4 At this moment Anand was an hour(!) up on the clock, but now he had his first long think 19…h5!? 20.Nxe6 fxe6 21.Rxd7 Kf8 22.Qd3 Rg7! 23.Rxg7 Kxg7 24.gxf4 Rd8 Kramnik – Anand WCh Bonn (3) 2008) 16.Bf4 Bd6 17.Bg3 Black has good counterplay on the g-file f5 (Anand continues to harass the Bg3) 18.Rfc1!?  f4 19.Bh4

Kramnik-Anand World Ch Game 5 Bonn 2008 Move 19
Kramnik-Anand World Ch Game 5 Bonn 2008 Move 19

19…Be7! The bishop’s role on d6 is over, so it returns to free the e7-square for Black’s king  20.a4 Bxh4 21.Nxh4

Kramnik-Anand World Ch Game 5 Bonn 2008 Move 21
Kramnik-Anand World Ch Game 5 Bonn 2008 Move 21

Ke7! The possible threat to g2 again enters the equation. 22.Ra3

White boosts his third rank, but on the other hand disconnects his rooks and Black can turn his attention to the c-pawn. The radical 22.g3!? should be considered. This weakens the long diagonal, but removing the pawn from g2 enables White to play more actively, a possible line is 22…fxg3 23.hxg3 Rg5 24.Bxd7

Kramnik-Anand World Ch Game 5 Bonn 2008 Variation Move 24
Kramnik-Anand World Ch Game 5 Bonn 2008 Variation Move 24

24…Rag8! 25. a5 (25.Bb5?? loses to 25…d3 followed by Rxg3+) Qd6 26.Ra3

Kramnik-Anand World Ch Game 5 Bonn 2008 Variation Move 26
Kramnik-Anand World Ch Game 5 Bonn 2008 Variation Move 26

26…Rxg3+ 27.fxg3+ Rxg3+ 28.Rxg3+ Qxg3+ 29.Ng2 Bxg2 30.Qxg2 Qe3+ 31.Kh2 Qh6+ 32.Kg3 Qxc1=

Kramnik-Anand World Ch Game 5 Bonn 2008 Variation Move 33
Kramnik-Anand World Ch Game 5 Bonn 2008 Variation Move 33

Black will pick up the dangerous a-pawn with Qc7+ or Qg5+ leading to an unbalanced but roughly level ending.

Back to the game.

22…Rac8 23.Rxc8  Rxc8 24.Ra1 Qc5 25.Qg4

Kramnik-Anand World Ch Game 5 Bonn 2008 Variation Move 33
Kramnik-Anand World Ch Game 5 Bonn 2008 Variation Move 33

25…Qe5

Black intuitively keeps his queen closer to his king. Another interesting computer alternative is 25…Qc2!? to support the d4-pawn 26.Qxf4 d3!

Kramnik-Anand World Ch Game 5 Bonn 2008 Variation 2 Move 27
Kramnik-Anand World Ch Game 5 Bonn 2008 Variation 2 Move 27

and it’s already reasonable to bail out with 27.Nf5+ exf5 28.Re1+ Kf8 (28…Be4 leads to an equal ending) 29.Bxd7 d2 30.Qh6+ Kg8 31.Qg5+ with a draw by perpetual

26.Nf3 Qf6 This move is also connected with a hidden trap.

Kramnik-Anand World Ch Game 5 Bonn 2008 Move 27
Kramnik-Anand World Ch Game 5 Bonn 2008 Move 27

27.Re1 [27.Nxd4? Qxd4 28.Rd1 Nf6 29.Rxd4 Nxg4 30.Rd7+ Kf6 31.Rxb7 Rc1+ 32.Bf1 Ne3!-+ Surprisingly enough, this motif occurs later in the game!; harmless is 27.Bxd7 Kxd7 28.Nxd4 Ke7 29.Rd1 Rc4= Best is 27.Ne1! improving the knight. Kramnik still wants more and keeps the tension.] 27…Rc5!? 28.b4 Rc3 Setting a beautiful trap.

Kramnik-Anand World Ch Game 5 Bonn 2008 Move 29
Kramnik-Anand World Ch Game 5 Bonn 2008 Move 29

29.Nxd4?? (Black’s forces already exert unpleasant pressure, but the text-move is an unforced and decisive tactical miscalculation. 29.Nd2!? still leads to a murky position and the outcome of the game remains open.) 29…Qxd4 30.Rd1 Nf6! 31.Rxd4

Kramnik-Anand World Ch Game 5 Bonn 2008 Move 31
Kramnik-Anand World Ch Game 5 Bonn 2008 Move 31

Nxg4 32.Rd7+ Kf6 33.Rxb7 Rc1+ 34.Bf1

Kramnik-Anand World Ch Game 5 Bonn 2008 Move 34
Kramnik-Anand World Ch Game 5 Bonn 2008 Move 34

Ne3! winning 35.fxe3 (35.h3 Rxf1+ 36.Kh2 Rxf2-+) 35…fxe3 The pawn queens 0-1

Chapter 2 Geller/Tolush Gambit Plans & Ideas

Here is a an early Kasparov game which demonstrates white’s attacking potential in this line.

Kasparov – Petursson
Valetta 1980

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.e4 b5 6.e5 Nd5 7.a4 e6 8.axb5 Nxc3 9.bxc3 cxb5 10.Ng5 Bb7 11.Qh5 Qd7

Kasparov-Petursson Valetta 1980 Move 12
Kasparov-Petursson Valetta 1980 Move 12

12.Be2

A previous Kasparov game went 12.Nxh7?  (a well known blunder nowadays) 12…Nc6! Black leads in development and the tactics work for him as well. White is probably lost already!

Kasparov-Petursson Valetta 1980 Variation Move 13
Kasparov-Petursson Valetta 1980 Variation Move 13

13.Nxf8 Qxd4! leads to a huge advantage to black

Kasparov-Petursson Valetta 1980 Variation Move 14
Kasparov-Petursson Valetta 1980 Variation Move 14

Kasparov’s opponent missed 13…Qxd4!, played 13…Rxh5? and Kasparov went on to win

13.Nf6+? gxf6 14.Qxh8 also loses

Kasparov-Petursson Valetta 1980 Variation 2 Move 14
Kasparov-Petursson Valetta 1980 Variation 2 Move 14

14…Nxd4! 15.cxd4 Qxd4 16.Ra2 0-0-0 winning

Kasparov-Petursson Valetta 1980 Variation 2 Move 17
Kasparov-Petursson Valetta 1980 Variation 2 Move 17

Back to the main game

12…h6 13.Bf3

Kasparov-Petursson Valetta 1980 Move 13
Kasparov-Petursson Valetta 1980 Move 13

Nc6  (13…g6 weakens black’s kingside, after 14.Qh3 Nc6 15.Ne4 0-0-0 16.Be3! leads a white advantage)14.0-0 Nd8 Black is defending his weaknesses and avoiding the weakening g6 but his development is lacking 15.Ne4 a5

Kasparov-Petursson Valetta 1980 Move 15
Kasparov-Petursson Valetta 1980 Move 15

16.Bg5 (16.Qg4! was more accurate, 16…Rh7 17.Re1 and black has problems developing) Bd5 17.Rfe1 Nc6 18.Bh4 Ra7 19.Qg4

Kasparov-Petursson Valetta 1980 Move 19
Kasparov-Petursson Valetta 1980 Move 19

Rh7 20.Nd6+! Bxd6

Kasparov-Petursson Valetta 1980 Move 21
Kasparov-Petursson Valetta 1980 Move 21

21.Bxd5 (21.exd6 is very strong as well)  Be7 22.Be4 g6 23.Bf6 Black’s rooks are horribly disconnected

Kasparov-Petursson Valetta 1980 Move 23
Kasparov-Petursson Valetta 1980 Move 23

Kf8 24.Qf3 Nd8 25.d5! Opening up files for white’s better placed rooks: black crumbles quickly exd5 26.Bxd5 Qf5 27.Qe3

Kasparov-Petursson Valetta 1980 Move 27
Kasparov-Petursson Valetta 1980 Move 27

Rd7 28.Rad1 Bxf6 29.exf6 Ne6 30.Be4 Rxd1 31.Bxf5 Rxe1+ 32.Qxe1 gxf5

Kasparov-Petursson Valetta 1980 Move 33
Kasparov-Petursson Valetta 1980 Move 33

33.Qe5! A lovely centralising move to win the game 33…Kg8 34.Qg3+ 1-0

Chapter 3 Anti Moscow Gambit Plans & Ideas

The reviewer shows one of the author’s fine wins.

Sokolov – Novikov
Antwerp 1997

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 c6 5.Bg5 h6 The Moscow Variation 6.Bh4 dxc4 7.e4 g5 8.Bg3 b5 The starting tabiya of the Anti-Moscow Gambit

Sokolov-Novikov Move 9
Sokolov-Novikov Move 9

9.h4!? (9.Be2 and 9.Qc2 are the main alternatives)
 9…g4 (9…b4!? 10.Na4!) 10.Ne5 h5

10…Bb4 leads to a very complex game. 11.Be2 Nxe4! 12.0-0

Sokolov-Novikov Variation 1 Move 12
Sokolov-Novikov Variation 1 Move 12

12,,,Nxc3 13.bxc3 bxc3 14.Bxg4 Bxa1 15.Bh5 Qxd4 16.Qf3 Qxe5! 17.Bxe5 Bxe5 18.Qf7+ Kd8

Sokolov-Novikov Variation 1 Move 19
Sokolov-Novikov Variation 1 Move 19

Stockfish helpfully gives this as = (0.00) and gives a bizarre line 19.Re1 Bc3 20.Re3 Ba1 21.Re1= Who says computers don’t have a sense of humour?

Back to the main game

11.Be2

Sokolov-Novikov Move 12
Sokolov-Novikov Move 12

Bb7 (11…b4 is risky 12.Na4 Nxe4 13.Bxc4!) 12.0-0 Nbd7 13.Qc2 Bg7 14.Rad1 Qb6!? 15.Na4!

Sokolov-Novikov Move 15
Sokolov-Novikov Move 15

15…Qa5?!

Best is15…bxa4! 16.Nxc4 Qb4 17.e5 17…Nd5 18.a3 Qb3 19.Qxb3 axb3 20.Nd6+ Ke7 21.Nxb7 a5 22.Rc1

Sokolov-Novikov Variation 2 Move 22
Sokolov-Novikov Variation 2 Move 22

White is better, but black has got the queens off.

16.Nc5 Nxc5 17.dxc5 Qb4 18.Rd6 Qxc5 Black grabs another pawn

Sokolov-Novikov Move 19
Sokolov-Novikov Move 19

19.Rfd1 0-0 White trades off a key defender of the black king 20.Nd7! Nxd7 21.Rxd7 Qb6 (21…Bc8 22.Bd6 Qb6 23.Bxf8)

Sokolov-Novikov Move 22
Sokolov-Novikov Move 22

Black is completely passive. White just needs to bring his queen into the killing zone.

22.Qc1!+- 22…Bc8 23.Qg5! (Threatening 24.Be5) 23…Bxd7 24.Rxd7 (25.Be5 is a terrible threat)

Sokolov-Novikov Move 24
Sokolov-Novikov Move 24

24…Kh7 25.Qxh5+ Kg8 26.Bc7! 26…Qa6 27.Qxg4 Kh7 28.Qh5+ Kg8 29.Qg5 Kh8 30.Be5 Exchanging off the final bodyguard Bxe5 31.Qxe5+ Kh7 32.Qh5+ Kg7 33.Qg5+ Kh7 

Sokolov-Novikov Final
Sokolov-Novikov Final

34.Bh5 1-0

Chapter 4 Space versus Flexibility

This section covers the technique of exploiting a space advantage in a common type of pawn structure shown below:

Pawn Structure (Chapter 4)
Pawn Structure (Chapter 4)

This structure can arise from a variety of openings such as the Caro-Kann, Scandinavian, French and the Meran system in the Slav.

White clearly has more space and quite often the bishop pair as black has exchanged off his white squared bishop.

White’s natural plan is to play c4 and d5 opening up the position for the bishop pair. The game shows a didactic game where white exploits his space advantage and skillfully transforms advantages.

Short – L’Ami
Staunton Memorial London 2009

1.e4 c6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Nf3 Bg4 4.h3 Bxf3 5.Qxf3 Nf6 6.Be2 dxe4 7.Nxe4 Nxe4 8.Qxe4 Qd5

Short-L'Ami London 2009 Move 9
Short-L’Ami London 2009 Move 9

9.Qg4 Nd7 10.0-0 Nf6 11.Qa4

Short-L'Ami London 2009 Move 12
Short-L’Ami London 2009 Move 12

White declines the exchange of queens again. Black can now force a queen exchange, but should he? White won the game without black making an obvious mistake. So this suggests that black should keep the queens on.

11…Qe4 12.Qxe4 Nxe4 13.Re1 g6 14.d4 Bg7 15.Bf3

Short-L'Ami London 2009 Move 15
Short-L’Ami London 2009 Move 15

15…Nf6 (15…Nd6 is another idea to hamper d5 from white 16.Bf4 Rd8 17.Rad1 Bf6 18.b3 Nf5 19.c3 h5 white can still play g4 with an edge)16.c4 White’s plan is straightforward, push d5

16…Rd8 17.Be3 0-0 18.Rad1 e6

Short-L'Ami London 2009 Move 19
Short-L’Ami London 2009 Move 19

19.g4! A typical space gaining move with the intention of kicking black’s knight away with g5  h6 20.h4?! (20.Kg2! was more accurate, see below) 20…Rfe8?!

