Category Archives: Basic (Rating below 1000)

Teaching Kids through classical games (7)

Chess is war. In war it is advisable to fight when and where you have a stronger force and the same applies in chess. If you’ve got the better game in a particular area of the board then this is where you should fight, and Paul Morphy does so in the following game:

Paulsen,Louis – Morphy,Paul
USA, 1857

1. e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bb5 Bc5 5.0–0 0–0 6.Nxe5

Q: What is Nxe5 aiming for?
A: This is a fork trick, used to get the better center in opening phase. A better example is 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bc4 Nxe4 5.Nxe4 d5 getting the material back with a nice game.

6…Re8 7.Nxc6

It would have been better to play 7.Nf3! Nxe4 8.Nxe4 Rxe4 9.d3 Re8 10.d4 when white develop with ease.

7…dxc6 8.Bc4 b5

Q: Instead of text move, is it advisable to take on e4?
A: No, because of 8…Nxe4? 9. Nxe4 Rxe4 10.Bxf7+ Kxf7 11.Qf3+ etc.

9.Be2

Q: Is Bb3 playable, with the same idea?
A: No, Black can generate very dangerous play against white’s queen with 9.Bb3? Bg4 10.Qe1 b4 11.Nd1 Nxe4.

9…Nxe4 10.Nxe4

10.Bf3 loses immediately to 10…Nxf2 11.Rxf2 Qd4 12.Ne4 (12.Qf1 Qxf2+ 13.Qxf2 Re1#) 12…Rxe4 13.Bxe4 Qxf2+ 14.Kh1 Bg4 15.Bf3 Re8–+, as given in Chessbase.

10…Rxe4 11.Bf3 Re6 12.c3?

Q: Why is c3 a bad move?
A: It allows Black to hinder White’s development. The course of the game shows why.

12…Qd3! 13.b4 Bb6 14.a4

In a cramp positions it is advisable to exchange a few pieces. 14.Re1 Rxe1+ 15.Qxe1 Bd7 16.Qf1 was better.

14…bxa4 15.Qxa4 Bd7

It is better to play 15… Bb7 in order to prevent exchange of queens.

16.Ra2?

16.Qa6 would have been better.

16…Rae8

With this move, Black clearly gets his pieces into superior positions.

17.Qa6 Qxf3!

The element of surprise. You can win the battle if you know where to fight.

18.gxf3 Rg6+ 19.Kh1 Bh3 20.Rd1 Bg2+ 21.Kg1 Bxf3+ 22.Kf1 Bg2+

Find the quicker way to finish than Bg2+.

23.Kg1

Now Be4 – leads to mate in 3
Bf3 – leads to mate in 4
Bh3 leads to mate in 5

23…Bh3+ 24.Kh1 Bxf2?

Still winning but far from delivering checkmate. Find a better continuation than this.

25.Qf1 Bxf1 26.Rxf1 Re2 27.Ra1 Rh6 28.d4 Be3

That pockets a rook. How?

Note: If you’ve get Chessbase, you can find this game with lots of detailed variations. But it is advisable to solve it at your own way!

0–1

Ashvin Chauhan

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Teaching Kids Through Classical Games (6)

It’s generally good advice to develop rapidly and castle early in the opening. If you fail to do so the consequences can be very costly. In a similar fashion, it is very useful to find a move which hinders the opponent’s smooth development, or keeps his king in the center. The following game illustrates this very well:

Schulten,John William – Morphy,Paul
New York, 1857

1.e4 e5 2.f4 d5 3.exd5 e4 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.d3 Bb4 6.Bd2 e3

Q: Describe the logic behind this sacrifice.
A: It opens e file by force which can be used by black’s rook late in the game. Black is ready to castle on next move while white has not developed his king side pieces that creates major difference here.

7.Bxe3 0–0 8.Bd2

Trying to castle long is also not good idea, eg 8.Qd2 Nxd5 9.0–0–0 Bxc3 10.bxc3 leaves White’s queenside shattered.

