Author Archives: NigelD

About NigelD

Nigel Davies is an International Chess Grandmaster living in Southport in the UK. The winner of 15 international tournaments he is also a former British U21 and British Open Quickplay Champion and has represented both England and Wales on several occasions. These days he teaches chess through his chess training web site, Tiger Chess, which has articles, recommendations, a monthly clinic, videos and courses. His students include his 14 year old son Sam who is making rapid progress with his game.

The Comeback Trail, Part 12

In previous articles in this series I’ve discussed different opening choices and judging their suitability. Assuming one has made some prospective choices what is the next stage?

There’s certainly a temptation to rush out (or perhaps rush online) to buy a specialist opening book on the opening in question. But instead of this I’d recommend trying it out first, perhaps in some internet games.

This will provide a lot of new information. Do you like the positions you get? How do your opponents typically reply? Do they tend to know what they’re doing or is there a serious surprise value?

This initial testing period can be combined with looking at some master games and watching some Youtube videos, assuming they are available. See this process as being something akin to dating, there’s no need to get married until you’ve got a clear idea of what you’re letting yourself in for.

Here’s a video that introduces the Semi-Slav, which is certainly something worth looking at if you’re interested in this opening. If you like what you see and then enjoy playing it, it might be worth introducing it into your repertoire:

Nigel Davies

US Championship Roundup

For those who haven’t seen this coverage earlier, here’s the last in a great series of videos on the US Championships. This has now taken over from the Russian Championships as the most important national championship in the World. And this is largely due to the trio of giants, Wesley So, Fabiana Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura.

Nigel Davies

Economy In The Opening

“If your looking for a solid defence to d4 which doesn’t require too much learning then this book is for you.”

I recently saw this comment on Amazon about a particular opening book. I then did some research and noted that once you play this opening there are something like 14 possible lines for White on the very next move, all featuring diverse themes and lots of tactical lines.

The author had probably put a lot of work into this book but might not have done enough teaching to understand what the intended readership would be able to manage. As for the reviewer, he might have been associated with the publisher or been a friend of the author. This kind of thing happens a lot.

Meanwhile the selection of overly complicated openings is actually a very common problem that I might revisit at some point. As for anyone wanting an ECONOMICAL defence against 1.d4, find something in which there are a fairly limited number of themes and relatively few sharp variations. And a good example of such an opening is the Old Indian Defence.

Here’s a 2600+ using it to beat a 2400+ in the Moscow Open a couple of years back, so it’s not that bad:

Nigel Davies

2017 US Championship

With the United States being the Olympic Champions their national championship is one of the most interesting events on the calendar. And it’s especially fun to follow it using the internet commentary. Here’s the latest edition:

Nigel Davies

A New FIDE President?

The Chessbase web site has a tradition of April fools articles but this one looks like a pretty good idea. It seems that someone tried to resign on behalf of the incumbent President last week whilst the FIDE President’s travel expenses presumably include some one way tickets back from Andromeda Galaxy. Aliens must be taking him there and leaving him to find his own way back to Earth, which can be a costly business.

Malcolm Pein, on the other hand, is a successful and popular chess businessman and organizer who aliens appear to have shown zero interest in thus far. I suspect his travel expenses would be a tiny fraction of Ilyumzhinov’s and could probably save us all much embarrassment by dispatching third World dictators with regular Staunton plastic. Using some idiosyncratic board and pieces crafted by Kalmykian artisans is against the rules of chess and I’m surprised that Gaddafi didn’t lodge a complaint.

Here anyway is one of Malcolm’s recent victories in which he shows the kind of tactical awareness that gained him the International Master title:

Nigel Davies

Carlsen Vs So?

I don’t know about everyone else, but this is the match that I’d really like to see. I think that Wesley So needs to develop a bit more before he’ll be able to beat Magnus Carlsen, but he’s improving all the time.

Here’s a preview of the kind of thing we might expect with Carlsen coming out on top. At least on this occasion:

Nigel Davies

Howard Staunton

With Article 50 being triggered today I thought that a Howard Staunton game might be appropriate.

Staunton was the only player produced by the UK who was the best in the World in his day and designed the chess set that has become the World standard. Staunton sets were original produced by John Jacques in London under the trading name the House of Staunton. Though as this is now in the hands of the Americans we could probably do with some new concern creating chess sets from English oak, perhaps harvested from Sherwood forest. The exports will be useful.

Here meanwhile is Staunton putting away a Frenchman in a Queen’s Gambit Declined. A sterling performance by the Shakespearian scholar:

Nigel Davies

More On Chess Benefits

Despite the doubters I thought it time we had another post on the benefits of chess. I feel a massive debt of gratitude to the game because sure the game helped me a lot as a youngster. Meanwhile my chess project with Sam has coincided with leaps and bounds in both his confidence and how he’s doing at school.

Here’s a neurologist on the benefits of the game:

Nigel Davies

The Comeback Trail, Part 11

Another aspect of comeback preparation concerns whether you need to win, and most especially with Black. This can vary from player to player and also change over time. For example those who tend to be among the contenders in a particular section will be under pressure to win with both White and Black. Those who tend to be among the back markers will be a lot happier with draws.

I’ll be facing this issue when I start to play again. I’d like to think that I should be among the favourites in most weekend Open sections and as such will need a lot of wins. This issue will be compounded by the fact that I’ll probably need to take half point byes on the Friday evening game, leaving me needing four straight wins to get a high prize.

In such situations it makes sense to play openings which lead to a full blooded struggle, and especially with Black. Against most Black defences White will have simplifying lines, and although there are usually ways to make a fight of it, these should probably be avoided.

So it’s quite common to see the stronger competitors in weekend tournaments specialize in openings such as the King’s Indian and Sicilian Defence. Of course these might not be everyone’s cup of tea and there may also be a temptation to have a separate repertoire for stronger tournaments in which a lower percentage can win a top prize. This of course could get very time consuming, especially when the financial returns for professional chess are quite modest, at least under the very highest level.

Different players have different answers. In the UK Keith Arkell plays quite modest openings but specializes in the endgame where he can grind out wins from the most unpromising looking positions. Mark Hebden, on the other hand, has a superbly worked out opening repertoire which allows him to win a lot of quick games. On the other hand he takes some risks by playing very sharp positions in which a single mistake can decide matters.

What about my own solution? Actually I haven’t decided yet, though historically speaking I’ve been a jack of all trades. I guess we’ll have to wait and see!

Nigel Davies

10,000 Hours Is Just Part of the Puzzle

This recent article lends some important clarification to the so-called 10,000 hour rule. Of course some of us have been aware of the importance of talent for some time, especially after post mortem analysis with a young Vishwanathan Anand. I understood that I’d never be as quick sighted as him or other top players even with 100,000 hours.

Having said that my many years of chess teaching has convinced me that what most people are missing is practice time. Often it is the opportunity that’s the problem, especially for those with jobs and families. But most usually it’s a lack of willingness to put as much time in as possible and over an extended period.

People try to circumvent this truth with quick fix methods that just don’t work. But most people can make good progress over time if they put 7-10 hours a week in and focus on core skills.

Nigel Davies