Author Archives: AshvinC

Pattern Backfires: The Remedy

This article is aimed at beginners only. Building a pattern bank is a very important step towards your chess improvement because we play what we know. But sometimes these patterns backfire too. Here is an example:

Position is taken from a game played on

Black sees a typical opportunity to win a pawn & unpin his knight by playing 1…Bxf2+ followed by 2…Ng4+, winning back his sacrificed piece with 3…Qxg5. This pattern is very common in the opening stage but one has to be careful in the execuation. Here Bxf2 is a blunder because Black had only seen the typical tactical pattern; if he had tried to calculate or see just half move further, he would have rejected the move based on White’s Qa4+!.

2. Kxf2 Ng4+
3. Kg3! Qxg5
4. Qa4+!

This collects the knight on g4 and Black is lost.

Here is another example:
Bjarte Leer-Salvesen vs Jimmy Mardell, Rilton Cup – 2007

White has threatened the b7 pawn, which is usually known as a poisoned pawn. You might have seen many chess traps where taking such a poisoned pawn resulted in the queen being trapped or some similar disaster, so Black played Nc6 with an idea of Rb8 to trap the queen. Unfortunately for him he has missed something, what is it that he has not seen?

1… Nc6
2. Qxb7! Rb8??

Black can still try Nd4! but I guess he did not recheck before playing Rb8. This often happens with beginners.

3. Qxc6!!

This forces resignation.

As with the previous example the solution was to look a little bit further rather than trust the pattern blindly. Chess is not just pattern recognition, it also needs accurate calculation.

Ashvin Chauhan

Deep vs Superficial Knowledge

Storchenegger – Clemance, Auckland 1978:

Q: White’s last move was 13. Nd5. What is wrong with it?

This position is an excellent example of merely information vs. deep knowledge. We all know that centralising a piece can be a really good decision, especially when it is a knight. But here this allows Bxd5 that gives away the bishops pair but creates a symmetrical pawn structure where control over the only open file often decides the game. The New Zealand correspondence champion made no mistake and occupied the c-file by tactical means and won quite convincingly. This is also an excellent example of tactics at the service of strategy.

Here is the rest of the game.

Ashvin Chauhan

A Lesson from Neubauer – Sargissian, 2007

Position after Black’s 35…c5

Black has occupied the h file. The first move that came to my mind was to play Rh1 and exchange the rook on h8, and this in fact what was played.

Q: Is it the right way to proceed?

A: In fact Rh1 is a blunder in the given position as White can’t prevent Black’s king from penetration on the queenside via the light squares. The game ended after 5 more moves.

36. Rh1?? Rxh1 37. Kxh1 a4 38. dxc5

This is just another mistake but the alternatives also seem to lose:
a) 38. Be3 Kc6! 39. Kg2 b4! and Black is winning.
b) 38. Kg2 cxd4! 39. cxd4 b4! has the idea of bringing the king to c4/b3 via Kc6-b5-c4-b3, which is winning for Black.
c) 38. f4 cxd4 and same plan given in option b will win.


An exercise for readers: Why should Black should not directly capture the pawn on c5 with his bishop?

39. Kg2 Kxc5 40. Kf2 Kc4 41. Ke2 Kb3

White resigned.

Lesson: Do not exchange the last major piece from the board until and unless it is must because it can prevent the opponent’s piece from getting in to your position. It is also very useful for attacking the opponent’s weaknesses.

The correct way to defend the position was to play 36.dxc5 followed by pawn to f4 and it is very difficult for Black’s rook to find any good square on h file. After exchanging the rook the position was lost as White can’t prevent Black king from penetrating on the queenside via the light squares.

Ashvin Chauhan

Capablanca vs Shipley, 1924

This is an amazing game played by Capablanca. I have been looking at this game for the last few days and didn’t find an obvious mistake or blunder by Black until he had a lost position. This game shows that how a better pawn island and slightly better king can be a decisive advantage in the hand of Capa.

