Author Archives: AshvinC

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


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:


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


Threatening checkmate.

33…Nc6 34.Rdd7

The game is over. Carlsen resigned.


(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.


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.


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


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.


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.


(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.


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

First try to find the saving move for White


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


White resigned.


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

The position looks equal on the board.


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


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


White already has a winning position.


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


Ashvin Chauhan


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


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.


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


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.


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


Trying to expand on the queenside.


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.


The only safe square left for the queen.


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


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.


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


Trying to find some shelter.


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


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

Ashvin Chauhan


Teaching Kids Through Classical Games (13)

Morphy,Paul – Meek,A
USA, 1857

This is really good game to show students the importance of a space advantage and how to use it.

1.e4 e6 2.d4 g6 3.Bd3 Bg7 4.Be3 Ne7 5.Ne2 b6 6.Nd2 Bb7 7.0–0

This seems to be an unorthodox way of developing pieces but it has the advantage of leaving White’s f-pawn free to advance.

7…d5 8.e5

Gaining space on Kingside

8…0–0 9.f4

In chess a space advantage gives you more room for manoeuvre your pieces. And in general you should attack on the side where you have a space advantage.

9…f5 10.h3

Preparing the g4 lever. 10.exf6, taking on en passant, wouldn’t give much after 10…Rxf6.

10…Nd7 11.Kh2

The idea is to use the g-file for his rooks later on.

11…c5 12.c3 c4

It is not a good idea to shut the side of the board where you have space. Here it gives White a free hand to expand on the kingside.

13.Bc2 a6 14.Nf3

Improving the knight’s position and aiming to join the kingside attack.

14…h6 15.g4 Kh7 16.Rg1 Rg8 17.Qe1 Nc6

It would be better to play 17…Qe8 as moving the knight from e7 invites White to sacrifice on g6.

18.Nh4 Qf8??

Let’s check some other alternatives too:

(1) 18…Nf8 19.gxf5 gxf5 20.Ng3 is a stunning knight sac which if taken leads to an immediate win: 20…Qxh4 (20…Ne7 21.Nhxf5 exf5 22.Nxf5 Nxf5 23.Bxf5+ Kh8 24.Bc2 with the idea of f5 is horrible for Black but it is still comparatively better than the text move) 21.Nxf5 Qxe1 22.Nd6+ Kh8 23.Nf7#.

(2) 18…Qe8 19.Nxg6 Qxg6 20.gxf5 Qe8 21.f6+ is just winning for White.

19.Nxg6 Kxg6 20.gxf5+ Kf7

If 20…Kh7 21.f6+ Kh8 22.fxg7+ Rxg7 23.Qh4 and White is winning

21.fxe6+ Kxe6 22.f5+ Ke7 23.Qh4+

White is also winning with f6.

23…Ke8 24.f6 Bxf6

If black tries to save the piece with 24…Bh8 then 25.Qh5+ Kd8 26.Bxh6 is winning.

25.exf6 Rxg1 26.Rxg1 Nxf6 27.Bg6+ Kd7 28.Bf5+ Ke8 29.Bxh6

29.Rg6 is better than the text move and after 29…Ng8 30.Bd7+! Kxd7 31.Qg4+ Ke7 32.Qe6+ etc.

29…Qh8 30.Rg7

Attacking both the knight and bishop.

After 30…Ng8 there follows mate with 31. Bd7+ Kf8 32. Qf4 Nf6 33. Qxf6#, so Black resigned.


Ashvin Chauhan


Teaching Kids Through Classical Games (12)

Capablanca,Jose Raul – Fonaroff,Marc
New York , 1918

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0–0 d6

4…Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 is the so called Berlin wall, but that’s another story.

5.d4 Bd7

5…exd4 6.Qxd4 Bd7 7.Bxc6 Bxc6 leaves White with more space in the center.

6.Nc3 Be7 7.Re1

It is always been a good idea to ask what the opponent’s plan is. In this position White is threatening to win pawn, for example after 7…0–0 8.Bxc6 Bxc6 9.dxe5 dxe5 10.Qxd8 Raxd8 11.Nxe5 white is a pawn up, and if
11…Bxe4 12.Nxe4 Nxe4 then 13.Nd3 f5 14.f3 Bh4 15.g3 Nxg3 16.hxg3 Bxg3 leaves White a piece up for two pawns.

7…exd4 8.Nxd4 Nxd4 9.Qxd4 Bxb5 10.Nxb5

What has more space.

10…0–0 11.Qc3

Q: Please explain the logic behind Qc3.
A: It vacates the d4 square for White’s knight which can then head for f5. A very straight forward approach.

11…c6 12.Nd4 Nd7 13.Nf5

Checkmate is threatened.

