Author Archives: AshvinC

Recognising the Patterns: Challenge # 4

Today’s challenge is to find the typical pattern from the position below with Steinitz to move:

Reiner against Steinitz in 1860

Q: White’s Queenside pieces are still taking a rest, so therefore Black has an advantage. Can you prove it?

(Hint – You just need to empower your rooks on the g-file.)

A: The pattern is Arabian mate and Black can win the game with 15…Nf3!!.

The Arabian mate is an example of the coordination between rook and knight. Typical features:
– A knight usually lands on f6 (of white) and f3 (of black)
– A rook delivers checkmate using g file or 7th rank with the support of knight.

In the game Steinitz played as follows:

15…Nf3!!

Offers a pawn, but the pawn can’t be taken but then Qh4 is in the air.

16. Rxg4??

This is blunder as now White can’t avoid checkmate.

16… Qh4

The point behind sacrifice. The queen can’t be taken because of mate on g1.

17. Rg2

If 17. Rxh4 then 17…Rg1# or if 17. Kg2 then 17…Rxg4+ 18. Kxf3 and mate in 13 from here. You can check it out on your own or with the help of computer.

Now one more shot and game is in the pocket. In fact its mate in two now.

17… Qxh2+

The final blow.

18.Rxh2 Rg1# 0-1

Nimzowitsch against Giese in 1913

With 35.Rg3 White has generated a very serious threat with 36. Nf6+, 37. Qxg6+ and mate. Even so the position is defensible at this stage.

Q: Is it wise idea to maintain knight on g6 by playing Qc2 or should Black move the knight in order to protect g6 square?

A: It was wise to protect that knight by playing Qc2 when the game is still on. The text move makes Nimzowitsch’s task very easy.

35…Nf4??

Now Black can’t avoid checkmate.

36. Qxh6+ gxh6

If 36… Kg8 then 37. Nf6+ Kf8 38. Qh8+ Kf7 39.Qg8#.

37. Nf6+ Kh8

38. Rg8# 1-0

Gelfand against Kramnik in 1996

Black’s Rooks are doubled on b file, but how could you use them?

26… Nc3

The knight comes to a very dangerous square from it can generate a deadly combo with the cooperation of Black’s rooks.

27. Nxd4

27. bxc3 is not possible because of checkmate on b1. Or 27. Bxc3 dxc3 28. Nd4 cxb2+ 29.Rxb2 Rxb2 30. Nxe6 Rb1+ 31. Ka2 R8b2#.

27… Rxb2

28. Rxb2

The queen can’t be taken because of mate on b1

28… Qa2+ 0-1

It’s mate next move.

Ashvin Chauhan

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Recognising The Patterns: Challenge # 3

Today’s challenge: Find the typical pattern – Lasker to move:

Lasker against Fortuijn in 1908


White is the exchange and a pawn up and should win. But is it a good idea to offer the exchange back by playing Ra4?

Hint: You just need to open a file in order to access Black’s monarch.

Answer: The pattern is Anastasia’s mate and Black can’t win exchange because of a checkmate threat.

In the game Lasker played:

28. Ra4 Nc5? 29. Ne7+

Now Black is forced to give up Queen and still mate can’t be avoided, but the move now played allows a quick finish:

29… Kh8??

The game ended after 2 more moves.

30. Qxh7!!

Opening up h file.

30…Kxh7 31. Rh4#

The next example has been taken from “The Art of checkmate” – Renaud & Kahn:

Lasker – N.N.

Question: Black is in serious trouble. Is it wise to castle here?

Answer: Of course not as after castling White gets a devastating attack based on Anastasia’s checkmate pattern.

Here are the rest of the moves:
9… 0-0 10. Nxe7+ Kh8 11. Qh5

The threat is to play Qxh7 followed by Rh5#.

11…g6

11…h6 won’t help much after 12.d3 when the c1 bishop wants to take on h6.

12. Qh6 d6

This is suicide.

13. Rh5!

Checkmate can’t be avoided.

13…gxh5 14. Qf6#

Milan Vidmar against Max Euwe in 1929

Question: White to move. Black has created the devastating threat of Qf4, how cn you meet this?

Hint: This is a similar pattern in horizontal form! And Black’s Rook on c2 is undefended.

Answer: White can with Re8+.

34. Re8+ Bf8??

Allows checkmate, but if 34… Kh7 then 35. Qd3+ picks up the rook.