8…Bxc3 9.bxc3

9.Bxc3 wouldn’t improve the position either as 9…Re8+ 10.Be2 Nxd5 11.Qd2 Bg4 12.0–0–0 Nxc3 13.bxc3 Be6

9…Re8+ 10.Be2 Bg4 11.c4 c6

Another pawn sac by Morphy in order to bring his knight(Undeveloped piece) into the game with attack.

12.dxc6?

12.d6 would be better as it prevents black’s knight from occupying the d4 square.

12…Nxc6 13.Kf1

13.Bc3 Nd4 14.Bxd4 Qxd4 15.Rb1 loses a piece by force. Now White has unpinned his bishop but the cost is very high. Find a move which wins the piece!

13…Rxe2!

It is often a good idea to exchange a pinned piece in order to take benefit from the pin.

14.Nxe2 Nd4 15.Qb1 Bxe2+ 16.Kf2?

16.Ke1 is better than the move played in the game, though it is lost anyway. Now the knight joins the attack with check.

16…Ng4+ 17.Kg1

Now Black just needs his queen in. Find the move!

17…Nf3+

This vacates d4 square for queen.

18.gxf3 Qd4+ 19.Kg2 Qf2+ 20.Kh3 Qxf3+

And Black mates in 3.

0–1

Ashvin Chauhan

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Teaching Kids Through Classical Games (5)

Meek,Alexander Beaufort – Morphy,Paul
1855

This game is ideal for explaining the general rules of openings.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4
This is a gambit. The reason behind playing gambit is to develop forces rapidly whilst on the other hand the opponent is investing a move to capture the material (usually a pawn).

Q: What are the general strategies to play against gambits?
A: In the opening players try to dominate the center so it is good to accept a center pawn rather than wing pawn. Another strategy could be to return the extra material at the right time.

4…Bc5 5.Ng5?!

A mistake, in the opening you should try to introduce a new piece into the battle with each move. By moving the same piece here white is losing control of the center too.

Q: How would you defend black’s position, with Ne5 or Nh6?
A: Nh6 is the right one as with this move you are defending with developing move whereas Ne5 is a mistake as you are moving same piece twice without any proper reason.

5…Nh6!

5…Ne5? 6.Nxf7 Nxf7 7.Bxf7+ Kxf7 8.Qh5+ g6 9.Qxc5(Position 1)

6.Nxf7? Nxf7 7.Bxf7+ Kxf7 8.Qh5+ g6 9.Qxc5 (Position 2)

Now compare position 1 with position 2.

Q: Which one is better for black?
A: Position 2. In position 1 your knight is still at g8 while in position 2 it is already been developed.

9…d6

Attacking the queen and therefore getting time to develop another piece on the next move.

10.Qb5 Re8!

Pressure on the center. In general it is good to place rook on files where opponent king or queen is placed.

11.Qb3+?

This move only helps Black. 0–0 was better instead.

11…d5

Using the fact that e4 pawn is pinned.

12.f3 Na5

This forces White to unpin Black’s d5 pawn.

13.Qd3 dxe4 14.fxe4 Qh4+ 15.g3 Rxe4+

15…Qxe4+ is also a winning endgame but Morphy prefers Rxe4.

16.Kf2 Qe7 17.Nd2?

Q: How would you punish this mistake?
A : It is necessary to protect the e2 square in order to avoid mating net with Re2+ followed by Bh3 and so on. Here Morphy punishes his opponent with Re3.

17…Re3! 18.Qb5

18.Qxd4 Re2+ 19.Kg1 Bh3 etc.

18…c6! 19.Qf1

19.Qxa5 Re2+ is also winning after 20.Kf3 Qe3#, 20.Kg1 Qe3+ 21.Kf1 Qf2# or 20.Kf1 Re1+ 21.Kg2 Qe2#.

19…Bh3! 20.Qd1

Or 20.Qxh3 Re2+ 21.Kg1 (21.Kf3 Qe3+ 22.Kg4 h5+) 21…Qe3+.

20…Rf8

Another piece into the battle, remember this.