20…h5!? would have given black better chances than the game, but white still retains good winning chances 21.g5 Ng4 22.Bxg4 hxg4 Black’s g-pawn will fall, but black has time to counterattack the d-pawn 23.Kg2 Rd7 24.Rd2 Rfd8 25.Red1 c5!

Short-L'Ami Variation Variation Move 26
Short-L’Ami Variation Variation Move 26

26.d5! (26.dxc5? leads to a clear draw Rxd2 27.Rxd2 Rxd2 28.Bxd2 Bxb2 29.Kg3 Kg7 30.Kxg4 f5+ Black draws as white’s extra doubled isolated pawn is not enough to win the bishop ending: see below)

Short-L'Ami Variation Move 31
Short-L’Ami Variation Move 31

26…exd5 27.Bxc5! b6 28.Be3 d4 29.Kg3 and white is winning the g-pawn with good winning chances, but there is work to do.

Short-L'Ami Variation Variation Move 29
Short-L’Ami Variation Variation Move 29

Back to the game.

Short-L'Ami London 2009 Move 21
Short-L’Ami London 2009 Move 21

21.Kg2 Do not hurry: improve the king, although 21.g5 also gains an advantage 21…Nd7 22.d5! At last the breakthrough

Short-L'Ami London 2009 Move 22
Short-L’Ami London 2009 Move 22

22…Ne5 23.dxc6 Nxf3 24.Kxf3 bxc6

Short-L'Ami London 2009 Move 25
Short-L’Ami London 2009 Move 25

White transforms his advantages: the bishop pair has gone but his better pawn structure and more active pieces prove decisive: first he grabs the d-file because of black’s weak a7-pawn

25.b3! a5 26.g5 (26.Bb6 is also good, but do not hurry: fix black’s kingside first limiting black’s kingside counterplay which is good technique) hxg5 27.hxg5 Ra8 28.Rd7 Bf8 29.Red1 a4 Hoping for play down the a-file 30.Rc7

Short-L'Ami London 2009 Move 30
Short-L’Ami London 2009 Move 30

axb3 31.axb3 Rec8 32.Rdd7 Rxc7 33.Rxc7 Rb8 34.Rxc6 Rxb3 35.Rc8 Winning a second pawn

Short-L'Ami London 2009 Move 35
Short-L’Ami London 2009 Move 35

f5 36.gxf6 Kf7 37.Ke4 Rb7 38.Bd4 g5 39.c5 Rb1 40.c6 Rc1 41.Be3 1-0

A really educational game.

Chapter 5 Positional Exchange Sacrifice

This chapter covers positional exchange sacrifices which is one of the key chapters in this book.

The most famous positional exchange sacrifice is probably Rxc3! in the Sicilian Defence. This is not covered in this book as it is so well known.

The following game covers an interesting exchange sacrifice in one of the old main lines of the Sicilian Richter-Rauzer variation. Kramnik’s concept in this game effectively killed off this line for white.

Ivanchuk – Kramnik
Dos Hermanas 1996

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bg5 e6 7.Qd2 a6 8.0-0-0 h6 9.Be3 Be7 10.f4 Nxd4 11.Bxd4 b5 12.Qe3 Qc7 13.e5 dxe5 14.Bxe5

Ivanchuk-Kramnik Dos Hermanas Move 14
Ivanchuk-Kramnik Dos Hermanas Move 14

14…Ng4!? A new move at the time, and a very interesting idea, black sacrifices an exchange in order to get a strong initiative, when white loses many tempi with his queen (14…Qa5 is a sound alternative) 15.Qf3 15…Nxe5 16.Qxa8 (16.fxe5 Bb7 is better for black) 16…Nd7

Ivanchuk-Kramnik Dos Hermanas 1996 Move 17
Ivanchuk-Kramnik Dos Hermanas 1996 Move 17

Black has plenty of compensation for the exchange: a powerful pair of bishops and white will lose time with his queen.

17.g3? (17.Qe4 is probably best 17…Bb7 18.Qd4 Nf6 when black definitely has sufficient compensation with his great bishops) 17…Nb6 18.Qf3  18…Bb7 19.Ne4

Ivanchuk-Kramnik Dos Hermanas 1996 Move 19
Ivanchuk-Kramnik Dos Hermanas 1996 Move 19

19…f5!! (19…0-0 is good, but the move played whips up a powerful attack even more quickly) 20.Qh5+ 20…Kf8 21.Nf2 Bf6!

Ivanchuk-Kramnik Dos Hermanas 1996 Move 22
Ivanchuk-Kramnik Dos Hermanas 1996 Move 22

White has a dearth of pieces defending his king. Black now has a typical winning Sicilian attack against the poorly defended white king. Look at white’s pieces stuck on the kingside. Regaining the exchange by 21…Bxh1 was not necessary: play for mate!

22.Bd3 Na4 23.Rhe1 23…Bxb2+!

Ivanchuk-Kramnik Dos Hermanas 1996 Move 24
Ivanchuk-Kramnik Dos Hermanas 1996 Move 24

24.Kb1 24…Bd5! Bringing in the other bishop into the attack with decisive effect 25.Bxb5! (25.Bxf5 25…Bxa2+! 26.Kxa2 Qc4+ 27.Kb1 Nc3+ 28.Kxb2 Qb4+ 29.Kc1 Na2#)

Ivanchuk-Kramnik Dos Hermanas 1996 Move 25
Ivanchuk-Kramnik Dos Hermanas 1996 Move 25

25…Bxa2+! (Not 25…axb5?? 26.Rxd5 winning for white) 26.Kxa2 axb5 27.Kb1 (27.Rxe6? 27…Qc4+ 28.Kb1 Nc3+ 29.Kxb2 Qb4+ 30.Kc1 Na2#) 27…Qa5?

27…Qe7! was much stronger threatening 28…Nc3+ 29.Kxb2 Qb4+ 30.Kc1 Na2#,

Ivanchuk-Kramnik Dos Hermanas 1996 Variation Move 28
Ivanchuk-Kramnik Dos Hermanas 1996 Variation Move 28

28.Rd8+ giving up a whole rook is the only way to avoid immediate mate: 28…Qxd8 29.Re6 Bf6 wins

28.Nd3? (28.c3!! would have possibly held, when white can get to an ending a pawn down with drawing chances: buy the book to find out how) 28…Ba3!

Ivanchuk-Kramnik Dos Hermanas 1996 Move 29
Ivanchuk-Kramnik Dos Hermanas 1996 Move 29

White’s king is doomed 29.Ka2 (29.c3 Nxc3+ 30.Kc2 Nxd1 winning) 29…Nc3+ 30.Kb3 30…Nd5 31.Ka2 (31.Rxe6 31…Qa4+ 32.Ka2 Nc3+ 33.Ka1 Bc1#) 31…Bb4+ 32.Kb1 Bc3

Ivanchuk-Kramnik Dos Hermanas 1996 End
Ivanchuk-Kramnik Dos Hermanas 1996 End

0-1

A superb exchange sacrifice comfortably equalising. White could have held but defending a virulent attack over the board is nigh impossible.

Chapter 6 Open File

This section covers the topic of the open file. Many different types of position are demonstrated including pure attacking chess sacrificing  a pawn or two or a piece to open files against an uncastled king.

Subtle positional struggles are also covered.  In this latter vein, the reviewer was particularly impressed with a smooth win by Michael Adams shown below.

Adams – Wang
42nd Olympiad 2016 Baku 2016

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.d4 d5 6.Bd3 Nc6 7.0-0 Be7 8.Nbd2 Bf5

Adams-Wang Baku 2016 Move 9
Adams-Wang Baku 2016 Move 9

This is a main line in the Petroff Defence. White now exchanges some minor pieces to gain control of the e-file. White sometimes executes this strategy in the Ruy Lopez anti-Berlin variation.

9.Re1 Nxd2 10.Qxd2 Bxd3 11.Qxd3 0-0

Adams-Wang Baku 2016 Move 12
Adams-Wang Baku 2016 Move 12

This position looks pretty equal which is undoubtedly the case, however, white has a slight lead in development and control of the e-file which make white’s position easier to play. Recently Carlsen and other top players have played these types of positions to win with success. Black must defend very precisely as shown by this game.

12.Bf4 White chooses a plan that involves the exchange of bishops and retaining control of the e-file. An alternative plan is 12.c3 followed by queenside expansion with b4 12…Bd6 13.Bg3 Bxg3 14.hxg3 Qd7

Adams-Wang Baku 2016 Move 15
Adams-Wang Baku 2016 Move 15

15.Re3 Rfe8 16.Rae1 Rxe3 17.Rxe3 h6 (17…Re8?? runs into 18.Qf5! winning a pawn and the game, exploiting the weak bank rank)

Adams-Wang Baku 2016 Move 18
Adams-Wang Baku 2016 Move 18

18.Qb3 Rb8

Adams-Wang Baku 2016 Move 19
Adams-Wang Baku 2016 Move 19

19.Ne5 White exchanges knights to dominate the e-file Qd6 20.Nxc6 Qxc6 21.c3 a5 22.Qa3 b6 23.Qe7 White now dominates the e-file. What does white do next?  The logical plan is to attack on the kingside by advancing the kingside pawns to expose black’s king and use white’s more active pieces to mate black. Black decides to pre-empt this plan by correctly creating counterplay on the queenside.

Adams-Wang Baku 2016 Move 23
Adams-Wang Baku 2016 Move 23

b5! 24.a3 b4 25.axb4 axb4 26.cxb4

Adams-Wang Baku 2016 Move 26
Adams-Wang Baku 2016 Move 26

Black is closer to the draw, but must be very precise to exchange off the queenside pawns.

Qc1+? (A natural check but this probably loses, 26…Qb6! was the exact move required: 27.Rf3 f6 28.Rc3 Qxd4! 29. Rxc7 Qd1+ 30.Kh2 Qh5+ with a draw by perpetual check) 27.Kh2 Qxb2

Adams-Wang Baku 2016 Move 28
Adams-Wang Baku 2016 Move 28

28.Rf3? (Gifting black a chance to save the game, 28.Qxc7 Qxb4 29. Re5! wins a pawn under favourable circumstances, although white must display some technique to convert) Rf8? (28…f6! draws viz. 29. Qxc7 Qxb4 30.Rf5 Qb6! forcing a queen trade 31. Qxb6 Rxb6 32. Rxd5 Rb2 33.f3 Rd2 with a drawn rook ending but black will have to demonstrate sound technique to hold this ending a pawn down) 29.Qc5 c6 30.Qxc6

Adams-Wang Baku 2016 Move 30
Adams-Wang Baku 2016 Move 30

So white has won a pawn: black may be lost even with best play, but he can make things difficult for white.

Qxd4? (31…Qxb4! 32. Qxd5 offers black chances to draw but the presence of queens makes things much harder for the defending side. With the queens off and black’s rook on d2, black would be drawing) 31.b5 This pawn runs very fast, the d-pawn offers no real counterplay Qe5 32.b6 Re8 Black threatens mate in two

Adams-Wang Baku 2016 Move 33
Adams-Wang Baku 2016 Move 33

33.Rf4 Qe6 34.Qb7?!

blocking the passed pawn doesn’t look right. More accurate for white was 34.Qc7! After 34…Qe7 we reach:

Adams-Wang Baku 2016 Variation Move 35
Adams-Wang Baku 2016 Variation Move 35

35.Qa7! wins nicely, for example 35…Qxa7 36.bxa7 Ra8 37.Ra4 White’s king is in the square of the d-pawn, so black is totally lost.

34…g5 35.Ra4 Qe2? (35…Kg7 getting the king off the back rank was the only hope to fight on) 36.f3 d4

37.Ra8 was quicker and more forceful, 37…d3

Adams-Wang Baku 2016 Variation Move 38
Adams-Wang Baku 2016 Variation Move 38

38.Qc6! Rxa8 38.Qxa8+ Kh7 39. b7 d2 40.b8Q d1Q 41.Qg8#

37.Qd7 Qe7 38.Qxe7 Rxe7

Adams-Wang Baku 2016 Move 39
Adams-Wang Baku 2016 Move 39

39.Ra7! The b-pawn costs black his rook 1-0

An instructive win with white elegantly exploiting a very small advantage. Notice how one mistake on move 26 loses black the game. It is surprising that black is already in the “zone of one mistake” from a seemingly innocuous opening.

Chapter 7 G-Pawn Strategies

This section covers the early aggressive push of the g-pawn against a castled king. This occurs in many different openings.

The Neo-Steinitz is not popular in modern GM praxis although  Keres and Portisch did play this opening. Mamedyarov is a very aggressive player who plays the Neo-Steinitz. The following game is a slugfest.

Grischuk – Mamedyarov
Hersonissos 2017

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 d6

Grischuk-Mamedyarov Hersonissos Move 5
Grischuk-Mamedyarov Hersonissos Move 5

5.0-0 Bd7 6.Re1 (6.d4, c3 or c4 are more common) g5! This idea is perfectly sound, it was introduced by Portisch in 1968 against Kortschnoi.

