Author Archives: AshvinC

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 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:

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.


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

Recognising the Patterns #23

The pattern I am going to discuss today is very simple and can be used in the opening to get better control over center, whilst in the endgame often you can save the game with it when you are pawn down. I called it chicky fork trick. Here are some examples:

In the Opening

The following position arose after these moves:

1.e4 e5
2.Nf3 Nc6
3.Nc3 Bc5

Now White can play:

4.Nxe5! Nxe5

If 4…Bxf2+ then 5. Kxf2 followed by d4, with powerful control over center and two bishops. Refer the game played between Capablanca against Liebenstein in 1913.


Regaining piece with better control over center.

In the Endgame

Here black is pawn down but can save the game easily using the fork trick again.


The only move to save the day

2. exd5 Kd6

On the next move Black can regain the pawn and achieve a well known drawish position.

The same can be used in middle game in order to open up lines for your pieces but I believe that area should be covered while discussing pawn levers, so I have refrained from discussing this here.

Ashvin Chauhan

Did I Lose on the Board?

This position is taken from the last round of my most recent tournament. It was must win situation for me because of a slightly strange rule that White has to win because a draw would count as a Black win! To decide the colors you just need to toss a coin and unfortunately I got the White pieces.

It was obvious to me that the game is draw so I was just not interested and was moving pieces with my hands!

1. h5??

The two questions marks are because the move was made without any further calculation. Actually it is not blunder but in fact it gives White some practical chances.


The obvious reply.

2.b4 b6 3.b5 Kxh5

I resigned after 2 further moves.

What was it that I missed?

I missed that after Kxh5? the game is still draw and that careful play is required by Black!!
Amazingly I missed:

4. Kf4 Kg6

The only move because if 4…g6 then 5.f3 is winning and if 4…g5 then Kxf5 is winning for White.

5.Ke5 Kg5

5…h5 can be met by f4 and Black can’t win.


Now it is Black who needs to be careful to hold the game.

So I was not lost on the board but it was already lost in my mind.

This is a common issue to be addressed for many people including me. After making a mistake very few of us try hard to save the game. The question is not that we can’t save it but before resigning on the board we have already surrendered inside, which might result in multiplying our mistakes. This should not be the case.

After this game I was not able to sleep as this was not the first time this had happened. So I have to work very concretely in order to overcome the problem. Here is a solution which might work for me and you too that is not very hard to do: When you feel that you made a mistake then just don’t react automatically but give yourself some time and look at the board with fresh eyes. Perhaps you might be able to save some games.

Apart from this after White’s accidental h5 🙂 the position becomes a really interesting and dynamic one and worth studying deeply. At first even the engine shows that Black is winning after …Kxh5 but it is far from the truth.

Ashvin Chauhan

Recognising the Patterns : Challenge # 22

While playing single minor piece endgames, the defending side has a deadly weapon to draw a game. That is to trade the attacker’s last pawn (usually) against his own piece because a single minor piece can’t checkmate and sometimes even with the help of a rook’s pawn. But how many of you actually recognize this in practice. Here few positions are given to test your knowledge.

Example 1 – Black to Move

Q:How could you save the game?
Hint: A knight can never lose a tempo
A: Black can save the day as follows:


Sacrificing whole piece against pawn as white’s knight won’t be able to help his king from getting out of prison

2. Nxg4

This is now a draw because White’s knight can never control the f7 square when the Black king is on f8.

Example 2 – Shirov against Mascarinass – Black to move
This example has been taken from Grandmaster Secrets: Endings by Andrew Soltis.

Q: Black is a piece down for two pawns, are two pawns worth the bishop here?
Hint: White has the wrong colour Bishop
A: Black can save the game with

The only move that forces to release the control of e5 or g4.

2. Bxb5

If 2.Kc5 then 2…Ke5 or if 2.Bd1 then 2…b4 and b3 which forces White to release the control of one of the squares.

2…g4 3. hxg4

Forced, otherwise …gxh3 on the next move is simple enough to draw the game.


Threatening to capture the pawn with king as far as c6 and d7 squares are available to White’s bishop
If 3…fxg4 then 4. Kd4 and now 4…Kg5 5.Ke5, 4…g3 5.Bd7 or 4…h3 then 5.g3 followed by Bc6 is winning.

4. gxf5 h3! 5. gxf3 Kxf5

The position is now drawn as g3 or g4 won’t work because the c6 square is not available to White’s bishop.

Ashvin Chauhan

Recognising the Patterns : Challenge # 21

This is one of the key endgame patterns that you must know by heart. Silman called this position as “Cat N Mouse” position. I called it “Tom and Jerry” when explaining it to my students so they can remember it easily. In this position whoever has the move will lose. The pawns could be at any file or rank, of course you can’t achieve this position when the pawns are on the rook file.

Now try to solve following problems by recognizing the above pattern:

Hermann Voigt against Emanuel Lasker in 1892 – Black to Move

Q:Black is exchange up, find the quickest way to win this position.
A: Black can win this position by pinning the rook as follows:


This achieves the Tom and Jerry position on next move by capturing the bishop.

81. Kg4 Rxf3 82. gxf3 Ke3

Achieving the desired position where white will lose the pawn and game by force.

