Author Archives: AshvinC

Revisiting The Patterns

In chess, a player is more successful if they are able to use their knowledge optimally rather than a person who might know more. It has more to do with recognizing patterns on board rather than knowing tonnes of them. That doesn’t mean I am against learning more patterns, it’s more a case of applying what you do know when a pattern arises.

How can someone become good at recognizing patterns?

Here is an answer.

Besides that I would like to add a few points:

I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.
Bruce Lee

You should practice a pattern a lot in its basic form. It is more beneficial to do one or two move combinations on a daily basis rather than doing complicated ones. This was suggested by Dan Heisman in his Novice Nook column at chesscafe.com, and although it was for improving tactical skills I believe it can be applied at other areas too.

Give yourself some breaks on regular basis to digest acquired information/knowledge before moving on to the next one. It is also useful for keeping you interested in chess.

Try to organise acquired information in blocks. You can find some examples on the same theme in Capablanca’s Chess Fundamentals and also Silman’s Complete Endgame Course. Another good try can be seen in Chess Tactics From Scratch by Martin Weteschnik. Perhaps organising acquired information in blocks is the essence of recognizing patterns.

Ashvin Chauhan

Recognise the Pattern # 34

Today we will see another typical way to destroy a king’s shelter, this time by sacrificing material on g7/g2. This sacrifice often opens the h1-a8 (a1-h8) diagonal and the g-file and the success of such an attack usually depends upon available whether these can be used. You may need to check the possibilities of further sacrifices to drag out the opponent’s monarch into the danger zone which is very typical with this theme.

Ralf Lau (2460) against Sergey Smagin (2520) in 1990

Q: White’s last move was Nf3-e5. How would you evaluate this move?

Solution: White’s last move was a big mistake as it allows Black to gain a very valuable tempo on the knight by playing d7-d6, which opens up the light square bishop and prepares the typical sacrifice.

19…d6! 20. Nd3 Nxg2!!

Nxc6 leads to the same continuation as the game.

21. Kxg2??
This leads to mate in 5 although 21.f3/f4 doesn’t change the outcome because after Nxe1, black is pawn and exchange up in addition to this Safety of white’s Monarch has been already compromised.

21….Bh3!!

The only way to win.

22. Kxh3 Qf3
23. g5
and White resigned here.

Work for readers!!

Here are some instructive games on the same theme to study:

Bogoljubov against Mieses
Spielmann against Tartakower

Ashvin Chauhan

Recognise the Pattern # 33

Today we will see a typical sacrifice on f6 (f3) in order to destroy a king’s pawn cover. Earlier we discussed the classical Bishop sacrifice and Lasker’s double Bishop sacrifice which had the same goal.

Before sacrificing piece on f6 (f3) one should carefully evaluate the possibility of participation of his major pieces along the g- or h- file (rook lifts are a very typical theme here) and possible ways of declining the sacrifice.

Here is an instructive example:

Tal against Dmitry in 1970

In the given battle White has already lifted his rook and knight and is ready to jump on f6, while on the other side Black’s queen is already cut off from the main battle field although she is attacking the White rook. Therefore White’s queen has to leave the first rank with tempo, which is quite possible after opening up the h-file. In general White’s position has great potential.

Here Tal played:

18. Nf6+!! gxf6 forced
There is no way to decline the sacrifice. If Black plays 18…Kh8 then Nxh7 is simply enough to win.

19. Bxh7+!!

As discussed the White queen needs to leave the first rank with a gain of tempo.

19…Kh8

Black is preventing White’s queen being activated with check. If Black plays Kxh7 then Qh5+ followed by Rg1! wins

20. Rh4 Kg7 21. Qc1

Threatening Qh6 mate.

21…Ng8 22. Bxg8

Black resigned here in view of following lines:
a) If 22…Kxg8 then 23.Rb3.
b) If 22…Rxg8 then 23.Qh6.

Otherwise there is no defence to Qh6 except by surrendering the queen on b1.

Work for readers!!
It is recommended that you study the following games on the same theme:
Nunn against Craig William in 1986
Petrosian against Larsen in 1960
Spielmann against Hans Gebhardt

Ashvin Chauhan

Recognise The Pattern # 32

After castling short we tend to play the king’s rook to another open/half open file, abandoning protection of the f-pawn in front of it. Therefore it is quite useful to set your radar for the f7 (f2) square in order to seize any opportunity to launch an attack on castled king. Usually, we sacrifice the piece on that square in order to bring opponent’s monarch from his comfort zone.

Here are a few instructive examples of this theme:

Petrosian against Balashov in 1974

Q: Is it possible to play Bxf7 here?
Hint: This sacrifice will work only if you’re able to find a very calm follow-up on the next move.

Solution:

22. Bxf7! Kxf7

Ideally Balashov should resign here because sacrifice was made by Petrosian!!
22…Ne5 won’t work because of 23.Qxe5+ Qxe5 24.Nxe5 Bxg5 25.Bxe8 when Black is the exchange and a pawn down.