Grischuk-Mamedyarov Hersonissos Move 7
Grischuk-Mamedyarov Hersonissos Move 7

7.Bxc6 (7.d4 is possible but will probably transpose into the game) bxc6! 8.d4 g4 9.Nfd2 exd4 10.Nb3

Grischuk-Mamedyarov Hersonissos Move 10
Grischuk-Mamedyarov Hersonissos Move 10

10…Ne7 (10…c5 is too greedy, after 11.c3 white has plenty of compensation for the pawn) 11.Nxd4 Bg7 12.Nc3 0-0 13.Bg5 f6 14.Be3 Qe8

Grischuk-Mamedyarov Hersonissos Move 15
Grischuk-Mamedyarov Hersonissos Move 15

Black will move his queen over to the kingside and push his pawns for a direct attack

15.Qd3? This move and the next just lose time, clearly white was unsure of his correct plan 15…Qf7 16.Qd2 Qg6 (16…c5! 17.Nde2 Bc6 followed by f5 looks great for black) 17.Bf4 h5

Grischuk-Mamedyarov Hersonissos Move 18
Grischuk-Mamedyarov Hersonissos Move 18

18.b4 h4 19.a4 Qh5 20.Be3

Grischuk-Mamedyarov Hersonissos 2017 Move 20
Grischuk-Mamedyarov Hersonissos 2017 Move 20

h3 (20…f5! was perhaps even stronger: 21.exf5 h3! 22.Ne4 hxg2 23.Ng3 Qh3 the main threat is to move a rook to the h-file) 21.Nce2! (21.g3 fails to 21…f5 22.Bf4 fxe4 23. Rxe4 Qf7 with 24…Ng6 to follow and white crumbles) hxg2

Grischuk-Mamedyarov Hersonissos Move 21
Grischuk-Mamedyarov Hersonissos Move 21

 22.Nf4 Qh7!? An exchange sacrifice, 22…Qf7 was also very good for black 23.Nfe6 Bxe6 24.Nxe6

Grischuk-Mamedyarov Hersonissos 2017 Move 24
Grischuk-Mamedyarov Hersonissos 2017 Move 24

Ng6! The knight is heading to f3  25.Nxf8 Rxf8 26.Bf4! (26.Ra3 f5! 27.Bd4 f4 and black’s attack is crashing through) f5 (26…Nh4 is answered by 27.Ra3) 27.exf5 Nh4

Grischuk-Mamedyarov Hersonissos Move 28
Grischuk-Mamedyarov Hersonissos Move 28

28.Ra3?

The final mistake, 28.Qd3! was essential and white can just save the game, one line is 28…Bxa1 29. Rxa1 Rxf5! 30.Bg3 Nf3+ 31. Kxg2 Qh3+ 32.Kh1 Rf6! Threatening Rh6

Grischuk-Mamedyarov Hersonissos 2017 Variation Move 33
Grischuk-Mamedyarov Hersonissos 2017 Variation Move 33

33.Qe4! Kf8 34.b5! Qh5! 35.Kg2! Rh6 36.Qf4+ Kg7 37.bxa6 Qh3+ 38.Kh1 Re6 39.a7 Ne1 40.Qg5+ Kh7 41. Qf5+ Kg7 draw by perpetual

Grischuk-Mamedyarov Hersonissos 2017 Variation Move 42
Grischuk-Mamedyarov Hersonissos 2017 Variation Move 42

28… Qxf5 29.Bg5 Nf3+ 30.Rxf3 gxf3 31.Bh6

Grischuk-Mamedyarov Hersonissos Move 31
Grischuk-Mamedyarov Hersonissos Move 31

31…Qd5? 

A mistake 31…Qf6 forces a winning rook ending: 32.Bxg7 Kxg7 33. Qd3 Rh8 34.Qe4 Qh4. 35.Qe7+ Qxe7 36.Rxe7+ Kg6 37.Re3 Rf8 winning

Grischuk-Mamedyarov Hersonissos Variation Move 38
Grischuk-Mamedyarov Hersonissos Variation Move 38

32.Qc1 (32.Qe3! gives white some hope) Bc3 33.Re3 (33.Rd1 also loses  Qh5 34. Rd3 Be5 35.Qg5+ Qxg5 36.Bxg5 Rf5 37.Bh4 Kf7 winning) Bd4 34.Rd3 Re8

Grischuk-Mamedyarov Hersonissos Move 35
Grischuk-Mamedyarov Hersonissos Move 35

35.c3

35.Be3 leads to a lost queen ending 35…Bxe3 36.Rxe3 Rxe3 37.fxe3 Qc4

Grischuk-Mamedyarov Hersonissos Variation 2 Move 38
Grischuk-Mamedyarov Hersonissos Variation 2 Move 38

The threat of  38…Qe2 is decisive.

35… Bxf2+ 36.Kxf2 Re2+

Grischuk-Mamedyarov Hersonissos End
Grischuk-Mamedyarov Hersonissos End

The checks run out after 37.Kg1 Qxd3 38.Qg5+ Kf7 39.Qg7+ Ke8 40.Qf8+ Kd7 and the black king escapes to b7  0-1

This book is aimed at grades 160+ players although aspiring players with lower ratings would benefit from reading this book.

To summarise, this is an good read with lots of educational games demonstrating the themes in each chapter. My only minor criticism is chapters 2 & 3 are very specialised handling middlegames from two particular opening systems. The other chapters handle more generic themes.

FM Richard Webb, Basingstoke, Hampshire, 5th July 2021

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 326 pages
  • Publisher:Thinkers Publishing; 1st edition (17 Dec. 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10:949251060X
  • ISBN-13:978-9492510600
  • Product Dimensions: 17.02 x 1.27 x 23.37 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

Chess Middlegame Strategies - Strategy Meets Dynamics Volume 3, Ivan Sokolov, Thinker's Publishing. 2019, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-9492510600
Chess Middlegame Strategies – Strategy Meets Dynamics Volume 3, Ivan Sokolov, Thinker’s Publishing. 2019, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-9492510600
 Save as PDF

Guildford Chess Club celebrates 125 years

Guildford Chess Club

From early beginnings…

Guildford Chess Club was founded on Friday 10th April 1896 at the Guildford Institute, as the ‘Guildford and Working Men’s Institute (GWMI) Chess Club’. The minutes reported that Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) who lived in Guildford for a period until his death in 1898, occasionally visited the Club.

Alice Through the Looking Glass in the grounds of Guildford Castle, David Ball / Alamy Stock Photo
Alice Through the Looking Glass in the grounds of Guildford Castle, David Ball / Alamy Stock Photo

On 10th April 1899, GWMI amalgamated with the original Guildford Chess Club, which had been in existence since at least 1887 although unfortunately no minutes appear to exist for that Club, so little is known about its background. It was decided to adopt the latter’s name and to make the Guildford Institute its home venue, which it has remained to this day. The minutes note: ‘The object of the Guildford Chess Club is to play, promote and teach the game of Chess’.

Over the years the Club has fulfilled its purpose by not only operating a wide range of teams who participate in the local leagues in Surrey, as well as in national team competitions, but by also actively promoting chess and helping people to develop their ability to play the royal game.
The Club celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1920 with an invitation to the legendary José Raul Capablanca to give a 42-board simultaneous display, which he graciously accepted and unsurprisingly won every game!

José Raul Capablanca
José Raul Capablanca

The Club also demonstrated its commitment to its original object of promoting and teaching chess by creating a junior section, which saw some very promising young talent coming through from the Royal Grammar School based in Guildford and this strong association between the Club and the School is still evident today. Amongst this talent were two very promising players, B.C. Gould and A.W.J. Down, both of whom went on to win British Boys Championships between 1929 and 1933.
In 1934, in keeping with its mandate, the Club invited Eugene A. Znosko-Borovsky, the noted Russian Chess master to give a lecture on ‘General Principles’.

Eugene Znosko-Borovsky in play during the 1948 British Chess Federation Congress at Bishopsgate Institute, 30th August, 1948. Keystone Press Archive.
Eugene Znosko-Borovsky in play during the 1948 British Chess Federation Congress at Bishopsgate Institute, 30th August, 1948. Keystone Press Archive.

Guildford’s reputation as a thriving club was further evidenced by an invitation to the reigning British Champion, Sir George Thomas, to give a 25-board Simultaneous display at the Royal Grammar School on 13th December 1935. Sir George met strong resistance, winning 17, drawing 6 and losing 2 – a fine result for Guildford members.

Sir George Thomas and Brian Reilly Sir George Thomas (left), leader of the British chess team, playing Irishman Brian Reilly at the Easter Chess Congress, Margate, April 24th 1935. (Photo by Harry Todd/Fox Photos/Getty Images)
Sir George Thomas and Brian Reilly
Sir George Thomas (left), leader of the British chess team, playing Irishman Brian Reilly at the Easter Chess Congress, Margate, April 24th 1935. (Photo by Harry Todd/Fox Photos/Getty Images)
The Centenary

In 1996 Guildford Chess Club celebrated its centenary by organising a series of events, which included a 12-board match against the Surrey Border League, which the Club won 8-4, the restoration of an open-air chess board in the Castle grounds, running a ‘Chess Variants’ tournament at Charterhouse School in Godalming, conducting some local Simultaneous displays and holding a Centenary dinner with IM William Hartston as the keynote speaker.

The Club also invested more effort in the development of its Junior Section by creating a coaching programme which resulted in certificates being awarded to celebrate stages of achievement and the Club has continued to run a thriving Junior section up until the present day.

The last 25 years have been particularly successful for Guildford Chess Club which continues to do well in the local leagues as well as nationally, with its recent domination of the 4NCL for the last eight years. It has been an interesting and exciting 125 years for the Club, which has been based at the same venue for its entire existence and it is fair to say that during this time, thanks to the Club’s various achievements, it has evolved to become one of the most successful chess clubs in the country.

Today – the 125th Anniversary

To celebrate its 125th anniversary the Club is running a special event in Guildford High Street on Saturday 11th September from 10.30 – 16.30.

Chess fans are therefore invited to participate in a 125-Board Simultaneous display given by some of the top Chess players in England!

They include Grandmaster Gawain Jones, former British Champion and current European Online Blitz Champion and Grandmaster Nick Pert, former World Under 18 Champion!

GM Gawain Jones at the 2013 London Chess Classic courtesy of John Upham Photography
GM Gawain Jones at the 2013 London Chess Classic courtesy of John Upham Photography
GM Nick Pert at the 2014 British Championships courtesy of John Upham Photography
GM Nick Pert at the 2014 British Championships courtesy of John Upham Photography

Other Masters giving the Simultaneous include: Matthew Wadsworth, former British U18 and U21 Champion;

FM Matthew J Wadsworth
FM Matthew J Wadsworth

Akshaya Kalaiyalahan, former British Women’s Champion;

Akshaya Kalaiyalahan
Akshaya Kalaiyalahan

Andrew Martin, former Guinness World-record holder for playing the most games simultaneously;

IM Andrew Martin
IM Andrew Martin

Nigel Povah, former British Senior Over 50s Champion;

IM Nigel Povah
IM Nigel Povah

Harry Grieve, British Rapidplay Online Champion;

FM Harry Grieve
FM Harry Grieve

Alex Golding, the highest rated 17-year old in England;

FM Alex Golding
FM Alex Golding

Jessica Mellor, former European School Girls Under 11 Champion.

Jessica Mellor
Jessica Mellor
This is your chance to play against some of them for FREE!
How do I enter?

The event comprises of three playing sessions, starting at 10.30, 12.30 and 14.30 and you can book your place for any one, two or all three of these sessions, each of which is anticipated to last up to 1½ hours. Places will be secured on a first-come-first-served basis. It is of course possible that your game finishes quite quickly, in which case you can either depart or choose to play another game in one of the other Simultaneous displays, space permitting.

Participants should note that appropriate arrangements have been made to ensure the event will go ahead, even if we are faced with inclement weather!

To register to play in the event please go to:

 

https://guildfordchess125.eventbrite.co.uk

 Save as PDF

Understanding Maroczy Structures

Understanding Maroczy Structures, Adrian Bohdanovych Mikhalchishin and Georg Mohr, Thinker's Publishing, 2019, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-9492510549
Understanding Maroczy Structures, Adrian Bohdanovych Mikhalchishin and Georg Mohr, Thinker’s Publishing, 2019, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-9492510549

From the publisher:

“Using carefully selected examples, the authors want to make you familiar with the strategic ideas behind the famous Maroczy bind. These plans arising from both colours, are a must for your arsenal of chess knowledge and understanding.”

FIDE Senior Trainer GM Adrian Mikhalchishin
FIDE Senior Trainer GM Adrian Mikhalchishin

“Adrian Bohdanovych Mikhalchishin was born in Lvov, Ukraine in 1954 and became a Grandmaster in 1978. In 1995 he took Slovenian citizenship and became a FIDE Senior Trainer from 2002 and was chairman of FIDE Trainers Commission from 2009. Adrian was a trainer of many famous chess players. Amongst others he was in Anatoly Karpov’s team during matches with Garry Kasparov. He has worked with Maja Chiburdanidze, Nana Aleksandria, the Polgar sisters, Alisa Maric and Nana Dzagnidze. He was coach and captain of the national teams of Slovenia and the Netherlands. In recent years he has been coach of the Turkish woman team. He has written many chess books and thousands of articles for many chess magazines.”

“Georg Mohr was born in Maribor, Slovenia in 1965 becoming a Grandmaster in 1997. He joined as a member of the FIDE Trainers Commission from 2002, becoming a FIDE Senior Trainer in 2004 and a FIDE International Organizer in 2011. Georg has been a professional chess trainer for many years. He was coach and captain of Slovenian national team from 2003 – 2010 and since 2011 he has been Turkish national youth trainer. He is a chess writer and was editor of Slovenian chess magazine Šahovska Misel from 1999 and editor of Fide Trainers Commission trainers’ surveys. He is also an organiser of chess events acting as tournament director of the European Club Cup (Rogaška Slatina 2011), the World Youth Championship (Maribor 2012) and the World Senior Championship (Bled 2018).”