21.Nf3 Ke8

0–1

Ashvin Chauhan

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Chess for Goldfish

Here’s a game played a couple of months ago between two of Richmond Junior Club’s less experienced members.

You’ll see a lot of typical mistakes. They exhibit the goldfish syndrome, thinking only in the moment, oblivious of what happened a few moves ago, they only look at part of the board, not the whole board, they miss backward diagonal captures and they fail to look ahead.

If the game remains simple, children at this level can give the impression of playing a decent game, but when things get complicated, as they did here, both players will make a lot of oversights.

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Nc3 Bb4
4. Bb5 d6
5. d3 Bg4
6. Be3 a6
7. a3?

A typical mistake that this level where children are tempted to counter-attack instead of moving the threatened piece. Either Ba4 or Bxc6+ would have been fine.

7… Ba5?

Black misses his chance to win a piece with 7… Bxc3+ 8. bxc3 axb5. I’d seen this position while watching them playing so was particularly keen to go through the game afterwards. Both children were wide eyed with amazement at the idea that you could actually look one and a half moves ahead in this way.

8. Ba4 h6
9. h3 Bh5
10. b4 b5

This time it’s Black who prefers a counter-attack to moving his threatened bishop. ‘Copycat’ moves of this nature are very popular at lower levels of children’s chess.

11. Rb1

White chooses a seemingly random move. Instead he could have won a pawn: 11. Nxb5 axb5 12. Bxb5 Nge7 13. bxa5 Rxa5 14. a4.

11… Bb6

Black spots that his bishop is threatened.

12. Nd5?

But now both players seem to have forgotten that the white bishop is in danger. They both consider only the last move rather than looking at the whole board. Instead 12. Bb3 was equal.

12… Ba7?

Black doesn’t notice he can take the white bishop.

13. g4 Bg6
14. g5? hxg5

For the next few moves both players are looking only at the kingside where there’s quite a lot going on. Being able to scan the whole board is too hard for players at this level, but it’s an important lesson they’ll have to learn if they are going to make significant progress.

15. Bxg5? Nf6?

Black could win a piece here with 15… f6, when both white bishops are under attack.

16. Bh4

One of White’s problems is that he tends to play the occasional random and seemingly pointless move. When I asked him why he told me it was because (and lower level primary school age players often think like this) ‘if he takes my bishop I’ll take his rook’.

16… Bh5

In fact Black can, and should, take the rook: 16… Rxh4 17. Nxh4 Nxd5 18. exd5 Qxh4 19. dxc6 (19. Qf3 Nd4 20. Qg3 Qh5 21. Qg4 bxa4) 19… Qxf2#. At this level, though, you can’t expect players to see this far ahead.

But this move is also good, as was 16… bxa4 (yes, it’s still there and still nobody’s noticed). White’s last few moves have just created weaknesses.

17. Rg1

White wants to threaten the g-pawn, but now Black can win most easily by playing Nd4 when White can’t defend the pinned knight on f3.

I was watching the game again at this point. Black picked up his king intending to castle, but then changed his mind (rightly so because 17… O-O 18. Bxf6 is winning for White), and panicked. 17… Kf8 was winning but instead he played…

17… Kd7?
18. Rxg7

Undermining the defence of the pinned knight on f6. Suddenly White’s right back in the game. As it happens, Black’s best move is to play 18… Nxd5 when he gets a lot of pieces for the queen. At this point, though, Black took a look round the board – and suddenly noticed that he could capture the bishop on a4.

18… bxa4?

Unfortunately for Black this is exactly the wrong time to capture the bishop.
White can now win by playing the simple 19. Nxf6+. Fortunately for Black, though, White played…

19. Rxf7+??

Another typical mistake, not just at this level. It’s often said that backward diagonal moves are the easiest to overlook and here White does just that.

19… Bxf7
20. Nxf6+ Ke6?

Black’s a rook up and just has to keep his king safe. At this level children tend to play the first legal move they see when they’re in check rather than considering the alternatives. 20… Kc8 is the way to go here. Ke6 looks – and is – very scary.

