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Teaching Kids Through Classical Games (4)

This gem throws some lights on the difference between fake development and real development.
The checkmate Patterns covered are:
1. Queen on h6, bishop on b1-h8 diagonal and no defender of f7.
2. Queen h6 and rook along the g file

I am aiming to present this game only to show how it can be used to teach kids:

Tarrasch, S – Mieses, J [C10]
Berlin, 1916

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Nf3 Ngf6 6.Bd3 Be7 7.0–0 Nxe4 8.Bxe4 Nf6

Q : Is it good to exchange a light square bishop for a knight?
A : No, it is a good Bishop and very active one, compared to its counterpart.

9.Bd3 b6

Q : Is it right time to play b6 in order to develop bishop?
A : No it is not the right time to play b6 as now White can play very energetically, hindering the development of black’s light square bishop and castling. The immediate 0–0 was better.

10.Ne5!

Beginners have been advised to not to move same piece twice in the opening. But in chess there are no universal rules, even though you can create many rules for better playing. Similarly any Bishop move here would be development for the sake of development. However, with the knight on e5 White is able to make Black’s development very difficult.

10…0–0

10…Bb7 11.Bb5+ Kf8 costs Black his right to castle.

11.Nc6 Qd6 12.Qf3

Q: Can Black play Bb7 ?
A: No, because Nxe7+ wins a piece. Thus Black is forced to play Bd7 and now we can see that with careful play White manages to take the driving seat.

12…Bd7 13.Nxe7+ Qxe7 14.Bg5 Rac8 15.Rfe1

Q : What is the idea behind Re1?
A : A rook lift. Via this rook lift white brings one more piece into the attack, a very important idea to remember.

15…Rfe8 16.Qh3 Qd6

If 16…g6 17.Qh4 Kg7 18.Re4 or 16…h6 17.Bxh6 gxh6 18.Qxh6, and Black is paralysed.

17.Bxf6 gxf6

Q : Would it be good to play Qxh7 or there is something better? Try to see the reasoning behind Black’s Qd6 move.
A : It is good but there is a much better move in Qh6. This is because black’s idea is to find shelter on e7 and try to generate some counter play on g and h file. Black is also trying to protect the g7 square with Qxd4.

18.Qh6

This is typical mating pattern, a queen on h6 and bishop on b1–h7 diagonal with no defender of f7. For example 18…a6 19.Bxh7+ Kh8 20.Bg6+ Kg8 21.Qh7+ Kf8 22.Qxf7#, which is a pattern you should study more closely. Coaches should provide more examples on the same theme.

18…f5 19.Re3 Qxd4 20.c3

In order to prevent checkmate the Black queen has to stay on the a1–h8 diagonal. But now there is no good square to stay on so Black has to sacrifice the queen. Instead he choose to throw in the towel.

Better was 20.Rg3+ Kh8 21.c3 Qe5 22.f4 and its over.

1–0

Ashvin Chauhan

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Experimenting With the Slav Defense, Chameleon Variation, Part 1

This chess game was one of my first attempts at playing the Slav Defense, Chameleon Variation. I saw a YouTube video in which GM Leonid Kritz advised playing this opening, so I decided to give it a try. So far, the results have been mixed. That video can be viewed here: http://videoblog.mikeseroveyonchess.com/wp/gm-leonid-kritz-dominate-w-the-slav-defense-chameleon-variation-empire-chess/.

I won this chess game and that result gave me third place out of seven. My opponent is currently in last place. That third place is temporary as there are still games in progress in that section.

The first four moves of this variation are typical of the Slav Defense, but playing a6 on move number 4 allowed me to delay or disguise which variation I was going to transpose into. It seems to offer some degree of flexibility.

By move number nine, Black is lagging a little in piece development but has a space advantage on the Queenside. On move number 11, I (Black) moved a Knight for the second time before I castled. I do not normally move a piece twice in the opening unless I have a good reason to, such as the piece is being attacked. I no longer remember why I did here.