 FIDE Senior Trainer Georg Mohr
FIDE Senior Trainer Georg Mohr

Looking at the title of this book, Understanding Maroczy Structures, it appears to be an abstruse book on a specialised middlegame structure which many club players will know by name. They will be able to describe the tusks on c4 and e4 and probably have lost a game horribly against a stronger player who squeezed the life out of them like a hungry reticulated python.  Chess like a reticulated python has beautiful patterns: this book covers all the major ideas and patterns in the Maroczy structures. The reader may be thinking: I don’t play these systems for either colour, it’s of no relevance to me. The reviewer begs to differ: many general, important middlegame themes are demonstrated in this book such as:

  • Avoiding exchanges to keep the opponent cramped
  • Exchanging pieces to relieve cramp
  • Use of knight outposts
  • Using a space advantage to attack on the queenside
  • Using a space advantage to attack the king
  • Using the bishop pair
  • Pawn levers to attack the opponent’s pawn structure & relieve cramp
  • Opening up the position to exploit a space advantage and better placed pieces
  • Bad bishops and weak colour complexes

This book is not a repertoire bible for playing the Maroczy bind; it is a examination of the typical middlegame strategies for both sides in these complex and interesting positions. It is definitely harder to play for the side playing against the Maroczy structures.

The book is structured into five sections and sixteen chapters.

Section 1 Introduction to the Maroczy is divided into three logical foundation chapters:

Chapter 1 What is the Maroczy Structure?

This chapter covers the typical move orders to reach Maroczy bind structures including the Rubinstein variation of the Symmetrical English opening which is a reversed Maroczy.

Here is the most well known incarnation of the Maroczy bind arising from an Accelerated Dragon.

Maroczy Bind
Maroczy Bind

Here is the reversed Maroczy mentioned above:

Reversed Maroczy Bind
Reversed Maroczy Bind

This chapter enumerates the possible ways that a Maroczy structure can be reached which is usually through the Sicilian Defence (many different ways), English Opening and King’s Indian Defences.

Chapter 2 Typical Positions

This short chapter shows typical positions concentrating mainly on some key decisions & strategies:

  • White’s decision whether to defend his knight on d4 or retreat it to c2
  • White’s white squared bishop development to e2, d3 or more rarely g2
  • Defending the e-pawn with f3 or Bd3
  • Black’s dark square strategy
  • Recapturing on d5 with the e-pawn, c-pawn or a piece
  • The potential weakness of the d4 square

All these topics are covered in subsequent chapters.

Chapter 3 History

Akiba Rubinstein was one of the first players to master Maroczy structures; Mikhail Botvinnik stated that he learnt how to play these positions by studying Rubinstein’s games.

Here is a masterclass by the first Soviet World Champion in his younger days:

Lisitsin – Botvinnik
Leningrad Championship 1932

1.Nf3 c5 2.c4 Nf6 3.g3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Bg2 Nc6 6.0-0 e5 reaching the Rubinstein variation of the Symmetrical English. White now embarks on a slow development scheme which is too passive and not played by modern masters.

Lisitsin-Botvinnik Leningrad 1932 Move 7
Lisitsin-Botvinnik Leningrad 1932 Move 7

7.d3 Be7 8.Nbd2 0-0 9.Nc4 f6 10.Be3 Be6 11.a4 The trouble with this move and white’s plan is that the b4 break is now never available. The other two possible breaks to achieve counterplay in Maroczy structures are f4 or e3/d4, both of which are impossible to achieve in a satisfactory manner with white’s slow, flawed development scheme.

Lisitsin-Botvinnik Leningrad 1932 Move 11
Lisitsin-Botvinnik Leningrad 1932 Move 11

11…Qd7 12.Qd2 b6 13.Rfc1 Rac8 both sides have developed their pieces but black already has a distinct edge and a far easier position to play. White’s next seven moves are pure faffing and he clearly does not know what to do.

Lisitsin-Botvinnik Leningrad 1932 Move 14
Lisitsin-Botvinnik Leningrad 1932 Move 14

14.Qd1 Kh8 15.Bd2 Rfd8 16.Qb3 Nc7 17.Bc3 Rb8 18.Qc2 Nd5 19.Nfd2 Rbc8 20.Nf1 After several moves of shadow boxing, black has a distinct advantage and now acts.

Lisitsin-Botvinnik Leningrad 1932 Move 20
Lisitsin-Botvinnik Leningrad 1932 Move 20

20…Nd4 21.Qd1 Bg4! A typical idea pressuring the e-pawn. White must remove the powerful knight or play the equally unpalatable f3

22.Bxd4 exd4 The recapture with the e-pawn exposes white’s e2- pawn to potential pressure from black’s rooks. Notice how Botvinnik skilfully manoeuvres to arrange this.

23.Qd2 Bf8 24.Re1 Re8 25.h4 Bh3 26.Bf3 Re7 27.Nh2 Rce8 28.Kh1 Be6! White has no counterplay and must simply wait for the reticulated python to tighten its coils.

Lisitsin-Botvinnik Leningrad 1932 Move 29
Lisitsin-Botvinnik Leningrad 1932 Move 29

29.b3 Nb4 (not 29…Nc3? when white has 30.e4!) 30.Bg2 Bd5 Attempting to exchange a key defender of the king 31.Nf3 Rf7! Further masterful manoeuvring points more black pieces  at white’s kingside 32.Kh2 Bd6 33.Bh3 Qd8 34.Rab1 Rfe7 35.Ng1 Bc7 36.Na3 Bb7 Compare the respective activity of each side’s pieces. It is not surprising that white collapses quickly.

Lisitsin-Botvinnik Leningrad 1932 Move 37
Lisitsin-Botvinnik Leningrad 1932 Move 37

37.Bg2 Bxg2 38.Kxg2 Nd5 39.Nc2 Qd6 40.Na3 Ne3+ 41.Kh1 Ng4! with numerous murderous threats

Lisitsin-Botvinnik Leningrad 1932 Move 42
Lisitsin-Botvinnik Leningrad 1932 Move 42

42.Qf4 total desperation and hopeless Qxf4 43.gxf4 Nxf2+ 44.Kg2 Nxd3 0-1

An absolute crush of Georgy Lisitsin who was Leningrad champion three times.

Section 2 Typical Methods of play for White consists of four chapters covering:

  • Attack on the queenside with b2,(b3),b4 aiming to limit the activity of black’s pieces
  • Attack on the kingside: f2-f4-f5
  • Play Nd5 and after its capture, respond with cxd5 or exd5 or capture on d5 with a piece
  • Withdrawing the d4 knight to c2, b3 or e2 with a queenside attack

Chapter 4 covers white’s queenside attacking plans involving b4.

The follower encounter shows an ideal strategic white win.

Knaak – Walter
East German Championship Erfurt, 1973

1.c4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Bg7 5.e4 Nc6 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Nc3 By transposition, an Accelerated Sicilian Dragon has been reached. Black plays a popular variation to exchange a pair of knights.

Knaak-Walter Erfurt 1973 Move 7
Knaak-Walter Erfurt 1973 Move 7

Ng4 8.Qxg4 Nxd4 9.Qd1

Knaak-Walter Erfurt 1973 Move 9
Knaak-Walter Erfurt 1973 Move 9

9…Nc6 Black normally retreats the knight to e6 here. 9…e5 is an interesting try. 10.Qd2 Qa5 11.Rc1! (Black was threatening Bxc3, another key strategy) d6 12.Be2 Be6 13.0-0 Rc8 14.a3 0-0

Knaak-Walter Erfurt 1973 Move 15
Knaak-Walter Erfurt 1973 Move 15

15.Rc2! (White effects a smart manoeuvre to prepare b2-b4) Rfe8 16.Rb1! a6 17.b4!

Knaak-Walter Erfurt 1973 Move 17
Knaak-Walter Erfurt 1973 Move 17

Qd8 (Black cannot take the a3 pawn: after 17…Qxa3 18. Nd1! followed by 19.Ra2 wins the queen) 18.Rbc1 Ne5 Black looks to have play against the c4 pawn, but white’s next move squashes any black hopes of counterplay.

Knaak-Walter Erfurt 1973 Move 19
Knaak-Walter Erfurt 1973 Move 19

19.Nd5! Bxd5 The knight has to be removed 20.cxd5 (As white’s rooks are already doubled opening the c-file is very strong 20…Qd7 21.h3! (Stopping any ideas of Ng4) 21… f5 Desperately seeking some play 22.f4! A typical reaction pushing the knight back 22…Nf7 23.exf5 gxf5 24.Bb6! (Another thematic idea dominating the c7 square)

Knaak-Walter Erfurt 1973 Move 24
Knaak-Walter Erfurt 1973 Move 24

Bf6 25.Rc7 Rxc7 26.Rxc7 The rook penetrates with decisive attack. The black king is soon on the menu. Qa4 27.Qd3 Bb2 28.Qxf5 (The attack is soon decisive)

Knaak-Walter Erfurt 1973 Move 28
Knaak-Walter Erfurt 1973 Move 28

Qxa3 29.Bh5 Bf6 30.Qe6 Rf8 31.Qg4+ Ng5 32.fxg5 1-0

Chapter 5 covers white’s attacking options on the kingside.

The game below shows a Maroczy Bind position being reached from a transposition into a Symmetrical English with an exemplary attacking display from a former World Champion.

Smyslov  – Timman
Moscow 1981

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.g3 c5 4.Bg2 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Bg7 6.c4 Nc6 7.Nc3 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 0-0 9.0-0 d6 10.Qd3 This position is a well known variation of the English Symmetrical which is definitely better for white.

Smyslov-Timman Moscow 1981 Move 10
Smyslov-Timman Moscow 1981 Move 10

Bf5?! (This idea is now known to be inaccurate. Better is 10…Rb8, 10…a6 or 10…Ng4 but white retains an advantage in all cases)
11.e4 Be6 12.b3 12…a6 13.Bb2 Nd7 14.Qd2! 14…Nc5 (14…Qa5 15.Rfd1 Rfc8 16.Nd5!±)

Smyslov-Timman Moscow 1981 Move 15
Smyslov-Timman Moscow 1981 Move 15

15.f4! Rc8? (Careless, underestimating white’s attacking chances, better is 15…f5 16.exf5 Bxf5 17.Nd5 when white has a clear advantage, but black can fight on) 16.f5 Bd7 17.f6!±  (Obviously missed by Timman)

Smyslov-Timman Moscow 1981 Move 17
Smyslov-Timman Moscow 1981 Move 17

exf6 (17…Bxf6 18.Rxf6! exf6 19.Nd5±) 18.Nd5 f5 19.exf5 Bxf5 (19…gxf5!? 20.Bxg7 Kxg7 21.Qd4+ f6±) 20.Bxg7 Kxg7 21.Qd4+ f6 22.g4! Be6 (22…Ne6 23.Qd1!+- as the bishop is trapped )

Smyslov-Timman Moscow 1981 Move 23
Smyslov-Timman Moscow 1981 Move 23

23.Nxf6! Rxf6 24.g5+- Bf5 25.Rad1 b5 26.cxb5 axb5 27.gxf6+ Qxf6 28.Qxf6+ Kxf6 29.Rxd6+ Ne6 30.Rb6 Rc5 31.Re1 1-0

Chapter 6 A leap to d5

This chapter covers the white’s knight leap to d5 and white’s three possible responses to its capture:

  • Taking cxd5
  • Taking exd5
  • Taking with a piece x d5

Lev Polugaevsky was considered an expert on the white side of the Maroczy bind. Here is a didactic game of his demonstrating the power of cxd5 and the use of the bishop pair. This is a common type of win in the Maroczy bind,  so this game is worth studying carefully.

This game also demonstrates that entering a vastly inferior endgame with no chance of counterplay is poor judgement particularly against a very strong technical player: the speculative 12…Qxa2 keeping the queens on had to be tried.

Polugaevsky – Ostojic
Belgrade 1969

1.c4 g6 2.e4 c5 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nf6 6.Nc3 Nxd4 7.Qxd4 d6 8.Be3 Bg7 9.f3 0-0 10.Qd2 Be6 11.Rc1 Qa5

Polugaevsky-Ostojic Belgrade 1969 Move 12
Polugaevsky-Ostojic Belgrade 1969 Move 12

12.Nd5! Qxd2+? (Black should have tried the complicated 12…Qxa2 13.Nxe7+ Kh8 14.Be2 with a white edge)13.Kxd2 Bxd5 (13…Nxd5 14. cxd5 Bd7 15.Rc7+- a decisive penetration to the seventh rank) 14.cxd5 Rfc8 15.Rxc8+ Rxc8

Polugaevsky-Ostojic Belgrade 1969 Move 16
Polugaevsky-Ostojic Belgrade 1969 Move 16

16.g3! (A typical move activating the white squared bishop) Rc7 (16…b6 17.Bh3 Rc7 18.Rc1 Ne8 19.b4 Rxc1 20.Kxc1 Nc7 21.Bd7! wins as in Gheorghiu – Szilagyi  Varna 1971 – another game well worth studying in this book) 17.Bh3 Nd7 18.Rc1! (Exchanging rooks enables white to carve up the black queenside) Rxc1 19.Kxc1 Nb6 20.Kc2 Kf8 21.b3 The simple plan of a4-a5 is unstoppable

Polugaevsky-Ostojics Move 21
Polugaevsky-Ostojics Move 21

Ke8 22.a4 Kd8 23.a5 Nc8 24.Bxc8 Kxc8 25.Bxa7 (White effortlessly wins the bishop ending a pawn up) e6 26.Kd3 exd5 27.exd5 Bb2 28.Kc4 Bc1 29.Kb5 Kc7 30.Bb6+ Kd7 31.a6 bxa6+ 32.Kxa6 Bd2 33.Ba5 1-0

Recapturing with exd5 is also a common strategy which has already been showcased with a Botvinnik win earlier in the review. Here is a more modern example between two 2700+ players with a crisp finish.

Notice that the white squared bishops are exchanged very early. It is not clear which side this favours. White gets rid of his potential bad bishop, but his c-pawn can be vulnerable. Black has exchanged a minor piece relieving his cramp.

Bacrot – Giri
Bundesliga 2013

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Bd7 4.c4!? Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.0-0 Bg7 7.d4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 0-0 9.Bxd7 Qxd7 Reaching a standard position from the Moscow Variation.