35. Rxf8!! Kxf8? 36. Nf5+ 1-0

Euwe resigned here because if 36… Kg8 then 37. Qf8+!! followed by Rd8 is mate.

Ashvin Chauhan

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Recognising the Patterns: Challenge # 2

Today’s challenge: Find the typical pattern and move like Capablanca.

Capablanca against Fonaroff in 1918

White is a pawn up and has a nice knight on f5. In addition he has a rook on an open file and should win, but can you finish off Black quickly using a very simple checkmate pattern?

Answer: The typical pattern is a back rank mate. This is a very familiar theme and occurs quite frequently after a king has castled.

Here White can win the game with:

20. Nh6!! Kh8
21. Qxe5! Qxe5

There is nothing better.

22. Nxf7+ and Black resigned because 22… Rxf7 leads to a back rank mate and if 22… Kg8 then 23. Nxe5 wins the piece. I have already annotated this game here.

Bernstein against Capablanca in 1914

Here is another back rank combination by the legendary Chess Machine. Black’s last move was …Rc5, offering the pawn on c3 (Black’s dangerous asset). Will you take it?

White can play his knight back to d4 and the game is on. Taking the pawn costs White a piece:

27. Nxc3 Nxc3
28. Rxc3 Rxc3
29. Rxc3 Qb2!!

Of course not 29… Qb1 as 30. Qf1 Rd1 runs into 31. Rc8. But now the point behind sacrificing the pawn is clear and White resigned as it costs him net rook.

30. Qd3 Qa1+

Not 30…Rxd3 because of 31.Rc8.

31. Qf1

Forced and now Black wins the rook on c3.

Reshevsky against Fischer in 1970

White’s last move was Kg1, which allows Black to win with a back rank mate trick. It was better to play Qb5 instead of Kg1.

29… Qd4+
30. Kh1 Qf2!!

Winning on the spot.

Ashvin Chauhan

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Recognising the Patterns: Challenge # 1

The more you improve your pattern bank, the better you become at chess. Whether it is in the opening, middle game or endgame we usually tend to play what we know! And the deeper your knowledge of different patterns, the more beautifully you are likely to play. It could be any tactical or attacking pattern or a simple endgame pattern.

Today’s challenge: Find the typical pattern and react accordingly:

Nimzowitsch against Alekhine in 1912
It’s Black to move, White’s last move was 15. 0-0-0!


Hint: Alekhine senses the danger of taking the free pawn. Now try to find the solution yourself before looking at the answer.

Answer:This typical pattern is Boden’s mate. Alekhine played Bd6, carefully avoided White’s plans and eventually managed to win the game. But that’s another story.

Now let’s have a look what happens if Black becomes greedy and take the pawn on d4:

15…cxd4
16. exd4 Nxd4

Taking on c6 is no good for White now, for example 16. Bxc6 dxc3 17. Bb5 and Black gets the initiative with 17…Ba3!.

17. Rxd4

Surprise!!

17…Qxd4

This allows White’s queen and two bishops to launch a decisive matting attack against Black’s king.

18. Qxe6+ Rd7

Forced. If 18… Nd7 then the finish is quite beautiful: 19. Qc6+!! Followed by mate on a6, the pattern known as Boden’s mate.

19. Bxd7 Kd8

19… Nxd7 is not possible because of Qe8#

20. Bc7+

This wins the queen on the next move and the game.

A beautiful example of how knowing the patterns helps!

Ashvin Chauhan

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Sacrifices in The Endgame

When we talk about sacrificing some material the first thought that comes to mind is that it is for a mating or crushing attack (sac sac and mate – Fischer). However sacrifices are also possible in the endgame, but what is the fundamental basis for that? I started studying the endgame seriously when I manage to draw a Rook endgame with three pawns more in 2010. So here I am sharing few fine practical points that I have derived from my own experience, reading & guidance from Nigel.

Whenever I see any endgame the first thing I check for is the availability of a passed pawn or the possibility to create a passed pawn. You can consider sacrificing some material in order to gain a dangerous passed pawn. It has a huge impact in deciding the activity of other material on the board.

