Author Archives: AshvinC

Recognise The Pattern # 32

After castling short we tend to play the king’s rook to another open/half open file, abandoning protection of the f-pawn in front of it. Therefore it is quite useful to set your radar for the f7 (f2) square in order to seize any opportunity to launch an attack on castled king. Usually, we sacrifice the piece on that square in order to bring opponent’s monarch from his comfort zone.

Here are a few instructive examples of this theme:

Petrosian against Balashov in 1974

Q: Is it possible to play Bxf7 here?
Hint: This sacrifice will work only if you’re able to find a very calm follow-up on the next move.

Solution:

22. Bxf7! Kxf7

Ideally Balashov should resign here because sacrifice was made by Petrosian!!
22…Ne5 won’t work because of 23.Qxe5+ Qxe5 24.Nxe5 Bxg5 25.Bxe8 when Black is the exchange and a pawn down.

23. Bh6!!

Now g7 square has been taken away from Black’s king and there is no way to neutralise an attack from e6 or the a2-g8 diagonal (a very important lesson to remember) without losing decisive material.

23…Qd6

If 23…Nd4 then 24.Qxd4 Bf8 25.Rxe8 Rxe8 and now Ng5 is just winning. But it was better than the text move.

24. Qc4+ and White went on win after couple of moves.

Blackburne against Collins in 1897

Q: In a given position Black’s last move was 19…Rd8 which is a grave mistake how would you punish it?

Solution:

It was to better to play 19…Bxe5 followed by Nb6 and it’s still a game but text move leads to immediate loss with

20.Nxf7 Kxf7??

Though other moves can’t change the outcome but this leads to mate in six. Help yourself please.

It is highly recommended to study below classics to enhance your knowledge of this theme:

Colle against Grunfeld
Gurgenidze against Tal

Ashvin Chauhan

Sealing the Weakness

Today I am going to talk about the sealing a weakness by physically blocking lines. It is really a nice theme which beginners often fail to see; when your opponent tries to exchange the blockading piece often you get a passed pawn, a better pawn chain or a nice outpost for a piece.

Here are a couple of examples of this:

Seirawan against Yussupov in 2000

Q: Black has a weakness on c6 but which is not accessible to White in the near future. Could you formulate a plan for Black using the theme discussed above?

Hint: You can seal that weakness by placing a piece on c4. This kind of idea often arises in the QGD Exchange pawn structure.

Solution: Black can bring his knight to c4 via f8-d7-b6 and c4 which not only seals the weakness on c6 but gets a nice outpost.

Here is the rest of game:

20…Nf8 21.Nb3 Qa3 22.Qc1 Nd7 23.Rc2 Qa8 24.Ne1 Nb6 25.Nd3 Nc4 26.Re2 Qc8 27.Nbc5 Rce7 28.Rfe1 Qf5 29.Kg2 h5 30.f3 Qf6 31.a4 bxa4 32.Nxa4 h4 33.Nac5 Qg6 34.e4 hxg3 35.h3 Bxc5 36.Nxc5 dxe4 37.Rxe4 Rxe4 38.Nxe4 Nd6 39.Qxc6 f5 40.Nxd6 Rxe1 41.Qc8+ Kh7 42.Qxf5 Re2+ 43.Kg1 Re1+ 44.Kg2 Re2+ 45.Kg1 Qxf5 46.Nxf5 Rf2 47.Nxg3 Rxf3 48.Kg2 Rd3 49.Ne2 Kg8 50.h4 Kf7 51.h5 Kf6 52.h6 gxh6 53.Nf4 Rxd4 54.Kg3 Kf5 55.Ne2 Ra4 56.Ng1 h5 57.Kh3 Kg5 58.Nf3+ Kf4 59.Ne1 Ra2 60.Nd3+ Kg5 61.Ne5 Ra3+ 62.Kh2 Kf5 63.Nf7 Rd3 0-1

The next example is one of my favourites and a really instructive one:
Janowski against Capablanca in 1916


Q: What will you do with your damaged pawn structure on the queenside? Try to formulate the plan.

Hint: Capablanca uses weak pawn to support the c4 square.

Solution: Black first supports the b5 square by playing 10…Bd7! and then slowly gets the pawn push to b5 in order to bring his knight to c4 via a5-c4 route. The whole game is really instructive and has already been annotated by Nigel D here.