Bacrot-Giri Emsdetten 2013 Move 10
Bacrot-Giri Emsdetten 2013 Move 10

10.b3 (10.f3 preparing Be3 allows the clever 10…Rc8 11.b3 d5!! equalising 12.exd5 Nxd5! 13.Nxd5 e6=) Nc6 11.Bb2 a6 (11…e6 followed by Rfd8 and d5 should be considered and is another standard idea to break up the Maroczy bind) 12.Nxc6

Bacrot-Giri Emsdetten 2013 Move 12
Bacrot-Giri Emsdetten 2013 Move 12

Qxc6?! (12…bxc6 13. Re1 Qc7 is better as black has a better share of the centre controlling d5 with his c-pawn) 13.Nd5! Nxd5?! (Better was 13…Rfe8 14.Nxf6 Bxf6 15.Bxf6 exf6 followed by Re6 when white has a slight edge) 14.exd5 Qc5 15.Bxg7 Kxg7 16.Re1 With heavy pieces the pressure on e7 is very uncomfortable, Black’s play with b5 turns out to be illusory. White’s space advantage spearheaded by the d5-pawn effectively splits black’s position into two compartments, thus facilitating a direct attack on black’s king. It is very difficult for black to funnel his pieces across to defend his kingside.

Bacrot-Giri Emsdetten 2013 Move 16
Bacrot-Giri Emsdetten 2013 Move 16

Rfe8  (Black had to play 16…e5 allowing 17.dxe6 fxe6 when white has very easy play against the e6 and d6 pawns, but at least black gains breathing space, opens the f-file for his rook and he can defend his king 17.Qd2! (White has a host of ideas after this multi-purpose queen move: Rac1 & b4, c5 or Re4, Rae1 and Rh4) b5? (Again 17…e5 had to be played) 18.Rac1! (Compare the activity of each side’s rooks, white prepares b4 and c5 creating a dangerous passed pawn)

Bacrot-Giri Emsdetten 2013 Move 18
Bacrot-Giri Emsdetten 2013 Move 18

Qa7?! (18…b4 is probably better, but white will turn his attention to the kingside) 19.b4! bxc4 20.Rxc4 h5 (20…Rac8 21.Qc3+ is a neat fork) 21.Qc3+ Kg8 22.Rc7 Qb6 23.a4! (Stopping any play with a5, because white replies b5!)

Bacrot-Giri Emsdetten 2013 Move 23
Bacrot-Giri Emsdetten 2013 Move 23

Rab8 24.Re4 f6 25.g4 Rb7? Desperation

Bacrot-Giri Emsdetten 2013 Move 26
Bacrot-Giri Emsdetten 2013 Move 26

26.Qxf6! A lovely combination to finish  1-0

Taking with a piece on d5 is demonstrated with another famous Botvinnik victory.

Botvinnik-Toran Palma de Mallorca 1967 Move 22
Botvinnik-Toran Palma de Mallorca 1967 Move 22

Botvinnik to move continued 22.Rxd5! The strategical idea is simple: utilise the pawn level e4-e5 to smash up black’s pawn structure and penetrate with the more active rooks.

22…Rc6?! (Better is 22…Rc7 defending the 7th rank 23.e5 dxe5 24.fxe5 f5 25.Red1 Rgc8 with chances to hold, but white is for choice) 23.e5 dxe5 24.fxe5 Re6 25.Kf2 Rf8 26.Rd7! fxe5+ 27.Ke3 Rb8 28.Ke4 Kg8 29.Kd5 Kf7 30.Rxe5 White has an enormous advantage

Botvinnik-Toran Palma de Mallorca 1967 Move 30
Botvinnik-Toran Palma de Mallorca 1967 Move 30

30…Rd6+ 31.Rxd6 exd6 32.Kxd6 Rd8+ 33.Kc7 Rd2 34.Kxb7 Rxg2 35.c5 Rxh2 36.c6 Rc2 37.b4 1-0

Chapter 7 covers the retreat of the white knight from d4 to avoid freeing exchanges for black. Here is a thematic game played by Nigel Short.

Short – Felgaer
Buenos Aires 2001

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.c4 Bg7 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Nc3 0-0 8.Be2 d6 9.0-0 Bd7 10.Nc2 (White withdraws the knight to prevent black exchanging)

Short-Felgaer Buenos Aires 2001 Move 10
Short-Felgaer Buenos Aires 2001 Move 10

a6 (10…Qa5?  just encourages white expansion viz: 11. f4 Rac8 12.Rb1! a5 13.b4 Qd8 14. Qd3 and white has a big advantage) 11.f3 A typical move to shore up the e4-pawn allowing the c3-knight to eye up b5 preventing b5 by black Rc8 12.Rc1 Re8 13.Qd2 Qa5

Short-Felgaer Buenos Aires 2001 Move 13
Short-Felgaer Buenos Aires 2001 Move 13

14.Rfd1! Ne5 [14…Red8 15.b4!

Short-Felgaer Buenos Aires 2001 Variation Move 15
Short-Felgaer Buenos Aires 2001 Variation Move 15

A typical tactic based on the undefended e7-pawn, if 15…Nxb4? 16.Nd5! Nc6 17.Qxa5 Nxa5 18.Nxe7+ and 19.Nxc8 winning, so 15…Qh5 is forced when 16.Nd5 leaves white better.

15.b4 (15.c5! is even better: dxc5 16.f4 Neg4 17.e5 winning) 15…Qd8 16.Na3

Short-Felgaer Buenos Aires 2001 Move 16
Short-Felgaer Buenos Aires 2001 Move 16

Short enjoys a solid space advantage, but his pawns will require full piece support. 16…a5 [16…Bc6 17.b5 axb5 18.cxb5 Bd7 19.b6 white is better] 17.b5 Be6 17…b6?

Short-Felgaer Buenos Aires 2001 Variation Move 17
Short-Felgaer Buenos Aires 2001 Variation Move 17

18.Na4! Rb8 19.Bd4 Qc7 20.Qe3+- wins the weak b6-pawn] 18.Na4 Nfd7 (18…Ned7 19.b6±) 19.b6!

Short-Felgaer Buenos Aires 2001 Move 19
Short-Felgaer Buenos Aires 2001 Move 19

White has a huge advantage that he duly converted.

Part 3 covers Typical Methods of Play For Black and is an important chapter if you are intending to face the Maroczy Bind.

Black has four strategies to combat the Maroczy, each of which is covered in a separate chapter:

  • e6 & d5 attacking both tusks simultaneously
  • b5 undermining the c4 pawn
  • f5 undermining the e4-pawn
  • dark square strategy

Chapter 8

The e6-d5 central strike commonly occurs in the Maroczy structure reached via the Moscow Variation of the Sicilian Defence. Here is an example played by World Champion Garry Kasparov.

Akopian – Kasparov
Bled  2002

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Bd7 4.Bxd7+ Qxd7 5.c4 Nc6 6.d4 cxd4 7.Nxd4 Nf6 8.Nc3 g6 9.f3 Bg7 10.Be3 0-0 11.0-0

Akopian-Kasparov Bled 2002 Move 10
Akopian-Kasparov Bled 2002 Move 11

a6!? (Normal is 11…Qd8 intending Qa5 to activate the queen on the dark squares) 12.a4 e6 Again Qd8 is possible 13.Rc1 Ne5 14.b3 (14.Qe2 Rfc8! 15. b3 d5! = is another Kasparov game)

Akopian-Kasparov Bled 2002 Move 14
Akopian-Kasparov Bled 2002 Move 14

d5 15.cxd5 exd5 16.Nxd5 Nxd5 17.exd5 Rfe8 18.Bf2 Qxd5 19.Qc2

Akopian-Kasparov Bled 2002 Move 19
Akopian-Kasparov Bled 2002 Move 19

Ng4 20.fxg4 Bxd4 21.Qc4 Bxf2+ 22.Rxf2 Qxc4 23.Rxc4 Re7 24.h4 ½-½

Chapter 9 covers the f7-f5 strike. Here is a superb game by the young Boris Spassky before he became World Champion.

Furman – Spassky
USSR Championship Moscow 1957

1.Nf3 c5 2.c4 g6 3.e4 Bg7 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nc6 6.Be3 Nh6 7.Nc3 0-0 8.Be2

Furman-Spassky Moscow 1957 Move 8
Furman-Spassky Moscow 1957 Move 8

8…f5! Attacking the e4 tusk

9.exf5 [9.Bxh6!? is playable: 9…Bxh6 10. exf5 Nxd4 11. Qxd4 Rxf5 (11…gxf5 12.0-0 Bg7 13.Qd2 and black has problems with the c8 bishop) 12. 0-0 Bg7 13.Qd3 white has an initiative] 9…Bxd4! 10. Bxd4?! (10.Bxh6 is probably better 10…Rxf5 11.0-0 d6 12.Qd2 and black again has problems with the c8 bishop) 10.Bxd4 Nxf5 11.Bc5 The bishop is driven to an awkward place  d6 12.Ba3 Nfd4! (Making way for the white squared bishop) 13.0-0 Bf5 14.Rc1 Qd7 Intending to double on the f-file with his rooks

Furman-Spassky Moscow 1957 Move 15
Furman-Spassky Moscow 1957 Move 15

15.Nd5?! White should have improved his bishop on a3 viz: 15.b3 Rf7 16.Bb2 Raf8

Furman-Spassky Moscow 1957 Variation Move 17
Furman-Spassky Moscow 1957 Variation Move 17

17.Nb5! Exchanging off the powerful knight 17…Nxe2+ 18.Qe2 and white is slightly better owing to the great bishop on b2

Rf7 16.b3 Raf8 17.Bb2 e5! Cementing the wonderful steed

Furman-Spassky Moscow 1957 Move 18
Furman-Spassky Moscow 1957 Move 18

18.b4 (The prophylactic 18.f3 is better) Be6! 19.Bd3 Bg4!!

Furman-Spassky Moscow 1957 Move 20
Furman-Spassky Moscow 1957 Move 20

20.f3 (20.Qd2 Bf3! 21. h3 Qd8!! 22. Qh6 Be2 wins the exchange) 20…Bxf3! 21.gxf3 Nxf3+ 22.Kh1 Qh3! 23.Rf2 Ne1!!

Furman-Spassky Moscow 1957 Finish
Furman-Spassky Moscow 1957 Finish

0-1

Chapter 10 covers the a6-b5 break. Here is a game showing a typical white inaccuracy allowing black counterplay.

Ehrenfeuch – Neverov
Warsaw 1992

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Be2 0-0 6.0-0 c5 7.d4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Nc6 9.Be3 Bd7 10.Rc1

Ehrenfeucht-Neverov Warsaw 1992 Move 10
Ehrenfeucht-Neverov Warsaw 1992 Move 10

a6 The usual plan here is to exchange knights, play the bishop to c6 and attempt to exchange dark squared bishops with Nd7 11.Qd2?! (11.f3! had to be played to overprotect the e-pawn)  b5! Of course 12.cxb5 Nxd4 13.Bxd4 axb5 A massive change has occurred, black has plenty of space on the queenside, he has equalised.

Ehrenfeucht-Neverov Warsaw 1992 Move 14
Ehrenfeucht-Neverov Warsaw 1992 Move 14

14.a3 Qa5 (Threatening 15…Nxe4!) 15.Rc2 Bc6

Ehrenfeucht-Neverov Warsaw 1992 Move 16
Ehrenfeucht-Neverov Warsaw 1992 Move 16

16.Qe3?! (16.Nd5 Bxd5 17.exd5 Qxd2 18.Rxd2 is approximately equal) Rfb8! Threatening to trap white’s bishop with e5 17.e5 dxe5 18.Bxe5 Rd8 19.Bf3 Rac8 20.Rd1 Bxf3 21.Qxf3

Ehrenfeucht-Neverov Warsaw 1992 Move 21
Ehrenfeucht-Neverov Warsaw 1992 Move 21

b4! A typical minority attack 22.Bxf6 b3! A superb Zwischenzug 23.Rcc1 Bxf6 Black has huge pressure on the white queenside with a dragon bishop breathing fire, white is busted

Ehrenfeucht-Neverov Warsaw 1992 Move 24
Ehrenfeucht-Neverov Warsaw 1992 Move 24

24.h3 Rxd1+ 25.Qxd1 Qg5 26.h4 Qxh4 27.Qxb3 Be5 28.Qb7 Qh2+ 29.Kf1 Rb8 30.Qxe7 Qh1+ 31.Ke2 Qxc1 32.Qxe5 Qxb2+ 33.Kd3 Rd8+ 34.Kc4 Rc8+ 35.Kd3 Qxa3 36.g4 h6 0-1

Chapter 11 Dark-squared strategy is one of the most interesting chapters and should be studied carefully. I shall showcase a good tussle between World Champion Anatoly Karpov and Bent Larsen.

