Category Archives: Ashvin Chauhan

Wrong Exchanges

It has been a common observation at amateur level that they tend to exchange almost equal value pieces whilst playing against stronger opponent, with a draw in mind. Sometimes, they just move mechanically based on general rules. This in fact, gives masters an opportunity to demonstrate their technique. Here is an instructive example:

In the given position, Black exchanged his knight against White’s bishop and went for a bishop vs. knight endgame. At first this looks quite innocent and even a good idea because we have been told that a bishop is usually better than a knight in the endgame against knight. Secondly the position is not so closed, so Black might be able to open the position & can change the pawn structure. Lastly, Black could emerge with a passed pawn on either c- or d-file.

But taking the bishop on d3 is actually a mistake because it has nothing to attack. And White’s knight would become very active on c3, d4 or f4.

Interesting Exercise: Change the position of the bishop from e8 to d8 and analyse the position! This kind of imagination is helpful in learning chess.

Question: How would you recapture on d3?
Answer: Recapturing with king is dubious due to 1…c5!. For example 1…c5! 2. Nc1 Bb5+ 3.Kd2 Bc4 from where the bishop can be exchanged against the knight almost by force, while pawns on c5 and d5 guarantees Black a better game.

In the game Alekhine played cxd3! and now c5 is rather dubious idea (compare it with the previous line 1. Kxd3)

1.cxd3 c5?! 2.d4! c4

2…cxd4 is even worse because of 3. Kxd4 Kc6 and 4. Kc5 is winning.

3.f5!

The pawn can’t be taken because of Nf4

3…gxf5 4.h4!

Fixing a weakness, which is quite common in masters’ game!

Black tried to fight for next 20 moves but failed to change the outcome of the game.

Interesting Exercise: From here try to win the position against your friend or even an engine.

Ashvin Chauhan

Transforming An Advantage

Having a particular advantage is not always enough to win at chess. Sometimes you need to transform it into a different type of advantage in order to win. Here are some examples:

Relinquishing material for a decisive penetration


White has an outside passed pawn but that alone is not enough to win. But he can simply relinquish it by playing Kd6 in order to penetrate on the other side of the board with his king. This leads to simple win.

Lead in development transformed into strong attack (Morphy against Carl)


A lead in development is a dynamic advantage which evaporates with time if not used. Here Morphy had a lead in development which was quite usual with him! He had chosen to sacrifice a piece in order to convert his development advantage into a strong attack. On the other moving the bishop to d3 or e2 leads to satisfactory game for Black after 10…Nbd7. Here is the whole annotated game.

Transforming a queenside majority into a material advantage (Marshall against Capablanca)

It was Steinitz who considered a queenside majority an advantage due to its potential for creating an outside passed pawn. The example below shows Capablanca’s fine technique in transforming his queenside majority into a material advantage.

Ashvin Chauhan

The Passed Pawn Blockade

In general blockading is a very rich concept. Some opening systems are designed around the concept of blockading. For example in the Gruenfeld Exchange Variation one of Black’s strategies is to blockade a White passed d-pawn and simultaneously try to roll his queen side pawns forward. Meanwhile the following variation of the French Defense demonstrates the importance of blockade in order to limit the activity of the opponent’s pieces: 1. e4 e6 2. Nf3 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. d4 c5 6. dxc5 Nc6 7. Bf4 Bxc5 8. Bd3 f6 9. exf6 Nxf6 10. O-O O-O 11. Ne5 blockading the e5 square.

In this article, we will deal with blockade in relation to passed pawns only.

Q: Which piece is the best blockader of the passed pawn?

A: Usually a piece whose activity can’t be restricted by the passer is the best one, therefore knights and Bishops are good blockaders and in the endgame the king turns to be a very effective blockader. Though, it is not necessarily true every time.

Here is an instructive example that illustrates the blockade and how to fight against a blockading strategy.

Max Euwe against Herman Pilnik in 1950

Q: How would you proceed with the Black pieces?
A: In the game Black played 12…Nc4 with the idea of …Nd6 which not only improves knight’s placement but also blocks White’s passed pawn.

Q: How should White fight against Black’s strategy?
A: White strategy should be to roll the d-pawn down the board so the first step should be to remove the blockade on d6.

Here are two options:
A) 13.Nb5 which can be met by Nc7!.
B) 13. f4 this is bit deep idea of removing the blockade by rolling the pawn to e5.
One should check both ideas deeply before proceeding and they might also be played later on.

