Category Archives: Articles

Development: Doing It and Disrupting It are Sides of the Same Coin

I’ve written quite a few posts on The Chess Improver that revolve around the importance of piece development in chess. Some of them have focused on developing one’s own pieces, while some have focused on disrupting the opponent’s development. In this post, I present a game in which both were pursued simultaneously and consistently, with good effect.

After move 4 of a slow Slav Defense, both White and Black had 2 minor pieces developed, with a fairly balanced position. Then as White, I decided to move an already developed Knight to try to gain the Bishop pair. Black allowed me to not only gain it but also to get a better Pawn structure.

On move 7, to my surprise, Black moved an already developed Knight, without any particular threat, rather than continue own development. Now I had a choice to make: either continue developing normally, or take advantage of the temporary situation to try to disrupt Black’s continuing development. It turned out that the Knight move undefended Black’s d5 Pawn and also did nothing to protect the b7 Pawn. After some calculation, I felt it justified to develop my Queen to b3, striking at both the b7 and d5 Pawn. This is a thematic idea in many Slav Defense lines where Black’s movement of the light-squared Bishop from c8 presents tactical opportunities for White. (Note that I count the Queen move as “development” here, because the Queen plays a great role on b3 and also is not in danger of being chased away.)

Is Black positionally lost at move 8?

At this point, on move 8, Black should have likewise developed the Queen, as a defensive move, but instead made a weakening Pawn move, b6, that I think already results in a positionally lost game! Look at the tactically forced position after White’s move 12.

Number of already developed pieces

  • White has effectively 3 developed pieces: Queen, light-squared Bishop (both attacking f7), and castled Rook on f1. I count the Rook as developed because after White plays f3, opening the f-file on the next move, it will already be attacking f7.
  • Black has only the Queen developed, and still cannot castle. That’s effectively two pieces behind in development.

Future development possibilities

  • Although White’s dark-squared Bishop is still not developed, and is somewhat blocked in by the Pawn on e3, actually Bd2 is already possible, after which White’s remaining Rook can be developed.
  • Black will not be developing the Queen Knight anytime soon. It cannot even move to any square right now except to a6, but that just drops the piece to White’s Bishop attacking the square. We see why b6 was such a terrible move, weakening the light squares in the absence of Black’s light-squared Bishop. Also, Black will have to take probably four moves just to maneuver something in order to be able to develop the Knight on c6 or d7 without immediately losing material. For example, playing c5 would result in immediate loss on the light squares of Black’s Queen, Rook, and/or Knight because of Bb5, and where can the Queen go in order to allow Nd7 without blocking Black’s own undeveloped Bishop or dropping the f7 Pawn?

So if you do the arithmetic, you can see that in effect, Black is something like six moves behind in development. Intuitively, in an open position (as will be the case once White plays f3), it would take a miracle for Black to survive, being so far behind: one way or another, it should be possible for White to aim pieces and Pawns at Black’s position to tactically force some kind of decisive win of material during an attack.

The rest of the game

After move 18, let’s take stock of the situation. Black has managed to develop a Bishop and castle in the last six moves. White has the half-open f-file for the Rook, and acquired a central Pawn mass and has opened up the way for the dark-squared Bishop to come out at will. Black’s Knight is still not developed, but now hopes to get to a6 or d7, which are free, but the Queen side Pawns have been weakened even further with b5 (which was however practically necessary in order to get White’s Bishop off the f7 target).

It turns out that there was already a forced win here for White, without needing to develop the Queen Rook or Bishop. e6 would have won already, by winning the f7 Pawn for free. However, probably because i was in a state of mind of “winning by developing”, I chose not to immediately grab material, knowing that Black was lost already and I could take my time. So I just developed my dark-squared Bishop to f4, restricting Black from developing the Knight. After the Queen moved, I again just developed, bringing my remaining undeveloped piece, the Queen Rook, to d1, defending my d4 Pawn and “preparing” d5 (which was already a winning move even without the preparation).