By move number 14, I was trading pieces in the Center and attacking the White Queen on the c file. By move number 20 we got the queens and rooks off the board and I am down a pawn. I continued moving my pawns forward and trading off material. Normally, I try to trade pieces when I am up material and pawns when I am down material. In this chess game I did a little of both.

Once we got into the endgame I centralized my King. It is important to bring my King into the Center once the queens and rooks are off the board because then the King is less subject to attacks and can become a supporting piece in an attack on my opponent’s material.

On move number 28 I am still down a pawn and my opponent helps me by offering to trade pawns. Of course I accept the trade even though it gives my opponent a passed pawn that is also isolated.

On move number 30, White begins to centralize his King. On move number 34 I am still down a pawn and then I sacrificed more material for a chance to queen a pawn first. White takes the free pawn but not the Bishop. On move number 36 White blunders and then he can’t stop me from queening the passed a pawn.

On move number 38 I decided to keep the White Knight tied down to defending a1, the queening square, and I also needed to prevent White from queening his own passed pawn.

On move number 41, I pulled my Bishop back to f6 so that it could help me to stop White from queening one of his two passed pawns. I kept my Bishop on the a1 – h8 diagonal for as long as I could.

Then, I found that I needed to keep my Bishop on the a3 – f8 diagonal. Although my opponent could have lasted for several more moves, he resigned in a position in which he had no good moves left to play.

Mike Serovey

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Keep It Simple, Stupid (2)

The following position is a very quiet position. There is nothing spectacular to find.

White has a slight grip on the position. But how can he make a move which squeezes Black just slightly more?

These are the sorts of moves which are very difficult for amateur players to spot. What move would Black like to play to ease his position slightly, and how can we as White stop it?

The only clue is that we should look at the worst placed pieces for each side.

If you find the move that Karpov as White played in this position, consider yourself to have a fine feeling for so-called ‘simple’ positional play.

The solution to last Monday’s problem was that Black squelches his opponents counterplay by playing Qc6.

The main variation is 1…Qc6 2 Qb5 Qxb5 3 cxb5 Kxb3 4 e4 Kxa4 5 e5 Kxb5 and wins.

Here is this week’s problem. White to move.

Steven Carr

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My Favourite Things

“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.” Jolly nice they are too, but they’re not MY favourite things.

I like to tell my students that my three favourite things are chocolate, especially plain chocolate, ice cream, especially chocolate ice cream and … pawn endings.

So imagine my excitement when I saw this position on the board while watching some games at Richmond Junior Chess Club the other day.

It was White’s move in a game between two of our (relatively) stronger players, round about 1200 strength. RJCC, sadly, isn’t what it was 20 or 30 years ago.

Let’s have a look at how the game continued.

It’s immediately clear to any experienced player that, with the kings on e3 and e5, White, to move, will lose, whereas Black, to move, will not be able to make progress. A classic case of the OPPOSITION. The players both told me after the game they’d heard of ‘the opposition’ but clearly White, at any rate, didn’t actually understand it. This is why you need worksheets to test that children have actually understood the lessons at a higher level.

Players of this strength tend to think statically rather than dynamically, which is why they’re stuck at 1200 strength. If you’re only thinking statically it will be natural to play Ke3. You know you want to defend your pawn so you move your king next to it. If you’re applying dynamic thinking to chess positions you’ll be looking ahead, calculating everything that moves, and then you’ll see the problem.

So White can draw by playing Ke2 (or Kf3). He needs to be able to play Ke3 when Black plays Ke5 so he needs to stay in contact with the e3 square as long as Black is in contact with the e5 square.