23. Bh6!!

Now g7 square has been taken away from Black’s king and there is no way to neutralise an attack from e6 or the a2-g8 diagonal (a very important lesson to remember) without losing decisive material.

23…Qd6

If 23…Nd4 then 24.Qxd4 Bf8 25.Rxe8 Rxe8 and now Ng5 is just winning. But it was better than the text move.

24. Qc4+ and White went on win after couple of moves.

Blackburne against Collins in 1897

Q: In a given position Black’s last move was 19…Rd8 which is a grave mistake how would you punish it?

Solution:

It was to better to play 19…Bxe5 followed by Nb6 and it’s still a game but text move leads to immediate loss with

20.Nxf7 Kxf7??

Though other moves can’t change the outcome but this leads to mate in six. Help yourself please.

It is highly recommended to study below classics to enhance your knowledge of this theme:

Colle against Grunfeld
Gurgenidze against Tal

Ashvin Chauhan

Sealing the Weakness

Today I am going to talk about the sealing a weakness by physically blocking lines. It is really a nice theme which beginners often fail to see; when your opponent tries to exchange the blockading piece often you get a passed pawn, a better pawn chain or a nice outpost for a piece.

Here are a couple of examples of this:

Seirawan against Yussupov in 2000

Q: Black has a weakness on c6 but which is not accessible to White in the near future. Could you formulate a plan for Black using the theme discussed above?

Hint: You can seal that weakness by placing a piece on c4. This kind of idea often arises in the QGD Exchange pawn structure.

Solution: Black can bring his knight to c4 via f8-d7-b6 and c4 which not only seals the weakness on c6 but gets a nice outpost.

Here is the rest of game:

20…Nf8 21.Nb3 Qa3 22.Qc1 Nd7 23.Rc2 Qa8 24.Ne1 Nb6 25.Nd3 Nc4 26.Re2 Qc8 27.Nbc5 Rce7 28.Rfe1 Qf5 29.Kg2 h5 30.f3 Qf6 31.a4 bxa4 32.Nxa4 h4 33.Nac5 Qg6 34.e4 hxg3 35.h3 Bxc5 36.Nxc5 dxe4 37.Rxe4 Rxe4 38.Nxe4 Nd6 39.Qxc6 f5 40.Nxd6 Rxe1 41.Qc8+ Kh7 42.Qxf5 Re2+ 43.Kg1 Re1+ 44.Kg2 Re2+ 45.Kg1 Qxf5 46.Nxf5 Rf2 47.Nxg3 Rxf3 48.Kg2 Rd3 49.Ne2 Kg8 50.h4 Kf7 51.h5 Kf6 52.h6 gxh6 53.Nf4 Rxd4 54.Kg3 Kf5 55.Ne2 Ra4 56.Ng1 h5 57.Kh3 Kg5 58.Nf3+ Kf4 59.Ne1 Ra2 60.Nd3+ Kg5 61.Ne5 Ra3+ 62.Kh2 Kf5 63.Nf7 Rd3 0-1

The next example is one of my favourites and a really instructive one:
Janowski against Capablanca in 1916


Q: What will you do with your damaged pawn structure on the queenside? Try to formulate the plan.

Hint: Capablanca uses weak pawn to support the c4 square.

Solution: Black first supports the b5 square by playing 10…Bd7! and then slowly gets the pawn push to b5 in order to bring his knight to c4 via a5-c4 route. The whole game is really instructive and has already been annotated by Nigel D here.

Ashvin Chauhan

Recognise The Pattern # 31

It’s best to think twice before moving pawns that form the king’s shelter, but often people play f2-f4 (f7-f5) in order to gear up their rooks and f pawns against the opponent’s king. Unfortunately that weakens the a2-g8 (a7-g1) diagonal. So whenever your opponent plays such moves you should think about possibilities of smothered mate, a Greco mate or the mate along the h file, as usually the king hides on h8 (h1) after a check along that diagonal.

Sidney Paine Johnston against Frank James Marshall in 1899

Q: In this position Marshall has weakened the a2-g8 diagonal but on the other hand it is closed by the e6 & d5 pawns. So White played 11.cxd5 and black replied with 11…exd5 as Marshall was relying on the discovered attack after White’s Nxd5.
Was it a good idea?

It turns out to be a bad one because White’s light square bishop can use it with devastating effect. Please try to calculate this position yourself first then check what happened in the game:

12. Nxd5!

Opening up the diagonal.

12…Nxd4?

13. Bc4!!

I think black missed this intermediate move now white is ready to use this diagonal. If 13.Nxd4 then Black gets satisfactory game after 13…Bxd5

13…Nxf3+

14.gxf3!

Here Black has to surrender the piece in order to prevent himself from immediate loss.

14…Nxg3??

Now what? Can you checkmate Marshall in few moves?