In the game, White played in another way:

13. b3?!

There is nothing wrong with this move but it does not address the key issue of how to advance White’s d-pawn.

13…Nd6 14.Be3 b6 15.Qd2 Re8 16.f4

The idea mentioned above.

16…Nc7 17.Rf2 exf4

In view of the strong hold on e5 that Black gets.

18.Bxf4 Ba6 19. Re1

19.Bxd6 is bad because of 19…Qxd6 20. Rc1 (20. Qf4 is blunder due to the pin along the long diagonal.) 20…Re7! (Vacating the e8 square for knight.)
21.Qf4 Ne8! with a strong blockade on d6 and strong hold on e5. Black has the upper hand here.

19…Qe7

Again with a nice grip over e5 and d6 squares. Black stands better if not winning, here is the rest of the game in case you’re interested.

Ashvin Chuahan

The Passed Pawn – Underpromotion

Last week, we looked at the passed pawn in general. Promoting a passed pawn usually ends the game in favour of the promoter as it creates huge material imbalance if the pawn becomes a queen. But this is not always the case!

Sometimes underpromotion is necessary in order to checkmate the opponent king and to meet opponent’s resources such as counter promotion, checkmate threats, the threat of capturing the promoted piece and drawing tricks. Here are some enlightening examples:


1) Robert Fontaine against Maxime Vachier Lagrave in 2007:

Underpromotion to meet perpetual checks and checkmating the opponent king

Q: How would you proceed with Black pieces?
A: Black can checkmate the opponent king with series of forcing moves using underpromotion.

1… f1=N+!!

This is the only way to pocket the point, promoting the pawn into a queen leads only to a draw after Qxc7.

2.Kf4 Rh4+ 3.Kg5 Be3+!

Sacrificing the rook.

4.Kxh4 g5+
5.Kh5 Ng3+

White resigned in view of 6. Kg6 g4#.

2) Aron G Reshko against Oleg Kaminsky in 1972:
Underpromotion to avoid stalemate tricks


Q: What would you promote to on a8?
A: Promoting to a queen or rook fails to Qf7+!! due to stalemate tricks. In the game White promoted the pawn into a bishop and went on win after couple of moves.

3) Nakamura against Kramnik in 2012:
Underpromotion leaves Black without any counter chances.

Q: How would you proceed with the White pieces?
A: In the game White played 1.c8=N+, the only move to win the game because promoting pawn into queen can be met by exd1=Q+ whilst 1.Kxe2 can be met by f3+ followed by Bxc7. Black tried hard for next 18 moves but failed to save the day. Here are rest of the moves in case you’re interested.

62…Kf6 63.Kxe2 Ke5 64.Nb6 Kd4 65.Bg2 Be1 66.Nd5 Ke5 67.Nb4 Bh4 68.Nd3+ Kf5 69.Kxd2 Kg4 70.Ke2 Bf6 71.N1f2+ Kg3 72.Bf3 Bd8 73.Ne4+ Kh4 74.Ne5 Bc7 75.Ng6+ Kh3 76.Ne7 Bd8 77.Nf5 Bb6 78.Kf1 Kh2 79.Bg4 f3 80.Nh4 1–0

Ashvin Chauhan

The Passed Pawn

This article is aimed at beginners and pre-intermediate players only. Though, intermediate players may find it interesting.

The pawn, the smallest chess unit, increases its value if it advances to the other side of the board with proper support. This is because of its unique power to promote itself to any other piece except the king.

A pawn is a ‘passed pawn’ or ‘passer’ if it doesn’t having any obstruction from an enemy pawn on the same file or neighboring file. Various endgame and middle game themes are based around the passed pawn only. We will deal with those concepts later on.

Let’s consider the following position:

Here:
1) White’s ‘c’ and Black’s ‘c’ pawns are not passed pawns as they have frontal obstruction.
2) White’s ‘g’ and Black’s ‘h’ pawns are not passed pawns as they face obstruction from the neighboring file’s enemy pawns.
3) White’s ‘e’ and Black’s ‘a’ pawns are passed pawns.

The level of difficulty in producing and promoting a passer varies with the level playing strength. Sometimes it is easier whilst at other times it is harder and requires the use of various tactical motifs and combinations to achieve the objective. Here are some instructive examples:


Carl Schlechter against Julius Perlis in 1911


In the given position Black’s last move was 7…Bxb1.
Q: How would you evaluate Black’s last move? And how should White proceed here?
A: Black’s last move was a mistake. Now White can win a good pawn.