21. Nd5

The position is, not unexpectedly, too complicated for both players. This move loses because Black can take twice on h4 after which he’s threatening mate (don’t forget that bishop lurking on a7). Instead White could win by playing 21. Ng5+ Kxf6 22. Qf3+ (discovered checks with the knight win the queen, but not the game) when he’s a rook down but has a winning attack.

21… Rxh4
22. Nxh4 Qxh4
23. Nxc7+ Kd7
24. Nxa8

Overlooking Black’s mate threat but by now Black was winning anyway.

24… Qxf2#

Richard James

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Teaching Kids Through Classical Games (4)

This gem throws some lights on the difference between fake development and real development.
The checkmate Patterns covered are:
1. Queen on h6, bishop on b1-h8 diagonal and no defender of f7.
2. Queen h6 and rook along the g file

I am aiming to present this game only to show how it can be used to teach kids:

Tarrasch, S – Mieses, J [C10]
Berlin, 1916

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Nf3 Ngf6 6.Bd3 Be7 7.0–0 Nxe4 8.Bxe4 Nf6

Q : Is it good to exchange a light square bishop for a knight?
A : No, it is a good Bishop and very active one, compared to its counterpart.

9.Bd3 b6

Q : Is it right time to play b6 in order to develop bishop?
A : No it is not the right time to play b6 as now White can play very energetically, hindering the development of black’s light square bishop and castling. The immediate 0–0 was better.

10.Ne5!

Beginners have been advised to not to move same piece twice in the opening. But in chess there are no universal rules, even though you can create many rules for better playing. Similarly any Bishop move here would be development for the sake of development. However, with the knight on e5 White is able to make Black’s development very difficult.

10…0–0

10…Bb7 11.Bb5+ Kf8 costs Black his right to castle.

11.Nc6 Qd6 12.Qf3

Q: Can Black play Bb7 ?
A: No, because Nxe7+ wins a piece. Thus Black is forced to play Bd7 and now we can see that with careful play White manages to take the driving seat.

12…Bd7 13.Nxe7+ Qxe7 14.Bg5 Rac8 15.Rfe1

Q : What is the idea behind Re1?
A : A rook lift. Via this rook lift white brings one more piece into the attack, a very important idea to remember.

15…Rfe8 16.Qh3 Qd6

If 16…g6 17.Qh4 Kg7 18.Re4 or 16…h6 17.Bxh6 gxh6 18.Qxh6, and Black is paralysed.

17.Bxf6 gxf6

Q : Would it be good to play Qxh7 or there is something better? Try to see the reasoning behind Black’s Qd6 move.
A : It is good but there is a much better move in Qh6. This is because black’s idea is to find shelter on e7 and try to generate some counter play on g and h file. Black is also trying to protect the g7 square with Qxd4.

18.Qh6

This is typical mating pattern, a queen on h6 and bishop on b1–h7 diagonal with no defender of f7. For example 18…a6 19.Bxh7+ Kh8 20.Bg6+ Kg8 21.Qh7+ Kf8 22.Qxf7#, which is a pattern you should study more closely. Coaches should provide more examples on the same theme.

18…f5 19.Re3 Qxd4 20.c3

In order to prevent checkmate the Black queen has to stay on the a1–h8 diagonal. But now there is no good square to stay on so Black has to sacrifice the queen. Instead he choose to throw in the towel.

Better was 20.Rg3+ Kh8 21.c3 Qe5 22.f4 and its over.

1–0

Ashvin Chauhan

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Teaching Kids Through Classical Games (3)

Here’s another game that’s useful for teaching kids through classical games. This game demonstrates some very instructive play based on a basic queen and bishop checkmate pattern.

As with the last time please note that I am presenting this game just to show its value in teaching kids. But anybody who would like to play d4, must study this game.

Capablanca – J-Jaffe
1910

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e3

By playing e3, White is temporarily shutting in his dark square bishop.