15.Ne7+!!

This double check leads to checkmate

15…Kh8
16. Ng6+ hxf6
17.hxg3+

Opening up h file leads to mate on next move

17…Qh4 18.Rxh4#

Here White has sacrificed the knight in order to open up h file which is very common with this theme.

Ashvin Chauhan

Recognise the Pattern # 30

In my last article we saw how to break down fianchetto castled position by opening up the h-file with the help of h4-h5 lever, but sometimes your opponent can physically block the h file with the piece (usually a knight on h5/h4). In such situations it is often a good idea to sacrifice an exchange in order to open lines against the opponent’s monarch. Before sacrificing like this there is one very crucial point one must consider; there are more chances that exchange sac won’t work if your opponent can protect h7 (h2) reasonably.

Here is an example that covers the theme.

Kasparov against Piket in 1989

Q: In this position Black played 31…Bd5. How would you evaluate this move?

A: This bishop move is a mistake as it allows exchange sacrifice on h5, otherwise it wasn’t possible even with a free move for White. For example 31…a6 (just a random move) 32. Rxh5 gxh5
33. Qh4 and now Bd7 threatening to take on f5 then to protect the h7.

Let’s get back to game.

31…Bd5? 32. Rxh5! gxh5 33. Qh4

33…Qc4

Now the …Bc6-d7 idea won’t work because of Qh3 followed by Re1>h2 threat.

34. Qxh5 Qf1+

Other moves like Rd8 or Rc8 won’t work because of Qh6! followed by Rh3.

35. Kb2 e5 36. Qh6!!

Threatening f6! & the knight is untouchable because of pin along the e file. The position is lost for Black.

36…Kh8

If 36…f6 then 37. gxf6 Qg2 38. Ne2 wins.

37. g6

and Black resigned after 3 more moves.

Ashvin Chauhan

Recognise the Pattern # 29

Today we will see a typical way of breaking down a fianchetto formation. Here are some points to be considered while attacking fianchetto formation:
1) Try to exchange the fianchettoed bishop which will create a long term weakness around the opponent’s king.
2) Open up the h-file by advancing the h-pawn, sometimes you need to sacrifice to open it, I will discuss this pawn being blocked in my next article.
3) A pin on f7 (f2) can play a very crucial role
4) Try to stabilise the center, which is important as a wing attack can often be answered by a central counter attack.

These are the ideal conditions but it is not compulsory to carry out all of it before proceeding for an attack.

Steinitz against Mongredian in 1863. – White to move


Question: Is it the right time to attack with h4-h5 lever in order to attack the finachetto formation?

Solution: Most of the preconditions have been fulfilled except the exchange of fianchettoed bishop. Steintitz went for a kill as follows:

10. h4!

The idea is to open the h-file with the h4-h5 lever.

10…Nd7

If 10…h5, in order to prevent White from opening up h file, then 11. Ng5 is very unpleasant.

11. h5 c5 12. hxg6 Nxg6

If 12…hxg6 then 13.0-0-0 followed by Ng5, with the idea of Ne6, is very dangerous for Black.

13. 0-0-0

Bringing the rook into the game and protecting e4.

13…a6 14. Ng5 Nf6

It seems that Black is well protected but Black missed a blow. Can you see it?

15. Nxh7!!

Of course you often need to sacrifice something in order break the opponent’s defence when your pieces are placed optimally.

15…Nxh7 16. Rxh7 Kxh7

16. Qh5 was even stronger than the text move.

17. Qh5 Kg8 18. Rh1!

Threatening checkmate.

18…Re8 19. Qxg6

The point of whole combination.

19…Qf6 20. Bxf7+ Qxf7

Now 21. Rh8+ wins the queen and game. Black resigned after one more move.

Ashvin Chauhan

Recognise the Pattern # 28

Today, we will see a simple endgame pattern which is quite easy to remember but difficult to recognize over the board. As we will see in the following example, even a strong grandmaster failed to spot it; during the game, Black played 74…Ke4 and won on move no 237.

Laurent Fressinet (2650) against Alexandra Kosteniuk (2525) – Black to move

Question: Can you do better than Kosteniuk?
Hint: In the endgame, the easiest way to win is often to convert one advantage into another.

Solution: The easiest way to win this game is…

74…g4!!

Black is preparing to exchange on f2 and transition into a winning king and pawn ending.

75. Rf4/Kg1 Rxf2!

Let’s check few alternatives
a) Rg7 then Rxf2 followed by Kf5 is winning
b) Kh1 then Rxf2 is just winning
c) Rc7 then Rxf2 followed by Bd4 is winning

76. Rxf2 Bxf2 77. Kxf2

Now what?

77…Kd4

Black has transitioned into a winning king and pawn ending.

Now Black can win the g3 pawn where the opposition doesn’t matter, as we know the very generous rule, “King on the 6th rank before the pawn always wins”.

Ashvin Chauhan

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