Semen Khanin against Semen Dvoirys in 2014 – Black to Move

Q: In the above position Black played 31…d5 to try to deprive a5 square from Black’s rook. How would you evaluate it?
A: 31…d5 is a blunder while with 31…Kd6 Black would have had better chances to hold the position despite losing the a6 pawn.

31…d5?? 32. g5 Kd6

If 32…Kd7 then 33. Rxf6 wins

33. Rxf6+ Rxf6 34. gxf6 Ke6 35. Ke3 – Kxf6

Despite the material balance Black’s position is hopeless.

36. Kd4 Ke6 37. Kc5 Ke5 38. d4 Ke4

White has achieved the desired position but he must be careful

39. a3!

And not a4 which in fact is winning for black. But after a3 white went on win in few moves.

Ashvin Chauhan

Recognising the Patterns: Challenge # 20

A battery on lines using major pieces is the simplest yet most powerful mating pattern. This pattern is very easy to recognise on files as compare to ranks.

Heikki MJ Westerinen against Gudmundur Sigurjonsson in 1977

Q: You can see that both White’s rooks are bearing down on the g-file. How could you get the most out of this?
A: White can get the maximum from this position by sacrificing his queen in order to open up the g-file.

25. Qxg7!! Kxg7 26. Bd8!

This is the only move that wins the game after the queen sacrifice.


If 26…Kf7 then 27. Bh5 is checkmate or if 26…Kh6 then 27. Rh3 is checkmate.

27. Rg8!

Again the only winning move.

27…Rxg8 28. Bf6 Rg7


29. Bxg7 Kg8 30.Bxd4+

This discovered check followed by Bxb2 wins the piece and the game.

Karpov against Ribli in 1986

Q: White’s last move was Qh2, offering the knight on b5. Is it wise to take it?
A: The knight can’t be taken as White can checkmate down the h file using a double rooks battery. In the game Ribli did take on b5:

52…Rxb5?? 53. Qxh7!! Kxh7

If 53…Kf8 then 54.Qh8 is mate.

54. Rh2+ Kg8 55. Rdh1 f6

The last try, hoping for 56. g6.

56. Rh8

Black choose to throw in the towel here. If 56.g6 then Kf8 is in fact winning for Black.

Alekhine against colle in 1925

Q: White has just captured the knight on g6. How would you recapture the piece?
A: Black has three options to recapture the piece but only one can prolong the fight.

Option A: 29..Qxg6 White can the win the rook and the game with 30. Qxd7!.

Option B: 29…hxg6 This was played in the game but unfortunately it was not the right one. Alekhine’s reply was stunning:



30…Rxd7 31. Re8+

Not 31. Rc8+ because of Rd8.

31…Kh7 32. Rcc8

Doubling the rooks on 8th rank after which Black has to give up a ruinous amount of material to stop checkmate.


Hoping for Rcxd8.

33. Rexd8!

Colle resigned as he has to give up his queen to save the game.

I have found that recognising the pattern vertically is very much easy than seeing it applied horizontally.
Option C: 29…fxg6 This is the right option which can prolong the fight but White still has considerable winning chances.

Ashvin Chauhan

Recognising the Patterns : Challenge #19

Today, I am going to discuss the simplest yet very useful and quite common pattern in practice. It is the queen & bishop battery checkmate. This pattern is not only useful in checkmating your opponent but is also used to weaken the pawn structure around the enemy king.

Here is an educative example to let you know what the pattern is: White to move

White plays e5!, opening up the queen and bishop battery and attacking the natural defender of the king too. If black saves the knight then the queen on d3 delivers checkmate on h7 with the help of her bishop. Therefore White is winning a piece and the game.

Try to find solutions for the following problems based on the given theme.

Albert Frolov against Vitaly Plotnikov in 2006: White to move.

This position is taken after just 9 moves played in a French Defence (Rubinstein variation). Black’s last move was b6 which was a lethal mistake.

Q: How will you proceed?
A: White can win this game as follows:

10. Bxf6

£liminating the natural defender of the king.

10…Bxf6 11. Qe4!!

Attacking the rook on a8 and threatening to checkmate on h7. Of course Black can save checkmate with g6 but losing decisive material. He therefore chose to resign.

Capablanca against Jaffe in 1910: White to move.

Q: White has a winning position. Find the blow that decides the game.
A: In the Capablanca played:

19. Bxh6+!! Kxh6??

Allows mate in two, but if 19…Kg8 then Nxf7 is just a disaster for Black.

20. Nxf7+

Removing the defender of g6, and Black decided to throw the towel here because he can’t stop mate on the next move.
If 20…Rxf7 or 20…Kh7 then 21. Qxg6 is mate and if 20…Kh5 then 21. Qh3 is mate.

The game itself is very instructive, especially about how to build ab attack using a queen and bishop battery. You can find the whole annotated game here.

M. Gerusel against G. Sosonko in 1977: Black to move.

The same position is given in Build up your Chess by Artur Yusupov.

Q: It seems that h2 is perfectly defended against Black’s queen and bishop battery. Is that so?
A: Black can win a piece here as follows:

17…Nxd4! 18. exd4

Opens up the e file.


18…Bxd4 loses even more material because of 19. Nd2!!. Now the knight can’t be taken because of mate on h2 and if the queen finds a safe square then …Nxf3+ leads to mate on h2.

19. Rxc3 Rxe2

This wins a piece and the game.

Ashvin Chauhan