Activity could be piece activity, but in order to play the endgame better one should focus more on activity of the king. A recent example of this could be Aronian’s game against Caruana in Norway chess 2015. I have already discussed this game here so I am not going to repeat it. Similarly you can think about giving up some material if it forces your opponent to take a very passive positions. Here are some examples that illustrate my thoughts

Gelfand Boris against Bareev in 1992 at Linares

At first glance it is hard to draw up a plan but the availability of the passed pawn on c4 makes it very simple. Gelfand choose Rxe6. Why? Because the pawn on c4 forces Black’s rook to take very passive position on c8. On the other hand White’s king’s activity can decide the game easily once he reaches b6. Here are the rest of the moves:

1. Rxe6+ fxe6 2. c5 Kf6 3. c6 Rb8 4. c7 Rc8 5. Ka4 Ke5 6. Kxa5 Kd4 7. Rc6 Ke3 8. f4 Kf2 9. Rc3 Rxc7 10. Rxc7 Kxg3 11. Rxg7+ Kxf4 12.Rh7 1-0

Garry Kasparov against Timman in 1992 at Linares


In this position, Kasparov choose to sacrifice his knight for a pawn (and only a pawn!) in order to get a free hand with his king on the queenside as Black’s king has to stay on kingside in order to prevent h7 to h8 with promotion. Here are the rest of the moves:

1. Ne8+ Kf7 2. Nxf6 Kxf6 3. g5+ Kf7 4. h6 Ba4 5. Ke5 Bd1 6. Kd6 Bb3 7. Kc5 Ba4 8. Kb6 Bb5 9. a4 Bxa4 10. Kxa6 Bd7 11. b5 Bc8+ 12. Ka7 1-0

Ashvin Chauhan

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Some Excellent Stuff Over YouTube To Improve At Chess

Thechesswebsite
Thechesswebsite is publishing material mainly in video format over YouTube and has more than 130,000 subscribers. Currently he mainly focuses on annotated chess games from recent tournaments and some ‘masala’ chess videos. Some of his videos are for members only but you can find lots of instructive free stuff. With English not being my first language, I found it is difficult to understand him because of his accent. But I really appreciate his continuous works over 6 years.

King Crusher
This channel is run by Tryfon Gavriel, a FIDE Candidate Master, British Regional Master and also the webmaster of Chess World. He reached a peak ECF rating of 212 (equivalent to about 2350 USCF) in July 2014, and a 216 rapid grade. He runs his YouTube channel as King Crusher and has been active for the last 8 years with around 60,000 subscriber and more than 5,000 videos. You can find lots of classical and modern annotated games on his channel.

Power Play Chess by Daniel King
This doesn’t require any introduction. King mainly produces the videos on current chess tournaments. He started this channel three years back and currently there are more than 500 videos that you can go through.

Chess Network
Introducing himself as Jerry, the creator of this channel is a self taught National Master with over 100,000 subscribers. Beginners to intermediate players can get much from his videos.

I have also found some other chess channels useful which focus on commentating during their/other blitz games. I believe this is entertaining but less instructive, so they are not included here.

And yes if you don’t like to go over YouTube and search for good videos here is an option. www.lichess.org has selected more than 1000 videos from different channels.

Ashvin Chauhan

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While Playing Your First Chess Tournament…

Recently one of my students got a fide rating of 1325. We were expecting something much higher than that as his standard rating on playchess has been above 1800 for most of the last 6 months. In order to know the reason for this difference we have analysed his games. What I found should be useful to those who are going to play their first tournament game.

Don’t go alone. While playing in your first tournament it is better to go with your coach or group of friends. Coaches can guide and motivate you while friends can support you. For example if you lose your first game very badly, that can affect your other games too if you’re alone.

Intuition can be used to identify candidate moves or can be used when the position is very hard to calculate. But that doesn’t mean that you can just rely on it as otherwise there wouldn’t be any place for creativity in chess. Most of time positions demand concrete calculations.

Your physical fitness level has a huge impact on your performance because of energy levels. If you are not fit it is difficult to find a good moves over a long period of time, simply because you will be tired.

Selecting tournaments: Don’t select a tournament where there is a vast different between your local weather and the weather at the place of tournament. However if you would like to go, just go 3-4 days prior to the event.

Just focus on your natural game as the pressure of a first tournament can badly affect your performance compared with playing at home on the internet. Rather than thinking about outcomes try to play good chess. Don’t expect too much from yourself and just enjoy the games, and in this way you are likely to play well.

Ashvin Chauhan

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Norway Chess 2015: Mistakes

Congratulations to Topalov for winning Norway Chess 2015, so far the worst ever tournament for Carlsen. In this tournament we’ve seen some mistakes which are generally not seen in top rated tournaments. Though in chess no one can win, one can only lose! Here is a list of some of them from the tournament.

(1) Hammer,J (2677) – Carlsen,M (2876)
Round 9

White has an advantageous position but it’s far from over for Black. Though Carlsen made it very simple for Hammer:

32…Rxb3??