White, after some thought, played 1. Ke3? and Black of course replied with Ke5. Now White realised he had a problem and tried 2. Kf3 Kd4 3. e5. This is a good attempt, forcing Black to make a decision about how to capture the pawn. He chose to take with the king. When I asked him why after the game he told me he wanted to keep his pawns together. This seems to be to be a case of misunderstanding basic principles. Generally speaking you want to keep your pawns together to make it easier for you to create a passed pawn (you’d rather have f and g pawns v g pawn than f and h pawns v g pawn, for instance), but if you have the chance to create a passed pawn in the ending you should generally seize it with both hands. After 3… fxe5 Black wins very easily. Play it out for yourself if you’re not sure. Instead, 3… Kxe5? left White having to make a decision about which way his king should move.

Again, if you understand the opposition you’ll make the right decision and play Ke3, which, as long as you know what you’re doing, will lead to a draw. Of course you have to know exactly how to defend after 3. Ke3 f5 4. gxf5 Kxf5 but this is very basic knowledge which all competitive players of any age should know back to front. But if you don’t understand the opposition and you’re thinking statically rather than dynamically you may well do what White did in the game and play Kg3 instead. He explained to me after the game that he wanted to be near his pawn to defend it. This time Black made no mistake and the game continued 4. Kg3? Ke4 5. Kg2 Kf4 6. Kh3 Kf3 (you need to understand that in this sort of position the white pawn can be attacked from two squares but only defended from one square) 7. Kh2 Kxg4 and Black soon obtained a queen and delivered checkmate.

So much to learn from such a simple position. You can see why pawn endings are among my favourite things.

Meanwhile, you might be wondering what happened to my adventures with 1… e5. Well, I’ve had a few more blacks without facing 1. e4 again. I did reach a pawn ending, although not a very interesting one, in my most recent game, though.

Although there are lots of pieces on the board here both players should be thinking about a potential pawn ending as either player can trade queens and White can, whenever he chooses, initiate a mass exchange on d5.

I had the black pieces and had to make a decision in this position where White has just played 26. c4. At this point we probably both realised that any potential pawn ending would be drawn. I decided to trade queens at the point and centralise my king so we continued 26… Qxf4 27. gxf4 Kf7 28. Kf2 Ke7. Now White can continue to maintain the tension but instead chose to trade on d5. I then had to decide how many pieces to trade off. I could perhaps have kept one pair of rooks on the board, although it’s unlikely that the result would have been different. Instead I went for the pawn ending: 29. cxd5 Bxd5 30. Bxd5 Rxd5 31. Rxd5 Rxd5 32. Rxd5 exd5. It’s well known that this type of pawn ending is drawn. Black can never activate his king because of White’s protected passed pawn and likewise White cannot activate his king because of Black’s queenside pawn majority. We continued 33. Ke2 b5 34. Kd3 a5 35. a3 b4 36. axb4 axb4 37. Kc2 c4 (The only move to draw. Black has to threaten to create a passed pawn. 37… Ke6 38. Kb3 is winning for White.) 38. h4 h5 39. Kd2 Ke6 40. Ke2 Ke7 and my draw offer was accepted.

Richard James

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External Pattern Recognition Exercises

Parents often enroll their kindergarten aged students in a chess class with the idea of introducing their children to logic and reasoning skills early on. When teaching children of such a young age, conventional chess teaching approaches have to be reconsidered. I have one class that is made up of both Kindergarten and First Grade students only. I’ve had this class for roughly nine months and we’ve made some remarkable progress in the development of their chess skills. One technique I’ve used to help develop their chess playing is external pattern recognition exercises. These exercise have worked so well that I’m recommended them to older students as well.

Let me start by explaining the difference between internal and external pattern recognition in terms of my curriculum. Internal pattern recognition is finding or seeing patterns on the chessboard during a game. While this is a goal all chess players strive for, it should and is strengthened by external pattern recognition exercises. External pattern recognition exercises take place far from the chessboard, often in within our daily lives. External pattern recognition exercises lay a solid foundation for recognizing patterns on the chessboard. By employing these external exercises, your ability to recognize specific patterns on the chessboard (internal) will increase at a faster rate.