On move 21, let’s do the arithmetic again: White has the Queen, two Rooks, and two Bishops developed (5 pieces), as well as the Pawn front of d4 and e6 ready to go, and Black has only the Queen developed; in fact, the Bishop that retreated to d8 cannot really be called “developed”, although there looks like some kind of swindling attempt to get to b6 to bother White’s King.

There was no longer any reason to delay, so I played d5 and e6. Black lashed out for activity (note that with the White Pawn about to come to e6, Black could only try to develop the Knight to a6 if at all, but then at the cost of losing vast amounts of material thanks to the threats on f7 and c6 and b5). I chose a simple solution based on Black’s weaknesses on the dark squares, threatening simultaneously to win either a piece or the exchange, and then with a continuing raging attack while at it, and Black shortly resigned.

I thought this admittedly lopsided game was a good example of a successful thought process based on evaluating both how quickly one can develop one’s pieces and how restricting an opponent’s development translates effectively to having more time for one’s own development.

The annotated game

Franklin Chen


Simple Things With Huge Effects.

In my last article I discussed a few points which we often ignore while working hard at chess improvement. But those were chess things, so today I would like to highlight some points which are not chess but yet very important. They can also have a huge effect.

The first things that come to mind are to stay self motivated and balanced. Not every day is a good day and when you got negative results or less than you expected, you can become frustrated. This in turn can badly effect your planning. It happens to me a lot when I lose a winning game or especially an equal end-game. I become frustrated and play lots of blitz, which tends not to help. Sometimes we can blame some outside source such as chess books. In these situations it is very important to be balanced and get motivated. How one could do that? You might read some motivational books, articles or movies. For example Knight of the South Bronx is my all time favorite.

Another thing is not to expect too much from yourself. I just read Anand’s interview after winning the candidates tournament in which he clearly mentioned he was not expecting much, yet his results speak for themselves. Whenever you expect a lot from yourself you put yourself under pressure, and this in turn creates all kinds of emotional instability that stops you from playing naturally or sensibly.

One more thing I would like to add is to ‘keep the momentum’. If I talk about myself, after reading some stuff which inspires me I usually work very hard, positively and energetically. But most of the time I don’t keep the momentum because of laziness (hard to admit, but true!).

These are simple things, yet if you maintain them they can have a powerful effect on your chess.

Ashvin Chauhan


Recycling the Trash

One of my closest and longest-standing chess friends, around 2200 strength, has all his life been a fervent lover of the Tarrasch Defence to the QGD: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c5. Tarrasch advocated this as the only correct way to defend the Queen’s Gambit, arguing that the free piece play that Black gets after the pawn exchange on d5 outweighs his isolated pawn. After Schlechter and Rubinstein developed the plan of putting White’s bishop on g2, most top players decided the “Trash” was not really correct, and it faded from popularity. However, it has attracted occasional support at the highest level. Boris Spassky used it as a key weapon in his victorious world championship match against Petrosian in 1969, scoring a series of draws and one win, with no losses. Some 13 years later, Kasparov also took it up, and was highly successful with it, at least until he ran into Karpov.

At the time of writing, the Trash has rarely looked in better theoretical shape, and is well worth a try, if you like open piece play and are not afraid of an IQP. Last week’s column showed the downsides of the latter; by way of balance, here is an example of the IQP showing its teeth.

Steve Giddins


Pawn Endings in Practice (2)

It’s been far too long since the first article in this series, but here’s a very instructive ending between two of Richmond Junior Club’s stronger members (both about 1500-1600 strength) on 22 March.