Q: How would you bring that piece into the game?
A: Usually I got answers like via b2, d2 or a3. But perhaps best way is to move timely e3-e4 after which you can decide where to place the bishop.

3…c6 4.c4 e6 5.Nc3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 Bd6

Here Black should play 6…dxc4 which is a kind of tempo gaining move. But on the other hand White would then have a central majority. If White succeeds in playing e3-e4-e5, deflecting the key defender and gaining space on kingside, he would have good chances to launch a king side attack. This kind of plan is something to watch out for in similar positions.

7.0–0 0–0 8.e4 dxe4

It was good to take on c4 first and then to play e5.

9.Nxe4 Nxe4 10.Bxe4 Nf6

Q: Where would you place your Bishop and why?
A: Bc2, in order to create a queen and bishop battery on b1–h7 diagonal.

Q: Then Why not on b1?
A: On b1 it blocks the queen’s rook in.

11.Bc2 h6

White plan is very simple, remove the key defender and checkmate black along b1–h7 diagonal.

12.b3 b6 13.Bb2 Bb7 14.Qd3 g6

Look closely at the pawn structure around Black’s king. It is very weak. In order to access Black’s king you need to sacrifice on e6 or g6.

15.Rae1 Nh5

Defending tactically against Rxe6.

16.Bc1

Not only attacking h6, but also preventing Nf4 which makes Rxe6 a threat. 16.Rxe6 immediately would have been met by Nf4.

16…Kg7 17.Rxe6

This rook is untouchable because of mate in 2.

17…Nf6 18.Ne5 c5

The rook still can’t be taken because 19.Qxg6+ gives White a winning attack.

19.Bxh6+ Kxh6 20.Nxf7+

1–0

Mate will follow.

Ashvin Chauhan

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Teaching Kids Through Classical Games (2)

This my follow up article about teaching kids through classic games. The game we’ll look at this time is my ideal game for attacking a fianchetto formation with opposite side castling.

What you can learn through this gem is:
– The ideal squares for your pieces
– Attacking a fianchetto formation by opening up the h-file or a-file)
– Flexible moves in the opening

As with last time please note that I am presenting this game just to show its value in teaching kids.

Steinitz, William – Mongredien, Augustus
London, 1863

1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.c3 b6

Q: Why has …b6 been played?
A: To develop Bb7 and that attacks e4 pawn.

Q: How would you save that pawn?
A: There are at least two alternatives. So in order to decide on the move here we will follow the principle of playing the most flexible move. You can see that Knight on b1 has only sensible move (Nd2) so we should defend pawn with Nd2 and stay flexible with the king’s bishop. Meanwhile the problem with Nd2 is that it is blocks our bishop on c1, so Be3 is played first.

4.Be3 Bb7 5.Nd2 d6 6.Ngf3 e5 7.dxe5

Q: Why has dxe5 has been played?
A: With dxe5 we are fixing his pawn on e5 which limits Black’s dark square Bishop’s activity while pawn on e4 is obstructing Black’s light square Bishop’s activity. And now compare our Bishops. So here decision has not been taken with concrete variation but with applying soft reasoning/logic.]

7…dxe5 8.Bc4 Ne7

Here the computer suggests 9.Bxf7+ Kxf7 10.Qb3+ Kf8 11.Ng5 Qe8 12.Ne6+ and so on, but we are not here to find those tactical moves.

9.Qe2

Q: Why Qe2?
A: White is not only preparing 0–0–0, if Black castles short it also prevents Ba6.

9…0–0 10.h4

This is a typical way to break through against a fianchetto formation as the pawn on g6 gives White a lever with h4-h5, opening the h-file for his rook.

10…Nd7 11.h5 c5 12.hxg6 Nxg6 13.0–0–0

Q: What is the main purpose of the move?
A: Mainly it is bringing another rook into the game. It also saves the e5 pawn indirectly based on a pin.

13…a6 14.Ng5 Nf6 15.Nxh7!

A blow!

15…Nxh7 16.Rxh7 Kxh7 17.Qh5+ Kg8 18.Rh1 Re8 19.Qxg6

T whole combination was based on the pin on the f7 pawn.