13…Bf6 14.Qg3 Ne5 15.Bf4 Qc7 16.Rad1 Rad8

Q: Black has only one weakness on d6. How can you exploit it?
A: After 17.Qa3 Nc4 18.Qb4 the pawn on d6 is lost. But Capablanca had a different approach in mind.


17…Rxd6 18.Bxe5

Pause for the moment and see how you can save Black.


Here the computer suggests 18…Qa5 as the only move which can save the game, but Capablanca’s opponent failed to see it. The threat is to take both the rook and bishop, so 19.Bc3 forced after which 19…Bxc3 20.bxc3 Rg6 21.Ne7+ wins the exchange back.

19.Rxd1 Bxe5

Q : How white can finish off his opponent (hint – there is a possible back rank weakness)?

20.Nh6+!! Kh8 21.Qxe5 Qxe5 22.Nxf7+

Th point of whole combination that started with 17. Rxd6. Black resigned as he is piece down. And if 22… Rxf7 23.Rd8 and mate follows or 22…Kg8 23. Nxe5


Ashvin Chauhan


Teaching Kids Through Classical Games (11)

Gruenfeld, Ernst – Alekhine, Alexander,
Karlsbad 1923

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bg5 Be7

4…Nbd7 can also be played here as White can’t win the pawn on d5: 5.cxd5 exd5 6.Nxd5 Nxd5 7.Bxd8 Bb4+ wins piece.

5.Nf3 Nbd7 6.e3 0–0 7.Rc1

A well known tempo struggle begins; White wants to develop his bishop when he captures the pawn on c4 while Black refrains from taking on c4 until White’s light square bishop has moved.

7…c6 8.Qc2 a6 9.a3 h6 10.Bh4 Re8 11.Bd3 dxc4

Gaining a tempo, but now White has a majority in the center. It is truly said that chess is a generalized exchange.

12.Bxc4 b5 13.Ba2 c5

Freeing Black’s game with the c5 lever. 13…Bb7 14.0–0 c5 is also playable.

14.Rd1 cxd4 15.Nxd4 Qb6 16.Bb1 Bb7 17.0–0 Rac8

With a threat of Be4.

18.Qd2 Ne5

Improving the position of this piece by heading to c4. The knight was not doing much on d7.

19.Bxf6 Bxf6 20.Qc2 g6

Though the pawn structure around Black’s king is slightly weakened by this there is no way White can exploit it. A weakness is only a weakness if it can be targeted.

21.Qe2 Nc4 22.Be4 Bg7

22…Bxe4 23.Nxe4 Bg7 is also possible.

23.Bxb7 Qxb7 24.Rc1 e5 25.Nb3 e4!

Creating a nice outpost on d3 which can be used by knight.

26.Nd4 Red8 27.Rfd1 Ne5 28.Na2 Nd3 29.Rxc8 Qxc8

“Grünfeld, completely outplayed by his mighty opponent, correctly seeks his last chance in destroying Black’s powerful fore post on d3. Note that a protected knight on d3 or e3 (respectively e6 or d6) is normally worth an exchange because of its ability to paralyze the opponent’s activity and to participate in dangerous combinations.”
– Kasparov


Here Kasparov suggests 30.Nc3 as an improvement which might lead to pawn down queen endgame for White. If you have Chessbase you can check the variations given by Kasparov.

30…Rxd4! 31.fxe4

Black’s rook can’t be taken because of 31.exd4 Bxd4+ 32.Kf1 Nf4 33.Rc1 Qxc1+ 34.Nxc1 Nxe2 35.Nxe2 Bxb2 which gives a winning endgame with two extra pawns.

Pause for a moment and try to find the winning continuation for Black

31…Nf4!! 32.exf4 Qc4!

White is at least losing a piece.


33.Re1 Qxa2.

33…Rxd1+ 34.Qf1 Bd4+

And mate on the next move.


Ashvin Chauhan


Teaching Kids Through Classical Games (10)

The most important single feature of a chess position is the activity of the pieces. This is absolutely fundamental in all phases of the game.

Michael Stean in Simple Chess

Jakob Rosanes – Adolf Anderssen
Breslau – Breslau -, 1862

1.e4 e5 2.f4 d5

The Falkbeer Counter Gambit.

3.exd5 e4 4.Bb5+ c6 5.dxc6 Nxc6 6.Nc3 Nf6 7.Qe2 Bc5!

Q – Is it good to sacrifice another pawn?
A – Black is offering another pawn in order to complete his development. After 8… 0–0 White will be behind in development and the fact that his queen and king are on the same file which gives Black some attacking chances.

8.Nxe4 0–0

Black is threatening to win a knight.


Q – Was it compulsory to take on c6?
A – Yes, as 9.d3 Nd4 or 9.Bd3 Re8 10.Kf1 Bf5 lose in a straightforward way.

9…bxc6 10.d3 Re8 11.Bd2 Nxe4

11…Bf5 and Ng4 are also winning. Can you work out how for yourself?