We start here, with White considering his 41st move. Should he trade rooks or not? First lesson: you have to calculate the pawn ending before trading the last pieces. So before you can play any ending well you have to understand pawn endings. In this case the pawn ending is won for Black, so White should avoid the trade. Although Black has a slight advantage I guess the rook ending should be drawn. We teach our pupils to move their king up into the centre of the board in the ending but here the correct plan for Black is to move his king to b4 to attack the c-pawn. This is an important position type, with the two immovable pawns on the c-file. Black can attack c4 from either b4 or b3, but Black can only defend from d3, so when he runs out of pawn moves on the other side he’ll have to capitulate.

Let’s see whether our gladiators were up to the challenge.

41. Rxb7+? (Now Black’s winning.) Kxb7
42. Kf1 Kb6
43. Ke2 Kc6? (Now it’s probably a draw. Ka5 followed by Kb4 is winning for Black.)
44. f4? (The computer gives 44. Ke4 as leading to a queen ending where White has a slight advantage.) f5? (Kb6, followed by Ka5 and Kb4 is winning again for Black.)
45. Kf3? (White can draw by moving onto the d-file. Now Black is winning again.) Kb6? (Good plan but poor timing. Black should have played h5, and then Kb6 etc.)
46. Ke3? (White can draw here by playing g4, when both players will promote.) Ka5 (Finally Black is on the winning track.)
47. Kd2 Kb4
48. Kd3 Kb3
49. g4 (Desperation) fxg4
50. g3 h5 (The last few moves have been fine for Black.)
51. f5 h4?? (All he had to do to win was play Kb4 when White is zugged. Interestingly, when I demonstrated this ending at the club the following week quite a few of the class made the same mistake. I guess they were already familiar with the idea of sacrificing to obtain a passed pawn but failed to calculate the resulting position. Now White is winning.)
52. f6? (Now it’s a draw. Instead, White can win by just capturing the pawn. His king can stop the g-pawn by entering the queening square, and then he can play f6, sacrificing to create an unstoppable passed pawn.) gxf6? (Black errs in turn. He could have draw by playing hxg3, when both players queen. Black will have an extra pawn but White has a perpetual check on the other side.)
53. gxh4 g3
54. Ke3 Kxc4
55. h5 (White has one pawn against three, but he’s going to promote first.) g2
56. Kf2 Kd3
57. h6 c4
58. h7 c3
59. h8Q c2

The last few moves have all been self-explanatory. When the pawn ending was reached, Black was winning. After a series of mistakes on both sides he found the winning plan, but then miscalculated badly. Now we reach an ending with queen against three pawns, two of which are on the seventh rank. White should win from here, but did he actually manage to do so? Don’t miss next week’s exciting episode.

Meanwhile, what lessons can be learnt from this ending so far?

1. You have to calculate the pawn ending before trading or proposing a trade of your last piece.
2. Being able to activate your king first is often decisive in pawn endings, but the centre is not always the best place. In this game Black’s winning plan (at least it should have been winning) involved marching the king down the a-file.
3. Learn the position type with two fixed pawns on the same file. If you can activate your king first you can attack the pawn from two squares, but it can only be defended from one square. Then all you have to do is run your opponent out of pawn moves and he’ll be zugged.
4. Sometimes you can win by sacrificing to obtain a passed pawn.
5. Positions with passed pawns on both sides need to be calculated accurately. You can’t just guess but really have to work it out. There may not be much point in sacrificing to get a passed pawn if your opponent’s king can move into the queening square.
6. Sometimes pawn endings can become queen endings. You have to be really good at queen endings as well as pawn endings.

Richard James


Body and Mind

Twenty-eight years ago I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, leaving me fighting for my life. I happened to be working a part time job (having been at this job for just one week) as a cabinet maker in an industrial complex. Unbeknown to us, there was an illegal fireworks factory on the floor below our shop. One Friday afternoon, the individuals making the fireworks mixed the wrong chemical compounds together, blowing the building apart and causing the deaths of nine people. I suffered third degree burns on 35% of my body, a shattered right ankle and a fractured back. I also required reconstructive surgery on my face and hands. I was in the hospital for four months and had to have eleven surgical procedures. My ankle was considered so badly damaged that I was told I would, at best, have to use a walker or cane to get around. Today, I am able to walk for miles, box and practice Tai Chi. What does this have to do with chess?