Karpov – Larsen
Brussels 1987

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.c4 Bg7 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Nc3 Ng4 8.Qxg4 Nxd4 9.Qd1 Ne6 10.Qd2 Qa5 11.Rc1 b6

Karpov-Larsen Brussels 1987 Move 12
Karpov-Larsen Brussels 1987 Move 12

12.Be2 Bb7 13.f3 h5 14.0-0 g5 15.Rfd1 d6 (White has achieved nothing, a3 & b4 does not trouble black’s queen as it can move to the lovely central square e5, so white transitions into an ending)

Karpov-Larsen Brussels 1987 Move 16
Karpov-Larsen Brussels 1987 Move 16

16.Nd5 Qxd2 17.Rxd2 Be5 18.b4 hoping for c5

Karpov-Larsen Brussels 1987 Move 18
Karpov-Larsen Brussels 1987 Move 18

Rc8 19.a4 h4! 20.Bf1 f6 21.Ra2 Hoping for a5 21…Bd4! Getting the dark squared bishops off

Karpov-Larsen Brussels 1987 Move 22
Karpov-Larsen Brussels 1987 Move 22

22.Kf2 Kf7 23.a5 Bxd5 24.exd5 Bxe3+ 25.Kxe3 Nf4

Karpov-Larsen Brussels 1987 Move 26
Karpov-Larsen Brussels 1987 Move 26

26.Kd2 Rc7 27.axb6 axb6 28.Ra6 Rhc8 29.Rxb6 Nxd5 30.Rb5 Nf4 with equal play

Karpov-Larsen Brussels 1987 Move 31
Karpov-Larsen Brussels 1987 Move 31

31.Ra5 Ng6 32.c5 Ne5 33.Rc3 dxc5 34.bxc5 Rb8 35.Bb5 Rd8+ 36.Ke2 Nc6 37.Bxc6 Rxc6 38.g3 Rd4 39.Rb5 hxg3 40.hxg3 Rd5 41.g4 Rc7 42.Ke3 e6 43.Rc2 Ke7 44.Rc3 Kf7 45.Rc2 f5 46.gxf5 exf5 47.Kf2 Kg7 ½-½

The game Serper – Sorenson Tunja 1989 is well worth study.

Serper-Sorensen Tunja 1989 Move 19
Serper-Sorensen Tunja 1989 Move 19

19…Qf8 (carrying out a sophisticated plan to exchange black squared bishops with Qf8, h5, Kh7 and Bh6) 20.Rd1 h5 21.Bd3 Kh7 22.Ne3 Bh6

Serper-Sorensen Tunja 1989 Move 23
Serper-Sorensen Tunja 1989 Move 23

23.Nf4 Bc6 24. Nd5 Bxc6 25.exd5 Bxe3+ 26.Qxe3

Serper-Sorensen Tunja 1989 Move 26
Serper-Sorensen Tunja 1989 Move 26

Black has to relieve the pressure on the e-pawn by playing e6 at some point.

Re8 27.Bc2 e6 28.dxe6 Rxe6 29.Qd2 b6 30.Re1 Rae8 31.a3 Rxe1+ 32.Rxe1 Rxe1+ 33.Qxe1 Qg7

Serper-Sorensen Tunja 1989 Move 34
Serper-Sorensen Tunja 1989 Move 34

Black has a winning positional advantage owing to the passive bishop and weak dark squares. The queen and knight combine well.

34.h4!? Too weakening Qb2 35.Qd1 Qxa3 36.f4 Ne6! 37.Qxh5+ Kg7 38.Qd1 Qc5+ 39.Kf1 Nxf4 40.Qf3 Qe5 41.g3 Ne6 42.Bd1 Nd4 43.Qd3 Nf5 44.Kf2 Qc5+ 0-1

Part IV covers some general techniques consisting of three chapters.

Chapter 12 considers an unusual move, early in the Accelerated Dragon. Here is game by Dragon specialist Tiviakov.

Beshukov – Tiviakov Saint Vincent 2000

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.c4

Beshukov-Tiviakov Saint Vincent 2000 Move 5
Beshukov-Tiviakov Saint Vincent 2000 Move 5

5…Bh6!? 6.Bxh6 Nxh6 7.Nc3 0-0 (7…d6 could be played) 8.Be2

Beshukov-Tiviakov Saint Vincent 2000 Move 8
Beshukov-Tiviakov Saint Vincent 2000 Move 8

d6 (8…f5!? is worth considering) 9.Qd2 [9.0-0 Be6!? (9…f5!?) ] 9…Ng4 [9…Kg7] 10.Bxg4 [10.0-0 Nge5=] 10…Bxg4 11.h3?! (11.0-0 Be6 (11…Qb6!?; 11…Rc8) ] 11…Be6 12.b3 Black has equalised

Beshukov-Tiviakov Saint Vincent 2000 Move 12
Beshukov-Tiviakov Saint Vincent 2000 Move 12

Qb6 [ Black has equalised, also possible is 12…Nxd4 13.Qxd4 Qa5=;
12…Qa5!? …a6, b5] 13.Nc2 [13.Rd1 Nxd4 14.Qxd4 Qxd4 15.Rxd4=] 13…a6 [13…f5!?;
13…Qc5!?] 14.Ne3 Qc5 […b5] 15.Rc1 Qe5 [15…Rac8] 16.0-0 Qf4 [16…g5!?] ½-½

Beshukov-Tiviakov Saint Vincent 2000 Finish
Beshukov-Tiviakov Saint Vincent 2000 Finish

Chapter 13 Capturing Bg7xc3! is all about giving up the dark squared bishop to wreck white’s queenside pawn structure.

Polugaevsky- Averbakh Leningrad 1960 illustrates this strategy well.

Polugaevsky – Averbakh
Soviet Championship Leningrad 1960

1.c4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Nf3 g6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Bg7 6.Nc2 d6

Polugaevsky-Averbakh Leningrad 1960 Move 7
Polugaevsky-Averbakh Leningrad 1960 Move 7

7.e4 (7.Bd2 is less double edged) Bxc3+ !? (The enterprising exchange of black’s fianchettoed bishop for a knight to smash up white’s queenside) 8.bxc3 Nf6 9.f3 Qa5 (Attacking the weak pawns: black’s king is safer in the middle for now. It is imperative for black to attack the weak c-pawns as soon as possible)

Polugaevsky-Averbakh Leningrad 1960 Move 10
Polugaevsky-Averbakh Leningrad 1960 Move 10

10.Bd2 Bd7! Getting the queenside pieces into play quickly 11.Be2 Rc8 12.Ne3 Be6! Now the bishop can safely move to e6 without being harassed by the knight  13.Nd5 Nd7! (An excellent manoeuvre to hold the c5 and e5 squares and target the c4-pawn) 14.0-0 Nce5 15.Be3 White gives up the front c-pawn hoping to benefit from increased scope for his white squared bishop. White cannot attack on the kingside as black has not put his king there.

Polugaevsky-Averbakh Leningrad 1960 Move 15
Polugaevsky-Averbakh Leningrad 1960 Move 15

Nxc4 16.Qd4 Nde5!

Polugaevsky-Averbakh Leningrad 1960 Move 17
Polugaevsky-Averbakh Leningrad 1960 Move 17

17.Bf2 (17.f4 is met by 17..Nxe3 18.Nxe3 Qxc3) g5! Blockading the dark squares 18.a4 Rc5 19.Rfd1 Rg8 20.Rdb1 b6 21.Nb4 f5 22.Qd1

Polugaevsky-Averbakh Leningrad 1960 Move 22
Polugaevsky-Averbakh Leningrad 1960 Move 22

f4! Black has been offering his rook for the dark squared bishop as this bishop holds white’s dark squares together 23.Bxc5 Qxc5+ 24.Qd4 Kf7 25.Nd5 Na5 26.Rb5 Qc8 Black retains the queens as 26..Qxd4 is clearly a blunder

Polugaevsky-Averbakh Leningrad 1960 Move 27
Polugaevsky-Averbakh Leningrad 1960 Move 27

27.Rd1 Rd8 28.g3 Bxd5 29.Rxd5 Rg8 30.Kg2 Nac4 31.Bxc4

Polugaevsky-Averbakh Leningrad 1960 Move 31
Polugaevsky-Averbakh Leningrad 1960 Move 31

Qxc4! 32.Qd2? (32.Kf2 is better when the game is roughly equal)  fxg3 33.hxg3 g4! Destroying white’s kingside winning the game

Polugaevsky-Averbakh Leningrad 1960 Move 35
Polugaevsky-Averbakh Leningrad 1960 Move 35

34.Qf4+ Ke8 35.fxg4 Qe2+ 36.Kh3 Rxg4 37.Qf5 Rg6 38.Rf1 Rh6+ 0-1

Chapter 14 Play for the bishop pair covers white’s strategy of gaining the bishop pair by playing Nd5 forcing Bxd5. The reviewer has already covered one game demonstrating this idea Polugaevsky-Ostojic. This chapter covers further instructive examples.

Chapter 15 Playing without the light-squared bishop gives another game in the Moscow Variation of the Sicilian Variation. The reviewer has already shown some typical ideas in this line with some of Garry Kasparov’s games.

Chapter 16 shows some typical tactical strikes in the Maroczy. Buy the book to find out about these lightning strikes.

The final section 5 covers games by the world champions in the Maroczy. This is a great way to round off the book showcasing efforts by the great champions.

In summary this is an excellent book on Maroczy structures covering all the major strategies for both sides with some exemplary games showcasing the ideas.

FM Richard Webb, Basingstoke, Hampshire, 1st July 2021

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 296 pages
  • Publisher: Thinkers Publishing; 1st edition (1st July 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10:9492510545
  • ISBN-13:978-9492510549
  • Product Dimensions: 17.27 x 1.78 x 23.11 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

Understanding Maroczy Structures, Adrian Bohdanovych Mikhalchishin and Georg Mohr, Thinker's Publishing, 2019, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-9492510549
Understanding Maroczy Structures, Adrian Bohdanovych Mikhalchishin and Georg Mohr, Thinker’s Publishing, 2019, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-9492510549
 Save as PDF

The Queen’s Gambit – Accepted!

The Queen’s Gambit – Accepted!: Jonathan Arnott & Rosie Irwin

The Queen’s Gambit – Accepted!, Jonathan Arnott & Rosie Irwin, Steel City Press (17 May 2021), ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1913047245
The Queen’s Gambit – Accepted!, Jonathan Arnott & Rosie Irwin, Steel City Press (17 May 2021), ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1913047245

From the publisher:

The game of chess has hundreds of child-friendly books, but what about the adult beginner inspired by The Queen’s Gambit Netflix series? Rosie Irwin is the perfect example: just like the title character, she’s had her own struggles with mental health and trauma. She accepted the challenge, and chess has developed the confidence. Coached by Jonathan Arnott – a former teacher, politician and chess Candidate Master – it’s been a steep learning curve. In January 2021, Rosie knew nothing about chess but the rules of the game. She’s now playing matches against opponents with 40+ years of experience.

This book is a must for any aspiring player. To go from reading Dostoyevsky to Dvoretsky would be a total culture shock. Whilst claiming to be neither, the authors’ conversational style offers a rare insight into the thought processes needed to move from beginner to tournament player. It is a ‘gateway’ book with stories and anecdotes mixed with chess learning, helping the reader to get to know Rosie whilst joining her on her chess journey. The title of this book (The Queen’s Gambit – Accepted!) illustrates Rosie’s acceptance of the challenge and the chess terminology that any gambit can be ‘accepted’. Don’t expect a dry chess book full of diagrams and notation without any story.

Rosie Irwin never considered playing chess until she saw The Queen’s Gambit and was inspired to take up the game, identifying with the lead character’s emotional struggles. Within a couple of months, she had learned enough from Jonathan to compete in league matches against experienced opponents.

Rosie Irwin
Rosie Irwin

Jonathan Arnott has decades of teaching and chess coaching experience. He has captained the Yorkshire county side, represented White Rose in the European Club Cup (the ‘Champions League’ of chess) and captained Chessable White Rose to victory in the inaugural online Four Nations Chess League.

Jonathan Arnott
Jonathan Arnott

A story I remember, a very long time ago now, concerned a young boy who was passionate about butterflies and moths. He saw a title in a bookshop which sounded like just what he wanted, but when he took it home he was disappointed with the contents. The book was called Instructions for Young Mothers.

Likewise, if you buy this book because you’re eager to find out what to play after 1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4, you’ll also be disappointed. You have to spot the dash, and perhaps also the exclamation mark.

This is a book for adult beginners, targeting in particular those who perhaps learnt the moves in childhood and developed an interest after watching The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix. It works on two levels. At one level it provides a lot of helpful advice for beginners, but at another level it tells Rosie’s story about how chess can help those who are struggling with some aspect of their lives.

At the start of the book, Rosie introduces herself.

Beth Harmon is messed up. So was I. I still am, in fact…

I’ve suffered some serious trauma and depression. I’ve battled with self-harm and all kinds of issues, just like Beth…

I have Aspergers. I can sometimes panic in social situations. Too many people, too much crowding, can be a problem. On 64 squares, nothing else matters. 

While spending time with her parents she happened to watch The Queen’s Gambit, got hooked on the game and contacted Jonathan, a chess playing friend, asking for help.

After an introduction offering 10 things you need to know before reading the book, we start at the end.

This is a very good place to start as well. There’s so much Rosie can learn from this position. In general, when you can and can’t win with king and pawn against king. The opposition. And, when you promote successfully, how to mate with king and queen against king.

Jonathan is clearly an excellent teacher. He understands that learning to do simple things well is more important than trying to do complicated things badly. His teaching style involves using Socratic questioning to lead Rosie to the correct answers, and to improve her play.

The next chapter takes a different approach: Impostor Syndrome. The feeling that you’re not good enough, that you don’t deserve what you’ve got. Although the chapter itself is, more generally, about lack of self-confidence, and Impostor Syndrome is only one of many reasons for lacking self-confidence.

Rosie, like many players at this level, loses a quick game against the Fried Liver Attack, which dents her self-confidence and exacerbates her already present anxiety. Jonathan invites her to play online against some junior beginners he’s also coaching, but she feels unable to do so.

Here’s Jonathan:

When you’re coaching chess, you never teach opening theory to beginners. The last thing you want is for a beginner to learn a few moves parrot-fashion without having the slightest clue what they mean. 

I agree with him, but, as he explains, there are exceptions, and this is one.

