Category Archives: Ashvin Chauhan

Game Analysis, Its Outcomes And Improvement

People should analyse their games in order to improve at chess. But how should they go about this? First and foremost you must have good record of your game. What I mean by a good record is that you should write down ideas behind each move shortly after finishing the game.

Blunder checks and tactical oversights are best done with a computer program, which can help a lot. Once you know what you have missed tactically what else can you do? Here I have an idea. Categorize your games according to opening and generate tactical puzzles using your games. This can be done with Fritz. Soon you will notice any pattern of error in a particular opening and practicing those puzzles repeatedly will help you much more than solving tactical puzzles from a book.

Levers: Master play is based on pawn structure so it is wise to analyse which pawn levers you and your opponent missed in the relation of piece placement and time. I think this is essential in developing middle game play and positional play.

Compare your ideas with those of a stronger player or coach. For example you prefer to play Rfe8 in order to bring rook into action but your coach want you to play Rfe8 in order to bring Nf6-d7-f8 to protect your king. The moves are the same but with different reasoning behind them. This will help you understand the position better and the logic behind the move played.

Ashvin Chauhan

Share

Working on Combinative Skills

Perhaps the best way to improve combinative skill in practice is to focus on checks, captures and threats on each move whether it’s your move or the opponent’s. This is very easy to read but very hard to put into practice.

The reasons can be different, either poor training or just being too involved with a plan. And if that doesn’t happen, we might have different world champion!

Here is an example taken from one of Artur Yusupov’s books:

Yusupov rejected the move
Bf6-gf6
ef6-Ng6,
h5-Rg8,
hg6 – Rxg6
and played Bf4 and game was ended in a draw.

Yet as he himself explained, after Rxg6 he missed Qxg6 (a capture)- fxg6 and now f7, a threat which can’t be met.

For kids and amateurs I can see that poor training is the main cause; most coaches just recommend good tactical books for furnishing enough information on tactical motifs. But I prefer to be with kids while they are solving combinations of tactical exercises and continue hammering home the idea to look for checks, captures and threats on each move.

Another reason is poor chess vision, and the best way to improve in this area to play blindfold games with your partner or coach or to solve exercises without sight of the board.

Ashvin Chauhan

Share

Avoiding Time Trouble

“Intellectuals solve problems, geniuses prevent them.”
– Albert Einstein

If I talk about myself, I never face time trouble except in ‘blitz’ chess because of my habits, both good and bad. So I thought I’d share what I think are my good habits along with observations from the tournament hall of bad ones. Plus those I am trying to overcome:

1. Many of us have the habit of thinking only when our clock is ticking and relaxing in the opponent’s time. Sometimes it is good to take a break, though it is not always necessary.

2. Calculating the same variation again and again is something I have seen a lot. It often occurs when someone is not able to visualize the board properly and it often results in time trouble.

3. Taking too much time in opening can lead to time trouble. Of course if there is something new you should think about it, but when the moves are familiar to you it’s better to play more quickly and save time for critical moments.

4. Trying to see every detail in calculating can also lead to time trouble. There’s no need to calculate everything to the end, it is not possible for humans. It’s better to end your calculation when you feel position is comfortable for you.

5. Don’t try to force a position that’s not ready. In a simple position you can’t find a forced win over the board. You can do it at home with hours of analysis. Over the board you should coordinate your quality of move and time so play the optimal move rather than one that is necessarily the best.

Ashvin Chauhan

Share

Teaching Kids How To Trap Pieces

When teaching kids how to trap an opponent’s pieces, and not get their own trapped, I start with a very simple example:


Here White is able to win the pawn it is fixed on d5; in other words the pawn is not mobile. The same can be applied to a piece, and here is the most common example:

The knight is less mobile than other pieces and so it is very easy to trap it like this. To promote better understanding we ask kids to play a game where one has only knight and the other has a queen, the winner being the one who can trap the knight in the least number of moves. In a nut shell, if you can hamper or restrict opponent piece mobility there are more chances that you can win that piece.

A common way to trap a piece is by shutting it in with an obstructing piece. This often happens in practice, here’s an example with Black to move:

Here it would be a mistake to capture the g2 pawn because of Bg3, and white will win a rook on his next move. Of course I am not including any points like trapping the opponent’s bishop inside his pawn chain as it is not relevant when you first teach kids. It is very hard to trap a queen but this position often arises while playing against the French Defence.