Position after 20. Rb3!

Capa just wants to double his rooks on the b file and penetrate through to the 7th rank.


The most natural move to meet the rook battery on the b file, but this allows exchanges of rooks. As an exercise it is useful to try to find some alternate ways to play Black’s position and see if White can win.

21. Rab1 Rb8 22. Rxb8 Rxb8 23. Rxb8 Kxb8

Now we have position where Capa’s king is just one rank more advanced than his counterpart.

24. Kd3 Kc7 25. Kd5 Kd6 26. g4 Ke6

26. Kf5 might be stronger but here White has clear cut winning plan. That is to exchange the f pawn against Black’s f pawn and he will soon get a kingside majority, and if Black keeps the f pawn, which is what happened in the game, then Black soon run out of good moves.

27. h4 f6

After 27…Kf6 there is 28. f4 exf4 29. Kxf4 Kg6 and now Ke5 is winning.

28. f4! exf4

After 28…c5 then 29. fxe5 fxe5 30. g5 is winning due to the outside passed pawn.

29. Kxf4 h6??

A blunder in a lost position because this creates another square (g6) for White’s king to penetrate, though no other move can save the day.

30. c3

Black resigned after few more moves.

Here is the full game in case you’re interested.

Ashvin Chauhan

Opening Up Another Front

It is always been harder to fight on two fronts than one. So when your opponent is defending one front/weakness adequately the right strategy is to open the other front. This is because it is quite hard for the defender to transfer the pieces to the other side of the board.

Here is one of my games, played against a much high rated player. I managed to launch minority attack and of course Black tried to attack the White king on the kingside. However, there came a moment when he realized it would not work and Black was forced into a passive position and defend the c6 weakness, which is quite typical of the QGD Exchange variation. I tried hard to exploit this weakness and gain some material, then finally found the right plan to open the queen side. Apart from few tactical errors this was one of my best games.

Ashvin Chauhan

The Fishing Pole Trap

Chess opening traps and tricks are very popular among beginners and there is a very large amount of material that falls into this category. That is the reason why many YouTube videos are booming around traps and tricks. Some opening traps are just not good like this one Richard talked few days back, but some of them are really good and contain generic ideas that can be applied in many different openings. For the good ones I prefer the term ‘pattern’ rather than ‘trap’, and today I am going to talk about one of them, the Fishing Pole trap. This trap is mainly associated with the Ruy Lopez (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5) but it can be used against many openings when the position allows. The idea is to opening up the h file or the access to h7/h2 by the means of sacrificing the minor piece of g4/g5.

Ashvin Chauhan

Simple but Solid Strategy : Adrian Mikhalchishin vs Dusko Pavasovic

While I was going through some games, I found this one very entertaining and instructive. In this game the Ukrainian Grandmaster came up with a very simple and solid strategy. He sacrificed his queen for a rook, bishop & a passed pawn in the early middle game. Then he exchanged pieces, and with every exchange White’s position became better and better. It was also quite necessary because with some additional pieces on the board Black’s queen might generate some counter play. This is not the first time he employed the same strategy. I have 4 games (including this) in my database against quite strong players where Mikhalchishin offered this queen sacrifice. Two games ended in a draw where Black declined by playing Qe7!, in the other two Black accepted and White won quite convincingly. I have selected this game due to its simplicity and clarity:

Ashvin Chauhan

A Lesson from Nimzowitsch vs Capablanca, 1927

A rook on the 7th rank often gives you an initiative, but two rooks there is usually decisive. Here is a game of Capablanca against Nimzowitsch which illustrate this theme. And it is also quite interesting to see how Capa managed to get his both the rooks on 7th rank with couple of interesting moves and the bit of help from Nimzowitsch.

Position after 23. Bb2 (Nimzowitsch vs Capablanca 1927)


This move is really annoying. It creates an awkward pin and attacks a3.