Because I teach students of all ages, I have to create external pattern recognition exercises appropriate to specific age groups. While all the exercises work well for older students, very young students require exercises that they can comprehend. If they can’t comprehend an exercise, they won’t get anything useful out of it. Therefore, I’ll start with exercises for the youngest of my students.

The idea of pattern recognition can be completely foreign to a Kindergarten or First Grade student. Thus, the definition I give them is “things that match.” I have my young students create a simple list of things they see in their daily lives that match, such as a pair of socks or four tires on a car. This is external pattern recognition (away from the chessboard), Each week, my young students give me their list of things that match. We then look at a chessboard, set up to play a game. I ask them to show me everything that matches on the chessboard, such all the White pawns, all the Black pawns and so on. At this point, I ask them to create a new list, this time looking specifically at nature for examples. When looking at a grouping of similar trees, is there one that has more branches than the others or is leaning in the opposite direction than the others? We increase the scope of their pattern recognition with each passing week. We always go back to the chessboard where I ask them to further explore patterns such as the diagonals, ranks and files. This continues throughout their chess classes for at least six months (no matter how good their chess playing gets).

For older students, I use card games to help build their pattern recognition skills. We start with Solitaire, namely the computer program version of the game. The student plays a three card draw version of Solitaire rather than the single card at a time version. The reason for this is simple. While trying to match the appropriate cards, they have to keep track cards they need within the three card set they’re trying to play. I recommend playing this card game for ten minutes each day because it helps to focus the mind towards recognizing specific patterns. If you want to try this, set the game options so it isn’t timed. Then, once you get used to playing it on a regular basis, use the timer. Solitaire can be an excellent way to enhance pattern recognition.

For adult students, I recommend playing draw poker, specifically the apps designed for tablets. Draw poker has some useful advantages for the novice adult chess player. First, it teaches pattern recognition in a very visual way. You essentially have five cards on the screen and are given the choice to hold those cards or to exchange them for new cards from the deck (exchanging one to five cards per hand). The app always gives you the odds of specific hands such as a pair, three of a kind, four of a kind, etc. Another advantage to using this draw poker game for training is that it forces you to play more scientifically, ultimately (if you’re playing correctly) taking less chances. How does draw poker playing apply to chess?

I spoke of wishful thinking in my last article. Wishful thinking is hoping your opponent will make the move you want them to make as opposed to the best move they can make independent of your ideas. In draw poker, for example, novice players will play a pair of twos rather than hold onto a Ace. If you look at the odds chart that comes with the game, you’ll see that it’s better to hold the Ace. While it is tempting to play the pair, hoping the computer program behind the app will bend to your will, it’s wishful thinking!

Speaking of programming, I introduce my older students to the idea of playing the program’s algorithm, the mathematical instructions that tells the computer how to respond to the card hand you play. Because this version of poker is based on a mathematical formula, it will respond to specific situations in a calculated way (it’s programming), not just responding to your card hand based on odds. You play the algorithm by noting patterns in the hands being played. For instance, if you win two hands, one with a pair of Queens, the next with three Queens, holding a Queen in the next or third hand dealt might not work. The computer program behind the app is designed to respond in a specific way to the cards you play. I have been researching the algorithm behind a specific draw poker app with a group of students and we have been able to win quite a bit by playing the program not just the odds.

The point to all this is to use external methods to improve your pattern recognition because you can literally find patterns everywhere you go and the more you study patterns off of the chessboard, the better your pattern recognition becomes on the chessboard. Games such as Scrabble are also wonderful for pattern recognition. Try some of these exercises and you’ll not only improve your chessboard pattern recognition but see life in a more interesting way. Here’s a game to enjoy until next week.

Hugh Patterson

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Manoeuvering the London System

When I lost in my first experience of the London System it was extremely unpleasant. It was like being in the grip of a slow squeezing octopus, one schooled in the ocean ruled by Petrosian and other Gods residing in Positional Parnassus.

