Category Archives: Dan Staples

Big Ugly Win

I didn’t play particularly well however I was very pleased to do so well against such a strong player. I didn’t understand 6…Bd6 and became nervous about both Black’s bishops being pointed against my Kingside. Nigel explained that my fears were unwarranted and I should have played 7.Nc3 rather than 7. Ne5 (Nigel’s comments below). The game went on and I was no worse. Black wanted to win and sacrificed the exchange with 13…Rxf3.

It certainly unbalanced the position and on another day White’s greater understanding of the resulting positions could easily have won it.  I was wrong to take his rook with my pawn (I was worried about my pawns being weak and losing more of them). I should  have gone for greater activity by taking with the queen and dominating the kingside with Qf7 and then finding a nice home for her on h5. I made more mistakes especially by giving up my bishop for Black’s Knight and inflicting serious dark square weaknesses on myself. (I’m wondering if I’ll ever get the hang of light and dark square weaknesses!). Soon I was no longer better but Black blundered with 26…d3.

Dan Staples

London System Learning Something

This was a game I played in the Yorkshire intercity league, The Woodhouse Cup. I was Black in the London System and managed to gain the bishop pair and a better pawn structure on move 4. This gave me an advantage which I soon lost. A common feature in these Q pawn positions is the Queen face off on b3 and b6. As Nigel says “Normally there’s a battle in such positions to get the other guy to capture on b3 or b6.” I thought it was okay to swap off but I misjudged the advantage the half open file could give White for example with the line 9.dxc5 Bxc5 10.b4. As it was Black’s position is cramped and difficult to play but White blundered with 19.Ra8.

Dan Staples

Stopping Stonewall Study

While I enjoyed this game Nigel has advised me to move on from these stonewall openings. Which I understand I need to do, however, finding the time is a problem. Although, writing that I was reminded of something I read recently about removing the phrase “finding the time” from your vocabulary because we can never find the time and changing it to “make the time”. I’m working on a schedule for work, exercise and study. I’m finding it challenging but useful.  It’s important to decide what to stop doing as well as what to do.

My opponent said he used to play the Colle himself but had forgotten the lines. He lost time with 6…a6 and then blundered with 10…d4 and rather than settled for a being a pawn down went all in.

Dan Staples

Don’t Dissolve the Duo

This was a game in our club championship. Ben looked to avoid theory with 1.a3.

Nigel stopped at 9…Qe7 preferring 9…Re8. He suggested that the Queen can become a target on e7 to Nf5 ideas. Re8 may be better to prepare …Nf8-g6 and whether White plays e3-e4 or d3-d4, Black gets some kind of space gaining wedge. If White does neither he is permanently short of space. Nigel showed an example variation 10.e4 Nf8 11.O-O Ng6 12.g3 d4 13.c5 Bc7 14.Nc4 b5 15.Ncd2 a5 which he said starts to look like a Spanish with colours reversed. Black’s space is on the queenside – see Karpov – Unzicker (below) to know how to treat this position.

Nigel didn’t like 11…e4 – “Dissolving the Duo is a big deal!”. My thinking was solely focused on playing e4. To try and get some sort of attack going. Seeing the Karpov game will hopefully open my thinking to more possibilities.

This is 2 minute video of the Karpov – Unzicker. Karpov’s Ba7 is particularly instructive.

Dan Staples

False(?) French Fears

“True attacks are realised only with many coordinated pieces and rarely with one or two.” Andre Philidor

I’ve had problems as Black against the Kings Indian Attack. I’ve tended to get overly concerned with White’s Kingside attack and her h pawn advance. As a result, I’ve often, as in this game, played f5 – which is either too early or unnecessary. Having gone through this game with Nigel I think(!) I will feel less concerned about the h pawn advance in future. The variation Nigel gives at move 10 was particularly interesting to me. In it Black focuses on advancing his pawns on the Queenside and while White gets his pawn to h6 Black maintains control of the dark squares around his King.

Dan Staples

Critical Central Control Combat

“The centre is the Balkans of the chessboard; fighting may at any time break out there” – Aron Nimzowitsch

I seem to keep making mistakes playing the French. The crucial pawn lever is c5 and Black has to play it in a timely manner. In this game it was important to play 6…c5. Instead I got a very cramped position with a very troublesome light squared bishop. However, Nigel thought I defended well and was able to take advantage of White’s blunder on move 23.

Dan Staples

Good Gurevich Game

In my lesson today we looked at a QGD game I played against David Buckley.

I was concerned about White playing 11. Ne4 instead of 11.O-O. Nigel suggested the Cambridge Springs as a possibility to consider in future.

Here is a video clip by Andrew Martin on the Cambridge Springs covering some tactical ideas in a game by Gurevich.

Happy New Year.

Dan Staples

Keep It Simple Staples

The Woodhouse Cup is a Yorkshire inter city competition running from September to April. I’ve played for a couple of years and until Black’s excellent 33…g5 I thought I was going to win this game.

I had played fairly well to gain an exchange advantage. However, I having done so I should have reset my attitude and just played slowly for another advantage. Instead I tried to force things. My big error was with 22. Rh4. which with hindsight looks just plain wrong. I had some convoluted reasoning involving the Black Knight, playing f4 and getting my bishop on the long diagonal which don’t convince in the cold light of day. I didn’t consider 23…f5.

A cautionary tale about keeping things simple.

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished” – Lao Tzu

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated” – Confucius

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