Category Archives: Ashvin Chauhan

Why Nf6 is Better Than Ne7 (A Trap)

This article is aimed at beginners only. Like other beginners, when I was in the initial stage of learning chess I was really attracted by chess traps in order to register quick wins.

What I am going to show you is not really a trap because you’re not offering anything. It’s just a wayto punish your opponent for developing a piece on wrong square. In general, while playing king’s pawn openings, …Nf6 is much better than …Ne7 because of the knight’s influence on center. Meanwhile a more critical task of Nf6 is to protect the king. If this is ignored it is usually decisive, and in my database I found 2 games where players rated over 2000 played. Clearly there is a greater chance that beginners will make this mistake, here is the sequence of moves I am talking about:

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. d3 d6 5. 0-0 Ne7? 6. Ng5! and White is winning at least a pawn by force.

The game between Vasco Diogo (2220) vs Jose Maria (2051) continued with 6…d5, the only move that might prolong the fight. The game proceeded with the moves 6… d5 7. exd5 Na5 8. Nc3 Nxc4 9. dxc4 Ng6 10. Qh5 Be7 11. f4 Bxg5 12. fxg5 Qe7 13. Ne4 Qb4 14. b3 Bd7 15. Be3 b6 16. Rf2 O-O-O 17. c3 Qa3 18. g3 a5 19. c5 Ne7 20. Bc1 1-0

As we’re discussing this from the beginners’s point of view, they might consider Ng5 bad as they can simply castle, and White is moving the same piece twice in the opening! But this can also result in disaster for Black as follows:

6… 0-0 7. Qh5!

The Greco setup, a deadly way to attack the castled king in the absence of natural defender.


7…Re8 fails to 8. Bxf7+ Kf8 9. Nxh7# or Kh8 then Qxh7#

8. Nxf7 – Rxf7

8…Qe8 leads to typical checkmate 9. Nxh6++ Kh7/h8 10. Nf7+ Kg8 11.Qh8#

9. Qxf7 is winning.

I experienced this pattern many times in Queen’s Pawn Openings too. When White’s bishop is on the b1-h7 diagonal but Black’s knight on g6, and that gives some chances with Ng5 and Qh5!!.

Ashvin Chauhan

Why Chess is so Complex

In dhess we have many generalised rules which have been derived based on years of experience but same time smart people also find the ways to go opposite and scores some beautiful wins. When we see this (of course I am not talking about IMs and GMs… it’s about us), we become confused. How are they able to do it? It might be that you are reading too many chess books to improve and they are not. Joking apart the soul of their creativity is the concrete evaluation of positions. Nigel’s weekly analysis with video commentary (available for full member on is great tool to improve in this area. Here is a position taken from the game of Richard Reti against Arthur Kaufmann.

Position after Black’s 21…Nc4

Q1 What do you think about White’s bishop on d2 and Black’s knight on c4? Would it be good trade for Black or White?
Q2 Evaluate the position and find the key weakness/es in White’s camp?

Of course White’s bishop on d2 is a bad piece compared to Black’s knight on c4 so at first glance it would not be wise for Black to trade. But when you look bit deeper you will find that White has a weak backward pawn on e3 and this bishop is a key defender. So Black can afford to make this trade. Here are the rest of the moves.

Ashvin Chauhan

An Effective and Ineffective Pin in the Italian Game (2)

This article aims at beginners only. In my last article I discussed the effectiveness of a very common pin, Bg5 (or …Bg4 by Black) pinning a knight against the queen. In this article we will see that the same pin can very dangerous when your opponent has already castled and can be exploited with simple and effective Nd5 (or …Nd4 by Black). Most of the time this guarantees a very strong attack because it creates weakness around the opponent’s king (usually doubled pawns on the f-file) which are static.

Here is a nice example of this:

Ashvin Chauhan

An Effective and Ineffective Pin in the Italian Game

This article is aimed at beginners who often plays h3 or h6 move to prevent Bg5 or Bg4, pinning their knights against their queen. This is dangerous but not every time. The same pin is dangerous if you have already castled king side and your opponent has some ways to exploit it, for example Bg5 followed by Nd5. Sometime you can use opponent’s Bg5/Bg4 moves to gain tempo by moving your pawn to h6 or h3. And if you’re opponent tries to maintain the pin with Bh4/Bh5 then you can further develop attack with g5/g4. Not only can this break the pin but it can also shut the opponent’s bishop out of the game. Also note that moving pawns won’t weaken your king position because you haven’t committed castle on the king side.

In the following game Mikhail Chigorin demonstrates this aggressive strategy against premature pin. At the same time it also emphasises the importance of studying classic games.

Ashvin Chauhan

Check for Errors in a Beginners Game

This article is for beginners only.

The game below was played on between two beginners with a decent time control. Your task is to go through the game and find the mistakes apart from the obvious material blunders, then compare your answers with the given findings.