Used to a fighting K-Indian middle game, here I was in a rather mild and boring middle game going nowhere, with no real plan. The cause of all this anxiety is that in  the London System White seeks to avoid the usual pawn structures and levers; instead plays simple chess; developing without worry over a possible outpost for black on his weak black squares, and playing for incremental stalking into the center, with a pawn structure similar to the Colle System. (White Pawns on c3,d4,e3, with the added benefit of getting his QB out from behind the pawn wall, and tucked in at h2).

Anyone who has played a weak black player using the Colle System understands the ease of obtaining a middle game with a plan for attack on the King Side. I think the analogy holds.

So this week I wanted to present two London system games in which Black found ways to counter. I was particularly interested in Black attempts early in the use of the London System vs. later games. It turned out, their plans are quite similar, and hope you find them instructive in playing against this quiet but dangerous system for White, when you are a K-Indian proponent.

The search for these games was conducted using Chess King, and the analysis is through the Hiarcs Chess Engine.

It’s always interesting to see how the engine will find alternative moves and note errors humans make. Even games fraught with errors has instructive moments, as these games attest.

Ed Rosenthal

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USCF Life Master Brian Douglas Wall turns 60

Colorado chess fixture USCF Life Master Brian Douglas Wall turns 60 on March 26, 2015.

He was Colorado Junior Champion 6-0 in 1972. He has been 7 times Colorado State Champion and 6 times Denver Champion. He won the Kansas Open in 2007 and the 2010 29th Annual FIDE North American Open in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Brian appears among the backgammon players in Washington Square (1994) towards the end of “Bobby Fischer vs. the World”. He watched games 4 & 6 of the Fischer-Taimanov Candidates’ Quarterfinal played in 1971 in Denver.

Brian is a chess clown. In 2012, he went 50 games in a row without a loss while opening every White with the Trompowsky/Levitsky (except after 1. d4 e6) and every Black with 1 … a6.  He opened every Black in 2014 with 1 … Na6 with much success. He once won the Colorado Closed Championship (2006?) opening both colors every game with Knight to Queen Bishop Three. He has also won the Colorado Closed while playing simultaneously in the Colorado Senior Open, an irregularity smiled upon by organizers and participants alike in tribute to the hometown hero.

During his 2012 no-loss streak, someone asked him how he did it, and in response he tilted his head back and howled, “I’m Brian ****ing Wall !!!”

Brian is an epigrammatist. Some of his sayings:

  • “Never study an opening until you have played it.”
  • “Chess is a contest between the pain of thinking versus the pain of losing.”
  • “90% of tactical problems can be solved by removing the obstacles between the White Queen and Black King.”
  • “Retreating an active piece is often the culprit in the post-mortem.”
  • “The only purpose to placing pieces on good squares is to sacrifice them.”
  • “Move your Rooks, not your Rook pawns.”
  • “I start every game thinking, if my opponent makes 200 perfect moves, I might give him a draw.”

Brian is at least IM strength, though he’ll probably never get the title, for lack of suitable FIDE tournaments within range in the vast American West. He’s had one coronary already, is chronically overweight and short of breath, yet still travels hundreds of miles to out-of-state tournaments every year. He has two children, Devon, a teenager, and Phyllis, a civil engineer. He lives at home with his mother. When he wins a considerable prize in a tournament, he stands around afterwards in order to be accessible to his many patient and friendly creditors, he himself having quickly forgotten who they are and how much they are owed.

Brian has done some splendid research on the Fraser Defense to the Ponziani, summarized on his Yahoo group.

Here are some more Brian Wall delights, including wins over FIDE master Jorge Renteria and then-IM John Donaldson.

Jacques Delaguerre

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Teaching Kids Through Classical Games (3)

Here’s another game that’s useful for teaching kids through classical games. This game demonstrates some very instructive play based on a basic queen and bishop checkmate pattern.

