Author Archives: AshvinC

Modern Computer Chess: An Alarm!!

Computers have changed chess a lot and top level chess is becoming dominated by opening preparation. Our current World champion might be an exception to some extent.

I have been following the FIDE world cup 2017 and this game perhaps violates most of the general principles. Black played 7/9 moves with his knight and finally managed to win! No castling and fancy moves with the kings.

Here is the game:

Whether you believe it or not, people follow leaders. I am not criticizing these two grandmasters as they have to prepare in such way in order to compete in at the highest level. But such games influence lower ranked players so we may see players much further down the rating list playing like this.

It might be a time to move towards some other chess variants in order to avoid this kind of thing. You decide.

Ashvin Chauhan

Knowing the Endgame for Better Trades

Beginners only tend to be interested in learning endgames if you can show them how useful they are. And for successful coaching it is highly desirable that your students are interested in learning!

Accordingly this article is aimed at beginners only. I will demonstrate how knowing or learning an endgame can help in making the right exchanges.

Black to play and win
This position is taken from one of my internet games. This position looks even at a first glance but it is completely winning for Black.

Hint: The king and pawn endgame is the best way to realize the material advantage.

Solution:

1…f5

Forcing the knight to c5.

2.Nc5

The only move. Now what?

2…Nxf2

The simplest solution that forces exchanges.

If 2…Bxc5 then 3. Bxc5! drops a pawn but retains drawing chances for White. The same is true of 3.Nxc5. Note that 3.bxc5 leads to a winning king and pawn endgame for Black after exchanges on f2 because White’s king can’t protect the c5 pawn and the pawn is within the reach of Black’s king (Rule of Square).

3.Rxf2 Rxc5!!

The point, winning a pawn and forcing exchanges. My opponent resigned here in view of 4.bxc5 Bxc5 when the rook is pinned. Black can take the rook on next move and resulted position will be an easy win because of the extra pawn in a king and pawn endgame.

Ashvin Chauhan

The d5 Square in the Sicilian from Black’s Point of View

Last week we looked at the importance of the d5 square in the Sicilian Defence from White’s point perspective. In this article we will see it from Black’s point of view. Black plans for either d7 to d5 or d6 to d5 in order to free his game. If you just start learning the Sicilian, you might wonder why it frees Black’s game? Well here is the answer:

1) In most the Sicilian lines White attacks Black’s kingside and we all know that a flank attack can be countered by an attack in the center. Playing …d6-d5 fits this bill.

2) Black can neutralise White’s attack along the half open d file by opening it for his rooks.

3) To eliminate the weakness on d6.

4) Once Black plays d5, his position will be not be cramped. Thus he can use his pieces to their full potential, especially a dark square bishop on e7.

What happens if Black is not able to play d5? What would be the next strategy? He needs to stop White from using is for his pieces and at least try and force White to recapture with a pawn on d5.

Here are a couple of games in which Black manages to get …d6-d5 in, with great success:

Semyon Dvoirys vs Wang Yue in 2007 (Black sacrifices a pawn on d5 for piece activity)


Alexander Kovchan vs Sergey Karjakin in 2010 (Just counting the numbers of attack and support of d5 is not sufficient)

Ashvin Chauhan

The d5 Square in the Sicilian From White’s Point of View

One can’t ignore the d5 square in almost any Sicilian line, both from a tactical and positional point of view. In this article we will see the importance of d5 square from White’s point of view.

Tactical aspects: White sacrifices a piece on d5 in order to open the e-file and launch a decisive attack against Black’s king. Sometimes White’s pieces also find c6 as an outpost after exd5. If Black declines the sacrifice, it is really difficult to tolerate that piece on d5.

Here is a brief commentary by Mato on the game played by Mikhail tal vs Mikhail Mukhin in 1972 on the same theme.

Positional aspects: If White gets control over d5 he tries to establish a piece there, and possibly a knight. This can lead to positions where a knight on d5 is far superior to Black’s dark square bishop. Here is a nice game explained by Kingcrusher:

In my next article we will examine the same d5 square from Black’s point of view.

Ashvin Chauhan

Hanging Pieces

This article aims at beginners only. When we talk about hanging pieces or pawns, the general understanding is that a piece without support is called a hanging piece. I would like to propose a different categorization, and one which can significantly reduce the number of blunders by just observing and understanding them.

I largely divide hanging pieces into two categories:

A) Pieces that have no support or can have their support removed:
Pieces that have no support, or can have their support removed, are technically undefended. With pieces that are supported like this the attacker always just remove the support and then they are just like undefended pieces.

Position A:
This is a variation from the game Miguel Najdorf vs Robert James Fischer, 1966 (White to move)


This is very simple, Qc8 check wins the rook on b7.

Position B)
Miguel Najdorf vs Robert James Fischer, 1966 (White to move)


This is the same scenario as White can first play Nxd6. In the game Fischer resigned in view of Qxd6 and now Nxb7 and we achieved position A in case of Rxb7. Of course Black can’t trap the knight with Qb6 or c7 because of pawn to d6.