Though I am not winning the queen here I am creating such threats that I can win some material. Capturing pawn on b2/b7 is also known as poisoned pawn variation in some openings.

Ashvin Chauhan

Share

Identify The Key Defender

Identifying the key defender can be a very useful technique, particularly when you are in attack. For example in this position (taken from The Encyclopedia Of Chess Combinations):

Here the queen sacrifice on f3 look very promising (it is often good to start your calculation with forcing moves as your opponent won’t get time to execute his plans) because it opens the g- file and increases the scope of bishop (f1-a6 diagonal) and knight. Then I calculate ….Qxf3, gxf3 Rg8+, Nxg8 Rxg8+ and notice that he can return the queen by playing Qg4. Even after Kf1 Ba6+ he can return the material. So I rejected that variation and looked around for something else, and note that Black has to do something as otherwise his own position is critical.

However we can conclude that the queen is the key defender if I want to play Qxf3.

With this in mind I looked position again and tried to see what happen if queen was not on the d-file or the h3-c8 diagonal. Now it is crystal clear you can deflect the queen by playing …Rxe7!, again this is a forcing move. It is also wise to see whether your opponent has a good intermediate check before executing this kind of sacrifice.

Now you know how to try to solve such positions.

Ashvin Chauhan

Share

Keep Your Chess Interesting

Have you been ever become bored while working at chess or playing? To be honest I have done so quite often and many times I have fallen asleep while doing some chess. Part of the problem is that my whole day involves chess and chess alone, whether it’s coaching or preparation. That in turn has affected my playing skills quite badly, so I have developed some rules about what one should avoid.

Stop playing mechanical chess: This happens when you think that you are 100% familiar with the positions you play and believe that how are you playing them is the only way to go! In order to overcome this habit I started to play some unorthodox chess openings. You can try 960 chess too. This is quite interesting as you don’t get familiar positions and you start to play chess again!

Unplug yourself from routine: This applies to any field, not only chess. One should take regular breaks and rest from anything in which you find yourself becoming too routine. Some organisations even offer paid holidays so their employees can balance their personal life and work, keeping them focused and effective while at work. If you are not, you started losing interest in the activity you most like.

Apart from that you can use music or inspirational quotes while working at chess. This helps you in keeping focused even if you are training too much.

Ashvin Chauhan

Share

Playing Better Rook Endgames

You can learn technical rook endgames using any good endgame book, but what I am going to share is based on my experience and little reading. If you deploy following points while playing rook endgame it will definitely help you.

An active rook is your hero: Rooks love to attack in the endgame. Here are two simple examples which will help you to understand what I mean by that.:

With these examples I am not claiming that an active rook will always secure you a win or draw a pawn down, but it will definitely provide you better chances to win or defend in worse conditions.

In order to keep your rook active you should know the Tarrasch Rule which is to place rooks behind the passed pawn, whether it is your passed pawn or your opponent’s.

Cutting off the enemy king: This can happen a lot in practice and often decides games (a very useful tool to obtain lucena position!)

In this position Rd1!! is a forced win for White and no other move will do. Here the Black king is cut off by a file, and if you want to check how effective a rook is when it cuts off enemy king along a rank, please study the Philidor position.

Rook works well when weaknesses are fixed rather than mobile, something I have learned by studying Capablanca’s rook endgames. And in order to target those weaknesses you must have an entry point into the enemy camp. You can do that by working hard!!

Ashvin Chauhan

Share

Evident Advantages In King And Pawns Endgame

Like mating patterns and attacking patterns, there are patterns in that endgame which can help you to formulate simple but effective strategies.

1. Material Advantage: A material advantage is an obvious winning advantage in the endgame; a person who has a material advantage can win easily, though one should always investigate the resulting positions in relation to key squares & rule of square.

2. Virtual material advantage: How one should obtain a virtual material advantage? In my view there are two ways to do it.

i) Doubling the opponent’s pawns: Here is an example.


Now following the same example, if Black has a pawn on d7 instead of e6 then the game is equal.

ii) Pawn crippling: Through pawn crippling you can prevent the march of two enemy pawns with yours, which secures you a virtual material advantage. For example:

With White to move he can move his pawn to e4, thereby stopping the advance of Black’s e- and f- file pawns. While with Black to move he should play here f5 in order to save the day.