As with the last time please note that I am presenting this game just to show its value in teaching kids. But anybody who would like to play d4, must study this game.

Capablanca – J-Jaffe
1910

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e3

By playing e3, White is temporarily shutting in his dark square bishop.

Q: How would you bring that piece into the game?
A: Usually I got answers like via b2, d2 or a3. But perhaps best way is to move timely e3-e4 after which you can decide where to place the bishop.

3…c6 4.c4 e6 5.Nc3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 Bd6

Here Black should play 6…dxc4 which is a kind of tempo gaining move. But on the other hand White would then have a central majority. If White succeeds in playing e3-e4-e5, deflecting the key defender and gaining space on kingside, he would have good chances to launch a king side attack. This kind of plan is something to watch out for in similar positions.

7.0–0 0–0 8.e4 dxe4

It was good to take on c4 first and then to play e5.

9.Nxe4 Nxe4 10.Bxe4 Nf6

Q: Where would you place your Bishop and why?
A: Bc2, in order to create a queen and bishop battery on b1–h7 diagonal.

Q: Then Why not on b1?
A: On b1 it blocks the queen’s rook in.

11.Bc2 h6

White plan is very simple, remove the key defender and checkmate black along b1–h7 diagonal.

12.b3 b6 13.Bb2 Bb7 14.Qd3 g6

Look closely at the pawn structure around Black’s king. It is very weak. In order to access Black’s king you need to sacrifice on e6 or g6.

15.Rae1 Nh5

Defending tactically against Rxe6.

16.Bc1

Not only attacking h6, but also preventing Nf4 which makes Rxe6 a threat. 16.Rxe6 immediately would have been met by Nf4.

16…Kg7 17.Rxe6

This rook is untouchable because of mate in 2.

17…Nf6 18.Ne5 c5

The rook still can’t be taken because 19.Qxg6+ gives White a winning attack.

19.Bxh6+ Kxh6 20.Nxf7+

1–0

Mate will follow.

Ashvin Chauhan

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Too Many Cooks

One of the lost arts of the chess board is that of adjournment analysis. In the days before computers we used to adjourn games after the first session (normally 40 moves and 4 or 5 hours) and then continue them after dinner or on a separate day. And between the sessions it was customary to analyse the adjourned position as well as possible, recruiting what help was available.

There is an interesting chapter on adjournment analysis in The Art of the Middle Game by Paul Keres and Alexander Kotov, with this particular chapter being written by Keres. Alexander Kotov also discusses is in Think Like a Grandmaster and here there are some wonderful insights.

Kotov suggests that collective analysis tends to be inaccurate, something that was confirmed by my own experience. He suggests that an initial examination with friends can be a good thing, but after that you should work out everything on your own.

These days everything would be checked by a computer of course, but the idea that collective analysis tends to be inaccurate is interesting. I think that a lot of different voices will necessarily create an atmosphere in which participants want to outdo each other, and without their own game being at risk. It’s a classic case of too many cooks spoiling the broth, with one highly motivated cook being far more effective.

How can this help the improvement process? Essentially in immunising us against believing the unknowing collective and seeking instead to be independent. Your own ideas may not be right but thinking them through yourself and putting them on the line you learn something if they are refuted.

Here meanwhile is a funny video about receiving advice:

Nigel Davies

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Keep It Simple, Stupid

Try not to let your opponent get unneeded counterplay. Try to keep things under control if you can.

For example, in the following position, the very strong grandmaster playing Black, played Kxb3. This allowed Qb5+ and this led to a very messy position where White was able to get a draw eventually. Certainly, after Qb5+ the position becomes very difficult to analyse, and very hard for Black to find the win.

Kxb3 is the right idea for Black, but first he must find a move that stops White’s counterplay. What is that move?

The solution to last Monday’s problem is that f4 wins for Black as he can eventually queen the h-pawn.

Steven Carr

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