19…Qf6 20.Bxf7+ Qxf7

How can you win Black’s Queen based on pin?

21.Rh8+ Kxh8 22.Qxf7

1–0

Ashvin Chauhan

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Teaching Kids Through Classic Games

You might have heard almost everywhere that studying classic will improve your chess. Here is one of my favorite games.

Here’s what you can learn though this gem:

– Rapid development
– Building up an attack
– The pin and its usage
– A checkmate pattern with Rook and Bishop

Note that I am presenting this game just to show its value in teaching kids, so you won’t find detailed analysis here!

Paul Morphy Vs. Carl I, 1858 Paris

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Bg4?

The only purpose behind this move is to exchange Bishop against Knight, which is dubious while playing an open game. You should try to keep your Bishop in Open Positions.

4.dxe5 Bxf3

4…dxe5 5.Qxd8+ Kxd8 6.Nxe5 wins for White.

5.Qxf3 dxe5 6.Bc4 Nf6?

Find out why Nf6 is not good move with the help of double attack. 6…Qf6 was better.

7.Qb3 Qe7

Try to see idea behind Qe7. What is Black’s plan? 7…Qd7 8.Qxb7 Qc6 loses the queen after 9.Bb5.

8.Nc3!

8.Qxb7 was met by 8…Qb4+. Black’s Plan was to exchange Queens at the cost of a pawn so 8. Nc3 avoids exchange of Queens and brining one more piece into action.

8…c6 9.Bg5 b5?

Now compare both sides, White has developed his all minor pieces and his Rooks are ready to join then in just one move by castling long. 9…Qc7 was better.

10.Nxb5! cxb5 11.Bxb5+ Nbd7

11…Kd8 12.0–0–0+ wins for White.

12.0–0–0 Rd8 13.Rxd7!

This is very important concept of getting advantage of pin. Changing Pinned piece! With this move white is bringing his last piece into the action with tempo.

13…Rxd7 14.Rd1 Qe6 15.Bxd7+

15.Qxe6+ fxe6 16.Bxf6 also wins for White.

15…Nxd7

15…Qxd7 was forced after which 16.Qb8+ Ke7 17.Qxe5+ is winning for White.

16.Qb8+!!

Another important concept of Pin. Pin against Square. Knight is pinned against d8 (checkmate) Square.

16…Nxb8 17.Rd8#

1–0

Ashvin Chauhan

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Teaching Kids the Ruy Lopez (4)

Today we’re going to look at two important and interrelated tactical ideas which can arise from the Ruy Lopez. One of the ideas is a way for White to win material, while the other idea will win material for Black.

Suppose Black decides to chase the white bishop back with a6 and b5. Black will often do this straight away in kiddie chess. Kiddie players love to create threats in case their opponent doesn’t notice. Now if Black plays d6 there are some potential white square weaknesses around the d5 square. If Black plays Nxe4 a bishop move to d5 might fork the knights on e4 and c6, or, if the knight on c6 has moved away, the knight on e4 and the rook on a8.

Better still, a queen landing on d5 might also threaten mate on f7, backed up by the bishop on b3.

Let’s have a look at a few games to see how this works out in practice.

In our first game Black defends weakly against the Fork Trick. 8… Bd6 would also have failed because of the Qd5 idea: he should have played 8… Bxd4 instead.

Playing natural developing moves doesn’t mean you won’t lose quickly if you’re not careful. Black had to play the ugly 8… Bd6 instead. Note that if 10… Ng4 to defend f7, White just takes it off.

Black, who from his rating isn’t a bad player, comes up with a losing 6th move. He should either take on d4 or play d6 instead of Be7. This just goes to show how devastating an early d4 can be against an unwary opponent.

Again, a player with a reasonable rating plays a careless move (any other capture on move 7 would have been OK) and this time Qd5 pins and skewers everything in sight.