3. A piece is out of action: If you can force the enemy king to leave the main battle area it can secure the win. For example:

This is win for White with either side to move.

4. Far advanced rook pawns on both wings with opposition: This can be possible because the one who promote the queen first can prevent the enemy pawn to promote into queen by controlling the queening square. Here is an example.

5. Passed pawns: I have noticed that in practice a distance passed pawn is more advantageous than a regular one. However, it becomes much more critical when you are fighting with two scattered pawns against protected passed pawns or connected mobile pawns. So the question arises as to which passed pawn/pawns is/are better? Here I have divided them into the following categories.

i) Usually the protected passed pawn is better than the scattered one, though you can find some exceptions too. For example here White can’t win because the Black king can manage two tasks. (1. It is in the square of white’s passed pawn and 2. It is able to protect his own pawn without any risk):

ii) Scattered passed pawns against two connected mobile pawns: This is more crucial and securing a win depends on king and pawns positions.

a) Usually two scattered distant passed pawns are stronger than the two connected mobile pawns. For example

b) Two connected mobile pawns are better if they are far advanced, along with the king. For example

Ashvin Chauhan

Share

Every Position Offers Something

Black to Move

I got this position as a Black in a recent tournament against a 2085 rated player (peak rating 2300). Here white has managed to fix the a5, c7 and c6 pawns (weaknesses should not be mobile – an important concept). Personally I don’t like to play with this kind of positions but it was a tournament and I did what every chess player should do, which is to fight (How to Defend Difficult Positions by Paul Keres, is a nice chapter from The Art of the Middle Game which was recommended to me by Nigel).

At first glance it looks as if Black will lose in the long run but on the other hand Black has some dynamic chances. He is well developed and in a position to seize the open d-file by powering his rooks onto it. Another thing is that in the current position it is only a Bishop that can exploit my weaknesses so the plan is very simple; swap off the Bishops and penetrate with rook/rooks to the 7th rank. At the end I managed to draw the game.

Lessons:
1. Don’t give up: This is most important thing when you are defending a difficult position. Don’t surrender before a fight. Put up as much resistance as you can.
2. Chess positions in general always have good and bad sides: Here I had weaknesses but also an open file.
3. Target the piece which can exploit your weaknesses. Here it is the bishop.
4. Find/create weaknesses in your opponent’s camp too.

To support my arguments here is one more example. It is taken from The Art Of The Middle Game chapter on how to defend difficult positions and is a nice illustration by Paul Keres of defence where you are desperately cramped.

Ashvin Chauhan

Share

Towards Your Chess Improvement

The position below was taken from the game of Tarrasch against Berger, played in 1889:


White to move

At first glance it looks as if it is winning for white as you can play Rxd4, winning a piece.

First raw thought:
Rxd4 – cxd4
Qxc8 – Qxc8
Ne7+ and White wins a piece,

Normally a beginner, with some combinative knowledge, will instantly play this given combination and ended up in losing (as after Nxc8- d3 wins). The reason is that they don’t care to look at the position that arises after the combination which gives them a material advantage.

Lesson 1: Always try to see another half move ahead before playing a combination. The same thing has been recommended by Jacob Aagaard in his book Grandmaster Preparation: Calculation.

Second thought:
Before executing the combination I must bring my king closer so that I can stop the pawn advance. But then he can defend easily with Ra8 or Rb8 so I must stop here and look for other good moves. But now I see there is a chance to gain a tempo with:
Rxd4 – cxd4
Ne7+ (Changing the move order) – Qxe7
Qxc8+ – Qf8 and Qxf8 and gaining a tempo.

Lesson 2: Don’t give up in between.

Third thought:
I don’t get any material advantage then. Yet looking another half move ahead (lesson 1) I see that I now have a winning endgame position because the d4 pawn will fall soon and I can create outside passer on queen side.

Lesson 3: In the endgame a tiny advantage can be decisive and whatever combination you play must consider resulting endgames.

This position and the associated thought process shows that every position teaches you something. Progress is dependent on how much you learn and capitalise on it in future games.

Ashvin Chauhan

Share