Category Archives: Dan Staples

Slav Extraction

I’ve been down at the London Chess Classic. I worked 10 days straight. It was too hard to resist playing and I entered the weekday U2050. I won my games with White but lost with Black. I was so tired that is was hard to calculate. Also, I had intermittent toothache.

I registered with a dentist while there and saw him yesterday. He said I had fractured a tooth and it needed extracting. In the evening I had to play a delayed game in the York Club Championship – which I’m organising. Btw I can recommend this free software.

I had struggled to get an advantage with White against Paul in the past and decided to play 3.c4. I still didn’t get much. His pieces seemd rather far from his King so I decided to attack on the Kingside and played 14.g4. If I had seen 20.Qh4 things would have been different. I tried a speculative Knight sacrifice which Black easily defended.

Today my dentist gave me a 2.30 appointment (it did!). My tooth didn’t want to leave my jaw but with the drill and some heavy duty instruments it succumbed.

Dan Staples

Should have gone for a Hedgehog

This game against Paul Johnson was not one of my better efforts! Paul is a stalwart of York RI and has contributed greatly to its success.

I think I should have gone for a Hedgehog formation, as Nigel suggested in our lesson (notes below), with for example 8…d6. Nigel thought that 18.Ne4 was good by Paul, good to keep pieces on in an IQP position. I hit out (lurched!) with 21…f5 as is my wont. Nigel suggested the calmer and, in the cold light of day, far more aesthetically pleasing 21…Ne7. In the end I’m dead in the water but time was a big factor in Paul’s decision to accept the draw!

Dan Staples

A Loss for The London

As ever, I will be very interested to hear what Nigel thinks of this game when we go through it.

My position was very cramped and I thought I was worse after the advance of White’s b pawn. However, looking at it with HIARCS the engine prefers Black after the gain of the bishop pair on move 4. Though Nigel will not necessarily agree with that assessment!

After the game Gary thought he was better after the exchange of Queens. He thought opening the a-file was good for him. He also criticised 3…Nh5 but I was happy to gain the bishop pair and disrupt White’s pawn structure.

Looking back I’m surprised (and disappointed!) that I felt the need to withdraw my knight to d8 on move 14 rather than starting to free my position with Bd6.

The game finished with a blunder. However, going through a few variations it looks as though Black would be able to free his position eventually and be a little better.

Dan Staples

Colle Flower

This was a nice win for the Colle. Last season I’d played IM James Adair in these lines and lost, albeit narrowly! However, our Captain said after the game that he’d never known Yousuf to lose. Yousuf himself said that he used to play the Colle but frustratingly had forgotten the correct line.  I had been anticipating playing James Adair again and had looked at 11.a3 lines instead of 11.Qe2 but in response to 10… Qc7 not 10…0-0. So in the absence of 10… Qc7 then in hindsight I expect 11.e5 was the move! How our minds work… I’d be interested in comments from fellow Colle players.

Dan Staples

London Loss

This is a game against a friend, John Foley. Nigel thought I was playing over ambitiously because of good recent results! I hope today that I wouldn’t even consider 12…Bxh4 and that the 11…c5 lever would be more automatic. Nigel shared a couple of interesting games in this system.

Dan Staples

Post into Practice

My first game after last week’s post on the French Rubinstein was a French Rubinstein. I think that looking at Georg Meier’s games helped me think about being more active with Black particularly with the major pieces. So moves like 8…Qa5+ and 16…Rxd6 and later activity with the rooks and queen.

I’ve found that most players at my level don’t play 6.Nxf6, which is the most common master move, however White did so here.  I was unsure about playing Black’s key lever 7…c5 straightaway and the most common move after 7.Bg5 is 7… h6 which is what Nigel recommends. It’s so hard to remember!

In the Rubinstein White’s knight does sometimes come to e5 and can be very dangerous but it doesn’t seem right here and then coming to d3 felt a little awkward for White.  I was aware of the idea of pushing the e pawn as a way of activating Black’s light squared bishop and was pleased to have played it. I think seeing the potential of exploiting the pinned knight with 18…Bf5 was a result of my Chessity tactic training. Although I hadn’t looked at 19.g4 in reply which came as a surprise. I thought it was just a wild swing but it is what my engine suggests and I really should have considered it. I lost a lot of my advantage by not taking the g pawn with my knight but I didn’t analyse it very well and missed that after the exchanges on g4 I’d have Rg6 pinning White’s queen.

I like the look of the final position with his rooks and queen lined up on the e file and my rooks and queen lined up on the 2nd rank.

Dan Staples

Kramnik’s 10,000 A Month

I read that Kramnik looks through 10,000 games a month so as not to miss any innovations. I was impressed and inspired. However, I didn’t want to jump straight in at 10K so for this article I looked through 10.

Nigel advocates the Rubinstein French as a starting point for his students with Black. It’s an opening that I’ve struggled with and decided that I should look at some master games. The German GM Georg Meier has scored well with Black in this opening and his games are definitely worth studying. Here is one he wins quickly. Meier plays far more actively than I have. 12….Qd5 and 19….Rd2 weren’t moves that immediately occurred to me.

Dan Staples

Flatten Your Heart

I used to play the Torre with some success. I switched to the Colle when I did Nigel’s Opening Course. I think I will return at some point. In this game Black should have played for some central control with 5…d5 rather than …b6. I did take the center and should have pursued the idea of expanding there with 8.e5 (and at subsequent points thereafter) which could have been difficult for Black.

I was doing quite well with my knight taking on d6 and the queen and knight fork. My problem is one of seeking to calculate. I chose this complicated line rather than the simple and positionally good e5 at an earlier stage.  I (try) to live and learn. However, after move 15. I was doing well. I lost most of the advantage with 16.Bh6 rather than Qf4 – I was trying to get the queens off and simplifying material up.

That said, I was still better but managed to slowly dissipate my advantage. I think I felt that I should have got more from the game and on move 36 I lashed out with a very unsound attempt not seeing Black’s simple response and wound up losing.

Nigel introduced me to the Buddhist saying “Flatten your heart”. The idea is to not let your emotions control you and to learn to respond appropriately to ups and downs. This is a useful concept in chess.

Dan Staples

Suppressing The Opponent’s Counterplay

In his book My System Nimzowitsch put forward the idea of prophylaxis – shutting down the opponent’s counter chances. Nimzowitsch showed many examples to illustrate how important it can be to make a move which suppresses the opponent’s play. In the game below Nigel pointed out that 12. a3 rather than my 12. Rfe1 would have killed most of Black’s Queenside play. While I missed that Nigel said that he saw a lot of good positional play coming through in this game.

Dan Staples

Listen to Your Pawn Levers

I’m enjoying using Audible. I read a lot with my work and it’s helpful to have the option of listening to books rather than read. It gives my eyes a rest. I’m currently listening to Deep Work by Cal Newport. He recommends isolating yourself from distractions in order to do more valuable work. It’s an interesting book. One thing he talks about to help you do the work that I had also read elsewhere was Jerry Seinfeld’s technique of marking a cross on a calendar every day he worked on new material. Thus building a chain of crosses. Seinfeld made it a must to never break the chain. It could be useful in terms of our chess praxis.

This was an instructive loss – the notes are Nigel’s. The major theme here was the need for White to play the e4 pawn lever which, as you can see, I did not appreciate.

Dan Staples