Ashvin Chauhan

Recognise The Pattern # 31

It’s best to think twice before moving pawns that form the king’s shelter, but often people play f2-f4 (f7-f5) in order to gear up their rooks and f pawns against the opponent’s king. Unfortunately that weakens the a2-g8 (a7-g1) diagonal. So whenever your opponent plays such moves you should think about possibilities of smothered mate, a Greco mate or the mate along the h file, as usually the king hides on h8 (h1) after a check along that diagonal.

Sidney Paine Johnston against Frank James Marshall in 1899

Q: In this position Marshall has weakened the a2-g8 diagonal but on the other hand it is closed by the e6 & d5 pawns. So White played 11.cxd5 and black replied with 11…exd5 as Marshall was relying on the discovered attack after White’s Nxd5.
Was it a good idea?

It turns out to be a bad one because White’s light square bishop can use it with devastating effect. Please try to calculate this position yourself first then check what happened in the game:

12. Nxd5!

Opening up the diagonal.

12…Nxd4?

13. Bc4!!

I think black missed this intermediate move now white is ready to use this diagonal. If 13.Nxd4 then Black gets satisfactory game after 13…Bxd5

13…Nxf3+

14.gxf3!

Here Black has to surrender the piece in order to prevent himself from immediate loss.

14…Nxg3??

Now what? Can you checkmate Marshall in few moves?

15.Ne7+!!

This double check leads to checkmate

15…Kh8
16. Ng6+ hxf6
17.hxg3+

Opening up h file leads to mate on next move

17…Qh4 18.Rxh4#

Here White has sacrificed the knight in order to open up h file which is very common with this theme.

Ashvin Chauhan

Recognise the Pattern # 30

In my last article we saw how to break down fianchetto castled position by opening up the h-file with the help of h4-h5 lever, but sometimes your opponent can physically block the h file with the piece (usually a knight on h5/h4). In such situations it is often a good idea to sacrifice an exchange in order to open lines against the opponent’s monarch. Before sacrificing like this there is one very crucial point one must consider; there are more chances that exchange sac won’t work if your opponent can protect h7 (h2) reasonably.

Here is an example that covers the theme.

Kasparov against Piket in 1989

Q: In this position Black played 31…Bd5. How would you evaluate this move?

A: This bishop move is a mistake as it allows exchange sacrifice on h5, otherwise it wasn’t possible even with a free move for White. For example 31…a6 (just a random move) 32. Rxh5 gxh5
33. Qh4 and now Bd7 threatening to take on f5 then to protect the h7.

Let’s get back to game.

31…Bd5? 32. Rxh5! gxh5 33. Qh4

33…Qc4

Now the …Bc6-d7 idea won’t work because of Qh3 followed by Re1>h2 threat.

34. Qxh5 Qf1+

Other moves like Rd8 or Rc8 won’t work because of Qh6! followed by Rh3.

35. Kb2 e5 36. Qh6!!

Threatening f6! & the knight is untouchable because of pin along the e file. The position is lost for Black.

36…Kh8

If 36…f6 then 37. gxf6 Qg2 38. Ne2 wins.

37. g6

and Black resigned after 3 more moves.

Ashvin Chauhan

Recognise the Pattern # 29

Today we will see a typical way of breaking down a fianchetto formation. Here are some points to be considered while attacking fianchetto formation:
1) Try to exchange the fianchettoed bishop which will create a long term weakness around the opponent’s king.
2) Open up the h-file by advancing the h-pawn, sometimes you need to sacrifice to open it, I will discuss this pawn being blocked in my next article.
3) A pin on f7 (f2) can play a very crucial role
4) Try to stabilise the center, which is important as a wing attack can often be answered by a central counter attack.

These are the ideal conditions but it is not compulsory to carry out all of it before proceeding for an attack.

Steinitz against Mongredian in 1863. – White to move


Question: Is it the right time to attack with h4-h5 lever in order to attack the finachetto formation?

Solution: Most of the preconditions have been fulfilled except the exchange of fianchettoed bishop. Steintitz went for a kill as follows:

10. h4!

The idea is to open the h-file with the h4-h5 lever.

10…Nd7

If 10…h5, in order to prevent White from opening up h file, then 11. Ng5 is very unpleasant.

11. h5 c5 12. hxg6 Nxg6

If 12…hxg6 then 13.0-0-0 followed by Ng5, with the idea of Ne6, is very dangerous for Black.