Disastrous, but 32…Nc6 is also losing 33.Rxb7 Rxb3 34.Rxb3 Bxb3 35.Rf6.

33.Rd1

Threatening checkmate.

33…Nc6 34.Rdd7

The game is over. Carlsen resigned.

1–0

(2) Anand,V (2804) – Hammer,J (2677)
Round 8

White’s last move was Qe2. White is a pawn up but it is far from the over as opposite colour bishops are on the board.

33…g6?

This sort of mistake is normally seen at club level! It gives two extra pawns to Anand.

34.Bxg6 Qxg6 35.Qxe5+

A simple double attack.

35…Kg8 36.Qxc5

White is 3 pawn up. Black resigned.

1–0

(3) Carlsen,M (2876) – Aronian,L (2780)
Round 8


36.Rc2??

White was pressing before this move, but he had less than 2 minutes left to play next 5 moves. 36.Nh4 Qxf2 37.Rg3 was winning for White.

36…Qa1??

A Blunder. After 36…Qb8! and Black would have had a fantastic game.

37.g4 Qf1 38.Ne1

Perhaps he missed this one. If 38.Nh4 than Rd1 and now Black is winning

38…Nh5 39.gxf5 exf5 40.Qc4

Black resigned.

1–0

(4) Aronian,Levon (2780) – Caruana,Fabiano (2805)
Round 5

50.Kxa5 Kd2?

Here Black missed a drawing opportunity, which was very hard to find but you can expect such a move from super GMs! Black can hold the game with 50…Nd5!!, the idea being to dominate White’s knight. If White then chooses to sacrifice the knight (which is his best try) then f7 can hold the game: 51.b4 Ke2 52.Ng2 Kf3 53.Nh4+ Kg4 54.Ng2 Kf3 55.b5 Kxg2 56.b6 Nxb6 57.Kxb6 and Black has a bishop’s pawn and White’s king is too far away, so this is a draw.

After 50…Kd2 White won very convincingly.

1–0

(5) Hammer,Jon Ludvig (2677) – Topalov,Veselin (2798)
Round 5


First try to find the saving move for White

74.Kc6??

A big blunder. Instead, Hammer could have saved the game with f5.

74…Ke6

White resigned.

0–1

(6) Nakamura,Hikaru (2802) – Caruana,Fabiano (2805)
Round 3


The position looks equal on the board.

40…g5??

The simplest move to draw was 40… h5. But the text move allows White to take very active position with his rook via h file.

41.hxg5 hxg5 42.Rh1

White went on win as follows:

42…Ra7 43.Rh7 f4 44.gxf4 gxf4 45.e4! a4 46.bxa4+ Rxa4 47.Rxf7 Ra3+ 48.Kd2 Ra2+ 49.Ke1 Ra3 50.Ke2 Ra2+ 51.Kf3 Rd2 52.Rd7 Kc6 53.Rd5 Kb6 54.e5 Kc6 55.Rd8 Kc7 56.Rd6

1–0

(7) Carlsen,M (2876) – Topalov,V (2798) [D43]
Round 1


60.Qg5+

White already has a winning position.

60…Kf7

And White lost on time! Carlsen had the impression that he would have an extra 15 minutes, but it was just an illusion.

0–1

Ashvin Chauhan

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Teaching Kids: Checkmate In Two

Learning checkmate in two is perhaps the most important step towards developing your fundamental calculation skills. Yusupov used this as a tool to improve the skill of calculating short variations in one of his books. There are various ways of teaching this to kids but what I am going to discuss is a multipurpose technique that is very effective.

I normally introduce this to kids once they show great accuracy in doing checkmate in one. I show them patterns first and explain fundamental ideas behind those patterns. It is advisable that you start with just a few pieces on the board first.

For example you can use checkmate with king and queen against king. If I am not missing anything, there are five ways to checkmate with these pieces:

The next task is to explain the basic idea behind this theme. In this case you can’t afford to allow the opponent’s king to leave the edge of the board (a-file,h-file, 1st rank and last rank) after which the rest is just matter of practicing it. Here is one example:

Here Black king will try to leave border line by moving to d7 so our first task is to prevent that. You can do it with Qd4, Qd2 or Qc7 (Qd6 is stalemate), so the king will be forced to move on f8 then Qd8 is checkmate.

Coaches have to find/compose lots of puzzles on separate themes. And yes repetition is the key thing as kids tend to forget patterns if they don’t practice them a lot.