12.dxe4 Bf5 13.e5 Qb6

Compare the relative positions of the two armies. White is two pawns up but his army is poorly coordinated and passive. On the other hand all Black’s pieces are active and ready to launch an attack on the opposing king.


More proof that chess masterpieces require the generous cooperation of the loser (Kasparov)! With 14. Nf3 white can prolong the fight.


Very straightforward.


15.Bc3 is a better option though it is also losing. 15…Bxc3 16.bxc3 Rad8 17.Nf3 Qa5 (with threat of Qxa2) 18.Rxd8 Rxd8 19.Nd4 Qxa2 wins.

15…Rab8 16.b3



16…Qa5 17.Kb2 Bc5 and 16…Bc5 17.Be3 Qa5 18.Rd3 Red8 are also winning.


Now it is checkmate in 5 moves. 17. Kb2 or 17.g4 are also losing, but not immediately.


Opens the b-file.

18.axb3 Rxb3 19.Be1 Be3+

Followed by checkmate on next move after 20.Qxe3 Rb1#. White resigned here.


Do remember this checkmate pattern with rook and bishop.

Ashvin Chauhan


Teaching Kids Through Classical Games (9)

De Saint Amant,Pierre Charles Four – Morphy,Paul
Paris, 1858

In general it has been advised not to move your king side pawns, or more precisely the pawns on the side where you intend to castle. In this game Morphy’s opponent did this and paid the penalty.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.cxd4 Bb4+ 7.Bd2 Bxd2+

Q – Is it advisable to take on e4?
A – 7…Nxe4 8.Bxb4 Nxb4 9.Bxf7+ Kxf7 10.Qb3+ d5 11.Qxb4 and Black is fine here. Remember that it is more often worth to take risk to capture a center pawn than a wing pawn.

8.Nbxd2 d5

Update your pattern bank: This is a typical way to attack the opponent’s mobile pawn center.


9.e5 is met by 9…dxc4 10.exf6 Qxf6.

9…Nxd5 10.0–0 0–0 11.h3

With this move the king side becomes slightly weakened, but in the hand of Morphy this is enough to win.

11…Nf4 Transferring pieces towards his opponent’s weakness.


Sacrificing a pawn for nothing. Instead it was worth considering 12.Ne4 Be6 13.Bxe6 fxe6.

12…Nxd4 13.Nxd4 Qxd4 14.Qc2 Qd6 15.Kh1??

15.Ne4 Qe5 16.Ng3 was better.


Bxh3 is now threatened.


More support for h3.


Q – Can you find better continuation than Morphy?
A – 16…Rd8 is better version of Black’s attack than the text move, with the same idea that was executed in the game.

17.Kh2 Rad8 18.Rad1

How could you win at least a Queen?


The final blow. Attack on the side where you are better placed than your enemy.

19.gxh3 Rd3!! 20.Qxd3 Nxd3 21.Bxd3 Qd6+ 22.f4 Qxd3

These were the consequences of 11 h3, a typical weakness on the king side.


Ashvin Chauhan


Teaching kids Through Classical Games (8)

Mayet,C – Anderssen,A
Berlin New York, 1851

This game demonstrates dangerous attack against castled king using h file.

1. e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5

The Spanish Game.
Q: I always ask my students what White is threatening.
A: Most of the time answer is “to win the e5 pawn”, but we all know that it is not a real threat. For example… 3…a6 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.Nxe5 Qd4 wins the pawn back.

3…Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.Bxc6 dxc6 6.0–0

The pawn still can’t be taken as e4 is hanging too.


The purpose of this move is to protect the e5 pawn whilst bringing a fresh piece into the action. Remember the you should try to mobilise your forces as quickly as possible in the opening phase.

7.h3 h5

Q: What is idea behind such a sacrifice? Is it worth it?
A: The idea is to open the h-file for Black’s rook on h8 and to get his queen to h4. It looks like a very dangerous attack but it is not because of 8. hxg4 hxg4 9. d4. Note that the best way to fight against a wing attack is to attack in the center, particularly when the opponent’s king is still in the center.

8.hxg4 hxg4 9.Nxe5??

After this you are invited to find the winning continuation for Black. Instead 9.d4 gxf3 10.dxc5 Nxe4 11.Qxd8+ is better for white


A gross blunder. Black can with the game with 9…Nxe4 when the threat is …Qh4. After 10.Qxg4
how can you win White’s queen?

10.d4 Nxe4

Here Mayet missed hxg3, which is winning for White and the simplest way to stop …Qh4.


Can you see a trick that wins the queen?


Not accurate but still winning. 11…gxf2+ 12.Rxf2 Rh1+ 13.Kxh1 Nxf2+ 14.Kg1 Nxg4 was better than the text move.

12. Qxe4 Bxf2+ followed by checkmate in few moves.


Ashvin Chauhan