Chess is a martial art of the mind or intellect and like martial arts, it requires training and dedication. As a student of this great game, I put a great deal of time into my studies. Fortunately, as a chess instructor, I’ve developed a good program of self study. I did this by following the advice of teachers such as Nigel Davies, Andrew Martin and Bruce Pandolfini, using their DVDs and books. I commit time each day to improve my game. However, even the seemingly best plan of action can fall short if it is not a truly complete plan. While my plan appeared to be solid, its success being reveled through my own improvement, it was lacking something extremely important. In fact, in retrospect, I now see that my initial plan was lacking immensely. It wasn’t that I was lacking the correct material to study or that I wasn’t putting the time into my studies. I had the mental part of my studies covered. What I didn’t have covered was my physical studies! I fed my mind but not my body!

Wait a minute; didn’t I just say that chess was an intellectual endeavor? What does feeding one’s body have to do with chess? It has everything to do with chess. Mind and body are directly related. When I say feeding your body, I don’t mean that literally. When we feed the mind, we do so through learning and through learning we challenge ourselves which keeps the mind sharp. When I say “feeding one’s body,” I’m not talking about feeding your body by ingesting food. I’m talking about exercise. A healthy body makes for a healthy mind and a healthy mind functions at higher levels which is what all chess players should want.

One thing that plagues most chess players is fatigue. Unless you’re a professional chess player, you most likely have to go to work or school every day which can be tiring. When you’re tired, you’re prone to making mistakes. I play my worst chess when I’m tired. Many players will resort to caffeinated beverages to give them an extra boast when they need it. However, what goes up must come down and eventually the caffeine wears off, leaving us in a greater state of tiredness. A good healthy diet can help balance you out but will not completely give your brain what it needs to run at maximum efficiency. This is where exercise comes in. Many people hear the world exercise and run the other way because they visualize themselves in a gym for hours a day, sweating and in pain. It was this type of mental image that kept me away from exercising during the early part of my life. However, after the accident, I had a choice. I could either accept my fate and hobble around for the rest of my life or fight back and exercise with my physical therapist. I chose to fight back and regained most of the use of my right leg. Yet, like many people, I stopped exercising when I felt I was in good shape. Thankfully, chess steered me back in the right direction.

Here’s how chess played a crucial role in my physical well being. While my game was improving through mental studies, I felt fatigued while I was playing or working on my game. I never felt quite on top of things, missing moves because my concentration was not optimal. When reading chess books, I always had to reread sentences over and over again because I was in a state of perpetual tiredness. My adopted father, a martial arts instructor, suggested the problem was with my body and not my mind. Therefore, I started pushing myself physically through a combination of walking, light boxing and Tai Chi. Before you panic, I’m not remotely suggesting that you have to do these three things to improve your mental abilities. However, it should be noted that physical activity really does help the mind. Therefore, I’m going to recommend a couple of things you can do that will help your brain function a bit better and reduce your fatigue.

The first thing I recommend is walking. Walking works wonders for both mind and body. Walking improves cognitive function and reduces age related brain deterioration, especially as you grow older. It also works wonders to reduce your stress level which leads to clearer thinking. As with all endeavors, set realistic goals. If you haven’t been on a walk in three years, don’t start out by trying a three mile jaunt. Start with a fifteen minute walk each day, building up to a thirty minute walk after two weeks and so on. Walking helps expand your lungs so you’ll be taking in more oxygen. The more oxygen you take in, the better your blood flow, leading to better brain function. Of course, there’s more to it, physiologically speaking, but page space is limited here. You’ll be surprised that, after a few weeks of walking, you’ll feel sharper at the chessboard.