There’s no reason for a beginner who doesn’t know the position to play anything other than 5… Nxd5 here, but experienced players will be aware it’s a poor move. So Jonathan shows Rosie 5… b5, an excellent move at this level. Beginners are very unlikely to find 6. Bf1, the only move to pose Black any problems.

The book continues with a mixture of instructive tips from Jonathan, extracts from Rosie’s games, and psychological insights.

In this position Rosie has built up an impressive attack and now found the splendid 17… Ng4!, when capturing either piece leads to immediate mate so White had to give up material with Rf2. Jonathan adds that 1… Bxg3!! 18. hxg3 Qxg3+ 19. Kh1 and now the same idea, 19… Ng4, was even stronger. Some instructive attacking ideas there, I think.

Here’s Rosie, explaining how the chess pieces might help with her depression:

Take all the pieces off the board. Look at each one in turn and gain a deeper understanding of each of them. My family? The King.  My friendships? The Rook. My faith? The Bishop. My love life? The Knight. And many many pawns: my crafts, my hobbies…each of them contribute to the ‘position’ of my life.

And me, you ask? Well, obviously, I must be the Queen…

I suppose readers of a certain age might be reminded of this, but, coincidentally, I had occasion to write something similar about how I saw the pieces only the other day. It’s all about the power of chess to enable you to tell stories which can help explain and improve your life.

Here’s another snapshot from one of Rosie’s games.

She’d learnt about sacrifices on f7 and thought this position looked like an ideal opportunity.

The game continued 6. Bxf7+? Kxf7 7. Ng5+ Kf6?? 8. Qf3+ Nf5, when 9. Nd5 would have been a pretty checkmate. She missed that, but still won a couple of moves later. Jonathan correctly pointed out that if Black had preferred 7… Ke8 she’d have had very little for the sacrificed piece.

This sort of thing happens over and over again at this level. I remember, about 45 years ago, teaching Légal’s Mate at Richmond Junior Club. I knew that one of my pupils had a school match coming up that week and, next Saturday I asked him how he got on. “Mr James!”, he exclaimed. “You made me lose!” It transpired he’d tried the same thing in a slightly different position where there was no mate, so he just lost his queen. An important lesson for him, and for me as well. Rosie was fortunate to get away with her unsound sacrifice here.

It’s great that books are now being published which consider the psychological aspects of chess. Instruction in any skill-based discipline should include generic skills, of which these are a part, as well as domain-specific knowledge and skills.

The important subject of confidence – which, if you like, is one aspect of mindset – is covered in several places. We learn, as you’ve already seen, about the dangers of lacking self-confidence, and, later on, about over-confidence.

Rosie makes good progress, but then things become too easy, she starts playing too quickly on autopilot, and, by now playing stronger opponents, she made mistakes and lost game after game.

She describes this as the Dunning-Kruger Effect, but my understanding of D-K is something slightly different: overestimating your ability at the start rather than becoming over-confident as you improve.

While I’m no expert myself, just an interested layman, I’m not sure this book always uses the right terminology.

(On a slightly different point, because of recent allegations concerning Hans Asperger’s supposed Nazi sympathies – see here, for example – many people prefer not to use his name as it might cause offence. Perhaps Jonathan and Rosie are both unaware of this.)

Although it’s not a complete course for adult beginners (you’ll have to look elsewhere for that), it still contains a lot of chess wisdom. This book is to be welcomed for several reasons. It will be a great purchase – or a great present – for anyone who has been inspired to take up chess by watching The Queen’s Gambit, especially those who can empathise with Rosie in some way. If you’re a female who wants to play like Beth Harmon, if you’re struggling, or have struggled in the past, with depression, anxiety or other mental health issues, or if you’re on the autism spectrum, I’m sure you’ll find much of value here, for its psychological as well as its chess insights. Players above the beginner level may also find it helpful in many ways, as will anyone involved in coaching adult beginners.

For several decades now, the chess world has been unhealthily obsessed with young children, prodigies and champions. My view is that chess, in general, is much more suited to older children and adults, and, equally, that older children and adults are more suited to competitive chess than younger children.

Perhaps the world will come to its senses and we’ll see more books written for older beginners, novices and improvers. Perhaps we’ll also see a greater understanding that everyone, from beginners to grandmasters, can benefit from chess in all sorts of ways. Perhaps we’ll also realise that chess can be attractive to girls and women, not just to boys and men.

 

Richard James, Twickenham 22nd June 2021

Richard James
. Richard James

Book Details :

  • Softback : 224 (softback)  pages
  • Publisher:  Steel City Press (17 May 2021)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10:1913047245
  • ISBN-13:978-1913047245

Official web site of Steel City Press

The Queen’s Gambit – Accepted!, Jonathan Arnott & Rosie Irwin, Steel City Press (17 May 2021), ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1913047245
The Queen’s Gambit – Accepted!, Jonathan Arnott & Rosie Irwin, Steel City Press (17 May 2021), ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1913047245
 Save as PDF

Beat the French Defense with 3.Nc3

Beat the French Defense with 3.Nc3, Pentala Harikrishna, Thinker's Publishing, 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-9492510976
Beat the French Defense with 3.Nc3, Pentala Harikrishna, Thinker’s Publishing, 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-9492510976

“GM Pentala Harikrishna is an established elite player who has been in India’s Olympiad team for over two decades. Since November 2016 Harikrishna has often entered the top 10 of the world rankings, and has consistently stayed in the top 20.

His peak rating is 2770 and he is well known for his exceptional endgame skills as well as for the ability to convert positions with a slight or even no advantage. Harikrishna learned chess from his grandfather at the age of 4, and swiftly progressed up through age-group tournaments until he became a grandmaster at age 14.

He has been World Junior Champion (2004) and Asian Individual Champion (2011). As part of the Indian national team, he has won bronze medals at the World Team Chess Championship, gold and bronze at the Asian Games, and silver (twice) at the Asian Team Championship. He has also won many major open and invitational tournaments, including the Marx Gyorgy Memorial (2006), Tata Steel Group B (2012), Biel MTO (2013), Edmonton International (2015) and Poker Stars Isle of Man (2015).”

GM Pentala Harikrishna
GM Pentala Harikrishna

From the publisher  we have this extensive blurb:

“The French Defence was my main opening with Black while I was striving towards the GM title at the turn of the century. Quite often, I was able to use it to drag my opponent into a complicated maze of deep analysis, so I have intimate knowledge of the tricks used on the other side of the ‘barricades’. This helped me craft a solid base for our present repertoire, and many of the ideas presented in the book have brought me fine victories against some of the strongest French exponents as well.”

“At times, this means suggesting the 2nd or 3rd choice of the engine. He builds on the material from his earlier French course (Chessable, May 2019) and has expanded it with new analysis in all the lines, especially the 3…Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 variation. Harikrishna analyses both 5.Nce2 and 5.f4, so that the reader may make an informed choice about their personal preference. The driving force throughout is to keep the book clear-cut and practical. A good example of a practical weapon is the deceptively simple 3…Bb4 4.exd5 line. There are also fresh and interesting suggestions against the side lines you are likely to encounter, especially at shorter time controls. The entire Thinkers Publishing team joins with the author in wishing you enjoyment and success from this exceptional book”

End of blurb…

It is rare that one of the  World’s top ten players would write a book on opening theory but here Hari, as he is commonly called,  obliges. He has had a peak rating  of 2770 and has been a member of India’s very strong Olympiad team for around two decades .

So, the starting position of this rather large (456 pages) tome is

and this book is written from the perspective of the first player striving to take on the French Defence with 3.Nc3. Of course it will also be of considerable interest to the second player.

Chapter 1 is entitled “Odds and Ends” in which Hari examines  unusual Black 3rd moves .

He kicks off with 3…c5 which is a good move in a Tarrasch (3.Nd2) context  but a clear mistake against 3.Nc3 as White trivially wins a pawn after White takes on d5 and c5 ending up with a 4 to 2 queen side majority and the d4 square in his control  with the following position after 8.Ne4:

Next comes 3…a6 where both 4.Nf3 and 4.Bd3 are discussed . The most critical line here would appear to be 4.Nf3 Nf6; 5.e5 where in the main line Whites Q eventually comes to g4 putting black under pressure on the K side.

3…h6 is a curious third move alternative, but, as Hari points out it stops Black from getting in the Nimzowitschian style …f6 break as now g6 is horribly weakened.

Finally, 3…Be7 is covered but after 4.e5 c5; 5 Qg4 then puts black under pressure.

Both Chapters 2 and 3 look at the black reply 3…Nc6 (a idea of Aron Nimzowitsch) which has always seemed an illogical move to me in the French by blocking …c5.

After 3…Nc6 Hari first looks at 4.Nf3 then in the Chapter 3 4.e5 when 4…f6 is given as the black’s main line usually followed by 5.Nf3 Bd7; 6.Bd3 fxe5; 7.dxe5 Nb4; 8.Ng5 turns out to be good for white according to the author:

In this line black can play 5…fxe5 immediately but after 6.dxe5 Nh6 7.Bg5! again leaves White with advantage.

Chapter 4 brings the reader to the Rubinstein Variation (also ECO code C10) where black plays 3…dxe4 when after 4.Nxe4 options such as 4…Nf6 4…Qd5 and 4…Bd7 attract attention.

According to the author none of these achieve equality but 4…Bd7 is given the most analysis since it is not easy to show an advantage for white. Furthermore, 5.Nf3 Bc6; 6.Bd3 alternatives such as 6…Be4; 6…Nf6 and 6…Nd7 are all interesting tries. White usually plays ideas including c3 and Ne5 to maintain an edge.

Chapter 5 continues to look at the Rubinstein when 4…Nd7 is considered to be the main line. Hari recommends an usual approach for white which we will not reveal here: buy the book!

Chapter 6 progresses to more classical territory with the hugely popular 3…Nf6 (ECO C11 – C14) when 4.e5 Nfd7 and now 5.Nce2 is analysed in considerable depth through to the end of chapter 9.

Club French players will be expecting (and hoping for no doubt) 5.f4 or 5.Nf3 and therefore 5.Nce2 could well throw them off their stride. 5.Nce2 scores well at the highest levels (56%) and is in the armoury of Carlsen, Grischuk, Anand and Nepomniachtchi and consequently deserves much respect.

In this line White intends the usual c3 following …c5 and often will relocate his N from e2 to f4.

Having said all of that 5.f4, which Hari starts to look at in Chapter 10, seems (to me at least) to be the “best” move. Clearly it is the most popular continuation.

The “main line” continues 5…c5; 6.Nf3 where 6…Be7; 7.Be3 b6; 8.Qd2 00; 9.Nd1 is given.

Although this line leads to a white advantage the more aggressive “Williamsesque” 9.h4 which features in some of the other lines should be considered by white players, especially those who love to attack.

Chapter 11 consider 6…Nc6; 7.Be3 Be7; 8.Qd2 is looked at and Black can play …a6 and …b5 here but Whites plan here is Be2 and 00 as Q side castling is somewhat playing into blacks hand.

Instead Black can try 8…00 instead when White is best capturing on c5.

The older line 5.f4 c5; 6.Nf3 Nc6; 7.Be3 Qb6 has always been regarded as slightly suspect and Hari takes a look at this in Chapter 14.

Usually White plays b4 and black sacrifices a piece and although it leads to exciting chess the verdict remains the same. A well prepared white player should be delighted to see this line. The key word in all of this is, of course, “well”

Better perhaps is 7…cxd4 and Chapter 15 examines this: probably much tougher for white to crack. After 8.Nxd4 Qb6 the author provides a large quantity of analysis in this poisoned pawn style line where White sacrifices a pawn with 9.Qd2 and black rightly accepts the challenge with 9…Qxb2.

Finally(!) Hari leads us to the Winawer Variation but here he shocks the white player with his suggestion. To find out what this is you will need to buy the book!

I generally play the Tarrasch but my next bunch of email and postal games will definitely feature 3.Nc3 ! I’m keen to try out the authors suggestions and so should you be!

Colin Lyne, Farnborough, Hampshire, 19th June, 2021

Colin Lyne
Colin Lyne

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 456 pages
  • Publisher: Thinkers Publishing; 1st edition (28 Jan. 2021)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9492510979
  • ISBN-13: 978-9492510976
  • Product Dimensions: 16.51 x 2.54 x 22.86 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

Beat the French Defense with 3.Nc3, Pentala Harikrishna, Thinker's Publishing, 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-9492510976
Beat the French Defense with 3.Nc3, Pentala Harikrishna, Thinker’s Publishing, 2021, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-9492510976
 Save as PDF

Minor Pieces 4: The Marriott Family

It’s midnight on 28 June 1816. a group of saboteurs breaks into Heathcoat and Boden’s lace mill in Loughborough, Leicestershire, determined to smash their machinery.  John Heathcoat must have had advance warning: he’s ensured there are plenty of workers on hand to repel the invaders. Fights break out, gunshots are heard, and one of the watchmen, John Asher, is hit, blood pouring from a slug in back of his head. Asher’s companions are forced to the ground at gunpoint, and the saboteurs destroy all 55 of the lace making machines, steal some lace and make their escape.

These men are Luddites, taking their name from the perhaps mythical Ned Ludd. Campaigning against poor working conditions and grinding poverty they see no option but to use violence to pursue their aims.

The leader of the insurrection, James Towle, from Basford, near Nottingham, is identified and quickly arrested. Although he himself did not fire the shot that hit John Asher, he is convicted, sentenced to death and publicly hanged in Leicester on 20 November. The following year, six more members of Towle’s gang, including his younger brother William, are also hanged, and another two transported to Australia.

The last moments of James Towle, :who was executed at Leicester, Nov. 20, 1816 REPOSITORY: Harvard Law School Library, Harvard University

Were they heroes or villains? Terrorists or martyrs? You decide. There are always people on the wrong side of history. The Industrial Revolution brought destitution to many, but there were others who saw an opportunity to join the burgeoning middle classes, perhaps by starting up their own shop or factory. This is the story of one of them.