13. 0-0-0

Bringing the rook into the game and protecting e4.

13…a6 14. Ng5 Nf6

It seems that Black is well protected but Black missed a blow. Can you see it?

15. Nxh7!!

Of course you often need to sacrifice something in order break the opponent’s defence when your pieces are placed optimally.

15…Nxh7 16. Rxh7 Kxh7

16. Qh5 was even stronger than the text move.

17. Qh5 Kg8 18. Rh1!

Threatening checkmate.

18…Re8 19. Qxg6

The point of whole combination.

19…Qf6 20. Bxf7+ Qxf7

Now 21. Rh8+ wins the queen and game. Black resigned after one more move.

Ashvin Chauhan

Recognise the Pattern # 28

Today, we will see a simple endgame pattern which is quite easy to remember but difficult to recognize over the board. As we will see in the following example, even a strong grandmaster failed to spot it; during the game, Black played 74…Ke4 and won on move no 237.

Laurent Fressinet (2650) against Alexandra Kosteniuk (2525) – Black to move

Question: Can you do better than Kosteniuk?
Hint: In the endgame, the easiest way to win is often to convert one advantage into another.

Solution: The easiest way to win this game is…

74…g4!!

Black is preparing to exchange on f2 and transition into a winning king and pawn ending.

75. Rf4/Kg1 Rxf2!

Let’s check few alternatives
a) Rg7 then Rxf2 followed by Kf5 is winning
b) Kh1 then Rxf2 is just winning
c) Rc7 then Rxf2 followed by Bd4 is winning

76. Rxf2 Bxf2 77. Kxf2

Now what?

77…Kd4

Black has transitioned into a winning king and pawn ending.

Now Black can win the g3 pawn where the opposition doesn’t matter, as we know the very generous rule, “King on the 6th rank before the pawn always wins”.

Ashvin Chauhan

Recognising the pattern # 27

In my last article we saw the demolition of the pawn structure in front of a castled king when the pawn is h6 (h3) with the help of sacrificing a piece on h6 (h3). Today we will see how to to break the king position open with a pawn lever of g4-g5.

Peter against Prasatzis in 2010

In this position Black was completely oblivious to White’s threat and played 14…c5?, losing on the spot. Instead Black should play Nd7 though White can keep pressing with Nf3 and Rg1 due to the characteristics of pawn structure in the center.

Q: How would you proceed with white pieces?
A: In the game, White played g5 which opens up some lines by force and wins material.

15. g5 hxg5??

Now, Black can’t avoid checkmate.

Other alternatives can prolong the fight but can’t change the outcome:

If 15…Nh7 then 16. Bxg7!! Wins material.

If 15…Ne4 then 16. Nxe4 dxe4, 17.Bxe4 f6 & 18 gxf6 is winning.

16. Bxf6

Removing the key defender after which Black can’t prevent checkmate on h7 or h8.

The chances of getting success with similar attacks are very high when the position in center is stable.

Ashvin Chauhan

Recognisng the pattern # 26

Whilst coaching beginners we often ask them not to move pawns in front of their castled king unless it is compulsory to do so. This is because it is a hook and your opponent can often launch a successful attack based on it. Today we will see how to attack when a pawn moves to h6/h3.

Here mainly two themes will work for a successful king-side attack.
1. Break the king side shelter with the sacrifice on h3/h6
2. Another is to break the shelter with pawn lever g4 (g5) to g5 (g5)
with an idea of opening up some lines against the king.

In this article we will discuss the first one.

This is one of my games played on leechess.org. This is one of the typical formations of pieces when you are playing 5…exf6 in the Caro-Kann.

1. e4 c6
2. d4 d5
3. Nc3 dxe4
4. Nxe4 Nf6
5. Nxf6+ exf6

White’s usual strategy in this line is create a passed d-pawn on and Black’s strategy is to rely on the activity of his pieces and successful blocking on d6 (usually with dark square bishop).

In this position, White played c2-c4 with the idea of d4-d5.
Q: How would you proceed with Black?

Hint: Black’s knight can jump to f4/h4 at any point in time, his rook can be lifted with Re4 and both bishops and queen are already eyeing White’s monarch.