Let’s see how many you can find. Blundering a piece is quite common mistake which can be improved with the knowledge and time:

White: Rajeshkumar (1324)
Black: Hal_2001_Chess (1261)


a) White can play 3.Nxe5 but Black can regain the pawn with 3…Qh4, threatening both Qxf2 and Qxe4. But White should have look bit further:

3. Nxe5 Qh4
4. d4 Qxe4+
5. Be3 Ne7
6. Nd2

The material on the board is equal but White has a huge lead in development.

b) On move 4 White played h3. Of course this is to avoid Bg4 but that pin is not at all dangerous as White is not yet committed castle on the kingside and Black has no way to exploit this pin. On the other hand White can play h3 after Bg4 which gains time. The same applies to Black’s 4th move, …h6.

c) On move 5 Black played a6 which is 4th move with pawn. One should refrain himself from making such moves. Instead one should give priority to pieces to the pawns in the initial stage of the game.

d) White played his pawn to d5 which is a serious mistake as blocks his own bishop’s diagonal. On the other hand it helps Black increase the activity of his dark square Bishop.

e) Move 11 was a sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice.

f) On move 12 White exchanged his center pawn against Black’s wing pawn. In the opening and middle game center pawns are more important than the wing pawns in general.

The same things I have tried to explain in this video:

Ashvin Chauhan

Chess Games of Gioachino Greco

Studying chess games is perhaps the best way to improve your chess game, and this applies to beginners too. Initially beginners can achieve quick development by practicing tactics. And short games provide the same learning value with the added element that they can apply the same tricks against their friends and possibly register quick wins.

Chernev’s 1000 best Short games of chess is an excellent resource for such miniatures but I personally like Gioachino Greco’s Games.

Beginners love to attack with a single piece, and in particular with the queen. This game illustrates the dark side and also guides you as to how to play against it. It also addresses the beginner’s question as to why 2…Nf6 is a better move than 2…Qf6?

It’s worth searching for other games of Greco against this 2…Qf6 move, which illustrate some other variations.

Ashvin Chauhan

Modern Computer Chess: An Alarm!!

Computers have changed chess a lot and top level chess is becoming dominated by opening preparation. Our current World champion might be an exception to some extent.

I have been following the FIDE world cup 2017 and this game perhaps violates most of the general principles. Black played 7/9 moves with his knight and finally managed to win! No castling and fancy moves with the kings.

Here is the game:

Whether you believe it or not, people follow leaders. I am not criticizing these two grandmasters as they have to prepare in such way in order to compete in at the highest level. But such games influence lower ranked players so we may see players much further down the rating list playing like this.

It might be a time to move towards some other chess variants in order to avoid this kind of thing. You decide.

Ashvin Chauhan

Knowing the Endgame for Better Trades

Beginners only tend to be interested in learning endgames if you can show them how useful they are. And for successful coaching it is highly desirable that your students are interested in learning!

Accordingly this article is aimed at beginners only. I will demonstrate how knowing or learning an endgame can help in making the right exchanges.

Black to play and win
This position is taken from one of my internet games. This position looks even at a first glance but it is completely winning for Black.

Hint: The king and pawn endgame is the best way to realize the material advantage.



Forcing the knight to c5.


The only move. Now what?


The simplest solution that forces exchanges.

If 2…Bxc5 then 3. Bxc5! drops a pawn but retains drawing chances for White. The same is true of 3.Nxc5. Note that 3.bxc5 leads to a winning king and pawn endgame for Black after exchanges on f2 because White’s king can’t protect the c5 pawn and the pawn is within the reach of Black’s king (Rule of Square).

3.Rxf2 Rxc5!!

The point, winning a pawn and forcing exchanges. My opponent resigned here in view of 4.bxc5 Bxc5 when the rook is pinned. Black can take the rook on next move and resulted position will be an easy win because of the extra pawn in a king and pawn endgame.

Ashvin Chauhan

The d5 Square in the Sicilian from Black’s Point of View

Last week we looked at the importance of the d5 square in the Sicilian Defence from White’s point perspective. In this article we will see it from Black’s point of view. Black plans for either d7 to d5 or d6 to d5 in order to free his game. If you just start learning the Sicilian, you might wonder why it frees Black’s game? Well here is the answer:

1) In most the Sicilian lines White attacks Black’s kingside and we all know that a flank attack can be countered by an attack in the center. Playing …d6-d5 fits this bill.

2) Black can neutralise White’s attack along the half open d file by opening it for his rooks.

3) To eliminate the weakness on d6.

4) Once Black plays d5, his position will be not be cramped. Thus he can use his pieces to their full potential, especially a dark square bishop on e7.

What happens if Black is not able to play d5? What would be the next strategy? He needs to stop White from using is for his pieces and at least try and force White to recapture with a pawn on d5.

Here are a couple of games in which Black manages to get …d6-d5 in, with great success:

Semyon Dvoirys vs Wang Yue in 2007 (Black sacrifices a pawn on d5 for piece activity)

Alexander Kovchan vs Sergey Karjakin in 2010 (Just counting the numbers of attack and support of d5 is not sufficient)

Ashvin Chauhan

The d5 Square in the Sicilian From White’s Point of View

One can’t ignore the d5 square in almost any Sicilian line, both from a tactical and positional point of view. In this article we will see the importance of d5 square from White’s point of view.

Tactical aspects: White sacrifices a piece on d5 in order to open the e-file and launch a decisive attack against Black’s king. Sometimes White’s pieces also find c6 as an outpost after exd5. If Black declines the sacrifice, it is really difficult to tolerate that piece on d5.

Here is a brief commentary by Mato on the game played by Mikhail tal vs Mikhail Mukhin in 1972 on the same theme.

Positional aspects: If White gets control over d5 he tries to establish a piece there, and possibly a knight. This can lead to positions where a knight on d5 is far superior to Black’s dark square bishop. Here is a nice game explained by Kingcrusher:

In my next article we will examine the same d5 square from Black’s point of view.

Ashvin Chauhan