Category Archives: Basic (Rating below 1000)

Teaching Kids: Checkmate In Two

Learning checkmate in two is perhaps the most important step towards developing your fundamental calculation skills. Yusupov used this as a tool to improve the skill of calculating short variations in one of his books. There are various ways of teaching this to kids but what I am going to discuss is a multipurpose technique that is very effective.

I normally introduce this to kids once they show great accuracy in doing checkmate in one. I show them patterns first and explain fundamental ideas behind those patterns. It is advisable that you start with just a few pieces on the board first.

For example you can use checkmate with king and queen against king. If I am not missing anything, there are five ways to checkmate with these pieces:

The next task is to explain the basic idea behind this theme. In this case you can’t afford to allow the opponent’s king to leave the edge of the board (a-file,h-file, 1st rank and last rank) after which the rest is just matter of practicing it. Here is one example:

Here Black king will try to leave border line by moving to d7 so our first task is to prevent that. You can do it with Qd4, Qd2 or Qc7 (Qd6 is stalemate), so the king will be forced to move on f8 then Qd8 is checkmate.

Coaches have to find/compose lots of puzzles on separate themes. And yes repetition is the key thing as kids tend to forget patterns if they don’t practice them a lot.

You can add more pieces in order to increase the difficulty level but the basic ideas remain unchanged.

Ashvin Chauhan

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Chess Opening Blunders – Another Comedy of Errors

This is another correspondence chess game from the 1978 Golden Knights Postal Section 93. Although I won this game in 18 moves, it was not one of my best chess games.  We both made all kinds of blunders that could have lost the game for us, or we missed opportunities for quick wins. My opponent made a blunder on move number 15 that I did catch and punish. He resigned on what was to be hi 19th move.

I rarely answer 1.e5 with 1…e5. I did so here because I was wanting to play the Schliemann Defense in the Ruy Lopez. That did not happen here. We ended up with the Two Knights Defense. I think that this is the only time that I have ever played this line.

Most of the analysis below is on what was missed by each of us.

Mike Serovey

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Another Golden Oldie Chess Game

Here is another correspondence chess game that I played back in 1978. This is also from the first round of the Golden Knights Postal Championship. We both missed a few things in this chess game, but I found enough good ideas and moves to eventually win.

Back then, the US Chess Federation (USCF) had  different rating scale for correspondence chess than the Elo system that was used for Over the Board chess. Back then, a 1300 cc rating was Class A. I don’t remember exactly when they made the switch, but when the did my cc rating jumped from somewhere in the 900 range to about 1800 points.

My opponent got out of the main lines early and allowed me to play a sideline that often favors Black, especially of White does not know this variation. I believe that my notes below explain what happened in this chess game well enough.

Mike Serovey

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Teaching Kids Through Classical Games (9)

De Saint Amant,Pierre Charles Four – Morphy,Paul
Paris, 1858

In general it has been advised not to move your king side pawns, or more precisely the pawns on the side where you intend to castle. In this game Morphy’s opponent did this and paid the penalty.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.cxd4 Bb4+ 7.Bd2 Bxd2+

Q – Is it advisable to take on e4?
A – 7…Nxe4 8.Bxb4 Nxb4 9.Bxf7+ Kxf7 10.Qb3+ d5 11.Qxb4 and Black is fine here. Remember that it is more often worth to take risk to capture a center pawn than a wing pawn.

8.Nbxd2 d5

Update your pattern bank: This is a typical way to attack the opponent’s mobile pawn center.

9.exd5

9.e5 is met by 9…dxc4 10.exf6 Qxf6.

9…Nxd5 10.0–0 0–0 11.h3

With this move the king side becomes slightly weakened, but in the hand of Morphy this is enough to win.

11…Nf4 Transferring pieces towards his opponent’s weakness.

12.Kh2?

Sacrificing a pawn for nothing. Instead it was worth considering 12.Ne4 Be6 13.Bxe6 fxe6.

12…Nxd4 13.Nxd4 Qxd4 14.Qc2 Qd6 15.Kh1??

15.Ne4 Qe5 16.Ng3 was better.

15…Qh6

Bxh3 is now threatened.

16.Qc3

More support for h3.

16…Bf5

Q – Can you find better continuation than Morphy?
A – 16…Rd8 is better version of Black’s attack than the text move, with the same idea that was executed in the game.

17.Kh2 Rad8 18.Rad1

How could you win at least a Queen?

18…Bxh3!

The final blow. Attack on the side where you are better placed than your enemy.

19.gxh3 Rd3!! 20.Qxd3 Nxd3 21.Bxd3 Qd6+ 22.f4 Qxd3

These were the consequences of 11 h3, a typical weakness on the king side.

0–1

Ashvin Chauhan

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Teaching kids Through Classical Games (8)

Mayet,C – Anderssen,A
Berlin New York, 1851

This game demonstrates dangerous attack against castled king using h file.

1. e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5

The Spanish Game.
Q: I always ask my students what White is threatening.
A: Most of the time answer is “to win the e5 pawn”, but we all know that it is not a real threat. For example… 3…a6 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.Nxe5 Qd4 wins the pawn back.

3…Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.Bxc6 dxc6 6.0–0

The pawn still can’t be taken as e4 is hanging too.

6…Bg4

The purpose of this move is to protect the e5 pawn whilst bringing a fresh piece into the action. Remember the you should try to mobilise your forces as quickly as possible in the opening phase.

7.h3 h5

Q: What is idea behind such a sacrifice? Is it worth it?
A: The idea is to open the h-file for Black’s rook on h8 and to get his queen to h4. It looks like a very dangerous attack but it is not because of 8. hxg4 hxg4 9. d4. Note that the best way to fight against a wing attack is to attack in the center, particularly when the opponent’s king is still in the center.

8.hxg4 hxg4 9.Nxe5??

After this you are invited to find the winning continuation for Black. Instead 9.d4 gxf3 10.dxc5 Nxe4 11.Qxd8+ is better for white

9…g3??

A gross blunder. Black can with the game with 9…Nxe4 when the threat is …Qh4. After 10.Qxg4
how can you win White’s queen?

10.d4 Nxe4

Here Mayet missed hxg3, which is winning for White and the simplest way to stop …Qh4.

11.Qg4??

Can you see a trick that wins the queen?

11…Bxd4

Not accurate but still winning. 11…gxf2+ 12.Rxf2 Rh1+ 13.Kxh1 Nxf2+ 14.Kg1 Nxg4 was better than the text move.

12. Qxe4 Bxf2+ followed by checkmate in few moves.

0–1

Ashvin Chauhan

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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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