The other thing I recommend is putting on a pair of wrist weights during part of your day. I use two pound wrist weights. Why put weights on your wrists? As you move your arms up and down during the course of the day, you’ll be getting a light conditioning of the upper body. You’ll be getting a bit of exercise and you’ll hardly know it. Start with a set of light weights (8-16 ounces). Both walking and using wrist weights are a good starting point for improving your physical stamina. Remember, body and mind are directly related to one another. This means if one suffers so does the other.

Small steps taken towards improving your physical state will bring you closer to achieving your goal, a better understanding of the game we all love. Remember, body and mind are closely related and to deny one is to deny the other. Here’s a game to enjoy until next week. Go take a walk before playing through it!

Hugh Patterson


Sometimes it is Better to be Lucky Than Good

This game was my last game in this section to finish. My opponent is from England. My opponent kept declining my draw offers because he thought that he had a better pawn structure.

I was, once again, mislead by the chess engines into playing an inferior line and could have lost the endgame if my opponent found the winning idea on move number 41. Instead, he moved his King in the wrong direction and then agreed to a draw.

I ended up with an even score in this section which netted me third place. Although I have won several Walter Muir sections, and these are played on the ICCF server, this third place finish is my best result so far in an international section. The Walter Muir sections are for players in the USA only and I am not allowed to use chess engines in those events.

On move number 6 White captures on c6. This gets me out of what I wanted to play, but I usually do OK with it as Black.

Although White grabs some space in the Center with his pawns on e5 and f4, he leaves his King a bit naked. I was never able to take advantage of that, though.

On move number 15 both players still have their kings in the Center and neither one can castle. I never did get to castle my King.

On move number 27 I pinned White’s Bishop to his King. After some fancy moves we traded off some minor pieces and rooks, but I never got an advantage out of it. On move number 28 I got convinced by Houdini 3 that the line that I played was better than the one that I wanted to play. I now think that the other line that I rejected was better.

On move  number 36 I was up a doubled pawn. I also had two passed pawns. Even so, I was unable to win.

Mike Serovey


The Importance Of Defending While Attacking

In a recent tournament game, I knew I was going to play Black, and had a plan in mind before the game started. I find that I play better when I’ve decided on a theme before a game even begins. In this case, I had been looking at some games by the late GM Vugar Gashimov, who died recently at age 27. I’d always been astounded that he was willing to play the risky Modern Benoni as Black, since modern theory (supported by chess engines) has frowned on this opening for quite some time now. Back in my youth, I was a fan of the Modern Benoni, inspired by the feats of Tal and Fischer and Kasparov as Black using this opening, and when I returned to playing chess as an adult nine years ago, I also played it a lot initially. But I got crushed too many times, and I completely stopped playing it in serious chess in around 2006.

But reviewing the games of Gashimov made me decide to look at the Benoni again, and privately I decided that in honor of his creative, bold style, I would at least once in my current tournament go all out into the “attacking as Black” mode, for fun and (hopefully) profit. I decided that at the first available opportunity as Black against 1 d4, I would attempt my first Benoni in almost a decade.

So in my game, I offered to play a Modern Benoni, striking with c5 against White’s d4 Pawn, but after d5 and then my e6, to my surprise, he decided against holding with c4, in favor of replying with the weak dxe6 that simply gives Black an automatic advantage, with the Pawn retake fxe6 contributing to the center as well as opening up the f-file for possible future attack. Well, Benoni or not, I was going to attack, and the rejection of the Benoni simply meant that I could begin attacking almost straight out of the opening, and without risk.

Outline of the game

The game unfolded in a way that offered a clear attacking plan for Black, so I felt it would be particularly instructive to share it here as a thematic example of attack, with the observation that many of the attacking moves were also defensive in nature. We often see games in which an attack fails because of overextension, leaving weaknesses at home. My game was one where at one point, I missed a winning move, and also my opponent could have defended by taking advantage of a momentary lack of defense. So the critical moments in the game illustrate both “attack by defense” as well as “defense by attack”.