24. Ra1

Computers might find some other cool defences but this is a human move. White sets his bishop free and protects the a3 pawn.

24…Qb3 25. Bd4

This improves the position of the bishop and blocks the d file, but might have failed to see Capa’s idea.


First rook arrives.


Looking for counter play but missing Black’s next move. 26. Qd1 might be better but after 26…Qc4 27. Rc1 Rc8 28. Rxc2 Qxc2 29. Qxc2 Rxc2 Black’s position is preferable as he already has one rook on the 7th rank.


This brings the second rook to the 7th rank.

27. Bxe5 Rdd2 28. Qb7 Rxf2 29. g4

Now the bishop protects h2 and the queen protects g2.

29…Qe6! 30. Bg3 Rxh2! 31. Qf3

And Black won after few more moves as Rxh2 fails to Qxg4+ followed by Qh3.

Ashvin Chauhan

A Lesson from the Game Carlsen vs Naiditsch

This is really an instructive position. Play was focused on restricting the activity of one of Black’s minor pieces, a key middle game strategy that is often seen at grandmaster level. We have following position after Black’s last move 19…Rd8:

Q: How would you continue from here with white pieces?

20. b5! Ne5?!

Other options are also just good for White, for example:
a) 20…Ne7 21.c6
a1)21…Bc8 22.Bc4 Nd5 23.cxd7 23.Rxd7 24.Qa2 Rd8 25.Nd4 and white enjoys pressing position.
a2)21…Ba8 22.Bc4 Nc8 23.Qa2 Nb6 24.Rd1 with fantastic position.;

b) 20…Nb8 is just bad because of 21.Qa5 Bxf3 22.Bxf3 Qe5 23.Rc1 and Black has a very poor knight.

21.Nxe5 Qxe5 22.c6 Bc8

22…Ba8 23.Rd1 d5 24.Qd4 Qxd4 25.exd4 produces a position where Black’s bishop is even worse than on c8 which was what happened in the actual game.

23.Rd1 d5

23…d6 24.Qa5 d5 25.Qa1 Qxa1 26.Rxa1 gives White a winning position.

24.Qd4! Qxd4 25.exd4 Kf8 26.f4!

Now Black can’t achieve e5 without a significant loss of material which means his light square bishop is very bad. Carlsen went on win after few more moves.

Ashvin Chauhan

Tricky Knights

When it comes to learning the piece movements, the knight is the hardest piece to get to grips with. I personally struggled with this early on but gradually fell in love with knights. And when I visit the chess club in my area, people prefer the knight over the bishop because of its tricky move and that it can help generate some great combinations.

Here’s an example with Capablanca winning a pawn with a knight wheel.

The important part of handling knights is that a knight needs a secure outpost in the opponent’s camp. f you manage to bring a knight to the 6th rank then it can give you winning advantage. In the following game, we will see the famous German Grandmaster Wolfgang Uhlmann sacrifice the exchange to bring his knight to the 6th rank:

Wolfgang Uhlmann against Johan Teunis Barendregt 1961

1. Ng5!

Heading to e6.


1… Nxg5 was a better chance to resist though after 2.Bxg5 Qa5 3. Rc1 White’s position is better if not winning.

2. Ne6 Qf6 3. Qxb1 Bh6 4. Ne4 Qe7 5.Bg5

Aiming to bring another knight to the sixth rank.

5…Bxg5 6. hxg5 Nd8

If 6…Kd7 then 7. Nf6+ Kc8 8. Rxh7 wins.

7. Nf6+ Kf7 8. Qe4 Nc7 9. Bd3

With a decisive threat of Rxh7 followed by Qg6 so Black resigned. Sample variations include 9…Ncxe6 10. Rxh7+ Rxh7 11. Qxg6+ Kf8 12. Qg8# and 9… Qe8 10.Rxh7+ Rxh7 11. Qxg6+ Ke7 12. Qxh7+ Qf7 13. Ng7 when there is no defense to Nf5.

Ashvin Chauhan