Another Fork Trick where Black goes wrong very quickly. This time White finds a different target: a bishop on e5. Note that, as mentioned last week, in other Fork Trick lines (7…) Bd6 is often the best move but in the Ruy Lopez it usually leads to a quick disaster. Again he should have played Bxd4 instead.

In this game White manages a record-breaking quadruple queen fork.

A typical example of a position where White wins a piece by playing Bd5.

Now for the black trap. This is sometimes known as the Noah’s Ark Trap, allegedly because the trap is as old as Noah’s Ark.

What happens is this: White plays d4 (without c3). Black trades pawns and knights on d4, forcing White to take back with the queen. Black then kicks the queen with c5, followed by c4, trapping the bishop on b3.

Study this game very carefully, paying full attention to the notes, and you’ll see how it works. Both players have to look several moves ahead to see whether or not it’s going to work and recognising the patterns will help you do this. Estonian chess great Paul Keres, who won this game, was one of the strongest players never to become world champion.

Richard James

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Teaching Kids the Ruy Lopez (3)

Back to the Ruy Lopez this week.

We’ll start by travelling back 25 years to watch the 6-year-old Luke McShane in action. It was seeing his early games and results with this opening that first alerted me to the advantages of teaching the Ruy Lopez at a relatively early stage of children’s chess development.

In this game Black allows the familiar discovered check to win the black queen.

The second game features a less common idea: a rather unusual rook fork wins Luke another queen.

In this article we’re taking a break from 3… a6. It’s very natural, especially if Black is more used to facing Bc4, to play a simple developing move such as 3… Nf6 or 3… Bc5. Of course Nf6, the Berlin variation, is very popular at all levels at the moment, while Bc5, while not played so often at GM level, is a frequent guest in amateur events. Both, of course, are perfectly reasonable moves.

Against 3… Nf6, or indeed 3… Bc5, it’s not unreasonable to play, as Luke did, the immediate exchange. f6 is not necessarily the best square for the black knight in the exchange variation. Instead, though, I’d recommend White to play 4. O-O against either of these moves. Making the king safe and giving the rook access to e1 in case the e-file gets opened can’t be bad. What we’re not going to do is transpose into a Four Knights by playing Nc3 and d3.

Games at this level often go 3… Nf6 4. O-O a6 when White can trade on c6 and capture on e5, transposing into our article from two weeks ago. If you want to play a6 you have to do so on move 3, not on move 4. Every move we’re going to work out whether or not it’s safe to win the black e-pawn. Otherwise, we’re going to play a quick d4, not bothering too much if it loses a pawn, and, if the e-file is opened, put our rook on e1.

If they play 3… Bc5 instead we have a choice. We’re going to castle next and then we can, depending on Black’s reply, play c3 followed by d4 (and possibly d5 hitting the pinned knight) or go for the Fork Trick with Nxe5 followed by d4, using a pawn fork to regain the piece.

Let’s look at a few more short games to see how these ideas work out in practice and learn some tactical ideas.

See how easy it is to win a piece. In this game Black plays five obvious and natural moves – giving him a lost game. You see how strong the c3 and d4 idea can be against an opponent who plays Bc5. The only square for the bishop on move 6 is b6, which interferes with the b-pawn so Black cannot unpin with a6 followed by b5.

In this game we learn another important tactical idea. Black makes the mistake of playing 3… Nf6 4. O-O a6 and then allows a classic pawn fork. Pawn forks in the centre happen over and over again at this level. e5 will fork a bishop on d6 and a knight on f6 while d5 will fork a bishop on e6 and a knight on c6. Another typical tactical idea when Black has bishops on c5 and e6 is to play c3 and d4, hitting the bishop on c5, followed by the fork on d5.

Here White is successful with the fork trick. Bd6 is usually the right way to go in Italian fork trick positions but here it’s not good. Black’s 8th move just loses a piece and his 10th move just loses a king. 8… Bd6 would have saved the piece but left him way behind in development.

Finally for this week we return to Luke McShane to see how he handled the Berlin Defence as a GM. 5. d4 is more often played but Re1 is a simpler way of regaining the pawn which also contains a drop of poison.

Richard James

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