The first thing to note is that “defensive” moves may actually be counterproductive and make attack easier. In this game, White made the classic “mistake” of unnecessarily moving a Pawn in front of the castled King, creating a weakness and a target. White played h3 to prevent Black from developing a Bishop to g4, but this only created a target of a possible future sacrifice on h3.

As soon as h3 was played, the plan for Black was completely clear: maneuver the remaining Black Knight to e7 and then to g6, where it is ready to go to f4 or h4 and apply pressure to the g2 or h3 Pawn. Also note that this maneuver also has a defensive purpose: White in the game hoped to play f4 to block the attack, and the Knight on g6 stops it. During an attack, it is often important to preemptively restrict the opponent’s mobility.

More maneuvering: Black’s Bishop moved from f6, where it served somewhat like a Pawn, to g5, to control more dark squares (White no longer having a dark-squared Bishop helped a lot) and possibly go to f4 or threaten to exchange off White’s Knight if it came to d2 to try to help defend the King side (and it did go to d2, and in the game it did get exchanged).

Black also played the Queen to f6, protecting the e5 Pawn in preparation for freeing up the Knight on g6 (this turns out to be very important), and also having ideas of swinging further to the King side for an attack on White’s King.

At this point, White’s best bet was to try for some Queen side or center play, although Black was ready to catch up on developing the Queen side, retaining a large advantage while trying to get more forces over to the King side attack.

It turned out that the game ended very quickly, as White immediately walked into a tactically untenable position. However, I failed to play the immediately winning sacrificial move sequence, which would have been very pretty because it does not lead to instant checkmate but instead a position in which White is helpless and will clearly lose after several more moves in which Black can calmly bring the light-squared Bishop and King Rook into the picture. Check out the variation that has 18…Nf4 19 Nf3 Nxh3!

The move I played had the serious drawback that it did not actually prevent the move it was supposed to prevent, Nf3. It turns out that White can play that move offering a trade of Queens that on the surface looks pretty bad (it is certainly not a good position for White), but actually offered chances for a draw through simplification, and even a chance at an advantage if Black got greedy and started grabbing the f3 Pawn and the h3 Pawn. The reason is that Black’s e5 Pawn is unprotected after the unplayed variation, resulting in White getting a Knight on e5 and then amazingly having resources because of the threat of Nf7+ against Black’s King. When I played 18…Nh4 instead of the winning 18…Nf4, I should have remembered to double-check that by attacking, I was not undermining my defense of my important e5 Pawn.

However, my opponent did not play Nf3 (which we should classify as both a defensive and attacking move, because it attacks Black’s e5 Pawn and virtually forces a trade of Knights, after which the retake Qxf3 is also an “attacking” move wanting to deflect Black’s Queen from protecting e5!), but blundered instead into a quick loss as the King side was ripped apart, I sacrificed my dark-squared Bishop, and obtained a forced mate after the piece was accepted.


  • A solid attack requires defense of one’s attacking base (here, e5 Pawn) and against possible Pawn barriers (here, White’s f4 push).
  • During the final phase of an attack, make sure not to allow tactics that result in the undermining of something no longer defended because the attacking pieces abandoned it (here, Black’s e5 Pawn).

The annotated game

Franklin Chen


Quality Over Quantity

Every chess player wants to improve at chess and for that we already have books suggested by coaches, playing games, doing tactical exercises, endgames etc etc. Yet I have observed a few things among the people who are working hard but failed to improve as much as they might have wanted to or deserved. What are the reasons? I will try to answer.

Here is a position:

Looking at the position you might be wondering what is new in it? It is the Lucena position. It can be won by building a bridge and most of the players know this very well. But how many of you really know that how to reach this position? Are there any rules which can be used? What are the exceptions? My point is that rather than reading too much it’s better to learn few things but try to master them. Quality is always better than quantity.