B) Pieces performing crucial tasks are always hanging:
Here the piece is performing or going to perform a crucial defending role. It is therefore always hanging no matter how many times it is defended. The game is usually over once it has been captured.

Here’s a position I composed myself:


Here the bishop on c5 is defended three times but this bishop is going to perform the very important task of preventing checkmate vai Qh6. So this bishop is hanging no matter how many times it is defended. White can win the game with Rxc5.

Ashvin Chauhan

Tiny Pawn Weaknesses

When your opponent is controlling the open file, we automatically go for trade of rooks if possible. Here is a position in which White did this.

Erich Cohn vs Akiba Rubinstein, 1909

At first glance it seems that White is perfectly OK as there is no way for Black to create any passed pawn in spite of White’s doubled pawns on f file. Can you see any hole in White’s position? Actually White’s doubled pawn weakness can be exploited in the king and pawn endgame. Rubinstein’s play is really instructive from here:

In the following game Kasparov played 9 d6. Although this does not win material directly it fixes the pawn on d7 and therefore creates huge problems for Black in development. The rest of the game seems technical:

Ashvin Chauhan

Knowing The Opponent’s Plan

This article is aimed at beginners only. Almost at all levels of chess, players try tricks to trap their opponents, the only difference being the level of difficulty. So when do you have better chances of making a fool out of your opponent? The simplest answer is when you know their plan.

Here is a nice miniature to show you the importance of knowing opponent’s plan in order to create a successful trap.


[Site "London"]
[Date "1864"]
[White "Andrews"]
[Black "Janssens"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C55"]

1. e4 e5 2. d4 exd4 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. Bc4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 (5... Nxe4 6. Re1 d5 7.
Bxd5 Qxd5 8. Nc3) 6. Nxd4 Nxd4 7. Qxd4 d6 8. f4 b6 (8... O-O {is fine here, but
why b6? It is always been good to look for the reasons behind opponent's
move.}
{Answer is that Black would like to
play Bc5 to win White's queen. So now you know your opponent's plan and it is
time to create web around it. In the game White did this.}) 9. e5 {Of
course White can remove the queen or king from the diagonal but he used Black's
greed to win the game.} (9. Kh1)(9. Qd3) 9... d5 10. Bb5+ Bd7 11. exf6 {wins a
piece.} (11. Bxd7+ Qxd7 12. b4 c5 {is good for Black.}) 11... Bc5 {Finally
Black has achieved what he planned. But what did he miss?} (11... Bxb5 12.
fxe7 Qxe7 13. Rd1 {White wins.}) 12. Re1+ Kf8 {This allows mate in 2.} (12...
Be7 13. Rxe7+ Kf8 14. Bxd7 {wins}) 13. fxg7+ Kg8 14. gxh8=Q# 1-0
[/pgn

Ashvin Chauhan

Practical Chess Endgames for Beginners

This article is aimed at beginners, to show them why they should study andlearn endgames. Here is my game from the current tournament where my last move was Re6 to win a pawn.


My opponent was rated 1482 and played opening and middle-game really well, but finally I got a chance to win a pawn. How would you continue from here? Which pawn will you save, b6 or h6?

In the game he played b5 and I went on win due to the following reasons.
1. My rook is more active than his as it is behind his passer.
2. I have a chance to create two connected passed pawns on the kingside.

Instead he should have played Kg7(!), protecting the h6 pawn after which Rxb6 is a draw. He was perfectly aware of the Lucena and Philidor positions, however he was not aware that there are more chances where these 3 vs 2 pawn positions can lead to a Philidor position. That is why I always insist that learning positions is not enough on its own. You should repeat them on regular intervals and also learn how to achieve them. In practice you won’t get book positions very often.

The game was not easy even after …b5 and Rxh6. Here is the analysis:

Ashvin Chauhan

Sicilian Dragon : A Model Game for Beginners in the Yugoslav Attack

In my last article I tried to describe White’s plan to destroy Black’s king side in detail. Here I will annotate the game in detail which I believe, can be served as a model game for this.

Ashvin Chauhan

Sicilian Dragon: The Yugoslav Attack

This article aims at beginners and intermediate players to provide basic strategy to play against Sicilian Dragon. The most dangerous attacking setup against Sicilian Dragon is the Yugoslav Attack where White’s plan is fairly simple but nonetheless very strong.

Strategy:

1. White’s light square bishop usually exchange the Black’s knight on c4 (the knight attacks the queen on d2 and bishop on e3), otherwise that bishop will have great potential on the a2-g8 diagonal (refer to Fischer vs. Larsen – sac sac and mate).

2. White is aiming to exchange the dark-square bishop on h6. And in the absence of his dark square bishop the safety of Black’s king can be compromised.

3. White will open the h-file with the h2-h4-h5 thrust.

4. Lastly White will try to remove the knight from f6 in order to deliver checkmate along the h file and probably h7 or h8.

Caution:

Black’s main counter play is heavily reliant on the counter attack along the c- file and a1-h8 diagonal. Here is a game which I believe, covers the above mentioned points and can be served as model game to beginners.

On my next article I will present this game with more notes. Meanwhile the reader is invited to figure out what was going on.

Ashvin Chauhan