You can add more pieces in order to increase the difficulty level but the basic ideas remain unchanged.

Ashvin Chauhan

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Teaching Kids Through Classical Games (14)

Zukertort, Johannes Hermann – Steinitz, William
1st World Championship

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.e3 Bf5?! 4.Nc3

A slight inaccuracy. Analysts suggest that 4.cxd5! cxd5 5.Qb3, hitting d5 and b7, 5…Bc8 favours White.

4…e6 5.Nf3 Nd7 6.a3?!

With the idea of c5 and b4, thereby keeping Black’s dark square bishop away from h2-b8 diagonal.

6…Bd6!

Euwe gives 6…Ngf6 7.Bd3 Bxd3 8.Qxd3 Qb6!.

7.c5?!

A somewhat dubious move as it allows Black to play very energetically with the e5 lever. This is otherwise not possible because of cxd5 which wins pawn for white.It is good to play 7.Bd3 Bxd3 8.Qxd3 Ngf6 9.e4 which seems equal to me.

7…Bc7 8.b4

Trying expand on the queenside, but now the development of White’s dark square bishop is an issue.

8…e5 9.Be2

9. dxe5 Nxe5 10.Nd4 has been recommended by analysts.

9…Ngf6 10.Bb2 e4!

In my opinion a very strong move. Although it is not directly winning it does shut White’s bishop out almost permanently.

11.Nd2 h5! 12.h3

12.b5?! would be an interesting idea.

12…Nf8

Regrouping his pieces. This kind of move is affordable when the center is closed and you have a space advantage.

13.a4

Trying to expand on the queenside.

13…Ng6

All Black pieces are eyeing the kingside.

14.b5?! Nh4 15.g3

Zukertort might have thought that the knight must retreat, but here steinitz came with creative idea of sacrificing knight for two pawns and an attack.

15…Ng2+! 16.Kf1 Nxe3+ 17.fxe3 Bxg3 18.Kg2 Bc7 19.Qg1?

A much better continuation would be to play 19.a5 Rh6 20.Nf1 a6 21.bxc6 bxc6 22.Kf2 when the position is very unclear. Now it’s time to bring another piece into the attack with a threat of Rg6.

19…Rh6 20.Kf1 Rg6

Black has a very powerful attack now.

21.Qf2

The only safe square left for the queen.

21…Qd7

Now there is no way that White can protect the h3 pawn.

22.bxc6

If white tries to defend with 22.h4 then 22…Bh3+ 23.Ke1 Bg3 pins and wins the queen.

22…bxc6 23.Rg1

Forced in order to protect the g3 square.

23…Bxh3+ 24.Ke1 Ng4 25.Bxg4

25.Qh4 would lost on the spot because of 25…Nxe3 26.Rxg6 fxg6 27.Qg5 Ng2+ 28.Kd1 Qf7.

25…Bxg4 26.Ne2 Qe7 27.Nf4 Rh6

27…Rf6 was a much better alternative when 28.Qg2 Bxf4 29.exf4 e3 is winning for Black.

28.Bc3 g5 29.Ne2 Rf6 30.Qg2 Rf3 31.Nf1

31.Nxf3 just loses a piece.

31…Rb8

Black’s last piece joins the attack via the b file.

32.Kd2

Trying to find some shelter.

32…f5

A mistake that gives White chance to eliminate the Bishop on g4 with 33.Nh2 Rh3 34.Nxg4 hxg4. But White misses his chance…

33.a5?

A gross Blunder

33…f4 34.Rh1 Qf7 35.Re1 fxe3+ 36.Nxe3 Rf2 37.Qxf2

There is nothing much that white can do, eg 37.Rhf1 Rxg2 38.Rxf7 Rxe2+ 39.Rxe2 Kxf7 is winning too for Black.

37…Qxf2 38.Nxg4

38.Rhf1 Rb2+ 39.Bxb2 Bxa5+ 40.Bc3 Bxc3+ 41.Kxc3 Qxe3+ is also winning.

38…Bf4+ 39.Kc2 hxg4 40.Bd2 e3

40…Bxd2 41.Ref1 Qxe2 is a draw now as white has perpetual checks, tThough 41…Qxf1 42.Rxf1 Bxa5 is winning.

41.Bc1 Qg2 42.Kc3 Kd7 43.Rh7+ Ke6 44.Rh6+ Kf5 45.Bxe3 Bxe3 46.Rf1+ Bf4
0–1

Ashvin Chauhan

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