8. dxc6!!

Surprise!

8…Be4??

Black is completely oblivious. He should have played 8…Nxc6 when White is pawn up yet far from winning. But now White can launch a splendid combination which wins on the spot.

9. Rxa7!!

This forces Black to give up his due to White’s powerful candidate on c6 and Black’s awkward knight on b8. But his next move forces him to resign after White’s reply.

9…Rxa7 10. c7

Black resigned as he can’t stop White’s pawn from being promoted.

Karjakin against Navara in 2009

In this position White already had passed pawns on the a- and b- files but they are not dangerous yet because of Black’s active rooks on the 7th rank.

Q: How can White win this position by force?

A: Karjakin played R5c2 which wins by force.

36. R5c2!!

White sacrificed his whole rook in order to make use of his pawn on b6.

36…Rdxc2 37. Rxc2 Rxc2

37…Rxa5 fails to b7 followed by Nd7+.

38. b7 Rb2 39. Nd7+ Ke8 40. Nb6

The point behind the combination. Black resigned.

Ashvin Chauhan

Pawn Levers

Pawns are natural blockaders of lines so every pawn move opens up some lines while closing Others. The quality of your long-range pieces depends upon the availability of open lines. Besides this pawn levers can be very useful in busting the opponent’s pawn structure or improving one’s own pawn structure. Therefore every pawn move and lever must be taken into account very seriously, even if it looks impossible to play them.

Here is an instructive example:

Spasskay against Avtonomov in 1949
White to play and win.

Black’s last move was 11…Nb4. His idea was to create a strong blockade on d5, and at first sight it looks as if no harm can befall him. But Black is in fact already lost here. Find the winning continuation for White!

11. d5!!

A pawn lever looks impossible at first sight. What is the point behind this sacrifice?

11…Nbxd5 12. Bg5!

This is the point and the only winning continuation. Not only does this allow the opening up of lines against the king, but it also breaks up Black’s pawn structure by force.

12…Be7 13. Bxf6! gxf6

Forced.

13…Bxf6 loses a piece because of pin along the e file whilst 13…Nxf6 loses the queen.

14. Nd4! Kf8??

A blunder under pressure. 14…Qd7 can prolong the fight but can’t change the result. Castling was not possible due to Nc6.

15. Nf5

Threatening Rxd5.

15…h5

16. Rxd5! Qxd5

Accepting defeat.

17. Qxe7+ Kg8 18. Qxf6

Winning the queen by force. So Black resigned.

Ashvin Chauhan

Recognise the Pattern # 35

Today, we will see a typical exchange sacrifice on c3 (usually taking a knight) in the Sicilian defence. Black players like to make this sacrifice in order to get one or more following advantages:

1) Usually Black ends up with a knight and a central pawn against a rook with White’s busted pawn structure creating additional targets. Even if White has castled short this can prove to be sufficient compensation, though it varies from case to case.

2) White’s king won’t feel safe any longer in the absence of key defender and damaged pawn structure (usually if White castles long).

3) This typical sacrifice also increases the quality of other pieces, particularly Black’s dark square bishop and an active knight in the center.

4) It is very difficult for White to use his exchange in the absence of open files.

Here is an instructive example:

Nakamura against Gelfand in 2013

Q: In a given position Nakamura played 24. f5. How would you with the Black pieces?

Solution:

24…Rxc3!! 25. bxc3 Qxa3+

25…Ne5 26. Kd2 Bd7 is an option given in chess informant.

26. Kd2 Nf6!

Compare the activity of each side’s pieces. The Black ones are far more active and dangerous than White’s.

27. Qd3

The bishop can’t be taken because of Ne4

27…Bc4 28. Qd4 d5! 29. exd5

29.e5 is bad in view of Ne4+.

29…Bxd5 and White resigned after black’s 41st move. Here is the rest of game in case you’re interested.

30.Rg1 Be4 31.Bd3 Qa5 32.Qb4 Qc7 33.Bxe4 a5 34.Qxb7 Qf4+ 35.Ke2 Rc7 36.Qb6 Nxe4 37.Qd4+ Kh7 38.c4 Rd7 39.Qe3 Ng3+ 40.Qxg3 Qxg3 41.Rxd7 Qe5+ 0-1

Would you like to dig out further on the same theme? Study the following games.

Shirov against Anand in 2008

Mamedyarov against Gelfand in 2011

Movsesian against Kasparov in 2000

Ashvin Chauhan

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