Solution The game went as follows:

16…Bxh3!
17. gxh3? Qxh3

Now knight on f3 is taboo. Black’s rook can go to e4 to join the attack or his knight can jump to h4. In view to all these threats White played as follows:

18.Bf1 Qxf3

And Black is two pawns plus and went on win after few moves. We will see how to break shelter with pawn lever on next article.

Piece of advice: Before sacrificing something first try to create a piece majority on that side.

Here you can find more interesting games played by the chess masters on same theme.

Ashvin Chauhan

Recognising the Pattern # 25

Today we are going to see another common attacking formation with your knight on e5 (or e4 as Black) and bishop on b5 (b4 as Black). It is usually more effective when the bishop’s counterpart is not able to defend the d7 (d2) or c6 (c3) square. Again you must consider surrounding pawn structure before launching the attack as pawns are the natural blockader of lines. Here is the trap in the Chigorin defence that involves this attacking formation:

Martial Larochelle (2230) against Olivier Tessier (2215) in 2007

1. Nf3 Nc6
2. d4 d5
3. c4 Bg4
4. Nc3 Nf6
5. cxd5 Nxd5
6. e4 Nb6
7. d5 Ne5

Black thought that the knight on e5 can’t be touched because of pin on f3. In fact this is blunder that loses at least a piece.

8. Nxe5!!

With the idea of exploiting the weakness on d7/c6 with the coordination of the bishop on b5, knight on e5 and pawn on d5.

8… Bxd1

9. Bb5+ c6

If 9…Nd7 then Bxd7 wins material and 9… Qd7 loses the queen.

10. dxc6

Threatening to win queen with c6-c7 discovered check.

10..Bg4

Hoping for 11. c7 Qd7 12.Bxd7?

Other options are also not viable, for example:

A) 10…Qc7 11. cxb7 Kd8 (if 11…Nd7 then bxa8=Q wins) 12. Nxf7#

B) 10…Qb8 11. c7+ Nd7 12 Bxd7#

c) 10…bxc6 11. Bxc6 Nd7 12. Bxd7 Qxd7 13. Nxd7 wins the material (Berliner against Rott in 1956)

11. c7+ Qd7

12. Nxg4!

White is not in a hurry to recapture the queen. Black resigned here.

Ashvin Chauhan

Recognising the Pattern # 24

Today I am going to discuss one very common attacking formation with your knight on e5 (Ne5/Ne4) and Bishop on c4 (Bc4/Bc5), which generates enormous pressure on f2/f7 square whether the king is castled or not. Of course in order to accomplish the task you might need to use another pieces too.

Legal’s trap is based around this formation only. Here you can find the examples of this. But do remember that the pawn structure will ultimately decide the piece formation/placement and attacking patterns.

This is a training game against a friend of mine.
White : Ashvin Chauhan
Black : Jatin

1. e4 c5
2. Nf3 d6
3. d4 cxd4
4. c3 d3

The idea in playing a delayed Morra Gambit is to have it only against particular pawn formations. I mean I just love to play the Morra when Black’s d-pawn has moved from d7 to d6.

5. Bxd3 0-0
6. e5! dxe5
7. Nxe5 Bg7?

This natural move loses on the spot.

Q: How white should continue here?

A: Now white can win the good pawn on f7 with 9. Bc4!, which can’t be protected. 9…e6 fails to 10. Qxd8 followed by Nxf7 and 9…0-0 or Qxd1 then Bxf7 wins the pawn.

Variation from the game played between Mayet against Anderssen in 1851

Q: Black’s bishop is eying the f2 square and his knight is ready to jump on e4. In addition to that rook file is open but that cost Black a bishop. Can you justify is play?

A: The winning move for Black is 9…Nxe4, opening up h4-d8 diagonal for Black’s queen and therefore threatening …Qh4. There are four possible ways to stop it

Option 1: 10. Nf3 10…Ng3!! and mate can’t be prevented

Option 2: 10. Ng6 which is met by 10…fxe6, winning

Option 3: 10. g3 10…Bxf2+ is winning. Try to calculate all the variations.

Option 4: 10. Qxg4 is the obvious move but this fails to 10…Bxf2+ which leads to the win of the queen
11. Rxf2 Rh1+ 12. Kh1 Nxf2 forking king and queen.

These all are small blocks which should help you in recognizing complicated patterns. You can generate your blocks in conjunction with your openings for example in the Caro Exchange the knight on e5 and Bd3 is usual. But do remember the pawn formations!

Ashvin Chauhan