Now following this example let’s say you have learned everything that has been discussed above for this position. Yet in practical games you don’t reach it for a long time so there are more chances that you forget the ideas/rules. So repetition is a must, but it is often ignored. If I talk about myself, I have read many books but haven’t repeated the process, and I can see that this accumulated knowledge is wiped out with time, not completely but partially.

Accordingly we should look at developing a strong bedrock of knowledge rather than trying to learn lots of new things all the time. And this is achievable if you focus on knowing a few things perfectly and then revise them periodically so that they’re never forgotten.

Ashvin Chauhan


Advice For Vishy

With Vishwanathan Anand having qualified for a rematch for the World Championship, not many people think he has much of a chance. I am one of few who disagree, but I think he needs to do things very differently this time round.

First of all let’s think about what happened last time. He went straight into Magnus Carlsen’s strength of endgame play and beat his head against the Berlin Defence to the Spanish (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6). He looked tired and worried throughout, perhaps partly because he was playing in front of a home crowd as the defending champion. The pressure was on.

This time he’s going in as the challenger and the underdog. That means the pressure should be off him and firmly on Carlsen. Carlsen also seems confident, very confident in fact. And that makes him vulnerable…

So how can Anand win? Well the biggest factor may be that Carlsen is weak in the opening. Since he became World Champion a lot of people have started to believe that this doesn’t matter. But it does, even if it might have been overrated in the past.

To exploit this Anand needs to shift the emphasis of the struggle to this part of the game, choosing the sharpest lines and avoiding premature simplification (just to be 100% clear that means avoiding the Berlin endgames). If his seconds still think they need to win Berlin endgames he could do with a different team. They may be nice guys to eat dinner with but that won’t help him win. He needs to keep some ideas men in the back room (possibly in a different town), players like Igor Zaitsev or Yasha Murei, but younger versions. And then he needs someone who’s good at linking lots of computers together so they generate MASSIVE computing power. Then you get the ideas men to feed their concepts into the supercomputer and see how bad they are. Even if they’re bad this kind of prep could be deeply disturbing to Carlsen. He’ll find himself frequently conceding the advantage in order to ‘avoid preparation’, and this could be just the kind of edge that Anand needs.

Short matches should, in theory, be better for the underdog and the older player, but in any case Vishy should be practicing his yoga. Maybe he should also look at stepping things up a level so that he can control his nerves whilst having his brain fire on all cylinders. If he doesn’t have a really good yoga teacher he should get one. As with tai chi and qigong teachers, they’re really not expensive.

What about the venue? Well if Norway offers to host the match then Vishy should ACCEPT. Plus he might think of getting a log cabin there to train in, this Rocky IV vid shows the way:

So Vishy, that’s how to do it. And if you succeed using my suggestions you know where to send the cheque!

Nigel Davies


Sveshnikov’s Advice

For those fortunate enough to have the language, the Russian live commentary on the Candidates was a treat. Sergey Shipov is the best live commentator in the world, and is well worth the price of admission by himself, but he also had some great guests.

I was especially pleased to hear Evgeny Sveshnikov, an early chess hero of mine. Although a bit cranky in some of his ideas, he is a deep thinker on chess and his comments on the games were fascinating. I liked his discussion of IQP structures in the context of the game Andreikin – Topalov.

There has always been a debate about how to play against the IQP. Nimzowitsch always talked about blockading it, but Larsen’s advice was that it is better to win the pawn! Sveshnikov summarised the argument very nicely and succinctly – if you have a lead in development, then play to win the pawn, but if the IQP-holder has the lead in development (as is more often the case), then you must play for the blockade.

Sveshnikov also named game 9 of the 1981 Korchnoi-Karpov match as a genius example of how to play against the IQP. Karpov exchanges the minor pieces, gangs up on the IQP, induces the weakening of the white K-side (especially 30.f4, trying to hold back the e6-e5 break), and finally converts his pressure into a mating attack.

Steve Giddins