Time moves on. The clock ticks. The calendar pages are turned over.

It’s now 19 October 1818. James and William’s cousin Catherine, also in Basford, marries Richard Green. In 1820 Catherine gives birth to a daughter, who is named Sarah.

We spin forward to 1844, when Sarah marries Thomas Marriott, from nearby Bulwell. He is most likely the Thomas Marriott baptised there on 9 March 1817, whose parents are listed as Joseph, a Framework Knitter, and his wife Mary.

One thing we know about Thomas is that he’s a keen chess player, whose sons will also learn how to play. I’m not sure how common chess was amongst the framework knitting community at the time: perhaps Thomas saw a knowledge of the Royal Game as a way into the middle classes.

Here’s a game played by one of his sons, a devotee of gambit play. ‘Septimus Placid’ was probably top Nottingham player Sigismund Hamel.

By 1851 he’s already doing well. We pick him up in the census, where, remaining in the local lace-making industry, he’s left his humble origins behind. He’s a lace maker and tea dealer, trying out another line of business on the side, it seems. Sarah is there with him, along with their three sons, Edwin, Thomas and Henry, and he’s sufficiently well off to be able to employ a servant.

In 1861 he’s a lace manufacturer, suggesting perhaps a slightly higher status than a lace maker, which is what Edwin is doing. Sadly, Thomas junior had died in 1855, but the family is now completed by Henry, John, Sarah, another Thomas, Frederick and Arthur. John, Sarah and Arthur were all given the middle name Towle in honour, as was the fashion at the time, of their grandmother Catherine. (The census record has been transcribed as Maniott: thanks to Jon D’Souza-Eva for discovering this, which had eluded other historians, and pointing it out to us.) I wonder whether Thomas knew about his wife’s nefarious relatives, and, if so, what he thought of them.

The 1871 census (name transcribed incorrectly as Marrett) tells us Thomas is now employing 4 men and 5 boys. Edwin and John have left home, but Sarah and the other children are still there. No doubt chess is often played.

Here’s another game, played by Arthur at Simpson’s Divan, which we visited in an earlier Minor Piece, against George Alcock MacDonnell, one of the top English (but Irish born) players of the day.

Thomas’s business continues to prosper: by 1881 he’s employing 34 males and 4 females. I hope he treated his workers better than John Heathcoat and John Boden did. Sarah and their two youngest sons, Frederick and Arthur, are at home with him.

Let’s stop to look at what happened to his children. We know that his six sons who survived childhood all played chess, and we have playing records for most of them.

Thomas’s youngest son, Arthur Towle Marriott, was the strongest and also the shortest lived. He’s the subject of a recent book recounting his gloomy fate and romantic chess. EdoChess awards him a peak rating of 2376, and, had he lived, he could have been a world class player.

Here’s one of his last and most brilliant games: he was living in Bournemouth at the time, hoping the sea air would improve his health.

Two of Arthur’s brothers were also pretty decent players, taking high boards for Nottingham in matches against other Midlands towns. The oldest brother, Edwin, had a peak rating of 2275 and draws to his credit against Teddington resident and future British Championship contender George Edward Wainwright and, in his final recorded game, against the young Henry Ernest Atkins. Away from the chessboard he followed in his father’s footsteps as a lace manufacturer, possibly taking over his business interests when he retired.

Thomas Walter Marriott was of similar strength to Edwin, with a peak rating of 2244: again, by the standards of his day, a formidable player. Thomas Walter was, like many chess players, an accountant, and, also like many chess players, never married. At least up to 1911 he chose to live in boarding houses, even though he had inherited property after his father’s death.

John Towle Marriott’s life took a different course. He chose to train as a minister of religion, specifically the Unitarian movement, who believed in the unity of God, rather than the Trinity accepted by most Christians.  He settled near Salford, marrying the daughter of a celebrated reporter and antiquary, but died of typhoid fever in 1890. He didn’t seem to play club chess, but returned to Nottingham in 1886 to take part in the 3rd class tournament of the Counties Chess Association, which he won with 6½/9, a performance rated by EdoChess as 1780.

John Towle Marriott

Sarah Towle Marriott may well have played her brothers at home, but chess was, back in those days, considered an almost exclusively male activity. You might think we haven’t made much progress in that respect in the past century and a half. Her first husband, who died young, was a colliery agent who had business interests in London – the 1881 census found the family in Fulham, which, as far as I know, has never had very many coal mines. Their son Harry Marriott Burton was interesting: he was an artist who travelled the world – Canada, South Africa – painting wherever he went, ending his life in Queensland at the great age of 96. His paintings are now quite collectible.

Mount Sir Donald, Selkirk Mountains of British Columbia Harry Marriott Burton (1882–1979) Nottingham City Museums & Galleries

Thomas Marriott’s other two sons are mysterious, as you’ll find out.

The 1891 census finds him, now a retired widower, living with his daughter Sarah, herself widowed, and her two surviving children.

By 1901, now aged 84, he’s living with an otherwise unknown Francis Marriott, who appears to be his full time carer. My guess, as there’s no other Francis around, and because the age is right, this is really Frederick: either the enumerator made a mistake or he’s using a false name for some reason. He’s there with his wife Lizzie, from Derbyshire, and an 11-year-old daughter, Ethel, who, unexpectedly, was born in Vancouver, British Columbia. The last we heard of Frederick was in the 1881 census (he appears to have taken part in a consultation game the same year), and I haven’t been able to find any further sighting of Frederick or Francis in England, Canada or anywhere else. It’s all a mystery.

Thomas’s other son, Henry, is also elusive. He’s living at home in 1871, working as a clerk in a coal office, but then disappears from view.

Thomas lives on until 8 September 1906, dying in the Coppice Asylum, a private institution in Nottingham. I would guess that he was suffering from some kind of dementia in the last few years of his life.

His will makes interesting reading. He seems to have been fairly wealthy, owning several properties, which are shared between Sarah (who also received his personal effects), Thomas Walter and Frederick, with specific instructions that nothing should go to either Edwin or Henry. Perhaps Edwin, having inherited the family business, was well catered for anyway. Perhaps, though, there was a falling out with both Edwin and Henry. Perhaps he chose to reward Sarah and Frederick, who had both been caring for him in his old age, and Thomas Walter, who had been involved with the legal side of the will. Perhaps he had no idea wither or not Henry was still alive. The inheritance for Frederick seems to suggest again that he and Francis were one and the same person, but who knows?

Finally, let’s return to Edwin. He had nine children, several of whom are also remarkably difficult to track down. This is very unusual for the time: one is tempted to ask questions about the family dynamics. My particular interest is with the oldest of them, Arthur James, who married Frances Keywood, the possessor of a relatively unusual surname. (There used to be a lace manufacturing company in Nottingham called Cooper & Keywood.)

The Keywoods were one of several families in Nottingham who intermarried a lot, but Frances must have been related in some way to Doris Keywood, who married Louis James there in 1915. His great grandfather Thomas James (whom you’ll meet again another time) was also my 3x great grandfather. Wheels within wheels. There are always stories. There are always connections. And this is the story of how I’m connected to Arthur Towle Marriott and his chess-playing brothers. It’s also the story of how the game of chess has always been shaped by societal shifts: as we move now from the industrial to the post-industrial (and post-pandemic) age chess will change again. By learning lessons from history we can be proactive in deciding how chess should be promoted and organised in future.

 Save as PDF

Spurious Games

Spurious Games: David Jenkins

Spurious Games, David Jenkins, Matador, July 2020, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1838593520
Spurious Games, David Jenkins, Matador, July 2020, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1838593520

From the publisher:

When a local chess player is discovered dead, Detective Inspector John Logos of Cornwall s St Borstal Constabulary is called in to investigate what turns out to be a serial killer running amok in the sedate world of Cornish chess. The detectives quickly find themselves as pawns in the game of an arrogant mastermind calling himself The Turk who taunts them with chess-related clues. Baffled, they call in Caradoc Pritchard, an eccentric Welsh Professor, and together they must work against the clock to predict the killer’s next move.

David Jenkins
David Jenkins

While working at the University of the South Pacific, David played chess for Fiji as Board 4 in the 1994 Moscow Chess Olympiad, a memorable experience but one distinctly above his pay grade (think Eddy the Eagle). While in Fiji he also ran an experimental theatre group Stage Fright Aah!.

He was until 2016 captain of the Cornwall county chess team, hanging on to his place despite the ravages of old age. He is currently the President of the Cornwall Chess Association and teaches chess at Calstock Community Primary School. He has made a modest contribution to chess journalism, including the publication of a weekly chess cartoon, a brief selection of which can be found elsewhere on these web pages.

David has held chairs at a number of universities including Warwick and the University of the South Pacific. He is widely published in the field of qualitative evaluation, writing in a style of ‘curriculum criticism’ that offer readers a surrogate experience of educational programs, rendering them accessible to outside judgements.

In 2011, the American Evaluation Association awarded David’s study of a cross-European youth training initiative, A Tale Unfolded, the ‘Outstanding Evaluation of the Year’. The official citation noted that his report ‘deploys such literary devices as narrative vignettes, irony, metaphor and wit, seeing humour as a legitimate way of addressing ambivalences. The report pulls no punches, but does so with considerable grace and wit,’

Spurious Games is David’s first novel.

 

From the back cover:

“An extended riff on the theme of authenticity, Spurious Games is cast as a detective novel in which the St Borstal police, with outside help from a Welsh professor of plagiarism struggle to apprehend a serial killer calling himself ‘the Turk’, wo is running amok in the eccentric cloistered world of Cornish chess and taunting the detectives with chess-related clues.

“In a style that is wry, playful and allusive, the novel ranges widely across pop culture, magic shows and fortune telling, cyber espionage, pro-sex feminism, doppelgangers, the inanities of New Age spirituality , and whether the game of chess constitutes a mental health hazard.”

 

‘It seems his entire world for the last couple of years has revolved around his chess’, added Polgooth, ‘like a koala chewing legal highs in a eucalyptus tree’.

At the start of this novel, an overweight antisocial chess addict named Richard prematurely meets his maker as the result of eating a Poisoned Pawn from a chocolate chess set.

I was starting to get worried, but, at least to the best of my knowledge, I’ve never met David Jenkins, the author of this chess novel.

I’m not quite sure how I found myself as the chief fiction reviewer of British Chess News, but perhaps I’m the only member of their panel who ever reads fiction. Many chess players, I suspect, don’t, and that’s their loss.

So what we have here is a comic novel, a spoof on detective fiction if you like, set in the world of Cornish chess. Several of the characters have names redolent of prominent Cornish chess personalities. A serial killer is on the loose, and his victims are all chess players. The incompetent detectives working on the case receive mysterious emails from ‘The Turk’ offering chess-related clues.

The whole book is often hilariously funny. There’s a Chris Farlowe tribute band who posted online covers of their favourite 60s rock star, and were at one point known as the Farlowepian YouTubes. You’ll also meet a research fellow in Game Theory called Bernadette Madoff – and much more in the same vein. A knowledge of both popular and high culture (the Gospel of St John and the poetry of TS Eliot, for example ) will come in useful.

After four Cornish chess players meet untimely deaths the novel reaches its climax at the ICA, where a modern day replica of the Mechanical Turk is on display. Will the killer be unmasked before another victim (and GM Daniel King should be very careful) is checkmated? Chess journalist Stephen Moss has a walk-on part here, and other well known chessers (Andrew Greet, Michael Adams, Jack Rudd, Matthew Sadler) are mentioned en passant throughout the book.

I found the book very enjoyable and often extremely funny, even though we chess players don’t come out of it very well. Our Cornish colleagues, it seems, are either grossly overweight or unhealthily underweight, are unsociable loners, are often unable to drive a car, and are prone to believe in conspiracy theories such as the Nibiru Cataclysm and hang onto every word of David Icke. Not very different, then, from chess players in my part of the world. If you look in the mirror you might not like what you see.

The back cover quotes award-winning screenwriter Andrew Davies, who found echoes of Nabokov, Umberto Eco and Spike Milligan. Yes, I can see all of that, but for me it was as if the shades of Agatha Christie (The ABC Murders, a clear inspiration, is namechecked on several occasions), PG Wodehouse and Robertson Davies had collaborated on a novel about Cornish chess players.

The ‘whodunit’ part didn’t really work as, for me, the culprit was obvious from the start, but I rather suspect that was the whole point. The chess, as you’d expect from the President of the Cornish Chess Association, is mostly accurate, although the Fried Liver Attack is, rather strangely, described as an unsound tactical opening, and the participants play online on ICC at a time when most of the chess world had migrated elsewhere. The book does contain scenes of an adult nature, so it would be best not to leave it within sight of the likes of Cornish chess prodigy Barnaby Bude.

Apart from that, highly recommended for all chess players, even though you might not like the way you and your pawn-pushing brethren are presented. Although it’s extremely amusing, with laughs guaranteed on every page, there is also a serious undercurrent touching on a wide variety of issues both on and off the board. Well produced too, and, unusually for a work of fiction, beautifully illustrated. If you play chess and enjoy fiction, or even if you don’t, I’d urge you to give it a try. I’m sure the Netflix dramatisation won’t be far away.

Richard James, Twickenham 10th June 2021

Richard James
. Richard James

Book Details :

  • Softback : 324 (softback)  pages
  • Publisher:  Matador (28 July 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10:1838593527
  • ISBN-13:978-1838593520

Official web site of Troubador / Matador

Spurious Games, David Jenkins, Matador, July 2020, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1838593520
Spurious Games, David Jenkins, Matador, July 2020, ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1838593520
 Save as PDF

We focus on the British Chess Scene Past & Present !