Category Archives: Ashvin Chauhan

Recognise the Pattern # 37

This article aims at beginners only. Here are some positions on a typical theme. You are advised to find the solutions first and then look at the theme name and the solutions:

1. Bill Wall vs Robert Gantt 1978
White to Play

2. Eduard Hamlisch vs NN 1899
White to Play

3. Shmatkov vs Eidlin 1960
White to Play

The theme is ‘sacrifices on f7/f2 against uncastled king’. Of course the main idea is to keep the opponent’s king in the center but often it is used to win/trap opponent’s queen in conjunction with mating threats. I thought I have covered this with my series on recognising the pattern, but it was missed out. Recognising the pattern is a series where I have discussed typical checkmate patterns, attacking formations and endgame patterns.


Solution 1:

1.Bxf7+ Kxf72.Ng5+

Black resigned in view of Ne6 in case of Kf8 or e8 and Qc4+ in case of Kg8.

Solution 2:

1.Bxf7+ Kxf7 2.Ng5+

Black resigned in view of Ne6 in case of Ke8 whilst Kf6 can be met by Qf3#.

Solution 3:

1.Bxf7 Kxf7
2.Ng5+ Kg6

If 2… Kf8/e8 then Ne6 wins the queen or if 2…Kg8 then Qb3 wins.

3.Qd3+ Kh5

If Kh6 then Ne6 discovered check wins queen.


This wins due to the threat of winning the queen or checkmate with Qh3.

Ashvin Chauhan

From Middlegame to Endgame

Kashdan vs Alekhine 1933, Black to Move

No great chess player complicates matters unless they find a simple solution. Alekhine was not an exception, White’s last move was Nb5 attacking the c7 pawn. Alekhine used little tactics to reach an endgame where his knight and passed pawn on the g-file are simply enough to win the game.

Here is the solution and the rest of the game.

Ashvin Chauhan


Simplification in chess can be a decisive strategy, and one that is much deeper than generally understood. Here are a few examples which illustrate when you can employ this strategy:

1) Simplification to dissolve an attack (Example by Fred Reinfeld)

Here Black has material advantage but his rook on d8 is attacked. If it moves the bishop on d7 will fall. So how would you continue from here?

The solution is as follows:

1…Qxd1!! 2. Qxd1 Bg4!

Black can keep his material advantage and White’s attack is just gone.

2) Simplification for piece activity (Vassily Smyslov vs Milan Vidmar in 1946)

Here Smyslov went for simplification in order to bring his rook on the 7th rank and went on win after a few more moves.

1.Qxg7 Kxg7 2.Bf4 h6 3.Nd2! g5 4.Bxd6 cxd6 5.Nc4 d5 6.Nd6 Rxe1+ 7.Rxe1 Kf6
8.Nxf5 Kxf5 9.Re7!

White’s rook is much more active than its counterpart and he went on to win.

3) Simplification to hinder the opponent’s development ( Wilhelm Steinitz vs Bardeleben in 1895)

Here Steinitz went for 3 minor piece exchanges and caught the Black king in the center. This temporarily prevented Black from connecting his rooks and when he did manage to connect them it was too late. For the solution just go through the game.

4) Simplification to reach a winning king and pawn endgame (Kasparov vs Milan Vukic in 1980)

Here Black’s last move was Nf6, yet this innocent looking move is a decisive mistake. Can you simplify the position to reach winning king and pawn endgame?


1.Bxf6 gxf6 2.Rd1

Black resigned in view of 2…Rxd1 3.Kxd1 followed by g4-g5 clears the way for the h5 pawn to march forward.

Ashvin Chauhan

Rook and Pawn vs Two Knights or Bishop and Knight

There are many games with this material imbalance, so it is important to know the basic strategy in such situations. Broadly speaking we can divide into two parts, middle game strategy and endgame strategy.

In the middle game two minor pieces tend to be stronger than the rook and pawn as the rook won’t be able to find open lines. Therefore in the middle game player with two minor pieces should attack with his extra piece, as in the following instructive example.

On the other hand the player with the rook and pawn should look for an endgame where his opponent does not have a single major piece on the board. In such cases the availability of a passed pawn and targets matters a lot and if the rook is able to access the targets it can often win. Here are a few examples:

A) Rook and pawn vs. two knights but the rook fails to find targets

B) Rook and pawn vs. two knights – the rook wins

Here all Black’s pawns are weak and so White’s rook can target them easily:

C) Rook and pawn vs. bishop and knight – the rook can’t find a target

D) Rook and pawn vs. bishop and knight – the rook wins

There are of course exceptions to these situations, but generally speaking the rook and pawn are better in endgames.

Ashvin Chauhan

A Strategic Opening for Beginners: The Ruy Lopez Exchange

Rather than memorizing opening moves and copying what top players are playing nowadays, it’s really great for beginners to play simple strategic chess openings. In the Ruy Lopez Exchange (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Bxc6) White exchanges his bishop against Black’s knight on c6 and then plays d2-d4, exchanging the d4 and e5 pawns.

That creates pawn islands where White has a pawn majority on king side ( 4 vs. 3). On the other side, Black’s pawn majority won’t easily be able to create passed pawn, at least not without the aid of pieces. White’s strategy is very simple yet can be decisive. All you need to do is trade off pieces and reach to the king and pawn endgame where White is technically a pawn up and winning is relatively easy.

Here is the game for you to study, for more games on similar structure you can visit

Lasker – Tarrasch World Championship Match in 1908

Ashvin Chauhan

Knight vs. Bishop Endgame

In practice it has been shown that a bishop is usually stronger than the knight because of its mobility, but there are always some exceptions. Do remember that in such endgames position of the kings and pawn structure matters a lot. Here are some general pieces of advice with instructive examples:

The pawns are both the side and the position is more dynamic – the bishop is usually better

The pawns are on both sides and the bishop has no targets; generally the knight is better

If pawns are on just one side of the board and position of the king is not passive, then usually a side with a pawn down holds because the defender can sacrifice a piece for a pawn or pawns and can achieve an easy draw. We can conclude that if there are pawns on one side only, most of the time the game ends in a draw.

Ashvin Chauhan

Rooks On The Open File

Activity does matter in chess and when it comes to semi open games you need to pay attention to the open file to help the activity of your rooks. If your rooks can control that file, most of the time the position will favour you. But controlling the open file is not enough; you must also stop your opponent from neutralizing its effect, create some targets on it and ideally some penetration squares.

Anatoly Karpov against Boris Spassky, 1974

Q: In the position above, Spassky’s last move was …Be7 threatening to play …Rd8 after which White wouldn’t have any serious advantage. How can he stop Black?
A: Karpov did it as follows:


Threatening Rd7.


Almost forced as if …Nb8 then the rook on a8 is shut in.

2. Rxd8!! Bxd8

If 2…Rxd8 then 3 .Nxe5 is followed by penetration via f7 square. Though it’s worth considering 3…Qc7, a good calculation exercise.

3.Rd1 Nb8


4.Bc5 Ra8

What else?


Followed by Be7, so Spassky resigned.

The following instructive game of Peter Svidler was played in 2007 against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, and provides a great illustration of our theme. After Mamedyarov’s 18 . e4 and 19 Re1?! he was never in the game:

Ashvin Chauhan.

Some Instructive Positions from Levon Aronian in Grenke

First of all, let me congratulate Levon Aronian for winning Grenke chess classic 2017. Secondly I would like to be clear that this article is aimed to beginners and pre-intermediate players only. Here I will discuss a couple of positions which might help you improve your endgame technique.

Here is the first one:

Aronian vs Vachier Lagrave, Grenke Chess Classic 2017 Round 3

Q: Which bishop should White exchange and why?

A: White should exchange the light square bishops as Black’s dark square bishop has no targets while White’s dark square bishop can easily target Black’s pawns. On top of that White’s king will be free very soon to join the attack pawn on e4. This would fall because Black’s king and bishop have to defend his pawns and to stop White’s outside passer.

In the game Aronian played
1. e6!! Bxe6


2. Bxe6 Kxe6 3. Kd2

Black resigned. Black can force the exchanges of dark square bishops but then the king and pawn endgame would be an easy win for White.

Matthias Bluebaum vs Levon Aronian, Grenke Chess Classic 2017 – Round 4

Q: Formulate a plan that pockets the full point.

A: Of course the plan would be to win more material or exchange the rooks which simplifies into a winning king and pawn endgame.

Q: But the question is how?

A: Well, bring your Rook to b4 that forces the exchanges or loss of further material for White. But there are few turns where you must be careful.

1… Rc2 2. Kg3 Kg7!

Very important, bringing the king into the square. If 2…Rb2 3.f3 Rb4 4. Rxb4! and White can also make a queen and game might end in a draw.

3. h4 Kf6 4. Rf4+ Ke7

Now the White king is boxed in.

5. Rd4 Rc3+ 6. f3 Rc2!

The king has to guard g2 so it can’t support the rook on d4 in case of Black playing …Rb2 and …Rb4.

7. Kh3 Rb2!

White resigned.

Ashvin Chauhan

Another Indian Chess Star : Nihal Sarin

Photo by Asarinus

Let me introduce a new Indian chess star. Nihal Sarin, now an International Master, was born in 2004 and started to play chess once a week in school. He became World U10 champion in 2010 and at recent tournament, the Fagernes International 2017, he scored his first GM norm. He scored 6/9, beating GM Evgeny Postny and was undefeated.

The main reason behind chess becoming so popular in India is Viswanathan Anand whether he is World Champion or not it doesn’t make any difference to us. He is our hero. And of course it helps that the Indian government has taken steps to make chess and other sports popular by providing financial benefits and career opportunities.

Here is Sarin’s game against Postny for you to enjoy!

Ashvin Chauhan

Prevention from Castling

If a king is uncastled we all know that we have to open the lines against it, especially those of major pieces. Sometimes your opponents are so friendly that they don’t castle for personal reasons :), but sometimes there are some tough guys who are not so friendly and there you have to demonstrate your skills. Here are two interesting examples with which to check your skills:

Samsonkin against Nakamura in 2009

Q:- In a given position, Black needs just one move to castle. Can you trick Nakamura?
A:- In the game White started to press a follows:

1. f5! e5??

1…Bf6 was a good alternative but everybody makes mistakes! After 1…Bf6 2. Be3 e5 all three results were possible.

2.Ne6!! fxe6 3.Qh5+ g6 4.fxg6 Nf6 5.g7

Nakamura fought for next 11 moves and surrendered.

Steinitz against Bardeleben in 1895

Q:- How could you force Black king to relinquish his right to castle with a series of forced exchanges?
A:- I could do it as follows:


If 1.Bxe7 then N6xe7 2. Qb3 and castles


If 1…Bxg5 then 2. Bxe6 – fxe6 and d5 is crushing.

2. Nxd5 Qxd5

If 2…Bxe7 then 3. Re1+ Be7 4. Nxe7 – Nxe7 and Qe2 and Black can’t castle.

3.Bxe7 Nxe7 4.Re1 f6 5.Qe2

And Black can’t castle.

Ashvin Chauhan